100 books like Painting as an Art

By Richard Wollheim,

Here are 100 books that Painting as an Art fans have personally recommended if you like Painting as an Art. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Naming and Necessity

Gary Kemp Author Of What is this thing called Philosophy of Language?

From my list on those interested in language itself.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a philosopher of language (and of art) and have been for 30+ years. Why philosophy of language? Well, it encourages a certain salutary kind of self-consciousness—which is extremely valuable to philosophy—and facilitates greater rigor. But it only got going some one hundred and twenty years ago. So it's modern(ish) as well as deep.  And whereas it might seem a narrow slice of the philosophical pie, it isn't; it seems to provide fruitful ways of thinking for almost any philosophical subject. For example, rather than 'What is X?', we ask 'What do we mean by "X"?'; a subtle difference perhaps but the change in perspective might be a key.

Gary's book list on those interested in language itself

Gary Kemp Why did Gary love this book?

I never believed a word of it, yet here is a most challenging, extremely well-written, and powerful statement of the "new theory" of reference, which is so satisfactory, so promising, yet even comforting in many ways.

Contained within are various arguments (akin to thought experiments) aimed at nudging one towards a way of thinking about language that is compelling, of the "I knew it all along! How could anyone not see?" variety. 

By Saul A Kripke,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Naming and Necessity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Naming and Necessity' has had a great and increasing influence. It redirected philosophical attention to neglected questions of natural and metaphysical necessity and to the connections between these and theories of naming, and of identity. This seminal work, to which today's thriving essentialist metaphysics largely owes its impetus, is here reissued in a newly corrected form with a new preface by the author. If there is such a thing as essential reading in metaphysics, or in philosophy of language, this is it.


Book cover of Philosophical Investigations

Gary Kemp Author Of What is this thing called Philosophy of Language?

From my list on those interested in language itself.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a philosopher of language (and of art) and have been for 30+ years. Why philosophy of language? Well, it encourages a certain salutary kind of self-consciousness—which is extremely valuable to philosophy—and facilitates greater rigor. But it only got going some one hundred and twenty years ago. So it's modern(ish) as well as deep.  And whereas it might seem a narrow slice of the philosophical pie, it isn't; it seems to provide fruitful ways of thinking for almost any philosophical subject. For example, rather than 'What is X?', we ask 'What do we mean by "X"?'; a subtle difference perhaps but the change in perspective might be a key.

Gary's book list on those interested in language itself

Gary Kemp Why did Gary love this book?

I first read this book at age twenty-one and have never stopped returning to it. It gets better and deeper each time.

Ludwig teaches that language and reality are bound up in so many ways. It also contains some famous themes and head-scratchers, such as language games, family resemblance, private language, and rule-following, discussed, as always, in a non-technical way. 

By Ludwig Wittgenstein,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Philosophical Investigations as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Incorporating significant editorial changes from earlier editions, the fourth edition of Ludwig Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations is the definitive en face German-English version of the most important work of 20th-century philosophy The extensively revised English translation incorporates many hundreds of changes to Anscombe's original translation Footnoted remarks in the earlier editions have now been relocated in the text What was previously referred to as 'Part 2' is now republished as Philosophy of Psychology - A Fragment , and all the remarks in it are numbered for ease of reference New detailed editorial endnotes explain decisions of translators and identify references and…


Book cover of Word and Object

Gary Kemp Author Of What is this thing called Philosophy of Language?

From my list on those interested in language itself.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a philosopher of language (and of art) and have been for 30+ years. Why philosophy of language? Well, it encourages a certain salutary kind of self-consciousness—which is extremely valuable to philosophy—and facilitates greater rigor. But it only got going some one hundred and twenty years ago. So it's modern(ish) as well as deep.  And whereas it might seem a narrow slice of the philosophical pie, it isn't; it seems to provide fruitful ways of thinking for almost any philosophical subject. For example, rather than 'What is X?', we ask 'What do we mean by "X"?'; a subtle difference perhaps but the change in perspective might be a key.

Gary's book list on those interested in language itself

Gary Kemp Why did Gary love this book?

