The most recommended Pablo Picasso books

Who picked these books? Meet our 22 experts.

22 authors created a book list connected to Pablo Picasso, and here are their favorite Pablo Picasso books.
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Book cover of Pablo Picasso: His Life and Times

Gijs van Hensbergen Author Of Guernica: The Biography of a Twentieth-Century Icon

From my list on essential Spain.

Who am I?

A lifetime of an obsession with Spain since a childhood spent on Miro’s farm in Montroig del Camp and just a short walk away from where Gaudi was born I have cooked, researched, battled, and fallen in love with this extraordinary country. Almost 40 years ago I bought a farmhouse in Arevalillo de Cega in the central mountains in Spain from where I have crisscrossed the country in the footsteps of Goya, the culinary genius Ferran Adria and in search of information for my biography on Gaudi – the God of Catalan architecture. Spain is an open book with a million pages, endlessly fascinating, contrary, unique, and 100% absorbing. I fell in deep.

Gijs' book list on essential Spain

Gijs van Hensbergen Why did Gijs love this book?

The world of Picasso's biography is a deeply contentious and well ploughed field. I should know as I worked for 5 years on the yet-to-be-published Volume 4 of John Richardson’s epic sex fest.  Hiding in the glare of the Picasso craze is Pierre Cabanne’s revelatory masterpiece. Cabanne knew him, knew his circle, and was not frightened to enter Picasso’s Spanish world in exile. This is the first step to a genuine understanding of Picasso’s genius.

By Pierre Cabanne,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Vintage book


Book cover of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas

Thomas A. Garrity Author Of All the Math You Missed: (But Need to Know for Graduate School)

From Thomas' 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Mathematician

Thomas' 3 favorite reads in 2023

Thomas A. Garrity Why did Thomas love this book?

I’m not sure why I picked this up to read. 

I knew that Stein and her life partner Alice B. Toklas were American expatriates living in France for most of the first part of the 20th century. I knew that they were at the center of the modernist movement in Paris and that Stein was one of the key American modernist writers, though I had until now never read anything that she had written. I knew that Stein and her brother Leo were major collectors of modern art, especially cubists. These types of facts I knew. 

But reading this book made it all far more real. For example, I did not know that she and Picasso were best friends. In fact, many of the well-known stories told about Picasso stemmed from this book. But more so, it is impossible not to conclude that this circle of people truly believed in…

By Gertrude Stein,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Stein's most famous work; one of the richest and most irreverent biographies ever written.


Book cover of Picasso: Creator and Destroyer

Michael Stephen Fuchs Author Of ARISEN: Operators – The Fall of the Third Temple

From Michael's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Novelist & storyteller Reader & art junkie Traveler & adventurer Military special operations fanboy Vegan & animal-rights activist

Michael's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Michael Stephen Fuchs Why did Michael love this book?

Picasso was arguably the most important artist, in any medium, of the 20th century.

A prodigy and polymath, a genius who could seemingly do anything, he changed painting forever. He was also a monster, abusing and manipulating everyone around him, not least a rotating cast of beautiful young women, most of them amazing artists in their own right.

But his first and worst victim was himself – he went through life tormented and haunted and wildly immature and unfulfilled, and even as death approached, having pushed away everyone who loved him, he sat hidden in his atelier filling canvas after canvas, trying to beat death with art, not able to put it down even at the very end.

I’m a great student of artistic lives gone wrong (there are so many ways), and this is one of the great cautionary tales. It is also thrilling and fascinating and inspiring and…

By Arianna Stassinopoulos Huffington,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Through numerous interviews with Picasso's intimates, the author penetrates the barriers of the Picasso myth to reveal the struggle between his power to create and his passion to destroy


Book cover of The Innocent Eye

Ellen Winner Author Of How Art Works: A Psychological Exploration

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

Who am I?

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 book by art historian Jonathan Fineberg will open your eyes to the fundamental connections between young children’s art and the art of famous 20th century modern artists like Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, and others. You might be surprised to learn that many of these artists collected children’s drawings and were profoundly influenced by child art. This book will help you understand the images that inspired these modern masters. It will change how you look at both modern art and child art,  and you will come away with a greater appreciation of both.

By Jonathan Fineberg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"When I was the age of these children I could draw like Raphael. It took me many years to learn how to draw like these children."--Pablo Picasso, upon viewing an exhibition of children's drawings, as quoted by Sir Herbert Read in 1945 The idea that modern art looks like something a child can do is a long-standing cliche. For some modernists, however, the connection between their work and children's art was direct and explicit. This groundbreaking and heretical book, centered on such modern masters as Klee, Kandinsky, Picasso, and Miro, presents for the first time material from the collections of…


Book cover of The Weeping Woman: A Novel

Lynn Bushell Author Of Painted Ladies

From my list on artists and their muses.

Who am I?

As an art historian and painter, I was inevitably drawn to the theme of artists and their muses when I started writing historical fiction. Female, passive, disempowered, and doomed sums up the fate of most muses. History is littered with their corpses - Rossetti’s model Lizzie Siddal committed suicide, Rodin’s model Camille Claudel went mad, Edie Sedgwick, made famous by Warhol, died of an overdose. The title ‘muse’ might offer immortality, but their lives were often hell on earth.  My books set out to understand what drove these women, some of whom were artists in their own right, to make such huge sacrifices. 

