Best Selling Books in Arts & Literature - Artists, Architects & Photographers

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release date: Sep 25, 2018
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Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art
The rich, revealing, and thrilling story of five women whose lives and painting propelled a revolution in modern art, from the National Book Award finalist.

Set amid the most turbulent social and political period of modern times, Ninth Street Women is the impassioned, wild, sometimes tragic, always exhilarating chronicle of five women who dared to enter the male-dominated world of twentieth-century abstract painting--not as muses but as artists. From their cold-water lofts, where they worked, drank, fought, and loved, these pioneers burst open the door to the art world for themselves and countless others to come.

Gutsy and indomitable, Lee Krasner was a hell-raising leader among artists long before she became part of the modern art world's first celebrity couple by marrying Jackson Pollock. Elaine de Kooning, whose brilliant mind and peerless charm made her the emotional center of the New York School, used her work and words to build a bridge between the avant-garde and a public that scorned abstract art as a hoax. Grace Hartigan fearlessly abandoned life as a New Jersey housewife and mother to achieve stardom as one of the boldest painters of her generation. Joan Mitchell, whose notoriously tough exterior shielded a vulnerable artist within, escaped a privileged but emotionally damaging Chicago childhood to translate her fierce vision into magnificent canvases. And Helen Frankenthaler, the beautiful daughter of a prominent New York family, chose the difficult path of the creative life. Her gamble paid off: At twenty-three she created a work so original it launched a new school of painting.

These women changed American art and society, tearing up the prevailing social code and replacing it with a doctrine of liberation. In Ninth Street Women, acclaimed author Mary Gabriel tells a remarkable and inspiring story of the power of art and artists in shaping not just postwar America but the future.

release date: Oct 02, 2018
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Leonardo da Vinci
The #1 New York Times bestseller from Walter Isaacson brings Leonardo da Vinci to life in this exciting new biography that is “a study in creativity: how to define it, how to achieve it…Most important, it is a powerful story of an exhilarating mind and life” (The New Yorker).

Based on thousands of pages from Leonardo da Vinci’s astonishing notebooks and new discoveries about his life and work, Walter Isaacson “deftly reveals an intimate Leonardo” (San Francisco Chronicle) in a narrative that connects his art to his science. He shows how Leonardo’s genius was based on skills we can improve in ourselves, such as passionate curiosity, careful observation, and an imagination so playful that it flirted with fantasy.

He produced the two most famous paintings in history, The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa. With a passion that sometimes became obsessive, he pursued innovative studies of anatomy, fossils, birds, the heart, flying machines, botany, geology, and weaponry. He explored the math of optics, showed how light rays strike the cornea, and produced illusions of changing perspectives in The Last Supper. His ability to stand at the crossroads of the humanities and the sciences, made iconic by his drawing of Vitruvian Man, made him history’s most creative genius.

In the “luminous” (Daily Beast) Leonardo da Vinci, Isaacson describes how Leonardo’s delight at combining diverse passions remains the ultimate recipe for creativity. So, too, does his ease at being a bit of a misfit: illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, easily distracted, and at times heretical. His life should remind us of the importance to be imaginative and, like talented rebels in any era, to think different. Here, da Vinci “comes to life in all his remarkable brilliance and oddity in Walter Isaacson’s ambitious new biography…a vigorous, insightful portrait” (The Washington Post).
release date: Sep 04, 2018
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Fashion Climbing: A Memoir with Photographs
The New York Times bestseller

“[An] obscenely enjoyable romp . . . [Fashion Climbing] leaves the readers gasping for more.” —The New York Times Book Review

The untold story of a New York City legend's education in creativity and style


For Bill Cunningham, New York City was the land of freedom, glamour, and, above all, style. Growing up in a lace-curtain Irish suburb of Boston, secretly trying on his sister's dresses and spending his evenings after school in the city's chicest boutiques, Bill dreamed of a life dedicated to fashion. But his desires were a source of shame for his family, and after dropping out of Harvard, he had to fight them tooth-and-nail to pursue his love.

