Five winter reads

  • 6 November 2013

Ever wondered how art gets its value? Or which contemporary works will be remembered by future generations? Find out with our five art books for the winter.

1. Kelly Grovier, 100 Works of Art That Will Define Our Age
Thames and Hudson, £35

When future generations look back on the art of the late 20th and early 21st century, what images will stand out? Tracey Emin's bed? Banksy's graffiti? Art critic Kelly Grovier attempts to answer that question in this sweeping survey of contemporary art, from Marc Quinn's blood self-portrait to Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds (bought for Tate with help from the Art Fund).

2. Desmond Morris, The Artistic Ape: Three Million Years of Art
Red Lemon Press, £30

Best known for his classic book on the human condition, The Naked Ape, anthropologist Desmond Morris turns his attention to the development of the artistic impulse. The Artistic Ape brings together Morris's understanding of human nature and his love of art (his paintings have been exhibited alongside works by Joan Miró) to lead the reader through three million years of mankind's creativity.

​3. Philip Hook, Breakfast at Sotheby's: An A-Z of the Art World
Particular Books, £20

The only work Van Gogh sold during his lifetime, The Red Vineyard – an absorbing, seductive, unique landscape – was bought for the equivalent of $1,000 in today's money. In contrast, the fifth version of The Card Players by his contemporary Cezanne sold for an estimated $259 million in 2011. So how does art acquire its financial value? Philip Hook, director of Sotheby's art brokers, explores how a painting gets its price-tag.

4. Andrew Marr, A Short Book About Drawing
Quadrille Publishing, £15

After graduating from high school, Andrew Marr was faced with a difficult decision: Cambridge or art school? Ultimately Marr chose to study English at Trinity Hall but he remained a lifelong amateur 'drawer', and after suffering a stroke in January 2013 he claimed that drawing helped him become 'fully human' again. In this eloquently written book, Marr explores the mechanics, psychology and impact of drawing and its role within his life.

​5. John-Paul Stonard and Richard Shone, The Books that Shaped Art History
Thames and Hudson, £24.95

Gombrich, Pevsners, Clark – the names that changed the way we think about art and its history. Each of the 16 essays in this collection – all originally written for the Burlington magazine – assesses the ideas and legacy of a seminal text in the history of art, from early modernist theory to post-structuralist critiques. The contributors are experts drawn from across the world of art, including Courtauld professor Susie Nash and former MoMA curator John Elderfield.