The best books on Figurative Painting Today, recommended by Julien Delagrange

Collectors and curators have been clamouring for figurative art in recent years, as a generation of painters take a more traditional, representational approach to addressing major cultural themes in their work. But is figurative painting today merely a reactionary impulse, a kind of nostalgia for art that preceded modernism, postmodernism and the fragmentation in art-making that was ushered in by conceptual art? There is much more to it than that, argues painter and art historian Julien Delagrange.

The best books on Lucian Freud, recommended by William Feaver

Though ferociously private, Lucian Freud spoke about painting, the art world and his life and loves to his confidante and frequent collaborator, William Feaver, on the phone most weeks for many years. Feaver’s transcript forms the core of his definitive two-volume biography. He speaks with us about the best books for understanding the life and work of this renowned painter, and the very particular collaboration that led to this magisterial account of one of the finest painters of the last century.

The Best Books by Artists, recommended by Michaela Unterdörfer

Why should we read what visual artists have written? Michaela Unterdörfer, head of publishing for the art gallery Hauser & Wirth, argues that the visual and artistic language of artists makes archival material more immediate and compelling. Artists’ testimonies refer not only to physical archives but above all to the mental archives of artists, their cultural and historic inheritance, which books like these bring to life.

The best books on Minimalism, recommended by Kyle Chayka

In times of political or personal turmoil, there’s a tendency to seek solace in stripping back life to its bare essentials. Minimalist thought is threaded through Stoicism and Zen Buddhism; absence and space became major preoccupations of 1960s US art. Kyle Chayka, the art critic and author of The Longing for Less, recommends five books on the philosophy that underpins the present fad for minimalist self-help.