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The Art Museum Hardcover – October 17, 2011
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"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 Beast.com
"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."- USAnetwork.com
"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."- ELLE.com
About the Author
Conceived and edited by Phaidon editors, with a consulting global team of specialists in all fields of art.
Top customer reviews
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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.
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." But there is at least one place where you can see even higher resolution pictures without visiting the museum: The Internet (see Conclusion, below).
CONTENT & LAYOUT
"Art" is a better book for the layman, as specific techniques of artists and interesting points of a piece of art are highlighted and described visually, while "The Art Museum" assumes that you already know these things, or describes them only in text. For example, in Hans Holbein the Younger's "The Ambassadors," "The Art Museum" tells you that it uses anamorphosis, without telling you what anamorphosis is; "Art" describes the technique. Additionally, "Art" uses callouts to point to a place of interest in a work of art, rather than in plain text as found in, "The Art Museum."
"Art" does several other things well that "The Art Museum" does not. "Art" has a timeline describing each period of history, so you can see when the Baroque period lined with the Qing Dynasty, giving you a more global view of art. "Art" also breaks down each period into genres and sub-genres, like Baroque on the left margins, and Dutch Baroque or French Baroque on the right margins.
"The Art Museum" lays out each genre of art into rooms like a museum, and generally, the historical description of the genre is superior of what is found in "Art." However, the font used by "The Art Museum" bothers me quite a bit, as sometimes there seems to be not enough space after a period, so it looks like a run-on sentence. If you're just looking to browse, "The Art Museum" may be fine; if you're looking to see how each period coincides with the others and understand how the genres and sub-genres are classified, "Art" is superior.
Neither book does a super great job of selecting the masterpieces of every artist, as they do tend to miss some obvious choices, as stated in other reviews. I am more disappointed in "The Art Museum," because with being "unrestricted by the constraints of physical space," I am appalled when I see masterpieces and artists in "Art" that are not included in "The Art Museum," as the latter is billed to be more comprehensive. This is where "The Art Museum" fails me the most. For example:
1) In "The Art Museum," Johannes Vermeer's masterpiece, "Girl with a Pearl Earring," is not even mentioned, while it is in "Art."
2) In "The Art Museum," there is no mention of Frans Hals, where he is described in "Art."
3) In "Art," not a single one of Claude Monet's landscape "Water Lilies" are shown or mentioned, which I found extremely odd, but will give "Art" more of a pass because it is one-fourth the volume of "The Art Museum," and "Art" does have "The Water Lilly Pond."
Both books are heavy on Western art, light on most anything else. "Art" has about six pages devoted to Chinese art. "The Art Museum" has twenty pages but also include Japanese and Korean art. It should be noted that Chinese art history spans roughly 4,000 years, and only gets about 1-2% coverage in either book.
Neither "Art: Over 2,500 Works from Cave to Contemporary" nor "The Art Museum" are bad books. Both will work fine on your coffee table. "The Art Museum," with its massive size, will be more impressive, though "Art" is a more useful piece of work. If you want something pretty, get "The Art Museum." If you want something utilitarian, get "Art." This is assuming that the price doesn't matter to you.
If you do get "Art," the recommendation is to have a tablet (Windows 8, iPad) close by, so that you can look up the pictures in finer detail on Bing Images or Google Images, which, in many cases, will be at a higher quality than in a published book.
In conclusion, I've found that the best art book in the world is still, without a doubt, Wikipedia.
I find some of the reasons that people give for their low ratings laughable: The book is BIG and Heavy. Don't they read the description of the book BEFORE buying it? It tells you it is almost 1,000 pages, is almost 18 x 14 x 3 inches in size and weighs over 17 pounds. The paper is not heavy enough (this from the same person complaining about the weight of the book), she was worried about her son tearing the pages. If he is that young should he be looking at an art book unsupervised, especially one that weighs 17 Lbs.? I found the paper quite sturdy enough (for humans).
Another is that the colors are not true to the original art work. DUH! For a book that contains nearly 1,000 pages showing over 2,000 works and lists for only $125.00, what did you expect???????? You can get art books in limited editions, where the publisher will check the printed proofs against the originals and color correct them but they are usually limited to a single artist or even a single group of work from an artist and cost anywhere from several hundred dollars to several thousand. Taschen and Folio Society do this.
Some complained about a "chemical smell". The only smell that came off my edition is the smell of the semi-gloss paper and the printing ink. They may just have very acute sense of smell and find the aromas offensive.
This book is good for what it is, a collection of photos of works that appear in many museum collections and gives you a chance to see many works that you may never get a chance to see in person. the photos are large enough to enjoy on the printed page.
If you want to see some nice representation of almost ALL available art work in the world, you can use a good computer and a large high resolution monitor and go to the internet. If you want a book showing a large group of famous art works, this is a good choice.