Miscellany Posted Jun 10, 2024

Summer Hours

Open Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-7pm

8675 Washington Boulevard

Culver City, CA 90232



Miscellany Posted Jan 20, 2023

Please help Gusmano

If you are able to, please consider a contribution to help our friend Gusmano Cesaretti. Gusmano is a fabulous artist and could use your support in any amount to help him keep his studio.
You can read more about Gusmano and make a contribution on go fund me here.
Thank you.



Miscellany Posted Nov 11, 2022

Notes on Dagny Janss Corcoran

In 1984 I opened the doors to Arcana: Books on the Arts in a tiny courtyard apartment at 2345 Westwood Boulevard, just down the street from my previous place of employ and retail education, Rhino Records. There were three people whose guidance led to this leap of faith. First, my grandfather Charles Baron, who instilled in the youthful me a lifelong respect for the bound printed page and the desire to assemble a library as impressive as I found his to be. Second was the late, great Howard Karno, the extraordinary dealer in Latin Americana whose encouragement and kind offer to sublet that apartment’s back bedroom for his own storage in case I had trouble making rent convinced me to sign a lease. His prophetic words were something to the effect of “don’t worry, take the space, and you’ll never have to take me up on it. Once you open your doors, there will never, ever be enough room for all your books.” Prescient words, those.
Lastly, and most directly, there was Dagny Janss Corcoran, the proprietor of the wonderfully quirky and impossibly well-stocked ArtCatalogues (I believe it was a single word back then) whose generosity and encouragement over the previous couple of years led to my decision to hang out my own shingle. The neat and uncluttered establishment on Santa Monica Boulevard just off Crescent Heights, above her then-husband Jim Corcoran’s gallery, was completely unlike the mostly entropic used book stores I had begun frequenting in an attempt to replicate with books what I had learned to do with records at Rhino. I loved the light and airiness of the space, and the way that Dagny imprinted her unique sense of order on it. Her intelligence, knowledge of Contemporary Art, and dizzying social connections informed everything there. Visiting ArtCatalogues was always like setting foot in a salon. You never knew which artist, collector, or gallerist would be perusing those shelves at the same time as you. It gave me a glimpse of what one could do differently as a bookseller; and so I figured if I can almost make a living running around town finding enough books and catalogues to sell to her wholesale, maybe I can successfully open a retail establishment like this of my own. Without that connection and inspiration, I don’t know that I ever would have gone down this path. Now that Dagny, the third and final mentor-of-sorts in my bookselling journey has passed away this week, Los Angeles feels like a much greyer place.
Dagny was keenly intelligent, oh-so-well educated, always impeccably mannered and dressed, yet had a wicked sense of humor and the bawdiest laugh. She knew simply everyone in the artworld - and had amazing stories about virtually all of them. As a testament to Dagny’s standing, she is the only bookseller I know to have been independently incorporated into not one, but two of Los Angeles’ major Museums – MoCA and LACMA! Legend has it that she started ArtCatalogues with the remaining inventory of publications from the Pasadena Art Museum when Dagny’s own mentor Walter Hopps convinced her to buy them at a bargain price before new owner Norton Simon had the stuff thrown out. I still treasure the pristine Marcel Duchamp-designed catalogue and poster set from his 1963 Pasadena retrospective that she offered me on one of my earliest visits for the then-princely sum of $100.00. That savvy score was followed by her acquisition of Pontus Hulten’s mouth-watering library that he left behind when he decamped for the Pompidou after his short-lived MoCA directorship.
She handled too many rarities to recount including those from the likes of her close friends Ed Ruscha, Billy Al Bengston, David Hockney, Nick Wilder, et al. In the process Dagny assembled impressive libraries for her many private and institutional clients, and acted without fanfare as a mentor and supporter to a generation of artists, gallerists, collectors, and scholars. Over the last decade she became an enthusiastic archivist for artists Walter De Maria and Richard Jackson. I was particularly pleased when Dagny – eleven years my senior – enthusiastically embraced new opportunities in Paris that reinvigorated her even though she claimed she didn’t speak much French beyond “j’aimerais de la vodka avec de la glace.”
Doris Saatchi profiled her and her stylishly-appointed  - what else - London flat in the October 1987 issue of The World of Interiors for goodness sake! The piece included classic Dagny quips and a description of her exacting style. She was, as the author describes her, “fully cool.”
While we saw increasingly less and less of one another over forty-plus years - we were, after all, forever busy competitors of sorts as well as colleagues - every time we did get together for more than a moment it seemed like no time had passed at all. She would usually graciously remind me that the framed collage I gave her (back in the days when I would unabashedly go dumpster-diving for raw materials in the bin she shared with Dan Weinberg on Almont) was still on her wall at home. Considering what else was hanging on those walls, that was an honor! Dagny imported catalogues from seemingly every museum and gallery in the world, and always had THE best cardboard waiting outside to be carted away! What the Commerzbank was to Kurt Schwitters, ArtCatalogues was to me in my short-lived artistic “career.” I would invariably tell her that her mid-eighties “leave two – take one” bookcase – where customers were encouraged to bring two books of their own to leave in exchange for one book already on the shelves - at the Almont space was still the most ingenious bookseller’s ploy I’d ever encountered, and we would both recount some of the treasures we each harvested from it. We’d compare recent acquisitions, transgressions by mutual clients, and lament as to how the hell did we both wind up with so many books over the years.
She occasionally had on display at her shop what was for nearly four decades my personal holy grail – the poster for the Pasadena Art Museum’s legendary 1962 exhibition, “New Painting of Common Objects.“ It was the very first institutional show of Pop Art for which Ed Ruscha designed a striking, and extraordinarily rare typographic poster. Of course Dagny would own one… I pined over it for years, but we both knew it was never coming my way. Only recently was I able to finally acquire a similarly lovely example of that poster that was offered as a trade - but only in exchange if I could come up with a specific, equally extraordinarily rare artist’s book. Oddly enough, a copy of that book just happened to be prominently featured in Dagny’s booth at the opening of the last Printed Matter LA Artbook Fair. Coincidence? I think not.
When our esteemed colleague Steven Leiber left the building ten years ago, we mused that along with the venerable Larry McGilvery, the two of us were all-but the-last dinosaurs of our kind on the West Coast. I’ve since thought a lot about how we each possess(ed) so much specialized anecdotal knowledge about the objects we have handled in our careers, and how so much of that disappears when we do. I guess that’s just the nature of mortality and how life unfolds when we’re mostly too busy trying to sell books to write all that interesting stuff down. So thank you Dagny Janss Corcoran for giving me that shove along this path. I am fortunate to have been in your stellar orbit, soaked up a bit of that knowledge along the way, and value so much about your presence over time. I’m glad you are at peace, and along with really a lot of people am really gonna miss you.
Image: David Hockney, Dagny Corcoran (15th, 16th, 17th January 2014)


