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Our Fave Books from Taschen's Crazy Sale, From the NSFW to the Truly Trippy

It's the best weekend to buy art books for Tom of Finland stans, Hieronymous Bosch enthusiasts, and casual tentacle erotica fans alike.
January 29, 2021, 9:17pm
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Stupid-hot deals on all of our favorite stuff.

If you like books, art, art books, photography, photography of naked people, or some combination of the above, you’re probably familiar with TASCHEN, the revered art book publisher founded in Germany in 1980 that continues to churn out impressive stuff to class up your coffee table or color-coordinated bookshelves year after year. VICE has been covering its books forever—seeing as there are so many eye-popping examples, from legendary Dutch tattooist Henk Schiffmacher’s recent, incredible tattoo history book to a collector’s edition of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test to a surprisingly awesome volume of photos of the art of Burning Man (from before it got taken over by tech douchebags). So, yeah, consider us fans.

The thing with art books is that as much as we’re parched-thirsty for their decadence, ASMR-friendly covers, and big, saturated photos, they’re not particularly wallet-friendly. We love to fancy ourselves culturally sophisticated, but many of us also have a hard time casually dropping the monetary equivalent of a truly irresponsible night out (ah, the Before Times) on, you know, a book. Thankfully, TASCHEN is having a legitimately bonkers sale right now on its website, with dozens and dozens of books—including several we’ve covered—marked down by up to 75 percent, and there are too many good ones not to partake. The deals only last through Sunday (January 31), so here are some of the sexiest choices, the ones we can’t wait to summon to our living rooms and drool over for decades to come.

Ren Hang

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Beijing-based photographer Ren Hang made subversively beautiful images we can’t forget, from octopus tentacles suggestively woven into a green-dyed braid to an erect penis urinating into Godzilla’s mouth. (Make no mistake, this book is very decidedly Not Safe for Work.) Hang passed away in 2017 at the age of just 29, but his brief career was sensational, with his surreal, color-drenched, and often sexual images earning him over 20 solo and 70 group shows in just six years. This is the best collection of his work.

$30 ($50), at TASCHEN.

20th Century Alcohol & Tobacco Ads: 100 Years of Stimulating Ads

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Back in 2018, we spoke to Jim Heimann, the editor of this comprehensive book about 20th-century cigarette and alcohol advertising, and he had some pretty fascinating insights about everything from the Marlboro Man to the lasting societal effects of Prohibition. Knowing what we know now about the health effects of cigarette-smoking definitely adds a dark cast over the cheery Newport ads of times past, but these images remain an important part of American history and, this book is both tipsy, smoke-shrouded fun for its aesthetics, and thought-provoking for its deeper look into the power of advertising.

$20 ($40), at TASCHEN.

Tom of Finland XXL

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We could go on and on about the importance of Tom of Finland’s truly iconic; truly awesome; truly, truly gay art, but if you know, you know. His work and merch have become super-coveted in circles of all ages, genders, and sexual orientations, so this one’s gonna sell out quick.

$50 ($80), at TASCHEN.

Dalí: Les Dîners de Gala

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Many of us know the work of Salvador Dalí for his melting clocks painting about, like, the theory of relativity or whatever, and maybe, if you’re a bit more of a Dalí-head, you may be familiar with his experimental films and more expansive artistic catalog. But what you may not know is that dude also made a very strange, psychedelic cookbook in 1973 that combines surrealist imagery with fantastical recipes. We wrote about it a few years ago when TASCHEN first reprinted it, and now you can take it home and ogle some of the wildest food presentations ever conceived.

$40 ($60), at TASCHEN.

Dennis Hopper: Photographs 1961–1967

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Dennis Hopper: cooooool guy, no getting around that. He directed and starred in Easy Rider, blew us away in Apocalypse Now, and was even King Koopa in Super Mario Bros (1993), but he was also a damn good photographer. His collection of photos from 1961 to 1967 offers the opportunity to see that rich and amorphous decade through his eyes, and might be the closest thing to living it vicariously.

$30 ($70), at TASCHEN.

Dark City: The Real Los Angeles Noir

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This one’s for the bingers of true crime doc after true crime doc. Dark City: The Real Los Angeles Noir is a dive into the seedy underbelly of LA from 1920 to 1950, when the Black Dahlia murders captivated the city and detectives all wore slick trench coats. In addition to hundreds of amazing time-capsule photos, the book also comes “complete with bound-in facsimile magazine clippings and die-cut bullet holes.”

$50 ($100), at TASCHEN.

Expanding Universe: The Hubble Space Telescope

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For the next smoke sesh when you wanna make like Carl Sagan and swim through the galaxies, or even just a good, old-fashioned sober existential crisis wherein you need to remember the unfathomable beauty of the universe.

$30 ($40), at TASCHEN.

Inside North Korea

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Remember way back in 2013 when we went to North Korea with Dennis Rodman? Man… that was wild. Anyway, you need not need partner up with an infamous bad-boy NBA player to get an intimate glimpse of the Hermit Kingdom, thanks to Guardian journalist and photographer Oliver Wainwright’s book documenting the nation’s eerie, dreamlike beauty, from its empty banquet halls to its bustling train stations.

$20 ($60), at TASCHEN.

Bosch: The Complete Works

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Who doesn’t love that freaky fool Hieronymus Bosch and his highly extra Garden of Earthly Delights? Resplendent with detail, the sweetest and the most sinister, his art continues to captivate more than five centuries after he lived, and there’s a reason why we just can’t stop talking about him.

$40 ($70), at TASCHEN.

California Crazy: American Pop Architecture

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If you feel like you saw a ton of road trip outtakes in your Instagram feed this year, you’re not alone; since COVID-19 rendered traditional vacations a pretty bad idea this past year, many people took to the open road in pursuit of a version of adventure that didn’t require sitting in a box of recirculating air in the sky for hours at a time next to germ-coated strangers. Global pandemic aside, the best part of any road trip is finding all of the strange architectural attractions that make America so damn, well, American. Weird buildings in the name of resourceful roadside advertising are one of the things we do best, and you can use this book as inspiration for your next cruise around the country.

$25 ($60), at TASCHEN.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude (Updated Edition)

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If you’re not already on a first-name basis with Christo and Jean-Claude, you should be. This celebrated pair of modern artists created some of the most amazing environmental installations of the 20th century, from encircling an island in a ring of bright pink to stretching a curtain across an entire valley in Colorado. The level of ambition: unparalleled. The effect: wowowow. This is a whopper of a book, one that proves no dream for an art project is too big. It’s also $80 off its regular price, which is nuts.

$120 ($200) at TASCHEN.

Dalí: Tarot

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As much as we feel a little bashful including not one but two Dalí books, they’re very different from one another and both deeply compelling in their own ways. This is actually a comprehensive 78-card tarot deck originally released by the artist in 1984, reissued with an accompanying book explaining the designs of everything from the The Three of Cups to, er, Death.

$40 ($60), at TASCHEN.

These are just the tip of the iceberg (we left out the sneakerhead stuff and a pretty cool fold-out life-size paper skeleton), but we wish we could catch ‘em all. John Waters famously said, “If you go home with somebody and they don't have books, don't fuck them.” Time to get your bookshelf in order, no?


Your faithful VICE editors independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. We may receive a small commission if you buy through the links on our site.