Essential Reading| Taschen’s “Now” Series

Essential book covering 100+ contemporary artists
working in the international art scene today.
This is the time of year that I love to catch up on my reading and check out all of the various publisher and book seller newsletters that have accumulated in my inbox since September. Like many professors, I am a serious bibliophile and still love the whole process of hunting down great books for my home collection—especially books that serve as a point of reference and/or help me in my day to day teaching. I also get many requests at the end of term from students about what books to purchase in the area of art/film/photography/visual arts studies to start a core library in the field. In an effort to introduce and discuss some of these great picks for both students and other blog readers alike, I will be featuring some of my favourite books under the subcategory of “essential reading” over the next term. I will also continue to include these selections in the “Suggested Musings” section of the blog’s homepage with a link to more information at

Diverse and covering filmmakers
from around the world-- visually stunning as well!
The first two books I will recommend are great basic foundation texts that come from the German art book publisher Taschen—Art Now! Volume 3 (2008) and Cinema Now! (2007). The first of these books is the third installment in a series that was first published in 2001, creating a primer for the contemporary art scene with a well researched list of the 100+ most important contemporary artists working in the international scene. Yes the list is subjective (what list isn’t)  and no it is not all-inclusive (it tends to favour gallery and exhibition darlings), but the book serves as a fantastic point of entry for anyone that would like to learn about the themes, issues, and core discourses determining the direction of the present-day art world and its many markets. Each entry (in an A-Z format) contains a short bio and discussion about the chosen artist (in English, German, and French) along with selected publications and exhibitions for quick reference, and of course selected images of the artist's work. Lucky for all of us, Taschen has also reproduced the book online in a format that allows you to virtually thumb through and explore the content.

Taschen's flagship store in London
Cinema Now! following in the footsteps of the popular Art Now! series sets out to examine the work and key themes of 60 contemporary filmmakers working around the world today. What I love about this book is how well the publishers and contributors have represented a diversity of world cinema (and of all genres) including the Asian new wave, the new auteur filmmakers coming out of South America and Central and Eastern Europe, and independent directors from North America. Taschen also includes a great DVD with the book that includes short films, trailers, extracts, and other great features to help highlight the books well written content. Visually appealing, concise, and well priced, Taschen’s books provide a nice entry point into the world of art/film/design/photography/fashion (among other areas concerned with the visual arts) that are more than just of the flashy coffee table variety. Taschen in fact has staked its reputation on publishing edgy and non-mainstream art and visual culture content along with its core introductory texts, including books that explore the world of fetishism, pornography, queer art, and the critical intersection of advertising and high art. You may have already spotted their recognizable texts in museums, galleries, and nicer book stores (Taschen books are routinely sold at MoMA for example). But, if you ever find yourself in Cologne, Berlin, Brussels, New York, Copenhagen, London or Paris, do yourself a favour and visit the Taschen flagship stores to explore the books in the publishing houses beautifully dedicated spaces. German design and content at its best!