Books

The best art books to dive into this summer—as recommended by artists

Whether you are lying on a beach or next to a paddling pool, sit back and let your mind soak up these inspiring reads

Compiled by Gareth Harris and José da Silva
Booksreview

Up close and personal with 600 years of the doges

New book explores the grandest monuments to the leaders of Venice, seductively photographed, and with their life histories

Booksreview

Much more to know than Van Gogh: finally a book in English that surveys 19th-century Dutch art

Volume unveils many overlooked artists and highlights the international reach of painters from the Netherlands

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Extract | William Blake’s famous flop of an exhibition and the critic who described him as ‘an unfortunate lunatic’

A new book by John Higgs paints a picture of the mixed reviews that the 18th-century artist received and touches upon the “Holy Grail of his lost works”

Booksreview

Dante’s dazzle: was the ineffable light described in the Divine Comedy the inspiration for Italian Renaissance and Baroque paintings of Heaven?

Art historian Martin Kemp turns his focus onto the Italian author's interest in the failure of sight when confronted with Empyrean splendours

Booksreview

Saints and stories: vast book reveals the history of the Renaissance altarpiece

This in-depth survey suggests that the development of Italian church altarpieces can be understood through the themes of "icon" and "narrative"

Booksreview

Grand mural projects: a vital chapter in British art history

In her book, Lydia Hamlett unpacks the literary, cultural and political significance of “the animated wall”

Booksnews

Bronte childhood portraits at stake as UK museums and libraries race to save literary treasures

Sotheby’s has postponed auction of extraordinary Honresfield Library as a consortium seeks £15 million to buy it

Booksreview

Magnificence of mosques and their contents revealed in book created by 'dream team' of Saudi and Egyptian museums

Exploration of the Islamic building through its decorations and objects fills a gap in the field

An expert’s guide to Nam June Paik: five must-read books on the Korean-American artist

All you ever wanted to know about Paik, from a “deep dive” into a single work to the best biography—selected by the curators Rudolf Frieling and Andrea Nitsche-Krupp

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In Pictures | Barkley L. Hendricks unseen photographs gathered in new publication

The US artist’s images are joined by an extract from the book looking at how aspects of his painting and photography overlapped

Book Clubinterview

Q&A | What artists wear and why it matters

A new book by the fashion critic Charlie Porter explores how what artists choose to wear can tell us about the multiple roles of clothing in society

Booksreview

A masterclass in activism: What artists today can learn from ACT UP’s response to the Aids crisis

A new book by Sarah Schulman describes how the radically democratic and fast acting group grabbed the public’s attention and held politicians and institutions accountable

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In Pictures | Kara Walker's private archive of works on paper published in new book

The publication is released ahead of an exhibition of the US artist's works at the Kunstmuseum Basel this summer

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In Pictures | Gio Ponti’s greatest designs, from chairs to churches

A new book looks at the life and work of the Italian architect and designer, famed for his Pirelli Tower and Superleggera chairs

An expert’s guide to Barbara Hepworth: five must-read books on the British sculptor

All you ever wanted to know about Hepworth, from a pictorial autobiography to a collection of her poems, notes and transcripts—selected by the curator and biographer Eleanor Clayton

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Sackler family: three takeaways from a new book about the dynasty’s rise and fall

The publication claims Nan Goldin may have been tailed by investigators and reveals how the Met lost out to the Smithsonian thanks to a lack of flattery from its director

Book Clubinterview

Q&A | How a new John Craxton biography began its life in a Soho bar following a funeral

The writer Ian Collins says that after his chance meeting with the British artist his “life changed forever”

David Hockney follows in Van Gogh’s footsteps, painting fleeting spring blossom

Martin Gayford’s book pays tribute to Britain’s greatest living artist before an exhibition at London’s Royal Academy

a blog by Martin Bailey
Book Clubfeature

Will the real Isabel Rawsthorne please stand up?

A new biography by Carol Jacobi explores the artist’s role in bringing the Paris scene to London and considers how frequent name changes and reinventions muddied her legacy

Book Clubinterview

Q&A | Guy Kennaway on how his comic novel was inspired by the art world taking itself too seriously

The Accidental Collector features a wealthy heiress, jet-setting dealers and a Swiss-owned mega gallery in Somerset… sound familiar?

An expert’s guide to David Hockney: five must-read books on the British artist

All you ever wanted to know about Hockney, from the best biography to the artist's “radical” investigations into art history—selected by the critic (and longtime friend) Martin Gayford

Book Clubfeature

Extract | The day Anthony van Dyck received ‘wise advice from the words of a blind woman’—the 17th-century artist Sofonisba Anguissola

New book by Jennifer Higgie gives astute insights into brilliant women artists shut out of art history