Friday, December 9, 2011

Taschen Adds Edge and Art To Holiday Shopping

Books: Tony Nunes looks over Taschen's newest releases

Christmas is a mere two-weeks away, and if you’re anything like me, you haven’t bought a single gift.  In search of unique, creative gift ideas I’ve found you can never go wrong with a book.  Books come in every topic imaginable, but there’s one bookseller out there that are a cut above the rest.  You could call Taschen Books the Château Margaux of the printed page, an art house releasing some of the most beautiful and rare books on the market.  Taschen curates original works from artists and filmmakers, with each book becoming a one-of-a-kind gallery exhibit for the coffee table.  Art collectors and film fanatics alike turn to Taschen for inspiration, and their newest releases are some of their most inspiring yet.

For me, The Pedro Almodóvar Archives is the must have piece among Taschen’s new releases.  In the current world of cinematic mass-production, Almodóvar stands true as a beacon of originality.  One of the only remaining auteurs by the truest definition of the title, he has filmed some of the most provocative, colorful, raw, beautiful, and wondrous films out there.  The Taschen Archive collects never-before-published images straight from Almodóvar’s archives.  From personal pictures he took on-set, to vivid images from his films including All About My Mother, Talk To Her, Volver and his newest, The Skin I Live In, this retrospective of the Spanish director’s career also includes captions and texts written by Almodóvar himself solely for the book.  An added treat for collectors, the Archives includes a filmstrip from Volver taken from the directors own collection.  The Pedro Almodóvar Archives comes with a pretty heavy price tag, at $200 (sadly above my pay grade), but at 16.2 x 11.8 in., with 410 pages of vivid imagery, it’s a standout for any art collectors bookshelf.  For the daring and wealthy there’s even a limited Art Edition in a clamshell box that comes with a signed print for a cool grand.

It’s safe to say that Inez van Lamsweerde/Vinoodh Matadin: Pretty Much Everything is the most ambitious of Taschen’s new releases.  A sprawling three volume set of over 900 pages of photographs and works from the portfolio of famed art and fashion photography duo Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin.  The collection is vast and complete, featuring some of the duo’s most famous portraits of Lady Gaga and Bjork side by side with the artistic portraits that define their aesthetic.  One of the books in the set is filled with interviews and texts about the duos body of work and style.  Truly a collection for art historians to indulge, Pretty Much Everything sells for between $700 to $1000, a piece of collectible and rare art in itself.   

One of Taschen’s most fun and edgy new books is The Big Book of Pussy, the final chapter of their body part series which includes The Big Book of Legs, Big Book of Breasts, Big Butt Book and Big Penis Book.  I know what you’re thinking, and yes, these are some provocative books, but no other coffee table book will have your guests more enthralled.  I might just have to pick up a copy for my table, maybe put it right next to my copy of Origin of Man.  This a history of the orifice, with a pictorial history companion destined to be kept out of sight from the young ones.  Featuring interviews with such odd cats (pussy reference) as the Fleshlight inventor, vaginal performance artists and photographers, you’ve never read anything like it.  Sign me up.  At an affordable $60, this is a great gift for your curious cousin, perverted uncle, or anyone with a sense of history matched with a bold sense of humor.

Among Taschen’s other new releases of note are a photographic collection of Helmut Newton works, Norman Mailer and Bert Stern’s Marilyn Monroe collection, an archive of architect Tadao Ando’s work, and a look back at the past ten years in film in Movies of the 2000s. 



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