The Best Art Books of 2022

From a queer Chicanx writer’s debut collection of personal essays to timeless catalogues and a survey of the history of the artist’s studio, here are 20 art books that informed and broadened our worldviews in 2022. Also, note Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò’s Elite Capture, which is not strictly an art book but certainly a must-read for anyone in the art field.


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1. Brown Neon by Rachel Gutiérrez (Coffee House Press)

Raquel Guitiérrez, Brown Neon, Coffee House Press

Raquel Gutiérrez has written a wonderful collection of essays that foreground her (she also uses they) queer Chicanx art-loving self in a way that really shines. She writes about the US/Mexico border without falling into stereotypes, digs deep to get at the contradictions around the Boyle Heights gentrification controversies, and travels to Marfa to chart the changing face of a region that is slowly becoming part of a global art ecosystem. Her prose is fresh, it feels personal, and it is a welcome remedy to all the straight dude art lit that is full of declarative nonsense and emphasizes the market. Gutiérrez takes you along on her journey and I’m certainly glad she does. And if you’re wondering about the title, she has a beautiful way of explaining it: “I am a brown neon sign. Aimless, aging homosexual hipster with attachment issues.” At another point, in her “A Butch in the Desert” essay, she asks, “What is a selfie to a digital immigrant?” Her multifaceted mindscape comes through on every page. Added bonus: if you buy the audiobook you’ll have the pleasure of listening to the author reading her own words. —Hrag Vartanian

2. Joe Brainard: The Art of the Personal by John Yau (Rizzoli)

John Yau, Joe Brainard: The Art of the Personal, Rizzoli (courtesy Rizzoli)

It’s perfect timing for a big, beautiful collection of Joe Brainard’s art, from his earliest work done as a teenager in his hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, to a full range of drawings, paintings, and mixed-media pieces, including rarely seen collaborations and collages. The deeply understanding text by poet and art critic John Yau situates Brainard and his work as existing in a slightly “other” space: While highly cultural and definitively avant-garde, Brainard did not quite find his home with the larger commodified art world. Instead, even as he dealt with popular culture and commodities (the comic strip character Nancy seemed a particularly favored “muse”), his works come off more as gifts, with all the generosity, playfulness, and delight that they involve. But these “gifts” also resist the status quo; they are astute subversions of capitalism, consumerism, and heteronormativity. His pansy pieces riposte the machismo of the art world at that time, and his self-portraits are quieter, self-reflective, and almost melancholy sketches around queerness. His dada-inflected found-object cigarette butt pieces either anticipate or deflate Conceptual and/or Pop Art. The variations in scale, mediums, and purpose add a refreshing diversity and depth to this collection, and stay true to Brainard’s own embrace of the so-called “minor genres.” But while his works are often small in scale, their impact and resonance are not. As Yau writes, “Brainard’s irreverence is suffused with tenderness and warmth, rather than superiority and nastiness. It is this unlikely synthesis of impudence and sympathy that I think has confused some people as to Brainard’s greatness.” In what seems a cold, hard, and transactional world, we may at last need his work enough to appreciate it fully. —Marcella Durand

3. Elite Capture: How the Powerful Took Over Identity Politics (and Everything Else) by Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò (Haymarket Books)

Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò, Elite Capture: How the Powerful Took Over Identity Politics (and Everything Else), Haymarket Books

Not strictly an art book, Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò’s Elite Capture is a must-read for anyone interested in the growing forces of conservatism in the art community as “elites” — often using the cover of identity politics and without direct responsibility to the larger groups they represent, and often without their knowledge or consent — “steer resources and institutions that could serve the many towards their own narrower interests and aims.” This is a question of relationships and is not about essentializing people’s identities. We see this again and again in the art community when individual artists or scholars are held up as representatives or spokespeople for a community they only superficially represent. —HV

4. Henry Taylor: B Side edited by Bennett Simpson (DelMonico Books/Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles)

Henry Taylor: B Side, DelMonico Books/Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

