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Art Books I’ve Known and Loved

I love buying art books. It sounds funny, but I’m a big believer in it. When I was in my 20’s and was eating Top Ramen as a budgeting tactic I made a goal to buy one a month. Quickly I had a really beautiful collection. Design-wise they add a layer in a living room that makes people happy to be there. I love when people come over to my house and thumb through the books we have on the coffee table, it sparks conversations. I even make my kids do “book reports” on them when they try to tell me they are bored. I thought I would start a feature here with some of my favorite books.

Art Books I've Known and Loved | Oh Happy Day

1. Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists’ Enumerations from the Collections of the Smithsonian Museum

This book was recommended to me by my friend Eric Heywood (he always has the best book recommendations.) It is a compilation of lists from the Smithsonian archives of different artists. I’m a hardcore list maker, so I find this book so fascination. I love being able to see how someone’s thought process works.

2. Black Lives 1900: W.E.B. Du Bois at the Paris Exposition

This book shows the stunning hand-painted charts and graphs by the brilliant W.E.B. Du Bois showcasing the numbers Black Lives in America in 1900 (less than 40 years after Emancipation Proclamation.) They were originally on display at the Paris Exposition. This book is as beautiful as it is educational, it’s hard to convey how detailed and gorgeous each of the charts are.

3. Dorothea Lange: The Heart and Mind of a Photographer

Dorthea Lange is a Bay Area photographer. I love looking through all the old images. She was known for photographing poor or disenfranchised people. I loved this image taken at a San Francisco school just weeks before the US sent Japanese-Americans to internment camps.

We are trying new things here at Oh Happy Day. I would love to hear if you find this interesting (or not) or if you have a favorite art book to recommend.

  1. Paula

    August 12, 2020

    Great post! I love art books and try to work them into my budget whenever I can. Definitely want to check all of these out in person.

  2. Lauren

    August 12, 2020

    Love this! It’s everything I loved about Oh Happy Day back in the day. Feels so refreshing.

      • Christine
      • August 12, 2020

      I’m so happy you are blogging again. It’s a real comfort in a crazy time

  3. Amy

    August 12, 2020

    Love that you’re writing again. I really think your writing makes the world a better place. Can’t wait to check these books out!

  4. Amy

    August 12, 2020

    Love this post and the old school blogging that’s not about a home renovation or sponsored products.

    My favorite art book is close ups of northern renaissance (mostly Flemish) paintings-the details are incredible and so often overlooked.

      • Nina
      • August 15, 2020

      Hi Amy, would love to know the title of the book! I am art teacher and an avid book collector and this one sounds like one I would enjoy looking at and have. Thank you.

  5. Helen

    August 12, 2020

    I’m really digging this math art book. Great for coffee tables.

    Good to have you back.

  6. Jen

    August 12, 2020

    TBH I love the blogging. You have a strong voice and unique experience and have had tons of success. I love it way more than the cute crafts that I’ll never be able to make and the lists of things to buy that I can’t afford or don’t have room for in my tiny Portland home.

  7. Ivonne

    August 12, 2020

    The good old blogging! I love it, I missed it, I News it!
    Hi from 🇵🇾 PAraguay!

  8. Lee

    August 12, 2020

    Everything you do is inspiring , I enjoyed this article. Putting Dorothea Lange’s book on my wish list .

  9. Donna

    August 12, 2020

    I have so missed blog posts. I am thankful for the few who have kept it up. I like the curated feel as if it is a good friend’s recommendations.

  10. Kelli

    August 12, 2020

    Thank you for blogging again and for blogging about art books. I love them too. One of my favorites is Matisse Cut-outs. The colors are beautiful. Reminds me of your vibe😀

  11. VP

    August 12, 2020

    I love the book reports when bored idea!

    I love the more personal blogging! I’ve always loved the DIYs that the site has too but really missed the personal stuff you used to share alongside the DIYs. Thanks!

  12. Briana

    August 12, 2020

    I’ll have to read zadie smith’s book!


  13. Joana

    August 12, 2020

    Hello from Portugal 🙂 Being able to read a good post on a good blog is a real pleasure. iiieeeyyyyyy for slow internet content 🙂

  14. Ana

    August 12, 2020

    Hi, so glad you’ve decided to go back to writing! It’s a great idea, I’ve really missed reading this kind of post.
    Taschen is a huuuge favorite for those with a tight budget.

  15. Ang Forsyth

    August 12, 2020

    I love that you have your kids write book reports on them when they are bored! Beautiful books.

  16. Liz

    August 12, 2020

    I love your blog posts like this and miss them!

  17. Candice

    August 12, 2020

    Keep the posts coming! I’m looking forward to one about your daughter’s costume wardrobe. You inspired me to make one for Christmas for my daughter.

      • jordan
      • August 20, 2020

      I’m working on it!

  18. Em

    August 12, 2020

    Love this post! Three cheers for more experimenting! 🙂

  19. Charan

    August 12, 2020

    Of course art books are very good and we can learn a lot. Looking forward to reading these books.
    Love this article.

  20. Janis

    August 12, 2020

    Love that you are blogging again Jordan! It’s like the old school days. You have impeccable taste so pretty much any subject you talk about I will enjoy (and take lots of notes from).

      • jordan
      • August 20, 2020

      Thanks Janis!

  21. Mudrick

    August 13, 2020

    Love to see you’re back on the blog!

  22. Quindome

    August 25, 2020

    I’m so happy to see you posting again. Your style, particularly for your home, has been a huge source of inspiration. This post was terrific and I’ve already added all of these to my wish list.

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