From imaginary museums to heritage sites, archives, and bookshops, the big art books this season pay tribute to the cultural institutions that house, preserve, and inspire great works of art.

Top 10

Begin with the Past: Building the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Mabel O. Wilson. Smithsonian, Sept. 20

Interviews with museum director Lonnie G. Bunch III, Congressman John Lewis, architect David Adjaye, and many other key players tell the story of how this unparalleled museum found its place in the nation’s collective memory and on its public common.

The Book on the Floor: André Malraux and the Imaginary Museum

Walter Grasskamp. J. Paul Getty Trust, Dec.

In this art book about art books, Grasskamp traces the life of André Malraux, a French art critic who conceived of books as imaginary museums.

Conventional Wisdom

Arthur Drooker. Glitterati, Aug. 22

Author/photographer Drooker explores the quirky world of conventions held by some unusual groups, including “Lincoln presenters,” fans of furry characters, and mermaids, with images that capture the essence and exuberance of these annual gatherings.

Intimate Geometries: The Art and Life of Louise Bourgeois

Robert Storr. Monacelli, Sept. 20

Writing from an intimate perspective as a friend and confidant of the artist, eminent art critic Storr surveys the late French artist’s work and life. The book includes more than 1,000 illustrations.

Lo-Life: An American Classic

Jackson Blount. PowerHouse, Oct. 4

The unique story of the famed New York City street gang, the Lo-Lifes, who made a name for themselves in the 1980s by dressing head to toe in Ralph Lauren’s Polo apparel, which presented an aspirational lifestyle for these kids from rough neighborhoods just struggling to get by.

@NatGeo: The Most Popular Instagram Photos

National Geographic. National Geographic, Oct. 25

A showcase of the most liked, commented on, and favorite photos from National Geographic’s hugely popular Instagram feed, this book embraces the diversity of that account and weaves in social media trends such as throwbacks, flashbacks, and, of course, animals.

Patterns: Inside the Design Library

Peter Koepke. Phaidon, Oct. 3

The director of the world’s largest archive of surface design provides access to a remarkable collection of patterns, the source of inspiration for designers of all sorts.

Remembered Light: Cy Twombly in Lexington

Sally Mann. Abrams, Sept. 13

A two-for-one, this book is a tour of the late painter Cy Twombly’s Lexington, Va., studio that doubles as a photo collection by fellow artist and Virginia native Sally Mann, following the success of her bestselling memoir.

Shakespeare and Company, Paris: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart

Edited by Krista Halverson. Shakespeare & Co.

This history of the bohemian bookstore in Paris interweaves essays and poetry from dozens of writers associated with the shop, along with archival pieces, including photographs of James Baldwin, William Burroughs, and Langston Hughes.

Treasure Palaces: Great Writers Visit Great Museums

Edited by Maggie Fergusson. The Economist, Oct. 18

These essays, collected from the pages of the Economist’s Intelligent Life magazine, reveal the special hold that museums, like the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in New York and the Musée Rodin in Paris, have on the people who visit them.

Art, Architecture & Photography Listings


Ancient Skies, Ancient Trees by Beth Moon (Oct. 11, hardcover, $49.95, ISBN 978-0-7892-1267-2). Staking out some of the world’s last dark places, photographer Moon uses a digital camera to reveal constellations, nebulae, and the Milky Way, in rich hues that are often too faint to be seen by the naked eye. 7,500-copy announced first printing.


A History of Pictures: From the Cave to the Computer Screen by David Hockney and Martin Gayford (Oct. 18, hardcover, $45, ISBN 978-1-4197-2275-2) explores the many ways that artists have pictured the world and gets at the roots of visual expression and technique through hundreds of images—from cave paintings to frames from movies—that are reproduced. 25,000-copy announced first printing.

Remembered Light: Cy Twombly in Lexington by Sally Mann (Sept. 13, hardcover, $50, ISBN 978-1-4197-2272-1) is a rare insider’s view of artist Cy Twombly’s creative process through photographs of his studio in Lexington, Va., taken over the years by the late artist’s neighbor, photographer Mann. 5,000-copy announced first printing.

