Love and Desire
by William A. Ewing
Published by Chronicle Books
400 pages, 1999
ISBN: 081182621

In Love and Desire, author William A. Ewing writes, "All photographs are, at some level, about love, and all photographs are triggered, to varying degrees, by desire." Whether or not you buy into this line of thought, after leafing through Love and Desire you will agree that Ewing does. Wholeheartedly. Comprised of hundreds of photographs from the earliest days of photography to the present, the images chosen for this collection all support Ewing's theory. Ewing is widely considered to be the leading authority in the field of photography. Certainly, no one is better prepared to edit a photographic anthology such as this one. He is the director of the Musée de l'Elysée in Lausanne, Switzerland and has curated photographic exhibitions for some of the most important galleries in the world. The paperback book is elegantly bound and slipcovered for giftgiving.


20th-Century Dreams
by Nik Cohn and Guy Peellaert
Published by Knopf
224 pages, 1999
ISBN: 0375707085

It might be best to describe 20th-Century Dreams as fiction, since the collective talents of Nik Cohn and Guy Peellaert have created the dreamer in question: one Max Vail, who was born in 1900 and died in 1999. "I have witnessed the world," he says in his diary, published in 20th-Century Dreams. The diary is amusing and the premise is fun, but it is Guy Peelaert's computer collages that make this a noteworthy and infinitely giftable book. A kind of "what if?" diary of the 20th century, the 86 collages include brilliantly rendered what-might-have-beens. In one compelling image, the Duchess of Windsor casts an eye on Hitler, Hitler looks longingly at Eva Braun, Braun only has eyes for the Duke of Windsor while the Duke is oblivious to all while he watches a Nazi soldier stroll past. In another, an obviously mutually-enthralled Jacqueline Kennedy and Cassius Clay roll up a turnpike together in an open car. Or Mao Zedong and Richard Nixon sitting in easy chairs and openly weeping while they watch a projected film of a bleeding -- perhaps dying -- Lassie. This is not a life enriching book, but the visions are amusing and the artwork superb.


Ruthless Hedonism: The American Reception of Matisse
by John O'Brian
Published by The University of Chicago Press
297 pages, 1999
ISBN: 0226616266

Unashamedly esoteric, Ruthless Hedonism is an immaculately researched look at the French modernist painter Henri Matisse's manipulation of the American media. And more. In Ruthless Hedonism, author John O'Brian has created an unparalleled study of a canonized artist and his work. 30 color and 75 black and white reproductions illustrate the book: including the October 1930 cover of Time Magazine that depicted him. A beautifully researched, produced and executed work, Ruthless Hedonism will be a much referenced work on the life of this artist and as well as American media moves in the first half of the 20th century.


The Vogue Book of Blondes
by Kathy Phillips
Published by Pavilion
160 pages, 1999
ISBN: 1862052611

You wouldn't know it from a fast look around most North American cities, but the blonde is a vanishing breed. It was, in fact, a conversation with Steve Jones, a professor of genetics at University College in London, that ultimately sent Kathy Phillips on the trail of her book on blondes. According to Jones, genetically, the natural blonde is an endangered species. How then to account for an increasing number of publicly "natural" blondes?

Despite this academic-sounding birth, The Vogue Book of Blondes is no one's idea of a studious work. Though well researched and grounded, Phillips' book is cheerfully designed and amply illustrated with prominent blondes from all walks including -- refreshingly -- some boy blondes. Famous blondes like Robert Redford, Andy Warhol, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Denis Rodman and Leonardo DiCaprio are featured as prominently as Catherine Deneuve, Madonna, Marilyn and others.


The Convertible
by Ken Vose
Published by Chronicle Books
120 pages, 1999
ISBN: 0811824470

The wind in your face and the open road. Think about it: nothing quite encapsulates the American dream like a convertible. There's something decadent, new, free and -- yes -- even sexy about a car with a top that retracts. The Convertible celebrates the phenomenon of the open car with the style and panache due its freewheelin' topic. Former race car driver and the author of a couple of novels set in the world of Formula One auto racing, Ken Vose has brought his love of topless cars and professional knowledge of automobiles in general to this work. Beautifully illustrated and lovingly rendered, The Convertible is a rare book on a subject that hasn't been adequately covered.