5 BOOKS TO START YOUR ART LIBRARY

5 BOOKS TO START YOUR ART LIBRARY

What do you want to get out of your art library? Is it going to be a visual reference collection filled with amazing artworks that you can flip through and be inspired by? Or is it going to be comprised of dense histories that give you an overview of the development of art through time? Or maybe you would prefer something that will help you understand what you are looking at and give you something intelligent to say about a given artwork? An art library is a wonderful tool that can be used in so many ways. Regardless of what you want to do with your art library – here are 5 books that will certainly not lead you astray. (Plus art books almost always come with lush illustrations and beautiful bindings, making them a delightful addition to your bookshelf!)

The Story of Art by E.H. Gombrich

An oldie but a goodie. This was my textbook in my Introduction to Art History course at UC Berkeley. A foundational figure in art history, Gombrich’s authoritative survey is incredibly readable and will give any reader a great introduction to the development of art from prehistory to the 20th century. First published in 1950, it is currently in its 16th edition and it is still widely regarded as an indispensable element of any library.

John Berger Ways of Seeing by John Berger

In this book John Berger tackles some of the most fundamental questions in art theory in a highly approachable way. What do we see? How are we seen? Might we see differently? These basic questions are raised, unpacked, and situated in their socio-political context without putting you to sleep or making your brain spin until you’re nauseous.

Art of the Deal: Contemporary Art in a Global Financial Market by Noah Horowitz

Here the focus is on the contemporary art market itself. Noah Horowitz takes on the soaring prices, institutional developments, and career driven actors in order to expose how the contemporary art market works. This book will give you a sense of why the market is as it is and where it might be headed.

Breakfast at Sotheby’s: An A-Z of the Art World by Philip Hook

Drawing on over 35 years of experience working in the art world, Philip Hook breaks down how and why art gains value in this art world dictionary. Amusingly written but filled with useful observations, this book is an enjoyable discussion of the relationship between money and art.

Vitamin P3 by Phaidon

We have books that cover theory, history, and the market in our library – but what about the actual stuff that makes art? Consider this beautifully published overview of painting by Phaidon now in its 3rd edition. This book will dazzle any lover of painting with its introduction to 100 artists that are exploring the medium and pushing it to new limits. Are you ready to start your art library? Where are you going to start and what other books might you add to the list?

The Story of Art by E.H. Gombrich

John Berger Ways of Seeing by John Berger

Art of the Deal: Contemporary Art in a Global Financial Market by Noah Horowitz

Breakfast at Sotheby’s: An A-Z of the Art World by Philip Hook

Vitamin P3 by Phaidon
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