Art & Photography books can be both enjoyed for their content and as a good investment at the same time. Here are some highlights of artbooks for the 2008 season that are currently in print, worth owning and offer excellent value as beautifully designed objects and as quality investments. In choosing a book it is always important to buy only what you love -there is no guarantee that a book will increase in value, but due to their small printings many unique qualities, art and photo titles tend to disappear quickly, and are often impossible to locate, unless you are willing to pay top price. These choices were based on design quality, content and current availability as of November 2008. Most of these books are now widely available, some may have been issued in the past few years or have appeared again as reprints. They won’t remain available forever at these prices. The reprint is often a “second chance” at owning a book once difficult to find. The recent New York Art Book Fair is an excellent place to browse and shop recent offerings from independent small press and art book publishers. Our choice selection:
MURAKAMI Takashi Murakami is one of contemporary artâ€™s most innovative and important figures. Drawing from street culture, high art, and traditional Japanese painting, Murakami takes the contemporary art trend of mixing high and low to an unprecedented level (critics call him the new Warhol), producing original paintings and sculptures as well as mass-produced consumer objects such as toys, books, and most famously, a line of handbags for Louis Vuitton. A committed supporter and spokesperson for Japanese artists and a powerful commentator on postwar culture and society, Murakami has organized influential exhibitions of Japanese art as well as a biannual art fair in Tokyo.
ARAKI “This book reveals everything about me. It’s been a 60-year contract. Photography is love and death-that’ll be my epitaph.” -Araki The subject is Japanese photographer Araki, a man who talks about life through photographs. His powerful oeuvre, decades’ worth of images, has been pared down to 540 pages of photographs which tell the story of Araki and comprise the ultimate retrospective collection of his work.
Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love: Deploying an acidic sense of humor, Walker examines the dialectics of pleasure and danger, guilt and fulfillment, desire and fear, race and class. This landmark publication, which is sure to win international design awards, accompanies Walker’s first major American museum survey. It features critical essays by Philippe Vergne, Sander L. Gilman, Thomas McEvilley, Robert Storr and Kevin Young, as well as an illustrated lexicon of recurring themes and motifs in the artist’s most influential installations by Yasmil Raymond, more than 200 full-color images, an extensive exhibition history and bibliography, and a 36-page insert by the artist.
PETER BEARD (slipcased edition) Photographer, collector, diarist, and writer of books Peter Beard has fashioned his life into a work of art; the illustrated diaries he kept from a young age evolved into a serious career as an artist and earned him a central position in the international art world. This collection is the best one volume Beard edition available and is a super bargain compared to the lavish 50 lb signed limited published a few years back.
Gerhard Richter ATLAS: At 864 pages, this monumental and comprehensive publication maps the ideas, processes, life and times of one of the most important painters of the late twentieth century. Conceived and closely edited by Gerhard Richter himself, Atlas cuts straight to the heart of the artist’s work, collecting more than 5,000 photographs, drawings and sketches that he has compiled or created since the moment of his creative breakthrough in 1962. The images closely parallel, year by year, the subjects of Richter’s paintings, revealing the orderly but open-ended analysis that has been so central to his art.
Henry Wessell not only chronicles the idiosyncrasies and anomalies of Southern California and the American West, but demonstrates over and over that photography can surpass its documentary role to speculate and to suggest narratives within and beyond the frame. Ultimately, he challenges not only our expectations of his medium, but our ways of seeing and our preconceptions about the familiar. Sandra Phillips, Curator of Photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, writes of his emergence from the era’s pack, “Wessel’s remarkable work, witty, evocative and inventive, is distinctive and at the same time a component part of the great development of photography which flourished in the 1970s.
Yoshitomo Nara: LULLABY:Â At first sight, the childlike figures for which Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara is now famous seem altogether cute and appealing. On closer examination his creations are robust, angry, and vulnerable creatures, standing up defiantly to the world of adults–self-confident, stubborn, and sometimes violent. Nara’s work is influenced by Japanese comic books but he is unique in the contemporary art scene for tapping into horror through the medium of the innocent child–this is particularly poignant in Japan’s controlled society of rigid language and social structures, especially considering recent shockingly violent crimes in Japan involving children as the aggressors.
Cindy Sherman: Complete Untitled Film Stills, a series of 69 black-and-white photographs created between 1977 and 1980, is widely seen as one of the most original and influential achievements in recent art. Witty, provocative and searching, this lively catalogue of female roles inspired by the movies crystallizes widespread concerns in our culture, examining the ways we shape our personal identities and the role of the mass media in our lives. Sherman began making these pictures in 1977 when she was 23 years old. The first six were an experiment: fan-magazine glimpses into the life (or roles) of an imaginary blond actress, played by Sherman herself. In 1995, The Museum of Modern Art purchased the series from the artist, preserving the work in its entirety. This book marks the first time that the complete series will be published as a unified work, with Sherman herself arranging the pictures in sequence.
