If you're interested in rare books, notable bibliophiles, awesome women, or African-American history, I recommend reading Heidi Ardizzone's biography of Belle da Costa Greene.
As a big fan of 19th-century African-American and Native-American sculptor Edmonia Lewis, I was excited to find out that she's now the subject of a new graphic novel, Seen: Edmonia Lewis. Thanks to publisher BOOM! Studios, I was able to read and review an advanced digital copy ahead of its September 2020 release.
Irving Stone's The Agony and the Ecstasy is a 1961 biographical novel about Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564). I'm glad that people kept pushing me towards this book until I couldn't resist anymore; I enjoyed it greatly and recommend it highly. Here's why.
Here are fifteen entertaining, informative, and highly readable art-related books that I have personally read and loved.
Christine Coulson's Metropolitan Stories: A Novel is a set of vignettes about life at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It's a beautiful, whimsical poetic ode to one of the world's most significant art museums.
I just finished reading Thomas Hoving's King of the Confessors, which is about Hoving's adventures in acquiring what's now called The Cloisters Cross. Thanks to him, this English Romanesque carved ivory cross is one of the highlights of the Met Cloisters. The story is wild, and I couldn't put it down.
Here in the United States, paintings play a big role in how we experience the story of our country's origins. Portraits of our Founding Fathers and other paintings of the Revolutionary War appear on our money, in our textbooks, and decorating our government buildings. These paintings have become a huge part of our national consciousness. Paul Staiti's Of Arms and Artists: The American Revolution Through Painters' Eyes is about the five American painters most responsible for depicting the Revolution era.
James Hall's The Self-Portrait: A Cultural History (London: Thames & Hudson, Ltd., 2014) is a really interesting assessment of self-portrait painting as a cultural phenomenon. It's well thought-out, researched, and written, and I greatly appreciated it.
I just finished reading a book that told a wild, but true story about a work of art. Laura Cumming's The Vanishing Velasquez: A 19th-Century Bookseller's Obsession with a Lost Masterpiece tells the story of an English bookseller who believed that he owned a lost masterpiece by Spanish artist Diego Velasquez. It ends with a huge, still-unsolved mystery.
If you enjoy the works of J.M.W. Turner (as I do) and want to know more about him, I suggest reading Franny Moyle's Turner: The Extraordinary Life & Momentous Times of J.M.W. Turner (New York: Penguin Press, 2016). It's a detailed and comprehensive book about Turner's life, art, personality, and career. This post is about some of the things I learned from the book.