On World Book Day, open up some art
From promising new artists to magisterial career surveys, deep-dive monographs to deeply engaging factoids, our new list has it all
It's always great to discover new books and authors, just as its truly thrilling about coming across a new, little-known artist, particularly when they’re operating at the peak of their powers. A trip to the gallery districts in one of the world’s major cities might yield one of two encounters like this; however, our new title Prime: Art's Next Generation gathers together over 100 such artists, each of whom was born on or after 1980, and each of whom is widely regarded as a rising star within contemporary art’s firmament.
The artists profiled in this stunning, beautifully illustrated new book were chosen by an equally rarefied panel of curators, writers, academics and gallerists from around the globe. Prime includes plenty of painters, sculptors and photographers, as well as creators of installations, videos, performances, and more besides. There are even a few familiar names in the line up, such as Christina Quarles, Thao Nguyen Phan, and Tschabalala Self, as well as many, many more you’re likely to get to know much better over the next few years.
In fact, for a clearer understanding of Prime artists’ trajectory, consider investing in another title from our 2022 list: a copy of our Ugo Rondinone monograph. This Swiss-born, New York-based artist was featured in a similar, Prime-like Phaidon survey, Fresh Cream, back in 2000, alongside such now-famous figures as Sarah Lucas, Kerry James Marshall and Paul McCarthy. Like his contemporaries, Rondinone has developed an exemplary, distinct body of work over the preceding decades, which, in Rondinone’s case, ranges from vibrant paintings and immersive installations, through to text-based works and colourful land art. Our new book, part of Phaidon’s on-going Contemporary Artist Series, details this progression, while highlighting Rondinone’s poetic qualities and his enduring preoccupations with such universal themes as time and cosmic cycles.
Authored by Laura Hoptman, Executive Director of the Drawing Center in New York, Erik Verhagen, an independent curator and an art critic and an Associate Professor of Contemporary Art History at Université de Valenciennes, and Nicholas Baume, Director and Chief Curator of the Public Art Fund in New York, the publication offers deep insight into this important artist, and serves as a hugely satisfying compendium of his best works.
For an even lengthier career overview, you should also take a look at our Faith Ringgold: American People. This 91-year-old New York artist can recall jazz-era Harlem, and played a crucial role in capturing and expressing the spirit of Civil-Rights-era America. Our new book serves as the catalogue for the New Museum’s exhibition of the same name (on until 5 June 2022), and is the most comprehensive assessment to date of Ringgold’s art. It surveys her early work, as well as the wide variety of art she produced during later decades, when Ringgold questioned the received divisions between art and craft by producing quilts and children’s story books. Viewed in total, Faith Ringgold: American People also recasts art history, to bring to light narratives that bear witness to the historical sacrifices and achievements of Black Americans. The book offers both sumptuous aesthetic experience and a timely top-up lesson in one crucial figure within mid-century and contemporary American art.
Lorna Simpson's career begins a little later than Ringgold's, though she has been equally pioneering. Emerging in the 1980s, this acclaimed artist and filmmaker has gone on to become among the best-known representatives of contemporary African-American visual culture. While commenting richly on the ways in which black women are seen, and the ways in which they see themselves, Simpson raises searching, philosophical questions about the relationship between image and text, and about the construction of the self. Her work has been displayed at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Miami Art Museum; the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Institute of Art; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York.
This newly revised and expanded book covers Simpson’s early years, her breakthrough moment in 1993, when she became the first African-American woman ever to show in the Venice Biennale and the first to have a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York; right through to her work in recent years, when she has collaborated with Rihanna and received the prestigious J.Paul Getty Medal.
A History of the World (in Dingbats)
David Byrne has played his own inimitable role in the development of US culture, as a solo recording artist, as the frontman for Talking Heads, and via his forays into film, theatre and contemporary art. In his new book, A History of the World (in Dingbats), he shares his delightful, winsome, illuminating and (at times a little scary) drawings, which Byrne drew during the pandemic. His ‘dingbats’, or typographic ornaments, used to illuminate or break up blocks of text, explore the nuances of life under lockdown and evoke the complex, global systems the pandemic cast in bright light.
