Seasons greetings ! 2016 is drawing to a close and I hope it’s been a good one for you so far, despite all the mess going around in the world. As we look back at what has been accomplished for the year, here’s the annual round-up of my favorite art books of 2016.
I reviewed a total of 62 art books this year; you can see the full list here. I hope you’ll find at least a book or two that might interest you. ( do note that not all the books listed here were published in 2016. ) Enjoy ! –
1) The Art Of Star Wars : The Force Awakens
Starwars returns in an epic way with JJ Abrams’ The Force Awakens, now the third highest grossing film of all time. This official art book is crammed full of fantastic concept art, with some of my favorite concept artists like Doug Chiang and Iain McCaig returning to the Starwars fray. Just flipping through the pages makes me want to watch the movie again.
Taschen’s Complete Works Series of art books will almost certainly feature in my annual list, so long as they are making them. Just like the others that I’ve review ( Caravaggio, Klimt, Velázquez and Bosch ), the Vermeer volume is expansive in its content, with very high quality reproductions coupled with technical excellence. The best Vermeer art book out there.
3) Zawa-zawa : Ashley Wood
Zawa-zawa collects almost 400 pieces of Ashley Wood’s art work, spread across 240 pages and gives a great comprehensive overview of the artist’s prolific portfolio. This is his first art book to be released by a Japanese publisher ( PIE Books ).
4) Tales from the Loop – Simon Stålenhag
Initially conceived as a 2 volume kickstarter art book project, Simon Stålenhag’s Tales from the Loop is a mesmerizing sci-fi journey that takes the viewer through various desolate country and city landscapes inhabited by abandoned robots, machinery and giant mecha.
Stålenhag combines his stunning eye for pleasing aesthetics and apt application of visual tricks like atmospherics, perspective, depth of field and subtle rim lighting to create highly cinematic images that really draw viewer in. And I love his taste for mecha and machinery.
5) Cannabis Works 2 – Tatsuyuki Tanaka
Cannabis Works 2 is the much awaited follow-up art book to renowned Japanese concept artist/illustrator/animator Tatsuyuki Tanaka’s original Cannabis Works, released more than a decade ago.
Filling the pages are Tatsuyuki’s stupendously detailed illustrations spanning concept art for numerous anime, storyboards for commercials, magazines and personal work in between; the context of the art work serves only as background information – everything is top notch in here.
6) WKW : The Cinema Of Wong Kar Wai
WKW : The Cinema of Wong Kar Wai is an in-depth retrospective of the internationally acclaimed director of such great films as Chungking Express, In The Mood For Love, Ashes of Time and The Grandmaster. Writer John Powers talks to the director about his 11 films over 6 different conversations, the interviews held at numerous film set locations like the snack bar in Chungking Express and the restaurant from In The Mood For Love.
The highlight of the book for me are the superbly gorgeous photographs and film stills, some 250 in total, all neatly collected in this beautiful hard cover volume.
7) The Art Of Fallout 4
I’ve probably been spending far too much of my time this year playing Fallout 4, Bethesda Softworks’ deeply immersive/addictive action RPG game.
The hugely expansive open world presented by the game requires tons of design, and this is reflected in the 366 pages of encyclopedic concept art featuring character, sets, environment, creatures, robots, weapons design and more.
8) The Art Of Jose Gonzalez
The Art Of Jose Gonzalez explores the illustrious career of the famed Spanish artist renowned for his highly influential work on the Vampirella comic series. With an amazing talent for creating images of beautiful women, Gonzalez extensive portfolio spans from drawing British romance comics to movie stars, book covers to commercial advertising, many of which are collected in this hard cover volume.
9) Aliens – The Set Photography
Aliens – The Set Photography is the first official record of the Aliens film shoot, in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of James Cameron’s groundbreaking sci-fi classic.
This big hard cover volume showcases plenty of production stills with the cast and crew at work, in costume, rehearsing, in make-up, and during filming. There is also a section dedicated to behind the scenes work on the Alien suits and design, as well as the various vehicles and weapons featured in the movie.
10) The Art Of Tetsuya Nishio : Full Spectrum
The Art Of Tetsuya Nishio : Full Spectrum is a spectacular art book showcasing the prolific animator/character designer’s impressive body of art work that includes the GITS anime series, Naruto, The Sky Crawlers, Jinroh, Ninku, Patlabor and more, many which are Production I.G / Mamoru Oshii related works.
11) Pan’s Labyrinth : Inside the Creation of a Modern Fairy Tale
Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth : Inside the Creation of a Modern Fairy Tale is a sumptuous dive into art and making of the film, winner of 3 Academy Awards ( cinematography, art direction and make-up ) in 2007. The entire book is filled to the brim with beautiful concept art, set and character design sketches, storyboards, production stills and much more. Many of the art pieces included are presented like pasted on notes in a journal/sketchbook, giving the book a personal, hand-crafted feel that really adds to the read.
12) Bijinga Zukushi – Japanese Beauties
Bijinga Zukushi (美人画づくし) is a stunning collection of gorgeous art work featuring beautiful Japanese women. The book is edited/curated by Ikenaga Yasunari, himself a Nihonga artist with the published art book One Hundred Nights Of Bliss. The book showcases the art work of 18 different artists using various different media, spread across 144 pages.
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And lastly, I’ll love you hear about your favorite art books this year too, if you have any to share. Happy New Year !