Our Favorite Art Books of 2023 — Colossal



November 14, 2023


We’ve started to think about finding the perfect gifts for our loved ones and bet you have, too, which is why we’re sharing the first part of our Colossal Year in Review series a little bit early. Below, you’ll find our staff’s favorite art books published this year, from artist monographs, surveys, and historical reflections to prove that art really does make the world a better place.

The titles below are on our shortlist, so head to Bookshop to check out what else made the cut.


Book of Earth: A Guide to Ochre, Pigment, and Raw Color

Heidi Gustafson of the Early Futures Ochre Archive takes us on a journey through rare pigments and their landscapes in a celebration of the unique qualities of earthen materials. Each chapter is dedicated to an aspect of her massive collection, which contains more than 600 samples. Captivating and insightful, the volume elucidates the world of natural color, challenging our perceptions of terrain and the inanimate world, and includes practical advice and techniques for creating your own pigments.


Simone Leigh

The first monograph of the pioneering artist’s work, Simone Leigh encompasses two decades of Leigh’s sculptures, videos, and installations, all of which center on Black women and the aesthetics of Africa and the African diaspora. The book also coincides with the artists’s first major museum survey, which is currently on tour across the U.S., and contains writings by some of today’s most brilliant thinkers.


An Indigenous Present

Works by more than 60 artists comprise this monumental survey, which renders solid a new paradigm of representation and visibility of Native North American art. The nearly 450-page book is filled with bold full-color images that explore myriad practices focused on contemporary art, music, filmmaking, choreography, architecture, writing, photography, design, and more.


Groundswell: Women of Land Art 

This groundbreaking volume is corrective and celebratory as it highlights the women artists who changed the genre. Spanning 256 pages, Groundswell encompasses works by renowned artists like Ana Mendieta, Nancy Holt, and Agnes Dean, who used untraditional and organic materials in their practices and gravitated toward the earth itself as a site for their works.


Seth, On Walls

French artist Julien Malland, a.k.a. Seth Globepainter, takes us on a journey through a decade of his resilient and youthful subjects, many of which are enveloped by color and playful optical illusions. The monograph features many of the artist’s most impactful murals and emphasizes how imagination could be the key to solving many of the world’s ills.


Luna Luna: The Art Amusement Park

Opened in 1987, Luna Luna was the first-ever art amusement park, and it was brimming with rides and kiosks designed by some of the most recognizable names in 20th-century art history like David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, and Salvador Dalí. This re-issue contains information about and photos of the public spectacle, along with cover drawings commissioned by the artists.


Birds of the World: The Art of Elizabeth Gould 

Elizabeth Gould is known for her vibrant illustrations of birds that paired with her husband’s ornithological studies and was overlooked for her contributions during her lifetime. A corrective book that recognizes Gould for her immense talent, Birds of the World is a celebration of the artist’s legacy and contains 220 vivid renderings depicting myriad species, from a speckled vulturine guineafowl and chromatic crimson rosella to a slender-beaked glossy ibis.


Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us

We intuitively know that art affects us, but how exactly? Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross dive into the connection between art and health in this illuminating book that details a range of positive outcomes, from museum visits aiding people suffering from dementia to playing music to build cognitive skills. It’s an essential read for anyone interested in the real-world impact of art.


Shop all of the Best Art Books of 2023 on Bookshop.



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