You may have seen this book gracing Monica’s coffee table on ‘Friends’, but don’t hold that against it. Aptly titled, The Art Book (Phaidon Press Limited) showcases 500 paintings and sculptures; each by a unique, distinguished artist. Large, high-quality color plates afford a satisfying view of the featured works. Each representation is accompanied by a brief-yet-informative passage. The terse discussions introduce the reader to the artist behind the work; involve such areas as subject, content, form, technique and artistic movement; and point out special areas of interest. Technical terms and artistic movements are further explained in convenient glossaries. A directory of museums and galleries is offered for those who may wish to see a work in person.
Artists featured in The Art Book are arranged alphabetically by name, a format that avoids monotony and lends to the book’s eclectic nature. Entries are cross-referenced according to various aspects of similarity, should the viewer desire a more categorized approach.
The Art Book brings a lot to the coffee table. Newcomers can learn the language of art without being overwhelmed by it. The vast collection and informative text make this volume an invaluable sourcebook for students. Those well-acquainted with the art world will surely appreciate the breadth of this assortment.
Part of a series from Phaidon Press (including The American Art Book and The 20th Century Art Book), The Art Book is a voyage of discovery spanning centuries, continents and styles. It is an excellent conversation piece, but holds its own with the single viewer. So bring some art to the table – just don’t spill the coffee.