Recommended Art Books and DVDs

Below are art books and art and design DVDs that I have on my bookshelf at home that I have found to be essential reading/looking at/watching with all my art and design students over the years. My art books are becoming a bit tatty as they’ve been well thumbed, but it would be worthwhile you treating yourself a nice new copy here!

There is nothing nicer than being able to flick through really inspiring art books of your own, in your own time – not having to wait until the library is open, or having to read about artists online. I think we’ve all embraced the digital world but art books are still a favourite of mine, tactile, physical… a birthday present for you perhaps?

When you are looking at art books it really is essential that you start reading about the art, artists and how they have made their work. Getting an insight through art books on what has inspired an artist and how they have communicated their ideas is essential. This is only way that you will learn how to communicate your ideas effectively. It is a good way also to have a confident conversation at interview on your favourite artists – if they ask you why do you like a certain artist you need to know a bit more about their work than what it looks like.

Yes art books are visual tools but please, please I urge you to start reading too!

We’ll be adding to this list, so do re-visit from time to time. All art books are available to buy here through our Amazon link.

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Paper, tear, fold, rip, crease, cut

By Hatori Koshiro, Richard Sweeney

Amazon Price: £82.63

4.1 out of 5 stars (12 customer reviews)

28 used & new available from £9.00

From the traditional art of origami and paper cutting, through to contemporary experiments in conceptual paper installations and modular folding, Paper: Tear, Fold, Rip, Crease, Cut celebrates one of the world’s oldest and most widely used materials in all its visual glory, providing an analogue remedy to the digital world.

Review by Susan E Darnton July 2009: ‘Since I bought this book, I’ve hardly had chance to look at it, as it has been snatched away by everyone who comes into contact with it. I’ve just ordered a further two copies for my Art Department. It is absolutely inspirational and I would definitely recommend it for Art Departments in schools and colleges. Beautifully produced and designed.’

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Ai Weiwei artist
By Karen Smith, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Bernhard Fibicher, Ai Qing

Amazon Price: £16.13

5.0 out of 5 stars (1 customer reviews)

48 used & new available from £15.24
 
Ai Weiwei (b. 1957) is truly an artist for the twenty-first century. In his sculptures he refashions artefacts and antiques into surprising, sometimes monumental constructions such as Template (2007): hundreds of wooden doors and windows taken from demolished Ming and Qing dynasty temples and arranged into a massive outdoor sculpture.
 
As much as these materials look to the past, they also speak of the present, because never before (and probably never again) have they been available in such abundance. Like his benches carved from centuries-old temple beams, Template is a sly commentary on the speed with which China's building boom is obliterating its past. (When Template collapsed in a rainstorm two weeks after its unveiling at Documenta 12, the artist embraced its demise as a clever artistic twist.)
 
In China today, making art that's critical of current cultural and economic policies is not a particularly safe career move.
 
In stark contrast to the glass-and-steel high-rises going up around Beijing, the art galleries, ateliers and homes Ai designs are boxy and modest, made from brick and other vernacular materials. Their resolution of Eastern and Western styles is a fitting parallel to his antique readymade sculptures.
 
He has been described more than once as the Chinese Warhol, overseeing a factory-like studio (Fake) with dozens of assistants engaged in countless projects in a range of disciplines. And indeed his outsize public persona is an inseparable part of his art.
 
It should come as no surprise that when Herzog & de Meuron came to Beijing to conceive of a new stadium for the 2008 Olympics, Ai was the one who provided them with a design concept: an interlaced form based on the woven baskets his wife collects at local antique markets. At a time when the West is finally discovering Chinese contemporary art, Ai is one of the few to have transcended the label 'Chinese artist'.
 
