Art books turning over a new leaf

Art books that get to the fine print of arts and culture

A man hangs upside down in a black and white image as seen in the art book Primal Sight by Efrem Zelony-Mindell

Alex Avgud, Olivier (as on a crucifix), 2019

(Image credit:

Primal Sight by Efrem Zelony-Mindell

As a survey of contemporary black-and-white photography, Primal Sight subverts the historical roots of the discipline with instinctively feral imagery. In these works by 146 diverse artists, colour seems unnecessary. These heavy images go beyond individual experiences, with commonalities and differences highlighted, just as areas of light and dark are. Images are unusually printed on black pages with white ink, questioning photography’s reliance on light. Sharing a tonal vocabulary, 146 different visual questions are asked. Curated by Zelony-Mindell and published by Gnomic Books, inquisitive essays by David Campany and Gregory Eddi Jones make for powerful accompaniments to the images.

Writer: Sophie Gladstone

A GIF showing spreads from the book Sister Sister by Liv Liberg, part of the best art books

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Sister Sister by Liv Liberg

Aged ten, Liv Liberg began photographing her younger sister Britt as a game to pass time at their family home in the Dutch countryside. Over time, the child’s play of dressing up in their parents’ clothes grew into a serious pursuit. Now, 15 years of this serious play has been compiled into Sister Sister, published by Art Paper Editions with design and edit by Jurgen Maelfeyt. Chaptered by month, we follow the sisters’ journey from childhood to adolescence twelve times over. Relatable sibling tensions add to the images, with Britt’s strong expressions conveying a mix of frustration and focus as Liv directs her. The Libergs’ obsessive creativity is clear in this transitional archive, reminding us how freeing a child-like lack of self-consciousness can be.

Writer: Sophie Gladstone

A man in a suit stands among hangers in A Journey into fashion, 1980. Photography by Brian Griffin, part of his book Black Country Dada, part of the best art books

A Journey into fashion, 1980. Courtesy of FORMAT21

(Image credit: Brian Griffin)

Black Country Dada by Brian Griffin

In Black Country Dada, renowned photographer Brian Griffin speaks frankly on the highs and lows of his career as he weaves personal histories with gems of advice and hair-raising anecdotes. Whether it was successfully asking Margaret Thatcher to dance for him, losing $10,000 in Mexico, encounters with the KGB, or being sacked by Vogue, the Black-Country photographer’s wit and creative ambition shine through. Reading Griffin’s autobiography, you see more than just his talent as a photographer; you understand how many elements came together to make his career; inventiveness, ego, charisma, luck and timing. For an in-person experience of Griffin's works, his exhibition with FORMAT21 will be on show at QUAD in Derby, UK 17 May - 29 August.

Writer: Sophie Gladstone

Flowers featured in Embrace by Rankin, part of the best art books

(Image credit: Rankin chose)

Embrace by Rankin

Embrace captures the solitude and vulnerability many of us have faced during the last year. Though best known for portraits of people, British photographer Rankin chose decaying flowers as his metaphor of choice. These solitary portraits, posed against a dark, void-like backdrop, are wilting and singed with decay, yet resilient. ‘Self-isolation gave me the opportunity to take a step back and reflect on the disconnectedness we were all feeling,’ says Rankin. ‘For the first time in over 25 years, I was truly alone with my camera. The pandemic prevented me from capturing my usual subject matter - people - and provoked an entirely different artistic approach.’ Sales proceeds from Embrace - a collaboration between Rankin, design agency SEA and paper manufacturer Fedrigoni - will be directed to The Care Workers’ Charity, which provides urgent support grants for care workers who are shielding, self-isolating, or unable to work.

