The Best 6 Art History Books for Students and Enthusiasts in 2022

Art history books open a window into the fascinating history of art. If you want to know how art trends and concepts have developed over the years, these are the books to pick up. They will walk you through different art movements. You’ll discover how they have influenced artists over time.

Art reflects the world around it. To understand art, you need to know about the history of the period (and vice versa). That’s why I think that art history is an essential topic. Every student or enthusiastic artist should pick up some art history books.

Here are my suggestions for the best art history books in 2022! Grab any of these books for an enlightening read. You’ll soon develop a deep understanding of how and why art has changed over time.

6 Best Art History Books

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The Best Art History Books: Reviewed

Art That Changed the World: Transformative Art Movements and the Paintings That Inspired Them

Art That Changed the World: Transformative Art Movements and the Paintings That Inspired Them

(Image credit: DK)

Art can have a massive impact on the world around it. This work delves into more than 700 artists who made the biggest influence beyond the art world. You’ll find well-known artists such as Michelangelo featured in this fascinating book. Find out each artist’s vision and see examples of their best works. Plus, you can learn about how they influenced art movements.

A wide range of artists is covered in this book, making it one of the best art history textbooks for students. If you want to develop a greater understanding of how each art movement came about, pick this book up. You’ll glean profound insights into how the individual movements influenced each other.

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Art: A World History

Art: A World History - Best art history books

(Image credit: Elke Linda Buchholz , Susanne Kaeppele, Karoline Hille, Irina Stotland, Gerhard Buhler)

This pocket-sized history of art book covers everything from prehistoric to modern art. Within the pages, you’ll find more than 900 pictures of the most famous artworks. You’ll gain a clear understanding of the art of every time period by reading this book. It’s one of the best art history books for beginners and makes a handy reference guide. You can take it anywhere; it’s especially useful when in an art gallery or traveling.

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Art: Over 2,500 Works from Cave to Contemporary

Art: Over 2,500 Works from Cave to Contemporary - Art history books

(Image credit: Iain Zaczek, Mary Acton)

If you want to know how art developed from early cave paintings to the modern-day, this is the book for you. It explains the art movements from ancient times right up to contemporary art. The information is easily accessible and there are glorious double-page spreads. So, you’ll be able to absorb the various artworks in all their detail!

If you’re dedicated, you can read this book from start to finish. Otherwise, you can dip in and out of the sections that most interest you. However you use this book, it will be a brilliant addition to your art history books. More than 2,500 artworks are displayed in the pages of this book. You’ll find it a rich and fascinating explanation of art history.

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Art: A Visual History

Art: A Visual History - Best art history book

(Image credit: Robert Cumming)

This beautifully presented book is a must-have for anyone with an interest in art history. It covers art from as early as Ancient Greece, right up to modern times. You’ll learn about movements chronologically. But the author also focuses on specific, important masterpieces. By examining these, you’ll come to understand the characteristics of different eras.

Famous artworks feature in this book. But Cumming also shines the light on some lesser-known treasures. While you don’t get a lot of detail on each piece of art, you get an excellent overview. This makes it a fantastic reference book for all art history enthusiasts.

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The Story of Paintings: A History of Art for Children

The Story of Paintings: A History of Art for Children - Best art history books for beginners

(Image credit: Mick Manning, Brita Granström)

The best way to get your kids interested in history is to introduce it to them early. And this is the perfect book to start with! Thirty-nine artworks are featured in these pages. They invite your children to flick through at their own pace. They can stop to find out more about their favorite paintings. 

The Story of Paintings will introduce children to famous artists who made a significant impact on the world. It’s presented in a child-friendly manner. There are short biographies, eye-catching cartoons, and fun facts. You’ll even find prompts that encourage your child to look closer and pick out key details in the painting. 

If you want your kids to love art, buy them this book and look through it together. It will be a bonding experience and should spark an interest in art from an early age. It would also make a lovely gift for any children in your life. And if you’re looking for a gentle introduction to art history, you could even pick it up for yourself!

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The Collins Big Book of Art: From Cave Art to Pop Art

The Collins Big Book of Art: From Cave Art to Pop Art - Best art history book

(Image credit: Mick Manning, Brita Granström)

This gorgeous coffee table book spans almost 40,000 years of art. From 38,000 BC to the modern-day, this is the only book you need to delve into any period of art history. 1,200 artworks are reproduced in detail on the pages of this book. So, you can examine these works of art in the comfort of your own home.

The timeline in this book makes it simple to look up any artist. You’ll develop a deep understanding of the different art movements and how they came about. There’s also an interesting section on themes in art. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about allegory or abstraction, turn straight to this section!

The Collins Big Book of Art is just as much a modern art book, with spotlights on Pop Art and other recent movements. This delightful book is one you won’t regret buying!

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The Wrap Up

These great books about art history will give you a good foundation of knowledge. You’ll feel more confident to create your own art. Plus, you’ll appreciate the art of others when you have a deeper understanding of the rich history.

Drop me a comment to let me know which one you’ll read first! Then, sign up for the Proactive Creative newsletter. I’ll keep you updated on all things art, design, and creativity!

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