Mid-summer is upon us, bringing with it images of books dancing in our mind’s eye, enticing us to plop on the beach or the hammock or the couch, and read to our heart’s content. And there, right on the coffee table, is one of our favorite extra-large indulgences: Los Angeles: Portrait of a City. Published in 2009, and second in art publisher TASCHEN’s “Portrait of City” series, it has become a favorite take on our hometown; we turn again and again to its evocative exploration of LA’s art, architecture, culture, crime, politics, and industry. In seven chapters surfing across LA’s history, contributors Kevin Starr, Professor of History at University of Southern California, and David L. Ulin, books editor of the Los Angeles Times, expand on the stories revealed in more than 500 extraordinary photos. Along with images from news outlets and anonymous photographers, Los Angeles features work from photography icons, including architectural photographer Julius Shulman, street photographer Garry Winogrand, and William Claxton, famous for his portraits of jazz musicians. It’s a book you can enjoy flipping through for a few moments, or lose yourself in for a few hours, exploring images that define LA from the 1880’s until 2005, the year that the most recent photo was taken.
If the 10×14 Los Angeles seems unwieldy, TASCHEN is releasing a compact 5×8 version in December (in time for your fireside reading experience).