Type 42: Fame Is the Name of the Game, Walther König, 45 USD
Call it a dream case for an art sleuth: in the spring of 2012, California-born artist Jason Brinkerhoff discovered a well-preserved collection of 950 black-and-white Type 42 Polaroids taken by an anonymous photographer. With the same television screen as the vantage point, the Polaroids in question featured intimate, slightly blurry and occasionally distorted headshots of famous actresses of the 1960s, including Doris Day, Brigitte Bardot, Elizabeth Taylor, and Sophia Loren. With 120 of the Polaroids chosen for showcase in the book, the resulting aesthetic is grainy and ambiguous, echoing the anonymity of the source.
Ken Schles: Invisible City, Steidl, 40 USD
For Brooklyn-born photographer Ken Schles, the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the 1980s served as his deliriously yet endearingly nocturnal "invisible city." For a decade, Schles photographed stark black-and-white scenes of the rapidly changing neighborhood. Among the resulting collection are intimate portraits and candid street scenes, often with sinister or debauched undertones. Originally published in 1988, the critically praised monograph has now been reissued with the addition of enhanced negatives.
Olaf Otto Becker: Reading the Landscape, Hatje Cantz, 95 USD
It seems as though nobody can photograph such ecologically breathtaking landscapes as well as German photographer Olaf Otto Becker. For his Habitat series Becker traveled the world, from the remote jungles of Malaysia and Indonesia to the Redwood National Parks in California, to capture nature in its absolute tranquil, lush, and undisturbed form. However, in a tensioned juxtaposition, Becker concludes the series with varied depictions of barren and ruined land, lacking any type of life or chance of growth, adjacent to newly conceived artificial forests designed by architects. The question looms: is this what our environment will soon become?
The Fabric: Vitale Barberis Canonico, 1663-2013, Skira, 80 USD
Despite its reputation for excellence and outstanding craftsmanship, Vitale Barberis Canonico is not yet a household name when it comes to luxury. Founded in 1663 and based in the Biella region of Italy, the family-owned fabric mill is one of the chief producers of fine fabrics in the country, particularly specializing in tailor-made suits (for starters, Ermenegildo Zegna uses the fabrics exclusively). As it's the first book to thoroughly detail the company, expect to find passages about its history, ethos, and influence around the world. Benissimo!
William Blake: The Drawings for Dante's Divine Comedy, Taschen, 150 USD
This monograph answers the age-old question: what happens when two great minds collide? Completed in the 14th century, The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri is one of the most influential works of Italian literature. Similarly, the 18th-century poems and artworks by William Blake are among the most distinguished in the Romantic era. Pairing selected excerpts of Dante's epic poem with Blake's corresponding illustrations (including 14 fold-out spreads), the result is a beautiful symbiosis on the themes of love, guilt, punishment, revenge, and redemption.
Caffè Lena, powerHouse Books, 49.95 USD
In the event that you find yourself in the upstate New York town of Saratoga Springs, do yourself a favor and stay awhile. The town is home to Caffé Lena, arguably one of the most important cultural epicenters for the American folk music movement. Founded in 1960 by folk pioneer Lena Spencer, Caffé Lena regularly welcomed on-the-rise musicians, such as Bob Dylan and Don McLean, among many others, to perform and explore musical visions that were deemed radical at the time. What ensued was a folk revolution, which this book chronicles in great detail.