Diamond ring or David Hockney book?

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So my friends, we are in the midst of the holiday season, which means that we are looking for special gifts for our family and friends. My favorite places to search are definitely museum gift shops with their spirited atmospheres and surprising variety of artistic objects -- and, of course, plenty of books.

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(T) Taschen Gallery, 8070 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, California
(B) Opening reception celebrating "David Hockney: A Bigger Book"

And speaking of books: Yesterday, I went to a reception at the Taschen Gallery celebrating the publication of David Hockney's SUMO-sized monograph. If you haven't been to Taschen Gallery on the corner of Beverly and Crescent Heights, now is a good time. The façade and roof of the gallery are plastered with huge signage and colorful banners, grabbing the attention of passersby. Walls inside the gallery are covered with hundreds of pages from the book –– turning the pages into a fabulous wallpaper.

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(T) "David Hockney: A Bigger Book," Taschen Gallery
(B) David Hockney at opening reception

This gorgeous oversized book comes with a specially designed stand. And considering it's hefty price tag, it's understandable that during the opening, white gloves were offered to those who wished to look through the book. It was a privilege to encounter David Hockney himself during the reception. Here he was, surrounded by admirers and friends and –– more to the point –– by thousands of reproductions of paintings, drawings, photographs all made during his 50-year-long career.

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(T) Exhibition view of "David Hockney: A Bigger Book," Taschen Gallery
(B) Original painting by David Hockney, "Garden with Blue Terrace," 2016
Acrylic on canvas
Courtesy of the artist

The exhibition at Taschen (running through January 5, 2017) with its larger-than-life, theatrical flair brings to mind Hockney's set designs for major opera productions around the world. One thing at the exhibition that you might be particularly taken by is an original painting by Hockney that belongs to the artist himself. Sorry, it's not for sale. And here's a suggestion: if you're planning to get down on one knee and propose to your art-loving beloved, why don't you surprise them not with a diamond ring, but with this amazing book, costing nearly as much as an engagement ring?

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Book signing for Janet Sternburg: Overspilling World
Private residence

Yesterday, by pure coincidence, I went to another book signing, this one celebrating the publication of Overspilling World: The Photographs of Janet Sternburg by Distanz Verlag. In this book, LA-based artist Janet Sternburg presents nearly two decades of her work done with the help of iPhones and disposable cameras. Most of her images capture reflections of light and scenes shot through storefront windows. Her camera captures fleeting impressions of perfectly imperfect moments, and the resulting mysterious images captivate and hold your attention.

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(L) Book cover of Janet Sternburg's "Overspilling World," Distanz 2016
(R) Janet Sternburg, Duluth, Minnesota, 1999
Chromogenic color print

The monograph includes texts and essays by German filmmaker Wim Wenders and artist Catherine Opie, among others. This small and exquisitely designed book could be another smart holiday gift choice for your friends, and maybe for yourself as well. On Saturday, December 10, at 11:30am, Janet Sternburg will be having another signing for the book, this time at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel in Downtown LA.

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(L) Louise Bourgeois, "Maman," 1999 at the Jardin des Tuileries, Paris
Photo by david fantino
(R) "Intimate Geometries: The Life and Art of Louise Bourgeois," by Robert Storr Monacelli Press, 2016

Currently, my coffee table is being crushed under the weight of the new monograph by Robert Storr, Intimate Geometries, dedicated to the great artist Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) who worked until the very end of her life at the advanced age of 98. It's amazing to learn that she didn't receive international recognition until she was in her 80s. After all, her genius is so obvious, even in her much earlier works. The question is why it took such a long time for the smart art world to catch on. This is another surprise gift you might want for yourself.

All photos by Edward Goldman unless otherwise noted.



Benjamin Gottlieb