I coveted Georgia O’keeffe And Ansel Adams: Natural Affinities (Little, Brown, $40) from the first moment I saw it. Quite simply, it’s a beautiful book. Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams have never been paired together in a book, but it’s an affiliation that works on many levels. Both were inspired by the dramatic natural surroundings of the American West. Their work, while different in style, shares a similar approach to light, texture, and composition. The juxtaposition of O’Keeffe’s simple lines and soft colors with Adams’s black-and-white photographs deepens a viewer’s appreciation of each. The accompanying essays illuminate the artists’ lives, inspiration, and lifelong friendship. (Don’t miss the exhibit of these artists’ work at the American Art Museum, on display through January 4.)
Annie Leibovitz is one of the most famous photographers in the world. For three decades now, she’s been making iconic pictures. Beginning with her work for Rolling Stone in the 1970s and moving on to Vanity and Vogue, she has photographed everyone from Olympic athletes to movie stars to occupants of the White House. In this new book, Annie Leibovitz At Work (Random House, $40), she tells how these photographs we know so well came to be. It’s a fascinating story about some of the most prominent figures of our time, including Richard Nixon and Hunter S. Thompson, the very pregnant Demi Moore and John Lennon with his wife Yoko Ono shortly before he was killed. This is fascinating cultural history from the photographer’s vantage point.
“Southerners like to tell stories—it’s a tradition,” the Alabama-born Christenberry says. In William Christenberry: Working from Memory (Steidl, $45), edited by Susanne Lange, the artist tells the stories behind some of his photographs. While his pictures chiefly represent small buildings on deserted dirt roads, kudzu-smothered structures, signs, homemade lawn ornaments, the stories are full of people. Christenberry, on his annual visits to Hale County, his childhood home, is always meeting unique individuals, such as the man with one arm who built himself a house, or the woman who fashioned grave markers out of egg cartons. Christenberry talks about angles of light and cameras, but the essential material for his work is a deep sensitivity to the South and a fascination with time’s passing and the visible residue it leaves on physical objects.