7 Irresistible Books About Artists for Your Next Vacation
by Thea Fiore-Bloom, PhD
Little, irresistible books about great artists are the perfect thing for creatives to take on vacation. They often end up being the only book you packed (or put on your Kindle) that you actually crack open on your holiday.
Take me for example.
I’m about to go away to a quiet place in the woods for two tiny days.
If I was the sleek and sensible type I’d only bring a small weekend bag for clothes, a kindle, and a tiny moleskin notebook.
But, apparently sensible is against my religion.
Instead, I will insist on lugging the “art bag” with me.
It varies trip to trip but at a minimum, the art bag contains:
A very large art journal.
Magazines for reading.
Magazines for collage.
A clutch of sparkly pens.
The box of oil crayons (I never use)
And unfortunately… at least one huge, extremely serious biography of some important sounding artist.
You know the kind of book you could use as a doorstop?
Or even effectively topple an intruder with?
Thing is, I won’t crack a virgin page of that respectable biography.
I may not open the giant art journal either.
But there is one thing I will be so happy I brought. As an afterthought.
I will devour the slim, heavily illustrated, jewel of a hardcover book that I usually have just purchased at some museum store.
It will be a book like the seven below.
A book you could easily read in an hour or two on vacation.
The kind of book that helps us remember why we wanted to become an artist or writer in the first place.
7 Books About Artists You’ll Actually Read on Vacation
Irresistible Books About Artists – Pick No 1.
Text by Sebastian Perez and Die Cut Illustrations by Benjamin Lacombe.
Absolutely glorious 40-page book for color lovers.
Even the endpapers in this book are so inspired that you may long to wallpaper your studio with them.
“Through a series of consecutive die-cut illustrations [with openings the reader can glimpse part of the image on the page beneath], one is drawn in passing through aspects of Frida’s life, art, and creative process.
It does this while exploring the themes that inspired Kahlo the most, such as love, death, and maternity.
Excerpts from Frida Kahlo’s personal diaries alternate with Sébastien Perez’s poetic musings to give fresh insight and emotional depth.
Benjamin Lacombe’s stunning artwork masterfully conveys the symbolism and surrealism of her art.
Frida is a must for any fan or bibliophile.”—Goodreads
Irresistible Books About Artists – Pick No 2.
This is Dalí
by Catherine Ingram and illustrations by Andrew Rae
This affordable 80 page illustrated book tells the little-known story of Dalí’s childhood in a manner as imaginative as Dalí himself.
This is Dali has gorgeous line drawings.
“Goes beyond his fine art practice and discusses his venture into the commercial world from his extravagant jewelry to his cheeky design for the Chupa Chups lollipops.
Surrealism is revealed as a way of life; illustrations bring to life the extraordinary Dream Ball at the Coq Rouge, his fabulous home at Port Lligat, and his underwater fantasy at the World Fair’s Surrealist pavilion.
Fun, provoking, and endlessly frustrating, Dalí is brought under the spotlight.”
Irresistible Books About Artists – Pick No 3
Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide
by Isabel Quintero and Zeke Peña
This is a notable graphic novel about a sublime photographer many Americans have never heard of.
One of the most impactful parts of this book for me was Iturbide’s telling of the story of why she no longer takes a photo of anyone without asking their permission.
“Graciela Iturbide was born in Mexico City in 1942, the oldest of 13 children.
When tragedy struck Iturbide as a young mother, she turned to photography for solace and understanding.
From then on Iturbide embarked on a photographic journey that has taken her throughout her native Mexico, from the Sonora Desert to Juchitán to Frida Kahlo’s bathroom, to the United States, India, and beyond.
Photographic is a symbolic, poetic, and deeply personal graphic biography of this iconic photographer.” — Getty Publications
Iturbide’s journey in Photographic will excite kids and adults. It would be an inspiring and welcome gift for any budding photographers you know.
Irresistible Books About Artists – Pick No 4
Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life
The Plants and Places That Inspired the Classic Children’s Tales by Marta McDowell
This is an unusual “best beach reads for artists” choice, but if you love English gardens, Potter or all things British — squirrel it in your satchel immediately.
“Beatrix Potter was a writer, painter, and gardener who lived an admirable life and left a legacy worth emulating. McDowell respected Potter’s uniqueness, quirks and gathered together stories, photos, and watercolors that leaves us understanding more about her than ever before.” —Reader’s Review
Peek inside Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life.
(Check out The Charmed Studio’s video post on Beatrix Potter’s research process.
Irresistible Books About Artists – Pick No 5
Matisse: A Way of Life in the South of France
by Jean-Bernard Nadine and Gilles Plazy. Recipes by Coco Jobard
I’m a cook, a lover of the food writings of MFK Fisher and collect books on the cultural history of food, so I had to include vacation reads with recipes!
Short on time or money this summer?
No problem, stay home and just pretend you’re strolling in Nice with Matisse.
You can pick up this well-researched bit of fig and pear filled eye candy for only two dollars here on BarnesandNoble.com.
Can’t stop without mentioning 2 other fabulous food books about great artists.
Irresistible Books About Artists – Pick No 6
by Marie-Pierre Colle and Guadalupe Rivera (daughter of Frida’s husband, the artist Diego Rivera)
This is probably the most dog-eared Frida book I own.
It will immerse you in a romantic round of food-centered celebrations once passionately enjoyed by the Kahlo/Rivera family.
It’s smartly structured to lead you through a Mexican calendar of public national celebrations and intimate private parties once held inside the walls of Kahlo’s magical blue house, Casa Azul.
Frida’s Fiestas is a delicious cultural education with rare photos of the home’s heart, Frida’s cheery yellow tiled kitchen. If you are a Frida fan and an artist you’ll enjoy our post on Meaningful Tips From Kahlo’s Life For Creatives.
Irresistible Books About Artists – Pick No 7
Van Gogh’s Table at the Auberge Ravoux
Recipes From the Artist’s Last Home and Paintings of Cafe Life by Alexandra Leaf and Fred Freedman
“Vincent, Wine, Food, France — What More Can One Ask?
This is one beautiful book.
I received it recently and tonight made one of the meals from the cookbook section — it was absolutely delicious and simple to make.
This book is– beautiful to look at, full of depth and mood. It’s gorgeously photographed. Full of prints of Vincent’s work and stories of Vincent’s life in Auvers.
The printing is beautiful, the paper is heavy and rich, the mood is just right.
I would recommend Van Gogh’s Table to anyone who is a fan of Vincent Van Gogh and/or a fan of French food.”– Online Reviewer.
(If you love van Gogh Read the Charmed Studio’s post on the new research that Vincent Van Gogh probably did not take his own life.)
How Great Books About Artists Benefit Creatives
My best ideas for articles I write for magazines don’t occur to me at my desk.
My best ideas bubble up when I let myself loll about a bit and read about what famous artists love to do when they’re not working.
When you are leafing through guilty pleasure books know your brain is quietly being seeded with creative ideas for future work.
Do you have a version of the notorious “art bag”?
Or am I the only one lugging that thing around?
Got any great beach reads about artists to suggest? Please share in comments below.
Need an excuse to travel? Check out our post on 6 Ways Travel Benefits Artists.
Or you may like:
How Did Van Gogh Really Die? Why Most People Still Think It Was Suicide and How The Real Story Affirms Artists
Diane Arbus: 4 Surprising Things Arbus Knew That Can Help You Take Your Art from Okay – to Incredible
How Rivalry Made Picasso, Matisse, Pollak, and DeKooning Great: And How You Can Use Healthy Rivalry To Bring Out Your Own Creative Genius