10 Books About Modern & Contemporary Art

02/22/2018     News and Film

1. “The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art”by Don Thompson Thompson, a professor from London School of Economics and York University in Toronto, explores the driving economic and psychological force behind some of the Modern & Contemporary art market 's biggest records. The title refers to Damien Hirst 's 2006 work “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living,” which was, indeed, a stuffed Australian tiger shark suspended in a glass case, for which someone paid $12 million dollars.  2. “Seven Days in the Art World”by Sarah Thornton The chief writer on Contemporary art for The Economist, Thornton takes the reader along seven (non-consecutive) days in London, Basel, Venice, New York, and Los Angeles, with behind-the-scenes details of how major art festivals, auction houses, publications, galleries, and artists ' studios function. 3. “Who's Afraid of Contemporary Art?”by Kyung An & Jessica Cerasi What is contemporary art? What makes it contemporary? What is it for? And why is it so expensive? Authors Kyung An, Assistant Curator at the Guggenheim, and Jessica Cerasi, Exhibitions Manager at Carroll / Fletcher gallery, aim to demystify the Contemporary art world by decoding “artspeak” and explaining conceptual art in this A-to-Z guide. 4. “Seeing Slowly: Looking at Modern Art”by Michael Findlay International art dealer Michael Findlay encourages museum goers (and readers of this book) to disconnect from their audio guides and ignore the wall labels, to really see the art in front of them. "The most important thing for us to grasp," writes Findlay, "is that the essence of a great work of art is inert until it is seen. Our engagement with the work of art liberates its essence." 5. “In Montmartre: Picasso, Matisse and the Birth of Modernist Art”by Sue Roe Picasso arrived in Paris in 1900, establishing himself in the bohemian hilltop enclave of Montmartre. Over the course of the next decade, he would become friends and compatriots with fellow Montmartrois artists Matisse, Derain, Vlaminck, Modigliani, Brancusi, and Braque. Roe explores this remarkable group and their contributions to the origins of Cubism, Fauvism, and Futurism, while documenting how the distinct, sometimes-seedy nightlife of Montmartre—with its windmills and cabarets—influenced the artists.  6. “Why Your Five-Year-Old Could Not Have Done That: From Slashed Canvas to Unmade Bed, Modern Art Explained”by Susie Hodge You 've heard it before (or maybe you 've even said it), standing in front of a Jackson Pollock: “My kid could do that.” Hodge dispels that fallacy by exploring some of the best, most famous examples of Modern and Contemporary art—from Pollock to Emin—and providing insight into the technical skill, sophistication, raw talent, and sheer inspiration behind each work. 7. “What Are You Looking At?: The Surprising, Shocking, and Sometimes Strange Story of 150 Years of Modern Art”by Will Gompertz Art history with a sense of humor, by the former director at the Tate Gallery in London, who is currently the Arts Editor for the BBC. With chapters ranging from Pre- and Post-Impressionism, all the way to Futurism and Dadaism (and beyond), Gompertz presents a brief, entertaining history of modern art that is easily readable and seriously informative.  8. “The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art”by Mark Rothko Likely written in 1940, when Rothko was in his late thirties, and published more than thirty years after his death, the text spans his complex views on the Modern art world and art history, as well as what it takes (and means) to be an artist in society. Presented in the artist 's own words, the manuscript was kept in an NYC warehouse until its publication in 2006, more than sixty years after it was written. The book features an introduction from Rothko 's son, Christopher, detailing how the manuscript was discovered and the steps to releasing it to the world. 9. “Leo & His Circle: The Life of Leo Castelli”by Annie Cohen-Solal Legendary gallerist Leo Castelli is widely considered to be the most influential art dealer in America in the 20th century. He was the first to exhibit Jasper Johns when he opened his gallery in New York in the late 1950s. He would become the champion for the likes of Warhol, Lichtenstein, and Rauschenberg, and many other artists he considered his “heroes.” Cohen-Solal knew Castelli firsthand, and draws on her friendship with him to explore his rise to prominence, as well as his family 's struggles as Italian Jewish immigrants.  10. “The Girl with the Gallery”by Lindsay Pollock While not a household name, Edith Halpert was a pioneering art dealer in New York in the first half of the 20th century. She emigrated from her native Ukraine in 1906 at the age of six, arriving with nothing, and just twenty years later opened The Downtown Gallery in Greenwich Village, bucking all of the established norms about women 's roles in society. She ran the gallery for more than 40 years, representing Jacob Lawrence, Georgia O 'Keefe, and Stuart Davis, among others. With this book, author Lindsay Pollock aims to give Halpert her due.