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History of Art, Revised (Trade Version) (5th Edition) Hardcover – September 1, 1997


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

For thousands of art lovers both amateur and professional, aesthetic life began with Janson, as H.W. Janson's History of Art is often called. In the first edition, published in 1962, Janson spoke to that perennial reader he gently called "the troubled layman." His opening paragraph revealed his sympathy: "Why is this supposed to be art?" he quoted rhetorically. "How often have we heard this question asked--or asked it ourselves, perhaps--in front of one of the strange, disquieting works that we are likely to find nowadays in the museum or art exhibition." Keeping that curious, questioning perspective in mind, he wrote a history of art from cave painting to Picasso that was singularly welcoming, illuminating, and exciting.

After H.W. Janson died, in 1982, his son, Anthony F. Janson, took over the daunting task of revising his father's book. Janson the elder would be thrilled with the beauty of this fifth edition, which tips the scales at more than seven pounds. Thanks to advances in printing, it teems with reproductions--736 in color and 500 black-and-white--that would have been far too costly 35 years ago. At an even 1,000 pages, it is an inch thicker than its 572-page progenitor.

Sojourning through this book, a reader is offered every amenity for a comfortable trip. Because Janson never assumes knowledge on the part of the reader, a recent immigrant from Mars could comprehend Western art from this text. The only assumption the Jansons have made is that with a little guidance everyone can come to understand the artifacts that centuries of architecture, sculpture, design, and painting have deposited in our paths. Countless readers have proven the Jansons right--and found their lives enriched in the process.

From Library Journal

Horst W. Janson died in 1982, not long after the second edition of his best-selling History of Art was published. His son Anthony (art history, Univ. of North Carolina, Wilmington) inherited the franchise and has contributed to four subsequent updates, this one appearing four years after the last revision. Familiar to art history students throughout the world, this massive survey of 30,000 years of Western art is generally regarded as the fundamental text for teaching the subject to undergraduates. It is a deserving reputation, for in addition to the ecumenical enthusiasm and economy of description infusing the Jansons' writing, the work features time lines densely packed with data, four sections of over 100 primary sources, well-chosen illustrations, and an updated bibliography including web references. Its graphic design is rich with imagery and progresses without any affectations. New to this edition are rewritten sections covering architecture, ancient art, and French painting, as well as a discography of related recordings. A benchmark text brought up-to-date, this is an essential purchase for libraries not already owning a good copy of the fifth edition. Douglas F. Smith, Oakland P.L., CA.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1000 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall; 5 edition (September 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810934426
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810934429
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 9 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,158,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

You better get this book and fast!
jen011395@hotmail.com
Included are illustrated timelines, as well as cultural histories, and an interesting section with poetry, essays, etc., on or about the artists.
"tallsarah"
No student or fan of art history should be without this book.
Caldermobile

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Kendall VINE VOICE on February 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who has taken an Art Survey or Art History course at a major university will no doubt already be familiar with this monumental and venerable book. It's long been the standard reference, for good reason. It doesn't merely take a few paintings or pieces of sculpture from a particular cultural period and overload the reader with needless minutiae. Janson's (father's and son's) text merely presents the relevant info that provides for a clear understanding of the progress and trends in areas ranging from visual arts (painting and sculpture) to architecture.
The prints in the new edition are more vivid and outstanding than ever. The helpful timelines and diagrams have been updated, to great effect. The sections on Oriental and Sub-Contintent art , that was just a postscript in earlier editions have been expanded significantly. The emphasis is still on Western art and architecture, but the editors are making strides. As the Amazon blurb-writer notes, some attempts have been made to include more female artists besides Mary Cassatt and Georgia O'Keefe. The recent revival of interest in women artists such as Frida Khalo and Artemisia Gentileschi will no doubt have an impact on the next revision.
This book would make a perfect gift for the budding artist in your household. It would also be a useful and important source of information if you are planning a trip to Europe. There is a reason they call it "Art Appreciation." The more background you have, the more "appreciative" you are of what is involved in the creation of a great canvas or a Gothic cathedral. If you believe that the contemplation of great works of art is a rewarding and enriching endeavor, then I highly suggest you make the investment and let the Jansons be your guides. For more background on Renaissance artists, in particular, I would also recommend Vasari's Lives of the Artists and Benvenuto Cellini's highly enjoyable autobiography.
BEK
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By "tallsarah" on December 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Janson provides most students with their first exposure to the history of art, and I can't think of a better volume to do so. As I high school student, I lived and breathed Janson's; this volume provided the basics of art history. Today, as an art history major, Janson's provides an invaluable reference tool. Janson presents the reader with an exquisite history of art, from start to finish. Included in this tome are not only the basic artists and periods of art, but historical and political backgrounds and influences, as wells as anecdotes from the artist's lives. Janson teaches us how to identify characteristic styles of the artists, and how to identify the influences of the various styles and artists. The color plates alone are worth owning the book; the text is just as beautiful. Included are illustrated timelines, as well as cultural histories, and an interesting section with poetry, essays, etc., on or about the artists. (Ever read any of Michelangelo's poetry?) Anyone interested in the history of art, whether just starting, or looking to learn more, should consider Janson's. It is not without fault: it is, for the most part, a history of white male art. Yet, Janson's has been the bible of art history for decades, and continues to hold that title. Nothing can compare.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful By James Schoonmaker on May 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Simply put, this book is the standard that any other art history book is measured by. It's long, thorough, and extremely good. Well-illustrated, it covers every major (and most minor) periods of Western art starting from primitive cave sketches in France to modern-day. Beware, however; though the title doesn't say it, this book is a history of WESTERN art. Don't expect to see much in the way of art from other cultures, except in a comparison with a piece of western art.
As the editors suggest, Janson does not assume any level of knowledge on the part of his reader. This does, in fact, make this book fabulously easy to understand, even while he fills your head with a near-exhausting level of information. Janson is THE name in art history, and unfortunately, he knows it. He has a tendency to talk down to his readers, and his arrogance comes across clearly in nearly every paragraph. If it weren't for this exception and the fact that it only covers western art, it would have been an easy 5-star. You still can't get a better guide to western art-- no matter your level of familiarity.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By E. K. Berkemeyer on December 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Janson's History of Art is an art history book from the old school. Though there have been strides for the past few editions in making this book more inclusive it doesn't really compare to newer comprehensive books. Janson's book also suffers from the old art historical practice of talking about 'masterpieces' and 'genius'. As of the 5th edition the book includes very very little non-western art. It has a small section on "ethnographic" art that refers to the arts of Africa, Americas, and the Pacific islands. This chapter has to be one of the worst reviews of non-western art I have ever seen. The arts of Asia are not touched on at all. The book really should be called History of Western Art.

If you are purely looking for a survey of western art this is a fair book. On the other hand if you are lookin for a book that surveys a history of world art I might suggest Marilyn Stokstad's Art History. It is still a little superficial in the Africa and Americas chapters but at least it has whole chapters on these continents. It also has extensive surveys of the arts of India, China and Japan.
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