The Ten Most Stunning Photography Books of 2019

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Jeux de PeauPhotography by Purienne, Courtesy of IDEA

2019 saw the release of myriad extraordinary photography books, spanning fashion, portraiture, documentary and retrospective – here are ten of our favourites

Lost and Found by Bruce Gilden

Published towards the latter end of 2019, Bruce Gilden’s photo book Lost and Found takes us back 45 years to the streets of 1970s New York. The images, which were only rediscovered by chance last year, show what the city was like during its most dilapidated (“the truth of the matter is the city was down,” Gilden told AnOther). The result is a portrait of New York past and its colourful inhabitants, which Gilden photographs with affection and irreverence. Head here to read more.

Family by Masahisa Fukase

“In this world, time passes inexorably, and everyone will die. It seems to me now that all of us – old, young, children, even I myself – are like nothing so much as photographs stuck inside a very old photograph album,” the late Japanese photographer Masahisa Fukase once said. Family (Kazoku) – recently republished by MACK books – explores the intimacies of love, life, and loss among his relatives. The playful and sometimes unsettling series, comprising portraits of Fukase’s wife, siblings, nieces, nephews and in-laws, both replicates and subverts those taken in his family’s traditional portraiture studio, in which he spent much of his childhood. Head here to read more.

Jeux de Peau by Purienne

South African photographer Henrik Purienne’s IDEA-published Jeux de Peau is perhaps the most sensual photobook of the year. Comprising evocative portraits of his friends and models, the book draws inspiration from the colours, light and interiors of his Los Angeles home, where the series was shot. “I capture life: the subjects and objects within my environment and interior space as a metaphor. I love documenting real moments with friends. Most often it is a case of all elements lining up to the point where I simply have to pick up my camera,” Purienne told Miss Rosen. Head here to read more.

Provincetown by Joel Meyerowitz

Provincetown, the 2019 photo book by Joel Meyerowitz, takes a closer look at the small seaside town on the northeasternmost tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts in a series of images taken in the 1980s. Although the striking portraiture deviates from Meyerowitz’s usual street photography, his depiction of Provincetown’s LGBTQ scene provided – and continues to provide – a much-needed vision of hope and beauty in a time of crisis. “We’re just human beings, and we’re strange and beautiful and interior and no matter what our sexual preferences are, this is what we look like,” Meyerowitz told AnOther’s Belle Hutton. Head here to read more.

I Know How Furiously Your Heart is Beating by Alec Soth

After taking a year out from photography, American image-maker Alec Soth released I Know How Furiously Your Heart is Beating, a series of portraits of people in their own spaces, this year. Where once his photographs were defined by a kind of distance between Soth and his subject, these photographs signal a new kind of intimacy. As he explains to author Hanya Yanagihara in the book: “The only way to describe it is to say that I suddenly understood that everything is connected... This changed everything.” Head here to read more.

Notes on Fundamental Joy by Carmen Winant

In 2018, for the Autumn/Winter 2018 issue of AnOther Magazine, American artist Carmen Winant discussed image-making and its connections with feminism, saying: “Women for so long had been pictured by men, and a big part of reclaiming their lives was about inventing new languages. But I think it was also about documenting.” Almost a year later, 2019 saw the release of Winant’s new photography book – Notes on Fundamental Joy; seeking the elimination of oppression through the social and political transformation of the patriarchy that otherwise threatens to bury us – a powerful collection of found images from feminist and lesbian communes that existed in the Pacific Northwest, USA, in the early 1980s. Head here to read more.

Tonight Lounge by Lorena Lohr

A compilation of imagery from the past decade, Tonight Lounge – which accompanies an exhibition at London’s Cob Gallery until January 11, 2020 – shows British-Canadian photographer Lorena Lohr’s unique ability to capture the details of contemporary life, particularly in the USA, where much of her work is shot. Speaking with AnOther’s Belle Hutton, Lohr explains that “[she has] always been looking at these traces that people leave behind, and how they’re a record of people’s lives, the stories that they tell and the things that people make to sustain a life”. The dreamy images are testament to just this: whether sun-soaked casino towns, empty leather banquettes or Elvis Presley’s bed, preserved under plastic. Head here to read more.

Busy Living by Coco Capitán

Explaining the differences between her first major exhibition and her editorial work for fashion publications, Spanish artist and photographer Coco Capitán says: “there are photographs that do perfectly in a magazine and that is why I have really small photographs also in this show, I don’t only make it about having a massive picture inside. It’s more about what that picture means specifically.” Accompanying the exhibition came Busy Living, a comprehensive photo book of the image-maker’s last six years of work. Combining her hand-drawn aphorisms and colourful photographs, the result is a unique take on contemporary visual language. Head here to read more.

Photographs by Jack Davison

With a desire to “keep people confused”, photographer and regular AnOther Magazine contributor Jack Davison has captured an extensive collection of work in his debut monograph, Photographs. From editorial portraiture to abstract compositions, Davison doesn’t restrict himself with what he creates and instead wants the viewer to encounter and appreciate each image on their own terms (as such, there are no captions, credits or dates in the book). “People want to be able to call you an art photographer or a fashion photographer. It’s easier for them to put a tag on you. But I don’t necessarily feel comfortable in any of the realms,” Davison told AnOther. “I’ve always said I want to keep people confused forever.” Head here to read more.

ArgueSKE 1994–1997 by Davide Sorrenti

Published by IDEA in November, a collection of images by fashion photographer Davide Sorrenti – who passed away in 1997 aged 20, his death wrongly attributed at the time to a heroin overdose – is collated in new photo book ArgueSKE 1994–1997. Coming in the wake of Charlie Curran’s documentary See Know Evil which seeks to unravel the photographer’s complex legacy, inextricably linked with a period in fashion known as ‘heroin chic’, the film and book pay tribute to the life of the prodigious fashion photographer, drawing renewed focus on the mark he has left – the beauty of his work. Head here to read more.