Best Art Bookstore
Berkeley Art Museum
Barnett Newman may have declared that art history is to artists as ornithology is to birds (i.e., irrelevant and incomprehensible), but many of us still pursue guidebook monographs to the variously plumed rara aves of the art world. Some of us even maintain life lists of elusive, costly books, sighted but not bagged — a somewhat perverse consolation, of course. This little museum store, with its comprehensive sections on art history, art theory, technique, film, architecture, and design, is an art maven's haven. Rarely crowded, it's also a browser's delight, unlike most tchotchke-besotted museum stores: Here you can safely peruse potential purchases without the distractions of cranky junior collectors. Catch up on art and occultism, medieval Zen figure painting, the aesthetics of garbage, the precursors of graphic novels, or the history of Berkeley's Bohemia. Snag a Christian Boltanski poster; a Weegee, Joan Blondell, or Claude Cahun monograph; or an original print by Richard Tuttle. Gustave Courbet or Gustave Caillebotte? Seen any good books lately?