Top Five Books Every Artist Should Read: and Some Great Art Books Too

The following titles link to their respective page where you can find reviews and more detailed information about each book.  P.S. I don’t make any money if you click the link, I’m working pro bono here.

  1. Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking
  2. A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future
  3. How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist: Selling Yourself Without Selling Your Soul             
  4. Art and Illusion                 
  5. Art in Theory 1900 – 2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas      

These titles may revolve from time to time and will be expanded upon also.  If you have any suggestions for additions, feel free to add them to the combox.

I wanted a place to highlight books that I’ve read.  These selections don’t particularly fall within the “top 5” category as those spaces are more for artist self-help, if you will.  These books are just great reads.

  • Edvard Munch: Behind the Scream by Sue Prideaux
    • I read this book a while ago and if you want to know anything about Munch’s life and work, I recommend this as the place to start.  It is a great biography of the artist covering his life in its entirety.  Also included are great photos of Munch’s work as well as photos of the artist, his family, friends, locales, and colleagues.  Includes social influences and the political climate of Munch’s day.  A fantastic read although it is rather long if you are only looking for a cursory overview of Munch.
  • Caravaggio, by Catherine Puglisi
    • I have been a fan of Caravaggio since I started painting in my undergrad years.  This is a great comprehensive book about the artist’s life and work that should be the one book that any fan of Caravaggio should have in my opinion.
  • Odd Nerdrum: Storyteller and Self-Revealer
    • The price of this book makes its purchase a little prohibitive.  The high price may be because I think it’s out of print now although all books about Nerdrum seem to carry a heavy price tag.  This isn’t the most current book about Nerdrum but it’s the only one I own (although I’ve been drooling over the latest salvo of books that have come out recently).  Anyway, this is a great edition with high quality photos and close-ups of his dark Rembrandtian paintings. 


  • hamlynart  On June 11, 2010 at 03:27

    Hi Stirling,

    I’m following you here on WordPress (where I have a private blog for research on education) but I also have a public blog on Art and Teaching over on Blogspot which might interest you here:



    • Stirling  On June 11, 2010 at 08:23

      Hi Jim,

      Thank you for visiting my website and commenting.

      I took a moment to peruse your blog and I also added it to my blogroll. I’ll definitely take some time to dig deeper because contemporary art and pedagogy are right up my alley and judging from the titles of your posts, there’s good stuff to be found. 🙂



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