My favorite books to study on Maestros of the art world and their varying prisms of thought

Why am I passionate about this?

I first started art when I was nine years old, but my art journey really started after seeing the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo’s work at age 14. This experience changed my life and from there, I continued on with fourteen years of formal art education. The book details my experience and journey as a student, instructor, and professional artist over a thirty-year time period across three continents. I wrote An Artist’s Odyssey to help young artists or artists transitioning into art as a profession to help them avoid the pitfalls of the art world and supplement the necessary business acumen required to make a sustainable career in the art world.


I wrote...

An Artist's Odyssey: Chasing Ghosts, Masters & The Business of Art

By Alan Pierce,

Book cover of An Artist's Odyssey: Chasing Ghosts, Masters & The Business of Art

What is my book about?

I wrote this book to help young artists find their path within the art world and to promote personal and professional growth within the art field.  In my own experience, I found a distinct gap between studying art within the educational system and my own real world experiences as a professional artist and entrepreneur. This book is in part my attempt to create a framework to help young artists more effectively bridge that gap within their own artistic journey.   

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Artist's Complete Guide to Figure Drawing: A Contemporary Perspective On the Classical Tradition

Alan Pierce Why did I love this book?

I bought this book twenty years ago and still love this book. It is such a clear and beautifully illustrated book with a very strong explanation of the different elements of drawing the human figure and how to render with powerful volume and gesture. It is a great learning tool for artists of all ages and experiences to learn from, be inspired by or just review basic principles of drawing the human figure. The way that Anthony Ryder uses colored paper as the midtone is one of the easiest and most visually powerful ways to add character and depth to any drawing. 

By Anthony Ryder,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Artist's Complete Guide to Figure Drawing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Many of us want to learn "how to draw." But as artist Anthony Ryder explains, it's much more important to learn what to draw. In other words, to observe and draw what we actually see, rather than what we think we see. When it comes to drawing the human figure, this means letting go of learned ideas and expectation of what the figure should look like. It means carefully observing the interplay of form and light, shape and line, that combine to create the actual appearance of human form. In The Artist's Complete Guide to Figure Drawing, amateur and experienced…


Book cover of Dalí. The Paintings

Alan Pierce Why did I love this book?

Dalí. The Paintings is one of the most complete compilations of works I’ve seen, and it includes the examination of one of the most prolific and controversial figures in art. Salvador Dali is a genius. He took his artistic skill and vision across so many different genres of the arts. The book is a fascinating journey into his mind and work. I learned a tremendous amount regarding composition, palette and tone decisions, and of course realism. I loved the idea that you can inspire the mind, leading it into new thought patterns by presenting something that is different or strange. 

By Robert Descharnes, Gilles Néret,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Painter, sculptor, writer, and filmmaker, Salvador Dali (1904-1989) was one of the century's greatest exhibitionists and eccentrics-and was rewarded with fierce controversy wherever he went. He was one of the first to apply the insights of Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis to the art of painting, approaching the subconscious with extraordinary sensitivity and imagination.

This publication presents the artist's painted oeuvre. After many years of research, Robert Descharnes and Gilles Neret finally located the paintings of this highly prolific artist. Many of the works had been inaccessible for years-in fact so many that almost half the illustrations in this book had…


Book cover of The Magic of M.C. Escher

Alan Pierce Why did I love this book?

For me, this book was a real education. It provided insight into how the greatest artists strive to break the rules and find interest in juxtapositioning different versions of reality and fantasy.  The perfect summation, to me, of what Escher strived to do is communicated in this quote, “My topics are often playful too. I cannot stop fiddling around with our incontestable certainty. It is a pleasure, for example, to deliberately mingle two- and three-dimensions, flat and spatial and to poke fun at gravity.” One of the main takeaways from this book is to always strive to reimagine reality, break rules, be playful, and never be afraid to fail.  

By J.L. Locher,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Magic of M.C. Escher as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As beautiful and rigorous as an Escher work itself, this book is the classic study of a great maverick who so memorably linked the world of imagemaking with geometry and paradox. Escher's works, from the great master prints to numerous drawings, are brilliantly arranged to form a cinematic journey of discovery that reveals the magical world of the artist's mind, an uncharted realm lush with exotic conceptions and inventions.


Book cover of Bernini: The Sculptor of the Roman Baroque

Alan Pierce Why did I love this book?

Bernini shows the culmination of the Baroque era in which the artist himself played a significant part in forming and exposing how art can be an intersection between painting, sculpture, and architecture. The level of detail and expression that he can imbue his sculptures with is an experience in itself. The book also gives insight into his process, internal rules, and definitions of art as well as the historical context behind many of his works. His larger works, along with his smaller, far more personal portrait busts, are all detailed with rich photography showcasing the incredible detail of his work. 

By Rudolph Wittkower,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) was the greatest and most influential sculptor of his age. Endlessly inventive and gifted with extraordinary skill, he virtually created the Baroque style. In his religious sculptures he excelled at capturing movement and extreme emotion, uniting figures with their setting to create a single conception of overwhelming intensity that perfectly expressed the fervour of Counter-Reformation Rome. Intensity and drama also characterize his remarkable portraits and his world-famous Roman fountains.

Rudolf Wittkower's classic monograph and catalogue raisonne has been the standard established work on Bernini since 1955. It is now available in an updated and expanded edition.…


Book cover of Rembrandt

Alan Pierce Why did I love this book?

Rembrandt is a fascinating journey through Rembrandt’s paintings and also his lesser-known (to the general public) prints. It’s also a chronological roadmap of his works from his early years until his final period.  Watching his progression and the mastery in his latest period was a true learning process of how ‘less’ can be ‘far more.’ In the works displayed in the book, Rembrandt shows his skill at wringing every last bit of functionality out of each color in a very limited palette and also the cornucopia of atmospheric density he played with so masterfully to push and pull the viewers’ eye.  

By Emmanuel Starcky,

Why should I read it?

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


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Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand My Grandfather's Nazi Past

By Gabrielle Robinson,

Book cover of Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand My Grandfather's Nazi Past

Gabrielle Robinson Author Of Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand My Grandfather's Nazi Past

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Retired english professor

Gabrielle's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Gabrielle found her grandfather’s diaries after her mother’s death, only to discover that he had been a Nazi. Born in Berlin in 1942, she and her mother fled the city in 1945, but Api, the one surviving male member of her family, stayed behind to work as a doctor in a city 90% destroyed.

Gabrielle retraces Api’s steps in the Berlin of the 21st century, torn between her love for the man who gave her the happiest years of her childhood and trying to come to terms with his Nazi membership, German guilt, and political responsibility.

Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand My Grandfather's Nazi Past

By Gabrielle Robinson,

What is this book about?

"This is not a book I will forget any time soon."
Story Circle Book Reviews

Moving and provocative, Api's Berlin Diaries offers a personal perspective on the fall of Berlin 1945 and the far-reaching aftershocks of the Third Reich.

After her mother's death, Robinson was thrilled to find her beloved grandfather's war diaries-only to discover that he had been a Nazi.

The award-winning memoir shows Api, a doctor in Berlin, desperately trying to help the wounded in cellars without water or light. He himself was reduced to anxiety and despair, the daily diary his main refuge. As Robinson retraces Api's…


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