Top 10 Best Books On Art History

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Art history, like history in general, is subject to frequent revisions and reappraisals. Art history is a changeable science, but comprehending art advances is ... read more...

  1. Jennifer Dasal is the curator of modern and contemporary art at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, North Carolina. She also hosts the independent podcast ArtCurious, which she launched in 2016 and has been named one of the best podcasts by O, The Oprah Magazine, and PC Magazine. She has a master's degree in art history from the University of Notre Dame and a bachelor's degree in art history from the University of California, Davis. She also earned a PhD in art history from Pennsylvania State University.

    We're all familiar with Claude Monet's work, thanks to omnipresent copies of his water lilies on umbrellas, handbags, scarves, and dorm-room posters. But did you know that Monet and his contemporaries were trailblazing rebels whose creations were initially judged horrifyingly ugly and vulgar? And, while you're surely familiar with the story of Vincent van Gogh's suicide, you may be unaware that there's quite solid evidence that the artist wasn't died by his own hand, but was instead unintentionally slain—or possibly murdered. How about Caroline Kennedy's moldy birthday cake with a collection of toenail clippings as one of Andy Warhol's most enduring legacies?

    ArtCurious is a vibrant look into the history of art, showcasing some of the oddest, funniest, and most fascinating stories behind the world's greatest artists and masterpieces. ArtCurious takes an interesting look at why art history is, and continues to be, a captivating and relevant world to explore through these and other incredible, strange, and wonderful tales.

    Author: Jennifer Dasal

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    Ratings: 4.5 out of 5 stars (from 236 reviews)

    Best Sellers Rank: #126 in Kindle Store

    #1 in History Humor (Books)

    #1 in Arts & Photography (Kindle Store)

    #1 in History Humor (Kindle Store)

  2. Daniele Bott is a fashion and beauty journalist who has contributed to Vogue and other publications. Chanel: Collections & Creations is her book.

    Chanel has always been the most attractive of brands due to its combination of tradition, uniqueness, and elegance. The House of Chanel opens its hidden archives here, presenting a galaxy of beautiful patterns created by Coco Chanel beginning in the 1920s and now reimagined as motifs for fresh new clothes, accessories, and beauty products.

    Among the best books on art history, Chanel: Collections and Creations explores five central themes - the suit, the camellia, jewelry, fragrances and make-up, and the little black dress - and follows the threads from past to present to show how these key items have been rediscovered and reinvented by fashion designers following in the footsteps of their illustrious predecessors. This visual voyage is enriched by previously unseen archive photographs and original sketches by Karl Lagerfeld, as well as stunning shots by some of fashion photography's finest names.

    Dazzling garments, intricate accessories, stunning models, and timeless design leave no doubt about the brand's ongoing reputation and encapsulate all that has come to symbolize Chanel's enchantment.

    Author: Daniele Bott

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    Ratings: 4.9 out of 5 stars (from 16496 reviews)

    Best Sellers Rank: #598 in Books

    #1 in Fashion Design

    #1 in Fashion History

    #1 in Fashion Photography (Books)

    #2 in Art History (Books)
  3. Top 3

    Maus I

    Art Spiegelman is a world-renowned comic artist best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning Holocaust graphic novel, Maus.

    The book is the best-selling first installment in the graphic novel, which has been called "the most poignant and successful narrative ever done about the Holocaust" (Wall Street Journal) and "the first masterpiece in comic book history" (ComicsNow) (The New Yorker)

    Maus, widely regarded as the finest graphic novel ever written, chronicles the author's father's terrifying experiences during the Holocaust, with Jews shown as wide-eyed mice and Nazis as menacing cats.

    Maus is a frightening story within a story, weaving the author's depiction of his troubled connection with his aging father into an incredible recounting of one of history's most horrible disasters. It's a remarkable survival story and a disarming look at the aftermath of trauma.

    Maus is a novel that you cannot put down, not even to sleep. You are moved when two of the mice speak of love, and you cry when they suffer. You are slowly dragged into the delicate and captivating rhythm of an old Eastern European family's language as you progress through this short narrative of suffering, humor, and life's daily struggles, and when you end Maus, you are unhappy to have left that enchanting world.

