Every year around this time, there are so many beautiful new art books that make me want to buy a few and do the “snow day” dance. Some of them are museum exhibition catalogues and others try to give you the entire museum experience. In any event, they are usually heavy. The publishers know that people are more willing to splurge at this time of the year and so, before buying one for a friend, check the strength of their coffee table.
The art book I’ve read most about is The Art Museum. A few facts about this book: It costs $200.00 ($100.00 on Amazon), it weighs 18 pounds. It has nearly 1,000 pages. It’s three feet across when open. Sounds awesome – if you have the space in your house! The idea is to totally recreate the museum experience. Organized by “rooms,” The Art Museum begins with the Lascaux Caves in France and includes art from museums and cultural sites all over the world. This book would not fit on any coffee table in my house, but it might work as a foot stool.
If you would rather focus on just one art museum, check out The Louvre: All the Paintings. It’s not as hefty as the entire world of art, but you still get 3,022 paintings from the Louvre’s permanent collection. If you’ve ever visited the Louvre, you can understand the motivation to publish this book. When you visit, it’s overwhelming to put it mildly. After we made the pilgrimage to the Mona Lisa, we had a list of other paintings we wanted to see and, on the advice of friends, had already made a list of where each one was located so we didn’t walk miles out of our way between stops. It didn’t really matter. You get distracted (in a good way) every where you turn, and before you know it, the list seems ridiculous. Although some of the reproductions in this book are super small, it is kind of cool that you can visit the entire museum without getting “museum feet.”
For the young art enthusiast, check out Artist to Artist: 23 Major Illustrators Talk to Children About Their Art. Published in 2007, I still love sharing this book with kids who see themselves as artists. It features interviews with illustrators whose work they know – Maurice Sendak, Tomie dePaola, and Chris Van Allsburg among others – and might inspire them to be included in the next volume of The Art Museum.