Best books of 2022: Visual arts

If These Apples Should Fall: Cézanne and the Present
by TJ Clark, Thames & Hudson £30/$39

An electrifying account of looking intently to fathom Cézanne’s pictures: what makes their beauty still so uncanny, precarious, visionary. Stalking his subject with a hawk’s eye, a philosopher’s mind and an open heart, Clark unfolds both the artist at work and his own evolving responses. The best book on Cézanne since Meyer Shapiro’s in 1962.

Book cover of A Life of Picasso, Volume IV

A Life of Picasso, Volume IV: The Minotaur Years 1933-1943
by John Richardson, Jonathan Cape £35/Knopf $40

Picasso in his 50s, obsessed with his self-image as the mythical minotaur, trampling sacrificial victims as he created the era’s defining icons — “Guernica”, “Weeping Woman” — compels as defiantly as ever. What a magnificent resource this four-volume biography is, unfinished (Richardson died in 2019) yet unrivaled in its blend of erudition and gossipy insights.

Book cover of Monet — Mitchell

Monet — Mitchell edited by Suzanne Pagé, Marianne Mathieu and Angéline Scherf, Yale £40/Hazan $50

Joan Mitchell confronting Monet at Paris’s Fondation Vuitton is the year’s most joyful exhibition. Its catalog illuminates especially the fabulous story of how the American artist, relocating to Monet’s Vétheuil on the Seine in 1968, engaged with his landscapes and late abstract manner but made paintings triumphantly her own.

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What are your favorites from this list — and what books have we missed? Tell us in the comments below

Book cover of 20th Century Indian Art

20th Century Indian Art: Modern, Post-Independence, Contemporary
edited by Partha Mitter, Parul Dave Mukherji, Rakhee Balaram, Thames & Hudson £85/$125

For range and depth, a landmark in Indian art history. It pulls the marginal towards the center yet keeps the big picture in view, rethinks modernism’s freedoms and troubles in a broadened global context and negotiates colonial and postcolonial assumptions with nuanced understanding.

Book cover of Michelangelo

Michelangelo: The Complete Works: Paintings, Sculpture, Architecture
by Frank Zöllner and Christof Thoenes, Taschen £60/$80

The fresh edition of this magisterial, engrossing study of Michelangelo as “prototype of the modern self-expressive artist” is very welcome. Shorn of its drawings section (a minefield of controversial attributions), it’s more manageably sized and priced, beautifully designed, and incorporates some new images, while Taschen quality remains supreme.

Books of the Year 2022

All this week, FT writers and critics share their favorites. Some highlights are:

Monday: Business by Andrew Hill
Tuesday: Environment by Pilita Clark
Wednesday: Economics by Martin Wolf
Thursday: Fiction by Laura Battle
Friday: Politics by Gideon Rachman
Saturday: Critics’ choice

Join our online book group on Facebook at FT Books Café

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