Thursday, December 2, 2021

2021 best art books for creative holiday gifts

This is part of the LA Times 2021 Gift Guide. See the Complete Guide here. If you buy books that are linked to on our site, The Times may receive a commission from, which is supported by independent bookstores.

Books to read, books to view pictures, books to read, looking at pictures. Here are some recent options for those interested in art:

‘Alma W. Thomas: Everything is fine’

Seth Fehman and Jonathan Frederick Waltz; Yale University Press; 336 PP.

In the spring of 1972, Alma W. Thomas was 80 years old when she is known to have become the first black woman to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum in New York, then the leading institution supporting American art. Her later abstractions, composed of dazzling acrylics, are her most famous paintings. This catalog of the artist’s personal ephemera and collection of her earlier drawings, co-sponsored by the Chrysler Museum in Virginia and the Columbus Museum in Georgia, is being pushed back to review all of Thomas’ products throughout her long life.

USD 65 | 👉 Buy here

“Magnificent Baroque: Art of Genoa, 1600-1750”

Jonathan Bober et al .; Princeton University Press; 384 PP.

A painting depicting angels on the cover of a baroque book

(Princeton University Press)

One of the most heartbreaking exhibitions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic was the cancellation of the first museum exhibition of original Baroque art in Genoa, Italy’s former maritime power, which has turned into a 17th century banking boom city. The exhibition was scheduled to open at the National Gallery of Art last year, has been rescheduled for this fall, and finally closed in August due to logistics loans and shipping difficulties. The lush illustrations and readable text reveal the amazing artistic pluralism of this Catholic period – in both the secular and the religious sense of the word.

USD 65 | 👉 Buy here

‘R. Buckminster Fuller: Thinking by Model ‘

Daniel Lopez-Perez; Lars Müller Publishing House; 368 pages

Book cover with black and white pattern

Filled with vivid archival illustrations, this deep dive into one of the 20th century’s greatest designers covers everything from his analysis of the cornea of ​​the human eyeball to international economic structures. The geodesic dome is only the most famous work that the polymath has invented. Daniel Lopez-Perez, professor of architecture at the University of San Diego, explores Fuller’s search for non-linear ways of understanding that harness the power of design.

40 dollars | 👉 Buy here

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“The sum of us: what is racism for everyone and how we can thrive together”

Heather McGee; One world / random home; 396 pages

Illustration of a boy jumping from a springboard

(One World / Random Penguin House)

No, this is not an artbook. But The Sum of Us is one of the few most important books published this year, and it vividly reveals the broader cultural landscape in which art is being created, viewed and reinterpreted. Heather McGee is a clear and generous thinker and author of the false idea that progress for some must come at the expense of others – what she calls a long-standing zero-sum paradigm in American life – and her book is a must-read.

US $ 28 | 👉 Buy here

‘Hung Liu: Portraits of the Promised Lands’

Dorothy Moss; Yale University Press; 218 pages

Sad women book cover

Hong Liu’s sudden death at 73 from pancreatic cancer just days before the opening of her retrospective exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in late August lends an elegiac touch to the beautiful catalog prepared for the exhibition. During the painful Cultural Revolution in China, Liu was forced to burn dozens of family photographs – their embedded memories turned to smoke – out of fear of unacceptable social images. Photos are everywhere today, but her poignant paintings, executed in a fluid, subtle style that she called “weeping realism”, come from those and other fragments that remain.

USD 50 | 👉 Buy here

Emerson’s “Nature” and Artists: Idea as Landscape, Landscape as Idea “

Tyler Greene; Prestel; 144 pages

Book cover of a man sitting on a rock

Writing and painting intersected and informed each other in America’s developing sense of national identity in 19th century America – not least in its racial concept of space to assert the authority of whiteness. Green, following his 2018 book on California’s first great painter, landscape photographer Carlton Watkins (1829-1916), examines the complex relationship between Ralph Waldo Emerson’s widely read 1836 essay Nature and landscape painters such as Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Cole. , George Inness and John Frederick Kensett, as well as Watkins, the sculptor Horatio Greenough, and other influential artists.

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US $ 25 | 👉 Buy here

“African Artists: From 1882 to the Present”

Chika Okeke-Agulu, Joseph L. Underwood and Phaidon editors; 352 pages

Green and blue book cover

A small number of well-known contemporary and contemporary artists from (or working in) Africa receive a large and much needed expansion in this broad survey, which includes over 300 artists, sculptors, photographers and other artists over the past 140 years, selected by an international panel of 30 experts. Among other advantages, Princeton professor Chica Okeke-Agulu notes in his introduction that the vast geography of Africa, its demographic and cultural diversity “counteracts any notion of Africa as a unit.” Many cultural traditions of indigenous peoples, Arabs / Islam and Europe / Christianity are emerging – some familiar, many beckoning new Western eyes.

US $ 69.95 | 👉 Buy here

Arnold Lehman; Merrell; 248 pages

Yellow book cover with newspaper photo

If you just found out last year that Rudy Giuliani was a dangerous clown when he waved his arms at the Big Lies press event held outside a porn distributor and lawn care company to fantasize about an allegedly stolen presidential election, you probably , missed his scandalous 1999. an attempt to close the museum over an art exhibition. The exhibition was not supposed to take place – it just ruined a private collection (and was partially paid for by the collector) – but Giuliani was referring to the propaganda of racism and religious fanaticism during the culture war. Former director of the Brooklyn Museum, Arnold Lehman, whose museum it was, unfolds from the inside out a ridiculous – but serious and highly publicized – story of censorship.

35 USD | 👉 Buy here

Leaked Recipes: The Cookbook

Demetria Glace (editor); JBE Books; 280 pages

Green paper cover with iPhone photo

Photographer Emilie Baltz takes food style to an unexpected level with this quirky cookbook idea. Recipes for black bean sauce, southern fried venison and oatmeal cookies, drawn from notorious digital hacks, leaks and data leaks – emails from Hillary Clinton, Google Drive of French President Emmanuel Macron – are appropriately bizarre. The still life on the cover, laid out against a white satin background, is symbolic: it features mushrooms tied to a mobile phone with an elastic band, an ingenious assembly of a “digital fungus” that resembles an excerpt from Ed Rusch’s eccentric 1975 Tropica. Fish series “.

US $ 49.95 | 👉 Buy here

Roger Diederen and Anja Huber (editors); Hatje Cantz; 240 pages

The back of a man with a white cone on his head

Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf brings the pure, impeccable sensibility of a commercial photographer to richly prepared shots with inexplicable narrative overtones. Result: The imagination is unleashed as the viewer is seduced by the desire to know something that is unlikely to ever be fully revealed. The 40-year review of his work includes illustrated essays by Olaf on life in three disparate international cities: Berlin, Shanghai and Palm Springs.

USD 50 | 👉 Buy here

“Cultural Strike: Art and Museums in the Age of Protest”

Laura Raikovich; TO; 224 pages

Yellow book cover with a gap in the middle

Former Queens museum director Laura Rajkovic is rightly angry at the bad behavior of art museums, often pretending to be far from the diseases of American society, with which they are, instead, inevitably associated. If the focus of a book is too limited to the cultural institutions of the Northeast, just because it is there that the author has the most direct experience, it nonetheless provides thoughtful considerations on topical topics that apply everywhere. These include the private power of philanthropy, the practical and spiritual benefits of a diverse workforce, the union of cultural institutions, and the social responsibility of museums.

US $ 26.95 | 👉 Buy here

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