20 Greatest Coffee Table Books of All Time Books

20 Greatest Coffee Table Books of All Time

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    This collection, a 70-year retrospective, presents a history in photos, highlighting the most famous, moving, and beautiful pictures from the magazine, including classics by Alfred Eisenstaedt, Dorothea Lange, Margaret Bourke-White, and Irving Penn. Divided into sections covering the presidency, Hollywood, war, science and nature, culture, sport, and "fun," this volume packs in a huge assortment of subjects and emotions. Of particular interest is the chapter of "Photo Essays," a pioneering Life feature that revolutionized the field of photojournalism, capturing stories through image sequences and small blurbs; included are provocative stories, such as the plight of German refugees in 1945, Heroin use in the '60s, and Larry Burrows' intimate portrait of the Vietnam War, which has been called "the greatest photo essay ever made."
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    ANSEL ADAMS: 400 PHOTOGRAPHS presents the full spectrum of Adams' work in a single volume for the first time, offering the largest available compilation from his legendary photographic career. Beautifully produced and presented in an attractive landscape trim, ANSEL ADAMS: 400 PHOTOGRAPHS will appeal to a general gift-book audience as well as Adams' legions of dedicated fans and students. The photographs are arranged chronologically into five major periods, from his first photographs, taken in Yosemite and the High Sierra in 1916, to his work in the National Parks in the 1940s, up to his last important photographs from the 1960s. An introduction and brief essays on selected images provide information about Adams' life, document the evolution of his technique, and give voice to his artistic vision. Few artists of any era can claim to have produced four hundred images of lasting beauty and significance. It is a testament to Adams' vision and lifetime of hard work that a book of this scale can be compiled. ANSEL ADAMS: 400 PHOTOGRAPHS is a must-have for anyone who appreciates photography and the allure of the natural world.
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    The Americans
    Photo: Freebase
    Armed with a camera and a fresh cache of film and bankrolled by a Guggenheim Foundation grant, Robert Frank crisscrossed the United States during 1955 and 1956. The photographs he brought back form a portrait of the country at the time and hint at its future. He saw the hope of the future in the faces of a couple at city hall in Reno, Nevada, and the despair of the present in a grimy roofscape. He saw the roiling racial tension, glamour, and beauty, and, perhaps because Frank himself was on the road, he was particularly attuned to Americans' love for cars. Funeral-goers lean against a shiny sedan, lovers kiss on a beach blanket in front of their parked car, young boys perch in the back seat at a drive-in movie. A sports car under a drop cloth is framed by two California palm trees; on the next page, a blanket is draped over a victim's body from a car accident in Arizona.
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    Although Norman Rockwell was technically an academic painter, he had the eye of a photographer, and as he became a mature artist, he used this eye to give us a picture of America that was familiar—astonishingly so—and at the same time, unique. Rockwell best expressed this vision of America in his justly famous cover illustrations for magazines, such as The Saturday Evening Post. 332 of these cover paintings, from beloved classics like "Marbles Champion" to lesser-known gems like "Feeding Time," are reproduced in stunning full color in this large-format volume, which is sure to be treasured by art lovers everywhere.
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    Muscle men, midgets, socialites, circus performers, and asylum inmates: in the 1950s and 1960s, photographer Diane Arbus (1923-1971) cast her strong eye on them all, capturing them as no one else could. Her documentary-style photos of society's margin-walkers were objective and reverential, while she often portrayed so-called normal people looking far more freakish than the freaks. Her powerful work was well-received in its day. Arbus received Guggenheim Fellowships in 1963 and 1966 and was included in a major show at MOMA in 1967. But her work entered the realm of near-myth after her 1971 suicide.
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    Vanity Fair magazine has a reputation as one of the preeminent showcases for portraits in the world, and this book gathers together a good chunk of them in all their glossy, artificial splendor. There's almost as much celebrity behind the lens as in front of it: Edward Steichen, Herb Ritts, Mario Testino, David LaChapelle and of course, Annie Leibovitz are all included, and the portraits themselves amount to a who's who of culture and politics, with the quality of the images justifying the inclusion of the occasional lesser-known figures. The photographs have been arranged to supply the reader with subtle (and not so subtle) visual and cultural frisson: what are we meant to think when Joseph Goebbels is juxtaposed with Richard Perle? In a face-off between Rob Lowe and Louise Brooks, who has the most glamorous jaw line? For posing questions such as this, and for the production values and sheer scale, not to mention introductory essays by Graydon Carter, Christopher Hitchens, Terence Pepper and David Friend, this is a book that will no doubt be adorning the coffee tables of the world's culture brokers for many years to come.
