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Abstract City

Abstract City

4.8 6
by Christoph Niemann

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In July 2008, illustrator and designer Christoph Niemann began Abstract City, a visual blog for the New York Times. His posts were inspired by the desire to re-create simple and everyday observations and stories from his own life that everyone could relate to. In Niemann’s hands, mundane experiences such as riding the subway or trying to get a


In July 2008, illustrator and designer Christoph Niemann began Abstract City, a visual blog for the New York Times. His posts were inspired by the desire to re-create simple and everyday observations and stories from his own life that everyone could relate to. In Niemann’s hands, mundane experiences such as riding the subway or trying to get a good night’s sleep were transformed into delightful flights of visual fancy. The struggle to keep up with housework became a battle against adorable but crafty goblins, and nostalgia about New York manifested in simple but strikingly spot-on LEGO creations. This brilliantly illustrated collection of reflections on modern life includes all 16 of the original blog posts as well as a new chapter created exclusively for the book.

Also available from Christoph Niemann: Sunday Sketching and I LEGO N.Y.

Praise for Abstract City:

“Everyday experiences—from looking at leaves to riding city subways—are funny and fresh and often a source of wonder when depicted by this brilliant graphic designer.” —Readers Digest

“I will call Christoph when anything awful happens to me. And he will make me laugh like crazy about the whole thing. Because he is insanely funny and completely tenderly true. I love every column he did and will do.” —Maira Kalman, author/illustrator of And the Pursuit of Happiness

“Christoph Niemann is the best illustrator alive. Every single time I come across a piece of his work, which is often as he either works all the time, or worse, draws incredibly fast, it is wonderful. While the rest of us are lucky to get a proper piece out here and there, Christoph produces hit after hit after hit. If he wasn’t such a genuinely sweet man, we’d surely hate his ass a lot.” —Stefan Sagmeister, author of Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far

“Few books have more probingly and humorously gotten inside the mind and day-to-day experience of an artist.” —NPR.org

"What’s terrifying (to me, certainly, and possibly to many of his peers) is that nearly every idea he has seems to be equally well formed . . . once again, performing neat, virtuosic circles around the rest of us, to our delight." —PRINT magazine

"Irresistible." —Very Short List

“A masterpiece of sophisticated humor, this is a brilliant one-of-a-kind work.” —Library Journal, starred review

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
If OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) were an art form, Niemann would be Michelangelo. He does best concocting a graph to illustrate his fluctuating coffee cravings; a pie-chart to isolate the components of that slippery beast, the Really Great Idea; or even a photomontage designed to underscore the difficulties of combating lint. His undeniable graphic prowess becomes diluted when he focuses on the Berlin Wall over 10 pages, as well-meaning as his intentions may be. “She was the wall’s first official victim,” writes Niemann, about Ida Siekmann. “And here I was, pitying myself because I had slept only a few hours and couldn’t get my DSL connection up and running.” Indeed. There’s nothing really abstract about Abstract City, a compilation retracing Niemann’s often self-aggrandizing New York Times blog, but he does have an uncanny knack for encapsulating those anecdotal-yet-unavoidable moments that constitute the background chatter of a New Yorker’s existence, like shopping at Fairway. He does almost equally well describing the more serious vagaries of metropolitan life, such as the subway system and the weather. Most satisfying is the section Niemann devotes to “unpopular science,” in which his linear art and his fastidious, analytical wit mesh perfectly, distilling some wicked good humor. (Apr.)
Library Journal
This title is a compilation of the 16 essays originally published in Niemann's (regular contributor, The New Yorker, New York Times, Wired; That's How!) eponymous visual blog for The New York Times, which ran from 2008 to early 2011. The appeal of Neimann's work resides in his ability to capture absurdities in everyday life, much like the classic New Yorker art of Saul Steinberg. Subways and road maps are frequent topics in Niemann's illustrations, in which the directional symbols become metaphors for songs, games, dance steps, and foods. In this book, Niemann's visual essays—which are, in fact, lists, figures, and charts created with drawings, computer graphics, and photographed objects—present his perceptions of New York City in thought-provoking ways; for example, one diagram describes how to poke a muffin from the side to test for freshness; another group of small Lego sculptures illustrate different coffee drinks. VERDICT A masterpiece of sophisticated humor, this is a brilliant, one-of-a-kind work that will interest readers who enjoy compilations of comic strips and magazine art.—Eric Linderman, Willoughby-Eastlake P.L., Willowick, OH

Product Details

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6.40(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Christoph Niemann is an award-winning illustrator, designer, and children’s book author. He is a regular contributor to the New Yorker, Wired, and the New York Times. He lives in Berlin, Germany.

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Abstract City 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As an artist, I loved how Christoph Niemann represents everyday situations in creative and funny ways. He covered his relationship with coffee, how tangled wires are in his home, and many other things. The way he illustrated a topic had to do with the topic itself. For example, he pictured his coffee section on napkins painted with what looks like actual coffee. It was entertaining, humorous, genuine, and creative, and is very inspiring for any artist.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ooo me to;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We all take in life as we live, it's how we let it out again that shows who we are. For Christoph Niemann, his life comes out through his graphic design influenced art work. Much of the unique work that appears in his book ABSTRACT CITY originally appeared as part of his visual blog for the New York Times. Working like visual essays accompanied by modest text, each is a treat presenting relatable moments from everyday life in formats that recall catalogs or training manuals. Often silly but always creative, Niemann's art utilizes disparate art forms to convey his ideas the elements of which usually relate specifically to what he is talking about. For example, relating his personal history with coffee through a series of drawings on coffee stained napkins or lamenting how electrical cords complicate our lives through art using actual wires. Since much of my childhood involved creating my own world while playing with Legos, I particularly appreciated Niemann's using the multi colored plastic blocks to represent what it's like to life in New York, entitled--I LEGO NY. It's tempting to breeze through the book but I found myself dipping back into previous essays. As I experienced each new art format, I appreciated the ones before even more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago