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The Story of Art

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This text is the 16th revised and updated edition of this introduction to art, from the earliest cave paintings to experimental art. Eight new artists from the modern period have been introduced. They are: Corot, Kollwitz, Nolde, de Chirico, Brancussi, Magritte, Nicolson and Morandi. A sequence of new endings have been added, and the captions are now fuller, including the This text is the 16th revised and updated edition of this introduction to art, from the earliest cave paintings to experimental art. Eight new artists from the modern period have been introduced. They are: Corot, Kollwitz, Nolde, de Chirico, Brancussi, Magritte, Nicolson and Morandi. A sequence of new endings have been added, and the captions are now fuller, including the medium and dimension of the works illustrated. Six fold-outs present selected large-scale works. They are: Van Eyck's Ghent Altarpiece, Leonardo's Last Supper, Botticelli's Birth of Venus, Jackson Pollock's One (Number 31, 1950), Van der Weyden's Descent from the Cross and Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling.


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This text is the 16th revised and updated edition of this introduction to art, from the earliest cave paintings to experimental art. Eight new artists from the modern period have been introduced. They are: Corot, Kollwitz, Nolde, de Chirico, Brancussi, Magritte, Nicolson and Morandi. A sequence of new endings have been added, and the captions are now fuller, including the This text is the 16th revised and updated edition of this introduction to art, from the earliest cave paintings to experimental art. Eight new artists from the modern period have been introduced. They are: Corot, Kollwitz, Nolde, de Chirico, Brancussi, Magritte, Nicolson and Morandi. A sequence of new endings have been added, and the captions are now fuller, including the medium and dimension of the works illustrated. Six fold-outs present selected large-scale works. They are: Van Eyck's Ghent Altarpiece, Leonardo's Last Supper, Botticelli's Birth of Venus, Jackson Pollock's One (Number 31, 1950), Van der Weyden's Descent from the Cross and Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling.

