The “coffee-table” book—a large-format monograph written by a recognized authority and accompanied by lavish color reproductions—has long been an art publishing staple. But there’s another, lesser-known version of it that also makes an occasional appearance. It features fewer reproductions and a much briefer text; it is usually easier to lift. The main difference, though, is that the text is written by a well-known personage from another walk of life, a celebrity. A decade ago, the Whitney Museum asked Michael Crichton, the best-selling author of The Andromeda Strain, to write the catalogue for its Jasper Johns retrospective, and there have been several examples since. Now Abrams, long known as a pioneer of the respectable kind of coffee-table book—the sort where a sober text cools the seductive appeal of the color plates—has made a contribution to this subgenre with Alex Katz, by Ann Beattie,...

 

New to The New Criterion?

Subscribe for one year to receive ten print issues, and gain immediate access to our online archive spanning more than four decades of art and cultural criticism.

Popular Right Now