The other day in Printed Matter, the always amazing artists' book store/exhibition space in Chelsea, I started wondering about what books artists might have made for kids. Given the thousands of publications on hand, I ended up narrowing the search to coloring books.
It was immediately obvious that this search strategy was imperfect at best. There were plenty of artist books [books as art, i.e., made by artists as an experimental/creative/political/whatever expression, not books about artists, or exhibition catalogues.] that could fascinate and engage even a tiny kid. And there were definitely examples of the, um, ironic use of the coloring book format to communicate some very adult ideas.
There were also coloring book compilations, where an editor collected line drawings from a bunch of artists, famous and not, usually for a cause or charity of some kind. I had considered doing exactly that, so it was good to see how uninteresting these compilations usually were, or how unsuccessful as coloring books, anyway. Saved me from a heap of work and disappointment.
Anyway, you can search Printed Matter's online catalogue for more, but here are a couple of prominent examples of the genre:
Search "coloring book" at Printed Matter [printedmatter.org]