30 review for The Story of Art

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Reflecting on my reading year 2016, I came to think of books that have meant a lot to me over the past decades, and the first one that came to my mind was Gombrich’s excellent introduction to art history. I will have to go back twenty years, half my life, to the year 1996. I am twenty years old, and just about to discover the pleasurable adventure called university. For Christmas, I receive a much longed-for gift card to buy books that “will help me in my studies”, and I stand in a bookstore, on Reflecting on my reading year 2016, I came to think of books that have meant a lot to me over the past decades, and the first one that came to my mind was Gombrich’s excellent introduction to art history. I will have to go back twenty years, half my life, to the year 1996. I am twenty years old, and just about to discover the pleasurable adventure called university. For Christmas, I receive a much longed-for gift card to buy books that “will help me in my studies”, and I stand in a bookstore, one of those exquisite, inexhaustible bookstores on several floors that German university cities provide, and I am browsing through options. I probably spend hours there. I can still feel the time pass, while I look, think, go through history, art, literature. I pick a book, then another one, and more still, until I have to bring one back. Gift card value is weighed against all these lovely, lovely possibilities. At this moment in time, I own one Billy bookshelf, and it is not filled yet, as my children’s books and classics are left at my parents’ house. What do I pick? I don’t remember the fiction, but I do remember picking a “start of the term offer”, Mayersches Taschenlexikon, in 34 volumes, rarely used, as the internet takes over soon, and it is inconvenient to look up definitions by going through entries in alphabetical order. Some time between 1996 and now, it falls victim to one of our many moves between cities and countries. I don’t have it anymore. I bought it out of duty. I choose one extravaganza: Gombrich. A German hardback copy, beautifully illustrated, taking a huge chunk of the gift card money. I start reading as soon as I come home. And almost magically, it opens up the world of art to me. I learn why Egyptians “walk like Egyptians”, I discover Rubens, Bernini, Raphael, Leonardo, and Delacroix,and Canova, Manet and Monet, and Picasso, Duchamp and, and, and... I discover the world through a visual prism. Ever since then, Gombrich has followed my path. I soon come to read his more specialised works on form, function and symbolism in Renaissance art, I learn about his life, deeply influenced by 20th century history, and I keep going back to “The Story Of Art” whenever I need to take a step back and look at general ideas again. And I steal my mother’s Swedish copy! I want to read it aloud to my children, and they are only used to their father reading in German, and me in Swedish. So in order not to confuse them more than necessary in their Babylonian curse, I read it in Swedish, the stolen goods. And what a help that has been in the many museums around the world that my children have visited over the years. They recognise their “Gombrich” when they see it. Two years ago, my eldest son wants a copy - in English, in order to be able to quote from it. And of course I can’t resist buying it for him, at a shop inside the British Museum. So we have three copies, and I would not be beyond buying one in French, at a shop in the Louvre, maybe, just for the silliness of owning a favourite in so many different shapes. For they are all slightly different in layout, but equally satisfying visually and textually. I still recommend it to whoever wants a clear, concise, lovable account of the history starting with cave paintings in Lascaux, and moving forwards still, mirroring humanity in its need to express ideas, thoughts and feelings through the medium of art. My children and I will now be reading A Little History of the World, which Gombrich wrote expressly for children, and YES - we read it in Swedish. And YES, we have it in English as well! And NO - one Billy bookshelf is not even enough for our children’s books anymore! This is The Story Of Lisa And The Story Of Art, to be continued...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    The story of Art, Ernst Hans Gombrich (1909 - 2001) The Story of Art, by E. H. Gombrich, is a survey of the history of art from ancient times to the modern era. First published in 1950 by Phaidon, the book is widely regarded both as a seminal work of criticism and as one of the most accessible introductions to the visual arts. The book is divided into an introduction, 27 chapters each dealing with a defined time period of art history within one or several cultural/geographic contexts, and a The story of Art, Ernst Hans Gombrich (1909 - 2001) The Story of Art, by E. H. Gombrich, is a survey of the history of art from ancient times to the modern era. First published in 1950 by Phaidon, the book is widely regarded both as a seminal work of criticism and as one of the most accessible introductions to the visual arts. The book is divided into an introduction, 27 chapters each dealing with a defined time period of art history within one or several cultural/geographic contexts, and a concluding chapter summarizing the latest developments in visual arts. تاریخ نخستین خوانش (تورق): ماه سپتامبر سال 2001 میلادی عنوان: تاریخ هنر؛ اثر: ارنست جان گامبریچ؛ مترجم: علی رامین؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، نشر نی، 1379، در 674 ص، مصور بخشی رنگی، نقشه، نمودار، شابک چاپ پنجم در سال 1387: 9789643124700؛ وازه نامه دارد، نمایه، کتابنامه از ص 639 تا 647 موضوع: تاریخ هنر از نویسندگان اتریشی - سده 20 م فهرست مطالب: مقدمه (درباره ی هنر و هنرمندان)؛ 1- شگفتی‌های آغازین (آدمیان پیش از تاریخ و ابتدایی؛ آمریکای کهن)؛ 2- هنر در خدمت جاودانگی (مصر، بین‌النهرین، کرِت)؛ 3- بیداری بزرگ (یونان، سده های هفتم تا پنجم پیش از میلاد)؛ 4- قلمرو زیبایی (یونان و جهان یونانی، سده ی چهارم پیش از میلاد تا سده ی اول پس از میلاد)؛ 5- تسخیرکنندگان جهان (رومی‌ها، بوایی‌ها، یهودیان و مسیحیان، سده های اول تا چهارم میلادی)؛ 6- انشعاب بزرگ (روم و بیزانس، سده ی پنجم تا سیزدهم میلادی)؛ 7- نگاهی به شرق (جهان اسلام و چین، سده ی دوم تا سیزدهم میلادی)؛ 8- هنر غرب در بوته آزمایش (اروپا، سده های شش تا یازدهم میلادی)؛ 9- کلیسای مبارز (سده ی دوازدهم میلادی)؛ 10- کلیسای پیروز (سده ی سیزدهم میلادی)؛ 11-درباریان و شهرنشینان (سده ی چهاردهم میلادی)؛ 12-تسخیر واقعیت (نیمه اول سده ی پانزدهم میلادی)؛ 13-سنت و نوآوری (نیمه دوم سده ی پانزدهم میلادی در ایتالیا)؛ 14-سنت و نوآوری (سده ی پانزدهم میلادی در شمال اروپا)؛ 15-اوج هماهنگی (توسکانی و رم، اوایل سده ی شانزدهم میلادی)؛ 16-نور و رنگ (ونیز و شمال ایتالیا، اوایل سده ی شانزدهم میلادی)؛ 17-گسترش رنسانس در شمال آلپ (آلمان و هلند، اوایل سده ی شانزدهم میلادی)؛ 18-بحران هنر (اروپا، دوره متاخر سده ی شانزدهم میلادی)؛ 19-تنوع دیدگاه‌ها (اروپای کاتولیک، نیمه نخست سده ی هفدهم میلادی)؛ 20-آینه طبیعت (هلند در سده ی هفدهم میلادی)؛ 21-قدرت و شکوه: قسمت اول (ایتالیا، نیمه دوم سده ی هفدهم و هجدهم میلادی)؛ 22-قدرت و شکوه: قسمت دوم (فرانسه، آلمان و اتریش، نیمه دوم سده ی هفدهم میلادی و نیمه اول سده ی هجدهم میلادی)؛ 23-عصر خِرَد (انگلستان و فرانسه در سده ی هجدهم میلادی)؛ 24-گسست سنت (انگلستان، آمریکا و فرانسه، نیمه دوم سده ی هجدهم و نیمه اول سده ی نوزدهم میلادی)؛ 25-انقلاب پایدار (قرن نوزدهم میلادی)؛ 26-در جستجوی معیارهای نوین (اواخر سده ی نوزدهم میلادی)؛ 27-هنر تجربی (نیمه نخست سده ی بیستم میلادی)؛ 28-تاریخ بی‌انتها (پیروزی مدرنیسم)؛ توضیحات مترجم؛ واژه‌نامه؛ کتاب‌شناسی؛ نمودارها و نقشه‌ها؛ نمایه تاریخ هنر گامبریچ یکی از آثار گرانبهائی ست که درباره‌ ی هنر نگاشته شده؛ مدخلی برای ورود به دنیای هنر است، از نخستین تجربهٔ هنری انسان در نقش‌ پردازی داخل غارها گرفته تا واپسین آثار هنری امروز جهان را به خوانشگر عرضه میکند. ا. شربیانی

