Tuesday, September 8, 2015

New and Novel: Art History and Appreciation

I have met a few people in my life who have said something very much like “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like..." It was always said with humility, and with a sense of admiration for people who do know much about art. Arts administrators: are these not the very people you would like to meet? They like something, have had a response to something, although they know little of the context. Show interesting art, and those who know much about art will come to you. Those who don’t like anything, you will never reach. But those finding their way – and in many genres, I could count myself among them – in music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, poetry and prose? Talk to them.
~Michael Rushton, "But I know what I like," from For What It's Worth: An ArtsJournal Blog

Still almost any reaction in front of a picture is better than none... You've got to start somewhere and anything that hooks you on to a picture and makes you look again at it is better than nothing. And certainly more helpful than being told, "You should look at this. It's a masterpiece".
~Alan Bennett, "I know what I like, but I'm not sure about art"

We were at a poetry reading this weekend, and some of us were discussing "getting" poetry - similar to that old saw about art appreciation, "I don't know much about art, but know what I like," which is traditionally greeted with scorn. There's a lot to be said for a deep, academic understanding of poetry and art - the forms, the history, the techniques. We might miss out on some of the richness of the artist's craft for not knowing more background about the artist's work.  But you have to start somewhere, and isn't it important to leave yourself open to the experience? We love a good art museum, gallery, show, happening; it's amazing to be moved by a piece of artwork, to stand before it and take it all in. With that in mind, we've compiled a list of  books about art history and appreciation from the library catalog.  There's a lot out there - you can learn about art, you can look at catalogs of exhibitions, you can go behind the scenes at museums and the art market. We hope you'll find a piece of the art world that moves you to "almost any reaction"!

How to Read Islamic Carpets by Walter B. Denny

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