Art Books to inspire and inform

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Showable Art has curated an evolving list of art books to help readers be inspired by the masters and influencers of art.


Art and Photography examines the major presence of photography at the center of art from the 1960s onwards. This comprehensive book is used as a reference in art appreciation courses. (Art and Photography; by David Campany; Phaidon Press; Abridged, Revised, Updated Edition, April 2, 2012)

Crusade for Your Art is a guide providing tools to develop a career plan and motivate you toward your goals. (Crusade for Your Art: Best Practices for Fine Art Photographers; by Jennifer Schwartz; Crusade Press, 2014)

Edward Hopper is a massive collection of Edward Hopper’s earlier works. It serves as an excellent study book for lighting and composition for all visual art disciplines. (Edward Hopper; by Lloyd Goodrich, Abrams, 1989)

Genesis is Sebastião Salgado’s opus is the result of an epic eight-year expedition to connect with nature. Over a dozen trips, he traveled by all means of transportation imaginable in all extremes of weather to show us nature in stunning black and white. (Genesis; by Lélia Wanick Salgado and Sebastião Salgado; Taschen, 2013)

I Like Your Work: Art and Etiquette is a compilation of thoughts from artists, critics, curators, and dealers on the topic of manners in the art world. (I Like Your Work: Art and Etiquette; by Paper Monument, 2009)

In The American West, Richard Avedon’s most famous work captures what is widely regarded as a landmark project in photographic history. This book is a must for your bookshelf, especially for fans of portraits. (In The American West; by Richard Avedon; Abrams; 1st edition, 1985)

Performance, the performing artists from the second half of the 20th century opened up to photographer Richard Avedon. (Performance; by Richard Avedon, Andre Gregory, John Lahr; Abrams, 2008)

Platon’s Republic is a collection of portraits of public figures by photographer Platon. The book includes behind-the-scenes anecdotes giving an insight into the shoots and Platon’s relationship with his sitters. (Republic; by Platon; Phaidon Press, 1st edition, 2004)

Portraits of Power, an extremely powerful body of work by Richard Avedon, combines photographs of elite government figures, media, and labor officials with counter-cultural activists and ordinary citizens caught up in national debates of the mid-1900s, to provide a five-decade view of politics and power. If you ever have the opportunity to see the gallery presentation of this material, go! It is very moving and somewhat of a punch in the gut for those who grew up in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. (Portraits of Power; by Richard Avedon; Steidl & Partners, First Edition, 2008)

Power: Portraits of World Leaders, another collection of portraits by photographer Platon, gives readers a close-up look at the major world leaders of the early 2000s. All the photographs were made in 2008-09 at the United Nations. They portray the alliances and rivalries of the time. (Power; by Platon, with an introduction by David Remnick; Chronicle Books, 2011)

Seven Days in the Art World reveals the inner workings of the subcultures that make up the contemporary art world. (Seven Days in the Art World; by Sarah Thornton; W. W. Norton & Company, 2009)

The Story of Art, by Ernst Gombrich, is one of the most popular books on art history, tracing the lineage of artistic styles from pre-historic civilizations through modern times. The book has been a world bestseller for over four decades. With simple and clear writing, along with beautiful and appropriate examples, Gombrich engages readers of all levels of art education. (The Story of Art, by Ernst Gombrich, Phaidon Press; 16th edition, April 9, 1995)

Publishers of Art Books

Phaidon publishes world-class books for the creative arts. Their books feature the finest creative work from influencers in all areas of visual arts.

Taschen is a leading international publisher of art books with worldwide distribution.