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Customer Review

on 3 November 2012
This is an interesting and not-too-taxing read for anyone who is more than moderately interested in art. It is not too scholarly and by its nature is divided into bite-size chunks that you can read in any order that takes your fancy. However, I've got two issues with it. First, whether this book is any good or not depends on who you want to learn about - the writers or their subjects. We learn a lot about the former and - I venture to say - not much about the latter. That's because being a good/great artist doesn't make you a good art historian. There a a few rather wonky 'facts' offered and some flaky thinking. For example, we're told that Michelangelo's final sculpture is unfinished as it was his last work, despite the fact that Michelangelo left pieces unfinished his entire life - he was notorious for it - so the writer is jumping to conclusions that sound like they're based on lack of historical knowledge. So, if you're interested in the motivations and passions of the modern writers, this is an interesting and worthwhile read, but if you're interested in learning about their canonical subjects, you'll find betters books elsewhere.
My second issue is that I think they've missed a trick I not including any female artists who are being restored to their rightful places in the canon. Obvious candidates like Artemesia, Judith Hals, Mary Garrard and Camille Claudel come to mind. But there's nothing new about that. It's just a missed opportunity I think.
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