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Perspectives

Your place to explore new perspectives on British art from 1900 to now. Through interviews, films, image galleries and essays, we uncover the creative lives of the people behind the art on our walls.

Close up of books on shelves in a library

So, what books have we all been reading?

[ Essay )

With all the world gone virtual and digital, it's easy to forget about the humble book!

With a little bit more time on our hands, which books have our colleagues had their noses buried in? We’ve put together a list of ten of our favourite art and design books for you to enjoy.

Many of these and more can be found at the Pallant Bookshop , which we are delighted to say has reopened for online ordering! Visit the website today and stock up on some of the very best of new, remaindered and out of print books on Modern British Art in the country.

Photograph of the book Lives of the Artists, Lives of the Architects by Hans Ulrich Obrist on a sideboard surrounded by plant pots.

Lives of the Artists, Lives of the Architects by Hans Ulrich Obrist

Inspired by the 16th century original (the OG art-bio book!) Lives of the Artists by Giorgio Vasari, this is writer and curator Hans Ulrich Obrist’s modern update. A perfect book to dip in and out of featuring conversations with artists such as David Hockney, Richard Hamilton and my personal fave, Louise Bourgeois as well as architects such as Zaha Hadid. Each time I pick it up, I learn something new!

Natalie Duff, Communications Assistant

Lives of the Artists, Lives of the Architects – Hans Ulrich Obrist

Photograph of the book Flaneuse by Lauren Elkin against a map of London.

Flaneuse by Lauren Elkin

I was drawn to this book by of its title, a playful swipe at the male preserve of walking, unchallenged, through the city streets. I have long been interested in how we relate to the world around us through the physical act of movement.  In the opening pages Elkin quotes geographer Yi-Fu Tuan…

…a space becomes a place when through movement we invest it with meaning, when we see it as something to be perceived, apprehended, experienced.

Yi-Fu Tuan

It might seem odd to choose to read about the creative potential of walking during these difficult times, but as we become increasingly aware of the privilege of walking, freely and unchallenged, I find myself reflecting on the rewarding riches of my own flâneuse-ing!

Louise Weller, Head of Exhibitions

Flâneuse – Lauren Elkin

Photograph of the book 'Night Fever: Designing Club Culture' on a concrete background.

Night Fever: Designing Club Culture

This book accompanied an exhibition Night Fever: Designing Club Culture at the Vitra Design Museum in Germany. I didn’t actually go to the exhibition, but enjoy looking at the cool interiors of the 1970s clubs featured in this book. Who knows, maybe in another life I would have managed to get in? Or maybe just got stuck at the door?!

David Wynn, Design and Production Manager

Night Fever: Designing Club Culture: 1960Today – Mateo Kries, Jochen Eisenbrand, Catharine Rossi & Nina Serulus

The cover of the book 'The Inner Mirror' catching the light.

The Inner Mirror by Ursula Hauser

Bought after visiting the exhibition Unconscious Landscape: Works from the Ursula Hauser Collection at Hauser & Wirth, Somerset last summer, I now at last have time to read this book properly!

Over the course of four decades Ursula Hauser has assembled a deeply personal collection of works, often of female artists, without agenda and long before equality in the visual arts became a matter of reassessment.  The title alludes to how the collection has been formed, Hauser’s unconscious seeking out of artists that she feels an affinity with, assembling works that she has a strong emotional draw to.  It was one of her conditions that she meet the artist and got to know the person behind the work. She was drawn to a shared understanding of the ‘unsteadiness’ of women’s lives without an established platform in the art world.  Artists include Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse, Maria Lassnig, Lee Lozano, Meret Oppenheim and Sylvia Sleigh.

Sarah Norris, Head of Collections

The Inner Mirror, Coversations with Ursula Hauser, Art Collector – Laura Bechter & Michaela Unterdorfer

Photograph of the book by Germaine Greer - The Obstacle Race, with a cup of coffee.

Germaine Greer The Obstacle Race

Since my background is in Classics and Archaeology rather than Art History, I sometimes feel like I’ve missed out on reading some of the seminal works that my colleagues are so familiar with! This was recommended to me at our Radical Women Wikipedia Edit-a-thon and I thought lockdown was the perfect time to delve into such a meaty book. I really love Greer’s approach of trying to capture the scope of women painters in history. It’s easy to focus on outliers such as Artemisia Gentilschi, but Greer’s point is that it’s not that there have never been women painters – it’s that so often they weren’t given the same opportunities or recognition as men. Even the women who were making livings as a painter have been ignored by mainstream history. So far (I’ve yet to finish it!), The Obstacle Race is actually marrying a lot of my interests – in feminism, in hidden histories, and of course, art.

