Creativity is often born under unexpected circumstances, as these books so beautifully demonstrate.
The Art of Love by Kate Bryan
Married British artists Idris Khan and Annie Morris have a framed sign in their London home that’s meant to be ironic: “An artist should avoid falling in love with another artist.” Of course, two highly talented artistic souls living and creating together can be a dream, a nightmare or a highly charged bit of both, as evidenced by the endlessly fascinating stories revealed in The Art of Love: The Romantic and Explosive Stories Behind Art’s Greatest Couples.
British art curator Kate Bryan—a lively, informed guide—profiles 34 artistic couples, ranging from 1880 to the present, including the likes of Françoise Gilot and Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, and Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. Asli Yazan’s illustrations of these artists add a wonderful touch of color, helping to bring their personalities to life.
Bryan writes that her goal was to “present as many different perspectives on artists in love as possible.” She focuses on how these relationships affected each creator’s art instead of chronicling the melodrama—yet she does dole out a variety of delicious tidbits, like the fact that even after Frida Kahlo divorced Diego Rivera, who was 21 years her senior, she “continued to mother the wayward beast, even running him baths with rubber ducks.” Oh my.
Skip by Molly Mendoza
Art and story meld beautifully in Skip, Molly Mendoza’s virtuoso graphic novel about fear and courage, friendship, change and creativity. In a dystopian world rife with the threat of attacking “tech-hounds,” a child named Bloom and his guardian, Bee, live on a lake’s island, subsisting on duck eggs and fish. After hearing a radio SOS, Bee announces that she must leave, asking Bloom to be brave until she comes back from her rescue mission—except she never returns.
While skipping stones one day, Bloom suddenly finds himself in a completely different world, where he meets a mysterious creature named Gloopy who’s having a hard time fulfilling his creative spirit and fitting into his community. Bloom and Gloopy join forces and “skip” into several different worlds, facing a myriad of dangerous creatures: a giant, lonely bird and a universe creator named Lily, who urges Gloopy to follow his creative desires. Mendoza describes her own artistic style as “chaotic yet rhythmic,” and her multicolored, imaginative creations make Skip a memorable, action-packed adventure, full of bold swirls of both color and emotion.
Body by Nathalie Herschdorfer
Curator and art historian Nathalie Herschdorfer has compiled a glorious celebration of the human form with more than 350 images from over 175 photographers in Body: The Photography Book. As she notes in the preface, contemporary photography reflects society’s changing standards of beauty and opens up “new pathways for bodily representations and perspectives beyond the traditional nude.” With artists like Sally Mann, Herb Ritts, Cindy Sherman and Liu Bolan, the sweepingly broad perspectives are fascinating, a mix of fantasy and reality.
You’ll see a 3D ultrasound of an 8-month-old yawning, the hunched figures of elderly people walking, sculpturelike nudes, baseball players in action, a crowd of happily dancing people at a Scottish Town Hall Christmas party and even the colorfully abstract, highly magnified view of the connections between human nerve cells. There are disturbing images as well—an anorexic young woman, a man’s face after a fight, scars left on a refugee’s back by the Taliban. Youth, love, joy, movement, health, disease, celebration—Body honors the many sizes, shapes and moments that make us all human.
Shoot for the Moon by Tim Walker
Shoot for the Moon takes its title from a Norman Vincent Peale quotation: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land among the stars.” It’s an apt title, for renowned British fashion photographer Tim Walker spends his life among stars, creating famously surreal wonderlands within his images.
A follow-up to a previous volume, Story Teller, Shoot for the Moon focuses Walker’s lens on the darker side of his imagination, somewhere he’d “been previously too scared to visit.” In a brief introduction, he writes, “Like every child, I had a fear of the dark—but now I know that it is here, in the shadows, that the magic is hidden.”
And what magic there is! These images are at times fun, funky, bizarre, glamorous, spooky and over the top, featuring celebrities like Claire Foy, RuPaul, Bill Hader, Tommy Lee Jones, Tilda Swinton and Whoopi Goldberg, all like you’ve never seen them before. A number of comments are included from models like Kate Moss, who says: “Tim’s magic is that he makes fantasy believable. He makes otherworldly images that seem so accessible.” Fashion fans will quickly lose themselves in these wonder-filled pages.