The best art books to look out for in 2024

We’ve trawled the publishing catalogues so you don’t have to — here’s our pick of the most tempting titles set to appear between now and June, with subjects ranging from Anguissola to Aboudia via Sanyu and Scarpa

Best art books appearing in early 2024, with subjects ranging from Anguissola to Aboudia via Sanyu and Scarpa

At the Louvre: Robert PolidoriBy Robert Polidori, introduction by Laurence des Cars, text by Sébastien Allard
Publisher: Rizzoli, 20 February 2024

In 2023, Naples’s Museo di Capodimonte sent 60 of its masterpieces to the Louvre as part of an unprecedented loan. Inside the crates were treasures by Masaccio, Bellini, Titian, Parmigianino, Michelangelo and Raphael.

As they left their home in the former royal hunting lodge of the Bourbon monarchs, the Canadian-American photographer Robert Polidori — celebrated for his large-scale images of architecture and interiors — was preparing to to document their arrival and hanging in Paris.

The installation of Colantonio's altarpiece of Saint Vincent Ferrer in the Louvre, photographed by Robert Polidori

The installation of Colantonio’s altarpiece of Saint Vincent Ferrer, photographed by Robert Polidori

The resulting collection of photographs reveals the behind-the-scenes workings of one of the largest exhibitions ever jointly undertaken by two museums. Polidori’s fascinating images, populated with stepladders and art handlers, are supplemented with written contributions from Laurence des Cars, director of the Louvre, and Sébastien Allard, head of its paintings department and curator of the exhibition.

AboudiaBy Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi and Gauz
Publisher: Rizzoli, 26 March 2024

The artist Abdoulaye Diarrassouba, better known as Aboudia, started to gain attention in 2010 after his graffiti-style paintings — which reflected civil unrest in his native Côte d’Ivoire following disputed presidential elections — went viral.

Aboudia, WHATMasquerade #9, 2019

Aboudia (b. 1983), WHATMasquerade #9, 2019. Mixed media on canvas. 190 x 240 cm. Courtesy of Cecile Fakhoury. © Issam Zejly

Since then, in little over a decade, he has exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery in London and Art Basel in Miami, and placed works with the mega-collectors Frank Cohen and Jean Pigozzi. His auction record of £504,000 — more than 10 times the low estimate — was established at Christie’s in July 2022, with the sale of Untitled (2018).

Now, Rizzoli is publishing the first monograph on the artist. It opens with essays by the Nigerian art historian and MoMA curator Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi, and Guaz, a photographer, writer and editor of a satirical Ivorian newspaper. These are followed by more than 200 pages of Aboudia’s distinctive, faux-naive-style paintings and collages, which have been compared to the work of Jean Dubuffet, Cy Twombly and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

In 1921, the artist Sanyu set sail from Shanghai for Paris. Still in his teens, he was among the first students to benefit from a new agreement between China and France, which granted scholarships to those from the former country to study in the latter.

Sanyu never returned home, and over the course of a 40-year career became renowned for his still lifes and female nudes. It was a career that included a troubled relationship with his dealer, Henri-Pierre Roché (who had been an early champion of Duchamp and Braque); several periods of poverty (when he couldn’t afford basic artistic materials); and, ultimately, a tragic accident (when a gas leak in his apartment killed him, aged 64).

This will all be covered in a biography of Sanyu by Rita Wong, set to be published as part of a two-book project — the other volume being an updated version of the artist’s catalogue raisonné. Wong published the first version in 2001, but numerous paintings have come to light in the interim, reflecting a recent surge in interest in Sanyu’s work. He’s hailed as a master who combined elements of Western modernism with age-old Chinese traditions.

The Splendour of Modernity: Japanese Arts of the Meiji EraBy Rosina Buckland
Publisher: Reaktion Books, 1 April 2024

Dr Rosina Buckland has already penned several books on Japanese art history, covering topics such as folding screens, Kabuki theatre prints, erotic images known as shunga, animal pictures by Kawanabe Kyosai and the career of the 19th-century painter Taki Katei.