    Author: Art Spiegelman

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    Ratings: 4.7 out of 5 stars (from 4026 reviews)

    Best Sellers Rank: #1,038 in Books

    #1 in Military History Pictorials

    #2 in WWII Biographies

    #2 in Literary Graphic Novels (Books)
  4. Eleanor Nairne is the Barbican Art Gallery's curator. She has contributed to a number of critically lauded exhibitions and publications, including Basquiat: Boom for Real (2017) and Imran Qureshi: Where the Shadows are so Deep (2017). (2016). Prior to joining the Barbican, she was curator of Tate's Artangel Collection. She is a regular catalogue essayist, frieze writer, and former Jerwood Writer in Residence.

    Hans Werner Holzwarth is a modern art and photography book designer and editor. Collector's Editions by Jeff Koons, Christopher Wool, Albert Oehlen, Ai Weiwei, and David Hockney SUMO A Bigger Book are among his TASCHEN products, as are monographs such as the XXL-sized Jean-Michel Basquiat.

    Jean-Michel Basquiat's legend is as powerful as ever. The artist, who became synonymous with 1980s New York, first debuted in the late 1970s under the moniker SAMO, spraying caustic comments and fragmented poems across the city's walls. He was a part of a burgeoning underground community of visual arts and graffiti, hip hop, post-punk, and DIY cinema that intersected in a dynamic art world. Basquiat quickly established himself as a painter with a distinct personal voice, exhibiting in galleries all over the world.

    Basquiat's expressive technique was centered on raw figures with words and phrases interwoven. When asked about his subject matter, Basquiat replied, "royalty, heroism, and the streets." His work is influenced by a pantheon of superstars from jazz, boxing, and basketball, with references to ancient history and the politics of street life. In 1983, he began cooperating with Andy Warhol, the most famous of art icons, and in 1985, he was featured on the cover of The New York Times Magazine. Basquiat was one of the most accomplished artists of his generation when he died at the age of 27.

    This extraordinary glimpse into Basquiat's art, first published in a XXL edition, is now available in a compact, accessible volume in celebration of TASCHEN's 40th anniversary. It offers vivid proximity to Basquiat's intricate marks and scribbled words, with pristine reproductions of his most seminal paintings, drawings, and notebook sketches, and is further illuminated by an introduction to the artist from editor Hans Werner Holzwarth, as well as an essay on his themes and artistic development from curator and art historian Eleanor Nairne. Year-by-year chapter breaks follow the artist's life and quote from his own remarks and current reviews to provide personal history as well as historical perspective. Jean-Michel Basquiat. 40th Ed. is one of the best books on art history.

    Author: Eleanor Nairne and Hans Werner Holzwarth

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    Ratings: 4.9 out of 5 stars (from 1255 reviews)

    Best Sellers Rank: #2,966 in Books

    #1 in Individual Artist Monographs

    #2 in Arts & Photography Criticism

    #4 in Art History (Books)
  5. Kassia St. Clair is a London-based freelance journalist and author. She received a first-class honors degree in history from Bristol University in 2007 and went on to complete a master's degree at Oxford. She graduated with honors after completing her dissertation on women's masquerade clothes in the seventeenth century. Since then, she has written about design and culture for publications such as The Economist, House & Garden, Quartz, and the New Statesman.

    The odd history of seventy-five interesting tints, dyes, and hues are told in The Secret Lives of Color. These surprising stories run like a bright thread throughout history, from blonde to ginger, the brown that changed the way battles were fought to the white that protected against the plague, Picasso's blue period to the charcoal on the cave walls at Lascaux, acid yellow to kelly green, and scarlet women to imperial purple.

    Kassia St. Clair has transformed her lifelong passion with colors and where they originate from (whether Van Gogh's chrome yellow sunflowers or punk's bright pink) into a one-of-a-kind study of human civilisation in this book. The private lives of people of color convey the colorful story of our society in fashion, politics, art, and war.

    Author: Kassia St. Clair

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    Ratings: 4.7 out of 5 stars (from 3192 reviews)

    Best Sellers Rank: #4,014 in Books

    #6 in Art History (Books)

    #11 in Graphic Design Color Use

    #67 in Coloring Books for Grown-Ups
  6. Hugh Eakin, Foreign Affairs senior editor, has written on museums and the art world for The New York Review of Books, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and The New York Times.

