Visual Art History for Beginners


Last month I had a book haul at Big Bad Wolf Book Sale Indonesia. One of the book that I bought entitled 50 Art Ideas You Really Need to Know by Susie Hodge.

I used to be a student in Faculty of Art and Design but I never had a chance to profoundly learn about art. Hence, I have to learn independently. For me, art is essential since art perfectly depicts the condition of civilization and how the world works through decades. Understanding art means understanding history in a more attractive way because of all the stunning visuals. As a beginner myself, this book acts as an impeccable guide.

The book points out 50 art ideas starting from the provenance, ancient art, up to contemporary art. A professional art connoisseur might say that there are more than 50 ideas out there, but the writer managed to choose the most salient. The summary can be seen at the slide below.
Even though the ideas are presented in a linear way, some of the ideas are overlapping one another. This may be caused by different art movements in different countries or more than one movement happened simultaneously. Nevertheless the movement was almost always begun as a response for previous movement which was considered ‘wrong’ and the trend keeps changing depends on religious belief, scientific discovery, and also social, economics, and political condition occurred. For instance religious upheaval (byzantine art), development of printing press (early renaissance), protestant reformation (mannerism), discovery of Pompeii (neoclassicism), industrial revolution (impressionism), Sigmund Freud's theory (surrealism), the great depression (social realism), and cold war (action painting).

This book shows me that there is no perfect art movement. Each movement was considered right or good at their own time. People can paint for themselves to express emotion, influence others with social interest artwork, or provoke contemplation with full of symbolism artwork which appeals to different kind of viewers. There is no need for relentless debate.

Another thing that I love about this book is it comes in series. If art does not satisfy your curiosity yet, the series covers wide range of subjects such as architecture, economics, war, literature, philosophy, universe, and world history.


50 Art Ideas You Really Need To Know
Susie Hodge

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