It’s that time of the year again! Our 13th “Hot List” of books – a best-of collection that is highly personal and unscientific presents a sampling across the board for a variety of graffiti and street art fans.
Our interests and network continued to venture afield this year, and we offer a cross-section of books that are well worth your time – whether it’s the stories they tell, the rare glimpse inside a wiley mind, or the revelation of seeing images previously unseen except by a handful of people. We have political, personal, and professional takes on this beautiful street art scene, as well as a careful instruction book on how to make your own
So here is a short list from 2023 that you may enjoy as well – just in case you would like to give them as gifts to family, friends, or even to yourself.
Djerbahood 2: Open-Air Museum Of Street Art – Albin Mitchel Publishers – Galerie Itinerrance
The traditional architecture in the Medina Atiga may be what attracts you initially, but it is the 150 street artists who will keep you wandering through the maze of tiny streets. The outdoor curation of Djerba by Mehdi Ben Cheikh, a bi-national with a gallery in Paris, happened over the last decade among the sun-blasted domes, arches, and towers here.
“Djerba was exceptionally well placed for an operation with worldwide impact.” says the visionary Cheihk in the newly released Part 2 of Djerbahood, “On this, the southernmost island of the Mediterranean, the climate is pleasant and temperate for more than half the year.”
In this village of Erriadh on the Tunisian island of Djerba, you are twenty-five kilometers from the airport, adjacent to a long shoreline of fine white sand, and officially walking inside a UNESCO World Heritage site. It also helps that here you’ll find palm trees, olive trees, figs, pomegranate, carob, apple, and apricot trees, crystal clear water, and a fairly mild climate.
PORK: “I LEFT A NOTE”. Published by Blurring Books NYC
New York’s PORK is one of the few fire extinguisher writers who reliably has can-control, or nozzle control, as the case may be. If you know your extinguisher tags, these are examples of fine penmanship. Additionally, his necessarily brief cursive bon mots are cryptically funny, even if you don’t know his intention.
In this new softcover of street photography, many of his rattled-looking words are framed in their natural/unnatural environment and given their page, or spread. In the index, you may get an insight into what the artist was thinking by the title given to the corresponding pages in the body. You’ll also gain insight into the irreverence, sometimes tempered with exquisitely poised timing.
“CITY OF KINGS: A History Of New York City Graffiti” – Compiled by Al Diaz/ Eric Felisbret / Mariah Fox. HOWL! Gallery.
“Like a small team of ants dragging a slice of Wonderbread down the sidewalk to home base, we persevered,” writes OG New York graffiti writer and curator Al Diaz about the collaborative process that produced an exhibition and catalog this winter called “City of Kings: A History of NYC Graffiti.”
Respected on the New York graffiti scene for his contributions as a writer, collaborator, and artist, his street works with Basquiat as part of the SAMO© duo helped to push the boundaries of graffiti and street art, and his overall body of work has had a lasting impact on the development of the graffiti and street art movements.
A wildly dispersed and organic scene like the one birthed by graffiti more than five decades ago has had thousands of authors, making it a daunting task to tell this story at times, says Diaz. To do so he made sure to work with two other curators who could complement his knowledge and abilities when researching and collecting proper history to illustrate this movement correctly.
Object / Subject Saman & Sasan Oskouei
Back on May 1st, 2023 Saman & Sasan released their new self-published book titled Object / Subject. In conjunction with the book they also released a Box set, their first, and included a collection of selected prints along with the book.
If you are familiar with their conceptual pieces and their powerful resonance – like Our House Is On Fire, for example, you will be excited at the prospect of having an opportunity to have this Box set in your collection. As a special commemoration of their most recent 8 years of work – that has re-defined their vision, their reputation as contemporary artists, and their ability to profoundly render verdicts on the human condition – the new book will also include an essay by author and art critic Carlo McCormick.
REVS, XSOUP & ARBOR. “Life’s a Mission…Then You’re Dead”
Today the writer expands his reach, compiling with XSOUP and ARBOR the stories of many graffiti writers into a bound volume that will become an instant classic in the largely anonymous and underground realm of practitioners as well as with the growing cadre of researchers, academics, and historians studying graffiti/street art/urban art today. With this new passion effort by REVS and a small team, these stories are preserved and documented, ensuring a greater understanding and appreciation for the interconnected/alienated paradox of the graffiti writer’s life and practice.
