Holiday art gifts: Best in 2012 contemporary art books

Next up in our 2012 holiday gifts series is a profile of some of the most fascinating Asian contemporary art books that came out in 2012.

Covering a range of subject matter and regions, each of the books profiled below examine contemporary art with different formats and writing styles. What follows, in no particular order of importance, are our picks for potential contemporary art book holiday gifts.

Expand your library with some of our contemporary art book recommendations.

As Seen 2011 — Notable Artworks by Chinese Artists | Karen Smith

Having lived in China for two decades, Karen Smith is one of the foremost writers on contemporary Chinese art. Her newest book zooms in on what she sees as the important artists, practices and trends in 2011. Through her distinct method of focussing on only one year of art production, Smith looks not only at where Chinese art has been, but where it might be going. For an idea of what to expect, check out Art Radar‘s article from September 2012 that talks about an interview Smith gave to Randian magazine.

Hong Kong Artists: 20 Portraits | Various writers

This collection of artist profiles is described on Amazon as “the first international publication dedicated to a new generation [of artists] … currently emerging in the Hong Kong art scene”. As Hong Kong grows into its role as a cultural hub, artists from the city are bound to gain greater prominence in the international art community. This book is a great way to keep abreast of the up-and-comers in the Hong Kong art scene.

Infinity Net: The Autobiography of Yayoi Kusama | Yayoi Kusama

Apart from being one of the best known names in Japanese contemporary art, Yayoi Kusama has also lived a dramatic and tumultuous life. The artist’s autobiography spans from her troubled childhood in postwar Japan through her days as a counter-culture figure in New York City in the 1960s and 70s up to her present life living in a Japanese psychiatric hospital. She also goes in depth into her lifelong struggle with mental illness, which informed her artistic practice from the 1950s onward.

Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: With Artwork by Yayoi Kusama

Bonus book! While not strictly about contemporary art, in 2012 Penguin Classics released a version of Lewis Carroll’s classic children’s tale illustrated by Yayoi Kusama. A must-have for fans of the Japanese contemporary art superstar!

Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art: An Anthology | Various writers

Coming from a more academic viewpoint, this anthology of contemporary art in Southeast Asia brings together essays from scholars, critics and curators discussing a range of topics, periods and countries. With Southeast Asian artists attracting more and more attention on the international stage, this is a great book to familiarise yourself with the issues and questions that define contemporary art practice in the region.

India: Art Now | Various writers

This compendium of contemporary art in India since the 1990s invites leading experts to discuss new developments in the country’s artistic practice as well as examine how Indian artists fit within a global cultural framework. Perfect for the Indian art lover in your life!

Are there any other must-have contemporary art books from 2012 that we missed? Or any classic contemporary art texts that merit a second look? Tell us what other art books to buy in the comments section below.


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