Books

15 essential art books

Big, bold and beautiful, art books are the perfect addition to your coffee table or bookshelf. This list of 15 essential art books spans centuries, movements, and mediums - immerse yourself in the fantastical worlds of Hieronymous Bosch and Salvador Dali, or visit the women artists of Ninth Street. Browse our list and discover graffiti, self-portraits, clay sculptures, and even menu designs.

The best books about art

By Andrew Graham Dixon
Truly comprehensive in scope, this bestselling book explores masterpieces by more than 700 artists, including Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso, and Van Gogh. An invaluable art lover's reference book, it showcases everything from Italian baroque painting and African Art to contemporary art history.

By Leonhard Emmerling
An icon of 1980s New York, Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) first made his name under the graffiti tag "SAMO," before establishing his studio practice and catapulting to fast fame at the age of 20. Although his career lasted barely a decade, he remains a cult figure of artistic social commentary, and a trailblazer in the mediation of graffiti and gallery art.

By Claire Wilcox
Through this incredible archive, Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up gives readers a unique window into Kahlo's life. It will focus on the personal, combining her prosthetics, jewelry, and clothes with self-portraits, diary entries, and letters to build an intimate portrait of the artist through her possessions, setting this in the context of her political and social beliefs.

By Hans den Hartog Jager
A collection of two extraordinary artists' landscape paintings, with new insight into Vincent Van Gogh's influence on David Hockney. Now, for the first time, art lovers can study their pieces side by side.
By Steven Heller
As restaurants proliferated, the design of the menu became an integral part of eating out and as such menus became a marketing tool and a favored keepsake. Menu Design is an omnibus showcasing the best examples of this graphic art. With nearly 800 examples, this book not only showcases this extraordinary collection of paper ephemera but serves as a history of restaurants and dining out in America.

By Mary Gabriel
Set amid the most turbulent social and political period of modern times, Ninth Street Women is the impassioned, wild, sometimes tragic, always exhilarating chronicle of five women who dared to enter the male-dominated world of twentieth-century abstract painting - not as muses but as artists.

By Ian Alteveer
The definitive monograph on contemporary African American painter Kerry James Marshall. Born before the passage of the Civil Rights Act and witness to the Watts riots in 1965, Marshall has long been an inspired and imaginative chronicler of the African American experience. Richly illustrated, this monumental book features essays by noted curators as well as the artist, and more than 100 paintings from throughout the artist's career.

By Bridget Quinn
Historically, major women artists have been excluded from the mainstream art canon. Aligned with the resurgence of feminism in pop culture, Broad Strokes offers an entertaining corrective to that omission. Art historian Bridget Quinn delves into the lives and careers of 15 brilliant female artists in text that's smart, feisty, educational, and an enjoyable read.


By Clare Lilley
Vitamin C celebrates the revival of clay as a material for contemporary visual artists, featuring a wide range of global talent as selected by the world's leading curators, critics, and art professionals. Packed with illustrations, Vitamin C is a vibrant and incredibly timely survey - the first of its kind.

By Klaus Honnef
Peaking in the 1960s, Pop Art began as a revolt against mainstream approaches to art and culture and evolved into a wholesale interrogation of modern society, consumer culture, the role of the artist, and of what constituted an artwork. With featured artists including Andy Warhol, Allen Jones, Ed Ruscha, Robert Indiana, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Roy Lichtenstein, this book introduces the full reach and influence of a defining modernist movement.

By Multiple Editors
In the period of radical change that was 1963-83, young black artists at the beginning of their careers confronted difficult questions about art, politics and racial identity. Soul of a Nation surveys this crucial period in American art history, bringing to light previously neglected histories of 20th-century black artists, including Sam Gilliam, Melvin Edwards, Jack Whitten, and more.

By Salvidor Dalí
Good taste, however voluptuous, never goes out of fashion. In making this exceptionally rare book available to a wide audience, TASCHEN brings an artwork, a practical cookbook, and a multisensory adventure to today's kitchens. This reprint features all 136 recipes over 12 chapters, specially illustrated by Dalí, and organized by meal courses, including aphrodisiacs.
By Susie Hodge
The Short Story of Art is a new and innovative introduction to the subject of art. Simply constructed, the book explores 50 key works, from the wall paintings of Lascaux to contemporary installations, and then links these to sections on art movements, themes, and techniques.

By Stefan Fischer
This large-scale TASCHEN monograph presents the complete Bosch oeuvre, celebrating the artist's staggering compositional scope and most bizarre and intricate details through full-page reproductions, abundant details, and a fold-out spread drawn from The Last Judgement. With guidance from art historian and Bosch expert Stefan Fischer, we explore the many compelling elements that populate each scene, from hybrid creatures of man and beast, to painterly assaults on the body, and a pictorial use of proverbs and idioms.

By Phaidon Editors
Visit the world's most comprehensive and compelling museum in a book - from pre-historic times to the present - over 1,600 artworks created with the expertise of 28 art world curators and historians.

Share

More beautiful books

By Richard Davies
June 03, 2021
The Book of Miracles is perhaps not the right name. 'The book of biblical drama and things we don't understand' may be a better title. This beautiful book about a book is published by Taschen. It contains a facsimile of a mysterious manuscript from the 16th century along with two modern essays of explanatory comment on the history, meaning and importance of this manuscript.
2 Min Read
By Jessica Doyle
June 03, 2021
Penguin Drop Caps is a series of 26 rainbow-hued hardcover editions of literature's finest treasures. An edition for each letter of the alphabet, the series features authors from A (Jane Austen) to Z (Carlos Ruiz Zafon).
1 Min Read
June 03, 2021
Sandra Hindman is a leading expert on Medieval and Renaissance manuscript illumination. Professor Emerita of Art History at Northwestern University and owner of Les Enluminures, Sandra is author, co-author, or editor of more than 10 books, as well as numerous articles on history, illuminated manuscripts and medieval rings. AbeBooks posed a number of basic questions about medieval manuscripts and Sandra was kind enough to answer them.
6 Min Read