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Find more Top 10 Arts Books
From street fashion photography and drag to classic movies and rock and roll, painting and fiber art, the very best arts books over the past 12 months delve into both the trials and wonders of creativity.
The Art of Drag. By Jake Hall. 2020. Nobrow, $22.95 (9781910620717).
This beautifully crafted volume celebrates drag past and present as an art form that’s inclusive, glamorous, amusing, and subversive.
The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood. By Sam Wasson. 2020. Flatiron, $28.99 (9781250301826).
Veteran Hollywood writer Wasson reveals how the landmark film, Chinatown, came to be within the societal and cultural forces swirling around it, including Watergate.
Bill Cunningham: On the Street: Five Decades of Iconic Photography. Ed. by Tiina Loite. 2019. Clarkson Potter, $65 (9781524763503).
Photo editor Loite worked with beloved photographer Bill Cunningham on his indelible New York Times fashion columns, which ran from 1978 to 2016, here curating 700-plus images in a tribute that is pure joy.
Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll. By Maureen Mahon. 2020. Duke, $114.95 (9781478010197).
Mahon documents the underappreciated contributions to rock and roll made by African American women, from Big Mama Thornton to LaVern Baker to Tina Turner and beyond.
Carrie Fisher: A Life on the Edge. By Sheila Weller. 2019. Farrar/Sarah Crichton, $28 (9780374282233).
Weller’s insightful and profoundly sympathetic biography is peppered with insider details, anecdotes, and quotes from Fisher’s autobiographical musings.
Dynamic Dames: 50 Leading Ladies Who Made History. By Sloan De Forest. 2019. Running Press, $23 (9780762465521).
This informative Turner Classic Movies volume highlights famous leading ladies from the 1920s “pre-code” films, including Josephine Baker, to the present-day, when female leads such as Gal Gadot carry superhero franchises.
Frida in America: The Creative Awakening of a Great Artist. By Celia Stahr. 2020. St. Martin’s, $29.99 (9781250113382).
Stahr elucidates the profound impact Kahlo’s 1930s sojourns in San Francisco, Detroit, and New York had on the arc of her creativity, bringing new clarity to Kahlo’s life and genius.
Lenore Tawney: Mirror of the Universe. Ed. by Karen Patterson. 2019. Univ. of Chicago/John Michael Kohler Arts Center, $45 (9780226664835).
Fiber artist Lenore Tawney and her stunning, transcendent work for years did not receive the recognition they deserved, a situation wonderfully redressed in this superbly well-written and exquisitely illustrated volume.
Me & Patsy Kickin’ Up Dust: My Friendship with Patsy Cline. By Loretta Lynn and Patsy Lynn. 2020. Grand Central, $28 (9781538701669).
Lynn’s fans will be delighted to find that she writes the way she talks in this no-holds-barred memoir about her all-too-brief friendship with Patsy Cline, who died at age 30 in a 1963 plane crash.
Nightmares in the Dream Sanctuary: War and the Animated Film. By Donna Kornhaber. 2020. Univ. of Chicago, $35 (9780226472683).
In this extraordinarily engaging and penetrating history of animated films about war, Kornhaber covers early pro-war cartoons and the post-WWII shift to antiwar animation in arresting works of memory and remembrance.
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