Top 10 NSFW Coffee Table Books

Artwork: Helmut Newton: SUMO, courtesy of Taschen

In a world where the boundaries between high and low are often blurry, you may ask yourself, “What’s the difference between porn and art?” The answer is quite simple: Lighting. Art makes an effort. Porn just goes.

Also: Girls On Film | April Flores: Photographed By Carlos Batts

While porn is a private pleasure, art is something all the world openly admires. Where a predilection for certain visual materials might unnerve your guests, there’s nothing people seem to enjoy so much as the sweet sanctity of the sexy art book. With that in mind, Crave has compiled a list of the top 10 NSFW books that you can proudly display on your coffee table.

The Art of he Pin-up, cpurtesy of Taschen

The Art of he Pin-up, cpurtesy of Taschen

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The Art of the Pin-up (Taschen)

Back in the days, folks used to get their kicks looking at beautiful women perfectly turned out in lingerie, bathing suits, and tiny frocks assuming seductive poses that said, “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime?” Between 1920 and 1970, pin-ups were all the rage, appearing everywhere from calendars to centerfolds. The Art of the Pin-up takes you back to this classic time, when sexy was a state of mind.

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Jazz Age Beauties (Universe)

Jazz Age Beauties (Universe)

If you’re looking for something a little more true to life, Jazz Age Beauties: The Lost Collection of Ziegeld Photographer Alfred Cheney Johnston might be just what you like. In the 1920s, when alcohol was hard to come by, these Bright Young Things were quick to undress and pose before the camera in just a wisp. Some of the biggest stars of the day disrobed and posed for these boudoir shots, that are equal parts sex, glamour, and vamp.

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Milo Manara Glamour Book

Milo Manara Glamour Book

Long out of print, Milo Manara Glamour Book is an absolutely must for anyone who loves the space where comics and erotica meet. The Italian artist, who is still going strong at 71, has produced a slew of titles available on Amazon, but it is Glamour Book that puts them all to shame. A must-have for any serious collector,

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The Women of Manara (Heavy Metal)

The Women of Manara (Heavy Metal)

“But I’m not that serious,” you think to yourself. “I just want something quick and easy, double-entendres be damned. Well, in that case, The Women of Manara is for you. This classic paperback will take you on a tour through Manara’s magical world, where the pin-ups of yesterday are ready for more…

R. Crumb Sketchbook (Taschen)

R. Crumb Sketchbook, courtesy of Taschen

R. Crumb Sketchbook (Taschen)

Robert Crumb is a master of the form, an underground comix artist and American legend who celebrates the deep, primal energy within the voluptuous female form. Like a true master of the medium, he lent his hand to creating a body of work that is as entertaining as it is titillating. Robert Crumb. Sketchbook, Vol. 1: June 1964 – Sept. 1968 takes you back to that edgy time, when the Summer of Love was taking over and free love was all the rage.

April Flores, photographed by Carlos Batts for Fat Girl, courtesy of Rare Bird Books.

April Flores, photographed by Carlos Batts for Fat Girl, courtesy of Rare Bird Books.

Fat-Girl-Final-Cover-Front-May-24-2013-1500-CRCarlos Batts: Fat Girl (Rare Bird Books)

April Flores, the first woman to win an AVN Award in the BBW category, is the subject of Fat Girl, a collection of photographs made by her collaborator and husband, Carlos Batts, who passed away shortly after the book was released. The book is a collection of sexy, sensual images that speak of a love that pervades the photograph and captivates. Read our interview with April Flores here.

stripLeslie Lyons: Strip Flips! (powerHouse Books)

The still image has its charms, but when you make those images move, you feel a sense of power in your hands. Photographer Leslie Lyons understands this and created Strip Flips! a series of three classic flip books that combined the charm of striptease with the magic of the flip book. Volume 2 is sold out but Volume 1 and Volume 3 are still available.

Harri Peccinotti: H.P., courtesy of Damiani

Harri Peccinotti: H.P., courtesy of Damiani

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Harri Peccinotti: H.P. (Damiani)

In 1968 and 1969, Harri Peccinotti photographed the Pirelli calendars. His aesthetic, which was sexy, sporty, and free, created a dreamy landscape of pure fantasy. One of the first to bring black women into fashion photography, Peccinotti’s work is exciting now as it was then, reminding us that classic art is always stimulating.

Sasha Eisenman: California Girls (Damiani)

Sasha Eisenman: California Girls (Damiani)

Sasha Eisenman: California Girls (Damiani)

David Lee Roth immortalized “California Girls” on his classic 1988 song, taking pleasure in their the half-naked ladies frolicking under the palms. But the “California Girl” has always been an American icon: fun-loving and laid back, wholesome yet risqué, ready for adventure in whatever form it may take. Thirty years after the song dropped, photographer Sasha Eisenman began creating a body of nudes or semi-nudes that are as sexy as they are innocent, playful, and romantic.

Helmut Newton: SUMO, courtesy of Taschen

Helmut Newton: SUMO, courtesy of Taschen

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Helmut Newton: SUMO (Taschen)

They say bigger is better—and they ain’t lying. When Taschen released Helmut Newton: SUMO in 2000, they made book publishing history, setting the record for the most expensive book published in the 20th century. The book, a massive volume that came with its own stand, has now been resized and repriced for the average collector’s budget. A sensation volume of nudes, provocative mise-en-scènes, fashion shoots, and celebrity portraits, SUMO is polished and raw at the same time.


Miss Rosen is a journalist covering art, photography, culture, and books. Her byline has appeared in L’Uomo Vogue, Whitewall, The Undefeated, Dazed Digital, Jocks and Nerds, and L’Oeil de la Photographie. Follow her on Twitter @Miss_Rosen.