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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect solution for dummies when it comes to art
I read a couple of reviews from readers of Art For Dummies complaining that it doesn't have enough illustrations either black or white or in color. I agree. But the Dummies book was never intended to be a "coffee-table" art book. One solution is to get Sister Wendy's 1000 Masterpieces (which illustrates almost every painting Hoving mentions.) This way you get...
Published on November 2, 1999 by Michel Fithian

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156 of 171 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A mistake on every page -- at least!
I give Art for Dummies one star for its one good piece of advice: to immerse yourself in art, to rely on your own eyes rather than on the opinions of others, and to go look at original works, rather than photographs, whenever possible. That's what I've told my Art History students for years. However, IDG Books is aggressively marketing this manual for use as a...
Published on January 21, 2000 by Susan E. Wood


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156 of 171 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A mistake on every page -- at least!, January 21, 2000
By 
This review is from: Art For Dummies (Paperback)
I give Art for Dummies one star for its one good piece of advice: to immerse yourself in art, to rely on your own eyes rather than on the opinions of others, and to go look at original works, rather than photographs, whenever possible. That's what I've told my Art History students for years. However, IDG Books is aggressively marketing this manual for use as a college textbook or a supplemental reading assignment, and the thought of putting it into the hands of undergraduates, especially intro.-level students, makes my blood run cold. A number of reviewers have commented on the lack of adequate illustrations. I might add that not only are they few, grainy, and postage-stamp size, but a lot of them are printed backward. What really bothers me, though, is the number of careless errors in the text. I'm not talking here about matters of opinion or interpretation, but of documented fact. On Page 5, there is a section with the heading "The Temple of Apollo at Olympia." The temple at Olympia was dedicated to Zeus, not Apollo, although Apollo appears on the sculptural decoration of the pediment. There's a really important difference in Greek religion between the supreme god of Olympus and one of his sons! And on page 48, we learn that " . . . while the Parthenon was being completed, other grandiose artistic achievements were happening. One was the invention of lost-wax bronze casting . . . The sculptor Polykleitos is probably responsible for this method . . . " BULLS**T! Greek historians credit the invention of lost-wax casting to two craftsmen on the island of Samos who lived at least a century earlier than Polykleitos, but Egyptians and Mesopotamians had mastered this technique even earlier. One thing's for sure: competently cast life-sized bronze statues existed in the Greek world long before ground was even broken for the Parthenon, because the Charioteer of Delphi (illustrated by Hoving on page 42! ) can be dated by the evidence of an inscription to 470 or earlier. Polykleitos benefitted from at least a century of workshop tradition in bronze-casting. He was a great and innovative artist, but his influence lay in his system of proportions and treatment of the body in motion, not in casting technology. Now, admittedly, ancient art is not Hoving's field, but shouldn't he at least have asked colleagues in other areas to review his chapters for him when he ventured outside his own area? And shouldn't he have done a little fact-checking for himself? I can just imagine the frustrating conversations in store for any professor who assigns this to college students: "Professor, you made a mistake! It isn't the temple of Zeus at Olympia, it's the temple of Apollo. It says so right here in the book." Students tend to trust what they see in print over what they hear in lectures. I have nothing against the concept of a breezy, informal book about art that avoids a pretentious tone or specialized jargon. But a handbook on art can't be slapped together quickly in the way that a manual for a computer-program can. "WordPerfect 8 for Dummies" will be obsolete as soon as the next upgrade comes out (maybe it already is?), but if the Dummies series is going to venture into other areas, they should give their contributors the time and editorial assistance to do it right.
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60 of 64 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It's bad because it's so good, January 30, 2000
This review is from: Art For Dummies (Paperback)
Reading "Art for Dummies" was an exciting experience but also so frustrating that on occasion I almost sent the book flying towards the wall. On the plus side: chronological layout, even-handed treatment of different periods and techniques, and Mr. Hoving's obvious and infectious love of art.
Which leads us into the central irony of the book. Mr. Hoving describes many art works much better than we can see them. Nothing is so frustrating as to have him rhapsodize about an art work which is rendered in postage-stamp-sized black and white in the book, its salient features almost invisible, even under my Bausch & Lomb magnifying glass. This happened far more than it ought to (once would have been too much, of course). The book was limited in its use of color plates and the black-and-white reproductions tended to be small, small, small.
The "For Dummies" folks should have upped the retail price another ten bucks and put in some serious color plating or perhaps done a multi-volume work: "Impressionism for Dummies," "Modern Art for Dummies," you get the idea. As it is, I can't give the book a true "thumbs up." It's a pity, because even with the minor factual errors professionals have spotted it's quite a well written book. It just isn't nearly visible enough.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect solution for dummies when it comes to art, November 2, 1999
This review is from: Art For Dummies (Paperback)
I read a couple of reviews from readers of Art For Dummies complaining that it doesn't have enough illustrations either black or white or in color. I agree. But the Dummies book was never intended to be a "coffee-table" art book. One solution is to get Sister Wendy's 1000 Masterpieces (which illustrates almost every painting Hoving mentions.) This way you get the professional "insider" take from Hoving, the wonderful excited amateur take from Sister Wendy and a whole bunch of illustrations. By the way I peg Hoving's erudite book at 5 out of 5. Mike Fithian
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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent reader-friendly introduction but lacks pictures, December 6, 1999
By 
Alexandra Fiona Dixon (San Francisco, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Art For Dummies (Paperback)
This book is written in a very friendly style that makes art accessible and does not talk down to the reader (who may be new to art concepts and perhaps intimidated by entering this brave new world). Hoving tells us to 'saturate' ourselves in art by visiting museums and looking at lots and lots of art; that way he says you can develop your eye for the good stuff, and trust that you will indeed recognize the good stuff when you see it.