In part thanks to his gallery Urs Meile (Lucerne and Beijing), Ai has won the support of strong European collectors. His work is increasingly being shown at major venues around the world (Kunsthalle Bern, Kunsthaus Graz, Tate Liverpool) and included in major international exhibitions (the Moscow Biennial, the Guangzhou Triennale, Documenta). A complex, multi-faceted artist, Ai is poised to make a deep impact on contemporary art far beyond China's borders. Ai Weiwei is represented by Galerie Urs Meile, Lucerne and Beijing.

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Tony Cragg sculpture

By Patrick Elliott

Amazon Price: £14.12

(0 customer reviews)

26 used & new available from £14.12
 
Tony Cragg Born in 1949, Tony Cragg is one of today’s most celebrated and popular sculptors. Before studying art he worked as a laboratory technician, which has had an enormous influence on his practice. His work fuses art and science in a rich and arresting way, and he works in an astonishing variety of styles and materials, including bronze, glass, plaster, wood, fibreglass and plastics.
 
In 1988 he won the Turner Prize. This beautiful book, celebrating the work of one of the world’s most successful and respected artists, concentrates on works made in the last ten years, but it includes also examples of earlier work, and has been produced in close consultation with Cragg.

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Art Crazy Nation Matthew Collings

By Matthew Collings

Amazon Price: £12.98

2.4 out of 5 stars (5 customer reviews)

41 used & new available from £0.01

A personal perspective on the contemporary British art scene is given by art critic Matthew Collings in this follow-up to the critically acclaimed ‘Blimey’. He examines how art attitudes and behaviour and art fashions have seeped into the wider culture. He questions what people want from Art now and who they think it is. He asks what the intellectual currents are that run through it and what are its values.

Collings takes the reader on a personal journey into the London art scene to seek out the answers.

Review: Dr David Gauntlett ‘This book is a sequel to Matthew Collings’s brilliant ‘Blimey!’, taking a largely delightful wander through the British art world of the past years. It’s full of good stuff, very readable, and it is great to see a return to the personal style of ‘Blimey!’ after the more sensible, textbook kind of approach which the author had to take in ‘This is Modern Art’. However it’s highly enjoyable and recommended, and much better than most other books ever written, so buy it now.

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the a-z of visual ideas
By John Ingledew

Amazon Price: £10.76

4.6 out of 5 stars (22 customer reviews)

39 used & new available from £10.00
 
A sourcebook of visual ideas and strategies for visual communication An A-Z of Ideas explains the key ideas, sources of inspiration and visual techniques that have been used throughout design history.
 
Aimed principally at the student market, the book shows where ideas and inspiration come from and helps unlock the readers creativity, providing numerous strategies to help solve creative briefs and design problems. Using an upbeat, dynamic and easy-to-understand AZ format, the book reveals techniques that can be exploited to deliver ideas with greater impact, with each entry offering a different starting point.
 
Entries include everything from Intuition and Instinct to Happy Accidents and Hidden Messages, and feature a section explaining how to use the idea or technique, providing readers with an infallible tool kit of inspiration. Including hundreds of inspirational quotes from creative people and packed with great examples of advertising campaigns, posters, book and magazine covers, illustrations and editorial images, this indispensable creative primer also includes previously unpublished photographic work.

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50 Contemporary Fashion Designers
By Doria Santlofer

Amazon Price: £13.48

3.5 out of 5 stars (2 customer reviews)

54 used & new available from £6.39

Yes, you should know these designers if you’re interested in fashion but don’t stop here. Some of these are quite established designers, check out the London Fashion week, in fact all the fashion week’s websites to learn about even more contemporary, younger designers.

Today’s young designers are savvier and more daring than ever before. Each designer is profiled in double-page spreads that include runway-ready products as well as notes, sketches, and biographical information. These fifty young men and women have embraced the global, economic, and environmental realities that serve to both challenge and inspire.

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Noma Bar Negative Space
By Noma Bar

Amazon Price: £269.69

4.3 out of 5 stars (3 customer reviews)

9 used & new available from £65.32

As an artistic device, negative space refers to an artists rendering of a subject by relying on the space that surrounds the subject to provide shape and meaning. Of course, the term also refers to any topic that conjures feelings of unease and discomfort.

