The five art books you need to read this month: December

The five art books you need to read this month: December

30 Nov 2018 - 12:27 BY The Arts Society

Divine Conception: The Art of the Annunciation

Sarah Drummond

Depicted in mediums from paintings and illuminated manuscripts to mosaics and wall paintings, the Annunciation has inspired generations of artists and creatives. Combining compelling analysis and sumptuous images, this book explores some of the key aspects of the Annunciation, including the role of the angel and the presence of the Christ Child. Written by journalist Sarah Drummond, Divine Conception: The Art of the Annunciation provides an interdisciplinary approach to this landmark Christian event, drawing upon works such as a 6th-century elephant-ivory plaque and an anonymous 14th- century Franco-Flemish panel.

Published by Unicorn Publishing Group, £25

The Penguin Classics Book

Henry Eliot

With their bold cover designs, Penguin Classics have captured the imagination of book lovers for over 70 years. The perfect gift for bibliophiles this Christmas, The Penguin Classics Book encompasses 4,000 years of literary history, from the tales of Ancient Mesopotamia to the poetry of World War I. Bringing together authors including Defoe, Dickens, Juvenal and Dr Johnson, the book reveals the illuminating stories behind the series’ 1,200 titles. There are plenty of lesser-known works to discover, from the medieval text The Book of Margery Kempe – the earliest surviving autobiography written in English – to the science fiction stories of William Morris.

Published by Particular Books, £30

Bruegel: The Master

Manfred Sellink, Ron Spronk, Sabine Pénot, Elke Oberthaler

Known for his pioneering paintings, Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c.1525–69) remains one of the 16th century’s most influential artists. This book is published to mark next year’s 450th anniversary of his death, and features his works and details of his creative process. Written by scholars, museum curators and conservators, the book also coincides with the Bruegel exhibition at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (until 13 January 2019).

Published by Thames & Hudson, £42

Destination Art

Phaidon Editors

A celebration of art and travel, this book explores 500 of the world’s place-specific artworks and where they can be seen. Highlights include artist Shirazeh Houshiary and architect and designer Pip Horne’s contemporary stained-glass window in London’s St Martin-in-the-Fields, and Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels – four concrete cylinders that align with the solstices, located in Utah’s Great Basin Desert. This work also contains valuable travel information for culture lovers. 

Published by Phaidon, £24.95

Salvador Dalí at Home

Jackie de Burca

From his Lobster Telephone to the painting Christ of St John of the Cross, the work of Salvador Dalí (1904–89), with its hyperrealism and electrifying imagery, ensured the artist’s place as the best known of the Surrealists.

In this new book, the travel, arts and culture writer Jackie de Burca investigates how Catalan culture and traditions, the artist’s home life, and the places he chose to live all fed Dalí’s work.

Born the son of a notary in the historic town of Figueres, Catalonia (now home to the Dalí Theatre-Museum, inaugurated in 1974), the artist spent many years abroad. He moved to Paris in 1929, where he joined the Paris Surrealist group, led by André Breton. He spent time in Madrid, to attend the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando; and he later relocated to the United States. Yet, Dalí remained deeply connected to Catalonia, returning to the region in 1949. The ‘Dalí Triangle’ there includes three of the places considered particularly important in the artist’s life. Figueres itself; the beautiful village of Cadaqués with nearby Port Lligat, where he had his first art studio and home, complete with phallic-shaped pool, from 1930 to 1982. And Púbol, where he bought a castle for his wife and muse, Gala. Featuring over 150 illustrations of Dalí’s famous – and lesser-known – works, personal photography and archive imagery, this book will direct Dalí fans to these places and more, revealing details of the cultures and landscapes that helped shape his unique approach to his art.

Published by White Lion Publishing, £25

Fifty Treasures of the North East

The Arts Society North East Area

The home of famous creatives from Frederic Leighton to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, northeast England has a long connection with the arts. This book reveals the region’s lesser-known cultural treasures. Highlights include Teesside’s contemporary steel structure, Temenos, created by sculptor Anish Kapoor and structural designer Cecil Balmond.

Published by ZPQ Designs, £7 – postage included. To purchase a copy, contact The Arts Society House ( or 020 7430 0730) or The Arts Society North East Area team.


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