When he arrived in New York, he reveled in people-watching. He spent his nights at opera openings and gate-crashing extravagant balls, where he would take note of the styles, new and old, watching how the gowns moved, how the jewels hung, how the hair laid on each head. This was his education, and the birth of the democratic and exuberant taste that he came to be famous for as a photographer for The New York Times. After two style mavens took Bill under their wing, his creativity thrived and he made a name for himself as a designer. Taking on the alias William J.--because designing under his family's name would have been a disgrace to his parents--Bill became one of the era's most outlandish and celebrated hat designers, catering to movie stars, heiresses, and artists alike. Bill's mission was to bring happiness to the world by making women an inspiration to themselves and everyone who saw them. These were halcyon days when fashion was all he ate and drank. When he was broke and hungry he'd stroll past the store windows on Fifth Avenue and feed himself on beautiful things.

Fashion Climbing is the story of a young man striving to be the person he was born to be: a true original. But although he was one of the city's most recognized and treasured figures, Bill was also one of its most guarded. Written with his infectious joy and one-of-a-kind voice, this memoir was polished, neatly typewritten, and safely stored away in his lifetime. He held off on sharing it--and himself--until his passing. Between these covers, is an education in style, an effervescent tale of a bohemian world as it once was, and a final gift to the readers of one of New York's great characters.
release date: Oct 02, 2018
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Inspired Design: The 100 Most Important Designers of the Past 100 Years
Most decorating books focus on one designer; the rest focus on one period, one trend, one room. This book, for the first time, has the big picture: ALL the names everybody must know from the entire 100-year history of interior design. Each designer is profiled and illustrated with three to four photographs of their best work; what we can learn from them—and how they changed decorating forever—is clearly highlighted to catch the eye.
 
release date: Nov 02, 2010
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Just Kids

WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD

In Just Kids, Patti Smith’s first book of prose, the legendary American artist offers a never-before-seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies.  An honest and moving story of youth and friendship, Smith brings the same unique, lyrical quality to Just Kids as she has to the rest of her formidable body of work—from her influential 1975 album Horses to her visual art and poetry.

release date: Oct 02, 2018
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Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor

A major new look at the work of one of America’s foremost self-taught artists

Bill Traylor (ca. 1853–1949) came to art-making on his own and found his creative voice without guidance; today he is remembered as a renowned American artist. Traylor was born into slavery on an Alabama plantation, and his experiences spanned multiple worlds―black and white, rural and urban, old and new―as well as the crucibles that indelibly shaped America―the Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and the Great Migration. Between Worlds presents an unparalleled look at the work of this enigmatic and dazzling artist, who blended common imagery with arcane symbolism, narration with abstraction, and personal vision with the beliefs and folkways of his time.

Traylor was about twelve when the Civil War ended. After six more decades of farm labor, he moved, aging and alone, into segregated Montgomery. In the last years of his life, he drew and painted works depicting plantation memories and the rising world of African American culture. Upon his death he left behind over a thousand pieces of art. Between Worlds convenes 205 of his most powerful creations, including a number that have been previously unpublished. This beautiful and carefully researched book assesses Traylor’s biography and stylistic development, and for the first time interprets his scenes as ongoing narratives, conveying enduring, interrelated themes.

Between Worlds reveals one man’s visual record of African American life as a window into the overarching story of his nation.

Exhibition Schedule
Smithsonian American Art Museum
September 28, 2018–March 17, 2019

release date: Aug 06, 2018
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Notes and Methods
At the turn of the twentieth century, Swedish artist Hilma af Klint (1862–1944) created a body of work that left visible reality behind, exploring the radical possibilities of abstraction years before Vasily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, or Piet Mondrian. Many consider her the first trained artist to create abstract paintings. With Hilma af Klint: Notes and Methods, we get to experience the arc of af Klint’s artistic investigation in her own words.