Writer: Harriet Lloyd-Smith

Spread from A tale of one city by Daniel Stier showing suitcases and bags

From A tale of one city by Daniel Stier

(Image credit: Daniel Stierbrings)

A tale of one city, by Daniel Stier 

The work of photographer Daniel Stierbrings a critical eye to contemporary life. In A tale of one city, a stark story is told of our habits of mass consumption. As Stier explains, the book is ‘about the clashing of opposites, the simultaneity of extreme wealth and poverty, excess and deprivation that characterises one major city, but might just be a tale of them all’. Accompanied by thought-provoking essays from David Campany and Marvin Heiferman, these images of London relay a cacophony of construction in which both skyscrapers and inequalities grow.

Writer: Sophie Gladstone

Catherine Opie new monograph published by Phaidon

Pictured: Self-Portrait/Nursing, 2004; Gina & April, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1998; National March for Gay and Lesbian Rights (EAT THE RICH for Fire Island Artist Residency), 1984/2017. Chromogenic print. Lehmann Maupin, New York/Hong Kong/Seoul/London; Thomas Dane Gallery, London and Naples; and Peder Lund, Oslo

(Image credit: Courtesy the artist and Regen Projects, Los Angeles)

Catherine Opie

For nearly four decades, American fine art photographer Catherine Opie has captured the mainstream, the marginalised and the nuances of everyday life in contemporary America. Opie’s first survey monograph, published by Phaidon, charts the artist’s career since the early 1980s, paired with images across her expansive and varied bodies of work. From LGBT communities to Los Angeles freeways and ice-fishing villages in Minnesota, the book offers a full view of Opie’s politically charged, often-autobiographical cultural visions. Through compelling essays and never-before-published works, this hotly-anticipated tome offers a window into the iconic, subversive and poignant world of a true maverick in visual storytelling. Catherine Opie with essays by Hilton Als, Douglas Fogle, Helen Molesworth and Elizabeth A. T. Smith and an interview by Charlotte Cotton is published by Phaidon on 27 May, £100.

Writer: Harriet Lloyd-Smith

Amen Break by Thomas Prior part of the best art books

(Image credit: © Thomas Prior 2020 courtesy Loose Joints)

Amen Break by Thomas Prior

Titled after a four bar drum solo that changed the course of music, Amen Break by Thomas Prior looks at New York’s standstill in 2020. Momentous issues around health, race and the economy compose a rhythm which will be present in the tune of history for years to come. As a documentary photographer, Prior’s perspective provides context to sensationalist snapshots of these times that many of us have become accustomed, and perhaps desensitised, to. Published by Loose Joints and printed as a large-format newspaper, the series is a thoughtful response to history happening in real time with proceeds benefiting NYC’s largest community food bank.

Writer: Sophie Gladstone

Spread of photographer Lissa Rivera's work as seen in New Queer photography, by Benjamin Wolbergs, part of the best art books

Spread of Lissa Rivera's work as featured in New Queer

(Image credit: Benjamin Wolbergs)

New Queer photography, by Benjamin Wolbergs

This meticulously researched book edited by Berlin-based Benjamin Wolbergs seeks to refocus the lens on contemporary queer life. Through the work of 40 documentary and fine art photographers, it highlights the breadth of sexualities, beyond taboos and societal constraints. Through striking visual storytelling, homosexuality, drag culture, gender roles, and transsexuality are explored as well as the rise of a young and active queer photography scene fuelled by social media. Four years in the works, the book is a playful and impassioned celebration of queer culture, and a critique of mainstream attitudes which, although appear to increasingly embrace gay, lesbian and transgender lives, can still result in marginalization, isolation, and violence. It’s an exploration of private and public desires, eroticism, liberated and limitless sexualities, and the power of art to capture the evolution and contradictions of queer perceptions. Featured emerging and established photographers include Florian Hetz, Damien Blottière and Dustin Thierry. €58,00;

Writer: Harriet Lloyd-Smith

Stuff Left by Gareth Williams, part of Wallpaper's best art books

(Image credit: Gareth Williams)

Stuff Left by Gareth Williams

Revealing the strange chaos that often exists behind the scenes of photography, Gareth Williams has self published Stuff Left. Unclaimed ephemera from an East London studio are documented with an even eye, highlighting their absurdity. We are left wondering the story behind an art director’s discarded fake bible or an inflatable surfboard. Testament to William’s imaginative mind are the narratives he imagines attached to these objects, often anthropomorphizing or sympathizing with them.  Alongside the joy in these curiosities, Williams hopes this past year has given us time to better consider the magnitude of objects we acquire and discard.

