Friday, January 1, 2010

10 of the most memorable books I've added to my library in 2009

1. Luc Tuymans: Ende
This volume is the first to document one of Tuymans' wall paintings, completed for an exhibition at Kabinett fur Aktuelle Kunst, Bremerhaven, Germany, which he documented with Polaroids throughout the entire process. A richly illustrated volume, printed in a limited edition of 1000 numbered copies, includes an interview between Tuymans and Udo Kittelmann, Director of the National Gallery Berlin.

2. John Strezaker: The 3rd Person Archive
Stezaker has been collecting photographic city views from the 1920s and 30s for 30 years, focusing on subjects photographed by chance. Here, he presents hundreds of mostly stamp-size details, miniatures that hint at the fates and encounters of long-forgotten people caught in urban labyrinths. This wonderful book is an art object in it's own right.

3. Roe Etheridge: Rockaway, New York
Photographed in disparate geographical sites, from St. Barts to upstate New York, Ethridge plays the roles of both a thematic archivist and a wandering narrator, mapping an uncertain ground in which it is unclear if the representation is a blank image, nothing more than the sum of it's surface, or the fountainhead of some deeper significance.

4. Paul Graham: Paul Graham
A pioneer in the reinvention of contemporary photography. Graham has continued to push the envelope, demonstrating a commitment to expanding photography's artistic space, and to the unity of documentary and artistic considerations in an unblinking engagement with life as it unfolds. This volume, which coincides with a touring European retrospective, appraises 25 years of Graham's work, from 1981 to 2006, tracking his steady expansion of our notions of what photography can say, be or look like.

5. The Painting of Modern Life
This museum catalogue, published by the Haywood Gallery charts the 45-year evolution of the translation of photographic images to paint, revealing an extraordinary breadth of stylistic and thematic diversity. This volume features 22 painters whose sources range from snapshots to commercial media, among them Richard Artschwager, Robert Bechtle, Celmins, Peter Doig, Marlene Dumas, Thomas Eggerer, Judith Eisler, Franz Gertsch, Richard Hamilton, Eberhard Havekost, David Hockney, Johannes Kahrs, Johanna Kandl, Martin Kippenberger, Liu Xiaodong, Malcolm Morley, Elizabeth Peyton, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Richter, Wilhelm Sasnal, Luc Tuymans and Warhol. A great book and a great show.

6. Hans-Peter Feldmann: Album
This photo-book contains no text. Even the frontispiece is a photograph of boxes from Feldmann's picture archive, amassed over many years and comprising images from magazines, advertising supplements, photography books, postcards and collectibles. Travel photos, family snapshots and pictures of friends play their part. Feldmann has become increasingly noted for his commentary on the way we archive photos, sending up the everyday from a very personal perspective.

7. Alec Soth: Niagara
Working over the course of two years on both the American and Canadian sides of the Falls, Soth has edited the results of his labors down to a tight and surprising album. He depicts newlyweds and naked lovers, motel parking lots, pawnshop wedding rings and love letters from the subjects he photographed. We read about teenage crushes, workplace affairs, heartbreak and suicide. A quietly passionate and heartfelt book.

8. John Baldessari: Pure Beauty
Published in conjunction with a major exhibition organised by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Tate Modern in London. The monograph has eleven essays by critics, curators, art historians, and an artist and former student of Baldessari's round out this volume. Few contemporary artists have achieved the range and relevance of Baldessari's oeuvre, which is finally given its due in this elegant retrospective book.

9. Margritte and Contemporary Art
The Treachery of Images, is a detailed discussion about the meaning(s) of representation. Here, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art brings together more than 50 of the most important Magrittes with an equal number of very significant works by contemporary artists, both cool and edgy, including Jasper Johns, Ed Ruscha, Vija Celmins, Joseph Kosuth, Sherrie Levine, Richard Artschwager, Jeff Koons, Martin Kippenberger, Jim Shaw, Raymond Pettibon, Robert Gober and Marcel Broodthaers.

10. Marlene Dumas: Measuring Your Own Grave
Accompanying Dumas' first major mid-career survey in the U.S., with stops in three major American cities, this substantial, fully-illustrated publication features a newly commissioned essay by renowned scholar Richard Shiff, placing the artist's work in relation to both American figurative painting since the 1980s and Abstract Expressionism. The book also includes curator Cornelia H. Butler's examination of Dumas' photographic sources.

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