Hilma af Klint studied at the Royal Swedish Academy in Stockholm where she was part of the first generation of female students.  Up until the beginning of the century, she painted mainly landscapes and detailed botanical studies. Her work from this period was that of a young artist of her time who meticulously observed the world around her. But, like many of her contemporaries, af Klint was also interested in the invisible relationships that shape our world, believing strongly in a spiritual dimension. She joined the Theosophical Society, and, with four fellow female members who together called themselves “The Five,” began to study mediumship.  Between 1906 and 1915, purportedly guided by a higher power, af Klint created 193 individual works that, in both scale and scope of imagery, are like no other art created at that time.  Botanically inspired images and mystical symbols, diagrams, words, and geometric series, all form part of af Klint’s abstract language. These abstract techniques would not be seen again until years later.

Notes and Methods presents facsimile reproductions of a wide array of af Klint’s early notebooks accompanied by the first English translation of af Klint’s extensive writings. It contains the rarely seen “Blue Notebooks,” hand-painted and annotated catalogues af Klint created of her most famous series “Paintings for the Temple,” and a dictionary compiled by af Klint of the words and letters found in her work. This extraordinary collection is edited by and copublished with Christine Burgin, and features an introduction by Iris Müller-Westermann. It will stand as an important and timely contribution to the legacy of Hilma af Klint.
release date: Jun 19, 2018
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Old In Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over
One of O: The Oprah Magazine's Top Books of Summer

"Old in Art School is a glorious achievement―bighearted and critical, insightful and entertaining. This book is a cup of courage for everyone who wants to change their lives." ―Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage and Silver Sparrow


Following her retirement from Princeton University, celebrated historian Dr. Nell Irvin Painter surprised everyone in her life by returning to school―in her sixties―to earn a BFA and MFA in painting. In Old in Art School, she travels from her beloved Newark to the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design; finds meaning in the artists she loves, even as she comes to understand how they may be undervalued; and struggles with the unstable balance between the pursuit of art and the inevitable, sometimes painful demands of a life fully lived.

How are women and artists seen and judged by their age, looks, and race? What does it mean when someone says, “You will never be an artist”? Who defines what “An Artist” is and all that goes with such an identity, and how are these ideas tied to our shared conceptions of beauty, value, and difference?

Old in Art School is Nell Painter’s ongoing exploration of those crucial questions. Bringing to bear incisive insights from two careers, Painter weaves a frank, funny, and often surprising tale of her move from academia to art.
release date: Aug 09, 2005
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The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait
The intimate life of artist Frida Kahlo is wonderfully revealed in the illustrated journal she kept during her last 10 years. This passionate and at times surprising record contains the artist's thoughts, poems, and dreams; many reflecting her stormy relationship with her husband, artist Diego Rivera, along with 70 mesmerising watercolour illustrations. The text entries in brightly coloured inks make the journal as captivating to look at as it is to read. Her writing reveals the artist's political sensibilities, recollections of her childhood, and her enormous courage in the face of more than thirty-five operations to correct injuries she had sustained in an accident at the age of eighteen.
release date: Jun 27, 2006
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A Field Guide to Getting Lost
A stimulating exploration of wandering, being lost, and the uses of the unknown from the author of Men Explain Things To Me

Written as a series of autobiographical essays, A Field Guide to Getting Lost draws on emblematic moments and relationships in Rebecca Solnit's life to explore issues of uncertainty, trust, loss, memory, desire, and place. Solnit is interested in the stories we use to navigate our way through the world, and the places we traverse, from wilderness to cities, in finding ourselves, or losing ourselves. While deeply personal, her own stories link up to larger stories, from captivity narratives of early Americans to the use of the color blue in Renaissance painting, not to mention encounters with tortoises, monks, punk rockers, mountains, deserts, and the movie Vertigo. The result is a distinctive, stimulating voyage of discovery.
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