Stuff Worth Reading

Books on BlogI find that people with an art inclination also have a taste for books. Listed below are some that I think are useful, interesting, enlightening, and/or have really cool pictures (We’re artists. We like pictures.) Some are about art, some are about other things. All worth a read, I think.


Twilight of Painting by R.H. Ives Gammell:

This one was bait of a challenge to track down but was worth the hunt. Gammell’s arguments are as valid now as when he made them. I particularly enjoyed his dry, deadpan mild sarcasm. A gem.

Sacred Geometry by Robert Lawlor:

This one was a little over my head in some regards but if you are interested in how to use geometry in your works to create a composition, as well as infuse it with innate concepts inherent in geometry, then this is the book for you. It was given to me by a fine gentleman I worked with at the Academy. I hope to be able to return the favor to him. The book is useful but our conversations about art did more good for me than he’ll ever know. Thanks, Paul.

Mastery by Robert Greene:

This one isn’t specifically about art but it does discuss the arts quite a bit ( in addition to a variety of other topics). It’s about how people become “masters” of their field. It’s a really great read. It describes an apprenticeship format of education (formal or informal) that produces those folks we call geniuses and think about in rapt wonder. Spoiler alert: you may be on your way to being a genius already. Definitely  check this one out. Again, I have to thank Paul for this recommendation.

Charles Bargue Drawing Course by Gerald Ackerman:

I don’t have to sell you on this one. It sells itself.

Classical Drawing Atelier by Juliette Aristides:

This is the book I recommend when people ask “what books would be good to read if I’m interested in drawing?”.

Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane by Andrew Graham-Dixon:

This is the best biography of Caravaggio out there in my opinion. A great read.

Odd Nerdrum: Paintings, Sketches, and Drawings by Richard Vine:

I have several books on Nerdrum and I’d recommend any of them. This is the one I look at most frequently.

Rembrandt in America: Collecting and Connoisseurship by George S. Keyes, Tom Rassieur, and Dennis P. Weller:

I’m biased on this one since it is the catalog that went with the Rembrandt show that was in Cleveland. I only got to see the show nine times.

Rembrandt: The Painter at Work by Ernst van de Wetering:

Holy smokes, this book covers everything right down to where the canvas came from and what trees where used for panels. Crazy research. If you are a Rembrandt nut this should be on your shelf.

Kenyon Cox, 1856-1919: A Life in American Art by H. Wayne Morgan:

A great biography of Ohio’s contribution to art criticism.

The Classic Point of View by Kenyon Cox:

Obligatory if your aesthetic views run this direction. Right from the horses mouth.

The Wreck of the Medusa by Jonathon Miles:

This book gave me a whole new appreciation for Gericault’s masterpiece. Well researched and equally well presented.

Strapless: John Singer Sargent and the fall of Madame X by Deborah Davis:

Do yourself a favor and read this book. I’ve read it multiple times.

Old Masters, New World: America’s Raid on Europe’s Great Pictures by Cynthia Saltzman:

Have you ever wondered how all those old master paintings got over here? Me too.

The Undressed Art: Why We Draw by Peter Steinhart:

A book for folks that like to draw.


Darn near anything German but I recommend:

The Basic Writings of Nietzsche by Walter Kaufmann:

I like Nietzsche not because I agree with everything he says but because he makes me dwell on the things I think I believe. Friedrich, you little rascal.

What Nietzsche Really Said by Robert C. Solomon and Kathleen M. Higgins:

If you are going to read the book listed above you might want to read this one, too.

The Birth of Tragedy by Friedrich Nietzsche


The Illiad by Homer:

I read this in college and can honestly say it has been really influential in a lot of ways. It was part of a class in which the primary texts were The Illiad, the Bible, and Also Sprach Zarathustra. Now that was a class.

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco:

Eco is kind of the man.

Inferno by Dante Alighieri:

I have several copies of this one; two or three with illustrations by Gustave Dore.

The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy:

Having to good of a day? A little Russian literature will take care of that.

One Day in the life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn:

I read this in high school and still think it is great.

Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo:

You’ve heard of “the great American novel”? I think this is it. Whenever the topic of books comes up I always pass this one along. Read it.


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