Nine Nice Photo Books to Buy Now

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Robert Mapplethorpe
Calla Lily, 1989© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

From Mapplethorpe to Lartigue and donkeys to lockdowns, this month’s best photo books provide a dazzling array of images to enjoy

Girl Pictures by Justine Kurland, published by Aperture

“Being a teenager means you haven’t yet fully signed on, politically, culturally or economically,” New York-based photographer Justine Kurland recently said to AnOther, speaking as her new book Girl Pictures was published. “If you simply refuse to grow up and toe the line – why would you want to, anyway? – you can create a world for yourself, one that’s bearable to live in.” The photographs in the book, originally taken 20 years ago, depict an “army of teenage runaways”, who Kurland staged in the wild landscapes of America.

Perfect Day by Txema Salvans, published by MACK

Spanish photographer Txema Salvans’ new book Perfect Day brings together sun-soaked images of people on holiday in urban environments, near shores where towns have built up to such an extent that buildings encroach on beaches. “Although many of these photographs were made near the sea, the sea itself remains invisible: a silent, implicit witness and a backcloth that has been inverted,” says MACK, the book’s publisher. The irreverent photographs are bittersweet to look at during our current reality of lockdowns and social distancing: at once sparking memories of holidays and summers spent outside, and leaving us wondering what such things will look like post-pandemic.

Robert Mapplethorpe edited by Mark Holborn and Dimitri Levas, published by Phaidon

Phaidon has published a revised and updated edition of Robert Mapplethorpe, a comprehensive tome detailing the photographer’s unparalleled career and output. From his sensual colour photographs of flowers to striking black and white portraits and still lifes, the book covers an extraordinary, and influential, life in photography, and is introduced with a new poem by Mapplethorpe’s friend and one-time partner Patti Smith.

Living Trust by Buck Ellison, published by Loose Joints

LA-based photographer Buck Ellison has routinely explored the language of wealth in his home country through his work. “Novels pinpoint this so well – Virginia Woolf was an incredible critic of class in England or Edith Wharton in America. A large chunk of western painting was a representation of this sort of wealth – but there wasn’t much in photography,” the image-maker told Another Man of what drew him to his subject matter. Loose Joints published Ellison’s first monograph, Living Trust, in April, which brings together images from a decade of photography: from energetic still lifes to a series which depicts an imagined version of US politician Betsy DeVos’ hyper-privileged life.

The Rumour by Paul Kooiker, published by Art Paper Editions

“One title and 19 donkeys, Paul Kooiker’s statement about surrealism,” reads the description on Art Paper Editions’ website for Kooiker’s newest publication. The Rumour is a series of black and white portraits of donkeys, originally featured in group exhibition The Tears of Eros at Utrecht’s Centraal Museum, which explored how surrealism continues to influence artists and photographers working today. Each copy of the equally sweet and surreal The Rumour comes with a signed and numbered print from the series.

Stay Home by Stanislaw Boniecki

Brooklyn-based photographer Stanislaw Boniecki has created a “DIY” book during lockdown, documenting the extraordinary new reality that he and his heavily pregnant wife were now faced with. “We have been staying home since March 13th,” Boniecki explains of the project. “During that time we both got the virus and our building went on fire. I shot more than 1,500 images and read a lot of newspapers. I wrote down some quotes and combined them with the pictures.”  The result is a touching, emotive record of the unique time they found themselves living through, entitled Stay Home

Lartigue: The Boy and the Belle Époque by Louise Baring, published by Thames & Hudson

Jacques Henri Lartigue found his feet in photography during the late 19th-century, pre-World War I period known in France as the Belle Époque. A new book published by Thames & Hudson compiles Lartigue’s early imagery, taken as an adolescent (he was given his first camera when he was younger than ten years old), depicting the freedom, style and spirit of the Belle Époque. “It’s true escapism, given the current pandemic that the whole world finds itself living through today, and a real joy to read and lose yourself in,” AnOther columnist Daisy Hoppen recently wrote of the compelling new tome.

City Metro by Jamel Shabazz, published by Galerie Bene Taschen

Following an exhibition at the institution’s Cologne home, Galerie Bene Taschen publishes City Metro, a catalogue of Jamel Shabazz’s series of photographs taken in 1980s New York, mostly in the city’s subways. The Brooklyn-born photographer made his name with his street shots which capture the energy of New York in that decade, and the subway images are no different. Shabazz took to photographing the city’s subway and train riders through windows into busy carriages, on platforms, listening to performers or simply commuting in graffiti-decorated subway cars.

Balthasar Burkhard, published by Steidl

One of Steidl’s latest publications looks at the complex and compelling career of the late Swiss photographer Balthasar Burkhard. In his typically rich black and white style, Burkhard photographed art and exhibitions in his home country before moving to document the world around him with an equally astute sensibility. With a series of texts by Abigail Solomon-Godeau, Tom Holert, Martin Gasser, Thomas Seelig, and Florian Ebner, we see how Burkhard’s practice evolved over the second half of the 20th century, from documenting the art world to portraits of nature and animals.