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The Story of Painting Hardcover – 29 Nov 2001

4.6 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 29 Nov 2001
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 736 pages
  • Publisher: DK; 2nd Revised edition edition (29 Nov. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0751311898
  • ISBN-13: 978-0751311891
  • Product Dimensions: 22.1 x 5.5 x 28.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 59,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME on 29 Jun. 2005
Format: Hardcover
How bizarre...
...and yet, how wonderful. Who would have ever thought that a nun going through the museum would have (a) been interesting, (b) been publishable, (c) been television-worthy, or (d) been within the realm of credible imaginings? And yet, here is the proof, on my coffee table. Sister Wendy's smiling face, next to a scowling Vincent, greets me each day with my morning cocoa.
This is a book to be savoured. It cannot, like the morning cocoa, be rushed and enjoyed. This must take time. Not because the text is dense or confusing--indeed, it is not. It is lively, witty, historical, accessible, all that one could want in a book on art.
But, mostly, it is exquisitely visual in layout. Everything is photographed and reproduced in stunning colour and low-gloss format to make the pages vibrant and durable yet easily seen. Care has gone into the production of this volume. None of the art is reduced to black and white, but rather presented in glorious colour. With over 800 images in under 400 pages, this is a feast for the eyes. Each page is dominated by art, not text. That makes for slow moving, like reading a museum..
Sister Wendy Beckett takes us on an historical tour of painting (in the European theatre of history), beginning with prehistoric cave-art and drawings, leading up to modern and post-modern artists.
She takes representative pieces, such as the Bosch painting of Death and the Miser to illustrate points of colour, detail, composition, and story. Some paintings have complex stories (such as this one), others have simple composition (such as the `innocently disadvantaged' Mona Lisa) which give endless speculation as to the meaning.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a must for all art history students. It traces the beginnings, through to a brief look at modern art. I am currently studying art history and have found this book, essential to my research on mythology and biblical myths and information. Sister Wendy Beckett suceeds in presenting this book in a clear and non-jargon manner, easily understood and very informative. Selected areas of the book, look at particular paintings and how they are constructed as well as the meanings behind them. The biblical references throughout early paintings are explained fully and i found this especially appealling. This book has certainly helped me, no end in my studies, and look forward to other titles by the author.
Comment 22 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My copy of this had formerly belonged to Shropshire County Libraries. Bought for £25 only five years ago, it had been borrowed precisely 12 times before being stamped 'Discarded' in 2013. There's a moral there - whether about wasteful procurement, or the even more wastefully stupid 'austerity', I'm not sure.

Still, Shropshire Libraries' loss is my gain - mostly. This is by no means 'The World's 100 Greatest Paintings'; prominent absentees include Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Prodigal Son, Starry Night and - perhaps most surprisingly - Whistler's Mother. The Mona Lisa gets only a passing glance, and Michelangelo's Last Judgement is reduced to a four-inch square - a completely futile exercise. But Sister Bendy (I can't help thinking of her as that, a la Eurotrash) consistently offers insight without pretension; in fact she comes across better in print than on the telly.

I do part company with her, though, when she gets to the mid-C20th. In my opinion she gives undue credit to modern art and artists. The debate about whether the Emperor is really wearing any clothes has of course rumbled on for years: 'Imposters!' shout the one side, 'Philistines!' the other. It's hard to accept that someone with such a lively appreciation of Byzantine and Gothic art can really think that abstract expressionism is worth bothering with. 'An immensely intellectually satisfying work'? Come on love, it's just a big yellow rectangle. On the other hand there is no mention of Lowry, as you would certainly expect from a book with a British perspective.

The thing is that many of the artists in question are American.
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Comment 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME on 23 Nov. 2005
Format: Hardcover
How bizarre...
...and yet, how wonderful. Who would have ever thought that a nun going through the museum would have (a) been interesting, (b) been publishable, (c) been television-worthy, or (d) been within the realm of credible imaginings? And yet, here is the proof, on my coffee table. Sister Wendy's smiling face, next to a scowling Vincent, greets me each day with my morning cocoa.
This is a book to be savoured. It cannot, like the morning cocoa, be rushed and enjoyed. This must take time. Not because the text is dense or confusing--indeed, it is not. It is lively, witty, historical, accessible, all that one could want in a book on art.
But, mostly, it is exquisitely visual in layout. Everything is photographed and reproduced in stunning colour and low-gloss format to make the pages vibrant and durable yet easily seen. Care has gone into the production of this volume. None of the art is reduced to black and white, but rather presented in glorious colour. With over 800 images in under 400 pages, this is a feast for the eyes. Each page is dominated by art, not text. That makes for slow moving, like reading a museum.
Sister Wendy Beckett takes us on an historical tour of painting (in the European theatre of history), beginning with prehistoric cave-art and drawings, leading up to modern and post-modern artists.
She takes representative pieces, such as the Bosch painting of Death and the Miser to illustrate points of colour, detail, composition, and story. Some paintings have complex stories (such as this one), others have simple composition (such as the 'innocently disadvantaged' Mona Lisa) which give endless speculation as to the meaning.
Read more ›
Comment 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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