T. Adler Books

The Moon 1968–1972, text by E.B. White and John F. Kennedy (Sept., hardcover, $18, ISBN 978-1-942884-05-7). A selection of photographs taken during Apollo’s first five missions to the moon serves as fascinating documents of the majesty of outer space, as well as recording the surface of the moon as a landscape of wonder.

Art Institute of Chicago

Aleksandr Zhitomirsky: Photomontage as a Weapon of World War II and the Cold War by Erika Wolf (Nov. 29, hardcover, $65, ISBN 978-0-300-21918-0) is the first comprehensive study in English of the Soviet propaganda artist Zhitomirsky (1907–1993), who made satirical photomontages that were airdropped on German troops during WWII.

Asian Art Museum of San Francisco

The Rama Epic: Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe, edited by Forrest McGill (Oct. 25, hardcover, $50, ISBN 978-0-939117-76-5), surveys the visual art of the ancient Southeast Asian epic of the Ramayana—recounting the struggle of Prince Rama to defeat a demonic king, rescue his abducted wife, and re-establish order in the world.

Candlewick Studio

Retro Photo: An Obsession: A Personal Selection of Vintage Cameras and the Photographs They Take by David Ellwand (Oct. 4, hardcover, $45, ISBN 978-0-7636-9250-6). At once an accessible guide to vintage cameras and a highly personal take on photographic history, this book showcases more than 100 cameras from the author’s personal collection along with photographs he has taken with them.


Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City, 1952–1965 by Melissa Rachleff (Jan. 10, hardcover, $75, ISBN 978-3-7913-5558-0) looks at New York City’s postwar art scene, specifically the development of artist-run galleries in lower Manhattan, and shows how the area’s multicultural spirit played a major role in shaping the artworks exhibited there.

Douglas & McIntyre

The National Parks of the United States: A Photographic Journey by Andrew Thomas (Aug. 9, hardcover, $39.95, ISBN 978-1-77162-121-2) showcases all 59 national parks (even three that have been de-listed and forgotten, in Michigan, North Dakota, and Oklahoma), including photographs of breathtaking scenery, as well as visitors’ information.

The Economist

Treasure Palaces: Great Writers Visit Great Museums, edited by Maggie Fergusson (Nov. 8, trade paper, $16.99, ISBN 978-1-61039-680-6), celebrates the world’s museums, great and small, through essays written by revered writers like Ann Patchett, Julian Barnes, Neil Gaiman, and more. 20,000-copy announced first printing.

J. Paul Getty Trust

The Book on the Floor: André Malraux and the Imaginary Museum by Walter Grasskamp (Dec., hardcover, $45, ISBN 978-1-60606-501-3) takes the reader back to the dawn of the illustrated art book through an examination of the one of the genre’s founding fathers, Andre Malraux.

North of Dixie: Civil Rights Photography Beyond the South by Deborah Willis and Mark Speltz (Nov., hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-1-60606-505-1) offers a broader and more complex view of the American civil rights movement, with images by photojournalists, artists, and activists, including Bob Adelman, Charles Brittin, Diana Davies, Leonard Freed, Gordon Parks, and Art Shay.


Conventional Wisdom by Arthur Drooker (Aug. 22, hardcover, $50, ISBN 978-1-943876-27-3), is a quirky photo tour of conventions held by some unusual organizations, including “Lincoln presenters,” fans of furry characters, and mermaids. Drooker documents these events as unique expressions of community, culture, and connection.


Palatino: The Natural History of a Typeface by Robert Bringhurst (Nov. 22, hardcover, $65, ISBN 978-1-56792-572-2) is a fully illustrated account of Palatino and an argument that artists who create letters can and should be judged by the same standards and held in the same esteem as composers who write music and artists who paint on canvas.


Invitation Strictly Personal: 40 Years of Fashion Show Invites by Iain R. Webb (Oct. 4, hardcover, $45, ISBN 978-1-84796-084-9) presents a unique collection of 300 invitations that span the past four decades, from both ready-to-wear and haute couture houses in the fashion capitals of New York, London, Milan, and Paris, most of which come from the author’s personal collection.