The Splendour of Modernity: Japanese Arts of the Meiji Era, by Rosina Buckland, Reaktion Books, 1 April 2024

While juggling her current role as curator of the British Museum’s Japanese collections, she has written another, this time examining art made during the Meiji era — which began in 1868, with the overthrowing of the ruling Tokugawa shogunate, and ended in 1912, with the death of Emperor Mutsuhito. During this period, Japan transitioned from a traditional, relatively isolated, feudal society into a modern industrialised nation.

Buckland’s study looks at how these turbulent changes, along with the adoption of Western cultural ideas, shaped Japanese painting, calligraphy, sculpture, printing, textiles, metalwork and lacquerware. She refutes any idea of artistic decline, or that foreign influence diluted the ‘authenticity’ of Japanese art, instead highlighting how local practices innovated by incorporating new ideas from overseas.

Sofonisba AnguissolaBy Cecilia Gamberini
Publisher: Lund Humphries, 15 April 2024

Born into a family of minor nobles in Cremona in northern Italy around 1532, Sofonisba Anguissola was one of six sisters who took up painting. It was only she who excelled, though. Michelangelo was among the early admirers of her work. Anguissola went on to become an artist at the court of Phillip II, the King of Spain (as well as a lady-in-waiting to his third wife, Elisabeth of Valois). She stayed in Madrid for at least a decade, gaining renown for her softly modelled, subtly brushed, sumptuously costumed portraits of Spanish royals.

Sofonisba Anguissola, The Chess Game (Portrait of the artist's sisters playing chess), circa 1555

Sofonisba Anguissola (c. 1532-1625), The Chess Game (Portrait of the artist’s sisters playing chess), circa 1555. Oil on canvas. 70 x 94 cm. National Museum in Poznań, Poland

This book — the latest addition to the ‘Illuminating Women Artists’ series published by Lund Humphries — will explore Anguissola’s career and legacy, along with networks of cultural patronage in the Renaissance. According to the author, Cecilia Gamberini, its subject was ‘one of the first women artists of Europe to establish an international reputation during her lifetime’. That reputation endured into old age, when a young Anthony van Dyck visited Anguissola at her home in Sicily, to seek artistic advice and paint her portrait. She was then in her early nineties.

Francis BaconBy Francis Giacobetti
Publisher: Assouline, April 2024

Francis Bacon famously discouraged accounts of his life and work if they weren’t to his liking. So fittingly, after his death, dozens were released, covering everything from his daily exploits around London’s Soho to the controlled chaos of his studio. Assouline is adding another title to the mix: Francis Bacon is filled with more than 250 pages of text and photographs by Francis Giacobetti, a French photographer who first met Bacon in the autumn of 1991.

A portrait of Francis Bacon by Francis Giacobetti

A portrait of Francis Bacon by Francis Giacobetti

Over the following months, Giacobetti and Bacon met 11 times for lunch or dinner, or to shoot the artist’s portrait at Brown’s Hotel or in a rented studio. The pair quickly became friends, and before long their conversations were recorded as interviews — the last of which took place in February 1992, and became Bacon’s final interview before his death from a heart attack on 28 April that year.

Giacobetti kept his archive private for 11 years. In 2003, he unveiled the first tranche of photographs at Marlborough Gallery, and manuscripts in The Art Newspaper. Assouline’s forthcoming book contains more never-before-published images and excerpts from those fabled meetings, which together create an unflinching portrait of the famously disconcerting painter.

Carlo Scarpa: The Complete BuildingsBy Emiliano Bugatti and Jale N. Erzen, with photographs by Cemal Emden
Publisher: Prestel, 29 April 2024

It takes a perceptive architect to break all the rules without causing indignation, particularly in a city as sacred as Venice. Yet for Carlo Scarpa, the Queen of the Adriatic held few fears. Born and bred in Venice, he understood its history and the inherent beauty of impermanence and decay.

