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The Penguin Dictionary of Art and Artists (Penguin Reference Books) [Paperback]

Linda Murray , Peter Murray
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
RRP: 14.99
Price: 10.49 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

7 Aug 1997 Penguin Reference Books
This magnificant, bestselling reference book finally leaves its old look to join the modern Penguin subject dictionary series. Why exactly did Van Gogh cut off his ear? Was Warhol an original or just a copyist? The answers to all this and more are found in The Penguin Dictionary of Art and Artists, the essential guide to over 700 years of creative endeavour. Each entry features extensive cross-referencing and listings of galleries where the artist's work can be seen.

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Frequently Bought Together

The Penguin Dictionary of Art and Artists (Penguin Reference Books) + The Story of Art + A World History of Art
Price For All Three: 50.21

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  • The Story of Art 16.97
  • A World History of Art 22.75

Product details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; 7Rev Ed edition (7 Aug 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140513000
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140513004
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.9 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 35,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'A vast amount of information intelligently presented, carefully detailed, abreast of current thought and scholarship and easy to read' -- The Times Literary Supplement

'Excellent ... indispensable and delightful' -- Financial Times

From the Back Cover

Some Sample Entries:

'Post-Impressionism is a rather vague term applied to the movement which developed in reaction against both Impressionism and Neo-Impressionism and had as its chief aim either a return to a more formal conception of art or a new stress on the importance of the subject. The most important figures covered by the term are van Gogh, Gaugin and Cezanne. It was given currency in England by the exhibition arranged by Roger Fry in the winter of 1910-11, called 'Manet and the Post-Impressionists', which caused much heart-burning in London art circles and led to the formation of the London Group. Le post impressionisme has now come into use in French as the equivalent term'.


'Blot drawing was the name given by Alexander Cozens to the practice of evolving a composition from teh forms suggested by allowing a few blobs of ink or colour to fall at random on a sheet of paper, if necessary folding the paper to create further blots. The method seems to have been known to Leonardo da Vinci, who advocated the study of stains on a wall, or the shapes in the fire, as a stimulus to the creative imagination. Cozen's advocacy of the method as a means of teaching his numerous pupils led to his being dubbed 'Blotmaster to the Town': at the end of his life he published his system as A New Method of Assisting the Invention in Drawing Original Compositions of Landscape (c.1785). It was reprinted in 1952'.


'Stabile. Sculpture that keeps still. The opposite of mobile'.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
58 of 58 people found the following review helpful
This book is compact yet detailed. Pick any noteworthy artist and they are guaranteed to be depicted here in more than a passing definition. As a student of art, it has proved invaluable as a resource and is the first port-of-call for any research required. Equally, as a bed-time read, simply by opening a page I can always be sure to learn something new about the world of art.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Golden Oldie? 25 Dec 2009
This famous book was first published half a century ago, in 1959. Over the years it has gone through numerous revisions (the current edition, the seventh, appeared in 1997) and has grown considerably in length, from 355 pages originally to 580 pages now. However, its character has remained essentially unchanged: its strength and its weakness is that by the standards of serious reference books it is a very personal work.

When the Murrays write about artists or topics that engage them, they can produce highly readable entries, enlivened by anecdotal details. Unfortunately, a downside of their chatty style is that they often don't take the trouble to explain things clearly, but instead meander on conversationally; and when called upon to discuss subjects for which they have no sympathy - most modern art, for example - they barely go through the motions. To look no further than the first four pages, the entries on Abstract Expressionism and Action Painting are hopelessly inadequate. Moreover, by the time Linda Murray alone produced the seventh edition (her husband Peter had died in 1992) she was in her eighties (she died in 2004, aged 91) and understandably showing signs of fatigue. Indeed one entry in particular - that on Claude Lorrain - is so off beam it suggests she was no longer up to the task. It will be worthwhile looking at this entry in detail to highlight some of the book's shortcomings.

The entry gets off to a bad start by giving the traditional date for Claude's birth, 1600, for recently discovered documents indicate he was probably born four or five years later. I don't know when the revised dating was first published, but it had appeared in other reference books by 1996, so Linda Murray could have included it if she had been on the ball.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful... occasinally 27 Nov 2005
Very often I have come to use this book and not been able to find what I need, probably best for reasearching more traditional artists etc, but can be very useful to have at hand. Also this, the 7th edition, whs first published in 1997 and I don't think it has been updated since which is probably necessary.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars NOT TO HAPPY 30 Aug 2011
By bodean
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book came quickly in the post which is always great. The price is good, however it would be better to go for something more expensive to get what you want. I was disappointed in the lack of modern artists. eg-chuck close....or anything dating after 1950(ish) even though was meant to have been republished after said time.

If you looking for a history art dictionary then this is a good book, just make sure not to rely on it having everything.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good collection. 17 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I got this book as I needed to look up quite a few artists for some friends quiz, I would have given it 5 stars but there was a lack of oriental artists and was mainly European. Otherwise it's a good book.
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