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A short decent introduction to the Durer but nothing more (3.5 stars)
on May 15, 2015
Any review of this book would have to start by mentioning that it is part of Taschen Publisher’s “Basic Art” series. As such it is short at 96 pages (roughly a third of which consists of illustrations, primarily Durer’s most well-known works). Hence if one is looking for an academic tome this is not the book to purchase. The real question to ask is, how well does it serve as an introduction to Durer?
The main drawback of the book is that Durer was incredibly prolific. Hence the book is unable to touch upon many of even his most famous works. Books in the “Basic Art” series tend to do quite well when covering artists with a relatively short portfolios. Examples include those on Hieronymus Bosch or Brugel the Elder, both of whom had, roughly, 40 or so identified works associated with them. This is not surprising considering the restraints imposed by the short length of the books in the series. Durer, unfortunately for the format’s short length, produced hundreds of works. The book does a decent introduction at introducing the reader to some of his major works but, due to its limitations, that is about all it can do.
The book does a decent introduction at providing a biography of the artist (where born, his travels, what other artists inspired him, etc.). However it falls short on covering Durer’s unique “style” and how it differed from his contemporaries. The book also has very good illustrations. These are definitely not of a par found in museum quality books costing $50, $100 or more but then again the “Basic Art” series are priced at only about $10. For that price range the illustrations are unchallenged in quality.
In short, a decent introduction to the artist’s life and his most important works but nothing more than that.