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    Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) is one of the most influential and beloved figures in the history of photography. His inventive work of the early 1930s helped define the creative potential of modern photography. Following World War II, he helped found the Magnum photo agency, which enabled photojournalists to reach a broad audience through magazines, such as Life, while retaining control over their work. Cartier-Bresson would go on to produce major bodies of photographic reportage, capturing such events as China during the revolution, the Soviet Union after Stalin's death, the United States in the postwar boom, and Europe as its older cultures confronted modern realities. Published to accompany an exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, this is the first major publication to make full use of the extensive holdings of the Fondation Cartier-Bresson-including thousands of prints and a vast resource of documents relating to the photographer's life and work. The heart of the book surveys Cartier-Bresson's career through 300 photographs divided into 12 chapters. While many of his most famous pictures are included, a great number of images will be unfamiliar, even to specialists. A wide-ranging essay by Peter Galassi, Chief Curator of Photography at the Museum, offers an entirely new understanding of Cartier-Bresson's extraordinary career and its overlapping contexts of journalism and art. The extensive supporting material– featuring detailed chronologies of the photographer's professional travels and of spreads of his picture stories as they appeared in magazines– will revolutionize the study of Cartier-Bresson's work.
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    This stunning volume was the gift book of the year when it first published, and the images that grace its pages remain iconic. From the famous Afghan girl whose haunting green eyes stare out from the book’s cover, and her poignant story that captured the world’s interest, to award-winning photography culled from the Society’s vast archives, The Photographs offers readers an inside look at National Geographic and a sharp-eyed view of the world. The book showcases the skill and imagination of such notable Geographic photographers as David Doubilet, William Albert Allard, Sam Abell, Jim Stanfield, Jodi Cobb, Jim Brandenburg, David Alan Harvey, and many more. They share their techniques, as well as personal and colorful anecdotes about individual images and their adventures in the field—sometimes humorous, sometimes terrifying, always vividly compelling. Author Leah Bendavid-Val writes about the photographers’ achievements from technical, journalistic, and artistic perspectives.
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    "I don’t have two lives," Annie Leibovitz writes in the Introduction to this collection of her work from 1990—2005. "This is one life, and the personal pictures and the assignment work are all part of it." Portraits of well-known figures–Johnny Cash, Nicole Kidman, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Keith Richards, Michael Jordan, Joan Didion, R2-D2, Patti Smith, Nelson Mandela, Jack Nicholson, William Burroughs, George W. Bush with members of his Cabinet–appear alongside pictures of Leibovitz’s family and friends, reportage from the siege of Sarajevo in the early Nineties, and landscapes made even more indelible through Leibovitz’s discerning eye. The images form a narrative rich in contrasts and continuities: The photographer has a long relationship that ends with illness and death. She chronicles the celebrations and heartbreaks of her large and robust family. She has children of her own. All the while she is working, and the public work resonates with the themes of her life.
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    This lavishly illustrated companion to the September PBS documentary series reduces the American side of WWII to the local and personal. Documentarian Burns (The Civil War) and historian Ward (The Civil War: An Illustrated History) foreground the iconic experiences of ordinary people, including a young girl interned in a Japanese camp in the Philippines, marines in the thick of combat in the Pacific, and a fighter pilot who exchanges letters with his sweetheart. Their stories are full of anxiety and exhilaration, terror and pathos. (Sample vignette: a GI casually tosses pebbles into the skull of a Japanese machine-gunner, still upright and wide-eyed after the top of his head has been shot off). The authors' portrait of the home front glows with nostalgia—war bonds, scrap-metal drives, USO dances—but they also note racial tensions at a Mobile, Alabama shipyard and the bitterness of Japanese-American soldiers whose families were interned. In the background, Roosevelt and Churchill confer, Patton struts and growls, and arrows march across maps as the authors deftly sketch major campaigns and battles and offer tart criticism of inept generals. This visually appealing coffee-table book gives little idea of how and why America won, but a strong sense of what it felt like on the journey to victory.
