Musebooks — a Great Online Source for Art Books

I’ve been meaning to let you know about a great site for finding digital books about art and artists.  Musebooks has a growing collection of digitized books on art history and contemporary artists.  Some books are as little as $3.00.

I am presently reading a book on Kerry James Marshall, whose work I love.  I’ll review the book when I have finished it.




I have started my own shelf of books about everything from art nouveau to How to Read Art.  They give you free samples to check out before you buy.   You get access to exhibit catalogs and books that you might not find anywhere else.

And although some of the books are very expensive, most are affordable and cheaper than you can get them from any other bookstore.  Also, you get a free book just for signing up.

Check it out and see what you think.  I highly recommend them.

Here’s a video of their site and how the books work.  I particularly love the zoom features.

The essentials of Musebooks from Musebooks on Vimeo.

And here’s information about them from their website:

About Musebooks

Musebooks is the first digital reading experience specially designed for art lovers. Easily switch between reading the text, leafing through the pages and zooming in on images — and never lose your spot in the book. Your books are stored in your personal online library, MyBooks. Discover now the alternative to e-books that is revolutionizing the way we read about art. Sign up to get your first book for free.

Musebooks Founders

The trio of Belgian innovators behind are publishing professional Peter Ruyffelaere, marketing mastermind Noël Slangen, and information technology ingénue Dominique de Rijcke.

Dominique De Rijcke (38) is an experienced tech entrepreneur, owning several IT firms. Dominique and Noël have worked together many times, creating several international IT platforms for multinationals and organisations. 

Noël Slangen (52) has been a successful entrepreneur in the communication industry in Belgium and the Netherlands for nearly 30 years. He is used to managing large teams, working with stakeholders and advising major clients.

Peter Ruyffelaere (57) has a track record in producing art books at Ludion, was responsible for the merchandising of the Magritte Foundation, and has worked with some of the world’s most important museums in co-productions of museum catalogues.


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Bookmarking Book Art – Hedi Kyle’s The Art of the Fold: How to Make Innovative Books and Paper Structures

Looks fantastic:

Books On Books

The [artists’ book] movement had its beginnings with a few individuals (conceptual artists Dieter Roth, Hansjörg Mayer, and Ed Ruscha immediately come to mind), but in the area of structural experiment and invention only one person seems to have been markedly influential (albeit seriously ignored): Hedi Kyle.

Alastair Johnston, “Visible Shivers Running Down My Spine”, Parenthesis, Fall 2013m Number 25.

While Alastair Johnston’s 2013 interview with Hedi Kyle is a rich one and welcome, it is inaccurate to say Hedi Kyle has been seriously ignored.  After all, in 2005, the Guild of Book Workers awarded her an honorary membership, and Syracuse University’s Library invited her to deliver that year’s Brodsky Series lecture. In 2008, the Philadelphia Senior Artists Initiative recorded her oral history and posted her artist’s statement along with an extensive list of prior exhibitions, honors, professional roles and board memberships stretching back to 1965.

If, however, Johnston’s…

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Review: Memphis, Martin, and The Mountaintop

The Memphis Sanitation Strike in 1968, which led to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., began with the death of two Black sanitation workers who were killed by malfunctioning equipment.  Dr. King provided a boost in morale, and brought national attention to the treatment of Black working men, but the strike itself was initiated by workers who were committed to safer conditions, a livable wage, and the recognition that they were men, and not expendable.



Alice Faye Duncan’s new book Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, begins at the very start of this historic event.  It’s based on the history shared with Duncan by Dr. Almella Stark-Umoja.  Her father, Revend Henry Logan Starks, was pastor of St. James A.M.E. Church in Memphis, a community organizer, and a strategist for the sanitation strike.

The story is told through the perspective of a fictional 9 year-old, Lorraine Jackson, whose father is a sanitation worker.  Through her young eyes we see the simple demands that the men and their families made — that their basic, decent, human rights be recognized.  It highlights the struggles the families made to see that justice was done.



Lorraine marched with her family and other sanitation workers through the streets of Memphis.  She saw the hardship that the strike caused her own family, the toll it took on her father, and the cruel stubbornness of the Memphis Mayor who refused to respect their call for justice.




Her life was forever changed when she heard Dr. King give his famous sermon, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.”  When he was assassinated the next day, she sees the persistence of her father and his co-workers and their commitment to peaceful change. Duncan makes a point of honoring Coretta Scott King’s continued support that helped the discouraged sanitation workers endure the fight for their demands.




