the best books of 2016 by claire de rouen
We asked Lucy Moore, the director of the iconic Charing Cross Road book shop to pick out the books that made a lasting impression on her in 2016. These are her eight choices (plus an umbrella and a record for good measure!)
1. Horst Diekgerdes by Horst Diekgerdes, special edition. Published by Distanz. £245.
I love Horst. He's always smiling, he's handsome and he takes great pictures. His images have a slice of Warholian Pop cool, but there's also a tender quality to them. I launched Horst Diekgerdes on a cold February night earlier this year. I love it most of all because it includes an incredible picture of my friend Lily Cole (who co-owns Claire de Rouen with me) shot for i-D in 2004 and styled by Venetia Scott. The special edition includes a signed copy of the book and a limited edition inkjet print. Choose from Lara Stone guzzling ice cream or Isabeli Fontana wearing a lace body suit, a white veil and red pumps - as if she was the sexiest bride on earth.
2. Roxy Music/Eric Boman/Country Life umbrella. £65.
This autumn, I flew to Antwerp to hear Bryan Ferry sing. It was a magical night and when I left the auditorium, I queued up to buy a T-shirt and then I saw this! The most incredible umbrella you could dream of. It's super strong and will do its job and keep you dry. It's ultra respectable-looking on the outside - just plain black. But under its canopy, the girls from the cover of Roxy's Country Life album keep you company. Shot by Eric Boman, it is totally 1974. So I called up Bryan and asked him if I could sell them in my shop, and he said yes!
3. That's Desire/Here We Are EP by Fragile. 12 " vinyl and digital release. £20.
Fragile is artist Wolfgang Tillmans' evolving band project. He cites its beginnings in the unbridled recordings he made with a friend, Bert Leßmann, in Germany in 1986 and this summer it took on new shape with band members assembling on Fire Island off the coast of New York for rehearsals and the recording of 4 of the 6 songs on the EP. It's been an immensely productive year for Tillmans -- as well as making work and exhibiting, he has released two EPs under his own name and campaigned widely and with huge impact to encourage British voters to vote remain in the EU referendum. The first EP release from Fragile spins off punk, new wave, R'n'B and a German Protestant church song from the 1970s.
The film he made to accompany the music is available to view on YouTube and features Hari Nef, Karis Wilde, Ash B., Matthew Salinas, Bashir David Naim, Rachel Guest, Christopher Olszewski and Tillmans himself as well as band members Juan Pablo Echeverri, Jay Pluck, Kyle Combs, Tom Roach and Daniel Pearce. I interviewed Wolfgang earlier this year and speaking about his music, he said, "I'm new to music, but I feel confident in its power. A lot of the 60s was based on the power of music. I still in real terms today enjoy the advances that music achieved then."
4. Please return Polaroid by Miles Aldridge. £30.
Miles has, like Horst Diekgerdes, made some of my favourite images of Lily Cole. In his work for De Beers she appears as the most beautiful Botticelli-esque, otherworldly tree fairy I have ever seen! Please return Polaroid is his new book -- glossy, seductive, high chroma and cinematic.
Published by Steidl, it assembles Polaroids from Aldridge's archive spanning 20 years of magazine work. Many of these were damaged either intentionally or accidentally while shoots were developed and, treated in this book as images in their own right, they take on potent and dream-like qualities. In his essay for the book, Michael Bracewell writes '[Aldridge's] photography perhaps is concerned with the anatomy of desire and the distance between desire and happiness. These Polaroid images -- so open, so enigmatic, so troubling, so alluring -- reveal themselves like secrets shared, on an otherwise empty day of white skies and temperate weather.' Please return Polaroid launches at Claire de Rouen tonight (Tuesday 13 Dec) 6 - 8pm. Please come!
5. Imperial Courts by Dana Lixenberg. Published by ROMA. £54.
I went to Infinite Mix - an exhibition at 180 The Strand exploring the interplay between moving image and sound - twice last week. And Kahlil Joseph's m.A.A.d. (2014) was my favourite work in the show. It's a response to Kendrick Lamar's 2012 album good kid, m.A.A.d city and -- like the album -- it's a portrait of Compton, the working class and mainly African-American neighbourhood in Los Angeles. New footage and some shot by Kendrick's uncle in 1992 is collaged into a poetic portrait with dramatic shifts of tone that are unified by an accomplished tautness.
1992 was the year of the Rodney King riots, and seeing m.A.A.d. reminded me of Dana Lixenberg's book, Imperial Courts, a documentary project she spent 20 years working on. Also starting in the same year, she photographed the people living in a deprived South Los Angeles housing project. Seven years after Jay Z's and Alicia Keys' Empire State of Mind, eight years after Obama was first elected, the intensification of Black Lives Matter this year belies any sense of real progress for underprivileged African Americans. And now, Trump. Imperial Courts is important, and beautiful.
6. See Red Women's Workshop: Feminist Posters 1974-1990 with a foreword by Sheila Rowbotham. Published by Four Corners Books. £19.99.
A totally incredible reference book of the feminist posters made by the London-based See Red women's workshop from 1974-1990. Demonstrating how many issues of this period pertained to women, including workers' rights, racism and gay rights, See Red outlines have far we have come. It also feels relevant to now. My favourite posters include one showing a Letraset Art Sheet of women in various roles, wife, girlfriend, shopping, dining, with the addition 'Which one are you?; a poster with a sunburst of Venus signs encircled by the slogan, 'the lesbian spirit is a beauty within every woman' and the anti-valium posters proclaiming: 'Don't let them keep us bottled up!'
There is also a 'YBA wife' poster, made in response to Lady Di becoming engaged to Prince Charles, as in 'Why be a wife?'.. in the 90s, YBAs were artists, in the 80s they were feminists.
7. Girl Plays with Snake by Clare Strand. Published by MACK. £30, signed copies.
Girl Plays with Snake collates imagery of women and girls, photographed with snakes, from Strand's extensive archive. Siegfried Kracauer would recognise Strand as a dedicated 'rag picker'. She describes her working method as being like 'rolling in newly-cut grass and seeing what you pick up on your jumper'.
8. Showboat by Toby Mott. Published by Dashwood. £62.
This is the book on Toby Mott's incredible collection of Punk-related printed matter. It must be one of the best of its kind. But even better, it's about punk and sex. 'Sex in punk and punk in sex', says Dashwood, the great bookshop in New York that also published the book. Jamie Andrew Reid designed it and there is this incredible candy pink running through the book, used as a background colour for the posters, record covers, flyers etc from Toby's collection. Seeing this brazen ribald hardcore imagery against a backdrop colour of such girliness is what makes the book so good.
9. The Swimming Pool by Deanna Templeton. Published by Um Yeah. £49.
Now, in the depths of the English winter, I long more than ever to take the place of the girls in this book, photographed swimming au naturel in the swimming pool of the house Deanna Templeton shares with her husband Ed in California (who are regular visitors to Claire de Rouen.)
10. Flowers and Cars by Jacob Lillis for Simone Rocha. Edition produced by PRIZE EDITIONS. £600.
It's my dream that one day my wardrobe is entirely Simone Rocha. Until then, I will settle for these beautifully produced limited edition prints by Jacob Lillis, which have featured in Simone's campaigns.