The Top 7 Art Books To Read This Summer – FAD Magazine | Candle Made Easy

Tabish Khan, the @LondonArtCritic, is taking a break from exhibitions to recommend his top art books to read this summer. Each includes a brief rating to help you decide if it’s right for you.

Muse by Ruth Millington, illustrated by Dina Razin – Published by Square Peg
An excellent look at the artist’s muse and demystifying the notion that she is just a passive object of passion. With a mix of contemporary and past artists, it sheds light on those classified as muses, empowering them and the huge impact they have had on the lives of artists.

Art Against Despair: Images for Restoring Hope from The School of Life
Part art history book, part self-help book, this illustrated book lives the idea that art should inspire us, with each chapter taking a different work of art and showing how it can lead us to a better life, from old masters like Rembrandt to a “selfie” . ‘ on Mars by the Curiosity Rover. It’s all about the power of art, through art that can be cheerful or somber, and it has a welcome freshness.

Marina Abramovic by Ossian Ward, edited by Laurence King
A helpful and concise overview of her career, this illustrated biography of one of the most important contemporary artists provides details of some of her most important works, including her partnership with fellow artist Ulay. It is digestible in one sitting and contains everything someone new to their work needs, or for those who have experienced work and want to explore their previous work.

Masterpieces in Plays by Ingrid Swenson & Mary Auld published by Hachette
Getting people into art starts with children and this introduction to overarching categories like portraiture and animals in art is a great way to start, with examples from ancient to contemporary art, from old masters like Leonardo da Vinci to Faith Ringgold. The authors have selected a diversity of artists, both in terms of gender and race, in order to move away from the usual Western and masculine approach to art history. Also, using questions and references to other artworks is great for young inquisitive minds.

Portrait of Britain: Volume 4 – Published by Hoxton Mini Press
These 200 photos capture a Britain coming out of lockdown, so there are plenty of portraits of medical staff and the obligatory work from home. There is also hope for the future with the first hijab-wearing boxing coach, Black Lives Matter protesters and on the cover an elderly woman turning to virtual reality. Some fantastic works that capture what Britain is today.

The Beautiful Artist in Me by Irfan Virk
This is an entertaining, meandering farce of art school life that plays with the stereotypes of conceptual artists and is written by an artist who knows how to capture it well. A highlight are the students who have formed a performance piece of essentially being cricketers who have their own pavilion in the cafeteria and burst out into impromptu matches.

The Color Storm by Damian Dibben, published by Penguin
What makes this piece of historical fiction stand out is that it is set in Renaissance Venice, with the main character as the painter Giorgione, with cameos from other famous figures in art history, including Michelangelo. The hunt for a mysterious new pigment takes time before reaching a dramatic climax.

Photo of Marina Abramovic: Marco Anelli, courtesy of Marina Abramovi? Archive. All other images courtesy of the author/editor.



  • art books
  • Marina Abramovic


Tabish Khan

Art critic for FAD and Londonist. See as many exhibitions as possible and write reviews, opinion pieces and a weekly top 5 for FAD.

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