Henry Taylor’s portraits of friends and public figures — Miles Davis, Eldridge Cleaver, and Haile Selassie, as well as the children and partners of fellow artists — are slyly political paintings that pointedly voice the dilemma of being Black in the United States. This volume accompanies a current retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles that features not only an extensive array of paintings but also a rich selection of rarely seen drawings, installations, and sculptures. “No Chicken Please, ‘We’re Born Again Vegan’” (2011–13) collages a photo of Colonel Sanders toting his famous bucket in between a Black man and woman in what appears to be a parking lot. (A “Reserved Parking” sign indicates “Violators will be towed away.”) Situated on a red carpet, Sanders occupies the foreground with photorealistic clarity; the faces of the other two figures are rendered with Taylor’s typical indefiniteness, although they too wear white. We are asked to consider the brand icon’s omnipresent familiarity when set against the relative anonymity and indifference of the Black passersby. Ever alert to social contradictions, embedded histories, and the gap between public propaganda and private experience, Taylor often graces his subjects with a deliberate equanimity, suggesting only by inference a narrative of quiet, enduring resistance. Among the assembled essays is an especially thoughtful piece by painter Charles Gaines. By way of understanding the warm, familial atmosphere that infuses so many of Taylor’s subjects, Gaines declares that “painting portraits allows him to be with people, he wants to know them, to help them, to be around them.” —Albert Mobilio

5. Dorothea Tanning: Doesn’t the Paint Say It All by Dorothea Tanning, introduction by Pamela S. Johnson, essays by Victoria Carruthers, Mary Ann Caws, and Kate Conley (Kasmin Gallery)

Dorothea Tanning: Doesn’t the Paint Say It All, Kasmin Gallery

For an artist who died at the age of 101, the span between her first public appearance and her last works might be large. This catalogue from a show held at New York City’s Kasmin Gallery this past spring presents Dorothea Tanning’s last paintings — some of them dated nearly four decades after her first exhibition in 1943. Generally regarded as a Surrealist by dint of her uncanny, otherworldly canvases, as well as by association — she was married to Max Ernst — Tanning shows another side of her visual imagination in these works. Instead of the familiar scenes of oneiric domesticity, there are dark, turbulent swirls of color in which human forms emerge only as ghostly, half-seen shapes. Indeed, the amorphous and agitated “Maverick” (1969) seems to owe more to Helen Frankenthaler’s soak-stain technique than to any conventional Surrealist’s cleanly delineated imaging of the unconscious. This chaos, perhaps, is the authentic stuff of dreams. Of particular note is the included essay, titled “To Paint,” that has been excerpted from Tanning’s 1986 memoir, Birthday. In this almost minute-by-minute account of picture making — “The beleaguered canvas is on the floor. Colors are merging. Cobalt and Chrome bridge a gap with their knowing nuances” — Tanning dramatizes aesthetic choices as well as the sheer physicality of her process. Her goal, she tells us, is to trap the viewer “in a net from which the only escape is by going through the whole picture until the exit is found.” Whether or not an actual escape from these lush, vertiginous domains exists remains an open question. —AM

6. Diane Arbus Documents by Diane Arbus, introduction by Lucas Zwirner and Jeffrey Fraenkel, edited by Max Rosenberg (David Zwirner Books)

Diane Arbus Documents, David Zwirner Books

Diane Arbus, perhaps the most famous American photographer of the 20th century, has always generated strong reactions. At nearly 500 pages this voluminous compendium presents articles, essays, and reviews from 1967 to 2017 and includes pieces by writers and critics including Hilton Kramer, Robert Hughes, Susan Sontag, Hilton Als, Janet Malcolm, Lynne Tillman, Germaine Greer, Vince Aletti, Vicki Goldberg, and Holland Carter. Culled from the pages of The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, October, The Guardian, Time magazine, and various other publications, the assembled criticism testifies to both the impact and controversy surrounding her photographs, particularly questions about her relationship to and possible exploitation of subjects. The editors’ decision to reproduce the actual pages from these sources enhances the reader’s sense of temporal particularity — an early profile by Kramer for The New York Times Magazine is accompanied by advertisements for grandfather clocks and “simulated” fur coats. A more recent essay by Hilton Als is supplemented by a New York Review reader’s complaint about his use of the word “freaks,” as well as Als’s tart one-sentence reply, “If you say so.” Documents offers the opportunity to experience the turbulent evolution of a reputation that even today remains contested. —AM

7. Master of the Two Left Feet: Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered by Richard Meyer (MIT Press)

Richard Meyer, Master of the Two Left Feet: Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered, MIT Press

