The first two months of 2020 have almost been and gone (already?), but it’s still a good time to take stock, reflect and consider. Sometimes it’s worth looking back, as well as forward. So why not have a look at some of our past titles that you may have missed along the way? We sometimes forget about them too. So we’re highlighting some ‘blasts from the past’ (in some cases, the not too distant), to remind ourselves of these beauties, re-kindle y/our interest and get us all exploring the true depths of our list.
Here’s just a small selection to get your teeth into.
The first one is definitely a bit of a cheat, because it IS a ‘past title’ (relating to a 2019 exhibition at Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh) but one that actually also relates to a forthcoming version of the show at Monash Museum of Art, Melbourne in Summer 2020. Samson Young: Real Music gives a really insightful look at his artistic practice. Included here are details of his project involving the composing of music for instruments that could never actually exist. Also there’s his Chinese folk song/Japanese Togaku court-music-inspired, ‘The world falls apart into facts’.
Manchester-born Turner Prize-winning artist Chris Ofili represented Britain at the 50th Venice Biennale and this book, Chris Ofili: Within Reach went alongside, taking a 3-volume format. The first volume includes essays and a conversation with the artist, the second includes colour plates of all the artworks, and the last volume shows the transformation of the British Pavilion that he created with architect David Adjaye.
Fancy reading something that challenges the cultural status quo? Then look no further than Dave Hickey’s book of critical essays, Pirates and Farmers. If you want some provocation, he announced that he was giving up his job as an art critic by saying, ‘I miss being an elitist and not having to talk to idiots.’.
Artist Alice Neel didn’t really get the proper recognition she deserved whilst she was alive. Victoria Miro Gallery took on her posthumous UK representation and published a few titles on this figurative painter’s work. Alice Neel: Uptown is one of those titles, and features paintings she made of friends, family and neighbours when she lived in Upper Manhattan.
Is it also time to have another look at the photos of Chris Teasdale and Jan Williams, showing how we live in Britain today? They travel the country documenting places (and some faces) of contrast and contradiction, and then showing their pictures in their unique space – a tiny touring caravan. Is Britain Great? 3 is very funny, but it’s also a thought-provoking book. Sometimes requiring the response, ‘You couldn’t make it up’, their photos shine a torch on the absurd, embarrassing and tragicomic locales of the UK.
The next book is poster size, and, quite usefully, its pages are all perforated for ease of tearing out. Why? Because the Hayward wanted to share with us all their highly designed posters from their past exhibitions, and enable us to put them up on our own walls. On Display: 50 Posters Designed for the Hayward Gallery is just that. Got a wall to decorate, or just want to see the posters? Then this blast from the past is for you.
Radical Essex was reprinted due to popular demand, and it is a really interesting read. It goes against all those terrible, TOWIE-inspired Essex stereotypes, to show that Essex really is a place of culture, history and innovation. Essays by top writers open your eyes as to what Essex is really all about. We’ve never ever been to Essex, but we certainly want to go there now, after reading this book.
Virgin with a Memory: Sophia Al-Maria Here artist Sophia Al-Maria has novelised the script she created for her unmade movie feature, ‘Beretta’. Included are emails, budgets, schedules, storyboards and other film-making cornucopia. It highlights what can happen when a young movie-maker comes into contact with the crushing forces of politics and money.
A Century of Prints in Britain is a long overdue survey that showcases over 200 prints from the Arts Council Collection. Masters of the print medium are featured alongside lesser known practitioners’s works, and an essay by expert Julia Beaumont-Jones explores how printmaking democratised art in the post-war period.
Subkultura: Stories of Youth and Resistance in Russia, 1815-2017 Are you interested in 20th century geopolitics and youth culture? Then this one is for you. It’s the renowned Russian journalist Artemy Troitsky’s personal take on Russia’s alternative history of its modern culture. How was modern Russian society formed, seen through the eyes of writers, artists, musicians, skinheads, anarchists and revolutionaries that all helped to create the change?
Culture is important, but is culture spread like viruses? This is the question posed by artist John Walter in this monograph on his work that includes sculpture, performance, video, drawing, costume, prints and installation. John Walter: Capsid was the result of his collaboration with virologist Professor Greg Towers and the title comes from the protective protein shells that help viruses secretly deliver themselves into host cells.
And here’s a book that we were so pleased to be able to sell again, as we thought it had gone out of print, but then Ikon Gallery allowed us to have more copies (thank you Ikon!). Donald Judd: A Good Chair is a Good Chair includes photographs of Judd’s furniture prototypes. One of the most important and iconic artists of the twentieth century, Judd was a minimalist and worked across the three different disciplines of art, design and architecture. Hurry if you want to order this one, as there aren’t that many copies left.
Don’t you just love books? And especially our books? Sometimes they are a snapshot of their time, and others have a much more timeless quality. Whatever, there must be millions of words and images here, within our list, all ready for you to devour, savour or just enjoy.
Image credit: Taken from cover of 'Samson Young, Real Music' (Koenig Books, 2019).