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10 ART BOOKS YOU WILL WANT TO READ

Art Lovers | 3 December 2019

Discover 10 books about artists that you will want to read.

Delve deeper into the lives of your favourite artists, read fiction based around art or discover an artist through their life story.

There’s something on this list for everyone.

#1- NINTH STREET WOMEN:

Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art

Author: Mary Gabriel

The rich, revealing, and thrilling story of five women whose lives and painting propelled a revolution in modern art, from the National Book Award finalist.

Set amid the most turbulent social and political period of modern times, Ninth Street Women is the impassioned, wild, sometimes tragic, always exhilarating chronicle of five women who dared to enter the male-dominated world of twentieth-century abstract painting–not as muses but as artists. From their cold-water lofts, where they worked, drank, fought, and loved, these pioneers burst open the door to the art world for themselves and countless others to come.

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#2 – THE DIARY OF FRIDA KAHLO: An Intimate Self Portrait

Author: Carlos Fuentes

The intimate life of artist Frida Kahlo is wonderfully revealed in the illustrated journal she kept during her last 10 years. This passionate and at times surprising record contains the artist’s thoughts, poems, and dreams; many reflecting her stormy relationship with her husband, artist Diego Rivera, along with 70 mesmerising watercolour illustrations. The text entries in brightly coloured inks make the journal as captivating to look at as it is to read. Her writing reveals the artist’s political sensibilities, recollections of her childhood, and her enormous courage in the face of more than thirty-five operations to correct injuries she had sustained in an accident at the age of eighteen.

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#3 – A BLANK CANVAS

Author: Robert Hollingworth

Image result for a blank canvas robert hollingworth

A witty portrayal of family rivalry

Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of contemporary art. In A Blank Canvas, award-wining artist and writer Robert Hollingworth exposes the underbelly of the art world in all its ugly and hilarious glory.

A renowned abstract artist, the curmudgeonly octogenarian Giles Paumen is head of a family of artists, each of whom he considers less talented than himself. His son, Laurence is a conceptual artist and lecturer because, unlike his father, he can’t paint at all. However, granddaughter Sophie has inherited the genes and is making a name for herself as a painter of massive portraits.

When a new Australian national art prize is announced, each of the Paumens secretly enters, the prize galvanizing them to go off in new directions.

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#4 – I’VE SEEN THE FUTURE AND I’M NOT GOING: The Art Scene and Downtown New York in the 1980s

Author: Peter McGough

Brilliantly funny, frank, and shattering, this is the bittersweet memoir by Peter McGough of his life with artist David McDermott. Set in New York’s Lower East Side of the 1980s and mid-1990s, it is also a devastatingly candid look at the extreme naiveté and dysfunction that would destroy both their lives.

McGough evokes the rank and seedy East Village of that time, where he encountered Keith Haring, Rene Ricard, Kenny Scharf, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, and Jacqueline and Julian Schnabel, among many others. Nights were spent at the Ninth Circle, Danceteria, and Studio 54; going to openings at the FUN Gallery; or visiting friends in the Chelsea Hotel. By the mid-1980s, McDermott & McGough were hugely successful, showing at three Whitney Biennials, represented by the best galleries here and abroad, and known for their painting, photography and “time experiment” interiors. Then, overnight, it was all gone. And one day in the mid-1990s, McGough would find that he, like so many of his friends, had been diagnosed with AIDS.

I’ve Seen the Future and I’m Not Going is a compelling memoir for our time, told with humor and compassion, about how lives can become completely entwined even in failure and what it costs to reemerge, phoenix-like, and carry on.

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#5 – THE GOLDFINCH

Author: Donna Tartt

Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Inspired by Carel Fabritius’ painting The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt has hooked millions of people around the world with almost 800 pages of brilliance.

Centered around an orphaned New Yorker, Theo, The Goldfinch painting is what captivates and draws him into the underworld of art during life as a young teenager who’s struggling to come to terms with the tragic loss of his mother. As an adult, Theo’s life unfolds into a dark, complex and mysterious love story as he continues to struggle with loss, identity and survival.

With a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (2014) under it’s belt, the Goldfinch is a book club heavyweight.