I found this book's scientific rigor, systematicity, depth, and wisdom unmatchable. I liked "the passion for desert landscapes" together with the wit.

It’s not easy, at first, to see the philosophical significance of the discussion until you do, and you’re attracted to the idea that philosophy is too often a mere verbal tangle. Quine agrees, and he tries to explain why. 

By Willard Van Orman Quine,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A new edition of Quine's most important work.

Willard Van Orman Quine begins this influential work by declaring, "Language is a social art. In acquiring it we have to depend entirely on intersubjectively available cues as to what to say and when." As Patricia Smith Churchland notes in her foreword to this new edition, with Word and Object Quine challenged the tradition of conceptual analysis as a way of advancing knowledge. The book signaled twentieth-century philosophy's turn away from metaphysics and what Churchland calls the "phony precision" of conceptual analysis.

In the course of his discussion of meaning and the…


Book cover of The Man Without Qualities

Gary Kemp Author Of What is this thing called Philosophy of Language?

From my list on those interested in language itself.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a philosopher of language (and of art) and have been for 30+ years. Why philosophy of language? Well, it encourages a certain salutary kind of self-consciousness—which is extremely valuable to philosophy—and facilitates greater rigor. But it only got going some one hundred and twenty years ago. So it's modern(ish) as well as deep.  And whereas it might seem a narrow slice of the philosophical pie, it isn't; it seems to provide fruitful ways of thinking for almost any philosophical subject. For example, rather than 'What is X?', we ask 'What do we mean by "X"?'; a subtle difference perhaps but the change in perspective might be a key.

Gary's book list on those interested in language itself

Gary Kemp Why did Gary love this book?

Musil is a person who you know you’ll never quite keep up with; he has irony within irony within irony. The book is fiction, but few things are better for learning skepticism about "essences" and big ideas, and yes, humility about oneself.

Ulrich, Diotima, General Stumm, sister Agatha, and Moosebrugger are the unforgettable characters, and post-World War I, Vienna is the stage. 

By Robert Musil, Sophie Wilkins (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Man Without Qualities as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With an introduction by Jonathan Lethem

It is 1913, and Viennese high society is determined to find an appropriate way of celebrating the seventieth jubilee of the accession of Emperor Franz Josef. But as the aristocracy tries to salvage something illustrious out of the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the ordinary Viennese world is beginning to show signs of more serious rebellion. Caught in the middle of this social labyrinth is Ulrich: youngish, rich, an ex-soldier, seducer and scientist.

Unable to deceive himself that the jumble of attributes and values that his world has bestowed on him amounts to anything…


Book cover of Visual Thinking

Frank Jacobus Author Of Archi Graphic: An Infographic Look at Architecture

From my list on design sensing.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a designer, a teacher, a father, a husband, and a friend. I love beautiful things and personally want to know why I find certain things more beautiful than others. I love learning about the world and finding connections between everyday experience and art. When I say “art” I really am blending art, design, architecture, landscape architecture, product design, etc. I believe everything is connected in some way. If I were to pigeonhole myself in any way I would call myself a generalist design thinker. I draw, I write, I make little objects, I make big objects – I see very little difference in any of these things.

Frank's book list on design sensing

Frank Jacobus Why did Frank love this book?

This book outlines how the visual field operates at a psychological level.

I am an architect and cannot believe that we don’t teach straight from this and other Arnheim books more often. If you want to know what is happening to you, why you get chills up your spine when looking at art, read this book.

Arnheim is a psychologist, not a designer, so he breaks art down from this perspective.

By Rudolf Arnheim,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For thirty-five years Visual Thinking has been the gold standard for art educators, psychologists, and general readers alike. In this seminal work, Arnheim, author of "The Dynamics of Architectural Form", "Film as Art", "Toward a Psychology of Art", and "Art and Visual Perception", asserts that all thinking (not just thinking related to art) is basically perceptual in nature, and that the ancient dichotomy between seeing and thinking, between perceiving and reasoning, is false and misleading. This is an indispensable tool for students and for those interested in the arts.