Writer: Sophie Gladstone

City Lust, by Charlie Koolhaas

Lagos, Nigeria; Parallel Societies; London, United Kingdom. All featured in City Lust.

(Image credit: Charlie Koolhaas)

City Lust, by Charlie Koolhaas

In City Lust, Koolhaas narrates a story of cultural and economic globalisation over the last two decades. Told through a personal lens, the book comprises written and photographic records of five cities: London, Guangzhou, Lagos, Dubai and Houston, in which the Rotterdam-based artist, writer and photographer has either lived or worked. These accounts, rich with poignancy, tension and an ample dose of humour, expose the unexpected commonalities between seemingly disparate cultures, and a global landscape rich with possibilities and rapid change. Koolhaas’ intimate chronicles of everyday life seek to cast an unbiased, and optimistic light on these political landscapes, the west’s diminishing influence, and the role of art in chronicling this evolution. Though conceived before the events of the last year – coronavirus, police brutality and the economic war between the US and China - City Lust is a timely and potent celebration of multiculturalism in an increasingly globalised world. €58.

Writer: Harriet Lloyd-Smith

Monograph by Daniel Diasgranados

(Image credit: Daniel Diasgranados)

Monograph by Daniel Diasgranados

Growing up in D.C, Maryland and Virginia, artist Daniel Diasgranados’ work is informed by experiences of being raised in this particular American environment. With fiction woven into documentary landscapes and still life imagery, Diasgranados unpicks constructed power narratives in the self-published ‘Monograph’. A 3D printed chain, toy dinosaurs, an inverted portrait, his mother gardening and a concrete hairbrush all have a role to play. Printed as a limited edition of 20 with two pressings, two are being donated towards a mental health scholarship as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, in collaboration with friend and fellow and photographer Ethan Hickerson. Available upon request via the artist.

Writer: Sophie Gladstone

Remnants of an Exodus book, by Al J Thompson

(Image credit: Al J Thompson )

Remnants of an Exodus, by Al J Thompson

Spring Valley was once home to a thriving Caribbean immigrant community, but during recent years gentrification has cruelly turned many members into outsiders. In this love letter to what was his first home in the US, photographer Al J Thompson observes the seismic shifts in both it’s demographic and political landscape. Focusing on a park that Thomspon remembers as being at the heart of the community, Remnants of an Exodus reveals what is left after these hometown upheavals. Alongside the melancholic imagery, the book includes a moving essay by Shane Rocheleau titled Gathering Remnants, written in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement and its relationship to the broader historical struggle for civil rights for African Americans. Published with Gnomic Book, a successful pre-order campaign with the opportunity to purchase signed archival prints is nearing completion.

Writer: Sophie Gladstone

Art Books

Constructed Landscapes, by Dafna Talmor, part of our pick of the best art books

(Image credit: Dafna Talmor)

Constructed Landscapes, by Dafna Talmor 

For Talmor, Constructed Landscapes stems from a place of ‘frustration’ with landscape photography, one the artist has referred to as ‘photographic agoraphobia’. In her early work, Talmor focussed on interior scenes, with hints of the outside world, which led to developing her ongoing photographic series Constructed Landscapes, with recent work shown at Sid Motion Gallery in late 2019. Through fragments of outdoor scenes in different locations of personal significance, from Israel, her country of birth, to the UK, where she has been based for over 20 years, colour negatives are stitched together to create an otherworldly vision of the outside world. In Constructed Landscapes, Talmor blends fact and fantasy; personal and universal; digital and analogue processes to form a coherent whole that defies specificity. Published by Fw:Books.