    In January 1939, Pablo Picasso was well-known in Europe but reviled in the United States. One year later, people from all across the country were wanting to view his work. How did the divisive leader of the Paris avant-garde make his way into the heart of American culture?

    The answer begins a generation ago, when a rebel Irish American lawyer called John Quinn set out to amass the world's largest collection of Picassos. His concept of a museum to hold them disappeared with him, until it was rediscovered by Alfred H. Barr, Jr., a cultural visionary who became the director of New York's new Museum of Modern Art at the age of twenty-seven.

    Barr and Quinn's common purpose would be derailed in the years ahead by popular antipathy, the Depression, Parisian intrigues, and Picasso himself. It would take Hitler's anti-Jewish and anti-modern art campaign, as well as Barr's tense collaboration with Picasso's persecuted dealer, Paul Rosenberg, to smuggle Picasso's most important paintings out of Europe. The breakthrough exhibition Picasso: Forty Years of His Art, mounted in the shadow of war, would establish Picasso in America, define MoMA as we know it, and move the art world's focus from Paris to New York.

    Among the best books on art history, Picasso's War is the never-before-told account of how a single exhibition, a decade in the planning, forever altered American taste, saving dozens of the twentieth century's most lasting artworks from the Nazis. Hugh Eakin tells how two men and their infatuation with Picasso impacted the art world forever in a smart combination of new knowledge and compelling storytelling.

    Author: Hugh Eakin

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    Best Sellers Rank: #5,140 in Books

    #3 in Artist & Architect Biographies

    #8 in Art History (Books)

    #12 in Individual Artists (Books)
  7. Klaus Honnef taught photography theory at the Kassel Art Academy as an honorary professor. He was a co-organizer of documenta 5 and documenta 6 in Kassel, and he has curated over 500 exhibits in Germany and internationally. He is the author of several publications, including TASCHEN's Contemporary Art, Andy Warhol, and Pop Art.

    Pop Art, which peaked in the 1960s, began as a reaction against standard approaches to art and culture and expanded into a broad probe of modern society, consumer culture, the role of the artist, and the definition of an artwork.

    Pop Art drew on mass-market materials, from advertising images to comic books, from Hollywood's most recognizable faces to consumer product packaging, the latter symbolized by Andy Warhol's Campbell's soup cans, to address concerns of materialism, celebrity, and media. Pop Art not only challenged the establishment by elevating such popular, banal, and kitschy motifs, but it also used mass-production methods, minimizing the role of the human artist using mechanical techniques such as screen printing.

    Pop Art introduces the full scope and effect of a defining modernist movement, featuring artists such as Andy Warhol, Allen Jones, Ed Ruscha, Robert Indiana, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Roy Lichtenstein.

    Author: Klaus Honnef

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    Ratings: 4.8 out of 5 stars (from 528 reviews)

    Best Sellers Rank: #5,689 in Books

    #2 in Circus Performing Arts

    #3 in Arts & Photography Criticism

    #4 in Plant & Animal Photography
  8. In the early 1950s, Michael Ochs became addicted to rock and roll. In the 1960s and 1970s, Ochs ran the publicity departments at Columbia, Shelter, and ABC Records. He has also worked as a DJ, taught a rock history course at UCLA, and written for periodicals such as Rock, Melody Maker, Cashbox, and Crawdaddy. In the mid-1970s, Michael Ochs founded the Michael Ochs Archives. Currently, the archives house millions of pictures as well as over 100,000 albums and singles.

    Record covers reflect our lives and eras. They explore subjects such as love, life, death, fashion, and rebellion, just like the music on the discs. For music listeners, album covers are a reflection of a specific time in their lives. Many are works of art that have become as iconic as the music they represent, such as Andy Warhol's covers, which include the banana he made for The Velvet Underground.

    This volume of Record Covers features a selection of the best rock album covers from the 1960s to the 1990s from the vast private collection of music archivist, disc jockey, journalist, and former record-publicity executive Michael Ochs. This is a broad look at an underrated art form that is both a trip down memory lane and a study in the evolution of cover art. 1000 Record Covers is regarded as one of the best books on art history.

