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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 19 May 2014
A great book for dipping into, I keep it by my bed. A wise book too. You don't have to agree with everything the authors say - that's the joy of it - it's provocative and inspires a personal response. The authors are NOT telling you what to think and feel as some critics have stated. They help you to see what the artist - or more accurately the artefact - may be getting at. I now visit galleries with greater confidence in my own ability to interpret and appreciate what I'm looking at. Another bonus is that it has inspired me to go and see some pictures I might previously have ignored or dismissed. It's a mind-opener!
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on 27 December 2013
It is the end of the year and I close the year with a book I just finished and cannot stop talking or thinking about - "Art as Therapy" by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong. May be a lot of people know Alain and are aware of what and how he writes and then there are others who are yet to discover his style and works. I envy the latter set of people. They are so lucky to discover his works and his line of thought. At the same time, because this book is co-written, it is always good to see another perspective, in this case of John Armstrong.

Alain de Botton according to me is a master at what he does - he integrates human behaviour across a range of topics and we have witnessed that through his works. "Art as Therapy" on the other hand is a different matter altogether.

"Art as Therapy" speaks of art in the manner, which is accessible to everyone. It is not about wine glasses in hand and appreciating something on the wall, and acting all pretentious. It is about nonetheless, life and how we live art and also sometimes its therapeutic and redeeming nature in our lives. The bigger question that the book seeks to answer is: What is art's purpose? What does it do or not do for humans? Why is it needed at all?

In this book, de Botton covers different aspects of life through art - love, nature, money, and politics and how art acts as a catalyst to solve the daily worries of life. A photograph then becomes more than a photograph. A painting then becomes something that you connect with so strongly, that you can never let go. Alain looks at everyday problems, everyday issues and uses art to solve them. May be solve is an incorrect term here, he uses art to get an understanding of life and then perhaps cure the soul.

With examples and more illustrations throughout, Alain and John reveal how we as humans cannot lose sight of the bigger things, and how sometimes art is the only solace. They talk about looking at art with fresh eyes and viewing it the way you never would have thought of. Each painting, each art form transforms itself in their hands and that is more than reason enough to read this book. They show us how art heals us in ways we cannot even imagine. Art is then an imperative force in our lives, which perhaps we do not pay attention to - given the hustle-bustle of our technology-ridden lives. They remove art from the shallow galleries and bring it out to readers and the so-called common man through this fascinating concept and even more wondrous book.
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on 11 November 2013
This book is amazing, the title doesn't really do it justice at all. This is a book that anyone who has ever looked at anything and thought, that's nice, will really enjoy. It is a beautiful, thoughtful and intriguing insight into how we relate and think about it art. And how to feel okay about the art YOU like and not what someone else else tells you should. This book is not 'for those in the know' about Art, if anything, it's for everyone else BUT the experts. I thoroughly reccommend it. I will be buying many many more copies for friends.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 November 2013
This is a really beautiful book, with many photographic plates of works of art - mainly paintings but including architecture, sculpture, and photography too. Throughout the authors argue that the value of art is in the effect it has on us, its viewers, and on how art can help us to understand and share hope, sorrow, and much else that makes up human life experience.

This is not a book only for the those who love the arts - it is also very much a book for those of us who are interested in the human condition and how we can better appreciate the joys and sorrows of our lives and all that surrounds us.

A genuinely beautiful book - presented in high quality, with thought provoking and informative narrative which supplements and explains the illustrations maginificently.

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on 2 May 2016
This book is truly englightening. Describes historical and contemporary art by dissecting the subject into a variety of topics that art operates within; growth, nature, hope, sorrow, joy, etc, as well as going beyond the emotional mechanisms of art and the people that like it. It feels intellectual and easy to read, making astounding points without the need for noticeable and deliberately 'mystifying' language. Tasteful illustrations and art included too. An essential read, I would probably pay double the price for this.
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on 21 March 2014
Beautiful book, and the authors' perspective was compelling and through-provoking. It was not what I expected, and I was very pleasantly surprised. I also enjoyed the reproduction of artwork. All around I am happy to have read this book. I think back to it and its message all the time.
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on 31 January 2014
If you've ever been to an art gallery and left feeling uninspired, confused and wondering why the art is there, then this book is for you. Alan acts as a your personal art tour guide to and does his best to communicate what the artists are trying to portray. He also has a good explanation as to why art galleries seem to alienate those of us not familiar with the secret language of art. To curators - read the last few pages at least and re-arrange your galleries in a more logical way.
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on 8 March 2015
Art is always going to be a divisive and controversial topic, which is often the point. Who are the real gatekeepers and self appointed authorities at the gates telling everyone what or who is genius and who is courageous to stand up and claim the emperor has no clothes?...

Armstrong and de Botton like John Berger in his "Ways of Seeing" do a grand job off taking a sober, reasoned and intelligent eye to art and manage to strip away most of the useless, obfuscating and ambiguous language and dare to get to the point and more importantly the pleasure of art. They don't bore us by trying to tell us how clever they think they are instead they show us how we can apply it in a practical and positive way with some surprising and rewarding results.
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on 19 August 2014
The book is intelligently and elegantly written and provides original insights on the functions of Art. A beautiful feature of the book is the excellent photographs which illustrate magnificently the points raised in the text. Its central thesis is that the main beneficiary of Art should be the beholder that is the individual experiencing the specific work of Art as opposed to prevailing ideas which relate to the motives and aims of the artist in the process of its creation or the context and era during which a work of Art was created.

The book is organized in five broad groups namely Methodology, Love, Nature, Money, and Politics while each group is divided in sections and subsections.

Already in Methodology we are intimated with the seven functions of Art which can impact on the individual and improve his human condition comprising remembering,hope, sorrow, re balancing, self-understanding, growth, and appreciation.

The authors further argue that Art is not confined on its benefits on the individual but more broadly on society and through collective action to potentially enhancing the quality of civic life.

The enduring feeling while reading the book was that elegant thought, elegant argument, and elegant philosophical disposition were employed in arguing the case of Art in improving the human condition.
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on 2 April 2015
I think Art as Therapy is a lovely book with all types of beautiful pictures and explanations of what the artist might be trying to say. I am not a art regular but loved this book. It probably make a nice retirement present for somebody who now has more time on their hands. Lots of great TIPS to for the medical profession on how to link Art into therapy. Likewise there is great tips for someone who works in gallery or is planing on opening a Art shop. But best of all for us guys with poor concentration like me and little time it's a easy and short read. Roughly a 100 pages of reading and a100 pages of pictures.....This is a book definitely worth five stars imo....I really enjoyed it.
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