Christie’s illustrations add to the poignancy of the story.  The story itself is told in vignettes and poems that flow gracefully into one another.


This book is written on a level for ages 9 to 12, but it’s a great book for anyone who wants to peek back into the history of civil rights in America.  I was 8 years old in Memphis when it happened, so the story helped clarify my memory and understand even better what a profound thing happened in my city.

Duncan’s writing is compelling and flows gently through a hard story.  Through the eyes of a child, we see both the complexity and simplicity of an event that changed the course of American history.


Alice Faye Duncan is the author of multiple children’s books, including Honey Baby Sugar Child, which received an NAACP image award.  She lives in Memphis.  You can visit her at


R. Gregory Christie has illustrated more than fifty books for young adults and children. He has won a Caldecott Honor, A New York Times 10 Best Illustrated Books of the Year Award, an NAACP Image Award, and many other awards. You can visit him at , his Atlanta bookstore site that features autographed books for children.

dream big

This is a beautiful book.  It shows how hard it is to change a stagnant system through non-violence, how hard every day people work to bring dignity and justice to life for everyone.  I highly recommend it.

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Madam & Eve: Women Portraying Women — Book Review

Just Wow!


I was blown away by the range and depth of this collection of contemporary portrait and figurative art by women.

I’d been looking for a good book on post-1960s portrait art for about a year.  There was nothing in my library about that at all.  The world has become more vibrant and diverse place in the past 60 years.  Art materials have changed, art styles have changed.  More people than ever have access to art materials.  More styles of creativity are seen as art.  We’ve begun to remove blinders and see the world and each other all over again.

I see a lot of contemporary art online, but nothing in depth, or that pulls it all together in a meaningful way.  All the books I could find in my library were histories of portraiture that featured only the classic realistic styles and much art done for wealthy patrons.  Which is fine, but what about what’s happening all over the world now?


I found the book Madam & Eve: Women Portraying Women by Liz Rideal and Kathleen Soriano about a month ago, and have been consulting it almost daily ever since.  There’s so much to absorb from the paintings, photographs, constructions and performance art represented and discussed here.   Some of it is gorgeous, some of it grotesque but all of it is new and intriguing to me.


In the Forward, the authors said they conceived of this from their personal views:


What I found in the book seemed a universal view, a wide range of what a portrait can mean in addition to a mere representation of what a person looks like.  And women’s vision, historically, has been ignored, but it’s always been a most powerful view of who we are.



The first section of the book covers some history of women in the arts, beginning with Clara Peters, Still Life with Goblets, 1612,  where her self-portrait is slyly hidden in the reflection on a goblet:



The book features one work by each artist represented, a brief descriptions of her work, and a bit of the story behind the image.  It not only illuminates the particular painting, but gives insight into modern portraiture, and how women fit into the larger issues of the world — both the ideal and the reality:


It shows how women perceive themselves and each other, but also how we think society perceives us, and the way that distorts how we see ourselves.















There is such a wide range of work in these 220 odd pages that it’s hard to go through the whole book at once, but it’s easy to come back to it.  It’s also a good book to sit with by the computer and look for more work by the artists.

Liz Rideal is an artist and Reader at Slade School of Fine Art, University College London and has worked for over thirty years with the National Portrait Gallery, London. Her artwork is held in public collections including Tate, V&A and the Yale Centre for British Art, USA. It has been exhibited widely in Europe and the USA. She is the author of Mirror Mirror: Self-portraits by Women Artists, Insights: Self-portraits, and How to Read Paintings.

Kathleen Soriano is an independent curator, broadcaster and Chair of the Liverpool Biennial. Formerly, Director of Exhibitions and Collections, National Portrait Gallery, London; Director, Compton Verney; and Director of Exhibitions at the Royal Academy of Arts, London.


I’ve requested that my library get a copy of this book.  I don’t know how successful it will be since they have a low budget, but it’s worth a try because our libraries should have great books like this available for everyone.

This book was published by Laurence King Publishing in London.  They have an incredible list of up-to-to date art books.  I hope you look at their site and learn more about the art and books that are being produced now.  How living artists see us is illuminating:  we can find new visions of ourselves, new mysteries, and new questions.

Laurence King also published the fun storytelling card set I reviewed, The Mysterious Mansion, which you can read about here.

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