Holiday art gifts: 7 best art books of 2013



Second up in our 2013 holiday gifts series is a profile of some of the most fascinating Asian contemporary art books that came out in 2013.

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.

"Art Now! 4", Taschen's contemporary art compendium, 2013. Image courtesy Taschen.

“Art Now! 4″, Taschen’s contemporary art compendium, makes a great holiday gift. Image courtesy Taschen.

Tansaekwha | Joan Kee

Full of large-scale images, Kee’s 2013 book introduces readers to the Korean form of “tansaekwha”, or monochromatic painting. One of the most influential movements of the last centuries in Korean contemporary art, tansaekwha is re-examined and re-positioned in the global art context by Kee, a University of Minnesota academic.

Art Now! Volume 4 | Hans Werner Holzwarth

Referred to by Amazon as the definitive “ongoing catalogue of contemporary art”, the fourth volume in the Art Now series includes information on over 100 artists. Emerging artists are featured alongside well-known names such as Ai Weiwei, Damien Hirst and Cai Guoqiang. This edition also includes a bonus feature on the art boom in Eastern Asia with essays, curator interviews and a guide to art venues. Click here to read Art Radar‘s book review of Art Now! Volume 4.

As Seen 2: Notable Artworks by Chinese Artists | Karen Smith

This is the second installment in Smith’s series on contemporary Chinese art, published in both English and Chinese versions. It provides an overview of the work of 36 artists encountered by the author over the period of one year of visiting exhibitions. In this sense, the book is unique as it combines a critical documentation of Chinese art with personal reflections and appreciation. Smith also discusses the pace of art production in China and the effects this is having on artists, with some opting out entirely and others attempting to take back the control of their art practice and process. Click here to read Art Radar’s review of the book.

Cover of 'Art Cities of the Future', 2013, Phaidon.

Cover of ‘Art Cities of the Future’, 2013, Phaidon.

Art Cities of the Future: 21st Century Avant-Gardes | Antawan I. Byrd and Reid Shier

An exploration of the up-and-coming art scene in twelve cities across the world –Beirut, Bogotá, Cluj, Delhi, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Lagos, San Juan, São Paulo, Seoul, Singapore and Vancouver – this book opens up a conversation on global contemporary art trends that are locally informed. The local landscape and cultural milieu are contextualised through a selection of eight diverse artists representing each of these cities. Five of these cities are in Asia. Read Art Radar’s overview here.

Biennials and Beyond: Exhibitions That Made Art History Volume II (1962 – 2002) | Bruce Altshuler

Art historian Altshuler compiles a sourcebook comprising details of 25 influential exhibitions from the 1960s onwards. The book features never-before-published resources such as photographs, floor plans and reviews, and essentially traces the history of contemporary art and curatorial practice through these seminal exhibitions. Referred to as an “invaluable documentary history” by Publishers Weekly, this is the third volume in Altshuler’s unofficial trilogy exploring exhibition culture in the twentieth century.

Iran Modern | Fereshteh Daftari and Layla Diba

This volume was published as a complement to the “Iran Modern” exhibition at the Asia Society in New York, which is ongoing until 5 January 2014. The book features ten essays by scholars focusing on different facets of the Iranian modern art scene, spanning three decades: from the end of World War II up to the 1979 Revolution. Packed with images, it explores global interconnectedness and cultural diversity in Iranian art through the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

The Matter Within: New Contemporary Art of India | various writers

Contemporary Indian artists work in several mediums, addressing current issues as well as those that have historically affected the subcontinent’s collective imagination. This tome looks at sculpture, photography and video-based art practice through the work of artists residing both in India and abroad, such as Rina Banerjee, The Otolith Group, Pushpmala N., Raqs Media Collective and Thukral and Tagra. According to Amazon, the collection is organised in three thematic categories: embodiment, the politics of communicative bodies and the imaginary.

What were your favourite art books from 2013? Tell us your recommendations in the comments section below.  

Kriti Bajaj

Related Topics: art media, lists, resources, art books

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