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Sister Wendy's 1000 Masterpieces Hardcover – October 21, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd (October 21, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0751307173
  • ISBN-13: 978-0751307177
  • Product Dimensions: 12.1 x 10.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,161,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This handsome tome is packed to the gills with paintings, and while readers might disagree with any of Sister Wendy Beckett's choices (that's half the fun, perhaps), there are still hundreds of unforgettable works of art that nearly any reader can appreciate. Most of the pictures, even those that seem unprepossessing at first glance, are made riveting by Sister Wendy's quirky, personal narratives, in which the simplest of images is suddenly rendered a dramatic focal point. A perfectly ordinary Dutch scene by Hendrick Avercamp--Frozen River, 1620--shows people going about their business on a lively patch of ice where children play hockey and adults chat and work. Sister Wendy seizes on a fishing hole cut into the ice through which a circle of cold, black water is apparent. "The hole that has been cut in the ice can frighten us when our eye falls into it, and this is the only hint of the inherent danger of the scene," she writes ominously. In Anthony Van Dyck's magnificent portrait of Charles I of England, she observes of his regal hauteur, "In hindsight we can see the tragedy: that a man so remote from common humanity, so superb in his conceit, must be heading for a fall."

There are bound to be some infelicitous matches in a book that is arranged alphabetically, such as the pages shared by Robert Mangold's hot, geometric Four Color Frame Painting No. 1, 1983, and Andrea Mantegna's profoundly reverent Dead Christ, 1480. And Rosalba Carriera's portraits look decidedly meretricious across from those of the masterful Mary Cassatt. But all in all, this is a page-turner with brief captions that offer guidance to any reader in search of the telling note that draws one to a work of art, whatever its era, style, size, or subject. --Martha Hardin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The world's favorite nun-cum-art historian returns this season with two surveys of great art, both emphasizing mostly Western painting since the Italian Renaissance. As one might guess from the titles, the DK compendium is the larger book. It follows a format familiar from Phaidon's The Art Book: each page displays image and text representing a single artist, and the alphabetical arrangement by artists' names results in some illuminating, and some annoying, juxtapositions. Where The Art Book maintained one picture per page amid a rigorous structure with plenty of white space, 1000 Masterpieces lives up to its numerical claim by placing two gems to a page and varying sizes and text blocks to cram in as much information as possible. The space is tight, and the text is little more than extended captions with the Sister's piquant observations on content and meaning. Surprisingly, Sister Wendy makes no attempt to extend the text in her more generously formatted album of "favorites" from Abrams, yet she does achieve greater variety in the smaller number of works. Some sculpture, a few Asian works, and even a porcelain cup and saucer are included among these apparently more personal choices. Indeed, many of the Sister's favorites do not make the cut for 1000 Masterpieces, pointing up the vagaries of her selection processAin each book's short introductions (the only writing other than the captions), she simply declares how difficult the choosing was. In any case, both books well fulfill their purpose as introductory appreciations, and both will be popular with Sister Wendy's many fans. For sheer size, 1000 Masterpieces is a fine choice for libraries, while My Favorite Things may be better suited to gift-giving.AEric Bryant, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Enjoy the beautifully reproduced paintings and pick your own favorite works..
Robyn Lee Markow
This absolutely is be the best book you could ever buy for someone who needs an introduction to great art.
A. Stephens
This is my umpteenth art book, and it is by far the most enjoyable and informative.
fs

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

128 of 143 people found the following review helpful By "trentcc" on October 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
It would be hard to argue that, whether you love her or hate her, Sister Wendy has probably had more impact than anyone else on shaping what the wide, non-specialist audiences know about art. In spite of being a mega hit, her last best seller "The Story of Painting" has sometimes been criticized for its naiveté, and [perhaps rightly so] for too little scholarship, and far too much touchy-feely stuff. And yet, it was this combination of direct, and unabashedly personal take on art, along with DK's splendid reproductions, and accessible "perfect X-mas gift" pricing, that made Sister Wendy's book and TV series a well-deserved runaway success [and my students' favorite]. She was so different, so irritating, and yet strangely likeable, all at once. Now DK is back with another lavish Sister Wendy production, just in time for yet another X-mas season. Sorry to say it, but this one is sort of a dud. Arranged alphabetically like an encyclopedia or a dictionary, but far form encyclopedic depth, discipline, precision, or detail, this sizeable book crams 1000 reproductions on its by now regular-fare DK pages. It is an impressive, if odd collection, and yet, despite all this dazzling lavishness and colorful fireworks there is more glitter than substance here and, alas, all Sister Wendy's oddball charm and likeability are gone for good too. Sure, it's a nice coffee-table book, and at this price, with literally 1000 decent [not great] reproductions it's certainly a bargain. But the necessarily short sound bites that accompany most paintings are often banal, always shallow, and sometimes of arguably questionable interpretive accuracy [e.g. Frida Kahlo piece]. The text is hardly worth reading, having none of its predecessor's charm, coherence, and gusto.Read more ›
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 29, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is a collection of the most beautiful reproductions and is a must-have for anyone who loves art. The comments are brief but insightful, but it is the quality of the art that makes the collection outstanding. At the price it's a steal.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I love this book. The reproductions are fantastic, and although I don't always agree with the choice of artists and paintings (no two people could), it is undeniably a staggering array of great art. I cannot recommend this highly enough: it is the perfect single-volume work for anyone who wants an introduction to some of the world's greatest paintings.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A simply enjoyable book for those of us that appreciate art but do not have the time nor the resources to devote much time to it. One can sit down and just study one or two pictures and feel the sense of the picture. I have found my 13 year old paging through it at times and studying the pictures. I don't think I could get her to read too many other art books. Sister Wendy's reviews give us a place to start to think about what the artist was trying to achieve. Perhaps having this book in the home will lead to a greater interest and study. But, if not, it will surely make one appreciate the diversity and beauty of the art world over the centuries.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By magellan HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I have to say right off that I enjoyed sister Wendy's The Story of Art more. The writing was better and I found her descriptions of the different art works much more exciting and occasionally even inspired. In this book the descriptions seemed more mechanical and less interesting. It's still not a bad book, though, and sister Wendy's books on art are a relatively painless way for someone without any previous art knowledge to get at least an introduction and a basic background in the field before going on to more advanced works.

Sister Wendy not being a traditional academic, perhaps, I understand her intepretations have been criticized for their less than stellar scholarship, but I've read many dozens of books on art in the past, perhaps hundreds, ranging from coffee table picture books like this to very technical, scholarly works, and much of the information is similar to what I encountered there. But sometimes her interpretations are her own and not necessarily the accepted ones, and you should be aware of that.

But in an area as big and difficult and confusing as art history, one can't read one coffee-table book and expect to have a real grasp of the subject. The best way to use sister Wendy's books is as a stepping stone to get your feet wet, and then to progress to more advanced reading. In learning to understand a painting for example, you're really trying to become a visual thinker just like the artist was, and to understand at least the basic principles of color, texture, shape and form, perspective and space, design, and overall composition, that the artist uses and manipulates when he paints a picture.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
While presenting the subject in a serious light, Sister Wendy's approach to the evaluation and critique of art in this publication is both refreshing and entertaining. Sure, some of the more 'popular' Masterpieces are not addressed, but then it does not purport to be the all encompassing reference from A-Z. Her digression from the pathway of the pure academic is what makes the volume a pleasure to read and view; her comments stirring the imagination. The book is a veritable treasure of art and commentary and the photographic reproduction is absolutely superb. I have no hesitation in recommending this publication; even those for whom art is a bore will find this book interesting.
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