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Stuff We Love

6 Coffee-Table Books That Are as Stunning as They Are Captivating

Stuff We Love BY courtney conway 12/12/2018

A coffee-table book says a lot about you—and if you check out what the North Carolina-based bag designer Ann Howell Bullard has stacked up in her living room, you’ll get a portrait of an art enthusiast with an eye for idiosyncrasy. Here are six she keeps at the ready for visitors to peruse and for when she’s hungry for fresh ideas for her own charming, hand-painted patterns.

 

MATISSE IN THE STUDIO BY ELLEN MCBREEN AND HELEN BURNHAM

 

“This book is super interesting to look at because it shows all the different objects Matisse had in his studio, like painted screens, furniture, and textiles. It shows how he used his studio and how it then translated into his artwork. It also shows a lot of sketches next to the finished piece or the actual furniture he painted, which is all just really cool.”

 

HENRI MATISSE: THE CUT-OUTS, EDITED BY KARL BUCHBERG, NICHOLAS CULLINAN, JODI HAUPFMAN, AND NICHOLAS SERATA

 

“I get a lot of color combinations from Matisse because he is like the king of really cool color combinations, and this book really focuses on that. I also did a cut-out collection recently, and this book was a big inspiration behind that.”

 

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BOTTICELLI: CLASSIC 2015 BY LIONELLO VENTURI

 

“This book has a lot of close-ups of the Botticellis, which I really like, but my favorite part is the little over-drawings he does. It just looks really textural, and it looks a lot like the moon that I drew on the clutch for Of a Kind. It’s also all just very delicate, and I love that.”  

 

TALES FROM THE BALLET BY LOUIS UNTERMEYER   

 

“This book is illustrated by A. and M. Provensen, who I’d never heard of before. But when I was teaching, they did a huge clean-out of their library, and that’s how I found this book. Anyway, the artwork is incredible. It’s kind of French-looking with pen and ink over watercolor. It also depicts a whole bunch of ballet fairy tales, which is really cool.”

 

MICHELANGELO, THE PAINTER BY VALERIO MARINARI

 

“My copy of this is super frayed and old, but it has these gorgeous colors in it. I really only bought it because it has the coolest cover. I don’t understand why people say not to buy books based on the cover—I do it all the time! In general, I like coffee-table books because they’re usually so easy to read. With this one, you learn all about Michelangelo’s work and life, but it doesn’t feel like a textbook.”


THE PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE BY HENRY-JEAN SERVAT AND WILLIAM C. CARTER

 

“I recently discovered this. Marcel Proust came up with this questionnaire that is used a lot in magazine and newspaper interviews.  This book has his original questionnaire, along with his answers. Then it has a bunch of celebrities’ answers, and there’s a space where you can write in yours. It’s fun because people can then actually interact with this one if it’s just out in your house.”

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