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The Art Museum

59 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0714856520
ISBN-10: 0714856525
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Editorial Reviews


"Unprecedented, unique, and vast in scope, this visually spectacular survey of world art belongs in large public, academic, and special libraries. Destined to delight, inspire, and educate, as well as become an invaluable classic, art reference resource, it is very highly recommended."- Library Journal Starred Review

"A category killer. Packed with 3,000 large illustrations of the world's greatest artworks."- VOGUE

"The dream collection. . .The appeal of having 3,000 years of masterpieces at your fingertips is obvious."- Art & Auction

"If this [The Art Museum] were a real museum and not just a book, there would hardly be need for another."- NPR's "All Things Considered"

"If the world's best curators could create a collection containing every notable work for all time, its catalog would resemble The Art Museum."- Conde Nast Traveler

"It's an original and compelling concept: a book conceived and organized to resemble a museum - one that happens to take readers on a tour of art history from King Tut to Jackson Pollack and beyond."- Worth magazine

"The 2,500 works that really matter in 1,000 stunning pages."- Reader's Digest

"The monster of all Christmas art books, this year and maybe for a while. . .this tome is chock-full of things you don't often see reproduced on this scale, and other things you may not even know about and will love on sight."- The New York Times

". . .as in an actual museum, once you plunge into its 990-some pages, you risk getting lost. So turn off the stove, walk the dog, and text the kids before you spend the evening looking at vase paintings and no one hears from you again."- Town & Country

". . .an astonishing book. . .an exciting, nearly perfect collection of the greatest visual art in human history. . .The scope of the book encourages readers to make unexpected connections, as when rooms devoted to African masks and carvings usher us into a section on the Cubists, hinting at the affinities between the two."- BookPage

"If someone asks you, 'What is art?' you could launch into a lecture. Or you could just hand them this battering ram of a book."- Entertainment Weekly

"An encyclopedic art museum between covers, with "permanent" holdings for some 3,000 creme-de-la-creme objects appropriated from collections around the globe."- Holland Cotter for The New York Times Book Review

"The boldest publishing experiment of 2011."- NPR

"Not only does The Art Museum showcase rarely seen works from private collections, it also benefits from the wisdom of 65 of the world's most respected curators and art historians. . .this extensive compendium is easy to digest."- The Washington Post

". . .you couldn't give a more impressive gift. . .Imagine some ten-year-old getting lost in it over Christmas."- Blake Gopnik for The Daily

"An astonishing book?an exciting, nearly perfect collection of the greatest visual art in human history."- Bookpage

". . .the most colossal and ambitious publication in the field. . .Indeed, it has some of the characteristics of a real museum, among them an invitation to wander on and on. . .Recommended."- Bloomberg News

"Like a world-class museum that fits on a coffee table."-

"Planning a trip to Paris to visit the Louvre? Headed to New York City for a tour of the MoMA? Cancel those plans. All you need is The Art Museum."- The National Post, Canada

". . .the book is a perfect crash course for art-world novices and a collectible for experts."-

About the Author

Conceived and edited by Phaidon editors, with a consulting global team of specialists in all fields of art.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 992 pages
  • Publisher: Phaidon Press (October 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0714856525
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714856520
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.5 x 17 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 18.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,123 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

165 of 165 people found the following review helpful By L. Schattman on October 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book for my library, and rather than immediately putting it on the shelves, I have left it out, opened to a different page each day. As I had hoped, everyone who passes stops to look!

This book is noteworthy not only for its large format and myriad illustrations, but for its global coverage. In addition to the "western civilization" art, it includes Native American, Asian, African, and Oceanic art. It begins with cave art and goes through the 20th century, featuring paintings, murals, frescoes, architectural details, sculpture, ceramics, textiles, jewelry, masks, and more. The breadth of coverage is outstanding. It's also wonderful to be able to see together items that are held by museums in different countries.

The image quality is very good. (I wouldn't call it superb: the colors of some seem a little off, and a few aren't as sharp as I expect from Phaidon, but they are definitely very good.) There are many full-page images, and quite a few two-page spreads (for example: the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel). For the price, and particularly given the challenges of photographing many of these works, the quality is astonishing.

