The contemporary art world can seem glamorous, mysterious and full of impossibly cool people. Our recommended reads are a mix of fiction, autobiography and fact.
An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin
Written by an actor who’s more often associated with comedy films, Hollywood star, Steve Martin, this is an irresistible look at the glamour and subterfuge of New York’s art world. Lacey Yeager is beautiful, captivating and ambitious enough to take the New York art world by storm.
The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland
This book is a fictional account of the life of a real artist. Canadian painter, Emily Carr, travelled through native villages and wilderness in the early 1900s, often alone, on a mission to paint totem poles and other artifacts before the indigenous traditions died out. Vreeland paints a vivid picture of the life of a pioneering artist who blazed a path for women artists to follow.
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl by Grayson Perry and Wendy Jones
This is an involving biography about the early life of Grayson Perry. His early childhood in Chelmsford, Essex, was idyllic but this ended abruptly with the arrival of his stepfather and subsequent difficult relationships with his parents. When he left home to live in squats he discovers art and begins to accept facets of his personality which have become his trademark, such as his open transvestism.
Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton
This book examines the contemporary art market – from the drama of a Christie’s auction, to the competitiveness of an important art prize, to the realities of being in an art school. It’s a fascinating fly-on-the-wall narrative that takes you behind the scenes of the art world.
The Shock of the New: Art and the Century of Change by Robert Hughes
Written to accompany a TV series, this definitive guide to 20th century art and design, this illustrated book is very readable and gives you all the detail you’ll need on the major movements in art, design and architecture.
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