Beth Shapeero's Reviews > The Story of Art

The Story of Art by E.H. Gombrich
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Sep 04, 11

bookshelves: art
Read from May 15 to August 01, 2011

The Storey of Art

E. M. Gombrich

I was attracted to this beautiful little book in Waterstones; its wafer thin, smooth bible pages, section of over 400 rich colour plates and stylish, minimal cover design. I was also feeling a pang of guilt for not shopping in bookshops anymore because Amazon is so easy and cheap. Walking through a bookstore, perusing books and judging them by there covers, is a real pleasure and one we will be denied access to as everybody shops online, I am pretty sure we will see high street bookshops closing down soon unless they can figure out a way to compete with Amazon.

So I bought The Storey of Art mainly because it’s so attractive but I also have a staggering lack of knowledge about art history - this looked like a good way to fill myself in. I read a quote recently that said if you read one hundred books on a subject you can call yourself an expert, it’s a bit daft but I have decided set myself a challenge; read 100 art books.

This one has taken me about three months to read so expertise feels like a distant dream. It took so long beacuse I wanted to concentrate and take it all in, this book covers the whole of art history from early cave painting to post-modernism, that’s a lot of useful information, also, it’s not just reading the words but taking the time to look carefully at each image and it’s not the sort of book you can read in the bath or in bed because you have to keep refering back to plates. Fortunatley it is extremely accesable, intriguiging and keenly observing making it very readable and a little pleasure to indulge in.

Being so ignorant of the subject, I loved that it took its time over periods and themes, referring back to them in the following chapters, revisiting artists and styles and giving in depth critical background to works such as stylistic influences and pressures on artists of different times. It strikes a perfect balence of being informative and comprehensive without becoming stifling; it is an insightful and rich overview. I am certain that I will actually be able to remember some of this information, I couldn’t have hoped for more from art book #1/100. So maybe walking into bookshops and judging books by their covers is a good strategy after all.
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