Art History For Dummies

Art History For Dummies

by Jesse Bryant Wilder


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Art history is more than just a collection of dates and foreign-sounding names, obscure movements and arcane isms. Every age, for the last 50,000 years has left its unique imprint on the world, and from the first cave paintings to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, from the Byzantine mosaics of the Hagia Sophia, to the graffiti-inspired paintings of Jean-Michel Basquiat, art history tells the story of our evolving notions of who and what we are and our place in the universe.

Whether you’re an art enthusiast who’d like to know more about the history behind your favorite works and artists, or somebody who couldn’t tell a Titian and a De Kooning—but would like to—Art History For Dummies is for you. It takes you on a tour of thirty millennia of artistic expression, covering the artistic movements, major artists, and indispensable masterworks, and the world events and cultural trends that helped spawn them. With the help of stunning black-and-white photos throughout, and a sixteen-page gallery of color images, it covers:

  • The rise and fall of classical art in Greece and Rome
  • The differences between Renaissance art and Mannerism
  • How the industrial revolution spawned Romanticism
  • How and why Post-Impression branched off from Impressionism
  • Constructivism, Dadaism, Surrealism and other 20th century isms
  • What’s up with today’s eclectic art scene

Art History For Dummies is an unbeatable reference for anyone who wants to understand art in its historical context.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780470099100
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 05/07/2007
Series: For Dummies Series
Pages: 456
Sales rank: 203,958
Product dimensions: 7.40(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Jesse Bryant Wilder holds a MAT (Masters in Teaching) and a MA in Literature and is the founder, publisher and editor of NEXUS, a series of interdisciplinary textbooks used in high schools around the country. He has written several textbooks on art and art history and was an art critic for the Plain Dealer.

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Table of Contents


Part I: Mankind in the Looking Glass: Art History 101.

Chapter 1: Art Tour through the Ages.

Chapter 2: Why People Make Art and What It All Means.

Chapter 3: The Major Artistic Periods and Movements.

Part II: From Caves to Colosseum: Ancient Art.

Chapter 4: Magical Hunters and Psychedelic Cave Artists.

Chapter 5: Fickle Gods, Warrior Art, and the Birth of Writing: Mesopotamian Art.

Chapter 6: One Foot in the Tomb: Ancient Egyptian Art.

Chapter 7: Greek Art, the Olympian Ego, and the Inventors of the Modern World.

Chapter 8: Etruscan and Roman Art: It’s All Greek to Me!

Part III: Art after the Fall of Rome: a.d. 500–a.d. 1760.

Chapter 9: The Graven Image: Early Christian, Byzantine, and Islamic Art.

Chapter 10: Mystics, Marauders, and Manuscripts: Medieval Art.

Chapter 11: Born-Again Culture: The Early and High Renaissance.

Chapter 12: Venetian Renaissance, Late Gothic, and the Renaissance in the North.

Chapter 13: Art That’ll Stretch Your Neck: Mannerism.

Chapter 14: When the Renaissance Went Baroque.

Chapter 15: Going Loco with Rococo.

Part IV: The Industrial Revolution and Artistic Devolution: 1760–1900.

Chapter 16: All Roads Lead Back to Rome and Greece: Neoclassical Art.

Chapter 17: Romanticism: Reaching Within and Acting Out.

Chapter 18: What You See Is What You Get: Realism.

Chapter 19: First Impressions: Impressionism.

Chapter 20: Making Their Own Impression: The Post-Impressionists.

Part V: Twentieth-Century Art and Beyond.

Chapter 21: From Fauvism to Expressionism.

Chapter 22: Cubist Puzzles and Finding the Fast Lane with the Futurists.

Chapter 23: What You See Is What You Don’t Get: From Nonobjective Art to Abstract Expressionism.

Chapter 24: Anything-Goes Art: Fab Fifties and Psychedelic Sixties.

Chapter 25: Photography: From a Science to an Art.

Chapter 26: The New World: Postmodern Art.

Part VI: The Part of Tens.

Chapter 27: Ten Must-See Art Museums.

Chapter 28: Ten Great Books by Ten Great Artists.

Chapter 29: Ten Brushstrokes That Shook the World.

Appendix: Online Resources.


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Art History for Dummies 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jesse Wilders 'Art History for Dummies', for me, is a revelation. Art history, to my surprise, can be written clearly, concisely, perceptively and with wit. It's a joy to read. It's fun to peruse. It's 434 pages are divided into 29 chapters, an appendix and an index of about 1500 entries make it easy to use as a reference book. It covers art, photography and architecture from the cave drawings to the present. The informative text is sprinkled with anecdotes, cartoons, asides and tips. The 200 or so (I didn't count them) illustrations of the paintings and photographs of art and architecture (25 are in high quality color) are carefully chosen to illustrate the matter being discussed. The author often picks less well known examples to add interest and diversity to his book. (But the good old Mona Lisa and the Pantheon are there too.) Art criticism writing is often as pompous and impenetrable as philosophy. But not this book. It was a labor of love, I think. It should be considered as as a High School text and (perhaps with a different cover and title) colleges. All public libraries can afford to have a copy or two. I recommend it highly.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Some facts are wrong. Lame.