(I’ve also just bought Siri Hustvedt’s A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women: Essays on Art, Sex, and the Mind following Nat’s recommendation, so I’m excited to start that after finishing this!)

Sarah Jackson, Communications Officer

The Obstacle Race – Germaine Greer

A photograph of The Lives of Lucian Freud by William Feaver against a carpet background.

The Lives of Lucian Freud by William Feaver

Inspired by the recent Royal Academy exhibition Lucian Freud: The Self Portraits, I wanted to know more about the artist! Feaver knew Freud well and discussed his life with him in a series of daily phone conversations so Freud’s voice is strong in the book. Feaver also writes brilliantly about his paintings and the evolving post-war art scene. With a cast of characters that launches with Freud’s famous Grandfather, encompasses Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach, Michael Andrews with cameos from Picasso, Princess Margaret, the Kray Twins and Ian Fleming, this is not only the portrait of the artist but also a fascinating insight of cultural life in mid-twentieth century Britain.

Tess Viljoen, Marketing Manager

The Lives of Lucian Freud – William Feaver

Available from Pallant Bookshop

A photograph of the book 'Women LOoking at Men' by author Siri Hustvedt on a garden paving stone with a coffee and some plants.

A Woman Looking at Men by Siri Hustvedt

My well-thumbed copy in all it’s beaten-up glory comes complete with coffee stains and the original receipt as the bookmark! This is one of the first books I started reading on my commute to Chichester when I started working at Pallant House Gallery. A good choice if you prefer short stories, or you’re not in the mood to commit to reading a book cover to cover – this collection of essays spans topics as diverse as art, artists, literature, philosophy and even neuroscience!

Natalie Duff, Communications Assistant

A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women: Essays on Art, Sex and the Mind – Siri Hustvedt

A photograph of the Unquiet Landscape book on a wooden bench against foliage in the background.

Unquiet Landscape book

Poetic and considered, this book manages to articulate the artist’s aims and the ideas behind painting and the British landscape tradition.  Originating in conversations with Ben Nicholson and many of the other featured artists, together with an intuitive ‘sense of place,’ it never imposes a viewpoint, but does what every book about art should do, makes you seek out works you don’t know and look afresh at works you thought you knew well.

Sarah Norris, Head of Collections

Unquiet Landscape: Places and Ideas in 20th-Century British Painting – Christopher Neve

Available from Pallant Bookshop

A colour photograph of a book titled Among the Bohemians by author Virginia Nicholson. Woman dancing in red dress on the cover

Among the Bohemians book by Virginia Nicholson

I loved this book which looks at every aspect of Bohemian life at the beginning of the 20th century – from the way they decorated their homes, what they ate, how they brought up their children to the countries they travelled to and the way they conducted their love lives. It is amazing to see how their way of life, considered radical at the time, has now become the norm. You can’t help but be inspired by their quest for authenticity, respect for originality and celebration of creativity and say a little thank you to them for breaking down so many barriers and doing away with claustrophobic conventions.

Tess Viljoen, Marketing Manager

Among the Bohemians – Virginia Nicholson

Available from Pallant Bookshop

Photograph of the range of five Eiderdown Press books on a wooden floor next to a cup of tea.

Eiderdown Press books

The mini-monographs which make up the first five titles in a series called ‘Modern Women Artists’, are concise illustrated introductions to artists you ought to know about, but possibly don’t. Think ladybird books for grown-ups: full-page colour illustrations accompanied by an accessible essay about the life and work of each artist. Female artists are terribly under-represented in art book publishing (reflecting how under-represented they are in museum collections) so it’s good to be able to begin balancing the bookshelves with these little books. The artists featured – Sylvia Pankhurst, Frances Hodgkins, Marlow Moss, Laura Knight and Lee Miller – were each celebrated in their day, but their contribution to art history has subsequently often been neglected. All the more reason to include these books on your shelf!

Harriet Olsen, Head of Publishing

Not only is Harriet our Head of Publishing, she is also the founder of Eiderdown Books, the publishing company behind the ‘Modern Women Artists’ series. These books are available to buy directly from the publishers and Pallant Bookshop.

If you’re looking for something to read, head back to our Gallery Blog page to see what else we’ve got for you! We’ve been busy adding lots of past articles and interviews about your favourite Pallant House Gallery artists and exhibitions.