Art & Artists

Museum catalogs, monographs, and more bring home the work of gallery greats.

Alice Neel: People Come First

Kelly Baum and Randall Griffey (Metropolitan Museum of Art) $50

Alice Neel: An Engaged Eye

Edited by Angela Lampe (ACC Art Books) $50

Fans of painter Alice Neel (1900–1984) are in for a treat, with two major exhibition catalogs to choose from. The Met Museum’s Alice Neel: People Come First includes more than 100 portraits, still lifes, landscapes, and cityscapes created over the course of her seven-decade career. Their subjects—portraits of victims of the Great Depression, fellow residents of Spanish Harlem, queer artists, members of New York’s global diaspora—reinforce Neel’s self-description as an “anarchic humanist.” Alice Neel: An Engaged Eye, tied to the exhibit at Paris’s Centre Pompidou, is organized by two major themes, social injustice and gender inequality, and includes some 60 paintings and drawings.

David Driskell: Icons of Nature and History

Edited by Jessica May (Rizzoli Electa) $50

David Driskell (1931–2020) was an artist as well as a curator and art historian, and considered one of the leading authorities on the subject of African American art. This catalog, which accompanies an exhibition organized by Atlanta’s High Museum of Art and the Portland Museum of Art in Maine, draws on 70 years of painting and printmaking; the natural world, remembrances of the Southern Black experience, and the Black Christian church were frequent subjects. Also included are a selection of Driskell’s significant writings, including his introduction to 1971’s Black Dimensions in Contemporary American Art.

In Search of van Gogh

Gloria Fossi, Danilo De Marco, and Mario Dondero (Harper Design) $37.50

Art historian Fossi maps out Vincent van Gogh’s life in chronological order, weaving together letters, paintings, and images, along with contemporary photographs from De Marco and Dondero, who set out on a trip across Europe to document the places that inspired his works. Thanks to their combined efforts, the book is an insightful, illuminating, and poetic journey, and van Gogh emerges as an irrepressible man “whose wild and restless wandering,” Dondero writes, “propelled him to the forefront of Western art.”

Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror

Carlos Basualdo and Scott Rothkopf (Yale Univ.) $60

Tied to simultaneous exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, this retrospective explores recurring motifs and the concept of twinning through hundreds of Jasper Johns’s works. In a series of essays, various academics, artists, curators, and writers delve into these themes, among them Ruth Fine on monotypes and working proofs and Colm Toíbín on dreams. The two museums are in conversation with each other throughout: a section called “First Motifs,” for instance, looks at Johns’s flag and map images at the Whitney, and his works involving numbers, on view in Philadelphia.

Luisa Roldán

Catherine Hall-van den Elsen (Getty) $40

The first book in the Illuminating Women Artists series is the first English-language monograph on Spanish Baroque sculptor Roldán (1652–1706). Also known as La Roldana, she worked in Seville, Cádiz, and Madrid, serving as sculptor to the royal chambers of two kings of Spain. Despite gaining renown during her lifetime, she has since been largely forgotten, an oversight this volume, and the series as a whole, seeks to correct.

Mickalene Thomas

Mickalene Thomas (Phaidon) $125

Showcasing more than 200 collages, paintings, photographs, and videos made in the last 20 years, Thomas’s first comprehensive monograph accompanies a four-part international exhibition and shows how the artist, a queer, Black woman, engages deeply with gender and race, as in her landmark work Le dejeuner sur l’herbe: Les trois femmes noires, a reimagining of the Edouard Manet painting. In essays, cultural critic Roxane Gay explores how the Black female body is central to Thomas’s work, while art historian Kellie Jones highlights Thomas’s inspirations, including West African studio photography and 1970s interiors.


Those who grasp why florals for spring are not, in fact, groundbreaking will enjoy these takes on the elements of style.

