Benedikt Taschen, the founder of the publishing house of the same name, is the creator of a literary genre, that of the large-scale photographic art book accessible to all, which has become a real cult.
There is a cult object that all Beauty lovers are obsessed with: the coffee table books, aka those books that are usually large, hardcovered and with iconic photographic content, essential to decor a really cool bookcase or the lounge’s table.
In Milan, in via Meravigli, there is the concept store of the most famous printer of this kind of books: Taschen, a German publisher with offices all over the world that in 2020 celebrated its first 40 years.
Its founder is the visionary and eclectic Benedikt Taschen who owes his fortune to his passion for comics. In 1980, at the age of 12, he opened his first comic book store in Cologne and it was such a success, thanks to the flair with which he chooses the titles for sale, that he used the money earned to resell stocks of other titles that he bought below cost.
In 1984 he bought 40,000 copies of a monograph on Magritte which sold out quickly. Hence his great intuition: to sell high-quality photographic books at low prices, thus opening the mass market to a literary genre, that of art books, which until then had been the prerogative of an elite publishing niche.
This intuition, however, was not enough to decree the worldwide fame that the publishing house has today. And the real success came thanks to Benedikt’s flair for the titles to be edited, books that open up irreverent, original, often very controversial trends. In 1999 he launched Sumo, a book in a large format, 50×70 cm, with the nudes of Helmut Newton on a pedestal created by designer Philippe Starck. It will become the most expensive book of the twentieth century, a real cult, just think that a first edition signed by various celebrities was sold at an auction for over 300,000 euros.
Since then, in addition to the economic best sellers dedicated to the great artists of history, Tascher has maintained its status thanks to innovative editorial lines, such as that on erotic art. Benedikt publishes real “gems” such as the erotic drawings by Andy Warhol or the famous Erotica Universalis by Gilles Néret, a collection of artists of all time who have seen their works censored for obscenities, while the monographs of cult photographers such as the Japanese Araki – famous for his wonderful bondage shots – even become world best sellers.
Art is the greatest passion of Benedikt, today one of the most important collectors of contemporary artists in the world, from Jeff Koons to Martin Kippenberger, from Mike Kelley to David Hockney. A passion that is evident in all his mono-brand stores, real jewels of art. Each of them has, in fact, a unique design, where works from the publisher’s private collection, Benedikt is a great lover of the Italian genius, are often exhibited.
In the Milanese store, we find a tribute to Made in Italy design, such as, on the ground floor, the splendid chandelier by Giò Ponti, originally designed for the Hotel Parco dei Principi, and the table by Angelo Mangiarotti, while in the space on the first floor, dedicated to exhibitions, the protagonist is the glass chandelier designed by Flavio Poli for Archimede Seguso.