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#6 – CHALK: The Art and Erasure of Cy Twombly

Author: Joshua Rivkin

Cy Twombly was a man obsessed with myth and history—including his own. Shuttling between stunning homes in Italy and the United States where he perfected his room-size canvases, he managed his public image carefully and rarely gave interviews.

Upon first seeing Twombly’s remarkable paintings, writer Joshua Rivkin became obsessed himself with the mysterious artist, and began chasing every lead, big or small—anything that might illuminate those works, or who Twombly really was.

Now, after unprecedented archival research and years of interviews, Rivkin has reconstructed Twombly’s life. Chalk presents a more personal and searching type of biography than we’ve ever encountered, and brings to life a more complex Twombly than we’ve ever known.

“The most substantive biography of the artist to date…propulsive, positive and persuasive.”

– Holland Cotter, New York Times Book Review

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#7 – CAVEAT EMPTOR: The Secret Life of an American Art Forger

Author: Ken Perenyi

Caveat Emptor: The Secret Life of an American Art Forger by [Perenyi, Ken]

The astonishing true story of America’s most accomplished art forger: a kid from New Jersey who became a master, fooling experts and eluding the FBI for thirty years.

Ten years ago, an FBI investigation in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York was about to expose a scandal in the art world that would have been front-page news in New York and London. After a trail of fake paintings of astonishing quality led federal agents to art dealers, renowned experts, and the major auction houses, the investigation inexplicably ended, despite an abundance of evidence collected. The case was closed and the FBI file was marked “exempt from public disclosure.” Now that the statute of limitations on these crimes has expired and the case appears hermetically sealed shut by the FBI, this book, Caveat Emptor, is Ken Perenyi’s confession. It is the story, in detail, of how he pulled it all off. Glamorous stories of art-world scandal have always captured the public imagination. However, not since Clifford Irving’s 1969 bestselling Fake has there been a story at all like this one.

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#8 – THE SWAN THIEVES

Author: Elizabeth Kostova

The novel revolves around a painting called Leda, by a french artist named Gilbert Thomas. Although both are fictional, painters throughout history have created canvases in tribute to the ancient Greek myth about the maiden Leda, who is seduced by Zeus in swan form. (Including the gorgeous painting above by François-Édouard Picot). Kostova puts a totally original spin on the story behind the painting, taking us from the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., to the office of psychiatrist Andrew Marlowe, to France circa 1800. Along the way we get passion, crime, betrayal, tons of love letters, a little bit of insanity, and some magic. The novel is a fitting homage to the power of art and storytelling.

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#9 – THE LIVES OF LUCIAN FREUD: The Restless Years, 1922 – 1968

Author: William Feaver

The first biography of the epic life of one of the most important, enigmatic and private artists of the 20th century. Drawn from almost 40 years of conversations with the artist, letters and papers, it is a major work written by a well-known British art critic.

Lucian Freud (1922-2011) is one of the most influential figurative painters of the 20th century. His paintings are in every major museum and many private collections here and abroad. William Feaver’s daily calls from 1973 until Freud died in 2011, as well as interviews with family and friends were crucial sources for this book.Freud had ferocious energy, worked day and night but his circle was broad including not just other well-known artists but writers, bluebloods, royals in England and Europe, drag queens, fashion models gamblers, bookies and gangsters like the Kray twins. Fierce, rebellious, charismatic, extremely guarded about his life, he was witty, mischievous and a womanizer.

This book is a major achievement, a tour de force that reveals the details of the life and innermost thoughts of the greatest portrait painter of our time.

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#10 – INFINITY NET: The Autobiography of Yayoi Kusama

Author: Yayoi Kusama

Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) is one of the most talked-about artists working today. This remarkable memoir reveals her to be a fascinating figure, channeling her obsessive neurosis into an art that transcends cultural barriers. Kusama describes arriving in New York in 1957 as a poverty-stricken artist and later becoming the doyenne of an alternative art scene. She tells of her relationships with Georgia O’Keeffe, Donald Judd, Andy Warhol, and the reclusive Joseph Cornell. She candidly discusses the obsessive visions that have haunted her throughout her life; returning to Japan in the early 1970s, Kusama admitted herself to the psychiatric hospital in Tokyo where she lives today, and from which she has produced the seemingly endless stream of artworks and writings that have won her acclaim across the globe.

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