Although I don’t think it is necessary to study the lives of individual artist to enjoy and connect with their artwork, hearing stories about artists can make their art come alive in new and exciting ways.
Several months ago, I received a message from a reader. This is what she said.
My number one struggle in teaching art to my kids is making artists come alive. I really want them to grasp art from cave drawings to modern art. To help them understand that there is a person behind each piece that has lived through struggles and joys. I want them to understand that art is an expression of the soul creating it.
~Tee from Wisteria and Worms
I love her statement here, because art is about people and connecting with people. When you are moved by a work of art, you are moved because of the person behind that artwork and what they were thinking and feeling. I believe art becomes more powerful when you recognize that truth.
I will never forget reading The Agony and the Ecstasy about Michelangelo. I read it before I studied abroad in Italy in college. After reading that book, I felt like I intimately knew both Michelangelo and where he lived, Florence, Italy. Going to Florence after reading that book was a magical experience for me.
Here are my favorite biographical novels, movies, and children’s books for both kids AND adults!
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Books about Artists for Kids
- Henri’s Scissors by Jeanette Winter
- Action Jackson by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan
- Uncle Andy’s by James Warhola
- Frida by Jonah Winter
- Diego by Jonah Winter
- My Name Is Georgia by Jeanette Winter
- The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau by Michelle Markel
Laurence Anholt’s Books about Artists For Children
This is a great series of books where artists and children meet.
- Degas and the Little Dancer
- Cezanne and the Apple Boy
- The Magical Garden of Claude Monet
- Leonardo and the Flying Boy
- van Gogh and the Sunflowers
- Picasso and the Girl with a Ponytail
- Camille and the Sunflowers
- Papa Chagall, Tell Us a Story
- Matisse, King of Colour
Movies and Books about Artists for Adults
Books about Artists
- The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo by Irving Stone
- The Lives of the Artists by Giorgio Vasari
- The Passion of Artemisia: A Novel by Susan Vreeland
- Lust for Life by Irving Stone
Other Books about Artists
Tracy Chevalier and Susan Vreeland write good books surrounding artists but the historical accuracy isn’t as good, so I didn’t put them in the above list. I also really want to read The Private Lives of the Impressionists, but since I haven’t read it, I didn’t put in on the list. 🙂