From Picasso to Dolly Parton: The 10 Best Giftable Art Books of 2012


Art books: the absolute best “no one needs this, everyone likes this” gift option out there. We sifted through this year’s wealth of art book offerings — from highbrow to lowbrow, $10 to $750 (?!!) — to provide ten page-turning suggestions we guarantee won’t just sit collecting dust on your coffee table. Enjoy!

Kate: The Kate Moss Book, $85

Nostalgic for Kate’s early ’90s “Obsession” waif days? The Johnny Depp years? Or her 2011 haute-bohemian Vogue wedding shoot? No matter what stage of Kate you’re pining for, it is sure to be satisfied in this tome, a gorgeous 368-page giant by Rizzoli, edited by Kate herself. Released with six different covers, each shot by a different photographer, and shipped to buyers at random.

Desert Air by George Steinmetz, $37

Acclaimed travel photographer George Steinmetz’s journey through uncharted desolation, Desert Air is the first comprehensive photographic collection of “extreme deserts” around the world (or, areas that receive under four inches of annual precipitation). The result is both a collection of jaw-dropping images and the story of Steinmetz’s journey through the stark and often dangerous landscape.

Artists’ Textiles 1940-1975 by Geoff Rayner, Richard Chamberlain, and Annamarie Phelps, $33

On the heels of World War I, textiles began emerging as both a new form of art and an exciting new platform for collaborative work. Artists Textiles 1940-1976 is a gorgeous realization of these shared results, featuring over 200 textile designs from artists such as Picasso, Dali, Matisse, and Stenberg, many of which have never before been printed. The book also offers some enlightening historical context, including this gem: on his displeasure with the final textile designs, Picasso lamented, “Picassos may be leaned against, not sat on.”

House by Diane Keaton, $54

So, not only is Diane Keaton an Oscar-winning actress, writer, style icon, and all-around badass, she could undoubtedly make an incredible interior designer. In House, she presents a stunning vision of contemporary living, as compiled in this collection of repurposed or remained homes. Perfect for any design-lover who could use a contrast to their Pinterest “inspiration” board.

Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon, $9

Based on a lecture artist and writer Austin Kleon delivered to a group of students, Steal Like an Artist is equal parts wisdom and web meme, offering inspirational, practical, and highly-relevant advice for the modern creative in an illustrated manifesto best summed up by its opening T.S. Eliot quotation, “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.”

Taking My Time by Joel Meyerowitz, $474

“I’m not out there to make another ‘great picture,'” says veteran photographer Joel Meyerowitz, who has been documenting everyday life for over fifty years. “I’m really out there to feel what it feels like to be alive and conscious in that moment. In a sense, the record of my photographs is a record of moments of consciousness and awareness that have come to me in my life.” Have deep gift-giving pockets? Taking My Time, Phaidon’s limited-edition retrospective of Meyerowitz’s work, will set you back half a month’s rent, but includes a signed print, a DVD of Meyerowitz’s film, Pop, and a graphic novel in the two-volume set, what he calls “a visual diary of his life as a photographer.”

em>Honky Tonk: Portraits of Country Musicby Henry Horenstein, $32

From Loretta Lynn to Dolly Parton and dive bars to the Grand Ole Opry, Henry Horenstein has been documenting the country music scene since the 1970s. He portrays the part-Americana, part-debauchery, and completely distinct culture here, with black-and-white images that tell the story of both a disappearing genre of music and a way of life.

Ideal Bookshelf by Jane Mount, edited by Thessaly La Force, $17

What does your favorite book say about you? In 2007, artist Jane Mount started painting “portraits of people through the spines of their favorite books,” colorful and detailed images that are fascinating to peruse in an anthropological surprisingly personal way. Five years later, Mount has published Ideal Bookshelf with former Paris Review editor Thessaly La Force. The book features a compilation of select bookshelves, featuring the favorites of Malcolm Gladwell, Alice Waters, Miranda July, Judd Apatow, and many others (see our slideshow preview here).

Tim Walker: Story Teller, $48

World-renowned photographer Tim Walker is producing some of the most visually-exciting and truly bizarre images in fashion today. A true storyteller, Walker uses props from Spitfire fighter plane replicas to grotesque oversized dolls in creating elaborate sets that feel simultaneously like high art and macabre. This collection of his work prints 170 of his most stunning shots, with images featuring Tilda Swinton, Helena Bonham Carter, Alber Elbaz, others; it includes a forward by Kate Bush and an afterword by Walker himself.

Los Alamos Revisited by William Eggleston, $345

Between 1965 and 1974, William Eggleston traveled throughout the American south with museum curator Walter Hopps, ending at the gates of New Mexico’s Los Alamos Nuclear Lab. About 70 images were initially produced in the “Los Alamos” collection, minus a set of missing negatives discovered in 2005 after Hopps death. Now, in its entirety, the three-volume set is Egglestein’s masterpiece completely realized.