• Book Roundups Books Web Exclusive

    6 Sumptuous Gift Books to Splurge on This Summer

    Stunning, silk-wrapped, and limited-edition volumes from Ai Weiwei, Maurizio Cattelan, and more

    Toilet Paper: Diamond Collection
    Edited by Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari
    Damiani, $130

    AMAZON POWELLS INDIEBOUND

    Selected image from Toilet Paper: Diamond Collection. ©2012 MAURIZIO CATTELAN AND PIERPAOLO FERRARI.

    Selected image from Toilet Paper: Diamond Collection.

    ©2012 MAURIZIO CATTELAN AND PIERPAOLO FERRARI.

    Outfitted with a groovy lenticular cover, this cheeky and scatological compilation features highlights of vernacular and commercial photography from Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari’s Toilet Paper magazine. The images—which include everything from a neatly arranged array of feminine hygiene products to a sleeping kitty to an awkward family photo—are accompanied by comparably non-sequitur texts. Among them are a six-page patent application for a bird diaper and the Wikipedia results for a search of scandals with the suffix “gate” (top results include South Park’s “Closetgate,” Rush Limbaugh’s “Slutgate” debate, and a controversy caused by dropped calls on the iPhone4 called “Antennagate”). Images of a decapitated pig head in full make-up, a human ear floating in soup, and shoes made of swordfish heads are among the other highlights, making Toilet Paper the perfect gift for the person with both a strong stomach and sense of humor.


    Boxed: A Visual History and the Art of Boxing
    Edited and with text by Carlos Dzine Rolón; Text by Franklin Sirmans
    Damiani/Paul Kasmin Gallery, $60

    AMAZON POWELLS INDIEBOUND

    Selected images from BOXED. COURTESY PAUL KASMIN GALLERY, NEW YORK. ©CARLOS ROLÓN/DZINE.

    Selected images from Boxed: A Visual History and the Art of Boxing.

    COURTESY PAUL KASMIN GALLERY, NEW YORK. ©CARLOS ROLÓN/DZINE.

    Carlos “Dzine” Rolón assembled this stunning and complex book as an homage to his father, whose love of boxing profoundly influenced the artist. The result is a compendium of texts and images that constitute a colorful history of the sport and the many artists it has inspired. Sirmans and Rolón take readers from the Fertile Crescent, where intertwined boxing figures were present in terracotta scenes and wall paintings as early as 3000 BC, to the gritty boxing clubs seen in George Bellows’s early-20th-century paintings, to the ringside seats of contemporary matches with hyper-realistic paintings by Taner Ceylan and action photographs by Cheryl Dunn.

    Culminating in images of Dzine’s flamboyantly gilded and bedazzled interpretations of boxing paraphernalia, the book demonstrates that boxing is not only a sport that draws on our collective fascination with violence and “gladiatorial entertainment,” as Sirmans writes in his introduction, but a tradition rooted in pageantry, costume, and beauty.


    The Funk & Wag from A to Z
    By Mel Chin; Poetry edited by Nick Flynn
    Yale University Press, $85

    AMAZON POWELLS INDIEBOUND

    Mel Chin, Dying for a Bus Ride, detail of The Funk & Wag from A to Z, 2011–12. COLLECTION OF THE ARTIST/©2014 MEL CHIN. PHOTO: STEVE MANN.

    Mel Chin, Dying for a Bus Ride, detail of The Funk & Wag from A to Z, 2011–12.

    COLLECTION OF THE ARTIST/©2014 MEL CHIN. PHOTO: STEVE MANN.

    Conceptual artist Mel Chin’s masterful and cunning edit of a complete 25-volume set of Funk & Wagnall’s Universal Standard Encyclopedia is the subject of this weighty tome. From 2011 to 2012, Chin excised the thousands of black-and-white images from the series—cityscapes, anatomical reproductions, animals, historical figures—and mischievously reconfigured them into witty collages. Among his uncanny creations are a gorilla having its hands cleaned, a giant squirrel riding a sailboat, sword-wielding fencers waging an attack on Matisse’s iconic dancing women, and a woman playing an accordion with skyscrapers tucked into the folds.

    Supplemented by a series of equally sardonic poems and texts by Michael Klein, Ben Marcus, Tamalyn Miller, Silem Mohammed, and others, Chin’s book delivers an ironic surprise on every page.


    Posada: A Century of Skeletons
    Juan Villoro, Mercurio López Casillas, Helia Bonilla, Montserrat Gali, Rafael Barajas
    Editorial RM/BBVA, $65

    AMAZON POWELLS INDIEBOUND

    Selections from Posada: A Century of Skeletons.  ©2013 POSADA. ©EDITORIAL RM/FUNDACIÓN BBVA BANCOMER A.C.

    Selections from Posada: A Century of Skeletons.

    ©2013 POSADA. ©EDITORIAL RM/FUNDACIÓN BBVA BANCOMER A.C.

    Featuring nearly 1,000 reproductions of original prints by José Guadalupe Posada, this hefty 376-page volume was published in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Mexican artist’s death. Among the images are satirical “calavera” lithographs, political flyers, and never-before-published engravings.

    As memorable as the prints are the smartly crafted essays. Readers learn about Posada’s early influences, his intricate technical printmaking process, and the path that led him to publish clever and concise illustrations for a largely illiterate audience. Though the artist died before his work received widespread acclaim, Posada cements his posthumous title as the godfather of modern Mexican art.


    Christian Weber: Explosions
    By Christian Weber
    Kerber Verlag, $50

    AMAZON POWELLS INDIEBOUND

    Christian Weber, No.042013, 2013, archival pigment print. COURTESY KERBER VERLAG.

    Christian Weber, No.042013, 2013, archival pigment print.

    COURTESY KERBER VERLAG.

    Bursting with light and color, this dazzling monograph features more than 50 images of photographs from Christian Weber’s kinetic “Explosions” series. As the title suggests, Weber staged carefully engineered explosions and photographed each fiery reaction during its brief but fierce life. The resulting images range from shots of shimmering, confettilike sparks to cosmic showers of smoke and burnt-orange debris to scorching flames that look like lava erupting from a volcano.

    The most exciting aspect of Weber’s explosion shots is that they document moments imperceptible to the human eye. With these photographs, the artist invites readers to share fleeting, irreplicable moments.


    Ai Weiwei
    Edited by Hans Werner Holzwarth
    Taschen, $1,500

    AMAZON

    Selected images from Ai Weiwei. COURTESY TASCHEN/©2013 AI WEIWEI.

    Selected images from Ai Weiwei.

    COURTESY TASCHEN/©2013 AI WEIWEI.

    The first comprehensive monograph on the life and work of activist and dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, this luxurious, silk-wrapped tome takes the cake for summer’s most sumptuous gift book. A limited and numbered edition of 1,000 (each signed by Ai), Holzwarth’s 724-page opus boasts a brief but eloquent biography of the artist written by Uli Sigg, essays on Ai’s politics by Carlos Rojas and William A. Callahan, and cut-paper chapter openers designed by the artist. Most compelling is the selection of early photographs taken of and by the artist, particularly those from the decade he spent in New York City between 1983 and 1993. Exuding less confidence and bravado than present-day Ai Weiwei (e.g. the viral video he released of himself dancing to “Gangnam Style” with his studio assistants), these early shots show the artist as he finds his footing in the art world. He poses with Warhols and Duchamps at MoMA, shoots self-portraits in his cramped East 3rd Street apartment, and snaps candids at street rallies and protests. Readers meet a young artist readying himself for a revolution.

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