10 Stunning Coffee Table Books For Art Lovers

Arts

August 9, 2018 | BY Emma Heyn

Glossy, beautiful, and essential for any living-room, coffee table books have long been a staple for chic home decor. Below, we've selected some of the top art-focused coffee table publications released this year, and we guarantee you'll be putting down that kindle with these gorgeous books on offer.

Photo: Courtesy of Taschen
1

Murals of Tibet

Published by TaschenMurals of Tibet is the magnum opus of American writer, journalist, and photographer, Thomas Laird, who has dedicated his life to documenting sacred art and murals of Tibet. Brilliantly colourful and vivid, these life-size murals reveal the beautiful art to be found in some of the remotest regions of central Asia, and give us a taste of what is surely still out there, waiting to be discovered.

Retailing at HK$110,000, each copy of the publication has been signed by the Dalai Lama, who notes that the book represents not just a visual representation of Tibetan culture, but also serves as an aesthetic guide for followers of the Buddhist faith.

The book is an 'elephant portfolio' (measuring 50 x 70 cm), but given the beauty and scope of Laird's work—which is a truly once-in-a-lifetime achievement—we think it's well worth the space. 

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10 Stunning Coffee Table Books For Art Lovers
Photo: Courtesy of Taschen
2

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Barrels And The Mastaba

Unveiled in June earlier this year, The London Mastaba (an Arabic word meaning stone bench, used in reference to Mesopotamian tombs) instantly became one of the most memorable art installations of the summer.

Floating atop London's iconic Serpentine river, the piece by Christo and Jean Claude consists of 7,500 brightly-coloured barrels stacked together, and the result is a physics-defying trapezoid that stands over twenty feet tall, cheerfully inviting tourists and Londoners to take stock, and marvel at the sheer scope of it.  

The book invites you to go behind the scenes and glimpse the creative process behind this complex installation, including concept sketches, new drafts, and never-seen before content, and to examine the Mastaba's creators. Recently published by Taschen, this book is a love letter to creative thinking.

Photo: Courtesy of Rizzoli
3

Arsham

With fans such as Pharrell, Jay Z, Usher, Mahershala Ali, and James Franco, is it any wonder that Arsham’s tome is slated to be one the most anticipated monographs of the season? Scheduled to be released this November by Rizzoli, Arsham is set to hit the shelves with characteristic flair and style.

Known best for his genre-defying pieces that blur the lines between art forms (blending everything from classical dance to architecture), this book offers the highlights of Arsham’s ever-expansive portfolio, examines the influences that have led to his runaway success and his enduring appeal to a global audience.

Revealing never-before-seen material and exclusive behind-the-scenes content, the book is a must have for anyone interested in contemporary art. 

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10 Stunning Coffee Table Books For Art Lovers
Photo: Courtesy of Rizzoli
4

101 Art Destinations In The USA

The essential travel guide for any art lover, this coffee table book from Rizzoli rounds-up the must-visit galleries, museums, studios, and installations around the USA.

Collated by Owen Phillips, the New Yorker's seminal reporter for the "Going's On About Town", you can rest assured that the selections within have been carefully curated to best reflect America's vast arts scene. 

See also: 10 Non-Fiction Books You Won't Be Able To Put Down This Summer

Photo: Courtesy of Assouline
5

Iran Modern: The Empress Of Art

Prior to her exile in 1979, Farah Pahlavi was one of the world's foremost promoters of both ancient and contemporary art in Iran. On behalf of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, she purchased and curated works by Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, Claude Monet, and Van Gogh, (to name but a few) and is credited as being one of the most significant champions of the Iranian art scene to date.

Detailing her riveting journey, from empress to collector, and ultimately to exile, this book covers one of the most fascinating periods of socio-political development in the Persian Gulf, while unveiling a new picture of the woman who contributed to making modern art accessible to millions, both in Iran and abroad.

Set to be published by Assouline in September, this book serves as a reminder of the struggles undertaken to make great art available for everyone to see.

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10 Stunning Coffee Table Books For Art Lovers
Photo: Courtesy of Phaidon
6

The Art Museum

Vast in scope, but accurate in detail, The Art Museum describes itself as a 'virtual museum', and it's certainly an impressive undertaking.

Collaborating with almost 30 of the world's eminent art historians and curators, the book examines 1600 artworks, from architecture in ancient Greece to Picasso’s photography, taking readers on a journey through the history of art itself. 

Packed with gorgeous illustrations, photographs and infographics, you won't need to reach for Google to satisfy your next questions about art history. 

See also: 10 Hong Kong Art Exhibitions To See In August

Photo: Courtesy of Steidl
7

Life And Dreams: Contemporary Chinese Photography And Media Art 

Life and Dreams marks the first time that the works of Chinese contemporary art in the prestigious Walther collection have been presented in one publication.

The Walther exhibition itself focuses on the documentation of historic developments through photography, and when examining this topic from a Chinese perspective, the resulting work is a fascinating visual history that catalogues the socio-political developments of China in the 1990s, with each artist bringing a unique take to a vast array of topics such as urbanisation, education, and art. 

Published by Steidl earlier this year, the book is essential to anyone wishing to study the lines between politics and artistic representation. 

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10 Stunning Coffee Table Books For Art Lovers
Photo: Courtesy of Steidl
8

Close

With one of the most arresting covers on the market (and sure to start some interesting dinner party conversations), Close is a groundbreaking portraiture photography series, all based on Martin Schoeller's captivating idea: to photograph a range of celebrities—among them Obama, Taylor Swift, Emma Watson, and Dolly Parton—and take simple headshots of them unsmiling, each staring unflinchingly into the camera.

While the idea is simple, the results may surprise you. Stripped back to nothing more than a single expression, the work might just make you reconsider what you think when you hear the word "celebrity". 

See also: 10 Best Fiction Books For Summer 2018

Photo: Courtesy of Rizzoli and Kwai Fung Hin
9

Landscapes From A Master's Heart

A collaborative publication by Rizzoli and Kwai Fung Hin, the book is a long overdue monograph of contemporary ink painter Li Huayi.

Growing up during the cultural revolution, Huayi's artistic career began painting Soviet-esque propaganda posters, keeping his skills in traditional ink artistry (thanks to the tutelage of master Wang Jimei) a secret until well into adulthood.

After teaching himself both Chinese and Western art styles, he left China and emigrated to San Francisco, where his talents and career blossomed, and he became one of the most significant contemporary ink painters. With insightful commentary from curator and art critic Kuiyi Shen, the book is a tender examination of one artist's growth and evolution.

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10 Stunning Coffee Table Books For Art Lovers
Photo: Courtesy of Thames & Hudson
10

Nudes

It should come as no surprise that David Lynch has produced one of the strangest and most engrossing coffee table books of the year. With his usual blend of surrealism and a distinct je ne sais quoi , the book, published this month by Thames & Hudson, features nude female portraits taken by Lynch throughout his directorial career, many of which have never been revealed until now. 

Balancing somewhere between thoughtful and tantalising, these photographs are sure to make you re-examine how you see nude photography, and provide an intimate glimpse into Lynch's complex creative process. 

See also: Why Taschen Opened Its First Asia Store In Hong Kong

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