Reviews - What do customers think about What Great Paintings Say, Vol. 2 (What Great Paintings Say)?
Got Index? Jun 25, 2007
I LOVE this book! I love how it makes me look at art, and all the fun hidden stories that are woven into the canvas. The only thing that frustrated me about this two volume work is that there is NO index! So.....on my own I took a week or so and compiled several indices of the two volume set and tucked it on the inside front cover of each volumes for quick reference, which indices I would be more than happy to share free of charge with any one who's interested. I indexed the books three ways: by title, by artist and by current location of the works of art. Just send me an email request and I'll forward you the pages so that you can print the booklet out for yourself, and spend happy hours exploring the various artist's genius at your leisure. phledd and then truvista followed by a period to which you finally add an "n" word.
Looking at Paintings and Seeing History Dec 10, 2003
Rose-Marie and Rainer Hagen have done their research in examining paintings throughout time and have created two extraordinary volumes that invite us into the Art Appreciation Theater of an honored university of learning. Their biographies are strangely missing from these books: we can only surmise that these two fine art historians have spent countless hours in the museums of the world. The fruit of their labor is a world of revealed details secreted within the masterpieces we 'thought' we knew.
The technique: Introduce a complete painting, give a thorough background about the time in which it was created and the artist who created it, and then from isolated windows, fill the remaining pages about that painting with details that not only address the painter's technique but also make commentary on the social mores, theological and philosophical concepts often at odds with the casual audience perceptual skills, and in general open vistas of enjoyment and insight to even the most experienced viewer. The Hagens have managed to gossip a bit, chide and joke a bit, and in the end offer us insights into exactly 'what great paintings say!.'
Most of the paintings scrutinized are the large panoramas of, for example, Rembrandt ('The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Tulp', 'Balshazzar's Feast'), Rubens ('The Love Garden' with the foggy details of Venus milking her breats as fountains!) van Eyck ('Adoration of the Lamb') Poussin, Goya, etc. In addition to famous masters, the Hagens bring to light such lesser known greats as Francisco Pradilla y Ortiz, a "Netherlandish master," Johannes Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein, and Ilya Repin to mention only a few.
One of the marvels of this collection is the consummate attention paid Courbet's 1855 "The Studio" which depicts a painter at easel, his model, the commissioners of the painting, royalty and peasants - all painted with adoring detail. It definitely is a statement of the artist's political standpoint!
Technically the books are rich in color, creatively designed and close to color-correct. There is much to be enjoyed here and even more to advance the understanding and appreciation of art. A true gift!
Outstanding - provides social and historical contexts Nov 27, 2003
This is a great book on art. So many times when I look at art books, what I find are commentaries on the "artistic" qualities of the paintings. You know, books gushing over an artist's use of colors and light effects.
Instead, the authors of this book analyze the social and historical contexts of the paintings. Great paintings are rarely purely decorative objects, but instead have some sort of message embedded within them. Objects within paintings typically have symbolic significance, and this book really helps the viewer understand the "message" in a painting, rather than concentrate upon technical aspects of artistic methods.
Ideal museum guide Sep 20, 2003
It would appear that Taschen is issuing the Hagens' work in two fat(ter) volumes. I have this one (vol.1) and the one with the teat-tweaking sisters on the cover (vol.2) If so, so much the better. The authors are generous to call all the paintings collected here for discussion 'great' but what sour soul would fault someone for being too generous? Without quibbling over the adjective then, I would say that just about all the paintings discussed here definitely become more 'great' than they may have been before the reading. Chronologically ordered, the choice of paintings reflect the authors' preference. As well as their prejudice. Some of the really humongously important paintings are left out, while some of the more obscure ones -- so obscure that it is usually attributed to some Netherlandish Master -- are described lovingly. With every painting, we get the big picture of the whole world into which it was born. Then-current language of symbols, now lost on us moderns, is as fascinating as the social practices of those times: For example, Europeans in the Middle Ages thought nothing of exposing their genitals, especially to warm themselves by the fire, and there is a picture to prove it. What's really nice about this way of presenting works of art is that you get the whole package (historical, social, symbolic, technical, biographical, etc) strictly within the context of one painting that is right in front of you. This book is one art book that is finally done right. No pretentiousness, no supercilious or careless assumption on the part of the author that you know what you ought to know about "masterpieces." Each description is done with real affection for every -- I mean, every -- part of the painting, rather than doing a sweeping thematic summary of the concept. The descriptions read more like stories rather like academic analyses, so they are good to read before going to bed, too. And after each story, you get to feel a little more affection, not awe, for the paintings -- and the people who painted them. Worth every cent.