Book cover of Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation

Philip Steadman Author Of Vermeer's Camera: Uncovering the Truth Behind the Masterpieces

From my list on perspective, optics, and realistic illusion in art.

Why am I passionate about this?

If I was asked to describe the central theme of my life's work in a phrase, it would be 'geometry in the arts'. I'm an architect originally, now a professor in London, and have always loved drawing and the art of perspective. In the 1990s I became fascinated with the idea that Johannes Vermeer used the camera obscura, an obsession that led to my book Vermeer's Camera. I'm now working on Canaletto's Camera. And I have ideas for yet another book, on perspective, to be called Points of View. I've chosen five books on these topics that I've found most thought-provoking and inspiring.

Philip's book list on perspective, optics, and realistic illusion in art

Philip Steadman Why did Philip love this book?

Ernst Gombrich's masterpiece, published in 1960 and still in print, follows the drive in Western Art from Ancient Greece and Egypt to the present day, to achieve the illusion of realistic appearance in pictures. Kenneth Clark, himself a most accomplished art historian and writer, described Art and Illusion as 'One of the most brilliant books on art criticism I have ever read." I too admire the way the book combines great erudition with a clear conversational style and an ability to move beyond the usual confines of art history. Gombrich uses findings from psychology to illuminate his argument, supported with a surprising range of illustrations, not just from the fine arts, but from advertising, photography, caricature, and cartoons. Brilliant indeed.

By E.H. Gombrich,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Considered a great classic by all who seek for a meeting ground between science and the humanities, Art and Illusion examines the history and psychology of pictorial representation in light of present-day theories of visual perception information and learning. Searching for a rational explanation of the changing styles of art, Gombrich reexamines many ideas on the imitation of nature and the function of tradition. In testing his arguments he ranges over the history of art, noticing particularly the accomplishments of the ancient Greeks, and the visual discoveries of such masters as Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt, as well as the…


Book cover of Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye

Ellen Winner Author Of How Art Works: A Psychological Exploration

From my list on the value of children’s art.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve had a life-long love affair with the arts. I intended to become an artist, but ultimately became a psychologist researching psychological aspects of the arts. My first book, Invented Worlds, examined the key questions and findings in the psychology of the arts. In Gifted Children: Myths and Realities, I wrote about gifted child artists. My Arts & Mind Lab at Boston College investigated artistic development in typical and gifted children, habits of mind conferred by arts education, and how we respond to works of art. The walls of my home are covered with framed paintings by young children, often side by side paintings by professional artists.

Ellen's book list on the value of children’s art

Ellen Winner Why did Ellen love this book?

This is a classic book by German-born psychologist Rudolf Arnheim, in which he lays out the principles underlying our perception and understanding of works of visual art.  One of the major principles discussed is the human tendency to see the simplest form possible in any visual array. This ‘simplicity principle’ is also used to explain the intelligence and inventiveness of children’s art. In a brilliant chapter called Growth, Arnheim shows us that children are not striving towards realism; rather they are trying to create the simplest possible recognizable structural equivalent for the object they are representing.  The inventiveness with which children reduce complex forms to simple structural equivalents requires far more intelligence than mindless copying.  

By Rudolf Arnheim,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Since its publication fifty years ago, this work has established itself as a classic. It casts the visual process in psychological terms and describes the creative way one's eye organizes visual material according to specific psychological premises. In 1974 this book was revised and expanded, and since then it has continued to burnish Rudolf Arnheim's reputation as a groundbreaking theoretician in the fields of art and psychology.


Book cover of About Looking

Sallie Tisdale Author Of The Lie about the Truck: Survivor, Reality TV, and the Endless Gaze

From my list on the existential crisis of looking in a mirror.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer, I’ve always been interested in ambiguity and ambivalence. How does that apply to the self? What does it mean to present myself to others? How do I appear to the world and how close is that to what I see myself to be? Are we ever truly seen—or willing to be seen? In a world where cameras exist everywhere and we are encouraged to record rather than simply be, how do we look in a mirror? Hannah Arendt said that we could tell reality from falsehood because reality endures. But I feel that nothing I experience endures; nothing remains the same, including the reflection. If anything lasts, it may be my own make-believe. Everything I write is, in some way, this question. Who is that?

