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A bookstore owner with an eye for the beautiful and edgy names his top 10 picks for the ultimate art lover’s library

arper Levine knows good art books. He opened his eponymous bookstore in East Hampton, New York, in 1997, and has since developed a reputation in the field for his inventory of first editions and hard-to-find titles that cover an eclectic mix of contemporary and classic subjects. In the past 17 years, he also has become something of a dealer, exhibiting art and photography in his shop and at such events as Paris Photo and the NY Art Book Fair. If there’s anyone RL Magazine trusts to build our library, it’s Levine. Herewith, his selection of must-own art books to stack on your coffee table and, ideally, open again and again.

“Today artists are engaging with the book in a variety of forms, either by publishing in limited editions or by creating unique copies with handmade elements.”

HARPER LEVINE’S FALL READING LIST

 
Train Yourself to Lose
By Dan Colen and Harmony Korine

This compelling collaboration was released in 2013 by Karma, one of the leading publishers of contemporary art books and catalogs, and features a series of randomly hand-collated pages with typewritten poetry by Korine (the filmmaker of Kids and Spring Breakers fame) painted over by Colen in his signature flower-petal technique.

Published by Karma, 2013

Canal Zone
By Richard Prince

Best known for the acrimonious lawsuit that followed its initial release and related exhibit at the Gagosian, Prince’s Canal Zone features images of the artist’s
infamous collages crafted from photographs
appropriated from Patrick Cariou’s book Yes Rasta. Now that the dust has settled, the brilliance of Prince’s series, introduced by an essay by James Frey, is evident.

Published by Gagosian Gallery, 2008

Making Love With the Devil
By Genieve Figgis

This Irish artist first achieved international recognition via social media, on which images of her work were widely circulated through the art community in New York and beyond. Her first solo exhibitions are scheduled for late 2014, but her humorous and macabre paintings already have drawn lots of attention, as has this, her first book, which contains full-color reproductions of her abstract portraits and is prefaced by an essay by art critic David Rimanelli.

Published by Fulton Ryder, 2014

Slime the Boogie
By Dash Snow

Snow garnered a reputation as one of the founders of the downtown New York art scene in the early 2000s, along with Ryan McGinley and Colen. Bookmaking was central to his practice, and this title, a fascinating combination of pornography, newspaper clippings and photographs of disaffected youth, is one of the best examples of that era and the late artist’s distinctive method of integrating cultural detritus into his art.

Published by Peres Projects, 2007

Back Yard
By Daisuke Yokota

Although relatively unknown in the United States, Yokota is an up-and-coming young talent in Japanese photography whose work recalls the pervasive influence of contemporary art’s Provoke movement. Blurring the line between art and photography, in which
representational images are reduced to abstraction,
Back Yard—with its high-contrast printing and
compelling narrative—presents books as the ultimate artistic medium.

Privately published, 2012

Rain Paintings
By Lucien Smith

This 2013 catalog, published on the occasion of Smith’s exhibit of the same name at OHWOW, in Los Angeles, contains reproductions of his famous series of unprimed, paint-splattered canvases. With a minimalist layout and clean, blind-stamped cover, it embodies the serenity and sophistication evident in Smith’s work and makes a strong statement by and about one of the contemporary art world’s most polarizing figures.

Published by OHWOW, 2012

Spare Bedroom
By Roe Ethridge

Ethridge’s self-published first book masterfully
deconstructs the tradition of linear narrative with a photographic series centered on the American suburban experience. Like much of his oeuvre, Spare Bedroom combines the disparate genres of art and advertising in a powerful exploration of image making in post-modern culture.

Privately published, 2004

N.A Catalog
By Doug Rickard

Working at the vanguard of current trends in photographic appropriation, Rickard investigates contemporary society through the use of sourced imagery. This highly anticipated publication, his second, consists of politically combustible photographs of violence and subversion, compiled entirely from YouTube clips.

Published by White Press, 2013

Fruits and Nuts
By Laura Owens

This playful and innovative book was published in a limited edition, of which each copy was uniquely collated with different newspaper sheets and covers. Compiling 20 illustrations of fruits and nuts, which are silk-screened over clippings from 1960s-era California publications, Owens brings her inimitable Pop sensibility to the art of bookmaking.

Published by Ooga Booga, 2011

Utopia
By Enoc Perez

Published in conjunction with Perez’s 2013 exhibition at Acquavella Galleries, in New York, Utopia highlights the transition of the artist’s work from the architectural to
the abstract. Filled with vibrant, full-bleed
reproductions of his paintings of the Watergate building, in Washington, DC, and the Marina Towers, in Chicago, the book perfectly represents Perez’s unique sensibility through its presentation and layout.

Published by Acquavella Galleries, 2012

 
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Ed. note: All books featured are available for purchase at HarpersBooks.com.

 

Harper Levine is the owner of Harper’s Books in East Hampton, New York.

  • Courtesy of Harper’s Books
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