Carlo McCormick, Marc and Sara Schiller, Ethel Seno
Hardcover, 23.5 x 32 cm (9.3 x 12.6 in.), 320 pages
The realm of graffiti and street art has long been plagued by publications with lots of flashy pictures and design, but very little substance, text-wise. Most "graffiti books" rely only on images--the text reads almost as an afterthought, consisting usually of un-edited, sometimes un-spell-checked artist interviews that are about as in-depth as a kiddie pool. "I'm into bombin', yo," is about as much insight as you'll hope to glean from these sophomoric books. It's all about the image.
That's why I was especially excited to learn about Trespass: a history of uncommissioned urban art, published by Taschen in collaboration with the Wooster Collective team, Marc and Sara Schiller. The images and design have in no way been compromised by the inclusion of some very intelligent and well-research texts, especially the introductory essay by Carlo McCormick. Most importantly, the book situates street art and graffiti in a wider historical context focusing on its performative aspects, rather than simply its aesthetics. This is the first time you'll see a book with works by both Banksy and Barbara Kruger, Invader and Jean Tinguely, Bruce High Quality Foundation and David Hammons. It's not a full scale academic text and there are a few artists who inevitably fall off the radar, such as Jiří Kovanda, but the book is an enormous step in the right direction. And at 320 full color pages at only $40 retail, it's an amazing deal.