    Author: Michael Ochs

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    Ratings: 4.7 out of 5 stars (from 2671 reviews)

    Best Sellers Rank: #6,764 in Books

    #2 in Antique & Collectible Records (Books)

    #11 in Art History (Books)

    #24 in Graphic Design Techniques
  9. DK was founded in London in 1974 and is currently the world's premier illustrated reference publisher, as well as a subsidiary of Penguin Random House, which was established on July 1, 2013. For adults and children, DK produces highly visual, photographic nonfiction. With offices in Delhi, London, Melbourne, Munich, New York, and Toronto, DK creates content for consumers in over 87 countries and 62 languages.

    This engrossing and stunning art encyclopedia traces the evolution of art in spectacular detail, from cave paintings through pop art and current masterpieces.

    Inside the pages of this aesthetically gorgeous art book, you'll find:

    • Covers every major movement in art from prehistory to the present day
    • Each movement is tracked in a visual timeline that showcases its key paintings and notable artists, and explains its context — the major events in its evolution
    • Each part concludes with a magnificent photograph of a masterpiece and a curator's study of its values, style, composition, and subject matter.
    • A technical glossary and an index are provided.

    Prepare to go on a one-of-a-kind guided tour of art history. Learn about over 700 of the world's finest painters, from Michelangelo and Monet to Damien Hirst and Picasso. Discover 2,500 of the most iconic paintings, sculptures, and other works of art that have shook the art world over decades and countries.

    Art That Changed the World is truly broad in scope, presenting the most notable art movements throughout history in chronological sequence and explaining the historical and cultural background of each period. Turning-point paintings that triggered or epitomised each artistic trend are discovered and described, against a backdrop of influences ranging from appreciated skills of an earlier artist to societal developments that enabled new artistic approaches.

    Art That Changed the World is an art reference book that every art fan should have on their bookshelf!

    Author: DK

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    Ratings: 4.8 out of 5 stars (from 881 reviews)

    Best Sellers Rank: #8,361 in Books

    #2 in Surrealist Literary Criticism

    #6 in Arts & Photography Criticism

    #9 in Art Encyclopedias
  10. Carol A. R. Andrews worked at the British Museum as an Assistant Keeper/Senior Research Assistant in the Department of Egyptian Antiquities from 1971 to 2000. James Wasserman is a book designer and author whose inventive ideas shaped this one-of-a-kind book. J. Daniel Gunther is an Egyptologist who has written several books on esoteric symbology. Dr. Raymond O. Faulkner (d. 1982) was a well-known British Egyptologist who translated several key ancient writings and wrote numerous scholarly articles. Dr. Ogden Goelet, Jr. is a Clinical Professor of Egyptian Language and Culture at New York University's Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies.

    Perhaps the most breathtaking rendering of this book in 3300 years: After death, certain Egyptians would create a papyrus text known as the Book of Going Forth by Day or the Book of the Dead. Declarations and spells to aid the departed in the afterlife were put in a Book of the Dead. The Papyrus of Ani is a papyrus written for Ani, Thebes' royal scribe. The Papyrus of Ani is a papyrus document featuring cursive hieroglyphs and color pictures that was written and illustrated over 3,300 years ago. It is the most beautiful, well-preserved, and complete example of ancient Egyptian philosophical and religious ideas that has ever been discovered.

    The Egyptian Book of the Dead is an important component of the spiritual heritage of the globe. It is a creative depiction of the secrets of life and death. This ancient papyrus is now available in full color for the first time since its creation, with an integrated English translation directly below each image. The Egyptian Book of the Dead's twentieth anniversary edition has been altered and enlarged to include:

    • Significant enhancements to the display of the Papyrus graphics.
    • A look at how ancient Egypt is still relevant in modern culture.
    • A complete history of Egyptian translation and philology since the Rosetta Stone's discovery in 1799.
    • In addition, there is a cutting-edge Annotated Bibliography and Study Guide for Ancient Egyptian study.

    Author: Carol A. R. Andrews, James Wasserman, J. Daniel Gunther, Raymond O. Faulkner and Ogden Goelet

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    Ratings: 4.8 out of 5 stars (from 2974 reviews)

    Best Sellers Rank: #8,990 in Books

    #1 in History of New Age & Mythology

    #1 in Egyptian Book of the Dead

    #3 in Ancient Egyptians History

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