Unfortunately (but understandably because this is meant to be an inexpensive, accessible introductory book), there are many many descriptions of important works through the ages, but only a very few color plates that illustrate them, and a few more black and white photographs.
It's a bit hard to 'saturate' yourself in a piece of art based on a description in words - you know what they say: a picture is worth a thousand words! However, there's a simple and enjoyable remedy. I recommend that you buy the glorious, lush History of Art (5th edition, revised)by Janson, and use that as a companion piece while reading Hoving's Art for Dummies. Many of the works (and just about all of the artists) mentioned by Hoving are represented in the Janson book, which is full of color plates. Hoving's book is more readable, but Janson's book will bring the work alive! It's a hardcover book that comes in a box with a big satin ribbon. I gave it to myself for Christmas (and while cramming for an upcoming appearance as a contestant on Jeopardy!)
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but with one MAJOR flaw, November 3, 1999
By 
Eldon Doty (Santa Rosa, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Art For Dummies (Paperback)
An interesting author who knows his art but I found this a frustrating book to read because Hoving describes one great piece of artwork after another but only a small number are actually illustrated. Even a bad picture is better than no picture. The author tries his best but the beauty of words just don't measure up to the beauty of the artwork. Next time, the publisher should spend a couple of extra bucks and put in a few more pictures for us dummies out there who are not as knowledgeable as Hoving. They have, to their credit, included some nice color pages in the front and end of the book.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing like it, November 3, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Art For Dummies (Paperback)
I read a couple of reviews from readers of Art For Dummies complaining that it doesn't have enough illustrations either black or white or in color. I agree. But the Dummies book was never intended to be a "coffee-table" art book. One solution is to get Sister Wendy's 1000 Masterpieces (which illustrates almost every painting Hoving mentions.) This way you get the professional "insider" take from Hoving, the wonderful excited amateur take from Sister Wendy and a whole bunch of illustrations. By the way I peg Hoving's erudite book at 5 out of 5. Mike Fithian
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No better start, March 2, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Art For Dummies (Paperback)
It is easy to pick on this book. I don't like the title, and I wish it had a bibliography, for instance. Hoving's selection isn't mine, but he includes more than I would have thought possible, and he writes with clarity and enthusiasm. Though nothing substitutes for the real thing, as Hoving makes clear throughout, I like his choice of color illustrations, and the black and white illustrations are useful reference points. Most refreshing are his enthusiasm, and his willingness to express his preferences.
I bought this book for the around the world guide to museums, with the mini-reviews and mini-summaries of what is where. Most guides to the art places of the world are dull as dishwater. This one looks like a perfect 2 carat gem: small, but clear and scintillating.
Well written, well organized, and far more than a guide to the museums of the world. I expect it to make a handy reference to areas of the art world I am less familiar with. It is on the bookshelf in my studio. One could pack around many weightier tomes, and come up with far less.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed - but there is a fix!, October 17, 1999
This review is from: Art For Dummies (Paperback)
Being a lover of the "for Dummies" books, and having nothing but praise for there Classical Music for Dummies and Wine for Dummies, it pains me to give this book only 3 stars (and even considered rating it at 2 stars). In the first few chapters the author stresses that you must look, look, and look more at art to understand and enjoy. The problem is that the book has far to few color and small black and white photos to keep you interested. It is mostly text with several references to artworks you cannot see! I understand the expense involved in producing a book this cheap with more color photos, and the book falls victim to it. I have found a way to enjoy the book more though... I would recommend that if you purchase this book I would also purchase the book titled "Art Across Time by Laurie Schneider Adams". "Art Across Time" is more expensive (about $80), but is well worth the price for all the outstanding photos and maps that "Art for Dummies" is missing. The text portions of Art for Dummies is short and concise, so it makes for a quick read, and does provide other useful information, but without more photos I found myself quickly losing interest after about the first five or six chapters. With "Art Across Time" in hand I have found the for Dummies book more enjoyable!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars But Of Course, January 2, 2000
This review is from: Art For Dummies (Paperback)
As a successful writer and former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the author is guaranteed a large attentive audience. What a tragically missed opportunity then, as the result looks, feels and reads as if it were tossed together, less interesting and less persuasive than a second-rate art appreciation text. This is precisely what a "dummy" doesn't need. One wonders how Andrew Wyeth, who wrote the foreword, feels about having his name on it now. (Copyright © by Roy R. Behrens, from Ballast Quarterly Review, Vol 15 No 2, Winter 1999-2000.)
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing, March 2, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Art For Dummies (Paperback)
I'm usually a big fan of the Dummies books, but this one frustrated me to no end. Everyone else has already complained about the lack of decent pictures, and they are right: for a book about art, there's an awful lot of black and white text and cheaply drawn cartoons without showing us the good stuff. Faced with just reading the material without looking at the art, I found myself to be immensely bored. All too often, Tom strays from the topic to relate yet another anecdote about his travels and adventures in the art world. Furthermore, Tom's constant name dropping gave the whole book a tone of the arrogance and snobbery that Tom claims alienates so many people from exploring the art world. A lot of time is spent on preparing people for the "way" to visit an art museum, which is fine, but I want to have something of an understanding of the material so I know what to look for when I'm at the museum. I didn't get that from this book. If you want a really excellent introductory book to art, try Sister Wendy's Story of Painting. It's everything this book is not -- it has tons of beautiful pictures, and great, understandable text that never strays from explaining the art itself. Even better, get Sister Wendy's 1001 Masterpieces to go along with it -- it's a great way to enter the world of art.
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Art For Dummies
Art For Dummies by Thomas Hoving (Paperback - September 24, 1999)
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