Best Art & Photography Books of 2011

A small selection of some of our favorite art and photo books of 2011.

My Mirage My Mirage

EPICAL, Influential Cosmic Satire

“My Mirage” (1986-1991) is the first major body of work by Jim Shaw, an artist from Los Angeles who started exhibiting in the late 1970s. Composed of nearly 170 pieces—each one drawn, silk-screened, photographed, sculpted, filmed or painted in a different style—”My Mirage” recounts the wandering of Billy, a white, middle-class American sucked into the whirlwind of the sixties and seventies. His is a story of unceasing failure. “…after a childhood spent among Marvel superheroes, pubescent Billy discovers the joys of masturbation and sniffing glue. He then goes all the way from LSD hippie heaven through drug hell to his final ‘rebirth’ as a Christian preacher man.-Frieze Magazine

Chicago Imagists (hardcover) Chicago Imagists (hardcover)

A long overdue examination of this bold & influential art movement

Drawing inspiration from the everyday world, comic books, popular culture, pornography, Surrealism, and non-western art, these young artists, in a series of exhibitions at the Hyde Park Art Center, created energetic, figurative paintings with vibrant colors that were titled with humorous puns.

Paper Cutting (paperback) Paper Cutting (paperback)

Stunning Creations for Art Buffs & Indie Crafters

There’s a renaissance underway in the art form of cut paper, with an explosion of raw talent and an abundance of amazing work produced in the medium in recent years. This gorgeous volume features work from 26 contemporary international artists who are creating images of astonishing intricacy, using little more than paper and blade.

The Radical Camera: New York's Photo League, 1936-1951 The Radical Camera: New York’s Photo League, 1936-1951

an overdue history of an organization that had an impact on American art and journalism out of all proportion to its abbreviated life. -Wall Street Journal

Presenting 150 works of the members of the Photo League alongside complementary essays that offer new interpretations of the League’s work, ideas, and pedagogy, this beautifully illustrated book features artists including Margaret Bourke-White, Sid Grossman, Morris Engel, Lisette Model, Ruth Orkin, Walter Rosenblum, Aaron Siskind, W. Eugene Smith, and Weegee, among many others.

Detroit: 138 Square Miles (signed) Detroit: 138 Square Miles (signed)

A Stylish & Comprehensive Survey of the Detroit Landscape

Detroit: 138 Square Miles reads like a visual journey through the scarred backsides and forgotten wastelands of humanity, a spiritual quest through small neighborhoods, infernos, architectural gems, seedy bars and secret locations. Photos from a low-flying airplane splash run across the page like exclamation points, revealing powerful rarely seen views of the city, showing in detail the vastness of its rusted arterial and organic nervous system.

Bill Rauhauser: 20th Century Photography in Detroit Bill Rauhauser: 20th Century Photography in Detroit

A  Street-side View of  Modern Detroit

Bill Rauhauser has spent a lifetime quietly chronicling the heart and soul of Detroit. From his poetic recording of his family life and the urban landscape to his surprising tabletop conceptual artworks, Rauhauser’s image making has always been stamped with clarity, gentle beauty and refined composition.

Patti Smith 1969 - 1976 Patti Smith 1969 – 1976

An enduring friendship & evolution of two unique artists.

“I was eager to be Judy’s model and to have the opportunity to work with a true artist. I felt protected in the atmosphere we created together. We had an inner narrative, producing our own unspoken film, with or without a camera.” -Patti Smith, from her afterword

Groundwaters: A Century of Art by Self-Taught And Outsider Artists [Hardcover] Groundwaters: A Century of Art by Self-Taught And Outsider Artists [Hardcover]

the wellspring of modern & contemporary art

This book presents a narrative of the history of outsider art, clarifies predominant theoretical issues, and draws comparisons with the modernist tradition. It brings into focus the enormous contributions self-taught artists have made to our understanding of creative genius and presents them in a book that will enthrall anyone interested in Outsider Art.

Death Ray The Death Ray

“It is like Holden Caulfield with his phaser set on kill. Phonies beware.”  –Time Magazine

The Death-Ray utilizes the classic staples of the superhero genre—origin, costume, ray gun, sidekick, fight scene—and reconfigures them in a story that is anything but morally simplistic. With subtle comedy, deft mastery, and an obvious affection for the bold pop-art exuberance of comic book design, Daniel Clowes delivers a contemporary meditation on the darkness of the human psyche.

The Hare With the Amber Eyes (paperback) The Hare With the Amber Eyes (paperback)

“An extraordinary history…A wondrous book, as lustrous and exquisitely crafted as the netsuke at its heart.” —The Christian Science Monitor

“A family memoir written with a grace and modesty that almost belie the sweep of its contents: Proust, Rilke, Japanese art, the rue de Monceau, Vienna during the Second World War. The most enchanting history lesson imaginable.” —The New Yorker

“Absorbing . . . In this book about people who defined themselves by the objects they owned, de Waal demonstrates that human stories are more powerful than even the greatest works of art.” —Adam Kirsch, The New Republic

3 on Destroy All Monsters

Destroy All Monsters Magazine Destroy All Monsters Magazine

A Proto-Punk Zine for the Occupy Moment

..the handmade issues contained graphic collage, photography, illustration, writing, and other works that distilled the group’s prismatic and dystopian view of media and social values. Nonprofit art publishers Primary Information have put together all six issues of the zine (plus a portion of a lost seventh issue that has never seen the light of day) in Destroy All Monsters Magazine 1976-1979. The 287-page tome pays tribute to and documents this exemplar of DIY media that shaped the face of American punk. Know your role models. Destroy All Monsters. -Vman Super Destructive: Destroy All Monsters

Return of the Repressed: Destroy All Monsters 1974-1977The Return of the Repressed: Destroy All Monsters 1974-1977,

A full color, 312-page catalog made to accompany the Return of the Repressed show at PRISM in Los Angeles. The show includes over 150 drawings, photographs, prints, collages and paintings produced by the original members of Destroy All Monsters (Mike Kelley, Cary Loren, Niagara, and Jim Shaw) in the depths of post-hippy, pre-punk Detroit. Destroy All Monsters was unique for having produced a distinct body of multi-media work while documenting itself in the act of its own creation. The themes of the work span grotesque figuration, ecstatic pop imagism, apocalyptic play-acting, gothic dreamscapes, and full-on horror.

Hungry for Death: Destroy All Monsters w/CD Hungry for Death: Destroy All Monsters w/CD

a goddamn riot of chaotic sounds and shards…

The music was everything anyone could have ever hoped for. It mixed all kinds of crazy elements – Sun Ra’ Arkestral space blast, Futura-style free rock (ala Mahogany Brain, Fille Qui Mousse, et al), avant garde improv in the style of AMM and MEV, plus an acknowledgement of the roots of the Detroit underground rock scene, specifically the conceptual-art era of the Psychedelic Stooges in their pre-first-LP format. It was a goddamn riot of chaotic sounds and shards – just amazing. And the visuals fit the bill, also. – Byron Coley from the intro  (more related products in the Destroy All Monsters catalog. )


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