Miscellany Posted Sep 07, 2022

Things Found In Books

From Lee: "Those who follow Arcana’s Instagram know that I rarely – if ever – post myself. That noted, I was so delighted to find the following bit of ephemera tucked into a recently purchased book just now that I felt compelled to share. Stories in the used and Antiquarian book trade of treasures found in books coming across the transom are legion. Everything from hundred dollar bills to bearer bonds to love letters from the rich and famous, and then some. Me, I’ve been doing this for forty years or so, and while I’ve found some amazing announcements and handbills tucked into the odd book and catalogue here and there over the years, I have yet to come across anything significant by way of those things. Anyway, back when I was growing up in Los Angeles, everyone subscribed to the Los Angeles Times. And during the sixties and seventies, arguably the paper’s premier Hollywood / gossip columnist was Joyce Haber. I still remember her talent for the turning the exquisitely glib, innuendo-laced phrase. Coming across this raggedly-trimmed clipping chronicling John Lennon’s notorious March 12th, 1974 drunken (at least!) heckling of The Smothers Brothers at the Troubadour that resulted in his ejection was a Madeleine taking me straight back to my late teen self. So here you go. Lennon, Nilsson, May Pang, Peter Lawford, The Paul Newmans, Flip Wilson, Ken Fritz, and even a bit of potential Lauren Hutton scandal. They don’t make ‘em like this anymore!"

Miscellany Posted Jun 09, 2022

Closing Early Thursday 6/16!

We will be closing at 5:00 PM on Thursday, June 16th for a private event at the store. 