Sallie's book list on the existential crisis of looking in a mirror

Sallie Tisdale Why did Sallie love this book?

This is a book of essays about the act of looking, especially looking at photographs and paintings and animals and other people. Thus these are essays about history, memory, suffering, beauty, and the self. Berger had a generous spirit; he wrote often about the lives of peasants and spent the last forty years of his life in rural France. Berger gazed upon the world in all its forms with composure and curiosity. 

By John Berger,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As a novelist, essayist, and cultural historian, John Berger is a writer of dazzling eloquence and arresting insight whose work amounts to a subtle, powerful critique of the canons of our civilization. In About Looking he explores our role as observers to reveal new layers of meaning in what we see. How do the animals we look at in zoos remind us of a relationship between man and beast all but lost in the twentieth century? What is it about looking at war photographs that doubles their already potent violence? How do the nudes of Rodin betray the threats to…


Book cover of Vision: A Computational Investigation into the Human Representation and Processing of Visual Information

Mark S. Nixon Author Of Feature Extraction and Image Processing for Computer Vision

From my list on computer vision from a veteran professor.

Why am I passionate about this?

It’s been fantastic to work in computer vision, especially when it is used to build biometric systems. I and my 80 odd PhD students have pioneered systems that recognise people by the way they walk, by their ears, and many other new things too. To build the systems, we needed computer vision techniques and architectures, both of which work with complex real-world imagery. That’s what computer vision gives you: a capability to ‘see’ using a computer. I think we can still go a lot further: to give blind people sight, to enable better invasive surgery, to autonomise more of our industrial society, and to give us capabilities we never knew we’d have.

Mark's book list on computer vision from a veteran professor

Mark S. Nixon Why did Mark love this book?

David Marr shaped the field of computer vision in its early days. His seminal book laid the structure for interpreting images and one which is still largely followed. He popularised notions of the primal sketch and his work on edge detection led to one of the most sophisticated approaches. His work and influence continue to endure despite his early death: we missed and miss him a lot.

By David Marr,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Available again, an influential book that offers a framework for understanding visual perception and considers fundamental questions about the brain and its functions.

David Marr's posthumously published Vision (1982) influenced a generation of brain and cognitive scientists, inspiring many to enter the field. In Vision, Marr describes a general framework for understanding visual perception and touches on broader questions about how the brain and its functions can be studied and understood. Researchers from a range of brain and cognitive sciences have long valued Marr's creativity, intellectual power, and ability to integrate insights and data from neuroscience, psychology, and computation. This…


Book cover of Curvilinear Perspective from Visual Space to the Constructed Image

Jason Cheeseman-Meyer Author Of Vanishing Point: Perspective for Comics from the Ground Up

From my list on for people who draw people.

Why am I passionate about this?

Drawing and painting people has been my passion and my profession for a couple of decades now. Fine art, comic books, animation, illustration – as long as I'm drawing people, I'm happy. I love the challenge of trying to capture (or create) a living, breathing, thinking person on paper. And I love talking about art books with other artists. Which ones are great, which ones miss the mark, which ones have tiny hidden gems in them. This list is a mix of books I love, and books I heartily recommend.

Jason's book list on for people who draw people

Jason Cheeseman-Meyer Why did Jason love this book?

This is my list so I wanted to include this book that was so key to me. This is an art book, but it's a very math-y art book with very few illustrations and almost no how-to step-by-step illustrations. It has pages and pages of “to draw a line from 30 degrees above the horizon and 15 degrees to the left of center etc. etc. etc.” text. It's a dense read, but it was the book that solved six-point perspective for me, which was a topic I'd been working feverishly on for a solid year and couldn't quite nail on my own. It really opened up my understanding of perspective, especially curvilinear perspective drawing. I owe this book (and Flocon and Barre) a lot.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in visual perception, philosophy, and psychology?

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