The drawings and texts, also Byrne’s work, explore our inner selves, our hopes, dreams, ambitions and fears. Edited and designed by the writer, designer and curator Alex Kalman, in close collaboration with Byrne, this book will delight fans of Byrne’s wider body of work, as well as those looking for enlightenment, guidance and shared experiences, post-pandemic.
Some of the contemporary wit of Byrne is shared by Jean Jullien, the French artist, sculptor and illustrator familiar to many via his Phaidon children’s books such as This is Not a Book, This is Still Not a Book, Before and After, and Why The Face?. Jullien has also charmed gallery goers across the world, from Seoul to San Francisco, via his staged exhibitions; pleased readers of The New York Times, New Yorker, National Geographic, SZ Magazine, Télérama with his covers and illustrations; and drawn in 1.2m followers on Instagram via his lyrical pictures. This season, Phaidon is proud to publish his most comprehensive monograph to date. This new book is filled with his wry, sharply observed renderings of life today, from work, to food to holidays to family life, as well as his lesser-known, though equally beautiful landscape paintings, sculptures, brand collaborations and clothes designs.
Jean Jullien, the book, is arranged in three sections – Personal, Collaboration, and Public – with pertinent interviews and essays heading up each part (look out for the Personal section’s Q&A between the artist and Sylvie and Bruno Jullien, Jean’s mother and father, in which they discuss his childhood love of painting and the early inspiration he found in the gardens, ocean and beaches of his native Brittany).
Francis Alÿs’s work is more intangible and geographically diffuse, though no less engaging. The acclaimed Belgian-born artist (whose surname is pronounced ‘ah-leece’) creates beguiling, contemporary projects, which weave together current affairs with social ties, performance and myth-making. In his work young would-be migrants march out into the sea with toy boats; men dribble fiery soccer balls or push dripping ice blocks; and a VW Beetle’s halting progress up a hill in Mexico seems to be dependent on the music played by an accompanying brass band.
This new book is a revised and expanded edition of Alÿs’s 2007 monograph, and as such it is the most comprehensive publication on his diverse body of work to date. Alongside contributions from Russell Ferguson, the LA critic and curator; Jean Fisher the late artist artist and a writer; and Cuauhtémoc Medina the a writer, critic, and curator based in Mexico City; is an additional essay by the NYC writer and anthropologist Michael Taussig, alongside new texts from the artist and detailed visual presentations of Alÿs’s recent projects in Afghanistan and Iraq. Alÿs is representing Belgium at the 2022 Venice Biennale. Get this book, and you’ll have some idea of what's on show there.
Paola Pivi is no stranger to the Biennale – this Italian-born artist won a Golden Lion there in 1999 – even if her works very often look out of place. Our new book shows how, in Pivi’s art, zebras roam the Alps; polar bears sprout colourful feathers; and fish fly on aeroplanes. Working within a diverse selection of media, including sculpture, photography, performance, and immersive installation, Pivi disrupts the conventional order of things, to create a playful space for surreal and fantastical alternatives.
Such spaces abound in 2022, when the artist will be the subject of three major exhibitions of her work: at the Anchorage Museum in Alaska; the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh; and on the High Line in Manhattan. Our new book is the perfect accompaniment to these shows, as it is the first complete survey of Pivi’s diverse and approachable body of work and has been made with the close involvement of the artist, making it her most substantial publication to date.
And for further playful engagement with the art world, get Artifacts. Subtitled Fascinating Facts about Art, Artists, and the Art World, the book covers everything, from museum selfies to the Slade; the hours Pablo Picasso used to work in his studio, through the wide range of jobs Agnes Martin worked prior to settling into her career as a professional painter; there’s a visual guide to brushes; a list of artists’ pets’ names; an overview of famous artists who flunked out of art school; and a key to classical painting symbols. Sharply illustrated and deeply researched, Artifacts is the kind of book you read for fun, idle pleasure, yet end up accreting deep stores of artistic knowledge.
For more on this new title as well as all the others covered above, take a look at the art section in the Phaidon store.