3 Books Every Art Lover Should Have Read

by | Feb 28, 2021 | All

If you are an art lover, then you know that there are thousands of books about art, artists, and creative moments that will help you enrich your mind and simply be entertained. There are countless “must read” books about art out there that you should strive to place on your shelf, but if you are looking for a short yet concise list, then take a look at the following 3 books I think every art lover should read. 🙂


The Lady in Gold by Anne-Marie O’Connor


The Lady in Gold* is one of the most monumental non-fiction books about 20th century art. It focuses specifically on the famous “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer” by Gustav Klimt, a portrait which was stolen from the family during World War 2 by the Nazi government. Years later, Maria Altmann, the niece of the woman in the portrait, launched a legal case in an attempt to retrieve the stolen portrait.

The legal battle became one of the most important and well-covered art cases in the world. This true story was eventually turned into a feature film, which makes an excellent watch – but only after you’ve read the book – to uncover the complex and interesting history behind the painting, the woman in the portrait, and the subsequent events of history.


The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt


Anyone who loves art will love this novel that magnetically portrays the power and longevity of art in the world – and in our personal lives. The Goldfinch* is about a boy name Theo who, after surviving an accident which kills his mother, becomes obsessed with a painting (the titular “The Goldfinch”) that reminds him of her.

The novel won a Pulitzer Prize in 2014, and for good reason: its engaging prose will immediately draw you into its engrossing story that will have you staying up late into the night to read “just one more chapter.” As a bonus, there are many works of art mentioned in the book, so art lovers with a keen memory for paintings will enjoy picking out the many pieces nestled within the Goldfinch’s pages.


The Art of Rivalry by Sebastian Smee


This engaging non-fiction book* is about the sometimes difficult, sometimes intense and sometimes downright vicious relationships between artists who were deemed rivals: Picasso and Matisse, Freud and Bacon, Manet and Degas, and finally Pollock and de Kooning.

This book will appeal to art lovers who want to know more about the human side of art history, the side that speaks to the fact that artists – even great artists – are, at their core, still just people. Sebastian Smee’s vibrant writing shines and will keep you entertained from page to page as you learn about the intense and sometimes comically ridiculous rivalries between popular artists.


The above three books are some of the most engaging, worthwhile and interesting books that art lovers should definitely add to their “to read” list.

What other book tips do you have? Let me know which books you have read as an art lover and would recommend!


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