A peek inside the books documenting the lives and work of artists who defined New York, from Document's Fall/Winter 2012 issue.

There is an imperceptible, yet vast, difference between coffee table books and art books. The former are expensive, purchased in museum gift shops or at churches in Rome. They are used to entertain guests, to be left out casually and decoratively to hint at the owner’s studied and subtle urbanity. Art books, however, mean a great deal more. The moment you spot one, you feel that you cannot live with out it. You can sit for hours looking through each page and reading every caption—you may even buy a copy of it for each of your friends and hope that they are all just as enchanted.

Imagine a collection comprising tomes by the precocious Basquiat, the early commercial illustrations and later works by pop art star Andy Warhol, graffiti anthologies and a large collection of New York photography books, including a series of portraits taken by Bill Cunningham of  The Duchess of Carnegie Hall Editta Sherman,” singular visions of the New York’s cityscape as seen through Berenice Abbott’s lens, and eerie snapshots by “Weegee The Famous” — crime photographer turned artist. Bookmarc in the West Village is a warehouse of such treasures. These prepossessing volumes remind us that art books are, of course, far more personal than their coffee table counterparts.

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