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October 06, 2008

Stores With Art Books

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Now that I'm retired, my book-buying budget has taken a serious hit. Good thing I scarfed a bunch of art books while I was still working.

That combination of having built up a pretty good library and having to watch my pennies doesn't mean I don't keep browsing. It means that I'm better at resisting a diminishing amount of temptation.

Nowadays my problem is that the really nice, interesting art books are often pretty expensive -- in the $65-$100+ range when I start to get the cold shakes around $55.

Leaving aside the Internet, finding decent art books in stores can be chancy. I've probably mentioned several times that even big-box stores such as Barnes & Noble vary considerably in their wares. An ordinary B&N might only have one or two shelf sections devoted to a combination of art crit, art history, painter biographies, how-to books and perhaps some photography titles. But B&Ns near college campuses or upscale neighborhoods can have much larger art sections.

Perhaps the largest arts-related bookstore I've encountered is Hennessy & Ingalls in Santa Monica. Aside from there, museum stores at major art museums usually offer good selections. You can get a discount if you are a museum member, and they can have sales from time to time.

On my recent trip to the Northeast and Canada I managed to duck into some museum stores. Here's what I found.

Boston's Museum of Fine Arts had a very nice store, meaning that the selection was plentiful. I walked out with a not very costly book about British Impressionism.

On the other hand, the Museé National des Beaux-Arts du Québec shop was small and had few books of any kind.

The Museé des Beaux-Arts de Montréal was much better. Plenty of books. And a large share of them in French -- a nice thing if you want to learn more about not-so-famous-but-good French artists. I shagged two books about Maurice Denis.

Also good was the shop at Ottawa's National Gallery of Canada. I bought small books about Tom Thompson and Clarence Gagnon.

We also visited the Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario which sports two small Rembrandts and some Group of Seven works. But the shop was small and there were few books.



posted by Donald at October 6, 2008


Next time you're in Toronto try David Mirvish Books. For more info check their on line site. DM Books.

Posted by: Chris White on October 6, 2008 7:51 PM

Be interested to hear what you thought of the National Gallery in Ottawa. Its architect was Moishe Safdie, and I've always been curious to see a Blowhard's take on him.

Posted by: PatrickH on October 6, 2008 8:43 PM

I have spent many happy hours at Hennessy & Ingalls! The only problem is getting out of there without spending the rent money.

Posted by: Sister Wolf on October 7, 2008 12:29 AM

Huh. I know you're not rich, but you seem well-heeled enough to travel a lot. I would think that books are a lot cheaper.

Posted by: RIch Rostrom on October 8, 2008 12:45 PM

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