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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Art: The Definitive Visual Guide
Format: Hardcover|Change
Price:£20.40+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 5 April 2017
Whilst a have huge respect for AGD as an art critic, he is only the consulting editor on this Dorling Kindersley coffee table book. Whilst it is a lovely, glossy book packed with images, it is, like most DK publications, an overview only. For someone with a passing interest in art or someone starting out or doing gsce art perhaps, I believe that this would be an excellent gift as it gives a good overview and introduction. For anyone with a more serious interest in art, it is far too light-weight. I had bought it as a gift for an art lover with a reasonable knowledge of art history. However, I feel it is too simplistic for the recipient that i had in mind and I am therefore returning it but that is only my opinion and I do not doubt that others will absolutely love it and get a lot of pleasure from it.
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on 19 February 2011
One of the best reference books on art I've seen. It has good academic commentary in neat, digestible chunks, combined with a really nice selection of images - mixing large and small format, all slotted together in an attractive layout that is genuinely informative and highly readable. It's very well-organised, placing artists into the context of their historical period, grouping them in the various art movements, analysing pictures with little sketches, commenting on the significance of their works and why they're important. It's also well-written, with no inflated "art-speak". Got to be one of my favourite art books - a comprehensive reference that's also an enjoyable page-turner.
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on 30 April 2017
Great value, and good accompaniment to the various art progs on BBC4
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on 27 March 2017
Great product, great service.
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on 18 July 2017
Outstanding encyclopedia. I'm a great fan of his.
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on 24 February 2014
This turned out to be a real tome, need muscles to hold it but it's a comprehensive book so it's great to dip in and out of
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on 31 March 2009
What a superb book. Not only does it explain how to get the most out of viewing a painting looking at techniques, presentation, and meaning, but it also covers just about any painter I could name, and an awful lot I didn't know! Beautifully produced with excellent quality reproductions, it also has in-depth looks at artists such as Van Gogh, and Bosch. It also covers art from all continents from 3000BCE to 2005AD. I'm presently doing an Open University art history course, and it is invaluable. However even if I wasn't I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves art, and I am going to get many hours of pleasure browsing through it.
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on 8 September 2013
This book not only gives the reader a thorough introduction to various artistic periods; artists, and movements, but also a general introduction to art itself, including pages on composition, technique, and subject matter. This added section makes the book perfect for people with little or no knowledge of art, and helps the book serve as an excellent one volume introduction.

I very much enjoyed reading it and feel I got a lot out of it. Key artistic figures and movements are explained in a great deal of detail, and even lesser well known or "less important" artistic themes are given enough page space to allow the reader a brief glimpse. This gives the book a feeling that nothing has been overlooked; this is especially true since the book doesn't have the occasional "European Bias" that some art books have. Works from all over the world, including Africa, Oceania and Asia are all covered in just enough detail to allow a brief understanding of the subject. There is a lot of emphasis on Europe, certainly, but this is understandable I feel.

So, why not 5 stars? There were a couple of things that bothered me about the book. They're not major flaws that make the book unreadable, but they're there in sufficient number to make it hard to justify giving the book 5 stars. First of all, in the descriptions of artists, the phrase "[Artist] is the [most / best] [famous / appreciated / prolific] [sculptor / court painter / watercolourist] of [his / her] [era / day / generation]" appears (literally) hundreds of times. This tends to make the words feel cheap, and can sometimes create a degree of confusion; several contemporary artists are described with differing adjectives, sometimes on the same page. Also makes one feel as if the authors are clutching at straws trying to find something to say.

Secondly, many times the phrase "the Artist's most famous work [Name]..." appears, but then there will be no picture of said artwork anywhere in the book. I can appreciate that the book is trying to avoid being a bit cliché, and giving page space to less well know works is certainly a good idea, but when some hopelessly obscure Renaissance sculptor is in the limelight, seeing his "most famous work," instead of something he cobbled together one evening, would make the entry seem a little less disjointed. This is especially jarring if the text describes specific elements of the work in question, such as subject matter or techniques used.

Overall, an excellent one-volume introduction (though a little awkward for bedtime reading, since it's quite a large book!) to art history and art itself. A brilliant "one stop" reference containing all the "main" artists, and many lesser well known ones too. Complete beginners will learn a great deal from this book, and even seasoned art connoisseurs may learn a thing or two.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 21 November 2014
The nearest to the perfect popular art critic left now Bob Hughes died, AGD's is a lively and interesting book, fascinating on the various -isms that proliferated once the Impressionist genie got out of the 1873 ex Salon bottle. Nicely illustrated, written with AGD's signature brio, this tome is hefty and especially good on the recent art that has produced such media hoo-hah, though actually it's the early Modernists I especially enjoy. And it really is the Impressionists and after that are the true subject of this book, (a cause for the 1 star reviewer's ire; he has a point although it will not matter to most). It is thankfully free of the clotted, obscure language of a lot of art critics use; it'll help you understand what has become extremely popular art indeed. Nice to look at and as much of a pleasure to read. Mind you, I'd strongly advise you to try Robert Hughes's books afterwards as he is actually a genius of this type of popular, not, emphatically NOT populist art criticism.
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on 10 February 2009
This is a beautifully presented book with great colour pictures. It is suitable for those who already have an interest in and some knowledge of art and also for beginners wishing to start learning. It is well set out in manageable, readable, subject areas, with the text well illustrated to aid understanding. I would recommend the book for adults and young people of secondary school age and above. It is terrific value for money.
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