The Best Art Books of 2017

Get these books on your Christmas list, stat.

By this point, it’s safe to say we’re all ready to say goodbye 2017. But despite the global shit-show, 2017 was a year of some great things, especially in the realm of art publishing.  So here for your reading pleasure (and just in time for your Christmas list) we’ve rounded up some of the best art books of the year. These, ladies and gentleman, are the must-have monographs of 2017.

Ren Hang

We’re still mourning his death, but what better way to celebrate Ren Hang’s life and work than the only international collection of his boundary-pushing photography? Raw, exposed and mesmerisingly beautiful, Hang’s photography set him at the forefront of the battle for creative freedom in communist China. Created in conjunction with the retrospective at MbdK Leipzig and spanning 312 pages, TASCHEN’s thorough survey shows us life through the lens of one of the world’s most visionary photographers.

Ren Hang, €39.99  TASCHEN

Chiharu Shiota

In light of Chiharu Shiota’s recent retrospective in Kunsthalle Rostock comes this comprehensive account her work. The distinct and transient site-specific installations for which the Japanese-born, Berlin-based artist is so renowned are handled with insight, and reproduced in as much glory as photography’s two dimensions permit. Texts by Tereza de Arruda, Pascal Hess and Olaf Reis are accompanied by drawings, film stills, photographs and objets trouvés from the artist’s oeuvre.

Chiharu Shiota | Under the Skin, €48.00 HATJE CANTZ

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Following the “Boom For Real” retrospective that’s been the talk of the UK comes this in-depth exploration of Basquiat’s life and work. A thorough survey of the his complete body of work, “Boom For Real” examines Basquiat’s relationship to jazz, graffiti, politics, popular culture and the Beat generation. Tracing the lasting legacy of the artist’s short career, this book is a must-have for any Basquiat fan.

Basquiat: Boom for Real, €49.95 – Random House


“Transmission” is a de facto anthology of everything A.P.C., created by none other than founder Jean Touitou. Comprising diaries, speeches, postcards, invitations and campaign images, “Transmission” is the A.P.C. book. In a style that’s as minimal and aesthetic as the brand itself, “Transmission” journeys from A.P.C.’s beginnings in Hiver 1987 to today.

A.P.C. Transmission, €65.00  PHAIDON

Alex Webb & Rebecca Norris Webb

“Slant Rhymes” is the collaborative volume of Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb — friends, lovers and creative partners. While not strictly a monograph, we couldn’t resist including this beautiful amalgamation of 30 years worth of photographs, a series of visual rhymes that interact with one another.

Alex Webb & Rebecca Norris Webb | Slant Rhymes, €40.38 La Fabrica

Suzy Lake

A beautifully in-depth monograph of the feminist artist, Steidl’s “Suzy Lake” explores the issues of gender, identity and the body through the photographic work of the Detroit-born, Toronto-based artist. Lake’s distinctive and thought-provoking works are highlighted here in all their glory.

Suzy Lake, €58.00 – Steidl

Pedro Almodovar

The extensive catalogue raisonné of cult director Pedro Almodóvar gets a new lease of life in this revised edition. Drawing from the complete archive of the Spanish auteur, TASCHEN traverse the journey from his first feature film, “Pepi, Luci, Bom” (1980) to his twentieth, “Julieta” (2016), charting the sexy, vibrant and bizarre narratives that have captivated audiences for decades.

The Pedro Almodovar Archives, €49.00 – TASCHEN

David Hockney

Following the Hockney exhibition that threw Britain into a frenzy comes Tate’s homage to one of the UK’s favourite artistic talent. Bursting with colour, life and vivacity, “David Hockney” is a joyous journey through the artist’s unique pictorial oeuvre.

David Hockney, €34 – Tate

Horst Diekgerdes

One of the most exciting fashion photographers of the ’90s, Horst Diekgerdes is perhaps known for his work for AnOther Magazine, Purple and Dazed & Confused. Now and for the first time, this monograph from Distanz traces his diverse and boundary-pushing images that took the fashion world by storm. Extensive and well put together, this book is a must for your coffee table stash.

Horst Diekgerdes, €48.00 – DISTANZ

Rachel Whiteread

Since becoming the first women winner of The Turner Prize in 1993, conceptual artist Rachel Whiteread has gone from strength to strength. Her vast site-specific installations and remarkable castings are reproduced in this Tate volume, a collaboration between Ann Gallagher and Molly Donovon that proves to be the most in-depth evaluation of Whiteread’s work to date.

Rachel Whiteread, €29 – Tate

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama is an artist who requires no introduction. Her obsession with polka-dots is known the world over, and her large scale installations make art fans out of even the most unenthustiac spectators. Following the stream of sensational retrospectives across the globe, PHAIDON update her catalogue raisonné in the form of this monograph. Revised and expanded, this new version is as full of life as Kusama’s work itself — and we’re dotty for it.

Yayoi Kusama, €59.95  PHAIDON

Calvin Klein

The fashion book to rule all fashion books. This monstrous collection of words and images is compiled by King Klein himself and features photographs that defined an era. Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Bruce Weber and Patrick Demarchelier all feature in this stunning retrospective of the infamous brand. This is undoubtedly one of the best art books of 2017.


Calvin Klein, €125 – Rizzoli

Anselm Kiefer

White Cube’s “Walhalla” is a superb offering of all things Anselm Kiefer. This impressive volume of works by the German artist transcending the traditional boundaries of painting and sculpture, following the exhibition of the same name.

Anselm Kiefer: Walhalla, €67 – White Cube

Wolfgang Tillmans


This monograph of Wolfgang Tillmans is a brilliant celebration of an artist who revolutionised photography. With over 300 pages full of images, this Hatje Cantz contribution is the most comprehensive account of Tillmans’ diverse style of photography. Of all the hundreds of books on Wolfgang Tillmans, this is the one to buy.

Wolfgang Tillmans, €58.00 – HATJE CANTZ

Nobuyoshi Araki

“ARAKI” is 568 pages of pure, unadulterated Araki, brought to you by TASCHEN. We’ve been waiting patiently for this release since the limited edition, and the time has finally come. This comprehensive catalogue of the world’s favourite Japanese photographer is available from December onwards and features decades-worth of vibrant, sensual and erotic imagery.


Maxime Ballesteros

Last but certainly not least is the young photography talent on everyone’s lips, Maxime Ballesteros. “Les Absents” is the beautiful photobook illustrating Ballesteros’ unique world view, an surreal journey through the vivid and often surreal imagination of the French photographer.

Les Absents, €35 HATJE CANTZ


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