On the look-out for the best art books of all time? You’ve come to the right place. From beautiful photography coffee-table books to first-edition post-impressionist works of (literary) art, we round up some of our favourites, below, including new releases and some classics. If you prefer seeing art in person, visit one of our recommended art exhibitions in London.
The Best Art Books Ever
Art: The Definitive Visual Guide
With a stunningly vibrant cover and a foreword by , this art book both looks beautiful and is full of beautiful content. The book showcases over 700 works art from the likes of Van Gogh and Picasso, and makes a great book for perusing with a cup of tea on a lazy Sunday.
New York by New York
New York by New York takes the reader through the most important periods of the great city and into all its boroughs, from Manhattan and Brooklyn to the Bronx and Queens to Staten Island with glimpses into its history and the development of its world-renown skyline. £195.00;
Cocaïn: History & Culture
In the popular imagination, cocaine appeared sometime in the 1970s, seemingly out of nowhere, as the ne ultra party drug for the disco generation; shortly thereafter, its destructive effects became impossible to ignore. But in fact, cocaine’s history of addiction dates back to the nineteenth century, when it was legal and sold over the counter to treat ailments ranging from stomach aches to cramps to teething pain in babies. How did it come tp wield the corrosive power depicted in films and television series such as Scarface and Narcos? This book tells that story. £38;
Travel writer Maya Boyd and fashion stylist Renu Kashyap make the ultimate case for the eternal whim of the characters living on the gleaming Balearic island and their intimate, stylish quotidian. This love letter to the beauty and effortlessness of Ibiza is at the heart of an eye catching coffee table book. £60;
100 Painters of Tomorrow, £35
Good news for paint lovers, the medium is ‘alive and well’, so says Kurt Beers, director of Beers Contemporary. He has taken it upon himself to find the 100 greatest new talents. The artists featured in the book were chosen from an open-call of over 4,300 applicants, by a panel of some of the most prestigious figures in contemporary art today. One of the best art books, ever. £35;
Frida Kahlo: Fashion as the Art of Being, £130
Ahead of the much-anticipated Frida Kahlo exhibition coming to the V&A this June, Assouline’s important tome shows the artist as an avant-garde fashionista whose sense of style continues to inspire and influence the worlds of fashion, media and art still today. Beautiful images and fascinating story-telling make this a beautiful addition to your coffee table. £130;
The Art of Mondo, £49.99
Film fans will appreciate this gorgeous hardcover collection of Mondo’s iconic poster designs, displayed with a brief history of the company and artists. From Hitchcock classics to Star Wars, there are some seriously iconic images between these covers.
A Yorkshire Sketchbook – David Hockney, £14.95
A facsimile sketchbook from Britain’s most celebrated artist, this beautiful sketchbook shows works executed in watercolour and ink. With panoramic scenes of the Yorkshire Wolds, discover the immediacy of Hockney’s impressions. A must for Hockney fans and Yorkshire locals, who will know and love the scenes in these pages.
Billy Name – The Silver Age, £60
There are few others that got a better, or closer look in to the mysterious goings-on of Warhol’s Factory. Lucky for us, Andy gave Billy a Pentax Honeywell 35mm camera, with which he documented all that he saw during his time living in a tiny closet in the studio. He was also responsible for the legendary ‘silverizing’ of the space, in which the Factory was adorned with aluminum. Lou Reed, the Velvet Underground, Edie Sedgwick and Bob Dylan can be spotted throughout his recordings. £60;
The Impossible Collection of Warhol, £650
This book is a work of art in its own right; hand-bound using traditional techniques and printed on art-quality paper, each page has the unique imprint of the artisan. No art book collection is complete without Warhol, whose explosive Pop Art and sharp commentary on advertising and celebrity culture are renowned the world over and deeply relevant still today. Warhol expert and former Andy Warhol Museum director Eric Shiner curated this limited edition addition to the Assouline Ultimate Collection, collecting the 100 quintessential works that best encapsulate the artist’s vast oeuvre. £650;
The Deftness of Da Vinci, £13
Da Vinci was a master of almost everything, but most significantly, he was a master draughtsman. This book beautifully reproduces 663 of his drawings, from anatomical studies to architectural plans, the majority of which are presented in full-page format, so they can be pored over in their every detail. £13;
Dalí Les Diners de Gala, £44.99
A real party piece, this is a re-print of the surrealistic cult cookery book whipped up with the ingredients from Dalí and Gala’s legendary dinner parties. It includes 136 elaborate and extravagant recipes from the original 1973 book to satisfy your appetite for the surreal such as Lobster with black pearls, Bush of crayfish in Viking herbs, Toffee with pine cones and The Breast of Venus.
Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (in That Order) by Bridget Quinn and illustrated by Lisa Congdon, £19.99
An outstanding and personal introduction to some of the most important female artists of all time. Enjoy entertaining narrative about each artist accompanied by reproductions of their most famous works and original portraits by Lisa Congdon. Chronicle Books, £19.99
The Paintings of Paul Cezanne by John Rewald, £175
Why not get something really special to add to your art history library? This first UK edition was originally published in the US in the same year and is two volumes. Housed in the original pictorial slipcase, it has original blue cloth, titles and spine gilt with orange endpapers. A real beauty for Cezanne fans, this rare book contains 58 full-page colour reproductions and over 900 black and white reproductions. £175, available from Peter Harrington Rare Books,
Art Kane, £60
It is surprising, considering the breadth of Art Kane’s career, that this book offers the first comprehensive collection of his photography. Better late than never, and it doesn’t disappoint, with work spanning all genres of his eclectic oeuvre, from fashion to travel and of course, his nudes. Don’t miss his star-studded portraits of the Rolling Stones, The Who, Janis Joplin and Bob Dylan, among countless others. £60;
Horst – Photographer of Style, £35
If you missed the 2014 V&A headline show, browse from the comfort of your own home with this amazing book. Horst P. Horst is best known as one of Vogue’s most prolific and influential contributors, photographing the century’s most important fashions and the people who wore them. But also in the collection, and not to be underestimated, are his little-known travel photographs, which are testament to his ability to capture exquisite beauty in almost anything. £35;
An Empathetic Lens, £44.50
Robert Doisneau’s sensitive eye for human experience gave him the unique ability capture and perfectly frame the most fleeting of profound moments. In this volume we are presented with a mammoth 400 of them, with many quotations from the photographer thrown in. £44.50;
Zadok Ben David: Human Nature, £45
This is the first comprehensive monograph of Zadok Ben-David’s work, spanning 20 years and including four major installations, outdoor works from one of the world’s most respected contemporary sculptors. With a foreword by Richard Cork and essays by Felicity Fenner, Yael Guilat, John McDonald and Fumio Nanjo. From ‘Evolution and Theory’ (1995), to the psychological installation‘Blackfield’ (2007), with thousands of flowers, there’s plenty to fascinate fans in this beautiful book.
Marlene Dumas: The Image as Burden, £19.99
The real beauty of Marlene Dumas’ painting is in the physicality of human touch present in them, which cannot possibly be done justice on a screen, or on a page for that matter. The book is far from the real deal, but it is a good souvenir to take away from her exhibition at the Tate Modern, which runs from 5 February to 10 May 2015. £19.99;
Rothko: The Colour Field Paintings, £21
This collection of Rothko’s profound abstract expressionism presents fifty large-scale artworks from the American master’s colour field period (1949–1970). The iconic images appear alongside essays by Rothko’s son, Christopher Rothko, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art curator of painting and sculpture Janet Bishop. The perfect present for a life-long fan or someone ready to discover Rothko’s art for the first time.
Turner’s Sketchbooks, £19.99
If you aren’t already Turner-ed out after watching Mr. Turner and visiting the huge exhibition of his late works at the Tate Britain, this is a great introduction to the artist’s work. Compiled by Ian Warrell, one of the world’s leading experts on Turner, the book explores the themes and sketches that formed the foundations of his showstoppers. £19.99;
And the perfect gift for newbies…
The Short Story of Art by Susie Hodge, £12.99
Exploring 50 key artworks, this pocket guide is the ultimate beginner’s guide to art, explaining the key movements, themes and techniques. A must-have for any new art enthusiast or the perfect present for a loved one. £12.99,
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