5 Art books you should own

What's in your bookcase?

I’m a huge book collector, in my line of work it’s essential. The galleries library is one of our main assets, I’ve spent thousands of pounds over the years on building a collection of reference books, each one allows me with certainty to make educated purchases without wading into the shark infested waters of fake works. You may think that fake works only apply to original paintings but there has been a growing trend of faking prints. None more so than the Andy Warhol collection. The Warhol foundation are brutal with their assessments of works that are sent to them – and rightly so. Nothing damages an artist’s legacy more than forgers. The books I’m going to recommend to you today are not expensive Catalogue Raisone’s, which comprises about 80% of my collection. The books we're focusing on today are are general reference books, which are both interesting and informative.

The Art Book, by Phaidon

The Art Book by Phaidon. Find it on Goodreads Here.


1. We start with a book that has been in my collection for about 25 years. Published by Phaidon, it covers the most famous artists and gives singular examples of their best-known work. It’s a great reference book for any art newbie and for people who want to brush up on their art knowledge. It’s not in depth on the artists, but what it gives you is a starting point to find art that interests you and then allows you to carry out further research into that artist and their life’s work. There are several subsequent versions of this book, all of which are updated or flat out revisions, adding new and important artists. I'd advise you have a good look at what is available with this book and buy the latest version.

Modern Art and St Ives by Paul Denison

Modern Art and St Ives by Paul Denison. Find it on Goodreads Here


2. Some of the most important movements in Modern British Art have been founded in the coastal town of St Ives, It was a true artist community, where the most inventive and experimental went to flex their creative muscles and be part of a community that would share ideas, and discover new ways of working. It led to some of the most creative paintings and sculptures that this country has ever seen. This book by Paul Denison covers the most dynamic years of work in St Ives from 1905 up until 1965.

Understanding art isms by Stephen Little

Understanding Art …Isms by Stephen Little. Find it on Goodreads Here


3. Understanding Art …isms is a great book by Stephen Little, which covers all the different movements in art and gives examples and explanations of each. If you can’t tell your Ashcan from your Expressionism then this book will be for you. Again it’s more of a reference book for understanding what constitutes classification in a movement of art, but still makes for interesting reading.

Why your five year old could not have done that by Susie Hodge

Why your five year old could not have done that – by Susie Hodge. 

Find it on Goodreads Here


 4. When I first starting trading 20 years ago this was a common refrain. The fact that it’s not often said these days shows a massive change in people’s attitude to modern art. Susie Hodge’s book gives a passionate retort to people who fail to grasp the intentions and skills of artists like Jean Michel Basquiat or Cy Twombly. It makes for interesting reading.

A Northern School by Peter Davies

A Northern School by Peter Davies. Find it on Goodreads Here


 5. A Northern School: Lancashire Artists of the Twentieth Century is written by Peter Davies, and is considered by many to be ‘THE’ book on the artists that made up an entire movement and broke into the collections of national and international art houses. A great read and a great resource for finding artists who made a difference in the art scene for the North of England. Peter has since written a revised edition of this book which would be the one I would recommend purchasing. I include this version as it was the first book that really put a microscope over Northern art, and for many years was the only book on the subject.

All the above books are available on Amazon and other good book sellers. There are lots of fascinating books on art and on individual artists available today. We’ll do a further blog on some of the best of these biography’s and look into the works of two friends of the gallery in Ian Massey and Peter Davies, both of whom have written great books on artists such as Patrick Procktor and Keith Vaughan (Ian Massey) and Josef Herman and John Bratby (Peter Davies).



Images are not our own and are from Goodreads links supplied. 

All opinions are my own and not De Lacey Fine Art's or any other company or body.