courtesy of Jason foumberg 

The Graham Foundation bookstore. 

I love art publications—especially ones printed on fine paper, with bold graphic layouts, and quirky articles. They’re the equivalent of the fashion world’s monthly glossy fetish objects. In Chicago, these sorts of publications are increasingly hard to come by, so I’m always thrilled whenever I stumble upon them.

Fortunately, the Graham Foundation loves art publications as much as I do. Housed in a Gold Coast mansion, the architecture-research advocacy institute is free, open to the public and carries an excellent selection of specialty books and magazines on a myriad of obscure topics like urbanism, vernacular design and conceptual architecture.

On a recent visit, I stopped by the bookstore to browse the latest crop of magazines and books.

The magazine counter had some choice cuts: New issues of Icon, Grey Room, Apartamento and a special issue of Clog (on the theme of Brutalism-style architecture). They were just a few among many publications with insightful writing and photos on design.

It’s worth spending a good amount of time browsing the bookshelf too. Each year, the Graham Foundation grants nearly $400,000 to fund dozens of publications, and the fruits of their philanthropy are on display and for sale.

Additionally, there’s the recently released Chicago Makes Modern: How Creative Minds Changed Society, and the rare “100 Notes—100 Thoughts” pamphlets from Documenta13, at just $10 a piece. I instantly fell deep into the pages of a gorgeous new tome about the work of IIT’s dean, Wiel Arets, who spoke at the Graham Foundation in April, a good way to spend a spring afternoon. 

The Graham Foundation is free to visit, Wed–Sat, 11am–5pm.