Hatje Cantz

Jean-Michel Basquiat: Words Are All We Have, edited by Dieter Buchhart (Dec., hardcover, $60, ISBN 978-3-7757-4184-2), explores language in the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat, from graffiti and hieroglyph to word as motif.

Laurence King

Rebel Threads: Vintage Streetwear by Roger Burton (Dec. 27, hardcover, $50, ISBN 978-1-78067-902-0) highlights the Contemporary Wardrobe Collection, in London, which houses more than 15,000 garments dating back to the 1930s and covers a multitude of cult fashions from zoot suiters, through mods, to new romantics.

Morbid Curiosities: Collections of the Uncommon and the Bizarre by Paul Gambino (Sept. 27, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-78067-866-5) encapsulates the strange world of collectors of the macabre, through photos detailing the bizarre objects, like skulls and sideshow ephemera, from 15 collections, with extensive interviews with each collector.

Frances Lincoln

Frida Kahlo at Home by Suzanne Barbezat (Oct. 6, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-7112-3732-2) explores the influence of Mexican culture and tradition, as well as La Casa Azul and other places Frida Kahlo called home, on her life and work.


Cubanisms: A Nostalgic Look at Cuba through Art and Words by Pedro Menocal, illus. by Pablo Cano (Sept. 13, trade paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1-63353-454-4), details the diverse history of the Spanish language as it evolved in Havana, the Lost City, with beautiful traditional illustrations from the noted Cuban artist and political cartoonist Omar Santana.


Never Built New York by Greg Goldin and Sam Lubell (Oct. 1, hardcover, $55, ISBN 978-1-938922-75-6). The alternative history of New York City as it almost was is told through 200 years of visionary architectural plans for unbuilt subways, bridges, parks, airports, stadiums, streets, train stations, and, of course, skyscrapers.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

How to Read Medieval Art by Wendy A. Stein (Oct. 25, trade paper, $25, ISBN 978-1-58839-597-9) introduces readers to the iconography of the European Middle Ages through wide-ranging examples from the Metropolitan Museum’s exceptional collection.


Thirtyfour Campgrounds by Martin Hogue (Sept. 2, hardcover, $34.95, ISBN 978-0-262-03500-2). A nod to artist Ed Ruscha’s Thirtyfour Parking Lots, this book offers a photographic and typological survey of nearly 6,500 American campsites through color photographs of individual sites, downloaded from such online reservation websites as and, organized by zip code, and arranged in grids across the pages.


Intimate Geometries: The Art and Life of Louise Bourgeois by Robert Storr (Sept. 20, hardcover, $150, ISBN 978-1-58093-363-6), the pre-eminent art critic, surveys the oeuvre and life of French artist Louise Bourgeois, whose experimental sculptures and other inventive artworks contributed significantly to surrealism, postminimalism, and feminist-inspired art.

Marfa Modern: Artistic Interiors of the West Texas High Desert by Helen Thompson, photos by Casey Dunn (Oct. 18, hardcover, $50, ISBN 978-1-58093-473-2), features 24 of the high-design residential spaces that fully embrace both the unique sense of place and the vibrant artistic community of Marfa, Tex., where in 1986 artist Donald Judd set up the Chinati Foundation, and now considered a mecca for art pilgrims, design aficionados, and international hipsters.

Museum of Modern Art

Robert Rauschenberg by Leah Dickerman and Achim Borchardt-Hume (Dec. 6, hardcover, $75, ISBN 978-1-63345-020-2). Published in conjunction with the inaugural 21st-century retrospective of the revered American painter, this book offers fresh perspectives on Rauschenberg’s artistic career, examining his creative production across an extraordinary range of media.

National Geographic

@NatGeo: The Most Popular Instagram Photos by National Geographic (Oct. 25, hardcover, $19.95, ISBN 978-1-4262-1710-4) features favorite photographs from National Geographic’s extraordinarily popular Instagram account, along with insight into social media trends such as hashtags, throwbacks, flashbacks, and, of course, animals.

