Reviews - What do customers think about 50 Artists You Should Know (50 You Should Know)?
Decent Intro to Artists of the West Dec 30, 2007
Presented chronologically and covering the last 700+ years, this book focuses exclusively on painters from Europe and the US, so those interested in non-Western artists (e.g., Hokusai) or other forms of art (e.g., sculpture, pottery, etc.) should look elsewhere. Each of the 50 artists is granted a 4-page layout, with the first left page being prints of the artist's most well-known paintings and the right facing page a written description of the artist, along with a small portrait of the artist. The following two pages have either a larger two-page spread of a single painting or a couple of smaller photos. While the chosen paintings are representative of the artist's most famous works, the written descriptions are sometimes lacking in the kind of information I consider most useful.
Note that I don't object to the brevity of the information, but to the content. For example, I would prefer a brief description of artist's life, along with a description of each painting and why it's significant, much like a docent would on a museum tour. However, most of the content focuses only on the former, with descriptions of the latter appearing only infrequently. This is really disappointing to me because these descriptions are so good when they do appear (e.g., pointing out the reflections of the King & Queen of Spain in the mirror in Velasquez's "Ladies-in-Waiting" painting). Put another way, this book tells you about 50 artists you should know (as the title suggests), but not WHY we should know them!
On a positive note, one of the best features of the book is the timeline across the top of each two-page spread. The timeline places each artist within the context of his/her artistic peers (Michaelangelo with Titian & Raphael), the relevant artistic period (e.g., the High Renaissance), and other important world events occuring at the time (e.g., Magellan circumnavigates the globe). I really like this aspect of the book because it accomplishes something none of my history teachers was able to do - help me see the big picture to better understand what was happening around the world synchronically rather than in a disconnected, linear fashion.
All in all, if you want a brief biographical description of important European and US artists over the past 800 years, this book is for you. If you want to learn more about other types of art, artists from other areas of the world, or explanations about why particular pieces of art are noteworthy, you need to take a look somewhere else.
Great resource and lots of pictures!!! May 22, 2007
As a grade school art teacher (part-time) I always have to search and look around for some famous art pieces to inspire my students. I usually go on google or if I am in a real jam I look through some old artist's catalogs and find what I need. Sometimes the art is good but the artist is a little hazy with history and story. Remember that these are kids that are 10-14 years old. I have to get their attention. I try to pick some interesting paintings yet I have to censor some of the more adult themed ones. I teach at a Catholic Grade school.
I finally found the book I needed and wanted. This is 95% of what I was looking for. Lots of history, lots of pictures and plenty of give to make copies and not break the book. Granted there are some paintings that are not appopriate for children but for the most part they are pretty good. Plus there is a snapshot of what the artists look like as painted by themselves, so that was neat too.
My only qualms for not being a 5 star rating is that it was originally printed in German and the language is a little stilted. Also the binding is a little loose and could wear out in time. Plus the few paintings that are unmentionable because of unmentionable themes (ahem). Remember I teach kids. Do you want your son or daughter really getting the whole scope of Bottacilli's Venus? Alrighty then.
So it is a good and sub-par great resource book and I recommend it to all art teachers!