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    Magnum photographer Steve McCurry never set out to take portraits. Critically acclaimed and recognized internationally for his classic reportage, over the last 20 years he has worked for the "National Geographic" and other publications on numerous assignments: along the Afghan border, in Baghdad, Beirut and the Sahel. McCurry's coverage of the monsoon won first prize in the World Press Awards, and was part of his portfolio when he was named Magazine Photographer of the Year in 1984. In 1985, McCurry photographed an Afghan girl for the "National Geographic". The intensity of the subject's eyes and her compelling gaze made this one of contemporary photography's most celebrated and best-known portraits. McCurry is now equally famous for his other portrayals of memorable faces that he has encountered while travelling throughout the world. Compelling, unforgettable and moving, McCurry's images are unique street portraits: unstylized and unposed snapshots of people that reveal the universality of human emotion.
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    There are more than 1.3 billion people in China. Besides the majority, Han Chinese, the population includes 56 ethnic groups numbering over 100 million people. Over the course of two years and 35,000 miles, photojournalist, Tom Carter, captured it ALL on film. For their historical value alone, the 800+ photos in Portrait are priceless. Carter's anthropological-like study of China stands apart in its genre, as it focuses expressly on the PEOPLE of China. In addition to documenting the everyday life of "ordinary" people, Carter also backpacked to the most remote areas of China to observe reclusive ethnic minorities, such as the red-turbaned Pai Yao minority of northern Guangdong, and the resplendent Dong and Miao tribes of eastern Guizhou. From Inner Mongolian nomads to newlyweds in Hong Kong, from the teenage girl living in Chengdu dressed like an American punk rocker to the soot covered coal miner in Southern Shanxi, Carter's camera documented the complexity and diversity of China like no other book ever has (or likely ever will).
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    From the first known photograph taken in Los Angeles to its most recent sweeping vistas, this photographic tribute to the City of Angels provides a fascinating journey through the city's cultural, political, industrial, and sociological history. It traces the city's development from the 1880s' real estate boom, through the early days of Hollywood and the urban sprawl of the late 20th century, right up to the present day. With over 500 images, L.A. is shown emerging from a desert wasteland to become a vast palm-studded, urban metropolis. Events that made world news, including two Olympics, Bobby Kennedy's assassination, and the Rodney King riots, reveal a city of many dimensions. The entertainment capital of the world, Hollywood, and its celebrities, are showcased along with many other notable residents, personalities, architects, artists, and musicians. The city's pop cultural movements, music, surfing, health food fads, gangs, and hot rods are included, as are its notorious crimes and criminals. This book depicts Los Angeles in all its glory and grit, via hundreds of freshly discovered images, including those of Julius Shulman, Garry Winogrand, William Claxton, and many other superb photographers, culled from major historical archives, museums, private collectors, and universities. These are given context and resonance through essays by renowned California historian, Kevin Starr, and Los Angeles literature expert, David Ulin.
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    Broughton Coburn, a long-time resident of Nepal and a friend of David Breashears, was commissioned to write a book about the filmmaking expedition, the tragedy on Everest, and the mountain itself. He has more than succeeded with Everest: Mountain Without Mercy, a taut recounting of disaster and triumph at 29,000 feet. But this book is about more than just mountain climbing; Coburn has also included fascinating information about Nepal, Buddhism, and the Sherpa culture, as well as the history of climbing Everest. He covers everything from the causes of altitude sickness to Nepal's increasing problems with deforestation, and through it all, he weaves the story of that day in May when Everest again proved unpredictable–and deadly. For a white-knuckle climb to the top of the world's highest mountain, complete with stunning photographs, you can't do better than Everest: Mountain Without Mercy.
