Books

The best art books you can find for gifting those who love creativity

All wrapped up: Bel Mooney reveals the best art books you can find for gifting those who love creativity

  • Bel Mooney rounded up a selection of this year’s must-read art books
  • British literary critic selected tomes to suit all budgets this Christmas
  • Highlights include Spirit Of Place: Artists, Writers And The British Landscape

SPIRIT OF PLACE: ARTISTS, WRITERS AND THE BRITISH LANDSCAPE by Susan Owens (Thames & Hudson £25)

SPIRIT OF PLACE: ARTISTS, WRITERS AND THE BRITISH LANDSCAPE 

by Susan Owens (Thames & Hudson £25)

This is one of my books of the year — a wide-ranging, enthralling examination of how landscape shapes the imagination, and is itself given imaginative shape by painters and writers from the earliest times to the present.

Here are Palmer’s moonlit visions, Turner’s radiance, Nash’s blasted battlefields and so much more. If you love literature and art and admire a beautifully written text which wears erudition lightly — this is an essential addition to the cultural bookshelf.

SHAPING THE WORLD: SCULPTURE FROM PREHISTORY TO NOW 

by Antony Gormley and Martin Gayford (Thames & Hudson £40)

Imagine eavesdropping on two brilliant men discussing art, bouncing ideas around and clarifying each other’s thoughts.

Here, the artist and the art historian offer a fascinating conversation, which defines sculpture as widely as possible (a prehistoric hand axe and Silbury Hill, for example) and illustrates a varied and inspiring analysis with a generous, seductive selection of plates. They consider fluid forms such as ritual and dance, and the whole journey from past to present leads you to look at the familiar anew. Brilliant.

PICASSO AND MAYA   

PICASSO AND MAYA by Diana Widmaier-Picasso and Carmen Gimenez (Rizzoli £155)

by Diana Widmaier-Picasso and Carmen Gimenez (Rizzoli £155)

This handsome book — celebrating an unusual, lavish Paris exhibition devoted to Picasso’s relationship with his elder daughter Maya — is a work of art in itself. The artist fell in love with Maya’s mother, Marie-Therese Walter (1909 to 1977), when she was only 17 and he was a 45-year-old married man.

His drawings of Maya as a baby are a delicate counterpoint to the more familiar style of the paintings and sculpture that record his love for his child. A special (if expensive) treasure.

GOYA

by Janis A. Tomlinson (Princeton £30)

Has any artist ever shown fear like Goya? The terrified faces of the innocent victims in his series The Disasters Of War reveal the great Spanish artist’s revulsion at the brutality of humankind. And has any artist ever shown such simultaneous mockery and compassion at human foibles and flaws?

I knew nothing about Goya’s life, but this masterly biography now puts the work into context and breathes life into the legend of the morose recluse.

Save at least 10 per cent on all books reviewed on these pages. Visit mailshop.co.uk/christmasreviews or call 020 3308 9193

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