Kristine Schomaker: The Importance of Art Books

I love books. Especially art books. I have bookshelves full of my favorites. I collect books and most recently zines. I am actually not a great reader though. I love the power that books hold, but I don’t have the patience to sit down and read a book. I used to. Now I use them for research and the smell. Don’t you just love the smell of new (and old) books?


If I want to ‘read’ a book, I try to find an audio book that I can listen to in the car. I highly recommend this especially when sitting in traffic or on long road trips. Time seems to fly when you are immersed in listening to books. I am always curious what the newest art books are. What are artists, curators, art writers reading? What are the important books that will help me keep up with the goings on of the art world? What books have influenced an artist’s practice? I decided to ask the art world this very question.



I used the awesome Facebook hivemind to ask the art world to name an art book that has influenced their practice. The answers are below. Be ready to add to your library! I already did!


(Oh yea, I think I need to read Art and Fear again. You guys convinced me!)


Alison Ragguette

Art and Fear, Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking. David Bayles and Ted Orland


Amy Kaeser

Mary Kelly’s Imaging Desire. Her writing regarding feminism, conceptual art, and intersectional discourse is very foundational to how I view, and in turn write about art.


Angel Kingmaker

Recent Forgeries. Viggo Mortensen


Angela Romeo

The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art. Roger Kimball


Annabelle Casillas

Infinite regres.s Marcel Duchamp

Seeing is forgetting. Robert Irwin

What is art? Joseph Beuys


Annie Seaton

How to get hung Molly Barnes

letters to a young artist. Anna Deveare Smith

Secret Exhibition: looking at six California artists. Rebecca Solnit.


April Bey

The Logical Conclusions catalog


Arezoo Bharthania

Can the Subaltern Speak? Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

ART AND FEAR, David Bayles and Ted Orland

THE ART SPIRIT, Robert Henri


Barbara Strasen

The Art of Color. Johannes Itten


Betty Ai Tureaud

Art of the Sixties. 4th Revised Edition. Wallraf-Richartz Museum


Betty Brown

Through the Flower, Judy Chicago. It changed everything!


Bill Dambrova

I’m not trying to be funny or clever here. Draw 50 dinosaurs taught me at an early age to look at basic shapes and pull recognizable imagery from them. Even now when I work, I make an abstract background and pull the imagery from the chaos with no sketching. But if this isn’t what you are looking for and are thinking more academic then yeah Weschler, Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees.


Brenda Oelbaum

John Bergers Ways of Seeing …. I’m such an old fart, or is it that I haven’t read a blasted thing since school.


Britta Kaye

In the Making. Linda Weintraub

Art and Fear. David Bayles and Ted Orland


Bryn Oh

I really liked Styles, schools and movements by Amy Dempsey


Carolyn Campbell

Vision in Motion. L. Maholy-Nagy. 1969. Paul Theobald and Company publishers. For me, an attitude toward life and way of thinking. I purchased the book in 1982 from the Franz Bader bookstore/gallery in D.C. I still have the receipt tucked into the pages. It cost $19.61 with tax. I also purchased BAUHAUS by MIT press at age 16 for $50. I saved and saved for that one. Art books were my bibles Still are. Just strolled over to my library: how could I forget Man and His Symbols by Carl G. Jung, The Art Spirit by Robert Henri and Jean Cocteau and the French Scene. Time to revisit these old friends.


Catherine Ruane

Air Guitar Dave Hickyey.

Cadillac Desert Marc Reisner.


Chantal Harvey

Antony Gormley. Texts by Richard Calvocoressi and Oystein Hjort


Cheryl Dullabaun

Art and Otherness, Thomas McEvilley


Christy Roberts Berkowitz

The Aesthetics of Risk. Jane Blocker, Doublas Crimp, Rachel Greene, Richard Shiff. John Welchman

Words Without Pictures. Charlotte Cotton and Alex Klein

Failure. Lisa Le Feuvre

Letters to a Young Artist. Peter Nesbett, Sarah Andress and Shelly Bancroft

Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists’ Writings (California Studies in the History of Art). Kristine Stiles and Peter Selz.


Clara Berta

101 Things to Learn in Art School. Kit White. Great book!


Clare Gwinn Holzer

Walden. Thoreau


Damian Hutchinson

Understanding Comics. Scott McCloud. Don’t let the subject matter keep you from one of the most insightful books on art and art history that I’ve ever read.


Dani Dodge

The Judgement of Paris by Ross King. From this book I learned It is not who is most popular in their time who ultimately ends up at the Met. It is the artist who follows their heart into unknown territories, who does the art that needs to be done, not the art that has already been done. This blurb from Amazon says it all: “If there were two men who were absolutely central to artistic life in France in the second half of the nineteenth century, they were Edouard Manet and Ernest Meissonier. While the former has been labelled the “Father of Impressionism” and is today a household name, the latter has sunk into obscurity.”


