More weird little books from the vaults. Taschen make the most irresistible art books you will ever find in a bargain book shop. They are colourful, the pictures take prominence (unlike Phaidon books, boo to Phaidon!), the writing is fun and informative, and they are on such a broad range of subjects that there surely is literally something for everyone (“Don’t like Minimalist Art? Ok, here’s a book about tits!”). Every time I find a Taschen book I don’t have, I have to buy it, and usually I do thanks to their very reasonable prices.
This one I found on eBay a few years ago. It’s called A Passion for Taschen, and is a glossy gold boxset of approximately 9x7x10cm containing ten teeny tiny little books. They are a saucy bunch catering for a variety of fetishes, preferences, peccadilloes and sexual peculiarities produced by photographers and illustrators.
Some of the titles include: Richard Kern’s New York Girls with sort-of Generation X type junky-looking women with guns, tattoos and boobs; Erotica Universalis which is historical illustrations and prints of cocks and fannys, and boobs and bums, and cocks in fannys and bums, featuring those kinky Romans and salacious secretive Victorians; Uwe Ommer’s Black Ladies, for the discerning gentleman who enjoys lush backgrounds of flowers, palm fronds and sand dunes; 100 Nudes for the man who prefers nice round numbers to other nice round things.
There are also two little books by a chap called Elmer Batters (does he?) whose photography seems to largely involve intimate studies of ladies and their feet, with specific reference to high heels, old fashioned stockings with the line down the back of each leg, and big knickers.
All good wholesome stuff ranging from porn for the urban hipster, to porn for the middle class house husband, to porn for Victorian Dad. And after that furious and strenuous tour around my golden box, A Passion for Taschen, let’s calm ourselves with a more innocent set of teeny tiny little books.
Jan Pienkowski is a children’s author and illustrator most well known for his Meg & Mog books and his pop-up book Haunted House (which was one of my favourite reasons for visiting my Nana; I am now proud owner of my own copy). Here is The Jan Pienkowski Fairy Tale Library, with stories by The Brothers Grimm, Joseph Jacobs and Charles Perrault. The illustrations consist entirely of black silhouettes again plain white or a multicoloured marbled paint effect, very similar to Lotte Reiniger’s animation style.
I cannot remember a time when these little books were not in my house, and at one point my mum, in an act of book-shedding madness, put them in the charity shop pile. I was shocked and appalled and immediately rescued them. They have been in my possession since. The silhouette style works incredibly well with the evil witches looking particularly monstrous, and the beautiful damsels looking especially alluring. (As a bonus detail the lovely heroines are meticulously rendered and furnished with pert little nipples in the appropriate places.)
They are getting tired now so it’s about time I popped them back on the shelf and let them get a little shut eye. It’s been a busy day for those little books; they are all tuckered out.