I highly recommend this book for any library with an art section, and for anyone who loves art. It's a rare treat to see this many works, this well photographed, all in one volume.
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By CtotheC on November 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Art: Over 2,500 Works vs. The Art Museum

I purchased both "Art: Over 2,500 Works from Cave to Contemporary" (hereby referred to as "Art") from DK Publishing and "The Art Museum" from Phaidon Press, and found them to be very different books. In summary, if you are looking for a reference book, get "Art;" if you are looking for a visual guide, get "The Art Museum." If you are just looking for a single art book, get "Art."

If you drop "Art" at 7lbs., you won't necessarily bend the corners of the cover, and you can kind of awkwardly carry the book in your arms or in your lap. With "The Art Museum" at 18lbs., you will most certainly bend the corners of the cover if you do drop it, and you will need to read this book on a large, clear surface.

The paper of the pages of "Art" almost feel twice as thick of "The Art Museum," with "Art" having more of a glossy finish, while "The Art Museum" is more of a matte finish. This makes the pictures of "The Art Museum" a little easier to look at, at the cost of durability. Because the weight of the paper in "Art," this seems a much more hardy book. With "The Art Museum," I have to be extremely careful that I do not tear or crease the pages as I leaf through the book.

Hands-down, "The Art Museum" has done a much better job in reproducing the original colors of the artworks. "Art's" pictures, when comparing the same paintings, seem washed-out and under-saturated. And as written by other reviewers, without a doubt, the pictures in "Art" are far too small to be of any real aesthetic use. The large format of "The Art Museum" allows pictures to be seen in far more detail than in "Art," as "The Art Museum's pictures are generally four times as large as those found in "Art.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Amy Y. TOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Okay, maybe not, but this is the closest you will ever come. I'm not a big coffee table book person but when I came across this on a friend's coffee table, I had to get one of my own. It is a ginormous book at almost 3 inches thick and nearly 20 lbs but it is full of the most amazing art from what appears to be almost every age. I love the capturing of the brilliant, velvety colors of the pre-Raphaelite artists and the feeling the authors give that one is actually travelling through the world's largest, most complete, elite museum. There is such an education to be had in this book about art, life, history- you can literally see the growth and transition from period to period as you 'walk' through The Art Museum.

I think the collection captured is eclectic enough to be interesting and inspiring even to those who know a great deal about art and the information presented alongside the pieces will provide gratification to those who are more unfamiliar with the various periods of art history represented.

This is a dream book for someone who wishes they could travel the entire world and see examples of all times and types of art or maybe it will entice others to actually do so- it certainly has made me want to change my vacation plans for, oh, the next twenty years or so. If you can't travel to Rome or Paris at the drop of the hat to visit art museums, this is the next best thing.

Like other Phaidon Press books, I look forward to sharing this with my children over the years. It will surely stand the test of time and be passed down someday. Another example of why we still can't do without 'real' books- this brings art alive in a way that I think no electronic format could.
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102 of 131 people found the following review helpful By sleeps9hours on November 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I rarely buy books anymore. I figure the public library can hook me up for free and has a lot more storage space than I do. But the combination of savvy marketing by Phaidon, a recent one-day, 50%-off sale at an online bookstore, and $75 of unnamed bookstore's credit sitting in my wallet brought this beast into my possession this week. I was totally taken in by the scope of the project. Who wouldn't after reading this:

"It is the most comprehensive and visually spectacular history of world art ever published. Ten years in the making, this unique book was created with a global team of 100 specialists in art history, who have collected together important works as they might be displayed in the ideal museum for the art lover."

Now that I have it though, I'm thinking of returning it. It is humongous, I mean seriously mammoth, and very heavy, I'm not even sure where to put it. The paper is pretty thin so it's not one for the kids to look at alone. I imagined many hours of pouring through it together, but it's not easy to leaf through because of its size, and again, I think it could be easily torn. My kids love Janson's (much less) huge History of Art, and The Art Musuem has more range, more pictures, bigger pictures, but it's unwieldy. Also, because so much is packed in--30,000 years of art, many mediums, spanning the globe--it is a very brief treatment for each section. For instance, impressionism is covered in 12 pages, minimalism another 12. In addition, though the picture quality and color is okay, I expected to be more impressed by it. As an odd side-note, the book emits an unpleasant chemical smell, I assume from the printing process. The text is also incredibly sparse, pretty much just identifying the works and giving very brief descriptions of movements.
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