5 art books as Christmas gift ideas

The most beautiful volumes devoted to contemporary art published in the last months of 2017. The domusweb selection.

Wolfgang Tillmans Hatje Cantz

Gifting a book is an art. The offerings of contemporary publishing are an inexhaustible source of surprises, for those who explore these vast seas with a little curiosity and a questing spirit. From the most recent volumes devoted to contemporary art – in the forms of photography, painting and ceramics – here are the five titles that impressed us most on the editorial board.

Asked about the significance of his work, during a solo exhibition at the Beyeler Foundation, the German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans replied: “It’s about the concept of freedom, freedom to look, to make, to play, to live, to love. There is something very positive about the exhibition. That is important today.” The big monograph devoted to Tillmans, seen by many as the greatest living photographer, focuses on his narrative power, his interest in social settings that are invariably different but always intense, moving.

Title:
Wolfgang Tillmans
Publisher:
Hatje Cantz
Language:
German, English
Year:
2017
Pages:
304
Illustrations:
383
Price:
58 euro

One of the most beautiful exhibitions of 2017 was “Philip Guston and The Poets” at the Gallerie dell'Accademia in Venice. Fifty years of work by the great American artist (1913-1980), are reviewed through the sources in the humanities closely bound up with his enigmatic output: the five poets D.H. Lawrence, W.B. Yeats, Wallace Stevens, Eugenio Montale and T.S. Eliot. The book by the exhibition’s curator Kosme de Barañano is the ideal gift for those who failed to see the show or who want to relive the excitement of their visit.

Title:
Philip Guston & The Poets
Publisher:
Hauser & Wirth Publications
Language:
English
Year:
2017
Pages:
184
Price:
50 euro

Is an annual publication a book or a magazine? Definitions barely matter. This is shown by the second volume of Genda, published a few days ago and presented on the evening of December 19 at Casa Campanini, Milan. The theme shared by the 9 Chinese and 9 Western artists is “Animals as permanent followers”. The title of the text by Matteo Balduzzi, which accompanies the works, is Bisonti e gattini (“Bisons and Kittens”). A container of “accidental, compressed, distant but dangerously similar” material, it brings together East and West.

Title:
Genda #2. Animals as permanent followers
Publisher:
A+Mbookstore Edizioni
Language:
English, Chinese
Year:
2017
Price:
20 euro

Titled Vitamin C. Clay and Ceramic in Contemporary Art, this book presents the work of 102 contemporary artists working in clay and ceramics. Tactile, imperfect materials, with a rich past at the centre of a great rediscovery and a small revolution. For this reason, exploring the works by Thomas Schütte, Luigi Ontani, Ai Weiwei and many others, with critical texts by some of the most important experts in the field, will appeal to experts as to aficionados and the merely curious.

Title:
Vitamin C: Clay and Ceramic in Contemporary Art
Publisher:
Phaidon
Language:
English
Year:
2017
Pages:
304
Illustrations:
520
Price:
49,95 euro

In just six years of his career – abruptly ended by his suicide in February 2017 at the age of 29 – we can say that Ren Hang changed photography as we knew it. His intimate shots, dramatic or ironic, where masculine and feminine are confused (because, as he used to say, “gender isn’t important when I’m taking pictures, it only matters to me when I’m having sex”), convey a vital power and a breathtaking sense of freedom.

Title:
Ren Hang
Publisher:
Taschen
Language:
English, French, German
Year:
2017
Pages:
312
Price:
39,99 euro

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