  3. 4 out of 5

    AC

    This book was perfect. For someone like myself who (now) has a little knowledge of Art (the capital letter here is deliberate) and some sense of history -- but who has big gaps and oceans of ignorance about the topic -- this book was perfect. It is mature, serious, to the point, absolutely free of jargon, sure, insightful -- always interesting, never pedantic -- and not eccentric in the least. Gombrich covers all the major artists and the movements they represent, and ties them together with cla This book was perfect. For someone like myself who (now) has a little knowledge of Art (the capital letter here is deliberate) and some sense of history -- but who has big gaps and oceans of ignorance about the topic -- this book was perfect. It is mature, serious, to the point, absolutely free of jargon, sure, insightful -- always interesting, never pedantic -- and not eccentric in the least. Gombrich covers all the major artists and the movements they represent, and ties them together with clarity. Like one of our most knowledgeable 'friends' on the art circuit at goodreads, he is discerning, but not judgmental. Indeed, Gombrich's account of the development of modern art - up until World War II -- is fabulous, though brief. Gombrich is much less upbeat on more recent trends -- he mentions Pop, but quite deliberately (it seems) refuses to even mention Warhol's name. I know that it's very difficult for people who know a great deal about something to recommend -- or even read - introductory books. But for anyone looking for a book of this sort, this is definitely a winner.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    The Story of Art is a handy little survey of art history, primarily but not exclusively western art, from cave paintings and primitive sculptures to modern architecture and pop art. It is 500 pages of text and that many pages of well synchronized color plates in a smart pocket edition by Phaidon. Twenty-eight chapters, mostly quite brief, but each a skillful, thoughtful rippling of the surface, with hints of depth and well-defined currents moving quickly and sure footedly through the eras and ad The Story of Art is a handy little survey of art history, primarily but not exclusively western art, from cave paintings and primitive sculptures to modern architecture and pop art. It is 500 pages of text and that many pages of well synchronized color plates in a smart pocket edition by Phaidon. Twenty-eight chapters, mostly quite brief, but each a skillful, thoughtful rippling of the surface, with hints of depth and well-defined currents moving quickly and sure footedly through the eras and advances and changing perspectives on art and the role of the artist. Gombrich is more than knowledgeable and yet manages to condense without condescending or reducing his narrative to trivial choices. He brings the freshness that comes with the enthusiasm of discovery. Of course, what he is sharing is not new to him, but sharing the works and his insights with the reader is new and exciting to him, and the enthusiasm is infectious. The intended audience is younger readers than myself, high school and college age readers or adults new to art history. But I found the book not just enjoyable but helpful and insightful. Gombrich’s prose is clear and crisp, and often charming. Traveling through this great span of time with him is like taking a walk through all the great museums of the world with an elegantly minded expert at your elbow.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    Gombrich's Story of Art is a great survey (western-oriented however) of art for those who wish to know the big names and get familiar with some of the more common works. He covers all the various periods in a sufficient amount of detail without sounding pedantic or academic which is a challenge when explaining art history. I would just lament the lack of information about art in China, India,. S America and of course Africa, but that is kind of how Europeans have always viewed art, isn't it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Luís C.

    What a monument! I'm not a regular in the history of art, but I wanted to throw myself still in this reading. Much good has taken me, it took me a few weeks to deal with them, but I do not regret it! Are discussed painting, drawing, sculpture and even architecture, since the earliest human societies until the 50s the whole is decorated with beautiful illustrations. Unless you have a real need for the pocket edition (small footprint), I advise rather publishing "beautiful book". Indeed, the techn What a monument! I'm not a regular in the history of art, but I wanted to throw myself still in this reading. Much good has taken me, it took me a few weeks to deal with them, but I do not regret it! Are discussed painting, drawing, sculpture and even architecture, since the earliest human societies until the 50s the whole is decorated with beautiful illustrations. Unless you have a real need for the pocket edition (small footprint), I advise rather publishing "beautiful book". Indeed, the technical constraints imposed grouping illustrations at the end of the paperback edition, which requires incessant round trips. And the images are larger, quite simply!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Roy Lotz