FRIEDLANDER: Lee Friedlander is one of the most important of the 1960s generation of photographers for whom the posture of disinterested objectivity served as a vehicle for passionate personal inquiries. His large body of work–he most often produces extended series of pictures on a chosen theme, then publishes them in book form–is broad in subject matter and supple and complex in style, and focuses on what he calls Americaâ€™s â€œsocial landscape.â€ At the same time, he has pursued a playful dialogue with artistic tradition–as though open-eyed curiosity about the world, and a sophisticated taste for the wiles of picture-making were one and the same thing.
Cameron Jamie:Â Backyard teenage wrestlers, spook houses, eating contests, and a winter visitation by mythical beasts are just some of the fringe rituals Cameron Jamie explores through his art. Working across materials and media, he frequently collaborates with street-portrait artists and celebrity impersonators as well as musicians such as the Melvins and Japanese guitarist Keiji Haino. The resulting work conflates investigative strategies, autobiography, mythologies, vernacular traditions, and urban folklore to examine contemporary life, our fascination with the outlandish, and our need for escapismâ€”what one critic has identified as â€œbackyard anthropologyâ€ or what the artist calls â€œsocial theater.â€
THE BOOK OF SHRIGLEY: Pop artist David Shrigley’s work is immediate, sometimes rude, and very funny. His darkly brilliant, addictively hilarious scrawls from the subconscious have already made him a star in the UK, with a growing legion of fans around the globe. This is the most extensive — and the first widely available — showcase of his edgy but accessible off-kilter vision.
Jim Shaw Distorted Faces & Drawings: Almost 16 inches tall and 12 inches wide and jacketed in a 53 x 37-inch foldout poster of Jim Shaw’s deeply disturbing black-and-white oil painting of Ronald Reagan’s distorted face (layered with smaller, ghostlike figures of American violence like Charles Manson and Rambo), this darkly riveting limited-edition artist’s book contains works from five series of portraits made over the course of the artist’s four-decade-long career…
Tom Ford has become one of fashion’s great icons. In the past decade, he transformed Gucci from a moribund accessories label into one of the sexiest fashion brands in the world. His designs have increased sales at Gucci tenfold and have helped build the Gucci brand into the luxury goods conglomerate that it is today. Ford brought a hard-edged style synonymous with 21st century glamour to his clothes, and Hollywood sat up and took note…. Tom Ford features more than 200 photographs by Richard Avedon, Mario Testino, Steven Meisel, Helmut Newton, Herb Ritts, Terry Richardson, Craig McDean, Todd Eberle, and numerous other photographers including many previously unpublished images. Â
Louise Bourgeois is among the most prominent contemporary sculptors. Strongly influenced by surrealism, abstract expressionism, and minimalism, her work focuses on the exploration of her psyche. A recurring theme is her troubled childhood and difficult relationship with her father. Despite early success, she did not receive widespread acclaim until the â€™70s. Her 1982 exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art was the museumâ€™s first-ever retrospective of a woman artist.
Cy Twombly: Cycles and Seasons A serious comprehensive overview of Cy Twombly’s art has been much in demand for many years, and in this publication we at last have one. Accompanying a major touring retrospective to mark Twombly’s eightieth year, it surveys a vast output of paintings, drawings and sculpture by an artist whose indifference to supposed distinctions between Pop and abstraction, between writing, drawing and painting, and between literature and art had, for many years, brought his work severe neglect.
||Guy Bourdin: My Message For You: With the eye of a painter and the freedom of a photographer, Guy Bourdin created images full of fascinating stories, compositions, and colors. Using fashion and fashion photography as his vehicle, he explored the realms between the absurd and the sublime, taking cues from the theater and Surrealism. Along the way he became famous for his suggestive narratives and fantastic aesthetics–he broke conventions of commercial photography with a relentless perfectionism and sharp humor… The late 1970s, recognized as the highest note in Bourdin’s career, are the focal point of this two-volume edition.|
KOUDELKA : Stark, impassioned, and singularly intense, the work of the itinerant and fiercely independent Czech photographer, Josef Koudelka, has received deserved acclaim over the past three decades for having made a uniquely significant contribution to the language of photography. This major new monograph presents the most comprehensive survey of Koudelka’s work to date, bringing together more than 150 of his most eloquent images–from his earliest, many published here for the first time, to his most recent: mesmerizing studies of the European landscape made with a panoramic camera.