Dressing the Resistance

Camille Benda (Princeton Architectural Press) $27.95

“Fashion, clothing, textiles, accessories, and costume have served a critical role in protest movements throughout history,” Benda writes, dating at least as far back as ancient Rome and the soft pointed hats worn by the formerly enslaved. Post-WWII, for instance, the distinctive looks of Latinx zoot-suiters in the U.S., white working-class teddy boys in the U.K., and Jamaican rude boys all expressed their adherents’ feelings of marginalization. The color blue, meanwhile, brought visibility to 1930s Spanish counterrevolutionaries and anonymity to Afghan women resisting the Taliban.

Making a Spectacle

Jessica Glasscock (Black Dog & Leventhal) $30

Taking in the practical (pince-nez, aviation goggles), the archetypal (Ray-Ban’s Wayfarer, Lolita’s heart shades), and the purely decorative, Glasscock invites readers to look closely at the evolution of eyewear. A British spyglass is rendered “in the very on-trend (for the late eighteenth century) material of jasperware,” for instance, and of an 1893 newspaper illustration of a rower, she writes, “It cannot have been easy to keep the monocle secure during vigorous exercise, so this man’s commitment to a look is to be respected.”

The Men’s Fashion Book

Editors at Phaidon and Jacob Gallagher (Phaidon) $79.95

This sweeping survey highlights influential brands, designers, photographers, publications, retailers, and other entities. The editors take care to select racially inclusive images, and though there are glances beyond a Western perspective—Jawaharlal Nehru is deemed an icon for his namesake jacket—the focus remains on North America and Europe, which “reflects the regrettable manner in which those stories have been prioritized over time.” Nonetheless, thanks to this volume’s clean design—a single image on the top third of the page, text at the bottom—the 500 entries are both comprehensible and captivating.

Patrick Kelly

Laura L. Camerlengo et al. (Yale Univ.) $45

Born in Vicksburg, Miss., Patrick Kelly (1954–1990) was the first American and the first Black designer to be admitted to the governing body of the French fashion industry; his clients included Cicely Tyson, Madonna, and Bette Davis, who was buried in one of his dresses. Favoring buttons, bows, and bold colors, he also, as contextualizing essays explain, used his runway shows to comment on identity, race, racism, and sexuality. Kelly and his playful, buoyant designs strut and pose through this catalog and the associated exhibit at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.


Raissa Bretaña (Abbeville) $12.95

Part of the Tiny Folio series of chunky, photo-heavy mini books, this compendium walks readers through the history of European and American footwear in 250 steps, from 16th-century gravity-defying chopines of tooled leather over wood, to early 19th-century silk lace-up slippers, to 21st-century designer confections including, alas, Balenciaga’s platform Crocs.

Interior Design

That cute little succulent on the desk can blossom into a lifestyle, and these books show how to do it right.


Justina Blakeney (Abrams) $40

Interior designer Blakeney’s love of foliage is on exuberant display in this volume, a showcase for her lush, colorful aesthetic. Rooms aren’t complete without some form of greenery—hanging baskets, bountiful tablescapes, potted palms that stretch from the floor nearly to the ceiling—in keeping with her jungle bungalow vibe.

A New Leaf

Pip McCormac and Jennifer Haslam (Hardie Grant) $45

Visiting the homes of creative professionals in the U.K. and elsewhere, McCormac, a lifestyle journalist, and Haslam, an interior stylist, show how plant life can play an integral part in any space, from a sun-drenched, century-old renovated villa in the luxe bohemia of Laurel Canyon to a moodily modern, grayscale concrete Sussex home completed in 2020.

Wild Creations

Hilton Carter (Ryland Peters & Small) $24.99

Carter, a plant stylist, focuses on the specifics of horticultural decorating, offering instructions for wall-mounting a staghorn fern, crafting an air plant wreath, building a terrarium, and more. He addresses plant-care basics and highlights some of his favorite species and planting combinations, mingling facts with aspirational lifestyle photography.

Love Letters to Literature

The ever-growing TBR pile just got a bit taller thanks to these appreciations of the written and illustrated word.