    I should preface everything I say with a general caveat: I am a novice in the world of art, which is the reason I picked up this book in the first place. Although I often drew as a child, I was more interested in schematic, technical drawings than anything you could call ‘art’. And, despite my keen appreciation of music and fiction, I’ve always had the visual equivalent of a ‘tin ear’. I could stand in front of a masterpiece and be more interested in what I just ate for lunch. So with that I should preface everything I say with a general caveat: I am a novice in the world of art, which is the reason I picked up this book in the first place. Although I often drew as a child, I was more interested in schematic, technical drawings than anything you could call ‘art’. And, despite my keen appreciation of music and fiction, I’ve always had the visual equivalent of a ‘tin ear’. I could stand in front of a masterpiece and be more interested in what I just ate for lunch. So with that shameful admission out of the way, on to the review. In a book such as this, there are bound to be almost as many people disappointed as impressed. It’s the curse of the writer of survey books: to reduce the scope of the material down to the size of one volume, enormous omissions are inevitable. If sales alone are the to be the rubric, then Gombrich must be considered a tremendous success; nevertheless, many whose favorite paintings and sculptures were passed over without mention or comment will likely be irked. (It should also be said that his treatment of ‘primitive’ art is hopelessly uninformed and, despite his best efforts, condescending. Additionally, this book hardly touches on non-European art.) Due to my general ignorance, I was none too bothered by this. In fact, it was just what the doctor ordered. Gombrich sweeps the reader through Western history, allowing just enough time for some quick rubber-necking at the sites along the way. What you get is a brief who’s who, and the general lay of the land. Of course, anyone with an even moderate interest in art history will have to fill in the quite sizable gaps left by this method, but that’s to be expected. The only book somewhat similar to The Story of Art I've read is Revolution in the Head, by Ian MacDonald—a song-by-song analysis and critique of the Beatles’s music. That book (highly recommended) is astounding because MacDonald’s ears are so frighteningly acute. Although I have musical training and have been listening to the Beatles since my youth, MacDonald makes you hear their music in new and exciting ways, opening up a whole new aural world. Gombrich does the same thing, but to a lesser extent, with the history of art. He has a keen eye; and, more impressive, he is able to render technical analysis into the plainest of plain prose. The reader’s mind is not burdened by the slew of art history terms that are thrown at undergraduates in introductory classes. Gombrich bypasses the linguistic apparatus and goes straight to what’s really important: the image on the canvass (or the form on the marble, etc.). So, to bring this already-too-long review to a close, read The Story of Art for a clear, concise, and engaging introduction to the world of visual art. It’s not one-stop shopping. But then, what book is?

  8. 5 out of 5

    John David

    Just a dozen or so pages into this book, I knew that it was one I wish I would have had access to when I was first seriously exposed to art. While in many respects, it is a conservative textbook (being first published in 1950), it is fundamentally meant for someone who has little to no previous formal contact with art history. Of course, if you have some, this can make you seriously engage some of your previously held assumptions about what you like and why you like it, but I got the distinct im Just a dozen or so pages into this book, I knew that it was one I wish I would have had access to when I was first seriously exposed to art. While in many respects, it is a conservative textbook (being first published in 1950), it is fundamentally meant for someone who has little to no previous formal contact with art history. Of course, if you have some, this can make you seriously engage some of your previously held assumptions about what you like and why you like it, but I got the distinct impression while reading that it was meant to initiate a teenager – a teenager who very much reminded of me of myself – into a whole new world. The inclusions and exclusions of certain artists are, of course, always arbitrary. However, Gombrich’s choices do not deviate too much from a standard art history text. What particularly drew me to the book was what I perceived to be its inordinate focus on medieval and especially Renaissance art. Of the twenty-eight chapters included in the book, about five mostly focus on Western medieval images (6 and 8-11). Another six chapters (13-18) focus on the art of the Western Renaissance. Most surveys of art history to which I had been previously exposed paid scant attention to medieval art and they sometimes did not give the Renaissance the space that I felt it deserved. There is no doubt the medieval and Renaissance art Gombrich’s pet periods here (and, admittedly, they’re mine, too.) What makes it so special is that, instead of spending the first chapter in an abstract exercise of thinking about what “Art” is, he forces you over and over again to take the art on its own terms. While discussing the various visual perspectives painted by the artist of “The Garden of Nebamun,” he says: “To us reliefs and wall-paintings provide an extraordinarily vivid picture of life as it was lived in Egypt thousands of years ago. And yet, looking at them for the first time, one may find them rather bewildering. The reason is that the Egyptian painters had a very different way from ours of representing real life. Perhaps this is connected with the different purpose their paintings had to serve. What mattered most was not prettiness but completeness. It was the artists’ task to preserve everything as clearly and permanently as possible. So they did not set out to sketch nature as it appeared to them from any fortuitous angle” (p. 60). It is the occasional insight like this that makes the book most worthwhile for a neophyte. After all, how many of us have measured something we saw by the standards of our particular narrow time and place? He really drives home the point that thinking about art seriously means thinking about other perspectives (both literally and figuratively), other preoccupations, and other aesthetic modus operandi. This is a lesson that should be lost on none of us, about art, or about anything else.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Namrirru

    The title of this book should be "The Story of Western Art," because that is what 95% of this book is. Western Art. The "Primitive Art," "Looking Eastwards" and "Modernism" section are an insult and should have been left out of the text along with his random snide comments. Othewise, this makes a nice commentary on Western Art. It's enthusiastic and reads like a "story."

