Dali was probably one of the first artists that captured my imagination. So it was only natural that my first Artbook would be a retrospective of Dali’s work. It would however not be my last art book. Here’s a list of what I consider essential/must have art and photography books.
Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell- I have always found Vallejo’s artwork the pinnacle of the heroic ideal. The bodybuilder, photographer, painter doing some of the most seductive and sublime work this side of Frazetta. And I have more art books by him and his model turned wife, the equally talented Julie Bell, than any other creators. That’s pretty high praise. The books I have by Vallejo, showcase alternately his painting and his photography; and all come with my highest recommendations. They are:
All the above are fantastic books. And would love to see Vallejo do another photography book. I also owned MIRAGE an early art book done with his first wife, but that one wasn’t as good as his later work. Two new books of his and Julie Bell’s that I will be picking up are:
I have 4 Artbooks by Alex Ross. The phenomenal talent whose work in uncertain times, kept the medium of graphic literature afloat. Two of the following more precisely are graphic novels, but with the painted art, and the quality of the tome, there is no denying their place as Art books.
The books are:
and also THE WORLD’S GREATEST SUPERHEROES!
Actually I had also owned a bunch of Royo books but his ephemeral style just didn’t work for me. So I parted with all of those. Far more engaging for me was the the artwork of Spaniard Paolo Eleuteri Serpieri who does the erotic DRUUNA sci-fi series, reprinted in the states by HEAVY METAL. There are eight books in the series, of which I own five. As well as about 6 sketch books, of which I own three. The literacy of the series may be questionable to some, much of it is nothing more than an excuse for the protagonist Druuna to be engaged in sex often, and oddly (what? is that a bad thing? ), but the art is beyond reproach. If you like the female form, you’ll enjoy the artwork of Serpieri.
For my money there are too few art/photography books with characters of color. Typically the ones there are, are generally not that great. They tend to pander to unhealthy stereotypes.
Luckily there is photographer Rundu to address this imbalance. As he’s created one of my favorite photography/art books, the wonderful BODY AND SOUL. It is not pornography, it is definitely art, and comes highly, highly recommended.
If I had to pick a modern day answer, successor to Dali; it would be the late, great, and definitely under-appreciated in his own time, polish artist Zdislaw Beksinski. I stumbled across him in 98 or 99, and was shattered and astonished and awed by what I saw. By the beauty of his horror.
Slightly imbued with the organic industry of Giger, however Beksinski went beyond that, that aloofness and clinicality, and beyond again. Each painting taking you further and further from heaven and from hell. Beksinski’s work far warmer, and more immediate, and more beautiful, more haunting. Here, in Beksinski’s sight, did long dead nights, pine endlessly, for long dead days.
I became a small reseller for his books… immediately. I could not, and can not, sing his praises high enough. Buying 30 copies of his book direct from the publisher and selling 29. Keeping one, that I keep still, for myself.
And before producing more work, or more books, Beksinski died badly.
The scribe of our endless nights, ended.
But his vision lives on. That burning vision of other worlds of fossilized flesh and fancy, where the dead wait still, for the defaulted coming of a lord.
The greatest artbook ever. If you pick up only one artbook on this list (though I believe there’s a definite through-line… from Dali to Beksinski. So you can’t really grasp the latter, if you don’t have a strong appreciation for the former. ie Buy the Dali book as well. ), I strongly recommend this one.
Rest in peace, Beksinski.