Top 10 Best Art History Books of All Time Review 2022

Top 24 Best Art History Books of All Time Review 2020

You’re looking for the Best Art History Books 2022? So you NEED to see this curated list.

Art history could be intimidating. Composed of innumerable movements, artists, mediums, and fashions, diving into the in-depth analysis might appear daunting. But with the outstanding book collection, you will realize that comprehension of art history isn’t just possible but amazingly attainable. After all, as Ralph Waldo Emerson famously maintained, every artist was first an amateur.

Therefore, whether you are considering a career in arts management, an artist seeking to find out more about your clinic’s narrative, or just interested in art’s development, these must have books for budding art historians rely on your shelf!

Why is it Important to Study Art History?

Understanding and appreciating art history can make you a better artist. It will help you understand, appreciate, and appreciate your past work.

All art forms have seen tremendous changes over the past 100 years. Revolutions that challenged every aspect of artistic creation.

We had periods of Fauvism in visual arts. Artists used colors in new and challenging ways. Cubism was where basic shapes and relationships were broken down. Abstract Art was where paintings didn’t need to represent or portray anything. Dadaism was where things got even more bizarre. A toilet seat hanging in a museum might be considered fine art and important.

These are only four examples of the many modern art trends and schools that have shattered our notions and practices of art. Eventually, art did not need to look like anything. We could no longer use color theory, composition perspective, or essential representation. It is as if all art history, thousands of years, was gone.

Top Rated Best Art History books To Read

Top Rated Best Art History books To Read

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Here is a list of the best books about art history that Pennbook recommended reading:

The Story of Art

by E.H. Gombrich

E.H. Gombrich, the author of this book, observes at the beginning that there is no such thing as art. This statement sets the tone for what has become one of art history’s most acclaimed tomes. Gombrich avoids broad discussions about movements or concepts and focuses instead on the individual pieces of art and their creators. This includes male painters from the West, with a few exceptions.

Gombrich, an art historian, takes a remarkable stand by arguing that art history can both obscure and elucidate the experience of art through information beyond the act of seeing. Gombrich links artists such as Raphael, Cezanne, and other artists across time. He insists that they all faced similar challenges in doing their work and that the artist’s intentions matter.


The Collins Big Book of Art: From Cave Art to Pop Art

This gorgeous coffee table book introduces the world of art to all those who have a limited to no understanding of this topic. It crosses the art history from cave paintings to the Renaissance to Impressionism to Pop Art. Comprising over 1,200 works of art worldwide, every piece is tagged with the date, state, name, artist, substances, dimensions, and present site.

The Lives of the Artists

Italian painter, architect, historian, and author Giorgio Vasari are chiefly famous for two reasons: he coined the expression Renaissance and composed The Lives of the Artists. Inspired by many to be the first important book on the artwork, this text presents a romantic and contemporary look at the lifestyles and work of Italian Renaissance artists, from Giotto and Brunelleschi to Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael.

This variant is annotated, making it ideal for those interested in knowing more about this legendary artwork motion.

Art: A World History

Best Art History Books For Beginners

This pocket sized background of the art book covers everything from prehistoric to modern art. Within the webpage, you will discover over 900 images of their most well known artworks. You will get a thorough grasp of the painting of each period by reading this book. It is among the essential art history books for novices and creates a handy reference manual. You may take it everywhere; it is especially helpful when in an art gallery or on travel.

Gardner’s Art Through The Ages: A Global History

by Fred S. Kleiner

You’ve probably read through Gardner’s books if you have ever taken an art history class. It is not easy to pack the entire history of art in one or two books, but the text’s accessibility and the large amount of work make it one of the most essential nonfiction art history books.

This second volume of this book follows the late medieval period in Italy through modern art. Simple to comprehend vernacular, followed by magnificent color examples, make Kleiner’s 14th version of the planet’s most popular English language art history book a must have for any history student.

This volume continues where Kleiner’s first volume left off and contains chapters concerning the current account of art in China, Africa, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia.

Art History, Combined Volume

by Marilyn Stokstad, Michael W. Cothren

Best for Students

This joint and condensed version of Marilyn Stokstad’s well-known art history offers students an easy to comprehend guide to art history. Including contextual and formal analyses of artworks in their historical, political, and societal circumstance, Stokstad manages to engross viewers with casual verbiage and dazzling skill.

