Books your creative friends actually will want on their coffee table

Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertaining

Books to read, books for looking at the pictures, books to read while looking at the pictures. Here are a variety of recent options for the art-interested:

'Alma W. Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful'

Seth Feman and Jonathan Frederick Walz; Yale University Press; 336 pages

Alma W. Thomas was 80 in the spring of 1972, when she now-famously became the first Black woman to have a solo exhibition at New York's Whitney Museum, then the flagship institution supporting American art. Her late abstractions, composed from dazzling acrylic color marks, are her best-known paintings. This catalog to a large traveling survey co-organized by the Chrysler Museum in Virginia and the Columbus Museum in Georgia, which houses the artist's personal ephemera and a trove of her earlier drawings, pulls back to consider Thomas' entire output across her long life. $65

'A Superb Baroque: Art in Genoa, 1600–1750'

Jonathan Bober et al.; Princeton University Press; 384 pages


One of the most heart-wrenching exhibition losses forced by the COVID-19 pandemic was the cancellation of the first museum show of distinctive Baroque art from Genoa, the former Italian maritime power turned 17th century banking boomtown. The show was set to open at the National Gallery of Art last year, rescheduled for this fall and finally dropped altogether in August given logistical loan and shipping complexities. Lush illustrations and readable text unfurl a surprising artistic pluralism during this catholic period — in that term's secular as well as religious meaning. $65

'R. Buckminster Fuller: Pattern Thinking'

Daniel López-Pérez; Lars Muller Publishers; 368 pages

Packed with illuminating archival illustrations, this deep dive into one of the 20th century's greatest design-thinkers covers everything from his analysis of the cornea of the human eyeball to international economic structures. The geodesic dome is only the most famous work the polymath came up with. Daniel López-Pérez, an architecture professor at the University of San Diego, explores Fuller's search for nonlinear ways of understanding to harness the power of design. $40


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