Writer: Harriet Lloyd-Smith

Lost Summer, book by Alys Tomlinson, winner of the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize 2020

Samuel. from Lost Summer

(Image credit: Alys Tomlinson)

Lost Summer, by Alys Tomlinson 

Alys Tomlinson’s forthcoming release is a poignant reminder of the many events that ground to a halt during the pandemic. For Lost Summer, the British photographer turned her lens towards 44 young people whose proms were cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions. Within these black and white portraits, shot with parks, gardens and other outdoor locations between June and August, each teenager is dressed or suited for an end-of-school prom that never came to be. Tomlinson has just been declared the winner of the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize for the series, which is on display in the National Portrait Gallery's virtual gallery until March 2021. Lost Summer is available now, with an accompanying exhibition at HackelBury Fine Art, London.

Writer: Harriet Lloyd-Smith

Counting Till Ten, book by Isabelle Wenzel

Images from Counting Till Ten, by Isabelle Wenzel. Design and edit by Jurgen Maelfeyt

(Image credit:

Counting Till Ten, by Isabelle Wenzel

Drawing together performance art and sculpture, photographer Isabelle Wenzel also happens to be a trained acrobat. In Counting Till Ten, she plays a game of physical improvisation before the shutter clicks and captures her contortions. Direct and instinctive, Wenzel works fast as both model and photographer, merging both into a symbiotic movement. Mistakes are an essential part of this interesting process for the German artist. As viewers we experience a heightened awareness of our own bodies, Ultimately Wenzel asks ‘What is it like to be a physical being?’. Published by Art Paper Editions.

Writer: Sophie Gladstone

Every-day, by Vincent Ferrané

Maty, from Every-day, by Vincent Ferrané. Image courtesy of Libraryman and Vincent Ferrané 

(Image credit: Libraryman, Vincent Ferrané )

Every-day, by Vincent Ferrané

Offering a glimpse into young people’s routines, Every-day by Vincent Ferrané documents Ava, Jackie, Léo, Mathieu, Matthias, Maty and Raya as they go through the motions of preparing to leave the house. The fact that leaving our homes is no longer an everyday occurrence for many of us, adds something special as we remember this familiar but now distant norm. That this is a series focusing on transgender or non-binary people is incidental, Ferrané explains ‘through a repetition of actions, representations, strategies, stories and convictions specific to each person, the ever fragile project of being oneself is revealed.'

Writer: Sophie Gladstone

The Parameters of Our Cage

Alec Soth, from The Parameters of Our Cage, by C. Fausto Cabrera & Alec Soth (MACK, 2020). 

(Image credit: Courtesy the artist and MACK. Letters: copyright Alec Soth)

The Parameters of Our Cage, by C. Fausto Cabrera and Alec Soth

In January 2020, American photographer Alec Soth received an unexpected letter from Christopher Fausto Cabrera, an inmate at Minnesota Correctional Facility in Rush City. Over the following nine months, the two artists engaged in a dialogue consisting of personal histories and shared influences, from André 3000 to Robert Frank’s seminal book, The Americans. This resulted in an unlikely collaboration, The Parameters of Our Cage, which documents their written and visual exchanges on everything from prison life, to the Black Lives Matter movement and issues that probe the very essence of contemporary America. All proceeds from The Parameters of Our Cage will be donated to the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop.

Writer: Harriet Lloyd-Smith

When Strawberries Will Grow on Trees I Will Kiss You, by Nicolas Polli

Spread from When Strawberries Will Grow on Trees I Will Kiss You, 

(Image credit: Nicolas Polli)

When Strawberries Will Grow on Trees I Will Kiss You, by Nicolas Polli

When Strawberries Will Grow on Trees I Will Kiss You follows Nicolas Polli’s experiences of solitude during lockdown; we see his crumpled yet erect socks, smouldering paper flowers, intertwined toes, and hand-written poetry. Through these tactile still lifes, Polli is sarcastic yet vulnerable, reminding us of how important another human’s touch is. This wasn’t the only creative outcome of this time for Polli however, he also founded Home Life Still Life: a platform celebrating the inventive still lifes photographers were creating in their own homes. Pairing behind-the-scenes documentation with the final image has opened up a normally secretive process, at a time when photographers needed this community most.

