I love books. Especially art books. I have bookshelves full of my favorites. I collect books and most recently zines. I am actually not a great reader though. I love the power that books hold, but I don’t have the patience to sit down and read a book. I used to. Now I use them for research and the smell. Don’t you just love the smell of new (and old) books?
If I want to ‘read’ a book, I try to find an audio book that I can listen to in the car. I highly recommend this especially when sitting in traffic or on long road trips. Time seems to fly when you are immersed in listening to books. I am always curious what the newest art books are. What are artists, curators, art writers reading? What are the important books that will help me keep up with the goings on of the art world? What books have influenced an artist’s practice? I decided to ask the art world this very question.
I used the awesome Facebook hivemind to ask the art world to name an art book that has influenced their practice. The answers are below. Be ready to add to your library! I already did!
(Oh yea, I think I need to read Art and Fear again. You guys convinced me!)
Art and Fear, Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking. David Bayles and Ted Orland
Mary Kelly’s Imaging Desire. Her writing regarding feminism, conceptual art, and intersectional discourse is very foundational to how I view, and in turn write about art.
Recent Forgeries. Viggo Mortensen
The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art. Roger Kimball
Infinite regres.s Marcel Duchamp
Seeing is forgetting. Robert Irwin
What is art? Joseph Beuys
How to get hung Molly Barnes
letters to a young artist. Anna Deveare Smith
Secret Exhibition: looking at six California artists. Rebecca Solnit.
The Logical Conclusions catalog
Can the Subaltern Speak? Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
ART AND FEAR, David Bayles and Ted Orland
THE ART SPIRIT, Robert Henri
The Art of Color. Johannes Itten
Betty Ai Tureaud
Art of the Sixties. 4th Revised Edition. Wallraf-Richartz Museum
Through the Flower, Judy Chicago. It changed everything!
I’m not trying to be funny or clever here. Draw 50 dinosaurs taught me at an early age to look at basic shapes and pull recognizable imagery from them. Even now when I work, I make an abstract background and pull the imagery from the chaos with no sketching. But if this isn’t what you are looking for and are thinking more academic then yeah Weschler, Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees.
John Bergers Ways of Seeing …. I’m such an old fart, or is it that I haven’t read a blasted thing since school.
In the Making. Linda Weintraub
Art and Fear. David Bayles and Ted Orland
I really liked Styles, schools and movements by Amy Dempsey
Vision in Motion. L. Maholy-Nagy. 1969. Paul Theobald and Company publishers. For me, an attitude toward life and way of thinking. I purchased the book in 1982 from the Franz Bader bookstore/gallery in D.C. I still have the receipt tucked into the pages. It cost $19.61 with tax. I also purchased BAUHAUS by MIT press at age 16 for $50. I saved and saved for that one. Art books were my bibles Still are. Just strolled over to my library: how could I forget Man and His Symbols by Carl G. Jung, The Art Spirit by Robert Henri and Jean Cocteau and the French Scene. Time to revisit these old friends.
Air Guitar Dave Hickyey.
Cadillac Desert Marc Reisner.
Antony Gormley. Texts by Richard Calvocoressi and Oystein Hjort
Art and Otherness, Thomas McEvilley
Christy Roberts Berkowitz
The Aesthetics of Risk. Jane Blocker, Doublas Crimp, Rachel Greene, Richard Shiff. John Welchman
Words Without Pictures. Charlotte Cotton and Alex Klein
Failure. Lisa Le Feuvre
Letters to a Young Artist. Peter Nesbett, Sarah Andress and Shelly Bancroft
Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists’ Writings (California Studies in the History of Art). Kristine Stiles and Peter Selz.
101 Things to Learn in Art School. Kit White. Great book!
Clare Gwinn Holzer
Understanding Comics. Scott McCloud. Don’t let the subject matter keep you from one of the most insightful books on art and art history that I’ve ever read.
The Judgement of Paris by Ross King. From this book I learned It is not who is most popular in their time who ultimately ends up at the Met. It is the artist who follows their heart into unknown territories, who does the art that needs to be done, not the art that has already been done. This blurb from Amazon says it all: “If there were two men who were absolutely central to artistic life in France in the second half of the nineteenth century, they were Edouard Manet and Ernest Meissonier. While the former has been labelled the “Father of Impressionism” and is today a household name, the latter has sunk into obscurity.”
