Top 5 Gifts for the Art Lover on Your List

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Stumped for what to get the art lover on your list? Here are five gift ideas (including a few that will add to the local economy). Prices range from under $20 to more than $200, so there's something for everyone.

5. An art tie. (Hey, we didn't say all five of these ideas were going to be classy.) For less than $20, your art lover can wear one of Leonardo da Vinci's most famous works around his (or her) neck. The tie is crafted in 100 percent microfiber, just in case you're giving this to someone who tends to dribble his coffee.

We also like Sandro Botticelli's The Birth of Venus. Depending on where the giftee is employed, this one might not be suitable for work (something tells us a bank teller wearing a tie with a nipple on it, no matter how artistically drawn, would be frowned upon by the higher-ups).

We found these two ties at tieguys.com, which bills itself as the largest tie store in the world. Order before 7 p.m. on December 22, and you'll get it by Christmas. Order online or by phone at 888-440-8437. Another source is absoluteties.com's Museum Artifacts Collection. We found Renoir's The Pont Neuf and Van Gogh's Self Portrait there.

4. For the price of lunch, you can get a matted print of Dr. John Biggers's Jubilee-Ghana Harvest Festival at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston gift shop. Biggers, who worked and taught in Houston, is internationally respected. His work hangs in museums all over the world; in fact, Jubilee is part of MFAH's permanent collection.

Visit the museum's gift shop at 1001 Bissonnet or online at www.mfah.org. Call 713-639-7300 for information.

3. Two of the top artists' biographies to be released this year are Van Gogh: The Life by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith and Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane by Andrew Graham-Dixon. Naifeh and Smith won a Pulitzer Prize for their 1989 biography of Jackson Pollock, so there were high hopes for this release. Thankfully, it more than exceeds expectations. Naifeh and Smith craft a colorful, insightful portrait of a man who left a conflicting legend. The authors throw a real wrench into things with their alternative theory about Van Gogh's death. According to them, he was killed by a teenaged bully dressed in a cowboy outfit.

Andrew Graham-Dixon's Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane is also a provocative piece of biography. Caravaggio was known for his breathtakingly beautiful paintings of religious scenes -- and his use of prostitutes as models. There were also questions around his death. Graham-Dixon's work is the most complete and accurate portrait of a man who was both admired and misunderstood.

2. Coming in at the two spot on our list is the Cy Twombly: Fifty Years of Works on Paper show catalog from The Menil Collection ($40). Since Twombly's death a few months ago, everything, including show catalogs and books about his art, has been flying off the shelf. A nice companion book might be Cy Twomby: The Sculpture, also from a show at the Menil ($55). We checked Amazon.com for Fifty Years and it wasn't available, so you'll have to visit The Menil Collection to get a copy. Amazon.com did have The Sculpture, but it was a German/English edition and it cost $40 more than the English-only edition at the Menil.

Do yourself a favor and visit the Cy Twombly Gallery on the Menil campus on your way into the gift shop. It will remind you how lucky we are to have such a wonderful collection of his work here in the city.

The Cy Twombly Gallery is at 1501 Branard; The Menil Collection is at 1515 Sul Ross. Visit www.menil.org or call 713-525-9400 for more information.

1. Our No. 1 gift suggestion for the art lover on your list is Omar Angel Perez's Toledo Dual-top Table. Lots of art fans in Houston know Perez as the maker of Stilleto shoes, towering, impossible-to-wear shoes made of polished wood and assorted metals, leather and adornments. He's also an incredible furniture maker. Among his most outstanding works is a dining table with a reversible top, so depending on your mood you can enjoy the lighter toned, more casual top or the darker, more dramatic top. Not only is Perez's furniture wonderfully designed, it's wonderfully crafted.

You can contact Perez at his showcase, 1306 Eberhard, or by calling 281-250-5830. See more of Perez's work at www.omarangelperez.com.

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