New Vessel

If Venice Dies by Salvatore Settis, trans. by André Naffis-Sahely (Sept. 13, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-939931-37-5), is an archeologist/art historian’s passionate plea to save the soul of Venice, which is used as the prime example to show how “hit-and-run” visitors are turning landmark urban settings into shopping malls and theme parks.


How to See: Looking, Talking, and Thinking about Art by David Salle (Oct. 18, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-393-24813-5) strips away complicated theory and describes contemporary art in the plain language artists use when talking to each other, through essays that explore such concepts as “the what and the how” (how an artist gives form to an idea) and “originators and enforcers” (artists who invent ideas versus those who distill and perfect them), as well as how artists understand their work as a conversation with art history.


Sequential Drawings: The New Yorker Series by Richard McGuire (Nov. 1, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1-101-87159-1) gathers more than a decade of witty and endlessly inventive spots by the author of the widely acclaimed graphic novel Here. A veritable short story collection, each drawing is given its own spread, which, in turn, assures for the reader the surprise and delight the drawings unfailingly deliver.


Going Once: 250 Years of Culture, Taste, and Collecting at Christie’s by Christie’s staff (Oct. 17, hardcover, $59.95, ISBN 978-0-7148-7202-5) celebrates the rich 250-year history of the world’s largest auction house, as told through 250 objects sold there.

Patterns: Inside the Design Library by Peter Koepke (Oct. 3, hardcover, $79.95, ISBN 978-0-7148-7166-0) is an insider’s guide to the world’s largest pattern and textile archive, in New York State’s Hudson Valley, as well as online, the source of inspiration for today’s top designers.


Lo-Life: An American Classic by Jackson Blount (Oct. 4, hardcover, $45, ISBN 978-1-57687-812-5) provides a glimpse of New York City in the early 1980s through the history of the Lo Lifes, the famed street gang whose members made a name for themselves by dressing head to toe in Ralph Lauren Polo (aka Lo) apparel.


Sophie Calle: And So Forth by Sophie Calle, with Marie Desplechin (Oct. 25, hardcover, $85, ISBN 978-3-7913-8204-3), explores the work of the multifaceted French artist Sophie Calle from the past 10 years. Her work examines the boundaries of public and private life in ways that surprise, engage, and inspire.

Princeton Architectural Press

Dear Data by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec (Sept. 6, trade paper, $35, ISBN 978-1-61689-532-7) reproduces in pinpoint detail the full correspondence between two young designers, Giorgia Lupi, an Italian living in New York, and Stefanie Posavec, an American in London, who for one year mapped the particulars of their daily lives as a series of hand-drawn postcards they exchanged via postal mail weekly.

Princeton Univ.

Reading Cy Twombly: Poetry in Paint by Mary Jacobus (Aug. 30, hardcover, $45, ISBN 978-0-691-17072-5) is a richly illustrated examination of the poetic references inscribed in the large abstract paintings of Cy Twombly, revealing the late artist’s distinctive relationship to poetry and his use of quotation to solve formal problems.

Regan Arts

The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop by Karen L. Maness and Richard M. Isackes (Nov. 1, hardcover, $75, ISBN 978-1-941393-08-6) is a behind-the-scenes history of Hollywood’s painted backdrops and the scenic artists who brought them to the big screen.


Pulcinellopaedia Seraphiniana by Luigi Serafini (Oct. 18, hardcover, $45, ISBN 978-0-8478-4964-2). This illustrated tribute to the famed Neapolitan character Pulcinella (or “Punch” as he is referred to in English) contains more than 100 extraordinary pencil illustrations, some of which are depicted in comic-strip style.

Shakespeare and Co.

Shakespeare and Company, Paris: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart, edited by Krista Halverson (Sept. 27, hardcover, $34.95, ISBN 979-1-09610100-9), is a copiously illustrated history of the famed Paris bookstore Shakespeare and Co., home to a literary circle of avant-garde Americans in Paris—including beat generation writers Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and William S. Burroughs.


