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Art as Therapy [Hardcover]

Alain de Botton , John Armstrong , The School of Life
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

14 Oct 2013
There is widespread agreement that art is 'very important' - but it can be remarkably hard to say quite why. Yet if art is to enjoy its privileges, it has to be able to demonstrate its relevance in understandable ways to the widest possible audience. Alain de Botton and John Armstrong have a firm belief that art can help us with our most intimate and ordinary dilemmas, asking: What can I do about the difficulties in my relationships? Why is my work not more satisfying? Why do other people seem to have a more glamorous life? Why is politics so depressing?

The purpose of this book is to introduce a new method of interpreting art: art as a form of therapy. It's the authors' contention that certain art works provide powerful solutions to our problems, but that in order for this potential to be released, the audience's attention has to be directed towards it in a new way (which they demonstrate), rather than towards the more normal historical or stylistic concerns with which art books and museum captions are traditionally associated.

The authors propose that the squeamish belief that art should be 'for art's sake' has unnecessarily held back art from revealing its latent therapeutic potential. This book involves reframing and recontextualising a series of art works from across the ages and genres, so that they can be approached as tools for the resolution of difficult issues in individual life.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Phaidon Press (14 Oct 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0714865915
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714865911
  • Product Dimensions: 27.7 x 21.3 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 13,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

a highly optimistic vision…roams widely through subjects as immense as love, nature, money and politics. De Botton and Armstrong's examination of love is most rewardingRoyal Academy of Arts

Asking the questions that always swirl through your mind when striding around Tate Modern [ … ] Art as Therapy [ … ] massages the mind in all the right placesVanity Fair on Art

...like going back to college, but in a good way. … a little bit like dipping in to a modern day Gombrich albeit through the eyes of Oprah … a really entertaining and thought-provoking look at the role that art plays – or could play – in our lives. [ … ] Part philosophy, part art history, the book takes work that is considered by many to be lofty and rarified, and relates it to our everyday lives. [Art as Therapy] makes the reader consider the work far more intensely and deeply than perhaps we otherwise would.A Little Bird

A true meditation on the power art has to transform our lives.The Mayfair Magazine

The beautifully designed and illustrated book, Art as Therapy argues for a new way of using art to help us with a variety of psychological ills.The School of Life

About the Author

Alain de Botton (b.1969) is the author of bestselling books in more than 30 countries, including The Consolations of Philosophy, How Proust Can Change Your Life, Status Anxiety, and, most recently, Religion for Atheists. He founded The School of Life in London in 2008, which supplies good ideas for everyday life in the form of courses, classes, workshops and talks. In 2009 he founded Living Architecture, which aims to make high-quality architecture accessible to everyone.

John Armstrong (b.1966) is a British philosopher and art historian based at Melbourne University. He is the author of five well-received books, including The Intimate Philosophy of Art, Conditions of Love: The Philosophy of Intimacy, and In Search of Civilisation: Remaking a Tarnished Idea.


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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good guide 19 May 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A great book for dipping into, I keep it by my bed. A wise book too. You don't have to agree with everything the authors say - that's the joy of it - it's provocative and inspires a personal response. The authors are NOT telling you what to think and feel as some critics have stated. They help you to see what the artist - or more accurately the artefact - may be getting at. I now visit galleries with greater confidence in my own ability to interpret and appreciate what I'm looking at. Another bonus is that it has inspired me to go and see some pictures I might previously have ignored or dismissed. It's a mind-opener!
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just brilliant. 27 Dec 2013
Format:Hardcover
It is the end of the year and I close the year with a book I just finished and cannot stop talking or thinking about - "Art as Therapy" by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong. May be a lot of people know Alain and are aware of what and how he writes and then there are others who are yet to discover his style and works. I envy the latter set of people. They are so lucky to discover his works and his line of thought. At the same time, because this book is co-written, it is always good to see another perspective, in this case of John Armstrong.

Alain de Botton according to me is a master at what he does - he integrates human behaviour across a range of topics and we have witnessed that through his works. "Art as Therapy" on the other hand is a different matter altogether.

"Art as Therapy" speaks of art in the manner, which is accessible to everyone. It is not about wine glasses in hand and appreciating something on the wall, and acting all pretentious. It is about nonetheless, life and how we live art and also sometimes its therapeutic and redeeming nature in our lives. The bigger question that the book seeks to answer is: What is art's purpose? What does it do or not do for humans? Why is it needed at all?