Perfect for first-year students of this topic, this art book covers the fundamentals of the history of art from across the globe, including French impressionism and African American artwork to modernism and cultural customs.


Read also: Best American History Books of All Time Review 2022

Life With Picasso

by Francoise Gilot

These first hand accounts of existence with revolutionary artist Pablo Picasso are full of details about his everyday life and studio clinic told through the eyes of his spouse Francoise Gilot. Dynamic and fair, Gilot details her decade long connection with Picasso, where she turned into his model, muse, and mom to two of their artist’s kids. Fascinating and adventuresome, Gilot produces an intimate portrait of an artist that had been frequently a self-absorbed egomaniac, and in other times a loving family man.

Art That Changed the World: Transformative Art Movements and the Paintings That Inspired Them

Best Art History Textbooks For Students

Best Seller Art History Book on Amazon

The world can be influenced by art. This book examines the work of more than 700 artists who had the most significant influence on the world beyond art. This book features well known artists like Michelangelo. Learn about the vision of each artist and view examples of their greatest works. You can also learn how they influenced art movements.

This book covers various artists, making it one of the most comprehensive art history textbooks. This book will help you gain a deeper understanding of the history and evolution of each art movement. This book will give you profound insight into the influence of each direction on the other.

Women, Art, And Society By Whitney Chadwick

Suppose you are looking for a concise, dense study on women as authors and objects in art. It’s straightforward and clear, and it provides a comprehensive overview of Western art.

Chadwick does an excellent job explaining how politics and social standards have influenced the way women make art and how these changes were portrayed in art. Make the lavishly illustrated for these changes and their consequences, she uses biographies of individuals. It is also highly accessible, which is crucial to make art history more accessible.

The Diary Of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait

by Carlos Fuentes

Best Art History Biographies

The Diary is a biography that also includes a facsimile of Kahlo’s journals. Fuentes provides translations and complete images of Kahlo’s sketchbook and Diary. Fuentes provides commentary and contextualizes the artist’s life and art within her pages. It is a controversial but informative look into the life of an artist through her eyes and that of art historians.


Richard Shone and Jean-Paul Stonard, eds., The Books that Shaped Art History: From Gombrich and Greenberg to Alpers and Krauss

Although a book about art history is meta, this complete collection of short essays covering the last century milestones of the category reminds us how closely art developments are linked to changes in their study.

This book brings together a broad range of top scholars and curators. It examines 12 tomes that introduced critical concepts to the field. They start with Religious Art in 13th Century France by Emile Male, published in 1898.

Male’s book, one of the first to study medieval art, also used iconography to reveal the meaning of images. Heinrich Wolfflin’s Principles of Art History (1915) was another book that established the standard way of comparing artworks based on style. Although it takes a deep dive into the subject, this is a fascinating look at art and writing.

The Duchamp Dictionary by Thames & Hudson

Marcel Duchamp is a significant figure in modern art. Understanding Marcel Duchamp’s practice is crucial to have a clear understanding the past century’s art, given his immense influence. The Duchamp Dictionary, by Thomas Girst, is a great way to understand the avant-garde ideas of the artist. It features 59 photos and short alphabetical dictionary entries that help you learn more about his legacy clear and engaging way.

Show Time: The 50 Most Influential Exhibitions of Contemporary Art

This book was published in 2014. Jens Hoffmann, Curator, Director, and Head of Exhibitions & Public Programs at The Jewish Museum, has compiled a list that he believes triggered profound changes to curatorial practice and reanimated contemporary art since 1990.


The A to Z Directory of Artists Throughout History by Phaidon

This book is smart and beautifully produced. The 500 page book covers the period from the Middle Ages through today. While some artists are more well known than others, they all receive the same lavish treatment: a full color, nearly full page reproduction of crucial work, printed with great attention to detail. Each entry includes a short text that gives a brief overview of the artist’s career. It is written in a clear and easy to follow style.

You’ll find stunning images everywhere you look. Because the artists are listed alphabetically, there will be unexpected juxtapositions between styles and eras throughout each spread. For example, one combines Hendrick ter Brugghen (17th century) and Daniel Buren (contemporary French conceptualist).

The book is a collection of images that focuses primarily on painting and includes sculpture, photography, and installation art.