Writer: Sophie Gladstone

Open Studio: Do-It-Yourself Art Projects by Contemporary Artists published by Phaidon

Open Studio: Do-It-Yourself Art Projects by Contemporary Artists, by Sharon Coplan Hurowitz & Amanda Benchley. Marina Abramovic: Counting the Rice (artwork), Step by Step (pages 148-149)

(Image credit: Casey Kelbaugh, Phaidon)

Open Studio: Do-It-Yourself Art Projects by Contemporary Artists

There is often an air of mystery surrounding artists and the everyday workings of their studios. But a new book is seeking to demystify this elusive environment, going behind closed doors and into the studios of 17 eminent artists and inviting readers to collaborate. Written by Sharon Coplan Hurowitz and Amanda Benchley, Open Studio: Do-it-Yourself Art Projects by Contemporary Artists profiles each artist as they undertake an original creation for readers to follow at home. Featured artists include Rashid Johnson, William Wegman, Mickalene Thomas, George Condo, Julie Mehretu, Alex Israel, Marina Abramović and Lawrence Weiner. The book offers a suggested list of supplies for each project and includes 16 pull-out inserts designed by the artists for the do-it-yourself projects. Whether it’s creating your own masterwork with Lawrence Weiner’s text-based plastic stencil or filling in the blanks of George Condo’s paint-by-numbers, this is a book that appeals to the primal urge for creation, at any stage of life. Open Studio: Do-It-Yourself Art Projects by Contemporary Artists by Sharon Coplan Hurowitz and Amanda Benchley is published by Phaidon, £59.95.

Writer: Harriet Lloyd-Smith

Self Publish, Be Happy collection at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie

Images: Lang Zal Ze Leven (Happy Birthday To You), by Anouk Kruithof
(The Netherlands), 2011; Will They Sing Like Raindrops or Leave Me Thirsty, by Max Pinckers (Belgium), 2014; I Believe You, Liar, by Lucas Blalock (USA), 2009. All part of the Self Publish, Be Happy Collection at the MEP. 

(Image credit: © Self Publish, Be Happy)

Self Publish, Be Happy collection at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie

An exciting announcement has come from Self Publish, Be Happy, an organisation that helps aspiring photographers to self-publish their own books. Their joyful and diverse collection will have a new home with Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris. Thousands of self-published photobooks, zines and ephemera will now be enjoyed by the general public for the first time under the care of Simon Baker, director of MEP. For Self Publish, Be Happy, this is an opportunity to renew and widen their publishing and educational initiatives. At a time when the potential of photography to foster community has never been so important, increasing accessibility with moves like these is to be applauded.

Writer: Sophie Gladstone

In Search of African American Space: Redressing Racism, part of the best art books

J. Yolande Daniels, House 2, Project Row Houses, Houston TX (2001), part of a group exhibition, Row: Trajectories Through the Shotgun House curated by William D. Williams and David Brown. As featured in In Search of African American Space: Redressing Racism, published by Lars Müller 

(Image credit:

In Search of African American Space: Redressing Racism

Told through architecture, performance art, history and visual theory, In Search of African American Space surveys the creative relationship between the African diaspora and social space in America. Arranged thematically, it establishes the context and history of African American space through vintage adverts, maps, posters, monuments, art projects and architectural plans. These include three projects by J. Yolande Daniels, co-founding design principal of studioSUMO, New York, that investigate the social narratives embedded in architectural forms. This anthology asks, ‘If African American experience emerges from the structure of slavery, how does architecture relate to that experience?’ Edited by Jeffrey Hogrefe and Scott Ruff of the Pratt Institute in New York, the book seeks to present African American space in a broad cultural context from different critical vantage points.

