Best Art Books of All Time

Art is for many people “food for the soul” and creating art, in any form or shape, can be both challenging and relaxing. Regardless of the nature of your interest in art – be it art history or drawing/painting techniques or sculpture or photography – if you’re looking for some inspiration, there are countless books that focus on this topic. Below you will find our picks in terms of the best art books of all time.


From Manet to Manhattan: The Rise of the Modern Art Market by Peter Watson – This is an anecdotal history of the modern art market. It begins with a behind-the-scenes testimony of the 1990 Christie’s auction, during which a van Gogh portrait was sold for a record $82.5 million. The book talks about artists, dealers, art connoisseurs, collectors, as well as auction houses that have contributed in one way or another to the development of art.  


100 Painters of Tomorrow by Kurt Beers – Curator Kurt Beers embarked on an ambitious mission to find the greatest and most talented active artists of the moment, no less than 100 of them. Over 4,300 artists from all over the world submitted an application to be featured in the book.


After careful selection carried out by a panel made of prominent names in contemporary art, Beers compiled this extraordinary collection of high-quality images of the artists’ work. Besides the images, the book also includes biographic information and some relevant quotes from the artists themselves.


The Deftness of Da Vinci by Johannes Nathan, Frank Zöllner – Leonardo da Vinci was a genius through and through. He was a master of everything, being reminded as a great artist, philosopher, scientist, inventor, and mechanic. This book is a beautiful collection of 663 of Da Vinci’s drawings and is part of a series called Leonardo da Vinci – The Graphic Work. It includes a diverse selection of the painter’s works, from anatomical studies to architectural plans.


The Power of Art by Simon Schama – In “The Power of Art,” non-fiction writer and art historian Simon Schama tries to answer the question “What is art really for?” To get to the answer, he presents the evolution of eight famous works of art from equally famous and talented artists. And besides the art itself, he also concentrates on the context in which the works of art are created, touching on the artist’s life, their vision, and so on.


The Artist Project: What Artists See When They Look at Art – Artists have always found inspiration in the work of others before them. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s impressive art collection includes works that can spark anyone’s imagination, so 120 prestigious contemporary artists from all over the world sat down and stated their opinions on these works of art. Readers can basically see Met’s art collection through the artists’ eyes.