Feast your eyes on color, composition and personalities galore in these photography and art books, which include a landmark offering from Annie Leibovitz, a collection of artful fiction, never-before-published photos of Julia Child in France, as well as William Wegman’s charming, artsy dogs.
Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005-2016 is both breathtaking and mind-blowing, a journey unlike any other. Gorgeous, mesmerizing, fascinating—words don’t fully encapsulate the vitality of Leibovitz’s photographs.
The sheer heft of this volume will ensure that you sit with it a while—as well you should—to appreciate the variety and versatility of Leibovitz’s subjects, which include celebrities, artists, writers, politicians and more. The book’s large scale renders the images nearly life-size, drawing you in to the many faces: Stephen Hawking gazes piercingly from his wheelchair, Johnny Depp drops a hint of a smile, a sun-drenched African mother fills a bedroom with her loving warmth as she works to prevent babies from being born HIV-positive. Time after time, Leibovitz captures hearts and souls, bringing viewers right there with her as she snaps her shutter.
(Lin-Manuel Miranda, New York City, 2015. From Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005-2016. © Annie Leibovitz.)
In a short essay, Leibovitz writes, “I often wish that my pictures had more of an edge, but that’s not the kind of photographer I have come to be. There are all kinds of circumstances that determine the outcome of a single shoot. The edge in my work is probably in the accumulation of images. They bounce off one another and become elements in a bigger story.”
It’s a very big story indeed.
A MUSEUM OF FICTION
Alive in Shape and Color: 17 Paintings by Great Artists and the Stories They Inspired offers a unique armchair gallery tour, but one warning: You’ll probably never look at these paintings the same way again. Last year, Lawrence Block edited a surprise hit, In Sunlight or in Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper. This year’s follow-up is every bit as intriguing, with a slightly different spin, allowing writers to use any painting as a springboard for a short story. The paintings are wonderfully varied, including Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” Norman Rockwell’s “First Trip to the Beauty Shop” and even a sculpture, Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker. There are many blockbuster writers as well: Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child and Michael Connelly. The fun comes in seeing how each author makes use of his or her artistic inspiration. Alive in Shape and Color is a funfest of surprises.
WHO’S A GOOD DOG?
It’s ironic but fitting that a new book of more than 300 photographs of Weimaraners is titled William Wegman: Being Human, but few would argue the choice after seeing Wegman’s soulful, evocative, always imaginative and often hilarious portraits.
Photography curator William A. Ewing showcases old favorites alongside new images from Wegman’s personal archives, spanning five decades and featuring a variety of his dogs, including, of course, Man Ray and Fay Ray. The book is divided into 16 categories, such as the delightful “Masquerade” and the artful “Nudes.” All are wonderful, but the “human” categories (“People Like Us,” “People We Like”) tug at readers in unforgettable ways, like in “Night Man,” as a Weimaraner wearing bib overalls and pushing a broom looks weary but resigned to his task. Don’t miss the brief essays at the end in which Wegman discusses his work and his dogs.
FOOD, FRANCE AND JULIA
France Is a Feast: The Photographic Journey of Paul and Julia Child lives up to its name, presenting a rich treasure-trove of photography, biography, history and culinary lore. Here’s your chance to page through the photo albums of Paul Child, narrated by his great-nephew Alex Prud’homme, who co-authored My Life in France with Julia and wrote The French Chef in America.
Paul was a gifted artist and photographer as well as a Foreign Service officer. Julia called him “the Mad Photographer”; his work is in the Museum of Modern Art, and he seriously considered becoming a professional artist or photojournalist. Prud’homme calls the book “a visual extension of Julia’s memoir, an extension that lets Paul’s imagery take the lead.” And while Paul’s arresting, artful images offer a fascinating glimpse of the couple’s life in France between 1948 and 1954, it’s the photos of Julia that are strikingly intimate: Julia kneeling near her cat in the couple’s apartment; her nude silhouette in front of a sunlit window in Florence; Julia talking on the phone, with only her long, outstretched legs visible, but her warm, hearty laugh so easy to imagine.
BIG, NATURAL ART
English artist Andy Goldsworthy has been making large-scale, environmental art exhibits around the world since the mid-1970s, and you’ll get to see how his work unfolds in Andy Goldsworthy: Projects. These large, beautiful photographs show Goldsworthy’s varied earth-moving processes in great detail, from beginning to end, which is as fascinating as the completed projects. A few of the many works discussed include clay houses in Maryland, Five Men, Seventeen Days, Fifteen Boulders, One Wall in New York state, a leaf house in Scotland and a cairn in Mallorca. You’ll just wish you could see them all in person.