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lorna

    An excellent introduction to the history of European art. Accessible and great for building a narrative timeline.

  11. 5 out of 5

    David

    This is a thick and tremendously heavy book, but only physically heavy, and Gombrich is far from thick in his treatment of art down the ages. Read it lying face-down on the floor. Use it as a door-stop. The reproductions are exquisite in colour and detail, and of course it can be dipped into at leisure and as the mood takes. The Italian Renaissance is comprehensively covered. I wanted to buy this book several years ago but thought £25 was a bit steep, then found it last yea This is a thick and tremendously heavy book, but only physically heavy, and Gombrich is far from thick in his treatment of art down the ages. Read it lying face-down on the floor. Use it as a door-stop. The reproductions are exquisite in colour and detail, and of course it can be dipped into at leisure and as the mood takes. The Italian Renaissance is comprehensively covered. I wanted to buy this book several years ago but thought £25 was a bit steep, then found it last year on sale in Central London at half price and could no longer resist.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    This well-composed book was a pleasure to read. And as far as introducing the history of art, it is exactly what I was looking for; beautiful photographs, lucid descriptions, no jargon, no pretension. I recommend that you read the short preface and first chapter, and I bet that you won’t stop there. The book’s 600 pages contain at least as many photographs, mostly of paintings, and about half of those figures are full-page (including a few fold-outs [ooh la la:]). The text is written This well-composed book was a pleasure to read. And as far as introducing the history of art, it is exactly what I was looking for; beautiful photographs, lucid descriptions, no jargon, no pretension. I recommend that you read the short preface and first chapter, and I bet that you won’t stop there. The book’s 600 pages contain at least as many photographs, mostly of paintings, and about half of those figures are full-page (including a few fold-outs [ooh la la:]). The text is written simply – without jargon, footnotes, endnotes or appeal to authority. Mr. Gombrich’s restraint is impressive, since he obviously has a deep knowledge and personal appreciation for the topic. Instead of appealing to authority, he draws upon the art itself and universal human instincts to help the reader understand the artist and the art. For example, he explains the ancient Egyptian belief that images carry the soul, not by objectifying their primitive beliefs, but by suggesting an exercise by which the reader can discover that those feelings are commonplace within herself. He provokes (p. 40): “Suppose we take a picture of our favourite champion from today’s paper – would we enjoy taking a needle and poking out the eyes? Would we feel as indifferent about it as if we poked a hole anywhere else in the paper? I do not think so.” And so begins the dynamic struggle of emotion and reason that we follow through the history of art. This book impresses as much by its layout and editing as by the text and pictures themselves. Each of the many chapters begins with an architectural example. Since the text wisely refrains from tangents into cultural history, the architecture serves a second purpose (besides exemplifying preserved art) of adding practical context to the timeline. Then, each chapter ends with a small picture showing an artist from that time period at work. These little pictures are the only ones not actually referred to in the text, and again add non-text context, while bringing the reader closer to the artists. This approach succeeds in impressing the reader with the most important concepts in art history, since they are the ones that naturally recur throughout the story. The author frequently refers the reader to previous pictures (always giving the page number). Since the text is so brief, the reader, upon looking back at a previous picture, will also be reminded of the ideas expressed on that earlier page. Again, the author amplifies this learning effect by using consistent language and choosing pieces of art that will compliment each other. This model only breaks down in the final two chapters, which were added to later additions, about our contemporary art. The author has some worthwhile ideas about this topic, but writes too much. We can guess why this happened, and it does not detract much from the rest of the book. Finally, the backmatter contains a well-organized bibliography and timeline. As you can tell, I recommend this book. Even if, unlike myself, you already have a good knowledge of art history, I predict that you will appreciate this book. You may just read it a little faster.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Beth Shapeero