Begin with the Past: Building the National Museum of African American History and Culture by Mabel O. Wilson (Sept. 20, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-1-58834-569-1) presents the history of efforts to build a permanent place to collect, study, and present African-American history and culture, and traces the appointment of the director, the selection of the site, and the process of conceiving, designing, and constructing a public monument to the achievements and contributions of African Americans, scheduled to open in September.


That Continuous Thing: Artists and the Ceramics Studio, 1920–Today, edited by Sam Thorne and Sara Matson (Sept. 20, trade paper, $29.95, ISBN 978-1-84976-433-9), traces the changing shape of the ceramics studio over the past century, with eight key texts from the past 100 years on the ceramic practice, an area of growing interest.

Thames & Hudson

Louise Nevelson: Light and Shadow by Laurie Wilson (Oct. 18, hardcover, $39.95, ISBN 978-0-500-09401-3) is a biography on the sculptor Louise Nevelson, based on hours of interviews the author conducted at the height of Nevelson’s fame.

Dubuffet Drawings 1935–1962 by Isabelle Dervaux, Margaret Holben Ellis, Alex Potts, and Cornelia Butler (Nov. 8, hardcover, $45, ISBN 978-0-500-51901-1) is devoted to the works on paper by French artist Jean Dubuffet, who achieved international recognition in the late 1940s for his paintings inspired by children’s drawings, the art of psychiatric patients, and graffiti.

Univ. of Minnesota

René Magritte: Selected Writings by René Magritte, trans. by Jo Levy, edited by Kathleen Rooney and Eric Plattner (Sept. 1, trade paper, $29.95, ISBN 978-1-51790-123-3). Available for the first time in an English translation, this selection gives readers the chance to encounter the many incarnations of Belgian painter Magritte through his whimsical personal letters, biting apologia, appreciation of fellow artists, interviews, farcical film scripts, prose poems, manifestos, and more.


A House in the Country by Peter Pennoyer and Katie Ridder, with Anne Walker, photos by Eric Piasecki (Sept. 13, hardcover, $55, ISBN 978-0-86565-329-0), is the story of a dream house, conceived by a creative couple, architect Peter Pennoyer and interior designer Katie Ridder, who are convinced that historical examples are a springboard for the imagination and offer compelling solutions for new architecture.


Route 66 Roadside Signs and Advertisements by Joe Sonderman, photos by Jim Hinckley (Dec. 1, trade paper, $19.99, ISBN 978-0-7603-4974-8), is a photo tour of Route 66, aka the Main Street of America, through the highway’s most famous signs, which are known for loudly advertising everything from roadside attractions to restaurants and strip clubs.

Whitney Museum of American Art

Carmen Herrera by Dana Miller (Oct. 28, hardcover, $65, ISBN 978-0-300-22186-2) looks at the life and career of Cuban-born artist Herrara (b. 1915) through scholarly essays and illustrations of 80 of her works, including many published for the first time.

Wisconsin Historical Society

Hidden Thunder: Rock Art of the Upper Midwest by Geri Schrab and Robert F. Boszhardt (Sept. 13, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-87020-767-9) gives readers an up-close-and-personal look at rock art through the dual perspectives of an artist (Schrab) and archeologist (Boszhardt) as they research, document, and interpret the ancient petroglyphs and pictographs made by Native Americans in past millennia.

Yale Univ.

Frank Lloyd Wright and San Francisco by Paul V. Turner (Oct. 25, hardcover, $65, ISBN 978-0-300-21502-1) looks at the architect’s complex relationships with the city of San Francisco, by surveying the full body of Wright’s work in the Bay Area—roughly 30 projects, a third of which were built.

William Eggleston Portraits by Phillip Prodger (Sept. 6, hardcover, $50, ISBN 978-0-300-22252-4) reproduces the American photographer’s portraits from over the past half-century and includes an essay and chronology, plus an interview with Eggleston and his close family members.