Studying the work of famous painters and the development of art is both inspiring and instructional. Some of these books are totally dominated by photos of the paintings, rather than lots of text, so you can get straight into the art if reading isn't one of your pleasures in life.
Image © Marion Boddy-Evans
If you read this book from cover to cover, taking one section a week, it'll take you about 40 weeks. So no wonder I think it's like taking an Art 101 course. It's aimed at people who want to know more about how paintings work, what makes a good painting and a bad, what goes into making a painting and particular styles and subjects. The way it's organized means you can pick it up as time permits to dip into a section, or you could read it from cover to cover. It's a book that will not only give you knowledge that'll help you get more out of viewing other people's paintings, but will also help you with developing your own painting.
Photo © 2010 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
Painting Today looks at painting from around the world over the past 40 years, both famous and emerging artists, and how painting continues to evolve and work with its long traditions.
500 of the world's greatest painters from medieval times to today in one book. Instead of arranging the artists according to period, school, or technique, they're in strict A to Z order. Each artist has a page, most of which is taken up with one painting characteristic of their work. At the top of the page is a concise description of the work and the painter's life. It's a portable gallery.
The modern-art version of "The Art Book", this contains 500 of the 20th-century's greatest artists, from Impressionists to innovative contemporary artists. It includes new media, collage, ready-made objects, installation, video, sculpture as well as paintings. Each artist has one page with a representative work, accompanied by an incisive, short piece of text on the work and its creator.
The American version of "The Art Book", this contains 500 of America's greatest artists from colonial times to the present. The contents range from the paintings of the Hudson River School and the American Impressionists to the videos and digital works of conceptual artists. Each artist has a page with a reproduction of a characteristic work, accompanied by text on the work and its creator.
Photo © Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
To learn about art styles, schools, and movements of the 20th century, this is the book. Over 100 are featured and illustrated, while 200 are outlines in the glossary.
Take 45 of the world's best paintings, add annotations to highlight and explain everything you should know about it to really appreciate the work (especially the symbolism), add a very short biography of the painter, and you've got a gallery with a silent tour guide.
Photo © Marion Boddy-Evans
The tale of each of the artists featured (Caravaggio, Bernini, Rembrandt, David, Turner, Van Gogh, Picasso, Rothko) is based around a pivotal artwork, the creation of something unprecedented, which changed the course of art. Told in a compelling, energetic fashion, this is a book that will inspire painters to look anew at the work of these artists, and to strive for more in their own art. It reinforces how it's important to continue to push yourself and your painting, to never sit back and rely on what you know you can do.
Photo © Marion Boddy-Evans
Art and maps ... a formula for hours of perusal as you follow the development and influences on art across the world from ancient times to the year 2000.