The Art of Alice and Martin Provensen

(Chronicle Chroma) $45

Alice (1917–2018) and her husband, Martin (1916–1987), began their careers at major animation studios and went on to make more than 40 children’s books together. This volume collects early work, such as their art for the 1949 Margaret Wise Brown Golden Book The Color Kittens; later achievements, including 1983’s Caldecott-winning The Glorious Flight, which they wrote as well as illustrated; and previously unpublished paintings, drawings, and sketchbooks from their international travels.

Bibliophile: Diverse Spines

Jamise Harper and Jane Mount (Chronicle) $18.95

Likening their miscellany to a “bookstore full of passionate shelftalkers from people with all different experiences,” Harper and Mount assemble an impressive array of books by BIPOC writers and illustrators, across genres and age ranges, up through 2021. Mount’s faithful illustrations render book jackets and authors instantly recognizable.

Book Nerd

Holly Maguire (Workman) $12.95

This lighthearted ode to the reading obsessed includes quotations, vocabulary (bibliotaph: one who hides or hoards books), and appealingly illustrated examples of what Maguire calls RBF (resting book face). Also available: a 1,000-piece puzzle depicting one of the spreads.

Miroslav Šašek

Martin Salisbury (Thames & Hudson) $29.95

Originally trained as an architect, Miroslave Šašek (1916–1980) is best known for his This Is series, which began with 1959’s This Is Paris. Images from those titles, which eventually numbered 18, are well represented here, as are illustrations from other works. In Stone Is Not Cold (1961), he creates amusing scenes by enhancing classical statuary with line art, so that, for instance, the armless nude Venus of Cyrene wears a strapless bikini and earns an appreciative glance from a portly fellow beachgoer.

The Writer’s Cats

Muriel Barbery, illus. by Maria Guitart, trans. from the French by Alison Anderson (Europa Editions) $16.95

Novelist Barbery, author of The Elegance of the Hedgehog, offers a whimsical glimpse of the writing life as seen through the eyes of her four Chartreux cats: Ocha, Mizu, Petrus, and Kirin, who narrates. The quartet, Kirin explains, are “peerless literary advisors”—if only “our writer” would notice.

National Parks

Share a love of the great outdoors with gifts appropriate for all ages.

All About the National Parks

Ashley Holm Rhorer (Gibbs Smith, up to age 3) $14.99

Twenty-seven vividly illustrated, chunky flash cards teach kids the alphabet with the help of (A)rches National Park, the (b)ison in Badlands National Park, a (c)oral reef in Biscayne National Park, and beyond.

The Art of the National Parks

Fifty-Nine Parks (Earth Aware) $45

Screenprinted works in the Fifty-Nine Parks series, collected here, offer a contemporary take on the WPA posters of the 1930s.

B Is for Bison

Greg Paprocki (BabyLit, up to age 3) $9.99

This concept book leads children to an e(x)hibit at Big Bend National Park, (Y)osemite National Park, and finally, (Z)ion National Park.

Explore! America’s National Parks

Krista Langlois, illus. by Hannah Bailey (Kane Miller, ages 7–up) $18.99

Beginning with the seven “leave no trace” rules, this primer on getting the most out of a park visit includes packing tips, fast facts, and trip highlights.

National Parks Maps

Abby Leighton (Gibbs Smith, ages 9–14) $19.99

Accompanying the nostalgically designed cartography are mini profiles of key figures in park history, such as Reuben Scolnik, who discovered hundreds of previously unknown rock formations in Arches National Park.

National Parks of the USA Postcards

Kate Siber and Chris Turnham (Wide Eyed Editions) $16.99

Featuring 52 vintage-style illustrations from 2018’s National Parks of the USA (53K print copies sold per NPD BookScan), these cards are suitable for sending or framing.

National Parks Postcards

Fifty-Nine Parks (Clarkson Potter) $20

These cards depict the entire complement of parks pre–December 2020, when New River Gorge National Park and Preserve joined the roster. There are now 63 National Parks and counting.

The Rough Guide to the USA’s National Parks

(Rough Guides) $29.99

Destined for the coffee table rather than the backpack, this hardcover includes more than 150 photos and basic info on the parks.

