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The Best Art Books of 2020

  •   2 min reads
The Best Art Books of 2020

books became portals into other worlds more than usual in 2020, with seemingly endless times of confinement and less in the way of IRK experience than most of us had ever imagined before. Whether through reading or looking at pictures that proved a lot more interesting than the composition of our walls, we at Art news found much to be grateful for between the covers of books this year. Here are some of our favorites.

And given that many of us won’t get to see the show in the midst of the pandemic (though it runs through May 16, so there is still hope!), this catalogue serves as a good substitute. You learn that Basques friend Caramelize called him a “sponge artist,” for the way he absorbed his many influences, and come to appreciate

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The Boston Globe declared that “Writing the Future: Basque and the Hip-Hop Generation,” a show this year at the city’s Museum of Fine Arts, “feels like the most important exhibition on Basque you’ll ever see, and he’s just one artist among the show’s dozen.” It’s the first exhibition to really put Basque in the context of hip-hop and among his peers in post-graffiti art.

New York city subway system—where many of Basques contemporaries did their best work—as “the biggest gallery for distribution.” The catalogue has killer essays by the show’s co-curators, Greg Tate and Liz Mun sell, and also an excellent take on Basques social conscience by J. Faith Almira. —Sarah Douglas

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There may be no one better equipped to write a history of video art than former Museum of Modern Art curator Barbara London, who has been one of the medium’s top defenders since the 1970s. Having followed video’s rise as an art form, she traces its history in this compact, accessible volume.

Nam June Park, Joan Jonas, Bill Viola, Bruce Manna, and other usual suspects are all represented, but London’s book excites because it brings new artists into a lineage worthy of greater stuff. Her passion for lesser-known figures like Shikoku Bogota, Ericka Beckman, Paul Wong, Anna Bella Geiger, and Stu Lea Chang is contagious, and given London’s track record, it seems like we’ll be seeing more from them in the future. —Alex

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