Writer: Harriet Lloyd-Smith

There is no Release from the Brain Police, by Clemens Ascher 

Hitchhiking USA Numero B

(Image credit: © Clemens Ascher)

There is no Release from the Brain Police, by Clemens Ascher

At first look, the images in this book might look like pleasurable eye candy. But what lurks beneath is another story altogether. In the first collection of Clemens Ascher’s work, published by Hatje Cantz, the Austrian photographer and visual artist confronts some of the most pressing uncomfortable truths of the era: societal control, alienation from nature and mass consumption. By combining references to art history and fragments from our collective visual memory, Ascher constructs stage-like compositions to create a hyperbolic advertising aesthetic, satirising belief systems and consumer culture  – a surreal take on hyperreality.

Writer: Harriet Lloyd-Smith

Lovers: Ten Years On, by Sunil Gupta 

Dylan and Gerald.

(Image credit: Sunil Gupta and Stanley Barker)

 Lovers: Ten Years On, by Sunil Gupta 

Following the breakup of his first long-term love in 1984, Sunil Gupta set about photographing other couples. At the time, the emotive series was a way to process the end of a relationship, but has now grown into a time-capsule of the lives of London’s gay couples during the 1980s. These were complex times as while the law and public attitudes towards gay men had been improving, HIV/AIDS had just arrived resulting in a cruel media campaign equating gay men with sickness and depravity. In Lovers: Ten years on (published by Stanley/Barker) we see monogamous relationships coming into their own, in the most moving and varied pairings. More of Gupta’s socially engaged works can be seen at his first major retrospective ‘From Here to Eternity’, is on view at The Photographers Gallery until January 2021.

Writer: Sophie Gladstone

Ennio Morricone, Rome 1994. Courtesy of Albrecht Fuchs

Ennio Morricone, Rome 1994.

(Image credit: Albrecht Fuchs)

Fifty-Three Portraits and a Haystack, by Albrecht Fuchs

When a portrait project with publishers Simonett & Baer was put on hold due to coronavirus travel restrictions in April, Albrecht Fuchs and Dino Simonett conceived a new idea, and delved into the archives. Fuchs’ new book, Fifty-Three Portraits and a Haystack charts his photography since 1989 when he began experimenting with colour portraits with a mid format camera as a student. These archival images comprise a mix of commissioned and noncommissioned work with subjects including Fuch’s friends alongside eminent figures like Ennio Morricone, Charlotte Rampling, and Rimowa CEO Alexandre Arnault, whose portrait was shot for Wallpaper* in 2018. The book is available in both limited, and collector’s editions, the latter hand-bound with gold embossing.

Writer: Harriet Lloyd-Smith

Images from Hi Hello!, by Romain Duquesne

Images from Hi Hello!

(Image credit: Romain Duquesne)

Hi Hello!, by Romain Duquesne

With wit and warmth, photographer (and regular Wallpaper* collaborator) Romain Duquesne gently unravels a performance of masculinity in Hi, Hello!. Thoughtfully moving between metaphor and irony, Duquesne depicts the absurd elements of masculinity. Moments of near-vulnerability build tension that’s then diffused with humour, taking the audience on a tumultuous journey from seeking intimacy to wrestling, a firm handshake to mischievous uses of fruit. An interesting double layer emerges, in which this performance in life is re-performed for an image, furthering the absurdity. With Duquesne’s intentions summed up perfectly by the opening phrase, this book is ‘for men who are boys, a cry to connect.’

Writer: Sophie Gladstone

Living Trust by Buck Ellison photography book, part of the best art books

Living Trust by Buck Ellison. 

(Image credit: © Buck Ellison 2020 courtesy Loose Joints)

Living Trust, by Buck Ellison

Sourcing actors, props and locations, Buck Ellison stages scenes of seemingly unremarkable everyday moments of the white American upper-middle-class: a ‘pasta night’, a family posing for the Christmas card, a couple going for ‘cheeseboard’ shopping. ‘Living Trust’ isn’t just an index of class markers, but an investigation of collective identity construction and the role of photography in the objectification of its visual language. The images unveil an unspoken language of wealth that appeals to most but it’s understood by few, ultimately leaving the viewer desiring and resenting the ambivalence of its beauty. Published by Loose Joints.

