Sew Far
Sew Far
By Chris Roberts-Antieau
200 pages; CRA

Sew Far, a volume of "fabric paintings" and other work by self-taught Chris Roberts-Antieau, has a madcap whimsy that makes her a favorite on the gallery circuit. Deftly stitched and embroidered—combining sophisticated needlework, primitive painting, and humorous, hand-lettered texts—her portraits of goofy faces, doll-like figures, dancers, musicians, circus performers, and jolly barnyard animals employ the techniques of traditional "woman's work" to create a highly personal and high-spirited brand of visionary folk art. Featuring pop-ups, foldouts, and a sweetly persuasive statement by the artist, each inventively designed limited edition book comes with a framed work of art—one among many splendid surprises.

Dogs on Rocks
Dogs on Rocks  
By William Wegman
136 pages; A.S.A.P

Photographing the dogs outside is a little like fishing: Find a promising stretch, make a cast, catch and release, move on," writes William Wegman in his introduction to Dogs on Rocks (Acadia Summer Arts Program). For fans of Wegman's iconic pooch portraits, these soulful, playful, and slyly humorous shots of Weimaraners (Wegman's signature breed) vamping and lolling on the harshly beautiful Maine coast offer all the satisfactions of landing a big catch.

Live Forever
Live Forever
By Laura Hoptman
224 pages; Phaidon

Elizabeth Peyton is often credited with having reinvented—and reanimated—portraiture, and her tender, meditative depictions of friends, fellow artists, celebrities, and historical figures will make you realize why this gifted young painter has become the star attraction of so many recent exhibitions. Live Forever  includes Peyton's celebrated portraits of, among others, Kurt Cobain, Prince Harry, and David Hockney—as well as the news photos and snapshots that have attracted her to that endlessly intriguing subject: the human face.

Windows of the Soul
Windows of the Soul: My Journeys in the Muslim World
By Alexandra Avakian
208 pages; Focal Point

"At times the traditional hijab is as necessary for my work as a passport or a camera," writes photojournalist Alexandra Avakian, a New York City native who has taken her camera deep inside Muslim communities from Somalia to Gaza, from Tajikistan to Dearborn, Michigan. Avakian's first photo collection, Windows of the Soul: My Journeys in the Muslim World, challenges and expands any ideas we might have had about Islamic society, offering insightful glimpses of embattled, oppressed, or happily ordinary lives.

Lead Belly
Lead Belly: A Life in Pictures
By Tyehimba Jess
224 pages; Steidl

Born in the segregated South in the 1880s, the legendary Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly, served grueling sentences in Texas and Louisiana prisons—and survived to become one of the 20th century's most powerfully influential folk and blues musicians. Lead Belly: A Life in Pictures —featuring archival photos and intensely personal tributes by (among others) Tom Waits, Martin Scorsese, Pete Seeger, and Jack Kerouac—not only showcases the achievements of this unique virtuoso but sheds light on the history and culture of an entire era.

Seen Behind the Scene
Seen Behind the Scene
By Mary Ellen Mark
264 pages; Phaidon

Most famous for her documentary photography of homeless Seattle kids and Bombay prostitutes, Mary Ellen Mark has, over the course of her long and distinguished career, also been shooting on the sets of major Hollywood films. The revealing black-and-white images in Seen Behind the Scene capture famous actors and directors (Johnny Depp, Marlon Brando, Jessica Lange, Francis Ford Coppola, Tim Burton) at unguarded moments, telling us something fresh about the faces behind the carefully applied makeup—and about the magic that goes on even when the cinematographers take a break and the movie cameras stop rolling.

History of Beauty
History of Beauty and On Ugliness
By Umberto Eco
888 pages; Rizzoli

That versatile man of letters Umberto Eco, most famous for his 1980 novel The Name of the Rose, has now produced a gorgeously illustrated two-volume boxed set, History of Beauty and On Ugliness.  Drawing examples from art and architecture, from Greek vases to medieval manuscripts, from Weimar art to Soviet Realism, these brilliant ruminations make us think about precisely why we recoil from the monstrous and grotesque and are drawn to the perfection of harmony, color, shape, and form.

China: 3000 Years of Art and Literature
By Jason Steuber
243 pages; Welcome Books

The startling creativity of contemporary Chinese art splashes boldly (even brazenly) across the pages of The Revolution Continues, as a new crop of artists radically reject Mao's stifling ideology. China: 3,000 Years of Art and Literature, a magnificently reproduced compendium of paintings, scrolls, textiles, and other objects paired with ageless poems, dramas, and legends, illuminates the classical tradition that helped inspire a new generation of innovative and daring young artists.

Ailey Ascending: A Portrait in Motion
By Alvin Ailey America Dance Theater
144 pages; Chronicle Books

Ailey Ascending: A Portrait in Motion, a collection of Andrew Eccles's splendid photos of the dancers in the legendary Alvin Ailey dance troupe, will intensify your admiration for the astonishing capabilities of the body—onstage and off—even as it makes you reflect on how physical grace can mirror and express the bold generosity of the spirit.

The Antarctic: From the Circle to the Pole
The Antarctic: From the Circle to the Pole
By William L. Fox, Steven Pyne, Stuart Klipper
175 pages; Chronicle Books

Stretching across the page like bands of sheer beauty, Stuart Klipper's panoramic photos of Antarctica seem to have found a form perfectly suited to this awe-inspiring region. Visions of striated glaciers, frozen seas, fields of ice and snow, and stately penguins are among the visual souvenirs that Klipper has brought back from a series of journeys made from 1987 to 2000, and that—happily for us all—appear in The Antarctic: From the Circle to the Pole, a magnificent geography of this stunning and fragile landscape.

The New York Times: The Complete Front Pages, 1851–2008
The New York Times
456 pages; Black Dog & Leventhal

The assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Supreme Court ruling on desegregation, September 11—all the cataclysmic, world-changing events of the last century and a half read like tomorrow's news in The New York Times: The Complete Front Pages, 1851–2008. This satisfyingly hefty volume, with three accompanying DVD-ROMs, gives you access to 54,267 pages of pure undiluted history, reminding you of how the experience of reading the newspaper is at once public and intimate, of the enduring, essential, all-important power of the printed word.

By Miyoko Chu
18 pages; Chronicle Books

It's a hoot: a chirping, twittering, cawing, trilling love of a pop-up book called Birdscapes. Turn a page, and you plunge into a meticulously detailed habitat, from a Pacific seabird colony to a cypress swamp, from grasslands to Arctic tundra, each with its vociferous avian population. Reading Miyoko Chu's enlightening, atmospheric text as you admire the ingeniously engineered cutouts and listen to stereo tweets and whistles is a sensory delight.


Next Story