Coffee Table Curator: Karl Lagerfeld, Alex Katz, and An Ode to Flexi Discs

Published July 1, 2019

Coffee Table Curator is a monthly series showing—no, telling—you which art and culture books to add to your living room repertoire; your remote control and beer-stained coasters will look chic by association. Here’s what we have to recommend for the month of July. Read them all while lounging under your AC unit, will you?

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Wobbly Sounds, Four Corners Books, $24.95

When you’re done hoarding books about classic vinyl, flexi discs would like to get a word (er, note) in. Often defined as vinyl’s “poorer cousin,” a true audiophile would steer clear of these tremblin’ lil’ circles. But are they way more gorgeous? We think so. Just imagine the frame options! Wobbly Sounds gathers 150 of the most colorful and vibrant flexi discs straight outta England over the past few decades, making you even more nostalgic for the pre-digital age. Simpler times, truly. 

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Abstract Expressionism, Royal Academy of Arts, $80

Big books of art movements will never go out of style, so please welcome to the stage … abstract expressionism! In paperback! After all of those Jackson Pollock splatter pages entice you with his sexxxy drips, you’ll also enjoy flipping through the greatest hits from Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Arshile Gorky, Franz Kline, Lee Krasner, and Mark Rothko. If you need a starter book for your table, it can’t get much better than this.

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Coincidences at Museums, Hatje Cantz, $24.95

Everyone loves a “spontaneous” art-stagram moment, so Coincidences at Museums will likely 1) Fuel the inspiration for your next random, totally not pre-planned snap, and 2) Make you Google “nearby free museums.” This book is full of charming coincidences, though, from swirly blue dresses in front of Monets to cute kindergarteners being dead-ringers next to Degas’s dancers. Have fun guessing the pairings (hair! handbags! coats!) on every subsequent page.

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Art Basel|Year 49, JRP Ringier, $80

Because not everyone can conjure up a bunch of fake sick days to travel around the world in the name of l’arte, thank the robust Art Basel|Year 49 for existing. As the official catalogue for 2018’s three fairs (Miami, Basel, and Hong Kong), think of it as a yearbook for just about everything that transpired, from the interviews to the biggest sales to the weirdest collections. So, if anyone asks if you were in attendance, you can say … kind of.

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Alex Katz: Painting the Now, Hirmer Publishers, $38

It’s every figurative devotee’s dream to be painted by Alex Katz, but since the likelihood of that is slim to none, here are over 100 portraits to make you jealous! Painting the Now pairs some of Katz’s most memorable paintings with essays that trace the evolution of his career, a monograph that, frankly, is long overdue for the nonagenarian virtuoso. We’re not saying Katz is way more productive at his age than this twenty-something writer, but we’re not not saying that. 

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Karl Lagerfeld: Karlikaturen, Steidl, $40

Don’t let the deutsche text dissuade you. If you’re looking for another excuse to pay respects to Karl Lagerfeld and low-key bitch about politics, Karlikaturen is a book dedicated to a keen interest of Choupette’s daddy: Political satire. When he wasn’t leading revolutions at fashion’s largest design houses, Lagerfield would unwind at the end of the day by sketching caricatures à la The New Yorker, just, you know, with way more pizazz. Trump has a dedicated page, obviously.