The density of detail and meticulous brushwork that mark Morris Hirshfield’s fanciful depictions of women, landscapes, and animals lend these paintings an almost vibratory power. The title, Master of the Two Left Feet, reclaims an art magazine’s 1943 jeer as an honorific. Meyer sets out to establish Hirshfield as more than a naïf whose brief mid-century renown was a fluke; he devotes several pages to tracing possible Old Master antecedents for the young woman’s face in “Beach Girl” (1937–39). It’s no accident that the painter’s female portraits prioritize the dramatic design of their dresses over realistic bodily proportions — like many Jewish immigrants, he had spent decades cutting patterns for the garment trade. With short arms that jut from overbroad torsos and cartoonish hands, these figures are closer kin to Surrealist paintings by, say, Leonora Carrington than to conventional midcentury portraiture. No wonder Hirshfield’s contemporary critics derided his peculiar yet enchanting anatomies. His landscapes, too, possess an alien yet profoundly involving quality. Careful inspection of “Waterfall” (1940) reveals its apparent symmetry to be thwarted by subtle variations in texture and linework. A similar seduction takes place when viewing “Lion” (1939): the precise and intricate weave that forms the mane vies for our attention with the beast’s unnervingly direct, quite human gaze. A master of deceptive, alluring tension, Hirshfield always entices and rewards scrupulous study. —AM

8. William Eggleston: Chromes edited by Thomas Weski, Winston Eggleston, and William Eggleston III (Steidl Verlag)

William Eggleston: Chromes, Steidl Verlag

Selected from 5,000 Kodachromes and Ektachromes taken from 1969 to 1974 in the photographer’s hometown of Memphis, these three sizable volumes offer an immersive opportunity to track William Eggleston’s development as he experimented with color and composition. No surprise that the set, when published in 2011, quickly sold out; it’s an essential compendium of this master’s formative work. Here are the blade-sharp depictions of mundane scenes and events, the “democratic camera” in full evidence — cars in rainswept parking lot, boxes of food in a refrigerator freezer, bubble-gum machines on a street corner, a battered mailbox, a stop sign (shot from behind), curlers being warmed on the back of a toilet, a rusted child’s wagon, and empty motor oil cans discarded in mud. Especially compelling are those Kodachrome variants of his iconic photos: two shots of bare light bulbs and their wiring anticipate “The Red Ceiling,” the famous result of the dye-transfer printing process that would produce the lushly saturated colors so identifiably his. While hundreds of photos have been included, seldom does the viewer’s excitement wane. Eggleston is that rare artist who invents the visual world anew with nearly every image. —AM

9. Amoako Boafo, forward by Camille Weiner, contributions by Osei Bonsu, Mutombo Da Poet, Aja Monet, Rachel Cargle, and Amoako Boafo (Roberts Projects)

Amoako Boafo, Roberts Projects

Amoako Boafo’s subjects regard the viewer with an unnerving directness that resolves gradually into unexpected intimacy. The intensity of the connection is enhanced by the artist’s use of his fingers to apply paint to the faces. The thick and plentiful furrows almost dance across checks, foreheads, and chins, registering palpable evidence of Boafo’s physical engagement with both the materials and the person. Backgrounds and clothing are rendered with contrastingly flat brushwork in pale colors that allow the subjects to emerge with striking dynamism. An essay by Rachel Cargle provides a deft psychological reading of these animate faces in which she describes the subject’s skin in “Monstera Leaf Sleeves” (2021) as “a labyrinth of emotion.” Born in Accra, the capital of Ghana, in 1984, Boafo studied in Vienna where, he says in an interview with curator Paul Schimmel, “I had to struggle there, and I managed to come out of the struggle. … Every image that I painted was like, this is it!” If Boafo cites Egon Schiele’s portraits as strong influences on his technique, it’s clear that he also imbibed the Viennese artist’s abiding passion and sense of mastery. Boafo charges these sitters with an undeniable presence so we can readily believe we are there in the room where the portrait is taking shape. —AM

10. Visualizing Genocide: Indigenous Interventions in Art, Archives, and Museums edited by Yve Chavez and Nancy Marie Mithlo (University of Arizona Press)

Visualizing Genocide: Indigenous Interventions in Art, Archives, and Museums, University of Arizona Press

The “G” word is often omitted in mainstream conversations about Native American and Indigenous art. Yet, how Native artists grapple with this tragic legacy is one of the important and foundational aspects of contemporary art in the United States and elsewhere. The art of Native American and Indigenous artists challenges, among other things, the way history is taught and understood. From myths of extinction to contemporary difficulties to Native sovereignty, contemporary artists are addressing all these issues in fascinating ways. This book charts some of the recent projects that continue to supplement (or change, when they are allowed the opportunity) our contemporary art history in new and interesting ways. While the book is written in an academic manner, it is full of information that will give you a bigger picture of the challenges that still remain in the field. —HV

