Saturday, February 19, 2011

Art Books

Well, since I'm still in the vicinity of the keyboard, I might as well add that I've been reading a book on Art of the Middle Ages, which gives me ideas about one day teaching a course of something like History of Art through the Church. To give you a glimpse of treasures in discussion in the said book: the development of cruciform church architecture, and the splendid dome structures of Santa Sofia of Constantinople, once the church of incomparable beauty now turned into a national museum in Istanbul, Turkey, not to mention the lovely mosaics in elegant churches built in the same era Italy.

Yesterday I took a load of old books to a used-book store and traded for a paperback of The Story of Art by E. H. Gombrich, along with $6 in credit. I had on several occasions refrained from buying the book considering the quite a few art history books I already had. Then not long ago I read Maureen Mullarkey's review of it on her blog Studio Matters, and decided I should have one of my own.

I read the introduction between classes I was teaching yesterday. The style, just as Maureen commented, is decidedly unpretentious. It was a book initially written for "young people," but the language is not the type to "talk down". It has gained audiences far beyond those of initial intentions and been reprinted more than a dozen times. The author is sympathetic to the ordinary reader, who finds himself attracted to art, but may be somewhat unsure about the wild range of tastes and judgments in the art world. The book's tone of sincerity and quality of thought have become rare in art writing these days.

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