ArtSpeak is an indispensable guide for anyone working in, or with even a passing interest in, any of the fine arts.
I have a number of arts related books on my shelves; books devoted to particular subjects and styles (Surrealism, Expressionism, Hudson River School, etc), but what I’ve lacked is a book precisely like this … a book that defines a number of artistic styles and art movements.
Even when I was an art student (in the late seventies to mid eighties) I was aware of a number of art movements, but couldn’t have told you quite how they differed from early movements. For instance, “New Realism” looks a lot like “Expressionism” to me. The definitions very succinctly explain the general template for which the term is coined. For instance, I felt that “Outsider Art” (a term for which I was not familiar) seemed a lot like “Folk Art.” apparently I am not alone in this for the definition included this passage:
“Outsider art should not be confused with folk art. Folk art features traditional decoration and functional forms specific to a culture. (Folk art has been generally corrupted by the demands of tourism.) Outsider art is a product of individual psyches rather than communal history, and it tends to be decorative and nonfunctional.”
Yes…that actually explains it very well.
For the sake of a review, I read this book cover to cover. It can certainly be done this way, and this might be good for an art lecture class (and I most definitely learned some things!), but this will be most beneficial as a resource guide — a dictionary to look up terms.
The book is divided in to a few sections. There is an Art Chart — a simple timeline which identifies art movements by name, when they began and how long they remained a recognized format (ie: “funk art” from 1965-1975). There is a Timeline, in which each year is identified, with major world events that occurred during that year, and important and major events from the art world.
And there is the dictionary of terms, which takes up the bulk of the book.
Many definitions include a visual example of the term, which I found to be very useful. Some art movements are intentionally temporary, and even if one were to be a regular art museum visitor, it would be difficult to be exposed to Earth Art. A photograph of Earth Art, perhaps, but not the actual art.
I am glad that Robert Atkins has put this book together. Despite the advent and ease of the internet and sites such as Wikipedia, this book format is still the ideal way to disseminate this much information
Looking for a good book? ArtSpeak is a wonderful guide for anyone interested in art.
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ArtSpeak: A Guide to Contemporary Ideas, Movements, and Buzzwords, 1945 to the Present (3rd Edition)
author/editor: Robert Atkins
publisher: Abbeville Press
hardcover, 280 pages