Best art and coffee table books?
July 5, 2009 12:06 PM   Subscribe

What are your favorite coffee table books and art books? Examples for me are the art editions of Taschen like GOAT, The Godfather family Album, the MILK project(Humanity), all books by David LaChappelle.

Other examples are Sophie Calle's Did you see me, the entire Annotated Series.

What I am looking for are special books which make really good gifts(even though they may be expensive). These are books which you can spend hours looking at, not necessarily reading. I am also looking for great publishers of such books.

Unique childrens books would be great. There was an Italian futurism pioneer who made some amazing childrens books, but I am unable to recall his name.

I would appreciate if people would just stick to giving book recommendations and the reason for recommending. Thanks
posted by tusharj to Shopping (22 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Sally Mann's Immediate Family
posted by jedrek at 12:27 PM on July 5, 2009

For kids' books, stuff by Mitsumasa Anno.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 12:33 PM on July 5, 2009

My all-time favorite (although it only came out last year) is Franz Lanting's "Life".
posted by notsnot at 12:42 PM on July 5, 2009

If you want to keep kids entertained for hours, get the Smithsonian's Animal: the Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife. It's beautiful, comprehensive, educational, and a joy to have around.
posted by aquafortis at 12:42 PM on July 5, 2009

Dammit, hit "post" too soon.
Another one that really starts conversation is a copy of "South with Endurance" about Shackleton's attempt at the South Pole. The whole tale awes every dude from sneering hipster weenies to Marines.
posted by notsnot at 12:45 PM on July 5, 2009

Luigi Serafini's Codex Seraphinianus is one of the most impressive books I've ever "read".

It's an encyclopedia of an unknown world language, written in an unknown language.

Feels like those days when I used to pick a book in my father's library and open it even if I was too young to be able to read (tears of joy!).
posted by volpe at 1:00 PM on July 5, 2009

Hungry Planet: What the World Eats. Portraits of families around the world, showing a week's worth of groceries that the buy.
posted by belau at 1:02 PM on July 5, 2009

I own a lot of photo books and the ones I continually go back to:

Greg Crewdson's Twilight

Eugene Richard's Cocaine Blue, Cocaine True

This one by Philip-Lorca diCorcia

David Hilliard's narrative panoramas

Sex Machines by Timothy Archibald
posted by bradbane at 1:10 PM on July 5, 2009

Virginia 24/7, or in your case, any of the other 24/7 book series that feature photography from a given state. I think there's also one for the nation as a whole.

And since I have an amateur appreciation of religious architecture, I am captivated by Houses of Worship: An Identification Guide to the History and Style of American Religious Architecture. It is fantastic and is presented in roughly chronological order, so even just flipping through you get a good grasp for how architecture of churches, synagogues, and even a few mosques have evolved over time in the US from colonial times to the modern era.
posted by midatlanticwanderer at 1:13 PM on July 5, 2009

Banksy's Wall & Peace.

Edgy, thought-provoking, and above all, neat in the pop art sense of the word.
posted by the NATURAL at 1:31 PM on July 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Family of Man, an oldie but a goodie.

Also A Collaboration with Nature by Andy Goldsworthy.
posted by marble at 2:48 PM on July 5, 2009

I have found, when entertaining new suitors, that comic collections are the way to go. Have the nice byproduct of pacifying the suitor.
posted by andreap at 4:02 PM on July 5, 2009

+1 Hungry Planet.

Also, for wanderlust in both time and space, picture wise, Burton Holmes' (1870-1958) Travelogues, also Taschen.

Photos from an era where travelling was travelling with capital T. People tend to end up in a corner of the couch for a few hours when they see it.
posted by gmm at 4:28 PM on July 5, 2009

The best art book I've ever come across at a party that made me wish I could pore through it for hours was OBEY: Supply & Demand - The Art of Shepard Fairey.
posted by KatlaDragon at 4:36 PM on July 5, 2009

Any of Andy Goldsworthy's books have a place on my (future) coffee tables.
posted by genmonster at 6:20 PM on July 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sex by Madonna?

The Way Things Work
by David Macaulay?

Not meant to be art per se, but i could spend HOURS looking at them.
posted by cmchap at 6:27 PM on July 5, 2009

I have Transit Maps of the World on my coffee table, but maybe I'm just weird.
posted by Vorteks at 7:26 PM on July 5, 2009

I have this book, Earth From Above, and I love it. I actually bought the French version when I was in Paris, so mostly just look at the pictures. It's aerial views of landscapes from all over the world. It's fascinating!
posted by apricot at 11:08 PM on July 5, 2009

Seconding Yann Arthus-Bertrand's Earth from Above.

Martina Margetts' book on Tord Boontje
Albertus Seba's Cabinet of Natural Curiosities
Stanley Greenberg's Invisible New York
Peter York's Dictator Style
posted by transporter accident amy at 4:05 AM on July 6, 2009

The best coffee table book series for a gormand: Culinaria.

I had the European Specialities collection, and even though I knew my mom had bought it at a garage sale, it simply looked and felt extremely expensive. Lush photography. They are not cookbooks, rather an in-depth exploration of culinary tradition.

Here's a review of the United States Culinaria book.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:00 AM on July 6, 2009

River of Colour by Raghubir Singh is gigantic, and gorgeous. That dude should be more famous than he is. It's Indian street photography.
posted by chunking express at 8:16 AM on July 7, 2009

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