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Art as Therapy Hardcover – October 14, 2013
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"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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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
gave as a gift, then bought for myself. a truly unusual way to look at art.Published 2 months ago by Greg L. meier
This is a mind opening book through a fresh and innovative reinterpretation of arts. People are often forced to fall into unbalanced and expansive delusion about life. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Zheong G. Khim
Amazing book! I'm a painter and there are so many synergies between my view on art and the book. I got really empowered!Published 12 months ago by Wiktoria Florek
The book has some paintings with philosophical, intelligent insights on them that aim at getting the reader to think. Where is the therapy promised in the title of the book? Read morePublished 12 months ago by Ibrahim
Not actually my type of book. Very all over didn't appear to have a focus.Published 13 months ago by Danny Slyder
An extraordinary book. Beautiful, inspiring, a splendid instrument to teach art and to work with in therapy. Well designed, very well printed. Read morePublished 14 months ago by LuisMariano