Book explaining great pieces of art
By - lukajec
The books and videos by Sister Wendy Beckett are amazing. I so so so recommend them. ([https://www.amazon.com/s?k=sister+wendy&ref=nb\_sb\_noss\_1](https://www.amazon.com/s?k=sister+wendy&ref=nb_sb_noss_1) \-- you can, if you want, ignore the more religious books; but she was a nun, so...) I hope your library has them, as they can be pricey. The series she had years ago on PBS was lovely and my parents and I gifted each other her books for years. Her insights are for the uninitiated and yet make you see the paintings/sculptures in ways I might never have otherwise without her help.
i recently took history of painting at the local library and it's has been a delightful experience, shows art in a perspective and very symbolic way. i'm leaning so much about art history and the way she describes the pieces or the history behind it isn't tiring or boring, I'm having so much fun actually :D
There are only a few of these but the NYTimes "Close Read' multi-media pieces are excellent and cover some great paintings. The way they present the paintings make this best viewed on desktop, but when you do the way they focus on different aspects of the painting and break down technique, influence, and meaning really makes me love these!
A select few links:
[Madonna with the Long Neck by Parmigianino](https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/08/13/arts/design/parmigianino-madonna-of-the-long-neck.html?action=click&module=card&pageType=theWeekenderLink)
[Still Life: The Table by Juan Gris](https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/01/29/arts/design/juan-gris-cubism-collage.html)
[Self Portrait by Albrecht Durer](https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/09/25/arts/durer-self-portrait.html)
The best general intro is still, after all these years, E.H. Gombrich, The Story of Art. It's gone through at least 15 editions...that should tell you something.
This is the correct answer. Made my love for art history grow exponentially. I went to Italy this summer and tried to find every painting and sculpture in the renaissance chapters.
The great thing about the structure of this book is the author uses art as a historical timeline and specific pieces are used to explain why it was a turning point in art history. And if he/she talks about it, there will be a picture of the art in the book to accompany it. EXCELLENT book.
I've got three recommendations: Smarthistory, Smarthistory, and Smarthistory
It's your one stop shop for this!
Yup , i already discovered this , its really good
The “What great paintings say” book is like you are describing. It’s a lot of text, but also images and zooms of details it’s discussing. There’ll be lots Second hand or the library will have one I’m sure.
> It’s a lot of text
This as a good thing.
Oh , i just read the description of one of these books , i think i'm gonna order the one about italian renaissance
If you can handle his patrician stuffiness, Kenneth Clark's "Civilization" series from the 1970s is a wonderful introduction to art history. Link to [episode 1](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxEJn7dWY60).
And if you can't handle Clark - try [John Berger's "Ways of Seeing"](https://youtu.be/0pDE4VX_9Kk)
Absolutely essential to understanding art, recommend reading the book as well, it's pretty slight and well worth the time.
"for the first time a had fun looking at piece of art and understanding what i was looking at "
I was in this ^ exact situation a few months ago! Check out the teaching company lectures on fine art they are amazing
I am having trouble finding this "teaching company " . Would you be so kind to provide me with a link ?
Sorry I made a mistake, it's actually called 'Great Courses'. Check out the five lecture series by William Kloss they are excellent, see here: https://www.thegreatcourses.com/professors/william-kloss/
Thank you . Looks really interesting . That 500$ price tag is a bit too much for me right now since im only discovering what i like art wise . But il be sure to check it out in the future.
Also the two lecture series by Catherine Scallen are excellent: www.thegreatcourses.com/professors/catherine-b-scallen
Art: The Definitive Visual Guide
If you go to your local library there has to be a history of art or a encyclopedia of art book. It's a fat book and I think mona lisa is on the cover.
Anyway it goes periodically from prehistoric cave paint to modern stuff.
Takes a bunch of artists and quickly runs them down and for the really big important pieces it takes a page or two out.
Also has a bunch of pictures.
There are many books which explain the "what" the art is, but not very many talk about the "how" or "why". Process is something I've always been interested in, and very few books, even famous artists' monographs, go into much about the process or techniques used.
Depending on the writer, some do a tiny bit of it, for instance Haftmann. Much of that is lost to history because in many cases the artist left no notes and is already passed. Some contemporary living artists may do a bit of describing their process, but after reading tons of interviews I have not found not many. I supposed a lot of artists want to keep it somewhat secret so that the work cannot be copied easily.
Not a book and not definitive but Britain's National Gallery of Art has a YouTube series on various masterpieces in their collection, presented and explained in fascinating detail by various curators and scholars. I appreciate it's somewhat casual approach, with touches or humor from time to time.