With the holiday’s right around the corner, we asked our book expert Wes Chun to recommend his favorite art books right now. There is a lot of difference in the quality of reproduction, design and manufacture of art books, and he knows the best ones. Wes has worked in Hennessey and Ingalls Art and Architecture for the last 11 years, and he knows his paper ink.
Art Books for Artist In Your Life
Jean-Michel Basquiat by Dieter Buchhart (Editions Gallimard ) — Exhibition catalogue for show at Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, including drawings, gouaches, and paintings from museums and private collections. One of my favorite artists, this book has excellent reproduction and essays.
The World of Mucha, A Journey to Two Fairylands: Paris and Czech by Hiroshi Unno (Pie Books) — Covers Mucha’s entire career, including works in fine art, illustration, and graphic design. He works with shapes and form in a uniquely compelling way; lots of thought going into these drawings.
Insiders & Company: The New Artisans of Interior Design (Gestalten) — Designers combine traditional processes with modern materials to create furniture and accessories. This is a great book for anyone working in interior design.
Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia by Andrew Blauvelt (Walker Art Center) — Art, architecture, and design of the 1960s and early 1970s counterculture. This is a fun book to look through. It’s interesting to see how they envisioned the future back then and how it didn’t really turn out the way they thought.
The Grand Central Market Cookbook: Cuisine and Culture from Downtown Los Angeles by Adele Yellin and Kevin West (Clarkson Potter Publishers) — Unique recipes from diverse vendors. This book stood out as particularly interesting in the category. I also go there a lot after work — a classic urban food center.
Gardenista: The Definitive Guide to Stylish Outdoor Spaces by Michelle Slatalla (Artisan Publishers) — Shows how to transform the basic garden into an extension of indoor living space and personal retreat. Very well-made book that features a number of what I would call portable gardens, the indoor cactus gardens for an apartment, in addition to normal outdoor gardens.
Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future (Guggenheim Museum) — Abstract painting synthesizing natural and geometric forms, textual elements, and esoteric symbolism. Her work has a powerful, spiritual aspect to it. The visuals are not abstract, but are not really representational either.
Nothing is Lost: Selected Essays of Ingrid Sischy (Knopf) — Essays from a noted fashion, art, and culture critic. This is more of a word book by the former editor of Interview and contributor to Art Forum. It’s an interesting view on the movers and shakers of pop culture of that time.
Delacroix by Sébastien Allard & Côme Fabre (Metropolitan Museum of Art) —Comprehensive monograph and exhibition catalogue for 2018 show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This particular volume is very well done with great image quality — the colors seem spot on. It’s one of the very finest Delacroix books out there.
Others favorites include:
Rem Koolhaas: Elements of Architecture (Taschen) — Essential toolkit to building anatomies, e.g. window, facade, balcony, corridor, etc. This is a republication in a single book of what had been a series of pamphlets.
These books below are vintage, and their availability and pricing will vary.
Gypsies by Josef Koudelka (Aperture) — Photos of Roma society taken between 1962 and 1971. The first edition is very rare and considered collectible.
The Illuminated Books by William Blake (Princeton University Press) — All six volumes, by Blake the artist and prophet. This complete set is very rare, and considered by Blake aficionados to be high desirable.
Gustave Moreau by Pierre-Louis Mathieu (Flammarion) — Features the biblical and mythological work of this Symbolist painter, who was influenced by the Italian Renaissance and exoticism. Intricate and detailed paintings in a book that is neither too big nor too small.
Saul Leiter: Colors by Sam Stourdze (Musée de l’Elysée) — Color photos of American life during the 1950s. An outstanding gem of a book with incredible color work. Small by today’s standards at about 6×9 inches. These tend to go as soon as we get them in.
The Canticle of the Birds: Illustrated through Persian and Eastern Islamic Art by Farîd-ud-Dîn Attâr — Classic Persian literature, illustrated by Persian, Turkish, Afghan, and Indo-Pakistani miniatures from the 14th through 17th centuries. A remarkable story of birds in search of God. Words, poems and pictures in a hardback book in a slipcase. A very special book.