Lynn's book list on artists and their muses

Lynn Bushell Why did Lynn love this book?

We all know that Picasso wasn't very nice to his muses – nothing unusual there. He was arrogant and with a massive sense of entitlement. Dora Maar had good reason to weep. She was an artist herself – a successful painter & photographer, gaining commissions historically awarded to men and creating a radical new image of the modern woman  that's until she met Picasso. When she started to cause trouble he had her put away. It's extraordinary how many muses ended up in asylums. Unlike Rodin's muse she did get out, however. In Valdes' novel the story doesn't exactly end happily but in reality she did go on working, as a photographer, up till her death at eighty-nine. Good for you, Dora.

By Zoe Valdes, David Frye (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the prestigious Azorin Prize for Fiction, the best-selling novel about love, sacrifice, and Picasso's mistress, Dora Maar.

A writer resembling Zoe Valdes a Cuban exile living in Paris with her husband and young daughter is preparing a novel on the life of Dora Maar, one of the most promising artists in the Surrealist movement until she met Pablo Picasso. The middle-aged Picasso was already the god of the art world's avant-garde. Dora became his lover, muse, and ultimately, his victim. She became The Weeping Woman captured in his famous portrait, the mistress he betrayed with other mistress-muses, and…


Book cover of Monsters: A Fan's Dilemma

James Sullivan Author Of Which Side Are You On?: 20th Century American History in 100 Protest Songs

From James' 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Journalist Culture vulture Program director Biker Bostonian

James' 3 favorite reads in 2023

James Sullivan Why did James love this book?

As an arts journalist who loves few things more than to introduce someone to a creative work they might come to love, the personality type I most identify with is “fan.”

This “biography of the audience,” as the author describes it, and its reckoning with the tough questions of what we should do when an artist we admire turns out to be deplorable, is just the kind of cultural criticism I would (and do) eagerly recommend. 

By Claire Dederer,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Monsters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

***BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK***

'Funny, lively and convivial... how rare and nourishing this sort of roaming thought is and what a joy to read' MEGAN NOLAN, SUNDAY TIMES

'An exhilarating, shape-shifting exploration of the perilous boundaries between art and life' JENNY OFFILL

A passionate, provocative and blisteringly smart interrogation of how we experience art in the age of #MeToo, and whether we can separate an artist's work from their biography.

What do we do with the art of monstrous men? Can we love the work of Roman Polanski and Michael Jackson, Hemingway and Picasso? Should we love…


Book cover of If Picasso Painted a Snowman

Caralyn M. Buehner Author Of Snowmen at Night

From my list on snow and snowmen.

Who am I?

The world opened to me in a safe space when I learned to read as a child, and by 6th grade I regularly hauled home stacks of books from the library and, inspired by Jo March, hoped to be an author. I put aside my dream of writing and pursued other career goals until my marriage to Mark Buehner. It was his career as an illustrator that opened a path for me to write, and together we have created many picture books, including the Snowmen at Night series. I’ve learned that stories are told with pictures as well as words, and beautiful picture books can be savored at any age.

Caralyn's book list on snow and snowmen

Caralyn M. Buehner Why did Caralyn love this book?

Local to me, I’ve been familiar with the gorgeous poster and mural art of Greg Newbold. More recently he has teamed up with his wife Amy to create a series of picture books showcasing the styles of renowned artists. This first book takes snowmen and imagines what they would look like if painted by artists such as Van Gogh, Dali, Picasso, O’Keefe, and others. An excellent introduction to the painting styles of famous artists, with informative text to reinforce the idea that “not all artists paint the same.” 

By Amy Newbold, Greg Newbold (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked If Picasso Painted a Snowman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

From that simple premise flows this delightful, whimsical, educational picture book that shows how the artist's imagination can summon magic from a prosaic subject. Greg Newbold's chameleon-like artistry shows us Roy Lichtenstein's snow hero saving the day, Georgia O'Keefe's snowman blooming in the desert, Claude Monet's snowmen among haystacks, Grant Wood's American Gothic snowman, Jackson Pollock's snowman in ten thousand splats, Salvador Dali's snowmen dripping like melty cheese, and snowmen as they might have been rendered by J. M. W. Turner, Gustav Klimt, Paul Klee, Marc Chagall, Georges Seurat, Pablita Velarde, Piet Mondrian, Sonia Delaunay, Jacob Lawrence, and Vincent van…


Book cover of Twelve Fingers: Biography of an Anarchist

Kirwin R. Shaffer Author Of Anarchists of the Caribbean: Countercultural Politics and Transnational Networks in the Age of US Expansion

From my list on Latin American anarchism and anti-authoritarianism.

Who am I?

