History of Art
H.W. Janson
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History of Art

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  9,626 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Back in the early 1970s, "Janson"--as History of Art is universally known--was a hefty but manageable 616 pages, illustrated mostly with black-and-white photographs. It also famously contained not a single work by a female artist and devoted a scant eight pages to non-Western art. Five editions and three decades later, the art history student's Stone Age-to-20th-century Bi...more
Hardcover, 5th, 1000 pages
Published September 1st 1999 by Multy (first published 1962)
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Books Ring Mah Bell
I had an earlier edition of this book for a required humanities class in college : art appreciation. And you know what? I learned to appreciate art. Not LIKE everything, but understand it a bit more. I also gained some killer arm muscles lugging this beast to and from class. Once, I almost used it as a weapon on a homeless man who startled me asking for some change. I could have killed him! I didn't.

But... this book is the best, even if it is dangerous.
I can't believe I read the whole thing--haha! It was for AP Art History class in high school--I loved it. Our teacher was fantastic and over 1 year, we went through this whole book, adding notes in the margins on almost every piece of art in the book. It's a huge book that probably gave us all spine curvatures from carrying it in our backpacks, but now it's a treasure I'll keep with me for the rest of my life.
From the dawn of time, artists have been the visual record keepers. My favorite era's are the neoclassic and romantic, the artist's were finally picking up the chisel and paintbrush to depict the everyday and current events of the time, not just being commissioned by rich families and royals to pay homage to their religions as means to save their rich souls from the depths of hell. It gave birth to an independence of expression and inspiration for artists to come. Art has a depth and richness th...more
This book was on the top shelf in the family library (perhaps the original 1962 edition). I would pull it out only when the house was empty because I found the art therein so "tantalizing." I've never been far from the arts since.
I am so sad they don't have the cover art for this is one of my favorites by Boucicaut Master (ca 1415). The picture is of Adam & Eve and it tells the garden story from beginning to expulsion, to the point where they bring their story to the Master--ensuring HIS place in history. Boccaccio's work de casibus viorum illustratum is related to this piece...and the art looks alike, but Boccaccio was Italian and the Boucicaut master was French. The theme was very popular (The rise and fa...more
H.W. Janson was my boyfriend my senior year of high school I carried around this big maroon book and decided that after 2.5 years of wanting to be an English major I would study Art History for the next chunk of my education. I know there have been problems with Janson's a) focus on Western art and b) focus on art created by dudes (see: The Guerrilla Girls) but by the time I got to it, it was on its 7th or 8th edition and it was a little better. It also helped to supplement it with Laurie Schini...more
Ed Smiley
Copiously illustrated, this provides a useful schema from which to learn about different periods of art, and a lot of information you can use for reference.

The edition that I read was pre-political correctness so that means a history of dead white guy artists. It would be better titled a History of Western Art, although it ends with an apologetic and half hearted nod to Asian art. (for a critical view, see The Guerrilla Girls' Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art)

Needless to say, wh...more
Nathalie Nelson
Actually I read the 5th edition that was revised and expanded by Anthony F. Janson and was published in 1995. I read the book from cover to cover all 903 pages of it. I have been interested in art all my life and this book covers all aspects of it from pre-historic to modern, at least up to 1995 when the book was published. Each period covered is very helpful and clear but necessarily condensed. One should have a good background in art periods to get the most out of it. Now that I have read it a...more
A textbook in college.
Tamora Pierce
Oct 24, 2008 Tamora Pierce rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: families, art students, writers, artists, people with wide-ranging intellects
Recommended to Tamora by: my mother didn't exactly recommend it
I think this is one book that every eager-to-learn person who can lift it ought to have. It's a good survey of the history of art; the pictures are stunning, and you'd be amazed at the interesting conversations that result when your five-year-old (someone like, oh, me) discovers the naked ones! Seriously, this book introduced me to art as a child, and I got my own copy years ago. I still refer to it for ideas. No one book can possibly hold all art history, but this is a fabulous home starter edi...more
Erik Graff
Feb 15, 2014 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: art fans
Recommended to Erik by: Janny Marie Willis
Shelves: art
There was no art requirement in high school and I took Theatre at Grinnell College to fulfill their one-course art requirement, so I read this, a common college textbook, to cover the kind of material that I had missed. Since then I've tried one or two other, similar survey books.
Jennifer Welch
Mar 30, 2007 Jennifer Welch rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: fine art students, history buffs
this is the standard must-have of any and all art students. art history isn't just about art, but it is the history of man, civilization and religion. i learned so much more than art in this book (back-the-day in art school). btw, this is still the largest book i have!
Blanca Wortham
This is the best art history book i've read, I had to buy it for school, it doesn't compare to others I've read, super big & heavy! (my edition even more cuz its from the 70's), but totally worth it. =)
ah, art school. this was my FIRST college text book. i actually read all of my art school text books, still have them, and still use them. i use this one all the time.
Read this from cover-to-cover in the 70's. Very readable, a great reference. Bought my own copy after finishing my friend's copy. A must-have reference.
Karen L.
This is great for those who really want to understand Art history. It is a college text and great resource book that I have used over the years.
At around one thousand pages (!) this book is stuffed full of every bit of information you could need to have a very in depth course in art and art history.

The pictures are plentiful and in beautiful color, the excerpts about the art is thorough, and the narration is a fantastic history of art. Included also, are timelines throughout the book to put the art of the time in perspective with regard to politics, science, religion, music, literature, and technology.

We keep this book in a prominent pl...more
This is another book which has become a cornerstone in my education. This book makes the world around us make sense.
I am in the process of learning art history and have found this book very useful and interesting.
Nov 30, 2007 Erika rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Art History Nerds
Shelves: art
Okay, this book is freaking huge, and I have not read the whole thing cover-to-cover.
Lindsey S.
Aug 29, 2007 Lindsey S. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: anyone who loves art
One of my art history classes in college required this book. Love it so much!
hello? it's like the freaking bible. and it has pretty pictures.
George King
The textbook for one of my favorite college courses.
Janson's is the standard art history for a reason.
a beautiful book, excellent on the subject.
Oct 09, 2008 Kathy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Anyone who loves art
Recommended to Kathy by: college class
Shelves: art-history
A great book for art history buffs.
Linda Le
ap art history, o how i love thee!
Sep 29, 2008 Dorothy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: art lovers
Shelves: art
A feast for the eyes and the soul.
Great tongue-in-cheek political satire.
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Janson, H. W. (Horst Woldemar), 1913-1982
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