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CULTURE

Highlights From the 2014 New York Art Book Fair

CULTURE

Highlights From the 2014 New York Art Book Fair

The annual celebration of printed matter from publishers big and small

by Jonah Samson
on 26 September 2014

Now in its ninth year, the New York Art Book Fair—hosted by Printed Matter at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City—gathers together the most important and influential book and zine publishers in the industry for what has become a mecca for art book lovers everywhere. Unrivaled in its scope, the fair not only provides the opportunity to discover gems from small publishers worldwide which would be otherwise challenging to access, but also coordinates exhibitions, book signings and a lecture series. We scoped out the fair and brought together books that highlight many artists' current interest in gathering and manipulating found imagery to tell new stories.

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Sara Cwynar's "Kitsch Encyclopedia" frequently refers back to Milan Kundera's definition of "kitsch" from his popular novel "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," in which familiar and benign images are used to ignore things that might otherwise be disagreeable. Cwynar (who was once a designer for the New York Times Magazine and is now a rising star in the art photography scene) gathered together a series of kitsch images to explore how we understand the world through our collective consciousness of media images. Brilliantly designed, intellectually rigorous and a steal at $35, "Kitsch Encyclopedia" is published by Blonde Art Books and available through Printed Matter.

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Bill Sullivan recreates an altered visual history of the Forest Hills tennis club, which was originally built in 1923 as the home of the US Open tennis tournament, had its heyday in the 1960s and '70s, and then went defunct for nearly 20 years. Sullivan uses digital techniques to produce improbable images of the stadium over time, interspersed with found, historical with surreal alterations. His book "Forest Hills" uses the sport to abuse our notions of history and truth. Available for $65 from S_U_N Books & Editions.

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Two new small books renew our faith in the old saying that "one man's trash is another man's treasure." Ignored for decades and passed along through unknowing hands, these collections have recently been recognized for their cultural significance. "Sitting"—published by Ampersand Editions—brings together a small collection of the erotic photographs of John K. in which naked woman are photographed from behind sitting on banal objects like logs and bear-skin rugs, to the more bizarre—fish bowls, pumpkins and watermelon. The tome offers a sometimes uncomfortable glimpse into a strange and private erotic world.

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"Found: The Rolling Stones" is a series of intimate images depicting the mega-band before they reached stardom. The images were found by musician and art collector Lauren White at a flea market 50 years after they were snapped—and the photographer remains unknown which has led to much speculation (read more about it in our Cool Hunting article). Even if you're not a Rolling Stones fan, this book (published by The Ice Plant) is a fascinating look into the world of Mick, Brian, Keith, Charlie and Bill before they were household names—and the fact that the photographer remains a mystery only adds to the intrigue and charm.

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Artist Jack Pierson continues to re-imagine the physique magazine genre with the second edition of "Tomorrow's Man" published by Bywater Bros. Editions. Using vintage homoerotic images combined with his own pictures of handsome men for fashion magazines, "Tomorrow's Man" reads like an artfully layered and titillating scrapbook.

Images by Jonah Samson

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