Five must-read art books

  • 4 June 2013

Looking for the perfect read for your summer holiday? We've chosen our favourite art books, from Asian art exposés to British biographies.

1. The Art of Jeremy Gardiner: Unfolding Landscape
Lund Humphries, £35

This collection of essays explores and illuminates the work of Jeremy Gardner, a painter who has spent decades exploring the Jurassic Coast of southern England. Casting Gardiner in the great English tradition of landscape painting from Constable to Nash, and illustrated throughout with beautiful reproductions of his works, the book shows the continuing development of the British landscape.

2. A Dealer's Hand: The Chinese Art World Through the Eyes of Giuseppe Eskenazi
Scala, £60

This beautifully illustrated book chronicles the life and career of art dealer Giuseppe Eskenazi, the through whom many of the greatest and most significant Chinese art has been sold over the past 50 years. Eskenazi emerges from the accounts as a determined and intelligent businessmen, while in his own words the book's latter half provides a 'pictorial history of some of the most interesting Chinese works of art that I have handled in my career'.

3. Hanging Man: The Arrest of Ai Weiwei
Faber & Faber, £14.99

Ai Weiwei's arrest by the Chinese authorities in 2011 was both highly publicised and controversial – Chinese authorities incarcerated the artist for 'tax evasion', but many believed he was arrested for continuing to make provocative statements following threats from the authorities. British journalist Barnaby Martin tells the story of the incident, including new material taken from Martin's conversations with Ai immediately following his release.

4. Light, Water and Sky: The Paintings of Ivan Aivazovsky
Alexandria Press, £65

Thie study of Russian marine painter Ivan Aivazovsky tells the colourful story of the artist's life, placing it within the context of the era in which he lived. Aivazovsky's encounters with figures including Tsar Nicholas I, Alexander Pushkin and Nikolai Gogol, and his visits to Italy, Constantinople and beyond, are all detailed in this account of an artist whose landscapes bore comparison with the work of his contemporary JMW Turner.

5. Art and Psychoanalysis
I. B. Tauris, £14.99

While flawed in its delivery, Maria Walsh's book is a timely exploration of a fascinating subject, illustrated with black-and-white reproductions of works by Cindy Sherman, Rachel Whiteread, Louise Bourgeois and others. Focusing on the theories of Sigmund Freud, Melanie Klein and Jacques Lacan, Walsh explores how psychoanalysis has influenced art, from the Surrealists to contemporary criticism.