Thanks for your understanding!



Miscellany Posted May 15, 2022

10 Years at Helms

Ten years ago today after an arduous move and months of building we finally re-opened our doors – in our beautiful "new" space here at Helms in Culver City. There aren’t enough thanks in the world to give to those that helped in this epic endeavor: our iiinnncccrrrredible staff, our amazing landlord and his team @helmsbakerydistrict, our esteemed architects @johnstonmarklee and @katrinterstegen, the design and building genius of @landlocd and their endless inspiration, commitment and non-stop hard work … We couldn’t be happier to have moved here – thank you for your love and support over the years! PS, Good luck to the little car company called “Tesla” that took over our old space in Santa Monica in 2012.
Miscellany Posted May 06, 2022



Starting 5/6/22  we’ll be implementing a new summer schedule to allow us to catch up on some necessary maintenance. We need some time to handle new submissions and correspondence, train staff, replenish our stock from the backroom, price recently acquired out-of-print material, and so much more that needs to be done to keep the shop humming.

For the next few months, our schedule will be:


Monday – Closed

Tuesday – By prior appointment only (books@arcanabooks.com, 310-458-1499)

Wednesday-Sunday – 11:00 AM -7:00 PM


Thank you for your understanding!


Miscellany Posted Apr 30, 2022

Independent Bookstore Day 20212!

It's Independent Bookstore Day, a *happy* day thanks to YOU. You with your passion, enthusiasm, your dollars, and your commitment! We are here because you keep showing up -- and we thank you for this happy day.

And to our colleagues across this great book town, too numerous to list here: we salute you - live long and prosper! We're honored to be fellow travelers in this wacky and wonderful biblio-galaxy.

Here's a bittersweet reminder from Noah Davis and the beloved @theundergroundmuseum

Please visit, call, or shop the websites of our many illustrious confrères today, tomorrow, and throughout the year: @aliasbookseast, @artbookhwla, @booksoup, @chevaliersbooks, @counterpointrecordsandbooks, @despairbooks, @dieselbookstore, @esowonbooks, @hennesseyingalls, @iliadbookshop, @lalibreria, @larryedmunds1938, @lastbookstorela, @librosschmibros, @malikbooks, @nowservingla, @oofbooks, @otherbooksla @reparations.club, @therippedbodice, @thesalteaters, @theshq, @sideshowbooks, @skylightbooks, @smallworldbooksvenice, @storiesbooksandcafe, @thesedays.la @villagewellcc , @vromansbookstore, and so many more

Miscellany Posted Apr 24, 2021

Independent Bookstore Day 2021!

Now more than ever. It’s Independent Bookstore Day! If you're in Los Angeles, you are lucky to be in a buzzing, thriving hub of wonderful and diverse bookstores. In spite of the devastating tumult of 2020, we're still here! And new shops are opening, others have moved and expanded! It's a vibrant landscape - take advantage of it.

As the @americanbooksellers association succinctly put it: "Buy books curated by a real person, not by a creepy algorithm that wants you to buy deodorant."

Please visit, call, or shop the websites of our many illustrious colleagues today, tomorrow, and throughout the year: @aliasbookseast, @artbookhwla, @booksoup, @chevaliersbooks, @counterpointrecordsandbooks, @despairbooks, @dieselbookstore, @esowonbooks, @hennesseyingalls, @iliadbookshop, @lalibreria, @larryedmunds1938, @lastbookstorela, @librosschmibros, @malikbooks, @nowservingla, @oofbooks, @reparations.club, @ therippedbodice, @thesalteaters, @theshq, @sideshowbooks, @skylightbooks, @storiesbooksandcafe, @thesedays.la @theundergroundbookstore, @villagewellcc , @vromansbookstore, and so many more.

Miscellany Posted Feb 09, 2021

Re-Opening Wednesday, February 10th!

We're soooooo happy to be re-opening. Our dooors open for regular hours (Tuesday-Sunday, 11-7) starting Wednesday, February 10th.
Thank you all for your kindness, support, and good wishes during this rough time. Everyone is 100% healthy and ready to see you again soon at Arcana!
Photo from the utterly delightful RESIST PHONY ENCORES! by Gruff Rhys & Mark James from the good people at Hat & Beard Press.