In this book, de Botton covers different aspects of life through art - love, nature, money, and politics and how art acts as a catalyst to solve the daily worries of life. A photograph then becomes more than a photograph. A painting then becomes something that you connect with so strongly, that you can never let go. Alain looks at everyday problems, everyday issues and uses art to solve them. May be solve is an incorrect term here, he uses art to get an understanding of life and then perhaps cure the soul.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a beautiful, thought provoking book 21 Nov 2013
By markr TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a really beautiful book, with many photographic plates of works of art - mainly paintings but including architecture, sculpture, and photography too. Throughout the authors argue that the value of art is in the effect it has on us, its viewers, and on how art can help us to understand and share hope, sorrow, and much else that makes up human life experience.

This is not a book only for the those who love the arts - it is also very much a book for those of us who are interested in the human condition and how we can better appreciate the joys and sorrows of our lives and all that surrounds us.

A genuinely beautiful book - presented in high quality, with thought provoking and informative narrative which supplements and explains the illustrations maginificently.

Superb
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely fantastic - for ANYONE! 11 Nov 2013
By RCB6219
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is amazing, the title doesn't really do it justice at all. This is a book that anyone who has ever looked at anything and thought, that's nice, will really enjoy. It is a beautiful, thoughtful and intriguing insight into how we relate and think about it art. And how to feel okay about the art YOU like and not what someone else else tells you should. This book is not 'for those in the know' about Art, if anything, it's for everyone else BUT the experts. I thoroughly reccommend it. I will be buying many many more copies for friends.
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The book is intelligently and elegantly written and provides original insights on the functions of Art. A beautiful feature of the book is the excellent photographs which illustrate magnificently the points raised in the text. Its central thesis is that the main beneficiary of Art should be the beholder that is the individual experiencing the specific work of Art as opposed to prevailing ideas which relate to the motives and aims of the artist in the process of its creation or the context and era during which a work of Art was created.

The book is organized in five broad groups namely Methodology, Love, Nature, Money, and Politics while each group is divided in sections and subsections.

Already in Methodology we are intimated with the seven functions of Art which can impact on the individual and improve his human condition comprising remembering,hope, sorrow, re balancing, self-understanding, growth, and appreciation.

The authors further argue that Art is not confined on its benefits on the individual but more broadly on society and through collective action to potentially enhancing the quality of civic life.

The enduring feeling while reading the book was that elegant thought, elegant argument, and elegant philosophical disposition were employed in arguing the case of Art in improving the human condition.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommend
Beautiful book, and the authors' perspective was compelling and through-provoking. It was not what I expected, and I was very pleasantly surprised. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jennifer
5.0 out of 5 stars Art as therapy indeed
Lovely book to have at home, for reading and re-reading. Very happy to have it! Delivery was flawless, got the book on time and in excellent condition.
Published 5 months ago by Anca Claudia Pana
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic.
A beautiful book, aesthetically very pleasing.
Interesting theory, well written without being pompous. Articulate, yet not verbose. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Published 5 months ago by Thomas George Clarke
3.0 out of 5 stars Art is also for dodging around and masquerading?
I haven't finished reading this book yet. However, though I do find it useful and enlightening I also have my reservations. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Sally Burdyke
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - All Art Gallery Curators Should Read This
If you've ever been to an art gallery and left feeling uninspired, confused and wondering why the art is there, then this book is for you. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Mark E Spark
4.0 out of 5 stars Gift
This was purchased as a gift therefore this is a review of the purchase conditions only not the contents. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Janice Neale
5.0 out of 5 stars Ideal Gift for Art Lovers
Purchased as a Christmas Present for a relative who is recovering from a long illness. Many years ago he attended Art College and has spent his life as a Graphic Designer. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Keith.
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
This is book to dip into and so I cannot say I have read it cover to cover. Each section needs time to digest and possibly o discuss with friends.
Published 8 months ago by glynroyd
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting opinions
This book is excellent.. Mr de Botton is reviewing the history of art with in-depth opinions and stimulating our brain
Published 9 months ago by croisier jean-paul
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