2016 Art Gift Guide | 8 Presents for Art Lovers

Artwork: Picasso: Dove holiday cards from The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

When it comes to gifts for art lovers, the sky is the limit. You can start with something as simple as a handwritten note from the heart on a Picasso Dove holiday card from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (pictured above), with wishes for peace and joy when we need them most. From there on up, a world of treasures await, from books and games to collectibles and objets d’art—as well as the very tools of art itself. Crave has compiled a list of gifts for art lovers from all walks of life.

8 Presents for Art Lovers:

Hip Hop Raised Me

by DJ Semtex (Thames & Hudson) is the ultimate book for heads. With more than 1,000 illustrations (over 800 in color) on 448 pages, the book has heft, like a crate of vinyl on your way to the next gig. Compiled by BBC Radio 1Xtra’s very own DJ Semtex, Hip Hop Raised Me spans forty years of Hip Hop history, featuring iconic work, contact sheets, and outtakes by photography legends Martha Cooper, Henry Chalfant, Eddie Otchere, Normski, Janette Beckman, and Chi Modu, among others, as well as interview with Jay-Z, Kanye West, Drake, Nicki Minaj, J Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Nas, and the Wu-Tang Clan. It doesn’t get any realer than this.

Hip Hop Ephemera shot by Normski in 1994 on the floor of his home. The accessories, loaned by Camden’s 4 Star General in London, included snakeskin Cazal glasses, Task Force trainers and a Flavor Flav clock. © Normski

Jean-Michel Basquiat: Skateboards Demon

Jean-Michael Basquiat: Skateboard Demon, courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art.

Back in the days, legendary artist Jean-Michel Basquiat designed the album art for Beat-Bop by K-Rob Vs. Rammellzee, one of the rarest white label records in Hip Hop history. One of the most prolific artists of his time, Basquiat touched people from all walks of life, bringing together graffiti, Hip Hop, and the downtown scene with his work, which continues to transcend boundaries nearly thirty years after his death. The Museum of Modern Art introduces Jean-Michel Basquiat: Skateboards Demon, a set of five skate decks featuring images from his 1983 work Untitled, which is in MoMA’s collection. The skateboards are made in collaboration with The Skateroom and proceeds from this project will benefit Skateistan, an award-winning, international NGO with projects in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa. Skateistan is the first international development initiative to combine skateboarding with educational outcomes.


Also: 2016 Readers Gift Guide | 16 Books to Give This Holiday Season

Mixed Media Easel Artist Set

Mixed Media Easel Set, courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

For the inner artist that lives in us all, the Metropolitan Museum of Art introduces the Mixed Media Easel Artist Set. This 104-piece collection of artist’s materials includes a wide assortment of pencils, pastels, and paint fitted into a convertible, two-drawer chest that opens to reveal a third tray of products. The storage chest converts into a sturdy tabletop easel that assembles quickly and easily, and can be conveniently stored in the chest when traveling. The beauty of art is there is no way to get it wrong; there is simply the practice of mastering the process and watching growth as it evolves. The Artist Set is perfect for people of all ages and all skill levels, from the beginner and the student to the weekend hobbyist—because why should established artists be the only ones to enjoy the thrill of creation?

Intimate Geometries: The Art and Life of Louise Bourgeois

Then there are those who dedicate their entire lives to art, forsaking all externally imposed limits to discover the depth of their being. Intimate Geometries: The Art and Life of Louise Bourgeois by Robert Storr (Monacelli Press) is a master tome worthy of the woman whose career spanned nearly 75 years, redefining the boundaries of modern art as she set the art world aflame. With more than 1,000 illustrations on 827 pages, the book is an object of art unto itself, contained in a glorious slipcase. Here we see Bourgeois at her best, whether working in marble, plaster, bronze, wood, and latex to create works of Surrealism, Postminimalist, and installation art that continue to reverberate. Drawn from decades of research by her close friend and author Robert Storr, Intimate Geometries is the ultimate book for any aficionado of modern art.

Louise Bourgeois, MAMAN, 1999. Collection: The Easton Foundation. Photo: Andrea Stappert,(c) The Easton Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, NY

Assyrian Palace Guard Bookends

Assyrian Palace Guard Book Ends, courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

While Intimate Geometries can stand as a sculpture all its own, most books are in need of support from an external source. The Assyrian Palace Guard Bookends from the Metropolitan Museum of Art recreate the imposing sculptures of divine guardians that protected and supported the important palace doorways at Nimrud, drawn from the human-headed winged bull and a human-headed winged lion in the Museum’s collection. The originals have a powerful presence that the bookends magnificently capture and add a stately vibe to any collection of books, be it in the office or at home.

Wooden Manhattan Blocks

Manhattan Wooden Blocks, courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

For the youthful set just getting their bearings in this world, the Wooden Manhattan Blocks from the Metropolitan Museum of Art makes the perfect gift. At this age, the greatest feeling in the world is a sense of utilizing your powers to shape your destiny, to build the world up then knock it down, over and over again. Undoubtedly, the fact that there are no greater consequences to the act makes it truly appealing to children and adults alike. The beautifully designed blocks come in different sizes and shapes, offering maximum building potential, while the wooden platform holds the blocks in place, acting as streets as you build upwards and make multiple buildings of different heights, allowing you to create the New York of your dreams.

Colorful Backgammon Set

Colorful Backgammon Set, courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art

There is something simultaneously soothing energizing about being present the physical world, about disconnecting from the non-stop effluvia that flows continuously through the digital realm. It almost seems a luxury of life to disconnect, to return to the way life was not all that long ago. Backgammon is one of the oldest board games known to mankind, in existence for approximately 5,000 years. A game of strategy and luck, it combines the thrill of rolling dice and moving pieces around an unusually modernist board. The Museum of Modern Art takes it one step further along, introducing the Colorful Backgammon Set with a tropical colors radiating throughout, adding a splash of punch to the stately game that brings out our inner competitor.

Modernist Chess Set

Modernist Chess Set, courtesy of Townhouse.bz.

For the true aficionado of the game, Townhouse.bz offers a rare Modernist Chess Set designed by Austin E. Cox of Austin Enterprises for Alcoa (American, circa 1962). A fine example of minimalist design, this chess set has streamlined sculptural pieces with I-beam shaped bases. One side of the set is polished aluminum, the other is a combination of aluminum and ionized aluminum. The original hanging wood and lucite box included. It is the perfect motif and metaphor for 2017. Brave New World. Learn the rules and play to win.


Miss Rosen is a New York-based writer, curator, and brand strategist. There is nothing she adores so much as photography and books. A small part of her wishes she had a proper library, like in the game of Clue. Then she could blaze and write soliloquies to her in and out of print loves.


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