These books offer surprising and visually sumptuous takes on art and creativity, from weighty tomes on the new culture of cannabis, to witty publications walking the reader through the history of mansplaining. 

Peter Lusztyk, High on Design, Gestalten, 2020. Castor Design’s Heirloom Stack for luxury Canadian brand Tokyo Smoke
Peter Lusztyk, High on Design, Gestalten, 2020. Castor Design’s Heirloom Stack for luxury Canadian brand Tokyo Smoke

High on Design: The New Cannabis Culture, Gestalten

Cannabis culture has moved from the domain of teenage boys and firmly into the lifestyle category in recent years. In response, the design world has seen a swathe of branding projects, products and slick publications that remodel blazing into something sleek and aspirational. This is largely thanks to the legalisation of cannabis in several countries, and a new book from Gestalten dives into all things green through a series of interviews, case studies, and examinations of the cultural relevance of cannabis throughout history. This includes a critical look at the US “War on Drugs” and the racism that’s led to disproportionate criminalisation of Black and Latinx communities. The business and entrepreneurial side of cannabis is also showcased, alongside a discussion about emerging medical applications. The imagery is rich and gorgeous, with pictures from publications like Gossamer and Broccoli alongside broader musings on the aesthetic trends surrounding the new wave of weed aficionados. (Emily Gosling)

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Young, Gifted and Black: A New Generation of Artists, D.A.P

Featuring artists such as David Hammons and Mickalene Thomas, Young Gifted and Black: A New Generation of Artists is described as “a mission-driven collection of works by Black artists that brims with renewed urgency”. A concoction of artists and curators feature in a book that explores topics of representation, race and history through a multi-modal approach, focusing in particular on the lineage of Black art patrons. Accompanying the publication is a travelling exhibition, details of which can be found at Heightening the experience of ink on paper, the show allows the viewer to encounter these works, a variety of meditations on Blackness, in the flesh. (Anoushka Khandwala)



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Men to Avoid in Art and Life, Chronicle Books

This new publication from Chronicle has been doing the rounds on social media in the last few days, the very place it was originally spawned. Created by Nicola Tersigni, the book features a series of memes bringing together art historical paintings with amusing speech bubbles, walking the reader through the art of mansplaining. “With signature wit and wisdom, Nicola Tersigni illustrates the frustrating and universal experience in a hilariously relatable, cringe-inducing fashion,” writes the publisher. It is for “every person, living or dead, who has had to endure being talked down to by a less qualified man”. The author is a comedy writer, who began the project after a man explained one of her friend’s jokes back to her on Twitter. She searched online for a painting of a woman surrounded by men, and tweeted that with the caption “Maybe if I take my tit out they will stop explaining my own joke back to me”. It went viral, and the rest is (art) history. (Emily Steer)

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Heather Phillipson, Prestel

The first monograph from multimedia artist and Londoner Heather Phillipson has been published to coincide with her Fourth Plinth commission, The End. The surreal sculpture of a mammoth sundae (complete with a gigantic fly and a surveillance drone perched on top of the cream) seems appropriate in a time of sweltering temperatures and spoiled summers, not to mention the anxieties that come with constant technological communications. This new book by Prestel gives insight into Phillipson’s experimental practice, which includes an egg-themed takeover at a London Underground station, and a reinterpretation of Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights in Berlin. As the artist’s star continues to rise (she will be taking over Tate’s Duveen Galleries in 2021) there’s no better time to get to know her work in depth. (Holly Black)

Designing Graphic Props for Filmmaking, Phaidon

“A wonderful guide demonstrating how on-screen realities are constructed out of forgery.” Warmly received by Ha-Jun Lee, the Oscar-nominated production designer, this is just one of the many testimonials to Annie Atkins’ book, Designing Graphic Props for Filmmaking. The renowned graphic designer, best known for bringing the whimsical world of Wes Anderson to life through handcrafted Mendl’s boxes and taped-up telegrams, invites the reader to partake in a journey behind the scenes of a meticulously designed film set. Witness the intricacies of Atkins’ creative process, where she weaves reality into handwritten letters and sumptuous packaging. From learning the tricks of tea-staining and the particulars of calligraphy, this is an extraordinary read for any film buff or budding designer. (Anoushka Khandwala)

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  • Absolutely Augmented Reality, Kuzma Vostrikov and Ajuan Song

Absolutely Augmented Reality, Scheidegger-Spiess

This new photography book by New York-based artist duo Kuzma Vostrikov and Ajuan Song—who describe themselves as “photoexistentialists”—features 100 vividly coloured, surreal images. With clear influences from the likes of artists René Magritte and Yayoi Kusama, and filmmakers such as Michel Gondry, the works bridge painting, photography, performance and finely tuned comedic wit. The book’s overarching themes are how various disciples interconnect, and the nature of authorship, explored through highly saturated dreamscapes and allegorical symbols that create a dual sense of intrigue and commercial saleability. Thanks to the titular AR, the theatrical worlds the images create are ones in which anything can happen. The final images are presented alongside various sketches, a brief introductory text by art historian Rosa JH Berland, and critical essays by art critics Anthony Haden-Guest and Lilly Wei. (Emily Gosling)


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Lives of Artists: Frida Kahlo, Laurence King Publishing

There has been a flood of information about Frida Kahlo in the twenty-first century, from massive exhibitions exploring her clothing and style, to documentaries and Hollywood movies. Very few artists garner such broad appeal, which spans way beyond the art world. This Autumn, watch out for Frida Kahlo by Hettie Judah, the latest in Laurence King Publishing’s Lives of Artists series. Who was the woman behind the hype? What do most people really know about her, beyond her paintings and iconic physical image? And how is fact separated from fiction? It is “difficult to get a clear vision of this bold and brilliant, foul-mouthed, heavy-drinking, hard-smoking, husband-stealing, occasionally bisexual, often bed-bound, wheelchair-using, needy, forthright and passionate woman”, writes the publisher. This biography sets out to tell the true story of an artist whose star status has reached near mythological proportions. (Emily Steer)

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