The blurring of life and art Allan Kaprow
Pierre et Gilles. Pierre Commoy and Gilles Blanchard
Darren Francis McManus
Flatland. Edwin Abbott
Inside the White Cube by Brian O’Doherty. Brilliant analysis of the evolution of the contemporary gallery space, and Pictures of Nothing: Abstract Art Since Pollock by Kirk Varnedoe. Varnedoe was one of the best minds to ever tackle explaining the significance of abstraction.
La semaine de bonte by Max Ernst.
A Year with Swollen Appendices: Brian Eno’s Diary
Photographers of Genius, at The Getty by Weston Neuf.
Way of Seeing, John Berger and so many more.
On the Art of Fixing a Shadow. The Art Institute of Chicago
The Shock of The New by. Robert Hughes
Drawing on the right side of the brain. Betty Edwards.
Drawing on the artist within. Betty Edwards.
Letters to a young poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke
I’d have to say John Berger’s Ways of Seeing made a major impact on me as a grad student and I still use concepts in my pedagogical practice.
Erin E. Adams
In praise of shadows. Junichiro Tanizaki
Fred D Solomon
The Philosophy of Art by Andy Warhol
Parallel Visions: Modern Artists and Outsider Art – Tuckman & Eliel. And one other I read often – recently discovered and published (2006) a mid-century perspective on art from Rothko, The Artist’s Reality: Philosophies of Art. Nice review here – https://www.brainpickings.org/…/the-artists-reality…/
Elements of Color, Iten
Erotomechanics by H.R. Ginger.
Farbenlehre, Goethe. I know that sounds “bookish” but it’s really a pleasure to read and inspired me to go outside really look at things afresh. And anything by Nabokov. It’s like he reads my mind visually. and Ovid’s Metamorphoses…ok, that’s enough. AND, A room of One’s Own essay by Virginia Woolf–every artist should read it. and Theo Van Doesberg’s treatise on Neoplasticism.
Accelerating on the Curves the Artist’s Roadmap to Success. Katharine T. Carter & Associates.
I have been more influenced by writers. But if you just substitute the word art for writing, artist for writer, it’s perfect. Writing Brave and Free by Ted Kooser, Zen of Writing by Ray Bradbury, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
100 Views of Edo, Hiroshige, blew my mind at about 10 years old and totally influenced how I look at landscapes, since. No question it influenced me more than any other art book.
The Acme Novelty Date Book
Jennifer Faist Hill
Rather than books about art, I’ve been more influenced by philosophy and cultural critiques of aesthetics, as beauty and visual pleasure, seduction and desire, are prime interests of mine. I read Immanuel Kant’s Analytic of the Beautiful from the Critique of Judgement and Dave Hickey’s The Invisible Dragon: Four Essays on Beauty, among others, right before starting grad school, and right when I was making a shift from figure painting to monochrome patterns. But allowing sentiment, ornament and decoration filter into the cool, clean, minimalist paintings I was making stemmed from the influence of feminist viewpoints such as Laura Mulvey’s Visual and Other Pleasures and Rosalind Krauss’ The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths.
Jennifer Susan Jones
Art Is a Way of Knowing by Pat B. Allen!!
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, David Bayles and Ted Orland
John Marcella Grant
Basquiat by Phoebe Hoban
Caravaggio: The Complete Works
How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way… it’s no joke, a classic for a reason… steeped in the tradition of working illustrators, fashion designers, and art theory.
Julia Maria Sinelnikova
Kohei Nawa monograph
Neuromancer / Sprawl trilogy
No More Secondhand Art
Kim Kimbro Taylor
Hold Still, by Sally Mann. An utterly fascinating memoir. Her artistic process, struggles and the repercussions of following her muse wherever it leads her are described in the most harrowing way. It goes deep. REAL DEEP.
Agnes Martin’s Writings
The Art of Jan van Eyck
Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of The Thing One Sees. Robert Irwin
The Truth About Art by Patrick Doorly
Leonard D Greco Jr
D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, a book ostensibly for children but it so enraptured me as a boy, with its visual poetry and evocative pros, that I knew I had to make my own mythology.
Numbers in the dark by italo calvino
if you want to write by brenda ueland.
