Five art books

  • 6 February 2013

Looking for some reading material this spring? We've picked our top five art books, from fashion in France to medieval Modernism.

1. Caravaggio: The Artist and His Work, Sybille Ebert-Schifferer
J. Paul Getty Museum, £39.95

Sybille Ebert-Schiffer's new biography of Caravaggio is a more grounded account of the painter's life than the usual sensationalist narratives. There remains a fascinating story at the heart, but with less emphasis on sordid details and greater acknowledgment of his public acceptance within his lifetime.

2. Portrayal and the Search for Identity, Marcia Pointon
Reaktion Books, £25.00

The relationship between portraiture, power and actuality lies at the heart of this wide-ranging exploration by Britain's leading portrait academic, Marcia Pointon. The study ranges from eighteenth-century teenagers and slavery to twentieth-century self-portraiture.

3. In Search of Rex Whistler, Hugh and Mirabel Cecil
Frances Lincoln, £40.00

This highly readable book follows twentieth-century Britain's greatest muralist from his beginnings as a high-spirited youth to his premature death at 39 during the Second World War. Highlights of Hugh and Mirabel Cecil's work include chapters on Whistler's time at the Slade School of Art and his major Tate commissions.

4. Medieval Modern: Art Out of Time, Alexander Nagel
Thames and Hudson, £29.95

Alexander Nagel's challenging book hammers home the relationship between medieval and modern art, highlighting the number of modern artists who found immense stimulus in the middle ages. Its strongest chapter focuses on Kurt Schwitters's fascination with the cathedral, culminating in his great Merzbau installation.

5. Fashion in Impressionist Paris, Deborah N Mancoff
Merrell, £24.95

Take a stroll through the private and public spaces of Impressionist France with Deborah N Mancoff's leisurely exploration of Parisian fashion. Baudelaire and Manet are among the artists who appear in this neat summary of the era, which touches on modernity, urban regeneration and the rise of the leisured classes.