The Yok & Sheryo: Yeahnahnesia A Mystical Land Somewhere In The Indian Ocean. Vol 1. Published by Yok & Sheryo and The Art Gallery of Western Australia. 2566 AP / 2023.
In the realm where imagination dances with audacity, Yok & Sheryo, the dynamic duo hailing from the crossroads of New York, Australia, and Asia, have conjured up a whimsical masterpiece, aptly titled “Yeahnahnesia.” Published in collaboration with the Art Gallery Western Australia, this book is a memoir and fantasy of creativity and storytelling that makes a reader question the boundaries of reality and fiction.
Picture a tropical paradise, a place Google Maps forgot, where mythology, deities, philosophies, and unusual creatures roam freely. Yeahnahnesia, the brainchild of these intrepid artists, is a fictional island brimming with tales so rich that your skateboarding dreams will tip their hats in admiration. The burning questions of its existence and location will keep you up at night until you surrender to the allure of this enigmatic and chill place.
As you delve into the book’s 120 pages, you’ll be transported into an alternate dimension where art intertwines with narrative, and history plays a sly game of make-believe. The “Temple of Frivolous Wishes” at AGWA, Art Gallery Western Australia, Perth, is a mere glimpse of their artistic prowess. Bound in fabric with gold foil accents, this bound edition of 800 is a treasure.
Alan Ket: The Wide World of Graffiti. Monacelli Press / Phaidon. New York
Graffiti artists often dismiss histories or narratives not of their own making, including those from their peers. This subculture, which has continuously evolved across different cities, time zones, decades, and languages over the past 60 years, is so rich in stories and counterstories that it might take another 30 years for the aerosol to clear and reveal the origins of these tales comprehensively. One unwavering truth prevails: if you weren’t there, in the same city, during the same era, didn’t grow up immersed in that urban environment, and weren’t marking the same train lines or recognized by local crews, your credibility is questioned, and the original graffiti artists (OGs) might disregard your story.
It’s meaningful when a book like “The Wide World of Graffiti” is authored by someone like Alan Ket, a native New Yorker from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, who has firsthand experience writing on city trains. As a self-proclaimed graffiti nerd, historian of the movement, and co-founder of the Miami-based Museum of Graffiti, Ket brings a unique blend of metaphorical depth and frank authenticity to his writing. He skillfully combines scholarly insight and sociological context in his narrative, spotlighting selected kings and queens of the streets to further illustrate in their words details of the scene’s evolution and his informed insights to provide context.
MANA PUBLIC ARTS: MURALS BY LEADING STREET ARTISTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD. Itasca Books / Mana Public Arts
Mana Public Arts (MPA), a privately-funded real estate program supporting public art, announces the launch of a new book this Saturday at the Museum of Graffiti. The book captures the diversity and vibrancy of street murals by internationally acclaimed artists in two U.S. cities where MPA operates – Miami and Jersey City, New Jersey. Spanning over 300 pages, the book showcases a range of graffiti, street art, and mural works supported and presented by MPA over the past decade, reflecting their dedication to enhancing communities through public art.
Essays from four notable figures in the street art and graffiti world provide a deeper understanding of the evolution and changing nature of the graffiti/street art/mural art scenes in Miami and Jersey City, as well as context and educational insight into the program. Contributors include cultural critic Carlo McCormick, Brooklyn Street Art’s Steven P. Harrington, Museum of Graffiti’s Alan Ket, and UP Magazine’s T.K. Mills.
Martin Whatson INSIDEOUTSIDER Eva Marie Bentsen
Martin Whatson, a Norwegian stencil artist born in 1984, has carved out a distinctive niche in the contemporary and street art worlds. His journey from street art to international acclaim is a narrative of artistic evolution and the versatility of visual language. This book, written by art dealer and curator Eva Marie Bentsen, offers a comprehensive look at Whatson’s career, from his early experiments in graffiti to his current status as a celebrated fine artist. His education at the Westerdals School of Communication in Oslo laid the groundwork for a unique blend of graphic design and urban art, defining his approach to art-making.
The initial sections of the book explore Whatson’s early period, where his engagement with graffiti and stencil art began to shape his artistic voice. These early works reveal a developing style, marked by influences from notable artists like DOLK and Banksy. During this time, Whatson started to refine his distinct blend of political themes and aesthetic appeal. His participation in the Nuart Festival, championed by Stavanger art dealer and street art festival curator Martyn Reed, undoubtedly played a crucial role in bringing his work to a broader audience.