This year’s best coffee-table books span time and subject but share an eye toward quality, design, and a depth of content that warrants their heft.
The complete catalogue raisonnés of the Swedish painter Hilma af Klint (Bokförlaget Stolpe) and the Italian architect Aldo Rossi (Silvana Editoriale) will be collector’s items. Books by Pattie Boyd (Reel Art Press), William John Kennedy (ACC Art Books), and Milton Gendel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) are vibrant markers of cultural moments in time brought to life through the people that made them, from the Beatles to Andy Warhol to Gianni Agnelli. In that list also belong Mortimer’s, the New York City restaurant that was in itself a cultural moment, playing host to everyone from Jackie O and Nancy Reagan to Liz Smith and Mick Jagger, revisited in a new volume (G Editions)—and the Carlyle-hotel bar, memorably adorned with murals by Ludwig Bemelmans, whose illustrated memoir, Hotel Splendide, has just been reissued (Pushkin Press).
In music, there’s Patti Smith (Random House) and a visual history of hip-hop, courtesy of Janette Beckman (Drago). Film brings Regeneration (Delmonico), the book that accompanied the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures’ exhibition on Black cinema from 1898 to 1971, with a foreword by Whoopi Goldberg. And in fashion, take your pick between two geniuses with a thing for Surrealism: Elsa Schiaparelli (Thames & Hudson) and Alexander McQueen (Delmonico).
There are also photography collections from Saul Leiter (D.A.P.), Bill Owens (True North), and Gordon Parks (Steidl), and cookbooks featuring the best of Italian classics (Knopf) and Irish desserts (Phaidon). We could go on, but instead we’ll leave you with our favorite: a sparkling survey of Côte d’Azur shots (teNeues). —Julia Vitale