The 4 Best New Photobooks of the Season

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Dust By Nadav Kander Hatje Kantz | $50 © Nadav Kander
Pictured: “Priozersk XIV (I Was Told She Once Held an Oar),” Kazakhstan, 2011 Kander documents hidden cities and missile test sites, secret military zones in the former Soviet Union that were not visible on any map until well after the Cold War and are now eerie, desolate ruins. In regions bordering Russia and Kazakhstan, hundreds of nuclear weapons were tested (and the effects on nearby civilians duly documented) before the sites were closed in 1989; the book’s accompanying app includes maps and a timeline. Kander writes that the ticking on his Geiger counter while photographing reminded him not to linger, but the pictures have a haunting formality. “These images do not make beautiful what is not,” notes Will Self in the intro. “They ask of us that we repurpose ourselves to accept a new order of both the beautiful and the real.” © Nadav Kander
T: A Typology Of T-Shirts By Susan A. Barnett Dewi Lewis | $40 © Susan A. Barnett
Pictured: A pair from T This volume culminates Barnett’s five-year journey throughout the U.S. and Europe shooting people from behind. Her study of the T-shirt combines fun (if odd) portraiture with sociological commentary, reflecting a boom in graphic self-expression among primarily young subjects during economically uncertain times. As author Marvin Heiferman writes in his foreword: “The set-up is simple and you keep looking.” Much of the book’s charm stems from its photo editing, which juxtaposes optimism against gloom, tolerance opposing hate, and agression next to warm fuzzies (as in the pair at left). The sheer diversity makes for a dazzling collection. © Susan A. Barnett
Full Moon By Darren Almond Taschen | $70 © Darren Almond
Pictured: “Albion, 2014,” depicting cliffs of Dover Comprising images shot by moonlight with exposures of 15 minutes or more, many of Almond’s cragged landcapes seem otherworldly enough to have been shot on the moon. Shooting in geographically remote places—including the Arctic Circle, Patagonia, Tasmania, and the island country Cape Verde, Almond brings to these scenes the type of moody luminence that Brassaï captured in Paris 60-plus years ago: an ambivalent view of nighttime as darkly beautiful, full of grace and mystery and danger. In 1998, Almond set out to visit locations depicted by famed 19th-century painters such as J.M.W. Turner and Paul Cézanne, whose images the book’s front matter illustrates. As the years went on Almond explored further, tripod in tow. “The light, of course, is what allows us to see the form,” writes Brian Dillon in one of the book’s essays. “But the light in Darren Almond’s full-moon photographs does not stop there: it persists, enveloping and saturating the territory photographed.” © Darren Almond
The Brown Sisters: Forty Years By Nicholas Nixon Museum of Modern Art | $40 © Nicholas Nixon
Pictured: “The Brown Sisters, New Canaan, CT,” 1975 What began in 1975 as a curiosity for photographer Nicholas Nixon grew into what he calls an “annual rite of passage.” Each year he has photographed the Brown sisters—Mimi, Laurie, Heather, and his wife, Bebe—resulting in this black-and-white survey that accompanies a popular exhibition at MoMA. Perhaps more interesting than the women’s graceful physical aging is the portrait of four decades of shifting style and demeanor. Although these portraits are an intimate depiction of love and family for the photographer—not unlike Emmet Gowin’s revelatory studies of his wife and clan—they transcend relational boundaries as the confidence and strength of four women shine. © Nicholas Nixon

Magical landscapes, a quirky typology, haunting Cold War ruins, and a 40-year portrait project—American Photo picks this season’s best photography in bound, printed form.