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Top ten art tomes

From Dash Snow to Sarah Lucas, dive into the weightiest visual art books of the year

With the launch of the formidably sized, pill-encrusted monograph of 1980s art-led nightclub Area this month (above), we’re reflecting on a few great visual art tomes to have come out in recent times, with a focus on in-depth investigations into specific themes – especially in the form of weighty hardbacks.

La Biennale di Venezia 2013, German Pavilion edited by Susanne Gaensheimer

This is the official catalogue of the German pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale, which closes at the end of the week. Having swapped sites with its French counterpart, the focus of the German pavilion lies on intercultural and intellectual exchange and includes work from international artists Ai Weiwei, Romuald Karmakar, Santu Mofokeng and Dayanita Singh.


Following a trip to Mexico last spring, Sarah Lucas has co-written this brilliantly titled new book documenting her escapades in the country in the run-up to her exhibition at Museo Diego Rivera Anahuacalli, marking a period of significant development in her sculptural work. "For Anahuacalli in Mexico City I wanted to make the sculptures in Mexico," stated Lucas upon its release, "knowing that Nuds will tap into the forces that surround them, the enchantment of the place, and its spirits. I chose Oaxaca for the making process. Or perhaps it chose me."

AREA: 1983-1987 by Eric and Jennifer Goode

Infamous New York nightclub Area has now been thoroughly documented in a huge, image-heavy book published by Abrams, which recounts the full glory of this short-lived yet legendary art/music project. The space, frequented by the likes of Grace Jones, Vivienne Westwood and David Byrne was completely transformed every six weeks by artists such as Keith Haring, Chuck Close and Andy Warhol.

Brian Eno: Visual Music by Christopher Scoates and Brian Eno

Whilst we’re on the theme of music, this new monograph focuses on the visual side of Brian Eno’s creative production over the past 40 years, from gallery installations to sketchbook pages.

Out of Hand: Materializing the Postdigital edited by Ronald Labaco 

Released just this month is a new hardback examining the practical and intellectual role of digital tools in contemporary art, architecture and design practice, to accompany a major exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.

Derek Jarman’s Sketchbooks by Stephen Farthingand Ed Webb-Ingall 

Just before Derek Jarman’s recent exhibition at Wilkinson Gallery, London, Thames & Hudson published a book focusing on the cult film-maker’s intricately detailed sketchbooks. Containing drawings, photographs, notes and found material, his attentive documentation reveals the careful visual planning behind each of his celebrated films.

The Age of Collage: Contemporary Collage in Modern Art by Silke Krohn, Dennis H. Busch, Henni Hellige and Robert Klanten

The Age of Collage is a beautiful and satisfyingly hefty book that peers into the world of 'irreverent' collage, featuring a broad range of artists from the ubiquitous John Stezaker to Jordan Clark, Astrid Klein and Dash Snow.

I Love You, Stupid!: Dash Snow by Mary Blair Hansen, Blair Hansen and Glenn O'Brien 

Speaking of Dash Snow, König Books published a retrospective showcase of work by the prolific young artist, who met his premature death at the age of 27 in 2009. Famed for his Polaroid documentation of hedonistic nights out, his oeuvre dates back to the same year as the 9/11 bombings and reflects a sadly brief lifetime – as his friend Ryan McGinley described it in his memoir of Snow – of being "irresponsible, reckless, carefree, wild and rich."

M to M of M/M (Paris) by Emily King and Hans Ulrich Obrist

Celebrating 20 years of M/M (Paris)’s creative partnership is this suitably large paperback, which showcases in over 1,000 images Michael Amzalag and Mathias Augustyniak’s influential graphic design work and relationship with iconic artists and curators such as Pierre Huyghe and Nicolas Bourriaud, as well as fashion houses and musicians.

Facing the Modern: The Portrait in Vienna 1900 by Gemma Blackshaw and Edmund de Waal

Published as an accompaniment to the current exhibition at the National Gallery, London, Facing the Modern looks at one of the most exciting periods in European art history through the genre of portraiture, with a particular focus on Vienna. Predictably, this means Schiele, Kokoschka and Klimt are in the limelight here, but the catalogue also includes work from lesser-known women and Jewish artists in an attempt to create a slightly more rounded perspective.