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The 10 best art-related books of the summer: From fine art catalogs to captivating novels

One of the best things about summer is having the time off to read books. Either if you are traveling or staying home, there are plenty of captivating summer finds to dive into. We’ve put together a list of the best art-related books that will keep you entertained and informed.

Great Women Painters, by Alison M. Gingeras
Source: phaidon.com

1. Great Women Painters, by Alison M. Gingeras

A groundbreaking book featuring over 300 women painters that reveals a richer and more varied story of painting. It includes both well-known women painters from history as well as today’s most exciting rising stars. If you have ever wondered why have there been no great women artists? Then Linda Nochlin has the answer; there were great women artists, they had just all too often been denied opportunities for greatness. Inspired by Nochlins text, the book explores the work of 300 artists born in 60 countries from the 16th to 21st centuries, framed as an A-Z of the key female players in painting history. Among those featured include Vanessa Bell, Etel Adnan, Rana Begum, Cecily Brown, Judy Chicago, Elaine de Kooning, Genieve Figgis, Katharina Grosse, Carmen Herrera, Luchita Hurtado, Shirazeh Houshiary, and Julie Mehretu.

Art in the After Culture: Capitalist Crisis and Cultural Strategy, by Ben Davis
Source: bookshop.org

2. Art in the After Culture: Capitalist Crisis and Cultural Strategy, by Ben Davis

In these incisive essays, art critic Ben Davis makes sense of our culture, one whose forms and functions are being radically reshaped by cataclysmic events. Despite the acute global crises of our times—climate change, the pandemic, unfettered capitalism – he holds out hope that reckoning with the new realities of art, technology, activism, and the media, can help us weather the superstorms of the future.

The Kitchen Studio: Culinary Creations, by Artists
Source: goodreads.com

3. The Kitchen Studio: Culinary Creations, by Artists

Creativity does not stop at the studio door; for many, it extends to the kitchen. This is the subject of Phaidon’s The Kitchen Studio: Culinary Creations by Artists, in which 70 leading contemporary artists present 100 recipes, illustrated with personal photographs, collages, paintings, sketches, and illustrations.

Portrait of an Unknown Lady, by Maria Gainza
Source: goodreads.com

4. Portrait of an Unknown Lady, by Maria Gainza

Combining art forgery and forgotten female artists, this newly translated tale stars a washed-up art critic. The story weaves together tales of three women in a dreamlike narrative that spans decades.“The stuff of my tale has slipped through my fingers,” the narrator warns at the beginning.

Art and Crime: The Fight Against Looters, Forgers, and Fraudsters in the High-Stakes Art World, by Stefan Koldehoff and Tobias Timm
Source: sevenstories.com

5. Art and Crime: The Fight Against Looters, Forgers, and Fraudsters in the High-Stakes Art World, by Stefan Koldehoff and Tobias Timm

A thrilling and unique look at true crime in the billion-dollar art world. The stories of high-stakes, brazen art crimes told by art experts Stefan Koldehoff and Tobias Timm are by turns thrilling, disturbing, and unbelievable. The authors provide a well-founded analysis of what needs to change in the art market and at museums. This topical book even includes a chapter about Donald Trump and the art he owned.

The Lives of the Surrealists, by Desmond Morris
Source: bookshop.org

6. The Lives of the Surrealists, by Desmond Morris

Drawing on  Desmond Morris’s personal knowledge of the Surrealists, this book captures their life histories, idiosyncrasies, and often-complex love lives, vividly illustrated with images of the artists and their works. Shocking, witty, and always entertaining.

Pure Colour: A Novel, by Sheila Heti
Source: sheilaheiti.com

7. Pure Colour: A Novel, by Sheila Heti

An aspiring art critic turns into a leaf while grappling with the loss of her father and unrequited love in this metaphysical parable about the creation of the universe as well as the creation of art. If you’re thinking a lot about the meaning of life lately and trying to make sense of everything, Pure Colour has philosophical heft, but lighter.

Yield: The Journal of An Artist, by Anne Truitt
Source: annetruitt.org

8. Yield: The Journal of An Artist, by Anne Truitt

Celebrating Anne Truitt’s centenary, this book serves as the fourth and final volume in her remarkable series of journals. For half a decade after that, she continued the task, and through her writings, honesty shines as she considers her place in the world and grapples with the various intellectual, practical, emotional, and spiritual issues of life.

Napoleon’s Plunder and the Theft of Veronese’s Feast (2021, Thames & Hudson), by Cynthia Saltzman
Source: cynthiasaltzman.com

9. Napoleon’s Plunder and the Theft of Veronese’s Feast (2021, Thames & Hudson), by Cynthia Saltzman

A superbly well-written account of Napoleon’s plundering of European art, all for the good of the Enlightenment. This book mixes the life of Napoleon, with art history, and asks fascinating questions about provenance, restitution, and the life meaning of paintings.

What Artists Wear, by Charlie Porter
Source: penguin.co.nz

10. What Artists Wear (2021, Penguin), by Charlie Porter

Every day is a performance, and clothes are another tool in an artist’s arsenal useful in enacting and completing the scene. With an artist’s choice of clothes, you can deduce, to some extent, their personality. In the book, Porter captures the various ‘archetypes’ associated with artists.

Don’t let the summer end without reading some of these fantastic finds.

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