Sunday, February 12, 2006
I finished reading (finally) Art: A New History a couple weeks ago. I originally started this book way back in 2005 sometime, got about halfway through before it had to go back to the library and never got around to reading it again until late December. I'm glad I did go back to it. I thought it was a great book and a wonderful overview of the history of art. (Please understand, however, that before I read this book there were few people in the world who knew less about the history of art than I. So there may have been all kinds of controversial and odd statements in this book that would have gone right over my head.) I'm not an art expert now by any means, but I am far more knowledgeable that I was before I began. I have a better understanding of how things fit together and how different periods in art are connected to one another. Paul Johnson's explanation of how terms like "Impressionism" and "Realism" really do more to obscure the art trends than explain them makes perfect sense to me and helped gain a better appreciation for art about which I had previously thought "that doesn'?t look like anything!" I'm still not entirely convinced that what people like Jackson Pollock did was really that impressive, but reading that others who try to imitate him can never quite make their imitations look right does go a ways toward that goal. All in all, this is a marvelous book which undertakes a superhuman and pretty much impossible task and carries it off with aplomb and grace. I would say it is geared more for those with only a casual interest in art, but I could see how it could well be appreciated by those with an abiding interest as well. It reads like the better kind of textbook.