Art books of the year 2016

These books are my favourite books I bought in 2016, not necessarily published for the first time in that year. Normally these are exclusively photography books but this year I’m including some art books as they can be inspirational in the photographic process. So in this first post I’ll mention the art books.

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Having found inspiration in photographing birds in the past number of years, I was naturally attracted to this book.The Book of the Bird celebrates the bird in art with an elegant, international collection of paintings, illustrations and photographs, featuring all kinds of birds from the smallest tits and wrens to colourful exotics. Interspersed though the illustrations are short texts giving background to the pictures and information on bird species. Beautifully reproduced this is a little visual treasure. Check it out here

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Many photographers work in projects and although Matisse did not do so nevertheless certain motifs crop up in his work time and time again. This book brings together for the first time the rich collection of Matisse’s paintings of interiors and windows. The distinguished art historian Shirley Blum analyses more than fifty works, from the early painting Studio Under the Eaves (190102) to the great stained glass window at the Chapel of the Rosary in Vence (1947-51). With perceptive text and scores of luscious illustrations, Rooms with a View reveals the key role of the window in Matisse’s oeuvre. Book details here

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Being an admirer of David Hockney’s work, this new book naturally caught my attention. This is a large format book which deals with the relationship between painting, photography and optical instruments like the Camera obscura. Generously illustrated, it is in a conversational style between artist David Hockney and art historian and critic Martin Gayford. Topics discussed are what happens when we try to express reality in two dimensions? Why is the ‘Mona Lisa’ beautiful and why are shadows so rarely found in Chinese, Japanese and Persian painting? Why are optical projections always going to be more beautiful than HD television can ever be? How have the makers of images depicted movement? What makes marks on a flat surface interesting? You get the idea. This may all sound a bit academic but it does not come across that way, and if you are creative person these can be your concerns. As David Hockney has used photography quite a lot in his career, the medium is referred to throughout the book. The reproductions are excellent and the book has the knack of offering up images which you might not easily come across or have considered giving time to. Highly recommended. Details here

Book Highlight: Valparaiso - Sergio Larrain

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Aperture’s monograph Sergio Larrain was my book of the year 2013. You can read about it here . If you missed that volume, I am happy to see that his most famous book Valparaiso has just been republished with extra photos which were not in the original publication.
Chilean photographer Sergio Larrain (1931-2012) published very few books during his lifetime, but perhaps the most feted among them was Valparaiso. He photographed this Chilean seaport throughout his career, but it was in the early 1960s, when he returned to his homeland after travelling the world for many years as a Magnum photographer, that it became a focus for his attention. He saw it as 'a rather sordid yet romantic city', standing between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean, falling into a slow decline as its trading importance faded away, yet still retaining hints of beauty and magic. Now published in English for the first time with an introduction by Agnes Sire as well as a specially written text by Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda, this new edition of Valparaiso is based on a layout that Larrain designed in 1993, in response to the original French edition of 1991. It also includes a selection of previously unpublished photographs taken between 1952 and 1992, expanding the original 36 images to a total of 120. This intimate book features handwritten notes and texts by the artist himself, allowing us to share his singular vision of the world and its moments of grace.
The Aperture publication featured much of this work and the printing was excellent. I only hope the same high values will be again evident in this welcome book. A must buy for Larrain fans. RRP €50 but The Book Depository currently has it for around €30

Pete Sousa-White House Photographer

Fred Herzog

blogEntryTopperIt is great to have Fred Herzog back in print again. This volume published by Hatje Cantz promises to be the most comprehensive publication on this important photographer to date. Fred Herzog is known for his unusual use of colour in the fifties and sixties, a time when art photography was almost exclusively associated with black and white imagery. The Canadian photographer, 86 years young this year, worked almost exclusively with Kodachrome slide film for over 50 years, and only in the past decade has technology allowed him to make archival pigment prints that match the exceptional colour and intensity of the Kodachrome slide.This book will bring together over 230 images, many never before reproduced.
Samples of his work can be seen here
Also Time lightbox link

Colour Correction returns

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If you missed the 1st. edition of this book as I mentioned here, well your in luck as Stedl are publishing a second edition this month (November2016) The last one sold out quickly so it may not be around long!

Josef Sudek


Josef Sudek at Jeu de Paume from Jeu de Paume / magazine on Vimeo.

Books on the horizon

blogEntryTopperThose of you that read this blog will know that I am admirer of the work of Alex Webb so it’s good to see a new book from him on the way. La Calle brings together nearly thirty years of photography by Alex Webb, created from 1978 to 2007 in Mexico City and the surrounding states, villages, and cities. Webb frequently credits the landscapes and cityscapes of Mexico for prompting his shift to colour photography. To be published by Aperture around mid September 2016. More info here

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Also on the horizon an interesting collection of photographs by the Czech photographer Josef Sudek. If you missed SUDEK -THE LEGACY OF A DEEPER VISION published by Hirmer Verlag, which was one of my books of the year in 2013, then this new publication coming mid September also looks like a lovely production. Josef Sudek (1896–1976) was a Czech photographer, best known for his photographs of Prague. He was a bookbinder before turning to photography after losing his right arm in WWI. This book, published to accompany an exhibition, examines how Sudek’s photographs reflect his relationship to the world around him, from intimate explorations of cherished objects and views through his window to his night walks through the streets of Prague and its periphery, as well as excursions into the surrounding countryside. Published by 5 Continents Editions more information here

Book Highlight : Charles Cramer - Yosemite

blogEntryTopperIt’s not everyday that that one comes across a monograph by that great American landscape photographer Charles Cramer. Come to think of it, I know of none! So this future publication by landscape photography publishing specialists, Triplekite, in the UK is all the more special. Due to be published in July 2016 it can be pre ordered from their site here The special edition of the book I’m afraid, is sold out at this time. If unfamiliar with Charles’ work, than have a look at his website. Also have a look at the youtube video below to see the man himself talk about his work. A true master of the art and craft of classical landscape photography, oh and he can play the piano too.

Walker Evans - aperture masters of photography

blogEntryTopperAperture has recently published an update to it’s 1990s masters of photography, Walker Evans book. I must say that it would make an excellent primer for the young photographer. If the book I mentioned on an earlier blog here is too expensive then this should fit the bill.

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This hardcover book is about 8 inches square and has an introductory essay and excellent commentary by David Campany on the photos featured. All photos are printed one to a page on the right hand side with commentary on the left page - a simple elegant design.

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The book shows work by Evans from as early as 1929 to as late as 1973/74 the late work being in colour and made with a polaroid SX-70 camera.

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What is very impressive with this new publication is the quality of the printing. In beautiful duotone, this is about the best I have ever seen Evans work reproduced. When you consider that the book retails for about €16 this would make a handsome addition to any photography students library.

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Book details here

Happy New Year

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