Ways of Seeing, Distributed by Penguin Books

Ways of Seeing was a book that John Berger, an artist, and critic, wrote in 1972. It was adapted from the BBC television series of the same title. Seven essays, three of which are only images, make up the avant-garde book. They explore the mysterious relationship between what we see (and what we know).

Classical Art: From Greece to Rome

Best For Art Enthusiasts

The title’s second half suggests that the book begins with Ancient Greece. However, the book is actually more about this civilization. The Oxford History of Art series provides academic insight into particular art periods through expertly written texts and high-quality full-color illustrations. Each book explores how the period in question can be seen differently. Classical Art: From Greece to Rome is one example of this series.

Beard and Henderson offer a new perspective on Classical Art, with expert analysis and detailed discussion about the development and influence of Classical art. The excellent illustrations are a valuable visual reference tool for both period specialists and students. This book covers almost every period of art history you can imagine.


A Visual History by Robert Cumming (2020)

Cumming created a visual history to art to help his readers understand art. He encourages them to look at art closely and then read about it. This book is richly illustrated, featuring artists from all walks of art. The book includes a glossary covering the principal art movements, themes, styles, and techniques.

It is also a helpful reference book. It combines elements of What Great Paintings Speak with Techniques of Great Masters of Art, delivered with the knowledgeable enthusiasm of Beckett and Gombrich.

Historical Dictionary of Romantic Art and Architecture

This historical dictionary, written by Allison Lee Palmer, one of the most respected art historians and writers, provides concise but comprehensive profiles of the most important artists, works of arts, and philosophies from this critical period.

The Grove Encyclopedia of Northern Renaissance Art

The Grove set is an indispensable reference book in a comprehensive survey of Renaissance in Northern Europe, a significant art history publication.

Hal Foster, Rosalind Krauss, et al., Art Since 1900 (3rd Edition, two volumes)

This book, compiled by October contributors, an art-critical quarterly well known for its dense writing and difficult writing, was published in 2005 to correct the standard art histories while being more accessible. The book maintains October’s poststructuralist attitude and thorny approach. It is also skeptical of the idea that art can transcend time.

The book does not follow the evolution of modernism, anti-modernism, and post-modernism through artists and movements. Instead, it treats 20th century art as a textual deconstruction, with brief essays tied to specific cultural or historical events. The book begins with Sigmund Fréud’s Interpretation of Dreams and the 50th Venice Biennale. These events may be of significance to you, but art Since 1900 is an excellent example of the non-hierarchical discourse prevalent today.

Immanent Vitalities: Meaning And Materiality In Modern And Contemporary Art By Kaira Cabañas

This is a simple read. No. It is nonetheless exciting and thought provoking. Dr. Cabanas is an excellent example of how art historians can combine multiple histories and theories to examine art and innovation. Her main areas of interest are modernism, surrealism, and Latin American art. This is a fascinating discussion on power art and might appeal to those interested in the avant garde and modern South American art scenes.

Other Best Art History Books Considerations

  • Best Art Criticism And Analysis: African Renaissance: Old Forms, New Images In Yoruba Art By Moyo Okediji
  • Best Art History Books For Beginners: Art in Theory 1900 – 2000: A Anthology of Changing Ideas
  • Best Survey Art History Books: Art Beyond The West By Michael Kampen-O’riley, PhD
  • Power And Glory: Court Arts Of China’s Ming Dynasty By He Li And Michael Knight
  • The Journal of Eugène Delacroix
  • A Life of Picasso Volume I’m 1881-1906
  • The Books that Shaped Art History: From Gombrich and Greenberg into Alpers and Krauss
  • Twentieth-Century American Art
  • Edward Said, Orientalism
  • Art: Over 2,500 Works from Cave into Contemporary
  • A Short Guide To Writing About Art
  • Mary Beard and John Henderson, Classical Art: From Greece to Rome
  • Roman Art: Romulus To Constantine
  • Herculaneum: Art Of A Buried City
  • Warhol – Andy Warhol
  • Baroque: Theatrum Mundi: The World As A Work Of Art
  • Artemisia Gentileschi
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Masterpiece Paintings
  • Archaic And Classical Greek Art
  • Overlay: Contemporary Art And The Art Of Prehistory
  • The Private Lives Of The Impressionists

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Last update on 2022-04-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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