    The Storey of Art E. M. Gombrich I was attracted to this beautiful little book in Waterstones; its wafer thin, smooth bible pages, section of over 400 rich colour plates and stylish, minimal cover design. I was also feeling a pang of guilt for not shopping in bookshops anymore because Amazon is so easy and cheap. Walking through a bookstore, perusing books and judging them by there covers, is a real pleasure and one we will be denied access to as everybody shops online, I a The Storey of Art E. M. Gombrich I was attracted to this beautiful little book in Waterstones; its wafer thin, smooth bible pages, section of over 400 rich colour plates and stylish, minimal cover design. I was also feeling a pang of guilt for not shopping in bookshops anymore because Amazon is so easy and cheap. Walking through a bookstore, perusing books and judging them by there covers, is a real pleasure and one we will be denied access to as everybody shops online, I am pretty sure we will see high street bookshops closing down soon unless they can figure out a way to compete with Amazon. So I bought The Storey of Art mainly because it’s so attractive but I also have a staggering lack of knowledge about art history - this looked like a good way to fill myself in. I read a quote recently that said if you read one hundred books on a subject you can call yourself an expert, it’s a bit daft but I have decided set myself a challenge; read 100 art books. This one has taken me about three months to read so expertise feels like a distant dream. It took so long beacuse I wanted to concentrate and take it all in, this book covers the whole of art history from early cave painting to post-modernism, that’s a lot of useful information, also, it’s not just reading the words but taking the time to look carefully at each image and it’s not the sort of book you can read in the bath or in bed because you have to keep refering back to plates. Fortunatley it is extremely accesable, intriguiging and keenly observing making it very readable and a little pleasure to indulge in. Being so ignorant of the subject, I loved that it took its time over periods and themes, referring back to them in the following chapters, revisiting artists and styles and giving in depth critical background to works such as stylistic influences and pressures on artists of different times. It strikes a perfect balence of being informative and comprehensive without becoming stifling; it is an insightful and rich overview. I am certain that I will actually be able to remember some of this information, I couldn’t have hoped for more from art book #1/100. So maybe walking into bookshops and judging books by their covers is a good strategy after all.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Morgane

    First, the obvious flaws. This was originally written in 1950 by a white European man. It has all the biases you'd expect: referring to certain cultures as "primitive"; largely glossing over any art outside Europe; always defaulting to the male pronoun and in fact only naming one (**ONE**) female artist. This is really "The Story of Western European Male Art". But, I honestly don't think it's worth being upset about his biases. Complaining that books from entirely different time periods don't ma First, the obvious flaws. This was originally written in 1950 by a white European man. It has all the biases you'd expect: referring to certain cultures as "primitive"; largely glossing over any art outside Europe; always defaulting to the male pronoun and in fact only naming one (**ONE**) female artist. This is really "The Story of Western European Male Art". But, I honestly don't think it's worth being upset about his biases. Complaining that books from entirely different time periods don't match our contemporary politics is an exercise in futility. So, if you can go through the Herculean task of getting past Gombrich's bias, there's a lot of good information in this book (assuming, again, you understand you're here to learn about Western male art). He has a real enthusiasm for each style of art and encourages the reader to look at the details and even make up their own mind. He truly wants people to enjoy art, and to not be overwhelmed by the regrettable snobbishness around art culture. I think ultimately that's a great goal, and if you're intimidated by art, start here. If someone could edit this book, by taking a more global view of art and taking the time to find, oh, maybe just one or two more female artists (jesus christ), this would deserve 5 stars. Since it's actual very narrow in its scope: 3 stars.

  15. 4 out of 5

    David

    I thumbed through a much older (perhaps first) edition of this book when I was away from home and looking for something to read. I was immediately hooked by Gombrich's enthusiastic writing. When I returned home, I was extremely pleased to find that the latest edition was lavishly illustrated and updated to reflect more recent times. In my opinion, the book is fabulously readable for two reasons: Every piece of art mentioned is shown in the book beside the text and the author avoids "pretentious I thumbed through a much older (perhaps first) edition of this book when I was away from home and looking for something to read. I was immediately hooked by Gombrich's enthusiastic writing. When I returned home, I was extremely pleased to find that the latest edition was lavishly illustrated and updated to reflect more recent times. In my opinion, the book is fabulously readable for two reasons: Every piece of art mentioned is shown in the book beside the text and the author avoids "pretentious jargon". I wish every art book followed just these two principles. While the European art from the Thirteenth to Nineteenth Centuries (the bulk of the book) eventually became a slog which threatened to make my eyes glaze over, this is no fault of Gombrich. Instead, he has given me a much greater appreciation of this time period. The art is so much more interesting against a backdrop of history and biography. True to the title, the book really does read like a story. It's not just a series of mind-numbing names, place, and dates. It's a seamless narrative of art over time. So while I'm sure it was very difficult to write, the whole thing feels effortless.

  16. 4 out of 5

    June

    This book is the best story of art ever told. I devoured the book years ago, when studying at the Art Academy. for those who are not into art, or think they are not interested in art..it will make you love it! and it will teach you from the very beginning how to see "the mind" of the artist in the creation.. highly recommended

  17. 4 out of 5

    Peter Mcloughlin

    A very conservative treatment of mostly western art focusing mostly and the Renaissance and giving short shrift to impressionism and anything after 1850. Very good treatment of the things it does cover but I would have liked a little more space devoted to more modern art.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Michael Scott

