New Art Books for Your Coffee Table 

A woman peering over a food truck counter. Crackers askew on a diner table in New York. Two lovers entangled together. These are some of the scattered everyday moments to be found in this season’s art books. Images of revival, respite and renewal feature in these recommended reads, ranging from the mundane to the fantastic. This list is a unique collection of extraordinary instances, highlighting five new releases that encompass the very best of photography – and installation – from the 20th century to now.

Portrait of Humanity Vol. 5, Hoxton Mini Press 

What does it mean to be human? The question is one which, in collaboration with 1854 Media, Hoxton Mini Press, attempts to answer each year. The publishing duo return with the fifth edition of the quintessential series, presenting 200 portraits from around the world. In times of war, protest and growing division, these photographs and stories capture moments of strength and resilience. Portraits range from tender snapshots of queer love to contemplative photographs of the Cambodian Royal Ballet. Included, too, are pictures of well-known individuals such as Darvish Fakhr Dame and the late Dame Vivienne Westwood. Selected from thousands of entries to the British Journal of Photography’s annual competition, these works celebrate what it means to be alive, outlining the joy and expression necessary to our survival. 

Face to Face: Portraits of Artists by Tacita Dean, Brigitte Lacombe, and Catherine Opie, MACK

Face to Face features artists photographing artists. It comprises 100 images by three esteemed names: Brigitte Lacombe (b. 1950), Catherine Opie (b. 1961) and Tacita Dean (b. 1965). Their portraits of fellow creatives, musicians and seminal thinkers are rich with intricate detail and subtlety. In a black-and-white shot captured by Lacombe,  for example, Maya Angelou deftly gazes to the left, head tilted upwards. Small details loom large; our gaze is directed to Angelou’s gold hoop earrings and the small black buttons glinting down the curve of her blouse. In another picture, a still is borrowed from Tacita Dean’s One Hundred and Fifty Years of Painting (2021). Whilst most of the frame is obscured, Julie Mehretu appears in a thin strip of light, contemplating momentarily the white bloom of an orchid. These shots navigate the boundary between intimacy and publicity, ultimately offering up tenderness and authenticity.

The Pleasure of Seeing: Conversations with Joel Meyerowitz, Damiani

Joel Meyerowitz (b. 1938) is one of the early masters of street photography. The artist sees colour as a way to explore the vernacular of the everyday – from white pickets on Cape Cod to swing sets rusting on Mexican beaches and the busy crowds of 46th Street and Broadway. Movement is constant to the point of effervescence here, as figures swell and swerve out of the frame. For Meyerowitz, the world is to be experienced in its entirety, with living things and inert objects given equal attention. The Pleasure of Seeing contains over 100 pictures, including new and previously unpublished material from a six-decade career. In conversation with photographer Lorenzo Braca (b. 1977), Meyerowitz reveals anecdotes behind many famous works, providing a rare insight into the world of America’s great image-makers.

Cristina Iglesias: Hondalea, Hatje Cantz 

On the island of Santa Clara in San Sebastián, Spain, is a hollowed-out lighthouse with a twist. Inside, installation artist Cristina Iglesias (b. 1956) has filled the building with a bronze vessel that recreates the depths of the Basque Coast. The sculpture is an ensemble of eroded rock, distinct with pockets and cavities that wind together like a network of capillaries. This work is central to Hondalea, a new book documenting Iglesias’s immersive environments as inspired by architecture, literature and vegetal matter. The book surveys woven and cast sculptures alongside outdoor installations, often focusing on the theme of water as a site of pilgrimage and contemplation. Following the monograph Liquid Sculpture (2021, Hatje Cantz), Iglesias’s new title documents the practice of water-crossing, featuring photographs of boat journeys to the island, alongside writings by art historians and scientists. 

William Eggleston: Mystery of the Ordinary, Steidl, co-published with C/O Berlin

William Eggleston (b. 1939) is recognised as one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century.  Mystery of the Ordinary shows us why, picking out examples of how framing the lightest of touches is crucial to the human condition. Boxes of tater tots and beef pies sit askew in a jumbled freezer drawer. An iced tea is lit red by New York light. Eggleston’s distinct and pictorial style is rooted in the everyday. Discarded cans, bare tabletops and orange tomatoes are subjects for appraisal, whilst moments of pause and solitude are framed as touchstones for stature, gravity and transcendence. The book captures the full scope behind the photographer’s work, featuring both early-career images as well as some of his most iconic colour pictures.

Words: Chloe Elliott

1. © 2023 William Eggleston. Courtesy Eggleston Artistic Trust and David Zwirner
2. Jacob and Jose by Curtis Hughes. Taken from Portrait of Humanity Vol.5 published by Hoxton Mini Press in collaboration with the British Journal of Photography
3. Brigitte Lacombe, Maya Angelou, New York, NY, 1987. © Brigitte Lacombe
4. © Photograph Joel Meyerowitz

5. © Idoia Unzurrunzaga
6. © 2023 William Eggleston. Courtesy Eggleston Artistic Trust and David Zwirner