Daniel Rolnik

The blurring of life and art Allan Kaprow


Danielle Vincent

Pierre et Gilles. Pierre Commoy and Gilles Blanchard


Darren Francis McManus

Flatland. Edwin Abbott


David DiMichele

Inside the White Cube by Brian O’Doherty. Brilliant analysis of the evolution of the contemporary gallery space, and Pictures of Nothing: Abstract Art Since Pollock by Kirk Varnedoe. Varnedoe was one of the best minds to ever tackle explaining the significance of abstraction.


David Isakson

La semaine de bonte by Max Ernst.


David Palmer

A Year with Swollen Appendices: Brian Eno’s Diary


Debe Arlook

Photographers of Genius, at The Getty by Weston Neuf.

Way of Seeing, John Berger and so many more.


Diane Cockerill

On the Art of Fixing a Shadow. The Art Institute of Chicago


Diane Holland

The Shock of The New by. Robert Hughes


Edwin Vasquez

Drawing on the right side of the brain. Betty Edwards.

Drawing on the artist within. Betty Edwards.


Ekashma Das

DaVinci’s notebooks

Letters to a young poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke


Emily Haraldson

I’d have to say John Berger’s Ways of Seeing made a major impact on me as a grad student and I still use concepts in my pedagogical practice.


Erin E. Adams

In praise of shadows. Junichiro Tanizaki


Fred D Solomon

The Philosophy of Art by Andy Warhol


Gwenette Sinclair

Parallel Visions: Modern Artists and Outsider Art – Tuckman & Eliel. And one other I read often – recently discovered and published (2006) a mid-century perspective on art from Rothko, The Artist’s Reality: Philosophies of Art. Nice review here – https://www.brainpickings.org/…/the-artists-reality…/


Hagop Najarian

Elements of Color, Iten


Hannah Johansen

Erotomechanics by H.R. Ginger.


Heather Lowe

Farbenlehre, Goethe. I know that sounds “bookish” but it’s really a pleasure to read and inspired me to go outside really look at things afresh. And anything by Nabokov. It’s like he reads my mind visually. and Ovid’s Metamorphoses…ok, that’s enough. AND, A room of One’s Own essay by Virginia Woolf–every artist should read it. and Theo Van Doesberg’s treatise on Neoplasticism.


Jane Szabo

Accelerating on the Curves the Artist’s Roadmap to Success. Katharine T. Carter & Associates.


Jeanie Frias

I have been more influenced by writers. But if you just substitute the word art for writing, artist for writer, it’s perfect. Writing Brave and Free by Ted Kooser, Zen of Writing by Ray Bradbury, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott


Jeffrey Sklan

100 Views of Edo, Hiroshige, blew my mind at about 10 years old and totally influenced how I look at landscapes, since. No question it influenced me more than any other art book.


Jenn Villagomez

The Acme Novelty Date Book


Jennifer Faist Hill

Rather than books about art, I’ve been more influenced by philosophy and cultural critiques of aesthetics, as beauty and visual pleasure, seduction and desire, are prime interests of mine. I read Immanuel Kant’s Analytic of the Beautiful from the Critique of Judgement and Dave Hickey’s The Invisible Dragon: Four Essays on Beauty, among others, right before starting grad school, and right when I was making a shift from figure painting to monochrome patterns. But allowing sentiment, ornament and decoration filter into the cool, clean, minimalist paintings I was making stemmed from the influence of feminist viewpoints such as Laura Mulvey’s Visual and Other Pleasures and Rosalind Krauss’ The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths.


Jennifer Susan Jones

Art Is a Way of Knowing by Pat B. Allen!!


Joe Lam

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.


Joelle McTigue

Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, David Bayles and Ted Orland


John Marcella Grant

Basquiat by Phoebe Hoban


John Rosewall

Caravaggio: The Complete Works


Jonathan Baker

How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way… it’s no joke, a classic for a reason… steeped in the tradition of working illustrators, fashion designers, and art theory.


Julia Maria Sinelnikova

Kohei Nawa monograph

Neuromancer / Sprawl trilogy


Kenn Raaf

No More Secondhand Art


Kim Kimbro Taylor

Hold Still, by Sally Mann. An utterly fascinating memoir. Her artistic process, struggles and the repercussions of following her muse wherever it leads her are described in the most harrowing way. It goes deep. REAL DEEP.


Kristina Faragher

Agnes Martin’s Writings


Laurie Lipton

The Art of Jan van Eyck


Lawrence Weschler’s

Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of The Thing One Sees. Robert Irwin


Lennart Nilsson

The Truth About Art by Patrick Doorly


Leonard D Greco Jr

D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, a book ostensibly for children but it so enraptured me as a boy, with its visual poetry and evocative pros, that I knew I had to make my own mythology.


Linda Parnell

Numbers in the dark by italo calvino

if you want to write by brenda ueland.


Lindsay Brice

The Instant It Happened, AP photographs edited by Hal Buell, Harry N. Abrams, Inc.


Lisa Derrick

I, Juan de Pareja. De Trevino, Elizabeth Borton

Book of Thoth. Aleister Crowley and The Master Therion

Memoirs of Madame Vigée LeBrun. Elisabeth-Louise Vigee-Lebrun, Lionel Strachey

Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby. Geoffrey Wolff


Lori Pond

Process and Perception” by Jerry Uelsmann.


