What is art? Why do we value images of saints, kings, goddesses, battles, landscapes or cities from eras of history utterly remote from ourselves? This history of art shows how painters, sculptors and architects have expressed the belief systems of their age: religious, political and aesthetic.
From the ancient civilisations of Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece, to the revolutionary years of the 19th and 20th centuries, the artist has acted as a mirror to the ideals and conflicts of the human mind. He has always started with reality, but has selected and reshaped that reality to create a parallel world; a world of the imagination.
©2011 Naxos AudioBooks (P)2011 Naxos AudioBooks
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
Peter Whitfield offers a whirlwind tour of “The History of Western Art”. He begins with cave paintings and ends with performance art by an “artist” locked in a library with a wild animal. The distressing thought is that “art is anything you can get away with.”
In slightly more than five hours of narration, a listener traverses 30,000 years (some say 40,000 years) of art history. Whitfield is a poet and critic. “The History of Art” is an intelligent introduction to a mystifying, fascinating, and intimidating subject.
At the end, one wonders whether art is entering a new dark age where the value of art is degraded by technology that makes too much of medium as message. Art needs to be more than a transaction between willing seller and buyer.
Painter, musician, bibliophile...
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to refresh their previous study of art history, as well as to students who need a concise introduction. Tourists can benefit from the book also: it is a valuable adjunct to European museum visits and city walks. Whitfield takes us on a whirlwind tour of major artistic themes and styles, mostly European, from cave paintings to the edge of postmodernism. Comberti's reading is pleasant and well-paced. The only thing that's missing: the paintings themselves. Having a visual art reference on hand is recommended. I'm an artist, so the subject fascinates me. But I believe anyone can benefit from reading this accessible guide, free from pretentious "art speak."
Peter Whitfield has a deep understanding of art history and manages to communicate it undiluted without pretence. Some of his observations are stunning, and always concise. The other art history university textbooks I've read are watered down and politically bent, but Whitfield just states it like it is with utter virtuosity. His sentences are art.The narration is good, I'm cherishing listening to this.
This is the same stuff you get in an intro to art history. There's not much to challenge the classic view of art from European male perspect
The author puts art and history together. Easy to listen to and understand.I found I was researching artists and works as the narrative continued. Of course there will be some gaps -- but overall pretty cool.
very solid and engaging only lacking a bit in familiarizing the reader / listener with some of the terminology so that they can understand more about the actual paintings. this work is primarily about understanding the flow of thought behind the art, rather than being able to describe what chiaroscuro is for example.
Magic, Myth, Monsters
I wanted a refresher on the different stages – types – of painting. This book gave it to me and put it in context of the events happening in the world or social influences.
The reading sounded like just that – reading, not a professor teaching a class.
The story was accurate as far as it went, but didn't go as deep as I would have liked into the artists, their craft, their inspiration. A missed opportunity.
I'm just a crazy old man, what the heck do you care what I think anyways?
Vincent Van Gogh - he was so ahead of his time.
This is what makes life worth it. Culture and Art.
I listen to it over and over. A joy to hear. Still, I don't understand why Hockeny was so great.
An overall good book. The narrator is very nice and has a good voice, clear and enjoyable. The story is not boring and covers a lot of examples and famous painters. I would recommend, although I think it's a superficial reading on the subject as it doesn't explain in details some transitions and basic concepts.
"Not entirely what was expected"
Whilst the narrator and the text are of interest, I was under the misguided impression that the downloadable PDF would contain visual examples of the work under discussion and not a chapter index and list of background music .This might well be a case of an illustrated book being be a better option
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