AK Book List: Best Introductions to the Art World

April 11, 2020


AK Book List


1. What Are You Looking At?: The Surprising, Shocking, and Sometimes Strange Story of 150 Years of Modern Art by Will Gompertz

The book that made me decide to be an Art Historian. What Are You Looking At? is a delightfully engaging stroll from the birth of what we call Modern Art through to today’s most important artists. Gompertz’s writing teaches the history of art itself while incorporating the biographies of artists whose names you’ve always known, but never knew anything about (Who’s Gaugin, and who’s Rodin?). After reading this book, you’ll never feel out of place in a modern art museum again. 

2. Playing to the Gallery by Grayson Perry 

 A hilarious, sarcastic, and fun exploration of all the questions you’re dying to ask: “Is that really art?” “How is that in a museum?” Perry is a well-regarded British artist himself, and is thus perfectly positioned to have a laugh about the art world he knows so well. It’s a short and easy read, filled with the artist’s droll drawings and cartoons. 

3. Museum Legs by Amy Whitaker

“If you’ve ever considered going to an art museum and then thought, errr, I’ll do something else . . . If you’ve ever arrived and left a little glazed and confused . . . Then this is your story.” Whitaker’s book is an exposé on why art and museums are so vital to our society– even though they’re often boring, exhausting, and even confusing to most people! I love her candid approach to what we all struggle with as art lovers. 

4. Art As Therapy by Alain de Botton 

This was the first book to introduce me to what is now the foundation of my approach to art: Art is a source of wisdom; when we delve into it with questions, we often come out with answers. De Botton shows us that hidden between the colors and forms of an artwork is a life force of its own. This is a great coffee table sized book to come back to little by little and enjoy over a cup of tea. 



5. Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton

A sharp and well-written investigation into the different scenes of the thriving Contemporary Art market: The Auction House, The Artist’s Studio, The Art Magazine, The Biennale, The Art School, The Advisory …. If you’re interested in seeing what the art world really looks like, who runs it, and how, this is the book that you’ve been looking for. 

Post by Amanda Kadinov

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