Lucie Hinden

Easy! THE ART SPIRIT by Robert Henri


Lucy Palustris

Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972 … Lucy Lippard.


Lulu Girard

Pat Steir paintings by Pat Steir

Francesco Clemente pastels. Francesco Clemente


Magdalena Groszek

John Berger, Ways of seeing.


Malado Francine

3 x Abstraction: New Methods of Drawing by Emma Kunz, Hilma af Klint, and Agnes Martin. Catalogue. The Drawing Center. NY


Marjan Vayghan

Mystic Persian Poetry Books


Martin Cox

Landscapes John Berger on Art. John Berger and Tom Overton (my current read)


Mat Gleason

The Painted Word by Tom Wolfe. An easy read, it still inspires.


Matt Kennedy

Jazz, Bold & Buddhisme by Torben Ulrich


Merrick Ying

70’s Warhol Factory memoir by the then editor of Interview Magazine. Totally a guilty pleasure.

Renaissance Rivals by Rona Goffen,

Happy Little Accidents by Bob Ross

The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas

Truisms by Jenny Holzer

History of Beauty by Umberto Eco


Mike McLain

Seeing Is Forgetting the Name Of The Thing One Sees. Lawrence Weschler


Natasha Vallury

Interaction of Color by Josef Albers


Noke Yuitza

After the End of Art: Contemporary Art and the Pale of History. Arthur Danto


Nurit Avesar

Artist as Cultural Producer. Sharon Louden


Patricia Correia

Out of This Century” Confessions of an Art Addict Peggy Guggenheim


PE Sharpe

Silence, by John Cage.


Peter Hess

Interviews with Francis Bacon by David Sylvester


Rachael Emborg

The Grammar of Ornament by Owen Jones.


Rebecca Hamm

Ways of Seeing by John Berger


Richard Gleaves

Beyond the Brillo Box, Arthur Danto


Robert Soffian

Leap Before You Look, Black Mountain College


Robyn Alatorre

The Lost Painting. Jonathan Harr

Object of Beauty. Steve Martin


Rochelle Botello

Agnes Martin- Writings


Sally Brown Deskins

Ways of seeing, John Berger


Sammy Jean Wilson

The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again). He reminds me that there are so many fleeting fancies in our world, but it is our privilege as artists to observe the moments and translate them as we will. I believe that he was quite a dignified man with the supreme power of observation.


Sarah Stone

Women who run with the wolves, Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype. Clarissa Pinkola Estés


Scott Froschauer

Simulacra and Simulation (The Body, In Theory: Histories of Cultural Materialism). John Baudrillard


Scott Rolfe

Drawing Book of Animals. Ed Emberley


Seda Saar

SHOCK OF THE NEW by Robert Hughes – There was a BBC series produced by the same name- I read this book as part of my design school history of art program at London Met back in the 80’s and it stuck with me


Shaktima Brien

The Language of the Goddess, Marija Gimbutas


Shana Nys Dambrot

The Shape of a Pocket by John Berger.


Shiva Aliabadi

Chromophobia by David Batchelor


Skye Amber Sweet

Art of Modern Rock. Influenced my art practice because I was able to see a variety of opposite attractions from art techniques to styles introducing me to the freedom of never over thinking and painting from my heart.


Slate Quagmier

Secret Knowledge by David Hockney – I started using projection, Neoclassicism David Irwin published by Phaidon a few years back – I have done a few pieces based on the concepts covered.

Sacre Bleu: A Comedy D’Art – I am now obsessed with pigments and I even had to buy a real lapis lazuli paint.

Blue by Michel Pastoureau – furthered my obsession with the same pigment.

Beauty by Roger Scruton – don’t always agree with him but he makes a sloppy argument against contemporary views on aesthetics supported by deconstructionism that I happen to agree with.


Sol Hill

On the Spiritual in Art by Wassily Kandinsky


Stu Rapeport

Persist. Peter Clothier


Sue Mitchell

Daily Rituals/ How Artist Work by Mason Currey


Tada Asatoorian

I keep hearing passages of Debords Society of the Spectacle more and more now… Maybe it has to do with, “that reality show guy we have as a president now”, direct quote from tweeker in Tujunga Ralphs at 11 pm. If the tweekers are keeping tabs on the political state than you know our reality is twisting in on itself. Also, Herbert Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media; The Extensions of Man.


Theodore Svenningsen

A must have is HISTORY OF MODERN ART, H. H. Arnason and Elizabeth C. Mansfield

Another must-have is one of the most revered art books, THE STORY OF ART by E.H. Gombrich, published by Phaidon.


Tm Gratkowski

The Medium is the Message by Marshall McLuhan.

Ways of Seeing by John Berger


Ulrica Perkins

THE ART SPIRIT by Robert Henri


Walter Silbert

The Philosophical Disenfranchisement of Art. Arthur Danto


Yvonne Beatty

Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China. The book is the catalogue of the exhibition on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY,


Zoe Garcia

Chromophobia. David Batchelor

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