The Instant It Happened, AP photographs edited by Hal Buell, Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
I, Juan de Pareja. De Trevino, Elizabeth Borton
Book of Thoth. Aleister Crowley and The Master Therion
Memoirs of Madame Vigée LeBrun. Elisabeth-Louise Vigee-Lebrun, Lionel Strachey
Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby. Geoffrey Wolff
Process and Perception” by Jerry Uelsmann.
Easy! THE ART SPIRIT by Robert Henri
Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972 … Lucy Lippard.
Pat Steir paintings by Pat Steir
Francesco Clemente pastels. Francesco Clemente
John Berger, Ways of seeing.
3 x Abstraction: New Methods of Drawing by Emma Kunz, Hilma af Klint, and Agnes Martin. Catalogue. The Drawing Center. NY
Mystic Persian Poetry Books
Landscapes John Berger on Art. John Berger and Tom Overton (my current read)
The Painted Word by Tom Wolfe. An easy read, it still inspires.
Jazz, Bold & Buddhisme by Torben Ulrich
70’s Warhol Factory memoir by the then editor of Interview Magazine. Totally a guilty pleasure.
Renaissance Rivals by Rona Goffen,
Happy Little Accidents by Bob Ross
The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas
Truisms by Jenny Holzer
History of Beauty by Umberto Eco
Seeing Is Forgetting the Name Of The Thing One Sees. Lawrence Weschler
Interaction of Color by Josef Albers
After the End of Art: Contemporary Art and the Pale of History. Arthur Danto
Artist as Cultural Producer. Sharon Louden
Out of This Century” Confessions of an Art Addict Peggy Guggenheim
Silence, by John Cage.
Interviews with Francis Bacon by David Sylvester
The Grammar of Ornament by Owen Jones.
Ways of Seeing by John Berger
Beyond the Brillo Box, Arthur Danto
Leap Before You Look, Black Mountain College
The Lost Painting. Jonathan Harr
Object of Beauty. Steve Martin
Agnes Martin- Writings
Sally Brown Deskins
Ways of seeing, John Berger
Sammy Jean Wilson
The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again). He reminds me that there are so many fleeting fancies in our world, but it is our privilege as artists to observe the moments and translate them as we will. I believe that he was quite a dignified man with the supreme power of observation.
Women who run with the wolves, Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype. Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Simulacra and Simulation (The Body, In Theory: Histories of Cultural Materialism). John Baudrillard
Drawing Book of Animals. Ed Emberley
SHOCK OF THE NEW by Robert Hughes – There was a BBC series produced by the same name- I read this book as part of my design school history of art program at London Met back in the 80’s and it stuck with me
The Language of the Goddess, Marija Gimbutas
Shana Nys Dambrot
The Shape of a Pocket by John Berger.
Chromophobia by David Batchelor
Skye Amber Sweet
Art of Modern Rock. Influenced my art practice because I was able to see a variety of opposite attractions from art techniques to styles introducing me to the freedom of never over thinking and painting from my heart.
Secret Knowledge by David Hockney – I started using projection, Neoclassicism David Irwin published by Phaidon a few years back – I have done a few pieces based on the concepts covered.
Sacre Bleu: A Comedy D’Art – I am now obsessed with pigments and I even had to buy a real lapis lazuli paint.
Blue by Michel Pastoureau – furthered my obsession with the same pigment.
Beauty by Roger Scruton – don’t always agree with him but he makes a sloppy argument against contemporary views on aesthetics supported by deconstructionism that I happen to agree with.
On the Spiritual in Art by Wassily Kandinsky
Persist. Peter Clothier
Daily Rituals/ How Artist Work by Mason Currey
I keep hearing passages of Debords Society of the Spectacle more and more now… Maybe it has to do with, “that reality show guy we have as a president now”, direct quote from tweeker in Tujunga Ralphs at 11 pm. If the tweekers are keeping tabs on the political state than you know our reality is twisting in on itself. Also, Herbert Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media; The Extensions of Man.
A must have is HISTORY OF MODERN ART, H. H. Arnason and Elizabeth C. Mansfield
Another must-have is one of the most revered art books, THE STORY OF ART by E.H. Gombrich, published by Phaidon.
The Medium is the Message by Marshall McLuhan.
Ways of Seeing by John Berger
THE ART SPIRIT by Robert Henri
The Philosophical Disenfranchisement of Art. Arthur Danto
Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China. The book is the catalogue of the exhibition on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY,
Chromophobia. David Batchelor