Sticker Encyclopedia National Parks

(DK Children, ages 5–7) $12.99

With more than 600 stickers shaped like the flora, fauna, and geological formations of the parks, this activity book entertains as well as educates.

Subpar Parks

Amber Share (Plume) $22

Like the 365,000-follower Instagram account of the same name, this book juxtaposes Share’s poster-style park images alongside real-life one-star reviews and pointed commentary. For instance, in response to the reviewer who deemed Glacier National Park in Montana “too cold for me,” Share muses, “Apparently calling the park Glacier wasn’t a strong enough hint as to the climate of the area.”


These books bring singular visions into focus.

Blue Violet

Cig Harvey (Monacelli) $60

Still lifes, landscapes, and portraiture, all rendered in moody, saturated colors, are accompanied by tender musings on the connections among emotions and the five senses. Throughout, Harvey reflects on various botanicals, with recipes that highlight their individual properties. After making hibiscus tea, for instance, she suggests the reader “write a letter apologizing to someone you have hurt.” Gladioli, she writes elsewhere, taste like lettuce, while angel’s trumpets, a favorite of Frida Kahlo’s, “smell like sex.”

Slim Aarons: Style

Shawn Waldron and Kate Betts (Abrams) $85

Slim Aarons (1916–2006) didn’t “do fashion.” Rather, he said, “I take photos of people in their own clothes and that becomes fashion.” Many of those people are depicted here, from cultural figures (Louis Armstrong, Salvador Dali), designers (Mary McFadden, Gianni Versace), and boldface names (C.Z. Guest, Jackie Kennedy) to the anonymously privileged—one striking image shows a boldly clad trio enjoying an al fresco après ski spread, captioned “color and whimsy atop Snowmass Village, Colorado, 1968.”

Snapshots 1971–77

Michael Lesy (Blast Books) $34.95

Lesy and a friend found most of the snaps collected here in a dumpster behind a San Francisco photo-processing plant in the summer of 1971. (They were mistakenly printed duplicates, he explains.) Lo-fi images of weddings, birthdays, funerals, and everyday life, including some cheeky NSFW shots, offer nostalgia to those who remember rabbit-ear TV antennae and trick-or-treating in a store-bought plastic costume, and a lesson to the uninitiated in the true meaning of #NoFilter.

There and Back

Jimmy Chin (Ten Speed) $50

The professional climber and Oscar-winning director of Free Solo culls photos from nearly 20 years of globe-trotting expeditions, beginning with his first, a trip to Pakistan’s Ckarakusa Valley in 1999. Chin is equally adept at capturing crisp, jaw-dropping landscapes, daring athletic feats, and quiet, character-marked moments of repose.

Vivian Maier Developed

Ann Marks (Atria) $40

After watching the Oscar-nominated 2014 documentary on mysterious photographer-nanny Vivian Maier, Marks, an amateur genealogist, contacted the filmmakers and offered to help fill in the story’s many gaps. She unearthed key information on Vivian’s brother and sole heir; in turn, the filmmakers asked her to write this biography, offering access to Maier’s 140,000 images. Marks builds a narrative from the results of her extensive research, and incorporates nearly 400 of Maier’s photos.

Tarot Decks

It doesn’t take divination talents to see tarot’s current popularity. A stack of new cards appeal to traditional and pop culture sensibilities alike.

El Tarot Deck: Millennial Lotería Edition

Mike Alfaro (Blue Star) $24.95

Alfaro brings his selfie-styled lotería designs to the 78-card tarot deck. In his cheeky rendering, the five of coins card, for instance, becomes the cinco de bitcoins.

Gold Lyre Tarot

Lacy Martin and Christine Scanlon (Microcosm) $29.95

Photos in this inclusive deck highlight a multiracial cast of women and femmes in archetypical characterizations.

The Intuitive Night Goddess Tarot

Linzi Silverman (Ulysses) $29.95

Collages portray starry scenes of nature, animals, and magic, with goddesses that draw on various traditions.

Meryl Tarot

Chantel de Sousa (Smith Street Gift) $24.95

This set serves as homage to La Streep’s star turns in movies including The Iron Lady (The Emperor) and Mamma Mia! (The Sun).

