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The Art Book

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  149,247 ratings  ·  317 reviews
An A to Z guide to 500 great painters and sculptors from medieval to modern times, it debunks art historical classifications by throwing together brilliant examples of all periods, schools, visions and techniques. Each artist is represented by a full-page colour plate of a definitive work, accompanied by explanatory and illuminating information on the image and its creator ...more
Paperback, 515 pages
Published April 17th 1997 by Phaidon Press (first published 1997)
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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 ·  149,247 ratings  ·  317 reviews

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Much to my husband's dismay, I took the binding off this book and put each page in a page protector; it now takes up two binders. But now, for $19.95 plus page protectors and binders, I have over 500 pieces of art that can be passed around my classroom.

Well, most of them can be passed around my classroom. I'm struggling with the nudity. Why is it more acceptable to me in an ancient Greek statue than in modern art? Hmmmmm...
Jan 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art
I've always wanted to learn more about art and art history, and this was a good sampling. It takes 500 different artists and shows one work from each of them. It was a nice introduction to artists I hadn't heard of before, and it gave a brief synopsis of the work and the artist.

This isn't an in-depth exploration. It often left me wanting more -- I expected this book to serve as a jump-off point, so that's a good thing. I flagged dozens of pages to research further. I should note that, being an a
Nov 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Plain and simple: This was the book that made me fall in love with the visual arts. Almost every time I went to the library as a girl, I would borrow this book. I would sit and look at it for hours, never getting bored with it. I still haven't purchased this book for my collection, but I am planning on it soon! ...more
Anton Klink
Jun 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book sets out to present one work of art from 500 different artist. This sounds good in theory, but since all the artists and their one work of art are listed alphabetically, the end result is eclectic and chaotic. This would have been a much better book, had the same contents been arranged chronologically or at least thematically. As it stands though, the paintings (there are a few sculptures and installations here and there, but I will mostly refer to just paintings) jump all over the pla ...more
Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was really an interesting concept. Hundreds of artists, drawn from many times, movements, places, one page spread per artist--one work, one short explanation, a little attempt to locate the artist in time and movement. I couldn't stay out of this at work--we kept going back, opening it up, arguing over whether the work chosen was the right one. That was a lot of fun. (Weeping Woman for Picasso???? Ceci n'est pas un pipe for Magritte? Really?) I must say, it did help that I was pretty famili ...more
Sharon Barrow Wilfong
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Small book but with quality, glossy pages. All the works are in color. What is interesting about this book (and by the way, I think there is a larger edition), is that, instead of listing artists and art chronologically, they are listed in Alphabetical order. Thus, a painting from the Renaissance is next to the work from a 20th century modern abstractionist. It makes for some interesting comparisons.
Diana Habashneh
Mar 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
very simple, a photo of the artist work, brief about the artist
it gives you hints, not very helpful but it's a joy to the eye, you can like a painting or a sculpture and go do the research yourself, witch is not a bad idea after all, that is not a bad idea after all
Maia Sinclair
Jun 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art
I just luvvvv this book. i carry it around whenever i have to travel because it is fun to read and reread. it teaches you a lot about art in accessible and convenient way. Just the kind of book you like reading. hours can pass by and you barely notice it. :) luv it!
Thuraya Batterjee
Feb 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art
this book presents a fresh and original approach to art.

It is an essential reference to those of us who are always looking for inspiration..

And a good visual sourcebook too..
Tidar Rachmadi
I guess, no real artits really read this art book. But, this book is very artsy on the cover and 1000 times more artsy inside. And best of all, it's from Phaidon. ...more
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, art
So if you re-titled this, "The (Almost Entirely Western) Painting and Sculpture (14th - 20th Century) Book, you'd know what you're in for - but it's not exactly pithy. Only the "Painting and Sculpture" part is openly acknowledged by the editors. The rest is deduced from what actually appears in the book, which is an alphabetically arranged list of 500 artists with one image each and a paragraph or two of annotation about the artist and the work displayed. There's also basic biographical details ...more
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art-and-design
This really should have been called The Western Art Book. There is only one Asian artist represented, and Latin America is limited to a few Cubans and Mexicans. Everyone else is completely absent.

