Breathtaking Coffee Table Books About Beauty

Need some beauty inspiration? Curl up with one of these gorgeous coffee table tomes this weekend.

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'Extreme Beauty in Vogue' Edited by Phyllis Posnick

These audacious, outrageous, provocative photos from the iconic magazine showcase the work of Annie Leibovitz, Helmut Newton and Steve Klein and highlight our ever-changing attitudes toward female appearance. (

'50s Fashion' by Jim Heimann

Cat-eye glasses, peep-toe pumps and pointy bras fill the pages of this nostalgic compendium of vintage beauty and fashion. (

'Extreme Beauty' by Harold Koda

This stunning collection of photos from the Metropolitan Museum of Art shows that "an undeniable if uncanny beauty abides in the bundled cylindricality of a geisha tottering on raised geta or clogs; the tea-tray supporting bustle of an 1880s French visiting dress; the bound feet and caged nails of aristocratic Manchu women; and the neck-extending chokers of the Masai." (

'Facing Beauty: Painted Women and Cosmetic Art' by Aileen Ribeiro

Rich, colorful and revealing, this coffee table tome probes the changes in female beauty—its ideals and techniques—from the Renaissance to the modern era. (

'High Glitz' by Susan Anderson

Glam makeup, elaborate hairdos, false teeth—this kitschy, at times unnerving, and always fascinating ode to child beauty pageants captures the "toddlers and tiaras" subculture, for better or worse. (

'History of Beauty' by Umberto Eco

What is beauty? That's the question posed by venerable Italian author Umberto Eco in this engaging book of words and pictures. (

'Jazz Age Beauties' by Robert Hudovernik

Sultry, sepia-toned images celebrate the distinct style of Jazz Age It-girls. (

'Naked Beauty' by Sylvie Blum

A polished, passionate collection of nudes from a former model turned photographer. (

'Posing Beauty' by Deborah Willis

In this collection of African American images, from the 1890s to the present, Willis recovers hundreds of images (including photos of Billie Holiday, Josephine Baker, Muhammad Ali and Michelle Obama) as well as fascinating snapshots from history such as the barber shop, the bodybuilding contest and prom night. (

'Pretty: The NYLON Book of Beauty' by the editors of NYLON

Style advice and inspiration from the edgy beauty, fashion and culture magazine. (

'Tahitian Beauties' by Serge Kakou

Born from the travel narratives of European explorers who discovered Tahiti, this incredible collection of photos from Lucien Gauthier circa 1904 details the beauty of Tahitian women as well as the island's lush landscapes. (

'Women Then: 1954-1969' by Jerry Schatzberg

Although Jerry Schatzberg is best known for his film work, Women Then illustrates the ways in which he was able to capture motion in photography. Mostly shot in New York, the book is filled with classic images of women from the 1950s and 1960s, ranging from actress Faye Dunaway and dancer Carmen De Lavallade to the original socialite Edie Sedgewick and the Rolling Stones in drag. (

'This is Who I Am' by Rosanne Olson

Fifty-four women from across the country, in all ages, shapes and sizes posed for this courageous, thoughtful compendium of photos on the female nude. (

'Virtue and Beauty' Edited by David Alan Brown

Portraits of women—the original beauty shots—first became de rigueur in Renaissance-era Florence as illustrated by this flowery collection which includes images from Botticelli, da Vinci and others. (

'Wise Women' by Joyce Tenneson

Eighty women, ages 65-100, posed for Tenneson's unique portraits which highlight the experience of aging. (

'Bond Girls are Forever' by Maryam D'Abo and John Cork

Bond girls, from Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress) to secret agent Jinx (Halle Berry), populate the pages of this book devoted to 007's iconic, sexy, fantasy woman. (

'Lillian Bassman: Women' by Deborah Solomon

An elegant, soulful retrospective of the famed photographer's extraordinary career and breathtaking images. (

'Mil Besos' by Ruven Afanador

Afanador portrays generations of flamenco dancers in stunning black and white photographs shot during several sojourns in Andalusia, Spain. (



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First Published January 3, 2012

Share Your Thoughts!


Curtis Neeley01.24.2012
Did not see Leibovitz, Helmut or Klien in the previews but none address the body as art instead of just pretty. Sylvie's book gets close but it is the only one that is even close to the body as art.

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