11. Mark Rothko by Hiroshi Sugimoto, Christopher Rothko, Kate Rothko Prizel, and Alexander Nemerov (Rizzoli)

Mark Rothko, Rizzoli

Most of us are familiar with the glowing clouds of color that define Mark Rothko’s career, but this comprehensive volume delves into the decades before those characteristic images took shape. A generous sample of figurative work from the mid-1920s through the early 1940s reveals the artist’s moody urban and landscape scenes (“Subway,” 1935; “Movie Palace,” 1934–35; “Wharf,” 1934; and “Street Scene,” 1934) that suggest a strong connection to peers such as Edward Hopper and George Tooker. In the mid-’40s, Rothko gradually moved toward abstraction and, it would seem, took cues from Paul Klee and Arshile Gorky to devise “twittering machine”-like images that crowd his canvases with angular activity. This decided nod toward Surrealism, evident in “Slow Swirl at the Edge of the Sea” (1944), gives little hint of the artist’s future directions. Only after three or four years do we see these well-defined shapes dissolve into the familiar swaths of vibratory color. Rothko’s compositional explorations didn’t cease when he hit upon his signature mode — the colors, push-and-pull relationships, and depth and texture of their application — and all these elements preoccupied him for subsequent decades. In the volume’s self-reflective essay by kindred spirit Hiroshi Sugimoto, the photographer notes the quiet luminosity of Rothko’s paintings: “In the present day, the romanticism of life has been lost. Light, however, is the one thing that has always streamed down upon us in an unbroken continuum. Untainted by the degenerative touch of time, light streams down upon us today just as it did in ancient times.” —AM

12. Impractical Spaces: Houston by Pete Gershon (Impractical Spaces)

Impractical Spaces: Houston cover featuring University of Houston students building Anthony Braxton puppet theater, spring 1982 (photo by Frank Martin, Lawndale Art Center Records, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries)

Artist-run venues are born out of a need for space, both physical and psychological; they are independent of the market-based demands of the gallery or museum and they have been the place for American artists to build creative concepts and collaborations for more than 70 years, but these spaces are rarely documented. “Unless someone is a photographer or pack rat, things grow or fizzle out and it’s not history for 10 or 20 years. Those are the pitfalls,” author Pete Gershon told Hyperallergic in November. Impractical Spaces: Houston resurrects the immense risks and triumphs of 55 active and defunct Houston venues from firsthand testimonials. One organization, Consolidated Arts Warehouse, hosted important bands such as the Dead Kennedys and the Natives, but one of the founders took off with all the money; in another chapter, artists Jack and Stephanie Stenner depleted their savings and the $35,000 borrowed from Stephanie’s mother to successfully develop studio and exhibition spaces from the Purse Building that had no electricity or plumbing. Impractical Spaces: Houston saves stories from obscurity and records the diverse capacities of artists to build worlds. It also proposes possible blueprints for creatives to solve the gaps in municipal and institutional initiatives. —Kealey Boyd 

13. Red List: MI5 and British Intellectuals in the 20th Century by David Caute (Verso)

David Caute, Red List: MI5 and British Intellectuals in the 20th Century, Verso, 2022 (courtesy Verso)

Earlier this month, a BBC article positioned the UK’s rail worker strikes as an inconvenience on holiday travelers, and even included testimony from a scab whose plans would be unaffected. This subtle anti-organizing tactic, from one of the largest state-affiliated media companies, reflects the deep-seated relationship between the British state and mainstream culture. Now more than ever, David Caute’s Red List stands as a testament to the artists who questioned dominant Cold War narratives and landed themselves in MI5’s crosshairs. Through recently declassified archives, Caute takes an inventory of painters, sculptors, actors, writers, and filmmakers who earned files for their perceived affiliations with leftist organizations — even when no such connections existed. Lesser-known artists like Clare Sheridan, who once fought off the advances of a pushy Mussolini, appear with revolutionaries like Paul Robeson and best-selling authors such as George Orwell, the latter of whom ended up spying on activists later in life. From MI5 propaganda conflating Jews with communists to BBC censorship of and racism against Black organizers, Caute’s historical analysis reveals that many government officials, often taking cues from former Nazis, had no idea what they were actually looking for. —BA

