5 (Art) Books We Read in 2021

... and would totally recommend! Here at MAD54 we would like to wrap up the year with five book recommendations for anyone wishing to learn more about contemporary art.

We Are Here: Visionaries of Color Transforming the Art World by Jasmin Hernandez

Jasmin Hernandez is literally one of the OG art bloggers - a New York-native, growing up in the Bronx, Dominican, Hernandez studied fashion at Parson's but was always drawn to the art world. She started frequenting gallery openings around the city and began her blog Gallery Gurls. She quickly noticed that the crowds (and artists) in the galleries she visited were overwhelmingly non-diverse. We Are Here is a book where Hernandez shines the spotlight on 50 black, brown, latinx, queer, trans, and nonbinary figures from the art world. The book is a compilation of 50 studio visits where we learn more about the artists through light-toned, conversational interviews and stunning photographs (directed by Hernandez herself). With this book, Hernandez wishes to inspire a sense of inclusivity and increase representation of people of color in a white-dominated industry.

You can find the book here.

How to Become a Successful Artist by Magnus Resch

Magnus is known for his extensive research in the highly opaque art market. As an economist, Resch applies scientific research methods to make bold (and sometimes controversial) statements about factors that can make or break an artists career. He looks at data to give evidence-based advice to artists who want to become successful. In his book, Resch also takes on the task to pre-define "success". We love this book because it points out certain inalienable truths that people in the industry would never admit to being true and gives practical advice for those who want to gain recognition by top-tier art galleries and decision makers.

You can find the book here.

Boom: Mad Money, Mega Dealers, and the Rise of Contemporary Art by Michael Shnayerson

This book tells you the whole story of how the contemporary art market became what is today, in the words of Amy Cappellazzo, "A fascinating, sexy, intellectually compelling, unregulated global market.” Boom tells the tale of those who have shaped the way in which contemporary and modern art is sold and how it became, well, so expensive and exclusive. Starting in the late 40s with Peggy Gugenheim and Betty Parsons, Shnayerson moves on to the main transformer: Leo Castelli. This book will acquaint you with arguably every single influential person in the art world from the 40s until today. Boom narrates how the relationships between some of the most distinguished artists (Pollock, Picaso, Twombly, Basquiat... Murillo, Hist) and their legendary gallerists (Castelli, Gagosian, Zwirner...) shaped the way in which we see and buy art today.

You can find the book here.

Navigating the Art World: Professional Practice for the Early Career Artist by Delphian Gallery

Less methodological, more nuanced than Resch's approach, this book, too, aims to give advice to young and emerging artists. It highlights topics that are current and relevant to today's art market (such as social media) and gives advice not only from a gallery-to-artist perspective but from an array of industry experts. "Navigating The Art World consists of a mix of advice and tips from ourselves, as well as gallerists, curators, artists, collectors, and other industry experts to give some insight on various ways to enhance your art career. [...] The process of entering the art world and forging a career can be fraught with obstacles to overcome, and so we have written this guide to make the journey as stress-free as possible."

You can find the book here.

And last but not least, we have a recommendation by a special guest: Kimberly Landa a seasoned art consultant who also runs an incredible Instagram art account: The Artchivist. Her recommendation is a book about Rothko's practice:

Mark Rothko: From The Inside Out by Christopher Rothko

One of my favorite reads to recommend to anyone with all levels of art knowledge is Mark Rothko: From The Inside Out written by the influential artist's son, Christopher Rothko. Rothko walks the reader through his father's impactful career, the work itself, and how the artist wanted (or didn’t want) people to view his work. Rothko’s accessible writing style makes profound and conceptual ideas easy to follow, therefore making his father’s mysteriously powerful work feel understandable. If you want to feel more comfortable in a museum or gallery setting, learn a new way to digest artwork or simply learn more about Rothko’s life, this is a great book to dive into. From The Inside Out is enlightening, informative and will give you intellectual footing to better understand all abstract art.

Kimberly has worked for an an art advisory, Kinzelman Art Consulting since 2016 where she is a Senior Associate, working on both corporate and private collections.


We'd like to thank all our readers and community for the extensive support shown throughout 2021- we hope you'll stick with us through 2022 and beyond! Happy New Year - we look forward to a new year filled with art. 😊