Usually I wait until I read a book all the way to the finish before blogging about it, but I'm in the middle of one now that I'm just loving. It's called "The Story of Art"
Many books have that title, but this one is by Professor Sir Ernst Gombrich and it’s been flying off the bookshelves since it came out in 1950. it’s been called “a treasured standard” and “a classic narrative study of art history” both of which are true.
I actually got this book as a gift during Christmas 2009. This latest version of the book is the sixteenth edition and it’s a beautiful one published by Phaidon which is the publisher of many beautiful editions of art, photography, and design books.
The thing I like about this book is that even though Gombrich was an old-school European university professor, his tone is conversational and not “high browed” in any way. The book is in chronological order and easy and fun to read. It’s not so easy to hold on the subway however because it weighs a ton!
Before I’m finished, I’ll probably have many pages of the book dog-eared, highlighted, and tabbed for future reference - it’s that useful in my view. Too many books simplify the breaks and turning points between various movements in the history of art, but rarely is history that clean cut and tidy. This book lets you begin to have a better understanding of those various eras and movements, and how each one evolved in different locations and why.
The other cool thing about this book is that, unlike so many other art history books I look at, this one keeps the images together with the text that references them. I know that sounds like a simple thing, but you’d be surprised how many art books don’t do that. It isn’t real easy or fun to have to keep flipping back and forth from one part of a book to another, especially when it’s as thick as this one. Heck, some books don’t even include visuals of the art they talk about at all.
Guess there’s a reason why the sticker on the cover touts “Over 6,000,000 Sold”. There’s about as many reasons you should buy this book today!
P.S. My Sketchbook for the Sketchbook Project is still on display in the Big Apple. Click here for tour dates!