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Art as Therapy Hardcover – October 14, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 239 pages
  • Publisher: Phaidon Press (October 14, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0714865915
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714865911
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,233 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"One of the most intellectually exciting books I have read this year. . . full of illumination and insights. . . The four teenagers to whom I gave the book have all been thrilled by the sense that art isn’t the preserve of high priests. Best of all, I took my student son to the Rijksmuseum and, utterly absorbed, he said he would never look at art the same way again. De Botton is throwing open a door and doing what art ought to do: making us think and feel afresh. I hope many people step through it." – The Times

"A highly optimistic vision. . .roams widely through subjects as immense as love, nature, money and politics. De Botton and Armstrong's examination of love is most rewarding." – Royal Academy of Arts

"Asking the questions that always swirl through your mind when striding around Tate Modern. . . Art as Therapy massages the mind in all the right places." – Vanity Fair on Art

"It’s like going back to college, but in a good way. . . A little bit like dipping in to a modern day Gombrich albeit through the eyes of Oprah. . . A really entertaining and thought‐provoking look at the role that art plays – or could play – in our lives. . . Part philosophy, part art history, the book takes work that is considered by many to be lofty and rarified, and relates it to our everyday lives. [Art as Therapy] makes the reader consider the work far more intensely and deeply than perhaps we otherwise would." – A Little Bird

"A true meditation on the power art has to transform our lives." – The Mayfair Magazine

"The beautifully designed and illustrated book, Art as Therapy argues for a new way of using art to help us with a variety of psychological ills." – The School of Life

About the Author

Alain de Botton (b.1969) is the author of bestselling books in more than 30 countries, including The Consolations of Philosophy, How Proust Can Change Your Life, Status Anxiety, and most recently Religion for Atheists. He founded The School of Life in London in 2008, which supplies good ideas for everyday life in the form of courses, classes, workshops and talks. In 2009 he founded Living Architecture, which aims to make high‐quality architecture accessible to everyone.

John Armstrong (b.1966) is a British philosopher and art historian based at Melbourne University. He is the author of five well‐received books, including The Intimate Philosophy of Art, Conditions of Love: The Philosophy of Intimacy, and In Search of Civilisation: Remaking a Tarnished Idea.


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Customer Reviews

This book gives a different perspective on how to look at art and art history.
Amy Davidoff
This book is very accessible to anyone who loves art and for anyone who has an interest ranging from professional to collector to novice.
Carolina Katharine
A slow read book, not only because the language is quite difficult but the ideas need a lot of time to be thought about.
Antti Nikkanen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Jshah on October 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I just received this book yesterday and I am savoring it page by page. I have been a huge fan of Alain de Botton for years now so it is no surprise that I pre-ordered this book. His take on the role of art in our individual lives and our spiritual lives is thoughtful and at times, provocative. He talks about art in the context of universal, human truths. He delves into each picture, extracting hidden emotions and details that reveal deeper layers and new ways to look at the art and relate it back to the human truths. I haven't finished it in a day - because this book is meant to be read a few pages at a time and meditated upon.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Carolina Katharine on November 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Doesn't get better than this. Most books about art are flat, condescending, basically showing off the author's smarts. This book is very accessible to anyone who loves art and for anyone who has an interest ranging from professional to collector to novice. An intriguing take on humanity in art and how we communicate with art and how modern life dictates our understanding. Thoughtful, enlightening, refreshing, beautiful! Well edited, beautiful lay out, keenly developed and a book that is enjoyable to read over and over again. Brings a sense of discovery to the art viewer. Makes me want to head the nearest museum! Would make an excellent gift for anyone, whether for the holidays or as a thank you.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen on November 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is so different from others I have read. Here, art is not about history, not about technique. It is about the relationship between the viewer and the work. Art - either viewed or practiced - has depths of wisdom and perspective to impart. This is so delicious a book, that I limit my time with it, to make it last. Very interesting. Beautiful artwork.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Leonie J M on October 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This wonderful book takes you deeply into the effects of art through the ages on the reader emotionally, intellectually and philosophically. I strongly recommend it. A book to read again and again.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Antti Nikkanen on November 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book kind of "accidentally". You could not consider me a fan of art. I still found the book very interesting. A slow read book, not only because the language is quite difficult but the ideas need a lot of time to be thought about. After finishing the book I found myself to be more calm with the discomfort the universe provides us.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By S. McGee TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 23, 2014
Format: Hardcover
As an artistic production in its own right, this book is lovely. The illustrations are remarkable. Even the structure is thought-provoking, and the early sections, each devoted to an analysis of the ways in which art can transcend its nominal subjects and acquire a personal relevance to the individual viewing it (or, in the case of architecture, inhabiting it) were intriguing).

But that's when the book's analysis started falling apart for me, since that's where de Botton moves away from an understanding and awareness that the relationship between a person and an individual piece of art is always going to be just that: individual. Especially when we're talking about "art as therapy". The way I respond to Monet's Giverny paintings may be the way that someone else reacts to, say, a Vermeer interior, or a Ming vase -- or even something utterly unexpected, like a vibrant Kandinsky. de Botton, in contrast, implies that there is a way we as a society can somehow guide a viewer to have a certain kind of epiphany by looking at a certain kind of work of art. I'm with de Botton in suggesting that that kind of visceral, thoughtful, emotional reaction occurs -- and should be encouraged -- but part ways with him in suggesting that we, as a society, should somehow be guiding people as to what they should be thinking in response to certain works of art by showcasing them in galleries devoted to kinds of emotions (loss, friendship, etc.), commissioning work to help us understand grief, etc.

Consider one example that de Botton offers up: that of the central panel of a 15th century triptych that once belonged to Isabella of Castile. It features Jesus, resurrected, visiting the Virgin Mary.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By C. Tucker on January 11, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I very much enjoyed the first part of de Botton's new book, which he calls "methodology". In this section, he elucidates 7 areas of the human condition commonly addressed in art (suffering, love, etc.). This section reads as a very moving meditation on old ideas brought into very thoughtful new focus.
After this section ends, though, I felt de Botton lost his way a bit. The remainder of the book feels less deeply thought-out, as if maybe he was writing for a looming deadline (which is rather doubtful, given his excellent track record of publishing successful books, and his personal fortune). The book disappointingly veers off into a persuasive essay on how public art should be displayed and considered, and stops being fresh and original.
I was left wanting to re-read the first chapter, and wishing de Botton and his co-author would re-write the remainder. The book is beautifully constructed, and the illustrations are worth the price of the whole thing. It's certainly worth reading, even if it does leave the reader wishing for less political opinion, and more thoughtful discourse on the nature of art and healing.
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