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The Story of Art Paperback – 21 Jul 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Phaidon Press; 16th edition edition (21 July 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0714832472
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714832470
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 3.8 x 24.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,942 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Sir Ernst Hans Josef Gombrich, OM, CBE (30 March 1909 - 3 November 2001) was an Austrian-born art historian who spent most of his working life in the United Kingdom. He is the author of many works of art criticism and art history. (Photograph: Pino Guidolotti)

Product Description

Review

'..lucid and endlessly informative..'
The Good Book Guide

'…for everyone, not just for stuffed shirts.'
The Mail on Sunday

'the country's bestselling book on art, never out of print, still in demand'
The Times

'Gombrich's voice is lively, opinionated, and almost conversational, yet his erudition shines through to make a book that is both accessible and informative.'
Library Journal

'this comprehensive look at Western art from prehistoric times on up to the present has been completely redesigned and extensively revised and updated.'
Booklist

'Enjoy the most famous book on art ever published … This has been revamped for the first time since 1972, offering larger illustrations, more color, and improved text and coverage. Highly recommended.'
Midwest Book Review

About the Author

Ernst Gombrich was one of the greatest and least conventional art historians of his age, achieving fame and distinction in three separate spheres: as a scholar, as a popularizer of art, and as a pioneer of the application of the psychology of perception to the study of art. His best-known book, The Story of Art - first published 50 years ago and now in its sixteenth edition - is one of the most influential books ever written about art. His books further include The Sense of Order (1979) and The Preference for the Primitive (2002), as well as a total of 11 volumes of collected essays and reviews.

Gombrich was born in Vienna in 1909 and died in London in November 2001. He came to London in 1936 to work at the Warburg Institute, where he eventually became Director from 1959 until his retirement in 1976. He won numerous international honours, including a knighthood, the Order of Merit and the Goethe, Hegel and Erasmus prizes.

Gifted with a powerful mind and prodigious memory, he was also an outstanding communicator, with a clear and forceful prose style. His works are models of good art-historical writing, and reflect his humanism and his deep and abiding concern with the standards and values of our cultural heritage.


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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

101 of 103 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 May 2000
Format: Paperback
In high school I acquired just a very superficial knowledge of the history of Art and, though I studied Engineering at the university, I have always felt a deep need to know something more on Art. Professor Gombrich's book is THE book that has helped me in learning what the "purpose" of Art is, how to judge a picture, a statue or a building. This book has given me new fresh pleasure in the knowledge of the Old Masters but has also taught me how to appreciate "Modern Art", which had always seemed to me hard to understand. "The Story of Art" is a marvellous account of the whole history of humankind, seen through the glasses of Art. I think that all Art lovers should read this book: it will give them both physical and intellectual pleasure.
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91 of 93 people found the following review helpful By Mike on 6 Sept. 2002
Format: Paperback
I'll have to echo some of the opinions of the previous reviewers. This is an excellent introduction to the history of art. While other books usually begin with Giotto, Ernst Gombrich ensures that everything from prehistoric cave paintings to the International Gothic style of the fourteenth century is included in this surprisingly easy to read book.
However, for anyone wishing to obtain a total grounding in art history, this book should be supplemented with other works, particularly on twentieth century art (especially post-1945) and photography.
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133 of 137 people found the following review helpful By Ms P. May on 5 Mar. 2002
Format: Paperback
My personal opinion is that this is a very well presented, consisely written book, providing a superb grounding in the subject.
I can honestly say that I didn't know the first thing about art, or it's origins, when I started reading this, but the explanations are so clear and the points got across so well, that I really do feel that I now have some kind of grasp on the subject.
Yes, it looks like a text book, and I suppose that in some respects you could indeed class it as such. However, it's written in such an easy going style, and in laymans terms too, that it's almost like having one-to-one tuition with the author. Luckily, great pains have been taken to ensure that the book doesn't degenerate into complete waffle - it manages to be consise and only as much is said in order to get a point across.
Still, I feel that there is enough detail in the book that it would, perhaps, provide a useful reference to those who already have an understanding of the field. (Though obviously don't hold me to that, as I'm just a 'beginner'!)
The book has plenty of illustrations, but not too many so as to make it of an unmanageable size. A few larger sized pull-out illustrations are also included, which is a nice touch - the reader is spared having to dig around for a magnifying glass to appreciate the picture!
I feel that I can look around, at arcitecture, sculpture, or paintings, and appreciate them much more than I could before - I can take time to think about where and when in history something was created and know what the artist was trying to produce.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Michael Sutherland VINE VOICE on 16 July 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the most accessible and methodical book on art I've ever read. It's a comprehensive introduction to art in general - from very early times with cave paintings and Greek sculpture right up until the early 20th Century. It's tremendously easy reading, and the tone is very accessible without being simplistic. You'll get a solid overview of art and artistic movements right up until modern times, and understand far, far more about art than you did when you started reading it. Whilst it won't necessary change your tastes, you'll certainly understand where the artistic movements such as impressionism and expressionism came from and what they try to convey.

The book is arranged into logical chapters, which can't have been that easy a task; things don't always fall into discrete categories. There are plenty of pictures and illustrations, and it's rare to find a work of art mentioned in the text and not illustrated on a page close by, which really helps you to picture and understand things. Whilst Gombrich doesn't go in-depth on many paintings, you have enough to give you a grounding and stir your enthusiasm to read more on the topics.

The end of the book is slightly confusing - it wraps up towards the end, but then there are additions and revisions to the text. The authors tackles the tricky topic of some of the more modern artists to emerge, but without really wanting to. There's also a fairly confusing chapter in the most recent edition of the book about 'rewriting the past' which deals with the changing face of art as historians and archaeologists find more - whilst this is a worthy topic, it's terribly confusing to come at the end of the book. That said, this should not detract from the rest of read, and I really wish I'd read this book in my teens - it's a fantastic education in itself on art. If you consider yourself ignorant about art and want to know more - but possibly find it all slightly intimidating, then read this book!
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 May 2000
Format: Hardcover
If you take the time and trouble to read this book from cover to cover it is an eye opening and revelatory experience. It is also fascinating and completely different from most art history books which cram in unrelated paragraphs of text to support individual art works. This book you can read as a continuous narrative covering over 1000 years of art history. Three million readers cannot be wrong.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 29 Jan. 2002
Format: Paperback
I wanted to find out more about Art and this book was recommended to me by an expert guide in the National Gallery. I finally got it as a present this Christmas. I had intended to skip the "early stuff" but found myself unable to do so by the quality of writing and the absorbing story. The only drawback is that it's not so easy to carry. All in all a great book - no wonder it has sold over 6m copies since it was originally published in 1950.
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