Carlo Scarpa: The Complete Buildings, by Emiliano Bugatti and Jale N. Erzen, Prestel, 29 April 2024

Over his 50-year career, he set about transforming the crumbling interiors of some of the city’s finest palazzos with an empathy rarely seen in modern architecture. This appropriately convention-defying book sets out to investigate the brilliant, problem-solving maverick. Who else would have resolved the issue of persistent flooding at the Querini Stampalia by raising the floor to allow the water to flow through? Or had the vision to install a glass floor in Verona’s Museo di Castelvecchio so that visitors could see the Roman ruins lying beneath? Beautifully illustrated with photographs by Cemal Emden, The Complete Buildings reveals Scarpa’s unique talent for stripping back architecture to forge links between the past and the present.

Charles J. Connick: America’s Visionary Stained Glass ArtistBy Peter Cormack
Publisher: Yale University Press, 14 May 2024

Peter Cormack — a world-renowned expert in the field of post-medieval stained glass — has spent decades researching the life of Charles Jay Connick (1875-1945) in order to create the first comprehensive account of America’s greatest modern stained-glass artist.

Charles J. Connick: America's Visionary Stained Glass Artist, by Peter Cormack, Yale University Press, 14 May 2024

Born in 1875, Connick began his career in Pittsburgh in the 1890s before moving to the Boston area and opening his own studio in 1913. Over the following decades, he created stained-glass windows for some of the most glorious buildings in America, including Saint John the Divine Cathedral in New York, Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and the Heinz Memorial Chapel in Pittsburgh. The 23 windows he designed for the latter cover about 4,000 square feet and, with some standing 73 feet high, rank among the tallest in the world. Connick died in 1945, but his studio continued working in his tradition until 1986, producing more than 15,000 windows in total.

Cormack follows Connick’s rise and charts his famous collaborations, most notably with the architects Ralph Adams Cram, Bertram Goodhue and Maginnis & Walsh, as well as his close friend, the poet Robert Frost. Connick was, according to Cormack, a revolutionary rather than a revivalist.

The Royal Inca Tunic: A Biography of an Andean Masterpiece By Andrew James Hamilton
Publisher: Princeton University Press, 14 May 2024

It is hailed as the most famous Andean artwork in the world. Its origins, meaning and provenance, however, aren’t too clear. The work in question is an intricately designed tunic, possibly made for the final Inca emperor, Atahualpa, on the eve of the Spanish invasion in 1532. Today it forms part of the collection of Dumbarton Oaks Museum in Washington, D.C. For this book, Andrew James Hamilton, an expert in the art of the Americas, has carried out research extending from close physical scrutiny of the garment to studies of numerous colonial manuscripts.

A detail of the T’oqapu Tunic, Inca, Late Horizon, 1450-1540 A.D.

A detail of the T’oqapu Tunic, Inca, Late Horizon, 1450-1540 A.D. Wool, cotton. 90.2 x 77.15 cm. Photo: © Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. Photography by Neil Greentree

His aim is to provide the most authoritative analysis yet of the royal tunic, including an explanation of what its weavers meant by the varied iconographical motifs that fill the squares of its grid-like design. In a culture without a conventional writing system, textiles were of major symbolic significance when it came to transmitting stories and ideas among the Inca. There’s a lot more to this tunic than at first meets the eye.

Peter Marino: Ten Modern HousesBy Peter Marino, with an introduction by Pilar Viladas and additional texts by Sam Lubell
Publisher: Phaidon, 30 May 2024

In 1978, Peter Marino’s newly founded architecture firm landed its first client. The project was the remodelling of an elegant townhouse on New York’s Upper East Side. Its owner was Andy Warhol. The commission catapulted 29-year-old Marino to stardom, and contracts with wealthy art collectors and European aristocracy followed. Today, Marino is recognised for his work with luxury fashion houses such as Chanel and Dior, as well as his wardrobe of head-to-toe black leather.