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    Nick Brandt depicts the animals of East Africa with an intimacy and artistry unmatched by other photographers who choose wildlife as their subject. He creates these majestic sepia and blue-tone photos contrasting moments of quintessential stillness with bursts of dramatic action by engaging with these creatures on an exceptionally intimate level, without the customary use of a telephoto lens. Evocative of classical art, from dignified portraits to sweeping natural tableaux, Brandt's images artfully and simply capture animals in their natural states of being. With a foreword by Alice Sebold and an introduction by Jane Goodall, On This Earth is a gorgeous portfolio of some of the last wild animals and a heartfelt elegy to a vanishing world.
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    Scott Schuman just wanted to take photographs of people on the street who looked great. His now famous blog ('the bellwether American site that turned photo blogging into an art form' - "New York Times") was an attempt to showcase the wonderful and varied sartorial tastes of real people– not only those of the fashion industry. The book is a beautiful anthology of Scott's favorite shots from around the world. They include photographs of well-known fashion figures, as well as those shots of the anonymous passerby whose imagination and taste delight the viewer. From the streets of Rio to Bejing, Stockholm to Milan, these are the people that have inspired Scott and in turn, inspired designers and people of all ages, wages and nationalities with an interest in fashion. Intimately designed and created with Scott, the book is a handsome object in its own right, in full color on hand-picked, quality paper.
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    Suicide Girls - Beauty Redefined explores the Suicide Girl phenomenon from their start in 2001 to their websites one million unique weekly visitors today. This giant tome provides a timely look at the fascinating women who created and inhabit the SG community. With an introduction by SG founder, Missy Suicide, and images of hundreds of SuicideGirls world-wide, this title shines a light on a new female aesthetic– a look reminiscent of vintage Betty Page and Bunny Yeager photos, but with a decisively 21st century edge. "There's no other place in the media to see girls (like these) who are tremendously smart and beautiful in their own way" says Missy, "Everywhere you look you just see the super-thin, super-tall, bleach blonde Baywatch babe. There are a lot of people out there who want to see a different kind of beauty."
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    SUMO was a titanic book in every respect: a 480-page tribute to the 20th century's most influential, intriguing and controversial photographer, breaking records for weight and dimensions. Fifty people worked with Helmut and June Newton for three years to complete a book that weighed 30kg (66lbs). But size wasn't everything. Control and quality–printing, paper, binding–were all critical in making SUMO a worldwide publishing sensation, which is in many famous collections all around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The original SUMO, edited by June Newton, featured over 350 pictures, most published for the first time, covering every aspect of Newton's outstanding career: from the stunning fashion images that influenced generations of younger photographers, to his powerful, erotic nudes and celebrity portraits. Also included is a booklet with a 'making of' section, detailing the meticulous selection process, and the trial and error, experiment and innovation that went into creating the original SUMO, the book that redefined the photographic monograph.
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    This is a beautiful body of work that I am proud to have in my book collection. Beyond the fact that they are expertly executed, Sturges' photographs are intimate, direct, and above all, honest. They hide nothing, and in fact reveal much about the subject, photographer, and the viewer. They reveal a level of trust and understanding between photographer and subject that I challenge anyone to find anywhere else. And this is a critical aspect of Sturges work. He does not haphazardly choose subjects, moving from place to place with no long-term interest in the people he photographs. Rather, he will photograph the same people in the same places year after year, photographing the same individuals summer after summer, essentially creating an intimate photographic chronology of a person that may span decades. He is close to his subjects. And unlike so many other photographers, he is truly interested in the lives of these people, and more importantly, the people themselves.
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    When it first appeared in 1971, Larry Clark's groundbreaking book Tulsa sparked immediate controversy across the nation. Its graphic depictions of sex, violence, and drug abuse in the youth culture of Oklahoma were acclaimed by critics for stripping bare the myth that Middle America had been immune to the social convulsions that rocked America in the 1960s. The raw, haunting images taken in 1963, 1968, and 1971 document a youth culture progressively overwhelmed by self-destruction– and are as moving and disturbing today as when they first appeared. Originally published in a limited paperback version and republished in 1983 as a limited hardcover edition commissioned by the author, rare-book dealers sell copies of this book for more than a thousand dollars. Now in both hardcover and paperback editions from Grove Press, this seminal work of photographic art and social history is once again available to the general public.
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