The Moon & Stars Tarot

Jayne Wallace (Ryland Peters & Small) $19.99

Wallace, who runs the Psychic Sisters concession at London’s Selfridges department store, here takes inspiration from lunar cycles and the constellations.

Real Talk Tarot

Juanita Londoño Gaviria (becker&mayer!) $24.99

Updated illustrations depict present-day characters and situations: the Ace of Cups is a topknot-sporting barista, and the Empress is refashioned as an Instagram celeb.

The Wild Unknown Pocket Tarot

Kim Krans (HarperOne) $12.99

This is a petite version of the original Wild Unknown set, which according to NPD BookScan has sold more than a quarter-million units since its 2016 release.

TV & Film

The personalities behind big- and small-screen favorites give fans a peek at the creative process.

Best Wishes, Warmest Regards

Daniel and Eugene Levy (Black Dog & Leventhal) $40

The father and son creators and costars of Schitt’s Creek, which swept the comedy slate at the 2020 Emmys after its final season, take readers behind the scenes in a photo-packed volume that includes stills from each episode plus cast interviews, fan art, and ephemera: a two-page spread, for instance, shows license plates from across Canada and the U.S. with the series catchphrase, “Ew, David.”

Hayao Miyazaki

Jessica Niebel, Pete Docter, and Daniel Kothenschulte (Delmonico) $49.95

Published to coincide with the inaugural temporary exhibition at the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, the first Hayao Miyazaki retrospective in North America, this volume surveys the animation auteur’s 40-year career. Concept sketches, character designs, storyboards, layouts, backgrounds, and production cels provide new looks at his 11 animated feature films, including My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle.

Kevin Smith’s Secret Stash

Kevin Smith (Insight) $65

Anyone who’s ever wondered why Silent Bob doesn’t speak, and why he was finally moved to toward the end of 1994’s Clerks, will appreciate this scrapbook of photos, anecdotes, and artifacts from Silent Bob himself, actor-director Smith. The f-bomb strafed narrative covers influences (George Lucas, Richard Linklater), personal difficulties (his 2018 heart attack), and the making of his cult-classic movies.

Madly Marvelous

Donna Zakowska (Abrams) $50

Zakowska, Emmy-winning costume designer for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, dives deep into the color-coordinated, impeccably tailored ensembles that reveal as much about fictional 1950s housewife turned stand-up comedian Midge Maisel as her story lines do. Bountiful swatches and sketches accompany the many stills, illuminating the tools of her trade. Just like the series, this is a visual feast.


Spike Lee (Chronicle Chroma) $50

Told mostly through photos and stills and punctuated by quotes from Lee and others—such as Barack Obama, who took Michelle to see Do the Right Thing on their first date—this is a visual compendium of the groundbreaking, Oscar- and Emmy-winning director’s career. Snapshots of his earliest days give way to treatments of all the Spike Lee Joints, from 1986’s She’s Gotta Have It to the of-the-moment docuseries NYC Epicenters 9/11–>2021½.

Yayoi Kusama

Give the gift of polka dots: Kusama is both an acclaimed contemporary artist and a must-capture social media sensation.

Kusama: Cosmic Nature

Edited by Mika Yoshitake and Joanna L. Groarke (Rizzoli Electa) $40

The catalog for the artist’s 2021 show at the New York Botanical Garden includes on-location photos and archival images.

The World of Yayoi Kusama

Laura Callaghan (Laurence King) $19.99

A fold-out poster packaged with this 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle includes facts about the artist’s life and work.

Yayoi Kusama

Robert Shore (Laurence King) $17.99

Part of the publisher’s Lives of the Artists biography series (Frida Kahlo, Keith Haring, and others), this slender volume offers an introductory overview.

Yayoi Kusama: A Retrospective

Yayoi Kusama, edited by Stephanie Rosenthal (Prestel) $60

In addition to the NYBG show, Kusama also had a major exhibition at Berlin’s Gropius Bau, with works spanning her 70-year career.

Back to Main Guide