A work by Anselm Kiefer echoes the slate wall surrounding the living-room fireplace in a house by Peter Marino

A work by Anselm Kiefer echoes the slate wall surrounding the living-room fireplace in a house by Peter Marino

In Ten Modern Houses, Marino offers a rare look behind the doors to nine of his private residential projects — as well as several work-in-progress buildings contending for 10th place — in New York, Aspen, Miami, Malibu, Nevada, Lebanon, the Dominican Republic, Saint Barts, Turks and Caicos, and Skorpios, the private Greek island that formerly belonged to Aristotle Onassis. For each, Marino was given carte blanche when it came to designing the exteriors and interiors.

The book — the first on Marino’s residential architecture — contains more than 200 colour images of these stunning houses. There’s an introduction by Pilar Viladas, design editor of The New York Times Magazine, and profiles of each house by the architecture writer Sam Lubell.

Ronald Moody: Sculpting LifeBy Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski, edited and with an introduction by Eleanor Clayton
Publisher: Thames & Hudson in association with The Hepworth Wakefield, 20 June 2024

It was a chance visit to the British Museum in the early 1920s that changed the direction of Ronald Moody’s life. The young Jamaican had recently moved to Britain to train as a dentist at King’s College, London, when he discovered the ancient artefacts in the Egyptian galleries. Transfixed by their ‘tremendous inner force’, he determined to become a sculptor and taught himself to carve.

Ronald Moody working on Johanaan, 1963. Photo: © Val Wilmer

Ronald Moody (1900-1984), Seated Sarong Figure, 1938. Wakefield Council Permanent Art Collection. © The Ronald Moody Trust. Photo: Anna Bridson

His first head, Wohin, was exhibited in 1935, and within a few years Moody was living among the avant-garde in Paris. There he met Picasso and Brancusi, as well as the radical Surrealist poets who formed Négritude. With the outbreak of the Second World War, Moody escaped France for Spain, eventually returning to London where he became a founding figure in the Caribbean Artist Movement of the 1960s. This book, published to coincide with the forthcoming Moody exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield, is the first comprehensive anthology of the artist’s work. It features Moody’s beautifully carved figures in wood, stone and bronze, which convey a deep inner consciousness

Guillaume Lethière Edited by Esther Bell and Olivier Meslay
Publisher: Clark Art Institute, distributed by Yale University Press, 25 June 2024

The Neoclassical painter Guillaume Lethière was born on the French island of Guadeloupe in 1760. His mother was a formerly enslaved woman of colour, his father a white plantation owner. After schooling in France, he became not just a decorated painter, but art advisor to Lucien Bonaparte (younger brother of Napoleon), director of the French Academy in Rome, professor at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and a member of the Institut de France. His studio rivalled those of his contemporaries Jacques-Louis David and Antoine-Jean Gros, and he was one of the first artists of African descent to be celebrated throughout Europe. So why is he practically unknown today?

Guillaume Lethiere, edited by Esther Bell and Olivier Meslay, Yale University Press, 25 June 2024

Addressing this question is a new exhibition opening in June at the Clark Art Institute in Massachusetts, home to Lethière’s brilliant Brutus Condemning His Sons to Death (1788), as well as more than 100 of his drawings. In November, it then travels to the Louvre, which also owns several of his important canvases.

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Accompanying the show is this groundbreaking book, which aims to restore Lethière’s rightful place in the canon. The first comprehensive view of the artist’s career, it contains 170 images alongside texts by 14 scholars that shed new light on his output — especially in its social and political contexts — as well as the wider reception of Caribbean artists in France at the time.

Main image, clockwise from top left: Aboudia, Rizzoli. Peter Marino: Ten Modern Houses, Phaidon. Guillaume Lethière, Yale University Press. Carlo Scarpa: The Complete Buildings, Prestel. Sofonisba Anguissola, Self-portrait at the easel, 1556, from Sofonisba Anguissola, Lund Humphries. At the Louvre: Robert Polidori, Rizzoli. Ronald Moody, Johanaan, 1936, from Ronald Moody: Sculpting Life, Thames & Hudson. Artwork: © The Ronald Moody Trust. Photo: © Tate

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