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on January 8, 2002
Because my first copy from 1968 is dog-eared and worn, I am back to purchase a second copy of Theories of Modern Art by Herschel B. Chipp. Originally, the book was required reading for a college course I took in Philosopy of Art. It is replete with insights into the thoughts and processes of making art by the giants of modern art and their critics, in the form of original quotes and letters. The various schools of art are represented, i.e. post-impressionism, symbolism and other subjective tendencies, fauvism and expressionism, cubism, futurism, neo-plasticism and constructivism, dada, surrealism and contemporary art (including both the Americans and Europeans). One comes away from this book with the feeling of knowing the artists personally. I highly recommend this source book to which you will find yourself returning, as to an old friend, as I have, time after time.
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on May 19, 2002
Even if you are not interested in the arts but simply in thought process- I think you will find this book very interesting. You could say this is the history of modern art without pictures (although there are some pictures)- bringing the reader facinating insights into how different types of artists came to their philosophies of art, and of course, the world. Documented through personal letters, manifestos, and articles, the varity of different thoughts and beliefs catapolts just what art can be. To me it shows that art is a never ending universe of ideas- all connecting but all very individual just the same.
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on December 6, 2006
The beauty of this book is that so many letters, reviews, interviews etc. about/by so many artists are conveniently gathered in one place. On the whole, there isn't anything in here that you can't find elsewhere, such as in biographies of the individual artists. For example the letters contained in the opening section on "Post-Impressionism" from both Cezanne and Van Gogh are included in just about every biography on them.

The over-riding reason for buying this book is that so many are collected together. So, even for an artist that you might not like enough to go out and buy their biography, atleast you get an insight in to their thoughts/motives etc. In some cases this may spark your interest in a previously less favoured artist and appreciate their works from a new perspective.

Chipp covers all the main "isms" of modern art from Post-Impressionism (Cezanne) onwards. Each movement opens with a treatise detailing the main theories/artists/concepts/techniques that made it unique. This is followed by a comprehensive selection of articles/letters/interviews etc. concerning the main players i.e. the section of Expressionism includes writings from Nolde, Kandinsky, Kokoschka, Kirchner, Marc, Klee and Beckmann. One of my favourite pieces is by Stuart Davis. He's responding to a critic's recent review..."in your review you speak of your enthusiasm for my work and call me a "swell American painter". This attitude on your part I heartily approve, but you further state that my style is French and that if Picasso had never lived I would have had to think out a style of my own. Now is that nice Mr. McBride?" and off Davis goes in his defence. Superb.

Rather than reading about these various "isms" via the well meaning but often biased views of a expert art historian, here you get the views from the artists themselves.

For any art historians dealing with the modern art period this book has to be essential. And for general appreciators of art, as well as artists themselves, this book contains a wealth of information, and pays dividends to both intense study or just random browsing.

Since it's first publication in 1968 this book has formed the foundation of any respectable art library. I just checked the bibliography of more recent books on art history - this book is referenced extensively. In my opinion, if anyone is looking for an interesting and enjoyable introduction to the world of "Modern Art" they could do a lot worse than start here. And given the way that any one "ism" owes it's existence to the "isms" that came before it*, this almost reads like a novel.

*Regardless of Dali's utterances about Surrealism being a unique movement, unfounded by anything that came before, just go and have a look at the works of Hieronymous Bosch to see that wasn't the case.

Recommended!
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on June 4, 2004
Not only educational, but inspiring. I not only learned about each artist and what when on during their time of certain artworks, but I was able to get inside their head. The words of the artist's in their letters were captivating. I was caught up in the reading. I especially enjoyed Matisse and Kandinsky. Kandinsky is very spiritual about his writing and gives a deep explanation of colors. Anyway, it is a great read. It was required for my history course, but I enjoyed it. Not very many in my class could understand what they were reading. I guess you not only need intellect, but sophistication. I liked it!
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on October 3, 2009
This is a great collection of letters and written papers by many famous artists. Easy to read, very insightful. Great way to learn what the artists themselves actually thought about their works. You will find writings from Van Gogh to Willem De Kooning.
If you want to familiarize yourself with the works of many Modern artists, this is a good place to start. Theories of Modern Art: A Source Book by Artists and Critics (California Studies in the History of Art)
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on May 28, 2015
I first found this book in my school library and I kept it a few months overdue because I loved everything about it so much. And being the selfish high schooler that I was, and probably still am, I was actually about to make the loss payment and keep the book for my own. But then I realized how broke I was, like forget about morals and the unwritten laws of borrowing things, I wanted to keep this book. No one in high school would even dare touch a book about modern art anyway so this book can disappear from the shelves of the library and no one would care. Anyways, seeing that the book payment was nearly 30 dollars and knowing that I don't even have five dollars for a chicken sandwich, I decided to throw the fish back in the sea and search online for a cheaper copy. Used or torn, I didn't care, I was yearning for my fish. So then I came here, and saw this amazing deal, the best actually. A used book for $0.76, you would assume that this book is in terrible condition when you compare 76 cents to 30 dollars but when I opened the package after it arrived at my front porch, my jaw dropped because it exceeded my expectations. No tears, watermarks, folded pages or even pen marks. It was pristine. Honestly, I was expecting some torn up piece of ratchet with only some legible content. Such a prize, this is. This is obviously no guppy fish. This is freaking catching a gargantuan marlin with half a worm on your hook. And as I stood there, winning on cloud 9, my vision began to fog up with money signs. I am beyond satisfied.
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on November 26, 2015
This was one of my favorite books from when I was in college art history class. Mine was so overly used that I ordered another one for me and one for a friend. The best part about this book is that it contains writings by the artists themselves as well as critics of the period. I highly recommend it to others.
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on February 24, 2013
I wish all other art theory books will be like this. This is the first one I read and it gave me a good grasp of the concepts dated from Impressionism until Modern Art of today. The writing style and artistic interpretation of the author are superb. The quotation from the artists themselves lends valuable insights into what the artists were thinking.

(I would have given it 5 stars had it not been a) the Phoenix hot summer weather just melted the glue holding sections of the book away, I think it gave the book its unexpected character.. and b) I like to see more graphics and in color). Also from these 2 defects which are subjective and in no way lessen the essence of the book, I recommend this book.
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on May 23, 2003
How often had I looked at a painting of Van Gough and wondered what exactly was this great man thinking when he conceived and painted such a picture. Now by reading thru this excellent book, I can claw into the mind of artists themselves.
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on October 2, 2013
This is an insightful and detailed analysis of the processes and development of modern art---lots of quotes, letters etc.of artists, critics, and peers. Excellent resource for the serious art historian.
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