you’re reading

The Best Art Books of All Time

Culture /

The Best Art Books of All Time

Perfect for the coffee table...


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.

The Best Art Books Ever

1. 100 Painters of Tomorrow

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;


2. Billy Name – The Silver Age

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;


3. The Deftness of Da Vinci

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;


4. Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (in That Order) by Bridget Quinn and illustrated by Lisa Congdon

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

Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History

5. The Pre-Raphaelite Tragedy by William Gaunt

Artist, writer and art historian William Gaunt had a passion for Victorian art, and his biography of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood is a fine account of the period. With colour images of 14 of the most significant pieces of Pre-Raphaelite art, as well as countless black and white integrated images and photographs of the artists and their circle, this is a really collectible book for fans of the period. Delve into the lives of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris to name but a few… The Folio Society edition 2017, £39.95

Books to Read Before You Die

The Pre-Raphaelite Tragedy by William Gaunt


6. The Paintings of Paul Cezanne, John Rewald

Published: London Thames and Hudson, 1996

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,

The Paintings of Paul Cezanne, John Rewald

7. Art Kane

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;


8. Horst – Photographer of Style

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;

Best Fashion Coffee Table Books


9. An Empathetic Lens

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;


10. Marlene Dumas: The Image as Burden

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;


11. Turner’s Sketchbooks

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;

Turners Sketchbooks

And the perfect gift for newbies… 

The Short Story of Art, by Susie Hodge

Exploring 50 key artworks, this pocket guide is the ultimate beginners 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,

The Short Story of Art Cover

READ MORE: How To Collect Art / Best New Children’s Books 

Topics: 10 Of The Best / Art / Books /

Sign up to our Newsletter