Unlike other reviews, I actually liked the alphabetical arrangement of the artists, as it really demonstrated the diversity of the North American and European art tradition. You have this on one page and this on the next.
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Love this book - it is alphabetical order of artists, with a picture of their work, and some biological detail. I particularly love the big version, that I saw at a school. The mini version I have at home is a bit small for some of the detail to come through.
Paul Weiss
Jul 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
“… a whole new way of looking at art”

What a delight! A selection of 500 works of art, paintings and sculptures alike, from 500 different artists with no reference to nationality, school of thought, medium, date or topic. The works are presented alphabetically by author and each work is accompanied by explanatory information on it and its creator. THE ART BOOK is “an unparalleled visual source book and a celebration of our rich and multi-faceted culture.” For those fans particularly taken by
Lisa (Harmonybites)
I was required to take an art appreciation class in college to graduate--and I loved it! So getting this book was a natural follow-up. It won Illustrated Book of the Year and is in the Top Five Popular Art Books on Goodreads. As stated in the introduction, this book is "an A to Z guide to 500 great painters and sculptors from medieval to modern times." It's that classic coffee table book--I even recently spotted it on a list for the best of the kind. I'm not the kind that collects those--in fact ...more
Aug 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
It would be a mistake to take this book for what it is not: a serious, in-depth treatise on art. No, it's a picture book that gives almost twitter-like info on artists. Every artist included has one picture/one chance to make an impression on the public (art novices).

The good things about it: the wealth of periods it hits on and the quality of the reproductions, to say nothing of its size (I have the pocket size version, in case there are others). I also enjoyed the little gimmick: listing artis
Mar 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art-books
It gives an over view of art and some important works. Information on the art contained in the book is limited but enables you to go look further. Also lists contact details for major Galleries in the back. My copy is a small version however the photos of the art work are printed clearly and you can see all the textures of the paintings as well.

Make sure this isn't your only art book in your library, but definately a good place to start when loking for reference, or pictures, or styles, or what
Sharon Robinson
Sep 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love this little goodie. At least mine is little, I think they made two sizes. It's great to flip through. When needing inspiration or just procrastinating. It's fun to discover a new artist or new work by one you've known. ...more
Gahermi class 5-12
Aug 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is hands down amazing.

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Oct 22, 2012 rated it liked it
that book is very good, in this book your can learn more about the art and in this book have something is so surprised for me. one is for the this book have 500 different artists and shows one work from each of them. other thing is for the the art have mandy year's old and have mandy people want to learn more about art. this book can for some one didn't know art and that can geive some one want to learn word art thay can read that book. ...more

The perfect prescription for someone who thinks Kupka might have something to do with the continuing cup-cake craze.

A artist, a picture, a critique, a list of recommendations to other artists of the same school. A pared down minimalistic approach which works. And pocket sized too (a wide pocket). Educational and, what's better, memorable.
Jan 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: in-en, 2008, art
Remember how this book was seen throughout the whole Friends series? First at Central Perk, then at Monica's. Now it's on my shelf, thanks to Patty :)
It's actually a nice read if you're into arts and stuff, and of course I cannot brag for reading it, rather browsed through.
Jan 04, 2013 rated it liked it
An everyday book for Everyman. Quite nice for the coffee table or for the kids to flick through. It does what the title says so probably deserves 5 stars but it lacks sufficient depth or enquiry for my tastes..
Jun 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Though it might frustrate those looking for an in-depth analysis, The Art Book is great for casual appreciation or anyone who doesn't know where to start. I personally enjoyed the huge variety of wildly different pieces sitting side by side. ...more
J.p. Jones
Oct 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
Great little book if you take it for what it is - something to dip into to stimulate ideas or discussion... or simply pages to flick through to look at interesting works of art. Not for the academics, but that's part of the appeal. ...more
Jan 09, 2009 added it
I refer to this little book quite often. I am always looking for artists and their styles. I keep it very handy. It's a must have. ...more
Todd Pack
Sep 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a nifty little book (or a nifty big book, if you have the hardcover edition). It only scratches the surface, but it covers a lot of ground. It's a wonderful book for browsing. ...more
Nov 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I think this is perhaps the best format for art books introducing artists. A couple of lines about the artist, a couple of lines about the artwork, a couple of lines about the historical context, and that's it, the art can speak for itself after that. A small detail, I wish the artwork dates were moved from the bottom to the top (next to the artwork's title and artist's name), so one has seen all the info/context before checking out the art.

Reading the book, it's difficult to ignore a theme whic
Jan 10, 2022 rated it liked it
I read this, in dribs and drabs, over the course of 7-months. This is the longest time that I have ever spent 'reading' a book. Sure, I didn't read every word, but I tried to take it all in.

So, what do I have to say for myself? Well, what I knew all along: that this book is great to dip into, but not so great to read. Its prints are luscious, but its ardent focus on Western art is rather myopic.
Zainab Ammar
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is simply a masterpiece. I love it.
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