The best picture books for grown-ups

Brian D. Cohen Author Of Bestiary: A Book of Animal Poems & Prints
By Brian D. Cohen

Who am I?

I make prints and visual books. I founded Bridge Press, now in Kennebunk, Maine, 1989 to publish limited edition artist's books and etchings. The name of the press underscores the collaborative nature of book making. Visual books offered possibilities for the continuity, connection, and unfolding of images—each image is complete yet linked to every other through the structure of the book. Books seemed an ideal vehicle to assemble and connect my prints, to order and unfold a sequence of images, with defined and recurrent shapes, motifs, and composition, and to create a setting in which each image is complete yet linked to every other through the structure of the binding or enclosure.


I wrote...

Bestiary: A Book of Animal Poems & Prints

By Brian D. Cohen, Chard deNiord,

Book cover of Bestiary: A Book of Animal Poems & Prints

What is my book about?

Printmaker Brian D. Cohen and poet Chard deNiord have maintained an ongoing dialogue about animals since their first collaboration on the theme in the artist’s book What the Animals Teach Us. Animals have never ceased calling to artist and poet in silent and strange languages that have beckoned them to listen, observe, and wonder. To Cohen and deNiord, animals offer “tokens of ourselves” (Walt Whitman, Song of Myself) as they continue to inspire and surprise. Bestiary pairs over thirty poems and prints of a range of animals in their natural environments.

Carolyn Forché has written an introduction to the book in which she places Bestiary in historical, mythological, moral, and scientific context, and exhorts readers to behold these animate wonders of the world with their full awareness and open hearts.

The books I picked & why

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Affinities: A Journey Through Images from The Public Domain Review

By Adam Green,

Book cover of Affinities: A Journey Through Images from The Public Domain Review

Why this book?

An endlessly fascinating and extensive compendium of reproductions of photographs, diagrams, charts, maps, paintings bizarre, sublime, caustic, illuminating – from the ancients to the modern era. Each image retains something of its historical context, yet they are arrayed with a compelling visual logic by a brilliant visual editor.

Affinities: A Journey Through Images from The Public Domain Review

By Adam Green,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Affinities as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An exploration of echoes and resonances across two millennia of visual culture, celebrating ten years of The Public Domain Review.

Gathering a remarkable collection of over 500 public domain images, Affinities is a carefully curated visual journey illuminating connections across more than two thousand years of image-making. Drawing on a decade of archival immersion at The Public Domain Review, the book has been assembled from a vast array of sources: from manuscripts to museum catalogues, ship logs to primers on Victorian magic. The images are arranged in a single captivating sequence which unfurls according to a dreamlike logic, through a…

The Book of Change: Images and Symbols to Inspire Revelations and Revolutions

By Stephen Ellcock,

Book cover of The Book of Change: Images and Symbols to Inspire Revelations and Revolutions

Why this book?

Ellcock curated a remarkable selection of images that are provocative, transformative, and universal an anthology of archetypes, scanning the world’s vast catalog of visual images from cultures, religions, time periods, political viewpoints, and media. I don’t know a more comprehensive anthology of moral, political, environmental, social, and cultural images, all vivid, challenging, and eternally relevant. 

The Book of Change: Images and Symbols to Inspire Revelations and Revolutions

By Stephen Ellcock,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Book of Change as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Stephen Ellcock, one of the world's most beloved digital curators, presents a collection of radically beautiful and provocative images designed to inspire reflection, revelation, and transformation.

Stephen Ellcock pairs hundreds of images, icons, and symbols spanning three thousand years of artistic creation with quotes from activists and writers to provoke reflection, revelation, and transformation. This eye-opening compendium highlights the environmental challenges facing our planet and the social injustice rampant in our societies, while offering hope that a better world is within our grasp. The artwork includes archival images from prominent and obscure artists, Renaissance paintings, counter-cultural iconography, documentary photography, and…

Cosmos: From Romanticism to the Avant-Garde

By Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Centre De Cultura Contemporania De Barcelona, Jean Clair (editor)

Book cover of Cosmos: From Romanticism to the Avant-Garde

Why this book?

This book brilliantly revives the concept of cosmography, the visual depiction of the universe, from the beginnings of Romanticism to images from the Hubble telescope. By intermingling images from art and science, the book underscores the powerful visual parallels between the two disciplines, their discoveries equally strange, wondrous, and insightful. 

Cosmos: From Romanticism to the Avant-Garde

By Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Centre De Cultura Contemporania De Barcelona, Jean Clair (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cosmos as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Galileo to Yves Klein the cosmos has been the inspiration for generations of artists, architects and designers. Their multifacetted cosmic visions are the subject of this original volume.

Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe

By Susan Dackerman (editor),

Book cover of Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe

Why this book?

The advent of the exactly repeatable pictorial statement is arguably the most significant technological and cultural innovation in the history of humankind. This book examines in detail the contributions to scientific knowledge made by significant Renaissance artists, Hans Holbein, Albrecht Dürer, and Hendrick Goltzius principally among them. In addition to reproducing woodcuts, engravings, and etchings, the book depicts various complex forms of paper engineering from the Renaissance that acted as scientific instruments, maps, simulacra, or utile devices in themselves. 

Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe

By Susan Dackerman (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An unusual collaboration among distinguished art historians and historians of science, this book demonstrates how printmakers of the Northern Renaissance, far from merely illustrating the ideas of others, contributed to scientific investigations of their time. Hans Holbein, for instance, worked with cosmographers and instrument makers on some of the earliest sundial manuals published; Albrecht Durer produced the first printed maps of the constellations, which astronomers copied for over a century; and Hendrick Goltzius's depiction of the muscle-bound Hercules served as a study aid for students of anatomy. Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe features fascinating reproductions…

The Art of the Print: Masterpieces, History, Techniques

By Fritz Eichenberg,

Book cover of The Art of the Print: Masterpieces, History, Techniques

Why this book?

As a printmaker and student of the history and techniques of printmaking, this is my “desert island” volume, the most comprehensive, literate, knowledgeable, and articulate statement on this influential, historically significant, and often overlooked art form. Eichenberg, himself a brilliant and trenchant wood engraver, book illustrator, and political commentator, shows himself to be an eloquent historian, scholar, and interpreter of various printmaking media, not only in Europe and the Americas, but throughout the world, in its long history. 

The Art of the Print: Masterpieces, History, Techniques

By Fritz Eichenberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Art of the Print as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With 654 black-and-white illustrations and 95 color plates.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Europe, change, and modern art?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Europe, change, and modern art.

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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