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5 Coffee Table Books for Art Lovers


Article by Kate Baxendale

Photography by Stock Images + Provided

Art is a visual history of human existence. It expresses a range of emotions; it demonstrates what is important in various cultures; it documents important people, places and events. Works of art and the artists behind them have fascinating stories to tell. If you've always appreciated art but want to learn more about it, these five books—which serve as visual references of art and its impact on our world—are a great place to start.

Art That Changed the World: Transformative Art Movements and the Paintings That Inspired Them

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"Experience the uplifting power of art on this breathtaking visual tour of 2,500 paintings and sculptures created by more than 700 artists from Michelangelo to Damien Hirst.
This beautiful book brings you the very best of world art from cave paintings to Neoexpressionism. Enjoy iconic must-see works, such as Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper and Monet’s Waterlilies and discover less familiar artists and genres from all parts of the globe. Art That Changed the World covers the full sweep of world art, including the Ming era in China, and Japanese, Hindu, and Indigenous Australian art. It analyses recurring themes such as love and religion, explaining key genres from Romanesque to Conceptual art." –Amazon

Artists: Their Lives and Works

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"A visual celebration of more than 80 great artists, from the Early Renaissance to the present day.
Exploring the vision and techniques of the greatest painters and sculptors throughout history, Artists tells the fascinating stories behind each masterpiece, including the historical context in which each artist worked, their influences, creative development, friendships, loves, and rivalries. From Donatello to Dali and Giotto to Giacometti, Artists showcases key examples of work by each artist as well as images of them at work in their studios.
A perfect gift purchase for those with an interest in art, art history, or biographies, as well as students of the arts." –Amazon

Art of the 20th Century

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"Who could possibly have forecast on New Year’s Eve 1899 that, one hundred years later, painting and sculpture would be only options, not prerequisites? The term “art” has been defined and redefined so many times over the last 100 years that it has gained entirely new social, political, and technological meanings.
Ranging across the full spectrum of disciplines available, including photography and new media, and thematically chaptered to highlight relationships between works and movements, this readable and encyclopedic survey does just what it says on the cover. Whether you want Surrealism or Land Art, Fluxus or Bauhaus, this is your be-all, end-all guide to art of the 20th century." –Amazon

Art: Over 2,500 Works from Cave to Contemporary

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"The definitive visual guide to over 2,500 paintings and sculptures from around the world, from prehistory to the 21st century. Accessible, engaging, and thoroughly comprehensive, Art shows you how to look at — and understand — works of art, before guiding you chronologically through the milestones of art history. ...
More than 700 artists from all periods and cultures — Western and non-Western, right up to the present day — are profiled alongside key examples of their work. Picture-packed pages help you to identify the characteristics of each artist’s work, and follow how it changed through his or her lifetime. Contextual information deepens your understanding of artists’ work, life, and times. ..." –Amazon

Art: The Definitive Visual Guide

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"Discover the history of art movements from classical Greek art to the Italian Renaissance, the pre-raphaelites, and the masters of impressionism with this bestselling DK visual guide.
Truly comprehensive in scope, this bestselling book explores masterpieces by more than 700 artists, including Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso, and Van Gogh. An invaluable art lover's reference book, it showcases everything from Italian baroque painting and African Art to contemporary art history.
Each artistic movement is clearly explained, with descriptions of origins and influences, characteristic styles and techniques, and typical subjects. A visual timeline of key works gives an overview of the scope of each major movement.
Bold graphics, overlays, and detailed closeups show you how to 'read' composition and subject matter, and explain the techniques and methods the artists used to create their masterpieces." –Amazon