FAVORITE TEN ART BOOKS !!! BOOK ONE — BEKSINSKI


In the roughly twenty plus years I have been serious about collecting art books, graduating from early love affairs with Dali and Rubens and Caravaggio, to the most recent SPECTRUM editions, I have been lucky enough to sample and own some of the best art books by the best artists.

I recently started to think in terms of a top ten list.

Not top ten artists, but the art books that if all my others were lost to time, as all things eventually are, the ten that I would put in a safe deposit or a time capsule or bequeath to the National Library of Congress the way Thomas Jefferson did with his book collection.

The ten PHYSICAL, TACTILE books (not digital kindle bits, but physical item that is made art by its form as much as its content) that I believe should endure for generations not yet born.

The first book that came to mind on my very prejudicial list, is one of my older art books, and one of my most loved.

fantasticartbeksinski

THE FANTASTIC ART OF BEKSINSKI – This 1998 book was my, and the world’s, introduction to polish artist, surrealist, fantasist Zdislaw Beksinski. Produced by short lived but stellar publisher MORPHEUS INTERNATIONAL, as a kid who had grown up loving both the surrealism of Dali and the Baroque/heroic realism of Peter Paul Rubens and Caravaggio I saw something brilliant and haunting and both new and old and transcendent in the work of this, at the time, unknown artist.

I became a cheerleader and reseller of that book, I was that enamored of it. Here 17 years later, 15 years into a new century, other and bigger tomes on Beksinski have been produced, but to Morpheus International’s credit, their eye for book design, and use of quality paper and binding, has not only stood the test of time, but remains the finest book on Beksinski ever produced, and currently the only one I recommended. Highest Recommendation!

Get your copy here:

The Fantastic Art of Beksinski (Masters of Fantastic Art) Hardcover

Than come back for my selection of nine other… of the most essential, innovative, and beautiful art books!

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On Beksinski! Comparing the artbooks FANTASTIC ART and BEKSINSKI 1!

“In the medieval tradition, Beksinski seems to believe art to be a forewarning about the fragility of the flesh– whatever pleasures we know are doomed to perish– thus, his paintings manage to evoke at once the process of decay and the ongoing struggle for life. They hold within them a secret poetry, stained with blood and rust.” –director Guillermo Del Toro

I’ve been singing the praise of Zdzislaw Beksinski since 1998 when Morpheus International introduced his art to those outside Poland by publishing THE FANTASTIC ART OF BEKSINSKI.

The Fantastic Art of Beksinski (Masters of Fantastic Art S.)


Twelve years later and Beksinski’s work is more well known to the point where there are films and filmmakers singing his praises, bands doing albums to him, and additional art books produced about him. Sad that this increased exposure couldn’t arrive while he was still alive.

However, that injustice aside, I’m glad the art books and product are, in the wake of his demise, finding an audience. The work of Beksinski deserves to… persist.

One recent art book is BEKSINSKI 1 by publisher Bosz Art. A 2009 printing, which I only recently received. Having loved THE FANTASTIC ART OF BEKSINSKI, (it remains 12 years later, and hundreds of art books later, my essential art book) I had constantly been on the search for more art books by this “master of the aftermath”, and BEKSINSKI 1 fit the bill nicely.

It’s a bit more substantial of a book than Morpheus’ THE FANTASTIC ART OF BEKSINSKI. BEKSINSKI 1 is about the same height as THE FANTASTIC ART OF BEKSINSKI (which is 12″ by 9.6″) while being over an inch thicker, and sporting about 100 more pages.

Zdzislaw Beksinski (Bosz art) (Polish Edition)

There’s a very nice forward, both in Polish and English, by Wieslaw Banach, that is quite eloquent and slightly poetic. Beyond those few pages the rest of the books is given over to just a broad selection, listed chronologically, of Beksinski’s art.

The strength of this tome is its size allows it to include a lot of art not in THE FANTASTIC ART OF BEKSINSKI, some of it quite arresting. The weakness of this tome however is most of the tome is given to his post 1990 work, which is in a different less beautiful/fantastic realist style than his earlier work. It gets quite repetitive actually.

A 2nd failing is while the paper stock is thick, it is a dull, matte finish that does not show off the art of Beksinski as well as the Morpheus tome.

The glossy Morpheus paper, really captures the brightness and vibrancy of Beksinski’s colors, it makes the art come alive. An illusion that is lost in the dull matte finish of the Bosz Tome. Also with the inclusion of quotes interspersed, quite thematically, throughout the entirety of the book, as well as framing the art against, mostly haunting dark colors, THE FANTASIC ART OF BEKSINSKI is just a far superior designed book.

So I don’t regret spending the money to acquire BEKSINSKI 1, it’s a nice expansion to the world of Beksinski, but Morpheus International’s 12 year old tome, THE FANTASTIC ART OF BEKSINSKI remains the definitive book on the last great surrealist.

The Fantastic Art of Beksinski (Masters of Fantastic Art S.)

Final Grades: A+ for THE FANTASTIC ART OF BEKSINSKI B+ for BEKSINSKI 1.