XMAS in July (or September)

10 Sep

For the last few years I have gathered up the lovely and compelling art books (perhaps still referred to as coffee table books)I receive and “curate” an array of such for the Daily Beast. While I it is a wonderful task, I am continuously faced with the vexing task of leaving out too many worthy books —as you might guess — because of the large number of candidates. And despite the supposedly declining physical book market, that quandary has only become greater.

So, I have decided to offer more frequent surveys of such tomes which I liken to mobile art galleries. Here’s some of my latest finds:

Transcuba by Pathy Allen

Transcuba by Pathy Allen

Transcuba by Mariela Castro Espín, Allen Frame, Wendy Watriss,Mariette Pathy Allen(Daylight Books)

New York-based photographer and painter Mariette Pathy Allen has been documenting transgender culture worldwide for more than 30 years. Apparently under the newest regime the transgender community of Cuba is gaining some measure of acceptance. This tome also includes interviews and and a note from Director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education in Havana, Mariela Castro, who is the director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education in Havana (who happens to be Cuban President Raúl Castro’s daughter), and was instrumental in passage (2008)of the law to allowing transgender individuals to receive sex reassignment surgery and change their legal gender.

From Transcuba—Amanda at home wearing Eiffel Tower T-Shirt

From Transcuba—Amanda at home wearing Eiffel Tower T-Shirt

From Trans Cuba-Nomi and Miguel, partners, watching television at Malu’s apartment

From Trans Cuba-Nomi and Miguel, partners, watching television at Malu’s apartment

The Photobook: A History Volume III by Martin Parr

The Photobook: A History Volume III by Martin Parr

The Photobook:A History Volume III by Martin Parr,Gerry Badger(Phaidon)

The third and final volume in Phaidon’s The Photobook: A History bring the series fully up to date with a curated selection of more than 200 photobooks dating from World War II to the present day with a splendid collection of 800 images.

The Seventh Dog by Danny Lyon

The Seventh Dog by Danny Lyon

The Seventh Dog by Danny Lyon(Phaidon Press)

The Seventh Dog, is Lyon’s personal overview of his life and work including some of his classic series from the earliest, Bikeriders and the Texas Prisons to the recent Occupy (2011) and Indian Nations (2002). Whitney Museum curator Elisabeth Sussman, provides an introductory essay for this seminal monograph

From The Seventh Dog by Danny Lyon

From The Seventh Dog by Danny Lyon

Fictitious Dishes by Dinah Fried

by Dinah Fried

Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Mealsby( Dinah Fried (Harper Design)

Here’s a fun book—the publisher, Harper Design, touts this tome as “fifty iconic culinary scenes from literary classics…” which includes “food facts and anecdotes about the authors, their work, and their culinary predilections.”

Fictitious Dishes by Dinah Fried

Fictitious Dishes by Dinah Fried

The Oldest Living Things in the World   by Rachel Sussman

The Oldest Living Things in the World by Rachel Sussman

The Oldest Living Things in the World by Rachel Sussman(University Of Chicago Press)

Here MS Sussman elucidates the thinking underpinning her project and some of those Oldest Living Things:

Since 2004 I’ve been researching, working with biologists, and traveling the world over to photograph continuously living organisms 2000 years old and older: the oldest living things in the world. My practice is contextualized by the multidisciplinary inquiries of Matthew Ritchie and the new conceptualism of Taryn Simon and Trevor Paglen, who likewise gain physical access to restricted subjects and illustrate complex concepts with photographs supported by text. The work spans disciplines, continents, and millennia: it’s part art and part science, has an innate environmentalism, and is underscored by an existential incursion into Deep Time. I begin at ‘year zero,’ and look back from there, exploring the living past in the fleeting present. This original index of millennia-old organisms has never before been created in the arts or sciences.

I approach my subjects as individuals of whom I’m making portraits in order to facilitate an anthropomorphic connection to a deep timescale otherwise too physiologically challenging for our brain to internalize. It’s difficult to stay in Deep Time – we are constantly drawn back to the surface. This vast timescale is held in tension with the shallow time inherent to photography. What does it mean to capture a multi-millennial lifespan in 1/60th of a second? Or for that matter, to be an organism in my 30s bearing witness to organisms that precede human history and will hopefully survive us well into future generations?

  The Waiting Game by Txema Salvans

The Waiting Game by Txema Salvans

Txema Salvans:The Waiting Game by Martin Parr,John Carlin, Txema Salvans( RM)

Here’s a piece of an interview with Spanish photographer Txema Salvans:

Okay, look – I’ll give you some prior history so that you understand where I come from. I studied biology, and my passion since I was very young has always been science – as much physics as astronomy, the animal world and so on… Myself as a child, my heroes were Carl Sagan and Darwin, they weren’t photographers. I began and directed all my studies toward the world of science. Here in Spain, when the time comes to decide demarcate and decide which subjects you’re going to study and you focus more on Humanities or Sciences, I was always more inclined toward the world of science and I began to study biology. Once I was in the institute, which is the step immediately prior to entering university, I began a little by pure chance with photography – with a photography workshop. A girlfriend of mine had an aunt who was a photographer and I began assisting her. What I’m trying to say is that in the end, where I find myself now, I’m developing a kind of photography that is very much based in the idea of anthropology – so that my pictures, in the hands of an anthropologist or historian, are also interesting. I sometimes see myself as a naturalist, like one of those guys who travelled in the 19th century, who went exploring other territories and who documented in a very objective and formal style what they saw.

 From Txema Salvans's The Waiting Game

From Txema Salvans’s The Waiting Game

To begin with, I decided quite some time ago to work from that which I know, which is Spain, which is my culture. You know that in photography people can begin to work or can start out in photography from that with which they empathise, so if it’s a person who does a lot of sport and is a cycling fan, then they photograph the world of cycling or climbing or travel, or if it’s someone who loves to party and spends much of their time in nightlife then they start with that. I basically realised straight away that that about which I could speak would be that which I could understand. So, when I go to a Spanish wedding I can understand, I don’t need it to be explained to me what is the particular choreography of that wedding, and which are the important characters in that wedding, or what is happening and the cultural specificity of what it is that I’m seeing. I suppose that also owing to my more scientific or pragmatic way of seeing, I happen to love to photograph that which I understand. So, within that which I understand or in terms of photographing the society to which I belong, I have concentrated on that which is contemporary leisure – holidaying people and leisure spaces. In a moment I’ll get to the issue of the prostitutes and explain how it was that that idea emerged…

So, why holidays? First, in part due to practical constraints. I mean to say, I can go out and photograph unconcerned – well, not so unconcerned now because when people see a camera they’re spooked – but let’s say that during the months of spring and summer I can go and take photographs when I want because I know where those leisure spaces are, I don’t need..

The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc

The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc

The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc(Enchanted Lion Books)

Canadian illustrator Marianne Dubuc has created many different kinds of books for readers of all ages. The story line for this book (courtesy of the publisher)— one autumn day, a lion finds a wounded bird in his garden. With the departure of the bird’s flock, the lion decides that it’s up to him to care for the bird. He does and the two become fast friends. Nevertheless, the bird departs with his flock the following autumn. What will become of Lion and what will become of their friendship? And it should not go unsaid that this tome is keeping with the high bench mark Enchanted Lion Books has set for its books.

Marianne Dubuc

Marianne Dubuc

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