But if you’re staring at bestseller lists and feeling overwhelmed, we’re here to help. We’ve hand-picked ten unique, creative, and inspiring reads for designs you might not have thought of. From drawing to photography, they each take a deep dive into their own topic to help educate, inform, and entertain you in equal measure.
You may find some of these addresses at your local retailer. But if this is not the case, then do not worry: you do not have to feed the Amazon monster. We have included links to Bookshop.org, which are important to financially support independent local libraries. (Note: We do not generate any affiliate revenue on these links ourselves: we are fully interested in supporting creative associates.)
The relationship between art and fashion has always been turbulent and unpredictable. On the other hand, there is a long-standing stereotype of artists and bohemians dressed in featureless black. But others saw clothes as tools of expression and as paintings to show who they really were. This unique and extensive book celebrates the latter in all its glory.
Fashion expert Charlie Porter takes us on a journey of discovery, from Yves Klein’s spotless tailoring to Yayoi Kusama and Cindy Sherman’s sparkling couture. Andy Warhol’s signature jeans for Charlotte Brougher casual wear. His trained eye captures relevant details, helping us understand featured artists on a deeper level and giving us ideas and inspiration for dressing our clothes more creatively.
Philip Guston (1913-1980) was a Canadian American painter, printmaker, muralist, and painter who is now considered one of the most important American painters of the 20th century. If you haven’t heard of it before, this is a great introduction; If you have, this book will deepen your knowledge and understanding.
Philip Guston, a founding figure in the mid-century New York School movement, helped pioneer a modified form of representational art known as neo-expressionism. This expertly curated selection of his writings, talks, and interviews brings together the artist’s most enduring reflections on iconography, abstraction, metaphysics, mysticism, and the nature of painting and drawing.
Publishing and mainstream media have not always done a great job of representing the contribution of black creatives to the British art scene. This book aims to correct the balance and tell a compelling story.
From the 1950s onwards, some of these artists, with backgrounds in Africa, the Caribbean, and South Asia, were seen as noteworthy and deserving practitioners. There were no others, so, on occasion, they got together and set up their own exhibitions or created their own exhibition spaces.
From the pioneering generation of artists like Ronald Moody, Aubrey Williams, and Frank Bowling, author Eddie Chambers candidly discusses the issues and evolution of cascading waves, all the way to contemporary names like Steve McQueen, Chris Ofili, and Winka Schonebar. Everything has been meticulously researched, comprehensive, and endlessly brilliant.
Assuming that gender nonconformity was a recent development, the story of an artist born in the Victorian era will quickly deny you that idea. Financially independent and relatively free from social norms, Hannah Gluckstein (1895-1978), financially independent and relatively free from social norms, rejected any name or gender prefix such as Miss or Mr and used the names Gluck, Peter and Hig.
A member of the Lamorna artists’ colony near Penzance, Gluck’s relationships with several women included one with Nesta Obermer, and their joint self-image is seen as an iconic gay statement.
A recent reappraisal of Glock’s work is richly illustrated. It showcases everything from the powerful series of self-portraits that play with mores of masculinity and femininity to still life, landscapes, portraits and portraits of famous artists. A major contribution to both gender studies and the understanding of a complex and important modern painter, cannot be a timely read.
Born in 1957, Raymond Pettibone is an American artist who became prominent on the Southern California punk rock scene in the early 1980s, creating posters and albums primarily for groups on SST Records. He has since become widely known in the world of fine art for his innovative use of American icons and his satirical criticism of American culture.
In 1985, he started a series called Surfers, which revisits the California surf culture of his childhood. These artworks typically feature a lone surfer who silently carves a line of beauty along a large wave. This post tracks a selection of 100 surfers from the series, from smaller monochrome works on paper to large-format color palettes.
This series is about more than just a specific sport. It goes deeper than that, forcing us as human beings to confront our smallness and vulnerability in the reality of the force of nature. Pettibone’s lyrical writings on these images, which refer to his own philosophies, are equally engaging and challenging.
Art has historically been a male realm, but this dominance has never been complete. Ninth Street Women is a thriller about five women who dared to break into abstract painting in the twentieth century.
Among them were Lee Krasner and Elaine de Kooning, whose amazing talent at times overshadowed their husbands, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. There was also Grace Hartigan, who gave up her life as a New Jersey homemaker and mother to become one of the most daring painters of her generation; Joan Mitchell, who escaped from an emotionally ruined childhood to make great portraits and visionary; Helen Frankenthaler, the beautiful daughter of a prominent family in New York has chosen a challenging path.
Author Mary Gabriel tells the fascinating and inspiring story of how these women moved against the tide, tearing apart contemporary social law, finding liberation through art, and helping to reshape the culture of post-war America.
Susan Sontag (1933-2004) was an American writer, philosopher, and political activist best known for her articles on modern culture and criticism of the Vietnam War. Although she was not a professional photographer, her groundbreaking critique of photography, first published in 1977, is required reading for anyone interested in the subject.
Featuring six articles originally published in the New York Review of Books, On Photography addresses how we use images to create a sense of reality and power in our lives. Although times have changed, her analysis remains strikingly perceptive and not at all dated.
For centuries, artists have narrated and recounted the complex histories of the African diaspora. The epic book allows you to explore this enduring legacy by bringing together a selection of more than 400 works and documents by more than 200 artists from the 16th to the 21st centuries. These include oils, watercolors, drawings, prints, photographs, mixed media, textiles, textile art, sculpture, performance pieces, and installations.
These evocative and often harrowing artworks are organized into eight themes: maps and footnotes; daily life liberties; Rituals and rhythms. Routes and Trances. photo. Afro-Atlantic Modernism; resistance and activity. It is helpful for scholarly articles to put everything in context, from various approaches to imagery to an examination of historical concepts of enslavement and emancipation.
Ai Weiwei is a Chinese artist whose father, poet Ai Qing, was denounced and sent to a labor camp when he was one year old. As an adult, Weiwei was openly critical of his government and spent time in prison for his activism. In this book, he tells the epic story of China over the past 100 years through the story of his life and that of his father.
The author recounts his childhood in exile, his move to America as a young man and his eventual return home, his rise from unknown to star in the art world and international human rights activist, and how his work has been shaped by living under a totalitarian regime.
As the subtitle says, this is “a story of two lives, one nation, and a century of art under tyranny.” Anyone interested in what lies behind the world’s largest economy will find this compelling and exciting.
Martin Gifford is an art critic best known for his work on The Telegraph and The Spectator. In the course of his work, he has traveled the world to see artwork and meet artists. This book recounts some of these journeys, often to inaccessible places and involving frustrations and complications, but also brings serendipitous encounters and outcomes.
His entertaining and insightful novel takes us to Brancusi’s endless column in Romania, prehistoric cave art in France, the Naoshima Museum island in Japan, the Judd Foundation in Marfa, Texas, and Ronnie Horne’s work in Iceland. We also savored the chance to meet artists such as Robert Rauschenberg in New York, Marina Abramovich in Venice, Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris, and a trip to Beijing with Gilbert and Georges.
Along the way, the author weaves a lot of ideas about travel, art, and humanity in general. Anyone who is tired of holidays and looking for new adventure ideas will find plenty of inspiration here.