Tabish Khan the @LondonArtCritic takes a break from exhibitions to recommend his top art books to read this year. Each one comes with a concise review to help you decide whether it’s for you.
Black Artists Shaping the World by Sharna Jackson, published by Thames & Hudson
There has rightly been a focus on more representation of black artists in museums and this brilliant book introduces readers to a wide range of Black artists creating important work around the world. As its aimed at older children it has no art jargon and shouldn’t put adults off either as it’s a great introduction to these artists for any reader.
After: The Obligation of Beauty by Mindy Weisel, published by Whitefox
Mindy Weisel is an artist who writes so beautifully about the creative process, it’s an art in of itself. Setting out her experience of second generation trauma, her parents were Holocaust survivors, alongside her poetry and quest for beauty gives a fantastic context to her artworks.
The Rise and Rise of the Private Art Museum by Georgina Adam, published by Lund Humphries
When you step into an art museum do you give any thought to whether its publicly or privately owned? Well you will after reading this book on how private museums are popping up everywhere and it’s fascinating to think how this changes the dynamic of what they display. This book is even handed as it looks at both successes and failures of private art museums. It’s one of a series of four books recently published on the art world by Lund Humphries.
Hammer by Joe Mungo Reed, published by Simon & Schuster
A good chunk of this novel is set in the art world, including an auction house and a freeport. With the three central characters being a Russian oligarch, his wife and a young ambitious auction house employee whose lives interweaves. This character driven novel is made all the richer by the authors knowledge of the art world, with masterpieces exchanging hands as the backdrop for how these three individuals will shape each other’s lives.
ArtIFacts, published by Phaidon
Think of this as an almanac of the art world filled with fascinating statistics and nuggets of information about artists and the art world. From the strange – Salvador Dali having a pet ocelot called Babou – to the wince inducing – when two Sothebys workers accidentally destroyed a Lucien Freud as they thought the crate was empty. Plus there’s loads of interesting facts, including details on Leonardo’s techniques and the pleasantly surprising gender split of recent Turner Prize winners.