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The Painted Word
The Painted Word (Paperback)
Tom Wolfe
 
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I read this when I was a student and it gave me permission to not take the art too seriously. Because of this book I don’t stand around in front of artworks waiting for it to happen.

Grayson Perry - 12/06/2014
Birds and Light: The Art of Lars Jonsson
Lars Jonsson
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His illustrations of birds in field guides have always had an unrivalled sense of animation, movement and characteristic jizz. This volume is a selection of his field sketches and watercolours which display his mastery in conveying fleeting impressions of moving subjects in changing light and weather conditions: instants of perception. There are also very intelligent diary notes and commentary.

Jeremy Mynott - 13/03/2012
Ways of Seeing
Ways of Seeing (Paperback)
John Berger
 
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Maybe the strangest thing about this book is remembering that it accompanied a BBC TV series in 1972. They don’t make ‘em like this anymore…. I’m fond of it because my father always kept it with him, wherever he lived, in flats or old people’s homes, long after he’d been divorced and had only about five books to his name. I think it represented to him a time when there was a stronger desire, in the culture, to bring complicated ideas to the masses. Anyway it’s a moving and polemical essay about property and art, seeing and owning.

Zadie Smith - 10/08/2012
Beauty: A Very Short Introduction
Roger Scruton
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Roger Scruton is a philosopher who writes on a wide range of subjects within aesthetics. His observations on art and music are profound and stated with great clarity.

Alexander McCall Smith - 28/07/2011
Henry Darger
Henry Darger (Hardback)
Klaus Biesenbach; Brooke Davis...
 
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My favourite of several books I have on the most famous 'outsider' artist. Extensive quotes are included from Darger's 19,000 page novel 'The Realms of the Unreal', for which his powerful paintings and collages where illustrations

Grayson Perry - 12/06/2014
Joseph Cornell: Shadowplay, Eterniday
Lynda Roscoe Hartigan; Walter Hopps;...
 
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The finest monograph on any artist I've yet read, it provides a thorough overview of the work and the man who kept poetry and the beauty of the ineffable alive in the visual arts during its blunter and decidedly more "effable" periods. Including a DVD of his experimental films, a facsimile digital collection of his record and book collections, and three-dimensional digital models of his better known boxes, this book is a fittingly great assessment of the man who I think was the greatest and most original artist of the 20th century.

Chris Ware - 02/10/2012
45
45 (Paperback)
Bill Drummond
 
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Series of slightly unhinged essays spotlighting The KLF founder’s brilliantly skewed attitudes to music and art and life. Laugh-out-loud hilarious.

Tom Doyle - 17/09/2014
The Camera
The Camera (Paperback)
Ansel Adams
 
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These three Ansel Adams books acted as my personal tutor during my degree course in Graphic Design at Camberwell College of Arts. I learned more about the fundamentals of photography from this Ansel Adams literary canon than from any other single person, before or since. Although the game has changed since then, in terms of the seismic shift away from negative-based photography towards the digital age, I think that most or all of the theories in these books still hold as much power and relevance as ever they did, for anyone wishing to learn about the craft of photography.

David Levene - 02/09/2014
Workers: Archaeology of the ...
Sebastiao Salgado
 
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This was one of the main sources of inspiration in my years as a young, aspiring, student photographer. Having recently discovered the language of (predominately black&white) reportage photography, I was in awe of Salgado's ability to deal with the lives and livelihoods of workers around the world with such compassion and celebration.

David Levene - 02/09/2014
The Print
The Print (Paperback)
Ansel Adams
 
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David Levene - 02/09/2014
The Negative
The Negative (Paperback)
Ansel Adams
 
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David Levene - 02/09/2014
Seven Days in the Art World
Sarah Thornton
 
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Thornton takes us into seven scenes, the studio, the auction, the magazine, the art school etc and archly dissects the action from her ethnographers point of view. A really good primer if you are about to enter the business in whatever role.

Grayson Perry - 12/06/2014
A Writer's Diary
A Writer's Diary (Paperback)
Virginia Woolf; Lyndall Gordon
 
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I value Woolf’s diaries as much for their pathos as for the insight they give into her modernist technique. Woolf’s life was as full of epiphanies as it was of sadness, and each page reads like an intimate note from a sensitive friend.

Teju Cole - 12/09/2012
The Limewood Sculptors of Renaissance...
Michael Baxandall
 
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I was trained as a historian of 16th century Northern European art, and this brilliantly-written study, which matches aesthetic considerations with social context, is my model for what art historical writing can be.

Teju Cole - 12/09/2012
IWitness
IWitness (Hardback)
Tom Stoddart
 
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I carried out a number of work-experience placements at the London-based photography agency IPG (Independent Photographers Group - now disbanded). Stoddart was one of the photographers on the agency's books and I was lucky to be working there when he returned with a bag of black & white films from a 3-week trip to South Sudan to cover the awful famine there in the late 90s. I helped to have the work sorted upon his return and even lent a hand during an edit one day. His work, as well as that of the other photographers in the group continues to inform and influence me today.

David Levene - 02/09/2014
The Complete Letters of Vincent Van...
Vincent Van Gogh
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In this three-volume box set, Van Gogh's correspondence, mostly to his brother Theo, reveals both his creative process and personal anguish.

Barry Fantoni - 11/06/2012

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