As someone who studies and writes about Latin American anarchism for a living, I’ve encountered no shortage of influential historical accounts written by scholars and activists writing in Spanish, Portuguese, and English during the past sixty years. My “best of” list includes English-language histories that reflect important shifts in how people began to study and write about anarchism beginning in the 1990s. Before then—and continuing up to today to some extent—historians often focused on the role of anarchists in a country’s labor movement. Today, historians increasingly explore both the cultural and transnational dimensions of Latin American anarchism. In these studies, authors frequently explore the roles of and attitudes toward women in anarchist politics.

Kirwin's book list on Latin American anarchism and anti-authoritarianism

Kirwin R. Shaffer Why did Kirwin love this book?

Soares’ very funny novel bridges my focus on anarchist culture and transnational anarchism. Soares’ title character is an anarchist born of a Brazilian woman. His anarchist politics are always on display as he sets out to assassinate tyrannous figures around the world. For those looking for a sympathetic story of anarchists, our clumsy, error-prone, would-be assassin does not fit the bill. However, his popping up around the world at times of key global events is bizarre and ultimately quite entertaining. If nothing else, Twelve Fingers is a reminder of how even the best-laid plans with noble intents can go disastrously astray.

By Jo Soares,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


A burlesque smorgasbord of international high jinks—the “biography” of a hapless, twelve-fingered, would-be assassin who lurches from Sarajevo to Paris to Hollywood to Chicago to Rio, leaving high-stakes chaos in his wake.
Our hero, Dimitri Borja Korozec, is born in the late 1800s to a Brazilian contortionist mother and a fanatically nationalist Serbian linotypist father.

Dimitri enrolls in a training school for assassins, where he excels—except for his troubling propensity for fouling things up at the last moment. Part Carlos the Jackal, part Woody Allen’s Zelig, part Inspector Clouseau, and part Forrest Gump, Dimitri is a schlemiel of an assassin…


Book cover of Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius

Anthony D. Fredericks Author Of From Fizzle to Sizzle: The Hidden Forces Crushing Your Creativity and How You Can Overcome Them

From my list on creativity and imagination.

Who am I?

I was the kid who colored outside the lines and marveled at the special effects of monster movies. Yet, as I grew, I became aware of certain “rules” and “expectations” that seemed to limit my innate creativity. When I became a professional educator, I became even more cognizant of how students’ creativity was shut down. I read tons of books on creativity, but soon discovered that no one had ever written a book on the ingrained practices in family life, education, work environments, and personal beliefs that stamped out our natural creativity. Why do so many people consider themselves as “non-creative?” I wanted to find out…and change the equation.

Anthony's book list on creativity and imagination

Anthony D. Fredericks Why did Anthony love this book?

Here is another “classic” that should be part of your personal library.

Michalko shares life-changing creative techniques captured from creative “experts” such as Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, and Pablo Picasso. With easy-to-follow instructions, you too, can lead a more creative life (and change the world) at home and at work.

The author shows you, in exquisite detail, how to alter your thinking or modify your problem-solving abilities to generate tons of new ideas and tons of satisfying solutions to ongoing challenges.

No matter your occupation, this is a book that will generate an array of new and positive ideas.

By Michael Michalko,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the bestselling author of Thinkertoys, this follow up brings innovative creative thinking techniques within reach, giving you the tools to tackle everyday challenges in new ways. 

Internationally renowned business creativity expert, Michael Michalko will show you how creative people think—and how to put their secrets to work for you in business and in your personal life. You don't have to be a genius to solve problems like one. Michalko researched and analyzed hundreds of history's greatest thinkers across disciplines—from Leonardo da Vinci to Pablo Picasso—to bring the best of their techniques together and to teach you how to apply…


Book cover of A Child's Book of Art: Great Pictures - First Words

Meghan Cox Gurdon Author Of The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction

From my list on picture books to build a baby’s brain.

Who am I?

As a journalist, WSJ book critic, and mother of five, I‘ve been perfectly placed to witness the astounding effects of reading aloud. For decades I've been reading to my children (and to my husband, too) every night, often for a solid hour or more. Storytime has been the central civilizing joy of our family life: We’ve bonded emotionally, gone on shared imaginative adventures, and filled our heads with pictures and words. Long ago I knew something big was happening to us, and I felt sure my children were benefitting, but it wasn’t until I began digging around into the behavioral and brain science that I learned just how consequential reading aloud can be. In my book, I lay it all out.

Meghan's book list on picture books to build a baby’s brain

Meghan Cox Gurdon Why did Meghan love this book?

This book hits a kind of non-narrative sweet spot: It doesn’t tell a specific story, but every page-spread is a feast of beauty and interest and there are just enough words sprinkled here and there to encourage parents to supply their own commentary. This particular book happened to be a huge favorite in my family, but any collection that introduces great paintings and different styles of art will do the trick. I love making art part of a baby’s world from the get-go: It awakens the aesthetic senses and gives a child a sense of cultural ownership. Later, seeing a Vermeer or a Picasso, we can hope that child will feel a sparkle of recognition.

By Lucy Micklethwait,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Child's Book of Art as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An introduction to art appreciation exposes young readers to more than one hundred works of art from a wide range of periods, cultures, and artists, and with subjects such as seasons, weather, and animals.