A look inside the Taschen empire.
What was intended as a one-off pop-up gallery in LA in 2014 to celebrate the photographic history of The Rolling Stones, has become the jewel in the crown of the Taschen empire, a pop art publishing house that has showcased the world’s best photographers, artists and most popular subjects since the 1980s.
In fact, chances are when you’ve visited friends in LA or New York, London or Paris, you haven’t been able to turn a corner without seeing some sort of Taschen book—be it a sumo edition Annie Leibovitz piece complete with stand and white glove, Mick Rock’s David Bowie tribute or the most common of all Taschen books in any hipster LA home, Los Angeles: Portrait of a City.
Overlooking the free beer (FREE BEER!) and complimentary sparkling water, the Taschen is a beacon in West Hollywood for peace and quiet, existential wanderings, and a chance to immerse one’s self in the past while rubbing shoulders with people who can actually afford to throw down $40,000 on a Rolling Stones print by famed lensman David Bailey.
It was the success of the Stones exhibition that saw the gallery become a permanent fixture, run by Benedikt Taschen’s 20-something daughter, Charlotte. It’s since housed two David Bowie exhibitions—pre and post death—Bob Dylan and Muhammad Ali features, a bunch of erotic exhibitions (a staple of Taschen) and most recently, a David Hockney feature—all of which are accompanied by limited edition books, which typically start at $150 any range up to $10,000. Pricey at first, but when you consider they tend to at least quadruple in value inside of two years—the $1500 David Bowie book is now worth $8000—look at it as in an investment.
Here are some of Taschen’s best limited-edition books:
David LaChapelle: Artists & Prostitutes
Considered the Fellini of photography, this limited edition XXL features never-before-seen pics of everyone from Tupac to Madonna, to Muhammad Ali and Hillary Clinton—to name but a few in the diverse and oft confronting collection. If you can get your hands on one of the 2500 signed copies, you’ll make a small fortune. Otherwise, there’s no shame in settling for one of the smaller books. A peacock edition to any coffee table.
The Rolling Stones
The textured hardcover comes in a bunch of sizes, but even the smallest has a wingspan of two-thirds of a metre and is an epic depiction of the six-decade career of the Mick, Keith, Charlie and the lads, though largely focused on the 1960-90s. Some exclusive prints are still available, but they’ll cost you half your house deposit. Shout-out to the foreword from Bill Clinton. Yep. That Bill Clinton. Who we think would have preferred our next pick a little more…
“It’s black and white, Hillary. It’s art” – Bill Clinton. It is art, Bill. And some damn fine art at that. More than 350 images over some 480 pages in fact. It’s a tribute to the 20th Century former Australian military officer, who captured the fashion world and counterculture of the 1960s and ‘70s with unique eroticism.
Los Angeles: Portrait of a City
One of the most text-heavy of all Taschen books, this one’s rad not just for throwback images of Hollywood’s golden era, but also revealing LA’s rich and diverse past—two words not typically associated with Los Angeles.
Featuring exclusive imagery from famed music photographer Mick Rock, the man responsible for capturing the most iconic images of Bowie, the book sadly became a memorial within months of its release. Epic imagery and rare behind-the-scenes shots that’ve never before seen before fill the book. And if you’re willing to write off your car for the insurance payout, it wouldn’t be a crazy idea to invest in one of the few signed prints still for sale.
The preeminent Rolling Stone photographer, Leibovitz—still just 67 years of age—has shot the biggest names in the world over the course of the past five decades. Including the very last and arguably most famous image of John Lennon—naked and curled up to Yoko—just hours before his murder in 1980. This book has it all.
The Big Book of Pussy
Just because. It’s 3D, people.