About this Collection

LA Liber Amicorum is a unique artists' book that binds together 143 works on paper from more than 150 of Los Angeles's leading graffiti and tattoo artists. The individual creative approaches to letter forms, hand styles, symbols, signs, and themes display the city's diverse landscape of graffiti and street art.

The title and the spirit of the book were inspired by a 400-year-old manuscript in the Getty Research Institute's collections, a liber amicorum ("book of friends"), which was originally bound with blank leaves that multiple contributors then filled with illuminated coats of arms, watercolors, poetry, and calligraphy as mementos for the owner.

LA Liber Amicorum also emulates the black sketchbooks, or piecebooks, that street artists often carry with them and inscribe for each other. The Getty Black Book, as it is also known, gathers their work into a single book, symbolizing the transformation of the creative output by rival crews of street artists into an LA Book of Friends.

This book is on view at ESMoA starting June 8 as part of the exhibition SCRATCH, which also features 16th- and 17th-century rare books from the Research Institute's special collections and a full-gallery "open black book" installation curated by local graffiti artists.


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Related Rare Books

The works in the LA Liber Amicorum were executed as artistic responses to the Research Institute's collections of calligraphy and writing manuals, emblem books, sketchbooks, and various other examples of virtuoso engraving and penwork from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment.



From the Artists and Curator