Writer: Sara Fiorino

Mara kuya, by June Canedo photography book, part of the best art books

Mara kuya. 

(Image credit: © June Canedo)

Mara kuya, by June Canedo

Mara kuya is meals being prepared, washing drying on a line, toys tied up, children playing in a pool; it is all that makes a family, even one divided by borders. The debut book from Brazil-born, New York-based photographer June Canedo retells the emotional impact of migration experienced by separated families, a politicised and polarising contemporary topic. Canedo shows us her grandmother gardening in Brazil, where she raised fourteen children, alongside a Fourth of July celebration in her aunt’s South Carolina backyard. By weaving space and time through her images mara kuya is both a personal and universal contemplation on citizenship status and mental health. Profits from the sale of the book will be donated to Inclusive Action, a charity that provides support for low-income urban communities.

Writer: Sophie Gladstone

Extract from Études, by John Marx.

Extract from Études, by John Marx. 

(Image credit: John Sutton)

Études, by John Marx

Études – The Poetry of Dreams + Other Fragments is a new book from ORO Editions, exploring the architectural drawings and poetry of San Francisco-based architect John Marx. Marx, a principal at Form4 Architecture, has contributed paintings for a series in The Architectural Review, and the richly detailed watercolours instantly evoke a sense of time and place that goes far beyond the conventional architectural rendering. There are over 80 images in the book, each conjuring up realms and forms that suggest a world of hazy neo-surrealism. One of the accompanying essays explores the historic role of watercolour in presenting architectural futures - it was the style of choice for centuries before photorealistic digital renders raised our expectations to stratospheric levels, removing all aspects of mystery in the process. Marx’s work operates on a different level, and the fragmentary, dream-like worlds his paintings conjure up are paired with his own poetry, created a rounded, immersive monograph designed to get lost in. 

Writer: Jonathan Bell

Molly Matalon, When a Man Loves a Woman, published by Palm Studios, part of the best art books

Molly Matalon, When a Man Loves a Woman, published by Palm Studios

(Image credit:

When a Man Loves a Woman, by Molly Matalon

Grapes crawl into a glass of water, statues embrace, a peach pit is left in the sun. Molly Matalon’s new book ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’ is a journey through appealing surfaces and quiet encounters. The interplay between the symbolism of the objects and the subversion of the history of the ‘gaze’ lays bare Matalon’s reclamation of desire. By portraying her acquaintances, friends and lovers, the photographer engineers a vision that reframes the (gendered) performance of desire, where her day-to-day becomes a space to overturn dominant narratives of power and explore her longing for intimacy.

Writer: Sara Fiorino

Drawing from life

(Image credit: National Portrait Gallery, London)

David Hockney: Drawing from life

David Hockney: Drawing from Life, celebrates more than 60 years of the revered artist’s intimate portraiture with texts by Sarah Howgate and Isabel Seligman. Featuring drawings from the 1950s to the present day, the book is a fascinating window into the artist’s creative development and to his personal life, focusing on depictions of himself and those close to him: including his muse, Celia Birtwell; his mother, Laura Hockney; and his friends, the curator, Gregory Evans, and Maurice Payne. It’s through these portrait drawings of close friends that Hockney experimented with new styles and expressed his admiration for artistic influences such as Holbein and Picasso. Highlights also include a series of new portraits, pencil drawings created in Paris during the early 1970s and a selection of Polaroid portraits from the 1980s. The book was published in correspondence with the first major exhibition devoted to Hockney's drawings at London's National Portrait Gallery, which is closed to the public until further notice.;

Writer: Phoebe Gardner

Harriet Lloyd-Smith was the Arts Editor of Wallpaper*, responsible for the art pages across digital and print, including profiles, exhibition reviews, and contemporary art collaborations. She started at Wallpaper* in 2017 and has written for leading contemporary art publications, auction houses and arts charities, and lectured on review writing and art journalism. When she’s not writing about art, she’s making her own.