Lauren and Benedikt Taschen
Berlin; Los Angeles
Photographer Helmut Newton has made a lot of books over the years but stated that, when it comes to publishers, Benedikt Taschen is of a different breed. “Publishers are not all like him. There are very few like him. Or there are none like him,” Newton once told Vanity Fair. “He is also, I might add, a madman”—a madman who has a large collection of erotic art and lives in Jon Lautner’s 1960s “Chemosphere” in Los Angeles. But perhaps it takes a madman to completely shake up the world of art publishing the way that Taschen Books (“Est. 1980. For optimists only”) has, producing books that are often huge, colorful, and bizarre in their subject matter: the 1534 Luther Bible, The Stanley Kubrick Archives, The Big Butt Book—a “cornucopia of delectably rounded, fully dimensional derrières.” (Though “there’s a big misconception about the erotic books,” Taschen told Vanity Fair. “They account for only 5 percent of our sales, unfortunately.”)
Taschen’s art collection also tends toward the sizable, colorful, and bizarre, though the works in it are a bit less affordable than the books he markets to the masses. The collection includes works by artists like Tom of Finland, Albert Oehlen, Jeff Koons, and Martin Kippenberger—most of whom are of Taschen’s own generation and whom he count as personal friends. “It was always artists who interested me,” Taschen once told the New York Times, “and, of course, people who think differently.” A self-made man, Taschen opened his first store, selling comics, at the age of 18 in Cologne, Germany. Today, his operation spans more than 150 employees in London, Los Angeles, Paris, Madrid, Tokyo, and Cologne.