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Flavia Frigeri Selects

Posted on 30 Jul 2022

Art historian and National Portrait Gallery curator Flavia Frigeri recommends the Thames & Hudson books that have inspired her recently – including a trip to Venice with Peggy Guggenheim and an unconventional storybook from Andy Warhol.

© Isabelle Young

In our Thames & Hudson Selects series, our brilliant authors and contributors offer a behind the scenes look at their bookshelves, sharing the Thames & Hudson books that have uplifted and inspired them.

Here, Flavia Frigeri – art historian, curator and author of Women Artists (Art Essentials) and Pop Art (Art Essentials) – shares her top picks.

1. The Unfinished Palazzo: Life, Love and Art in Venice

An unfinished palazzo overlooking the Grand Canal in Venice is the protagonist of this riveting account focusing on the lives of three extraordinary women: Luisa Casati, Doris Castlerosse and Peggy Guggenheim. Independent and single, Luisa, Doris and Peggy dared to live differently, leaving a mark on one of Venice’s most treasured buildings, the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni – home today to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. For anyone who has lost their heart to Venice, The Unfinished Palazzo is a must-read.

2. The Militant Muse: Love, War and the Women of Surrealism

For a long time, women have been the unsung heroes of surrealism. Mostly cast as muses and/or lovers, women were not seen as artists in their own right, despite the richness of their artistic production. In The Militant Muse, Chadwick rescues the women of surrealism from patriarchal oblivion. If you are on the hunt for a compelling re-take on surrealism from a feminist perspective, then look no further – this is your bible!

3. Yves Saint Laurent & Art

Yves Saint Laurent & Art unites two of my greatest passions: art and fashion. The legendary fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent was a highly cultured man and his designs bear trace to this. As the book shows, modern and contemporary art permeated Saint Laurent’s life and work. An avid collector of Léger, De Chirico, Picasso and Mondrian, among others, he used art as a prompt to his own artistic process. His ‘Homage to Mondrian’ dresses (Autumn-Winter 1965-66) remain one of my favourite designs of all times. One day, I hope to own one.

4. Abstract Art: A Global History

Many museum-goers and art lovers still wrestle with the idea of abstraction. How to make sense of an art form that is not immediately legible in the same way as figuration? In Abstract Art: A Global History, Karmel answers this question in a compelling and comprehensive way. Not only is abstraction always rooted in the real world, it is something that we can all relate to through form and colour. Long live abstract art!

5. The Autobiography of a Snake

‘Noa the Boa’, a snake and a social climber of sorts is the protagonist of this tale. In his quest for fame, Noa the Boa transforms himself into accessories for the great and the good of the 1960s – when The Autobiography of a Snake was created by the king of pop art, Andy Warhol. Noa the Boa takes on the guise of Jacqueline Kennedy’s boots, Liz Taylor’s bracelet and Coco Chanel’s shirt. If you want to know how it ends, pick up a copy.


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