14. The Artist’s Studio: A Cultural History by James Hall (Thames & Hudson)

James Hall, The Artist’s Studio: A Cultural History, Thames & Hudson

There’s something special about artist studios that none of us can quite explain. In this book, James Hall does a deep dive into what a studio meant for medieval illuminators, as well as their role in the Renaissance and Baroque periods, and even their slow morph into factory-like spaces. This is a good read with ample illustrations, and while I wish the focus wasn’t almost exclusively on Western art, it’s a welcome addition to cultural histories that tell the story of art in new and interesting ways. —HV

15. The Lost Architecture of Jean Welz by Peter Wyeth (DoppelHouse Press)

Peter Wyeth, The Lost Architecture of Jean Welz, DoppelHouse Press

It’s no question that we’re living through woefully ugly times. The hyper-commodification of Modernism, and an abundance of shoddy luxury, has led to reactionary fervor against all utilitarian housing. For late architect and painter Jean Welz, a well-designed structure need not eschew neoclassical forms; in fact, designs should reflect one’s aesthetic and political commitments. In The Lost Architecture of Jean Welz, British filmmaker Peter Wyeth pieces together Welz’s life and oeuvre from his youth in Red Vienna, flight from fascism, and retirement in Johannesburg. Previously unpublished archival photos, interviews with family, and personal visits to the Welz houses still standing create a rich and rewarding meditation on Wyeth’s own research process. Often narrated in the first person, his prose conveys excitement and frustration with such an elusive character, connecting Welz to a house made for Dada founder Tristan Tzara and a Nazi-destroyed gravestone for Karl Marx’s daughter. Wyeth argues that Welz directly challenged Le Corbusier’s “Five Points of Architecture,” which perhaps explains his disappearance from the history books. As such, this narrative will resonate with anyone interested in the politics of architecture, or the pursuit of knowledge at large. —BA

16. Images of Class: Operaismo, Autonomia, and the Visual Arts (1962–1988) by Jacopo Galimberti (Verso)

Jacopo Galimberti, Images of Class: Operaismo, Autonomia, and the Visual Arts (1962–1988), Verso

Italy is quickly sliding into fascism once again, emboldening far-right groups to plot attacks and threaten any critics voicing opposition. Jacopo Galimberti’s Images of Class therefore feels essential to this moment. Hundreds of rare photos and artworks from the midcentury operaismo and autonomia movements reveal that Socialism with Italian characteristics was alive and well in the postwar era. Looking beyond Gramscian notions of “cultural hegemony,” collectives like Archizoom and Gruppo Femminista Immagine produced rhetorical designs that blurred distinctions between image and text. Much of the agitprop presented here was widely disseminated across cities and provinces, so much so that the Italian state cracked down on anyone making art against the grain. Galimberti dutifully weaves a tapestry visualizing the two movements, from their early political cartoons to blueprints for social housing, while also critiquing the limits of their Eurocentrism. Through it all, this title illuminates how artists adeptly connected science and technology with class consciousness, drawing a through line to art workers’ organizing efforts today. —BA

17. 100 Treasures / 100 Emotions: The Macquarie University History Museum edited by Martin Bommas (Giles)

100 Treasures / 100 Emotions: The Macquarie University History Museum, Giles (courtesy Macquarie University History Museum)

“[T]ime is major ingredient that creates value and turns a thing into a historical object,” writes Martin Bommas in the introduction of 100 Treasures/100 Emotions, a survey of 100 out of some 18,000 objects in the collection of Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. The collection spans five millennia and gathers objects from five continents; the prospect of lifting 100 out of such a vast pool is a daunting and impressive experiment in its own right. But the book goes a step further in connecting object histories to emotional reality, subtitling each one-page profile of an object from the collection with an associated emotion — for example, “care” as represented by a Greco-Roman hand cartonnage (332 BCE–396 CE), a kind of linen preparation around a mummified body, found strewn across a burial pit at El-Hawawish, Egypt. Or “anticipation,” accompanying a chronicle of stoneware “blop top bottles” (1830s–70s), part of the Antipodean bottle-making history of Kellyville, New South Wales. The author not only contextualizes the object in its time and making, but also highlights the anticipation with which a user might have approached its contents after a long day’s work. This meditation on a large collection is both focused and expansive, reminding us that human society and all its production function fundamentally in the service of human emotion. The book covers even the most complicated of emotions faced at a museum: those around provenance and stolen artifacts. Object 28 — “intrigue” — is a fourth-century thymiaterion from southern Italy, determined to have been a looted object laundered by Giacomo Medici, a central figure in the trafficking of illicit antiquities out of Italy. In February of 2020, the museum returned the thymiaterion to the Italian government, and now displays a bright red 3D-printed facsimile in its place. It stands out as an object that teaches something about intrigue, yes, but also integrity. —Sarah Rose Sharp

