"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."

Borges

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A History of Western Art: From Prehistory to the 20th Century



A History of Western Art: From Prehistory to the 20th Century
Author: Antony Mason
Editor: John T. Spike
Publisher: Abrams Young Readers
ISBN: 0-8109-9421-6
EAN: 9780810994218

The publishers aren’t exaggerating when they write that this book is lavishly illustrated. Each page is sumptuously, decadently illustrated with amazing works of art. It’s a visual feast as well as an informational one. The book is set up in format that makes it the subject easy to understand. There are well-defined descriptions of not only the art depicted but in some instances, of the process involved in creating it. I loved simple, yet clear arrows pointing from a description or a process or symbology of a particular piece of art to the section of work that it’s describing. I found the descriptions of how mosaics were made particularly fascinating.

I loved that this book depicted time periods and movements in art like Surrealism or Rococco. I had a lot of fun teaching my grandchildren about sculpture or architecture which is Jasmine’s favorite part of the book. She loves how the illustrations of the buildings like the Guggenheim have a slice taken off so that you can see the inside. I find it remarkable that a five-year old is this keenly interested in Frank Lloyd Wright and I attribute her interest in a large part to this excellent book with its friendly style.

This is a book that spans age groups. I get so much out of it each time we open it to another page and the grandchildren, ages 2 and 5 find so much to love about it. They ask me to pull it down from the shelf again and again and each one has pages that they just love to touch and point at. I on the other hand am entranced by the quality of the paper, the illustrations and photographs of the artwork and can gaze in awe of the David Hockney collage for hours on end.

I wish our schools could have copies of this book in every classroom for every student. I think this book and books like this are timeless and should be every child’s right. Art is so very important and this book does so much to educate about it. You can’t help but fall in love with art after reading this and it inspires the creativity within. I know that for me, its shown me new meaning to a painting I’ve loved and lit a spark in me to find out even more. Books that fuel the thirst for knowledge are treasures.

Highly, highly recommended for anyone of any age.



Book Description from publisher:

Lavishly illustrated with more than 250 full-color reproductions of artworks, details, photographs, and documents, this informative book provides a sweeping overview of Western art. The book begins with the cave paintings at Lascaux, France, and continues on with the art and architecture of ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome through Early Christian, Byzantine, and medieval art and on to the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque periods. Then it proceeds from Neoclassicism, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, and Modernism up to the art of the late twentieth century. The book is filled with paintings, sculpture, mosaics, and architecture by such renowned artists as Paolo Uccello, Jan van Eyck, Filippo Brunelleschi, Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Goya, Turner, Monet, Renoir, Auguste Rodin, Georges Braque, Edward Hopper, Jackson Pollock, David Hockney, and Andy Warhol.

An essential tool for classrooms and libraries as well as a wonderful gift for young people interested in art.

About the author

Antony Mason is the author of more than sixty books. In addition to more general histories of art, he has written biographies for children on Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Monet, Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso, and Chagall. He lives in London, England. John T. Spike is an internationally recognized art critic, curator, and noted historian of Italian art of the fifteenth through eighteenth centuries. He was born in New York City and resides in Florence, Italy.

1 comment:

James Langston said...

I do wish this comment on Spike's book was on the Amazon posting, this is one of the best.