    I bought The Story of Art while about to leave Brugge, after a long week-end that was supremely friendly and quite artsy. I started reading this book as soon as I sat down in the train and was enchanted by it until the last page. Gombrich's The Story of Art is a masterful story of the main works and styles of art, from 30,000 BC until the 20th century. (The 16th edition includes material from up to around the late 1980s, in terms of art critique, and early 1970s, in terms of artworks.) The book is written from I bought The Story of Art while about to leave Brugge, after a long week-end that was supremely friendly and quite artsy. I started reading this book as soon as I sat down in the train and was enchanted by it until the last page. Gombrich's The Story of Art is a masterful story of the main works and styles of art, from 30,000 BC until the 20th century. (The 16th edition includes material from up to around the late 1980s, in terms of art critique, and early 1970s, in terms of artworks.) The book is written from a Western (British) perspective but with enough mentions about Asian and African artworks to make the story global. The types of art covered here are chiefly architecture, picture, and sculpture. There are many things that I liked about this book, from its crisp analysis of artworks to the excellent rhetoric, the latter always in favor of art. The story covers mostly cave painting, ancient art, Greek and Hellenistic art, Roman and Byzantine art, Romanesque and Gothic art, Renaissance and Mannerism, Baroque and Rococo, Romanticism, and Modernism and Post-Modernism. Each style is illustrated with a selection of artworks, many of which are well-known to art beginners such as myself, all of which are discussed not only in terms of craft by also with regard to impact to the age and future art. The first artwork is usually an example of architecture, which is analyzed as a framing reference for smaller artifacts. Artworks from different ages and styles, but depicting similar topics, are compared tetually; I found very useful the detailed comparison references (e.g., "examples of miniatures as page 211, figure 140, and page 274, figure 177"). There are numerous references to the actual quality of an artwork, which should create a very different impression from the in-book illustration; the book includes often details of the presented works, so that the reader is more easily able to understand its main characteristics. The book concludes with an analysis of art's future. I liked very much the warning that, in the 20th(-21st?) century, a real danger to art is the expectation of non-conformism---Gombrich mentions the "tradition of the new" of Harold Rosenberg. The book concludes with a number of additions to the 1950's first edition, and a set of useful editorial tools: an index of terms and works of art, a section of commented related work, a graphical representation of the periods and works of art covered in the main text. Among the main attractions of this book is it's deep yet understandable text. For example, I felt I could really understand the point raised by Gombrich in this paragraph: "[...] the modern artist wants to create things. [...] He wants to feel that he has made something which had no existence before. Not just a copy of a real object, however skillful, not just a piece of decoration, however clever, but something more relevant and lasting than either, something that he feels to be more real than the shoddy objects of our humdrum existence." Among the things I would have liked to see improved in the book, perhaps the main element is the lack of discussion about other forms of art, from literary to performing art, from movies to computer gaming. Another rather negative point is the minimal coverage of Asian and African art, with only scant information and only some late inclusion the 20th century discovery of Greek, Chinese (Terra-Cotta Soldiers), and other artworks. I would have also been happy to see Gombrich's work continued, so that this 16th edition can take a more balanced look at Modernist and Post-Modernist art. One of the elements that turned out to be mostly negative was the detail with which the Modern and Post-Modern periods are covered. In the words of the author: "The reader may well wonder whether these disparate examples add up to the continuation of the story of art, or whether what was once a mighty river has meanwhile broken up into many branches and rivulets. We cannot tell, but we may take comfort from the very multiplicity of efforts." Perhaps the memory of the by-stander, that is, the tendency to observe in more detail current rather than old events, motivates this over-description of material in these sections. Overall, a wonderful read for any art lover.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Miquel Reina

    This book is an essential. A book that can't miss on any shelf of an art historian, an architect or designer, and in general anyone interested, lover or influenced by Art. The Story of Art is an ambitious book, which traces the history of mankind with its artistic development, whether painting, sculpture or other plastic forms. It's a reference book rather than a reading one but it's a jewel that must have nearer you. Spanish version: Éste libro es un esencial. Un libro que no puede f This book is an essential. A book that can't miss on any shelf of an art historian, an architect or designer, and in general anyone interested, lover or influenced by Art. The Story of Art is an ambitious book, which traces the history of mankind with its artistic development, whether painting, sculpture or other plastic forms. It's a reference book rather than a reading one but it's a jewel that must have nearer you. Spanish version: Éste libro es un esencial. Un libro que no puede faltar en ninguna de las estanterías de un historiador del arte, un arquitecto o diseñador, en general, cualquier persona interesada o influenciada por el arte. La Historia del Arte es un libro ambicioso, que recorre la historia de la humanidad junto a su desarrollo artístico, ya sea pintura, escultura u otras formas plásticas. Es un libro de consulta más que de lectura pero que debes tener cerca.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tim Murray

    It would be no exaggeration to say that this book changed my life. Before I read this I thought that most art was overpriced garbage. Especially modern art. By going through the history of art and saying how one era shaped the next and also why art is important to human development really helped me to 'get' art. Since reading this book I have taken up painting myself as well as regularly going to art galleries and museums. Having said all this, the book can be a bit dry sometimes and It would be no exaggeration to say that this book changed my life. Before I read this I thought that most art was overpriced garbage. Especially modern art. By going through the history of art and saying how one era shaped the next and also why art is important to human development really helped me to 'get' art. Since reading this book I have taken up painting myself as well as regularly going to art galleries and museums. Having said all this, the book can be a bit dry sometimes and you can feel like you are wading through sections. If you want a book that explains art and art history then go no further.