18. Lastgaspism: Art and Survival in the Age of Pandemic edited by Anthony Romero, Daniel Tucker, and Dan S. Wang (Soberscove Press)

Pato Hebert, “Untitled” from the Lingering series (2020–21), digital photograph (courtesy Soberscove Press)

Published in 2022 amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and through a lens of art and activism, Lastgaspism “considers the pandemic as an event that has reframed and catalyzed numerous other crises and numerous resolutions.” Each contributor, whether through an interview, project description, visual essay, breathing exercise, or other offering, attempts to deconstruct the harms wrought by structural and systemic racism, and our participation in it. In “Breaking Down to Build Up: A Cultural Emergency Response,” artist Erin Genia (Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota) shows that the answers to our current crises lie in redress and repair, rather than current attempts rooted in destructive, exploitative cultural practices; Anthony Romero’s interview with Design Studio for Social Intervention highlights the organization’s work in disarming social problems; and scholar Kimberly Bain’s “Aftermath” recounts the Ferguson, Missouri, uprising and what followed, stating that “an end to all this won’t come until we end all this.” These entries and more address feminism, essential workers, mutual aid, history, death, and grief as measures of time, and, above all, the breath in “personal expressions and cultural practices,” as Dan S. Wang considers. The ideas presented in Daniel Tucker’s “Care in Crisis” form the core of this collection, naming care as essential for comprehending and creating what needs to happen now, and next. —Nancy Zastudil

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19. Catholica: The Visual Culture of Catholicism by Suzanna Ivanic (Thames & Hudson)

Suzanna Ivanic, Catholica: The Visual Culture of Catholicism, Thames & Hudson, 2022 (courtesy Thames & Hudson)

It can be hard to decipher the Old Masters’ Christian symbols — what’s been missing for a long time is a succinct primer with good design. Scholar Suzanna Ivanic’s book fills this void. Whereas older texts, such as George Ferguson’s Signs and Symbols in Christian Art (1954), are organized like dictionaries, Catholica moves through a series of complex diagrams of artworks, harnessing the book cutting-edge design. Readers learn how to decode various episodes from the Life of Christ like the Marriage of Cana or the Visitation, which form the narrative template for much early modern art. Get the inside scoop on the veiled symbols in famous works, including Leonardo’s “The Last Supper” (1495–98), Hans Memling’s “The Last Judgement” (1467–73), or Robert Campin’s “Mérode Altarpiece” (1427–32). Learn to distinguish between the symbols of the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene. Throughout the text, this emphasis on diagrams enables readers to swiftly absorb this complex and intimidating material. The short accompanying chapters provide a solid introduction to the various ways that Christian, and specifically Catholic, ideas are intertwined with much European art history and material culture. Whereas previous publications on this subject could overwhelm readers with too much detail, Ivanic keeps it short and sweet. After exploring this book’s thorough yet accessible analysis, readers will be empowered to recognize saints and episodes from the Bible without needing to rely on the wall text. —Daniel Larkin

20. Treasures of Ukraine: A Nation’s Cultural Heritage, foreword by Andrey Kurkov (Thames & Hudson)

Treasures of Ukraine: A Nation’s Cultural Heritage, Thames & Hudson

Ukraine has been in the news all year, so I suggest you brush up on your Ukrainian art history a little (and decolonize your mind from the Russia-centric art history that we’ve all been taught for the last century). From prehistory through the Duchy of Lithuania and the extensive religious art of Ukraine, this well-designed volume (except for the bizarrely placed page numbers) continues its tale through Modernism and into contemporary art. Overall, you might be surprised at the breadth of art that constitutes the Ukrainian traditions and in the process learn that Ukrainian art during the 1920s found its own footing through a Soviet-sponsored “indigenization” program. A good read.—HV


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