books · resources

700 Free Art Books from the Guggenheim and Metropolitan Museum of Art

Stevenuccia, “Interno Guggenheim,” Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, July 30, 2012, via Wikimedia.

I’m an art nerd. If you ever want to see me get stupidly excited, start a conversation about Japanese prints or Near Eastern archaeology. Unfortunately for me, finding great books about art can be difficult.

Oh, the books exist. Museum gift shops and college libraries are full of them after all. But they also tend to be hideously expensive. Those glossy images and thick pages add up, and my bank account whimpers every time it sees the prices for them. Luckily the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have both begun to make art related books freely available.

The Guggenheim’s digital archive currently contains 204 books on Lichtenstein, Picasso, Kandinsky, and others. The Met has made a somewhat larger collection available; you can read any of 502 books from their MetPublications digital collection online. The books span the breadth of human history from Carvaggio and Vermeer to Chinese calligraphy and Mughal art to Christian Dior.

These online collections are a great supplement to local libraries and contain some brilliant writing and beautiful images. (They are also wonderful resources for anyone writing a historical novel or something set in a time and place with very different aesthetics than the modern era.)

And if I end up spending part of my weekend reading The Eighteenth-Century Women or Splendid Isolation: Art of Easter Island, well, there are certainly worse ways I could spend my time.

Wassily Kandinsky, “Aquarell 6,” via Wikimedia.

20 thoughts on “700 Free Art Books from the Guggenheim and Metropolitan Museum of Art

  1. I love that your passion is art! I’ve always envied people who enjoy and, more importantly, understand art. I… apparently do not. :p Nor can I make art on my own, but I admire and respect those who can and who understand it. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well…it is a bit iffy whether or not I can create art. (But gosh darn, I can talk about it!)

      I’ve also managed to convince myself that writing is a different kind of art and all creating is related. Or maybe I just think that to feel better about my stick drawings.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hahaha! Given that you say ‘iffy,’ I assume you can, but are too modest to say so. Is very common among creative minds. :p (Though, here’s a secret. *glances left and right* I’m just fake humble. Bahahahaha!)

        I think writing is a form of art. It’s just not a classic form of art, but the ability to weave words in a way that creates a picture that others can see in their minds and drive them to emotions. That’s what art is all about. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ha! Nothing wrong with fake humble. (“Fumble”? “Famble”? Maybe I shouldn’t try and mush the two together…)

        But I think you’re right. Art in its myriad forms tries to elicit responses from people. And writing certainly does that.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I wonder if you have any suggestion for art books for children? My daughter is extremely creative and as that part definitely wasn’t handed on from my genes, I have a hard time to find material to give her to open up her mind about this world and discover new techniques. She is quite an auto-didact and teaches herself through youtube videos, and isn’t much of a reader… and I always look for material that I can simply put there for her to get inspiration from and for her to discover herself….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, that is a great question! About how old is she?

      For kids in late elementary or early middle school, I really like and for information about techniques. Some of the other books in the “13 series” are good for inspiration as well In particular, there is one about women artists that I really enjoy. Depending on her age and the type of art she is into, I’d also be tempted to get her a standard book (possibly image heavy) of that art style. Something like this might be a good general art book for her.

      But it’s wonderful that we have the technology for things like youtube to help people learn. Making art means motion, and that movement can be so hard to capture in books.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow, thank you so mych, this is really helpful! She’s only 10, but for years already it has become clear to us that she she has a 100% arty brain…thank you again for taking your time and sharing all these suggestions, They’ll make a nice surprise present to celebrate the end of the school year and fill the summer months!

        Liked by 1 person

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