  21. 5 out of 5

    InMyHumbleOpinion:D

    before the reveiw, a little pretext, i love art history, NPR and David Sedaris, so the fact the i read this book basically cover to cover isn't too surprising. it was clear and consise and had so many pictures (faomous and obsecure) i must have read the chapter on impressionism and post impressionism 40 times and the section and mannerism at least half that. but if your not interested, this won't read like fiction, or any kind of even remotely intersting text. to some its like reading the dicton before the reveiw, a little pretext, i love art history, NPR and David Sedaris, so the fact the i read this book basically cover to cover isn't too surprising. it was clear and consise and had so many pictures (faomous and obsecure) i must have read the chapter on impressionism and post impressionism 40 times and the section and mannerism at least half that. but if your not interested, this won't read like fiction, or any kind of even remotely intersting text. to some its like reading the dictonary, but for me it was really great.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    For a few semesters, art history was my minor in university. I did not know a lot about art, but I was interested and it seemed fun. If only my courses were as good as this, I would not have given up on this field of study. Without being condescending or snobby (my main problem with my former teachers and some fellow students), Gombrich writes about art history in a way, that is very exciting and fascinating for the uneducated reader (i.e. me). The art prints in my edition For a few semesters, art history was my minor in university. I did not know a lot about art, but I was interested and it seemed fun. If only my courses were as good as this, I would not have given up on this field of study. Without being condescending or snobby (my main problem with my former teachers and some fellow students), Gombrich writes about art history in a way, that is very exciting and fascinating for the uneducated reader (i.e. me). The art prints in my edition are extremely beautiful. Definitely recommended.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    I kept expecting this book to bog down and get boring and it never did, even when it got into modern art (which I now feel like I have a better grasp of). Gombrich isn't just an art historian,he's like a psychologist, I felt like I had a better understanding of why people were making all this funky contemporary art; even if I still don't necessary like or understand it, at least I kind of feel I see where it's coming from. Really a great book if you want a basic intro to the history of art.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Zanna

    The classic introduction to 'Western' art, beginning with its classical origins in ancient Egypt, and casting light on the social, economic, political, cultural and technological influences from which it arose in each time and place I was fascinated from the start, and a relatively considerable proportion of Gombrich's wisdom has stayed with me. Naturally the presumption to offer a monolithic story of art is absurd - but this particular story is well worth sharing.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Uaba

    This is the most complete book about The History of Art. It talks about all kinds of artistic expressions and it's organized by period of time. It contains a lot of pictures of famous paintings, sculptures, buildings, of anything related to art. It was the first book I bought when I entered architecture graduation college. It helped me a lot.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    A great book for learning and understanding art. This book was interesting to me because I worked for a time at an art gallery. I learned a lot then about art appreciation, and learned more from this book. The text is very readable and the pictures are beautiful. Great coffee table book =)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    SOA is actually an art appreciation book disguised as history, which probably explains why it is so deeply loved all over the world. Gombrich spends a good 85% of his time simply talking about individual pieces. Like any good tour guide, he merely explains a few details, gets out of the way, and lets the reader savor the view. Highly recommended.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jose C.

    A marvelous book. Great introduction for beginners like me. Now I can understand a lot more, the paintings, sculptures and buildings that always amazed me.

  29. 5 out of 5

    thom

    I agree with a lot of the other reviewers, that this should strictly be called the story of Western art, since there is little in there that's either from outside Europe or the US, and when there is, it's normally to illustrate the past of something that was American or European. Still, up to and including the beginning of the 20th Century, it's a fascinating read, and contains a wonderful history that charts most of the major movements and gives a great overview of how different section I agree with a lot of the other reviewers, that this should strictly be called the story of Western art, since there is little in there that's either from outside Europe or the US, and when there is, it's normally to illustrate the past of something that was American or European. Still, up to and including the beginning of the 20th Century, it's a fascinating read, and contains a wonderful history that charts most of the major movements and gives a great overview of how different sections of western art relate to each other. As the 20th Century progresses, however, one gains the impression that Gombrich loses heart somewhat, and the last sections of the book turn into little more than a lament at the direction in which art is heading. This leads to strange exclusions from the book (Pollock is in there, and Pop Art is rapidly dismissed, but Bacon and Rothko are entirely ignored). Still, it's a book that's remained essential reading for over half a century for a good reason, and it's well worth looking into.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lea Dokter

    Nice "introduction" (of around 650 pages, ahem) into art history. Gombrich is anything but objective, but equally enthousiastic about almost everything. It's a shame this book is too old to thoroughly incorporate art after 1950, and honestly it was hell to get through at the pace my course required, but I do feel like I've refreshed my knowledge and learned quite a few new things.

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