12 Art Books We Want to Read This Summer

For more ideas, see our previous summer reading lists:

What do you pack when you head for the beach? Your camera, sketchbook, maybe a pochade box? Whatever you do, don’t forget some art books for those rainy days.

Here’s some of what we’re looking forward to reading this summer. They include books about …

… creativity

First up, Your Inner Artist is a Big Jerk. It’s by Danielle Krysa, who also writes one of our favorite (other) art blogs. We’re not sure whether we’re more excited for the motivational content or for the fun illustrations inside.

(For more about critically evaluating your own work in a productive way, carve out some time to read advice from our instructors on the topic.)

Art book: Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk

Also on our list: How to See by David Salle, a painter who promises to teach the reader to see with an artist’s eye — a skill, we’ll note, that’s not only useful to artists. Salman Rushdie writes in his review, “If John Berger’s Ways of Seeing is a classic of art criticism, … then David Salle’s How to See is the artist’s reply.”

For a really rainy day, why not kick back with A Book of Surrealist Games? These are the parlor games the Surrealists played back in the day to loosen up. You may have heard of the Exquisite Corpse, for example, where participants collaborate on a drawing without seeing each others’ work.

And if a book on creativity by David Lynch interests you, check out Catching the Big Fish with us. In it, Lynch (creator of Twin Peaks and Mulholland Drive as well as a visual artist) explores how transcendental meditation has informed his work.

… famous (& not-yet-famous) artists

Broad Strokes (not to be confused with the blog of the same name) is a second look at art history by Bridget Quinn. Women artists are mostly excluded from the Western canon, so here the author tells the story of 15 you may not have heard of. Their stories appear alongside reproductions of their artwork and portraits of the artists by illustrator Lisa Congdon.

Art books: Broad Strokes and Identity Unknown

Identity Unknown and Broad Strokes dive back into art history to bring more women artists into the canon.

Along the same lines, Identity Unknown covers new ground on a smaller scale, focusing in on seven women artists from the 20th-century United States. The author is Donna Seaman,

Les Dîners de Gala is a Surrealist cookbook by Salvador Dalí. Do we need to say any more?

Nothing and Everything is being released in a few days. Author Douglas Dreishpoon writes about personalities in the visual and musical arts — seven names you’ll recognize, like Louise Bourgeois and John Cage. This promises to be one of those books that tells stories across disciplines.

The Yellow House (not to be confused with a novel by the same name) is a look at “Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Provence” by Martin Gayford. (He got a second book on this list, below.) If you’re interested in the details of how these famous artists lived together, and in the story of Van Gogh’s ear, it comes recommended by an Art League Book Club member.

… the art world & art history

Have you heard of Richard Bellamy? He was an influential art dealer in the sixties, and exactly how influential is explored in Eye of the Sixties by Judith Stein.

Art books: A History of Pictures

A History of Pictures is subtitled “From the Cave to the Computer Screen.”

A story about a (fictional) tortured artist might not sound too enticing, except that this one is set in Paris during the time of Impressionism, and the author was friends with Paul Cezanne in real life. The Masterpiece by Émile Zola comes recommended by an Art League Book Club member.

Take an even longer view with David Hockney and Martin Gayford in A History of Pictures, which looks like a fresh, readable take on (selections from) art history. It’s a new release since last summer’s list.

What art books are on your summer reading list? Let us know in the comments!

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