Book gift guide 2021: not-so-obvious ideas

Your museum, reworked: Than the luminous and textured collages of “Mickalene Thomas” ($125) are still primarily enjoyed by those who blend into contemporary art is a crime. Wisely, aside from an introduction by Roxanne Gay, the art speaks for itself here, domestic spaces full of reclining, transcendent and factual black women all at once. As beautiful as this investigation is, you have to experience firsthand the pastiche of fabrics, paints, rhinestones that mark Thomas’s works. However, this is the starting point. “Another History of Art” ($25), while satirical, performs a similar type of magic. Canadian artist Anita Kunz (best known for her New Yorker covers) reinvents art history as a woman. So we get Leona da Vinci, Paula Klee, etc. It sounds like a one-note joke, but here are classics remade for monkeys, fake jewels, mansplaining. Pretty lovely stuff. Ditto for the mainland “African artists: from 1882 to the present day” ($70), another great story in a book by Phaidon. Here we have over 300 artists, examples of works, a bit of curatorial context, like an exhibition that you can visit at your own pace. Its variety and familiarity reveal how our ideas about world art are quite outdated.