Phaidon: 100 Years of Revolutionizing Art Book Publishing

In celebration of its 100th anniversary, Phaidon, the revolutionary art publisher, continues to redefine art book publishing. Founded by Béla Horovitz, Frederick Ungar, and Ludwig Goldscheider in Vienna, Phaidon pioneered the accessible art book, bringing large format and affordably priced monographs to a wider audience. Today, Phaidon remains at the forefront of shaping the art historical canon with its diverse range of beautifully designed printed books that explore the untold histories and artists from around the world.

The Birth of the Accessible Art Book

Discover how Phaidon revolutionized art book publishing with their introduction of large format, generously illustrated, and affordable monographs on single artists.

Phaidon's founders disrupted the art book publishing industry by conceiving a new style of book: the accessible art book. This groundbreaking format featured large, visually stunning pages filled with affordable monographs on single artists.

Inspired by their passion for classical culture, Phaidon strived to make remarkable art accessible to all, a founding principle that still guides their mission today.

Triumphs and Milestones

Explore Phaidon's significant achievements throughout its 100-year journey, including record-breaking publications and groundbreaking introductions of new concepts in art book publishing.

A major milestone in Phaidon's history came in 1937 when they published a book on the legendary Dutch painter, Vincent van Gogh. This monograph, filled with 50 color plates of Van Gogh's masterpieces, became an instant success, selling over 55,000 copies within two days.

In 1950, Phaidon achieved unparalleled success with the publication of 'The Story of Art' by EH Gombrich, which has since become the best-selling art history book of all time, while also introducing 'The Art Book' as a comprehensive dictionary of the art world.

Phaidon's commitment to continually push boundaries led to the expansion of their subject areas, with publications such as the legendary 'The Silver Spoon' cookery book and Paul Arden's advice book 'It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be'.

Resilience and Evolution

Venture into Phaidon's journey of resilience and growth, overcoming challenges and adapting to an ever-changing art publishing landscape.

In 1974, Phaidon faced challenges in diversification after being sold to Dutch publishing house Elsevier. However, entrepreneur Richard Schlagman's acquisition of Phaidon in 1990 breathed new life into the company, bolstering its publishing program.

One of the turning points for Phaidon was the hire of creative director Alan Fletcher in 1993. His strategic vision revitalized the company, leading to the production of critically acclaimed titles that appealed to a wider audience.

Phaidon's recent moves into new categories, including interior design, gardens, fashion, and pop culture, have further demonstrated their adaptability and commitment to broadening their impact and engagement in the art world.

Expanding Horizons: Exploring New Art Histories

Discover Phaidon's commitment to uncovering untold histories and expanding the art historical canon with groundbreaking publications that showcase diverse artists from across the globe.

Phaidon is always challenging itself to uncover histories that have been overlooked or insufficiently covered. The publication of 'Great Women Artists' in 2019, showcasing 400 artists from over 50 countries, struck a chord with audiences seeking deeper exploration of women's contributions to art.

Phaidon has also made significant strides in shedding light on art beyond the traditional Western canon. Their book 'African Artists: From 1882 to Now' has been hailed as a huge success, and their forthcoming book 'Latin American Artists: From 1785 to Now' is eagerly anticipated.

Celebrating Print and Embracing Digital

Unveil Phaidon's perspective on the print versus digital conundrum and their commitment to the enduring importance of beautifully designed printed books in the digital age.

While the rise of eBooks saw many publishers exploring digital art book delivery, Phaidon recognized that digital platforms offer unique opportunities to engage with their audience, enhance their marketing efforts, and promote content through websites and social media.

Deborah Aaronson, Phaidon's vice-president, emphasizes that their focus will always remain on creating beautifully designed printed books that provide a tactile and immersive experience, ensuring that the charm and impact of art books continue to thrive in the digital age.


Phaidon's 100-year journey in revolutionizing art book publishing is a testament to their unwavering commitment to making the world of art more accessible and inclusive. From their groundbreaking introduction of the accessible art book to their continuous expansion of art histories and embracing of digital platforms, Phaidon has redefined the art publishing landscape.

As they enter their second century, Phaidon remains dedicated to publishing important books that showcase the most significant artists of our time and adding to the ever-evolving art historical canon. With their beautifully designed printed books, Phaidon continues to inspire art enthusiasts and ensure that the magic of art books lives on in our digital era.


Will Phaidon continue to prioritize art and design publications?

Absolutely. Phaidon has and will always be committed to publishing important books with and about the most important artists of our time. They will continue to explore and showcase the widest range of artists, expanding the definitions of 'art' and 'artists' as contemporary culture evolves.

How has Phaidon embraced diversity in their publications?

Phaidon has made conscious efforts to shed light on underrepresented artists and untold art histories. They have released books like 'Great Women Artists' and 'African Artists: From 1882 to Now', celebrating women artists from different cultures and highlighting the rich artistic practices from Africa. This commitment to diversity is an ongoing effort as they continue to amplify voices from all corners of the art world.

Will digital art books replace printed art books?

While the digital landscape has brought new avenues for engagement and accessibility, Phaidon firmly believes that beautifully designed printed books will always have a place. The tactile experience, the sense of intimacy, and the visual impact of a printed art book cannot be replicated by digital mediums. Phaidon sees digital platforms as complementary tools to augment their reach and engage with art enthusiasts in new and dynamic ways.

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