Furthering the partnership begun with the publication of Guess Who? internationally acclaimed illustrator Noma Bar has compiled his newest collection of work, Negative Space.

Including works commissioned by The New York Times, Esquire UK, The Guardian and Time Out London, as well as never-before seen illustrations, in Negative Space Bar plays with this pun, focusing on subject matter ranging from sex, global warming and nuclear warfare to religion, crime and corporate greed.

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Information is beautiful David McCandless
By David McCandless

Amazon Price: £20.00

4.5 out of 5 stars (232 customer reviews)

34 used & new available from £7.46

A visual guide to the way the world really works.

Every day, every hour, every minute we are bombarded by information – from television, from newspapers, from the internet, we’re steeped in it, maybe even lost in it. We need a new way to relate to it, to discover the beauty and the fun of information for information’s sake. No dry facts, theories or statistics.

Instead, Information is Beautiful contains visually stunning displays of information that blend the facts with their connections, their context and their relationships – making information meaningful, entertaining and beautiful.

This is information like you have never seen it before – keeping text to a minimum and using unique visuals that offer a blueprint of modern life – a map of beautiful colour illustrations that are tactile to hold and easy to flick through but intriguing and engaging enough to study for hours.

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Anish Kapoor artist DVD
Amazon Price: £16.78
3.0 out of 5 stars (1 customer reviews)

5 used & new available from £2.47

Anish Kapoor DVD. This film follows the making of Marsyas for the Unilever Series of commissions in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern, London. A Challenging and overwhelming artwork, Marsyas is a vast red PVC membrane stretched between three massive steel rings. The film follows the making – from earliest maquettes to the complex installation at Tate Modern with great interviews on each stage of the process with the artist.’

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Vivienne Westwood designer DVD
Amazon Price: £21.00

4.0 out of 5 stars (2 customer reviews)

17 used & new available from £11.73

Vivienne Westwood. If you love ‘out of the box’ fashion and have your own style of expressing yourself, then this is the DVD for you. Its inspiring and Vivienne is so interesting and eloquent. Some beautiful scenes and enchanting clothes.’

Vivienne Westwood created outfits that shocked the world and many of her creations are exhibited in museums around the globe today.

In the 1970s this influential British designer became known as the creator of punk-fashion. She cultivated her image as a rebel on the international fashion scene, with much of her work inspired by historical designs.

She mixed wild styles, materials and epochs, helping to establish the renaissance of the corset, and making tweed and platform heels popular on the catwalk.

The film accompanies this most unconventional of designers at work. Malcolm McLaren and fashion experts discuss her progression from the self-taught queen of punk to prêt-à-porter trendsetter. Art Lives, from Arthaus, is a series of compelling documentaries on artists and art movements released for the first time on DVD in the English language.

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Martin Creed artist DVD
Amazon Price: £16.77
(0 customer reviews)

16 used & new available from £10.67
Martin Creed is one of Britain’s most engaging contemporary artists. His self-effacing work reflects an anxiety to communicate in a world already full of too many things. So he frequently tries to produce both something and nothing, and does so in idiosyncratic ways with the modest means from everyday life.

In 2000 his MARTINCREEDWORKS solo exhibition was organised by Southampton City Art Gallery. The show provided the first opportunity to reflect on a wide range of Creed’s creations, produced over a decade, including sculpture, installations, interventions, statements and also musical compositions performed with his band owada. Much of this work is illustrated here. Martin Creed discusses his uncertainties about making new works and his reluctance to name what he does as ‘art’. He also illustrated how simple, ordinary objects, seen in new ways, can suggest often complex and contradictory meanings. Such objects, and the ideas and questions that they provoke, surprise and delight audiences whose individual experiences of the works will often be strikingly different.

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