Renaissance Art (Brief Insights) Hardcover – 4 May 2010
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Johnson has succeeded in packing a great deal of intelligent discussion into a very limited space. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book for anyone, from teenagers onwards, requiring an introduction to current views on Renaissance Art --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Geraldine A. Johnson is University Lecturer in History of Art at the University of Oxford, and a fellow of Christ Church, Oxford. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University. Her publications range from studies of Italian Renaissance art to considerations of contemporary American sculpture, and from women patrons in Early Modern Europe to the history of photography. Her work has appeared in important journals such as The Burlington Magazine, The Art Bulletin, Art History, and Renaissance Quarterly. In 1997, Cambridge University Press published a prize-winning essay collection she co-edited titled Picturing Women in Renaissance and Baroque Italy. The same press also published another volume she edited in 1998 titled Sculpture and Photography: Envisioning theThird Dimension. At present, she is completing a book on the tactile and visual reception of sculpture in Early Modern Italy. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
It also starts with an invaluable chapter on what the Renaissance actually was and who it applied to, which given the nebulous nature of historical terms is always useful.
The chapters are clearly laid out and well explained. The art works depicted are the ones the author actually talks about, which is not as common as you might think, so definitely worth mentioning. The only short-coming is that the format of the book does not allow for particularly great pictures as they are small, due to the fact that the books are pocket sized, and in black and white, which makes the books more affordable. This is however, the publisher's issue and not the author's, which is why it still gets five stars in my book.
The art works are always discussed in the context of their contemporary use as well as modern understandings and the author does an excellent job of making the reader appreciate the gap between now and then and what it means to those of us interested in understanding the art thoroughly. Highly recommended, one of the best of the OUP series.
It is clearly written without condescension or assumption of prior knowledge and has prompted me to read more deeply on the subject.
For this particular entry in the series, you absolutely must get the Brief Insight version, because the illustrations are essential to the book and they are vastly superior in this version. In the VSI version, there are fewer illustrations and they are in black and white, which detracts greatly from the experience.
As for the text itself, it is first rate. The author demonstrates how our appreciation of various works is enhanced by an understanding of their cultural context. She examines the works in terms of their function -- who commissioned them and why, and she provides the historical (both political and social) background necessary to illuminate their meaning.
There is what seemed to me to be one false note. Johnson refers to The Venus of Urbino as 'soft-core porn'. Somewhere along the line (back in the 70s, I think) we lost the distinction between erotica and soft porn. The Venus, and much other art of the Renaissance, is wonderfully erotic. If now we cannot celebrate that eroticism but instead must regard it as pornographic, we have surely lost our way. But such, I suppose, is the political correctness of our day.
On the other hand, a great strength of the book is the attention given to the role of women in Renaissance art, as patrons, connoisseurs, models and occasional practitioners.
The author uses some technical terminology that may be unfamiliar to many readers, so be aware that there is a Glossary at the end.
Very highly recommended.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have this on my Kindle...excellent reading so far and very helpful - I shall refer to it often duing my studies...Published on 26 Mar. 2013 by Jill Dian