(Reading time 2 minutes)
In this article we will discuss first, why the study of art and art history is important to art
appreciation;secondly we will look into several modes of study and lastly we share our “short
list” of favorite books and media to get one started on these subjects.
Why is the study of art important to art appreciation?
It is said that a picture is worth a 1000 words. In the gallery, we often hear people say “this art
does nothing for me”. My thinking is the opposite. I feel the viewer needs to “participate” in order
to understand the context in which the art was created.
A quick note
*Our gallery library is open to residents and visitors to Salt Spring Island. Come sign out a book.
Modes of study
Without labouring to gain a degree in art or art history anyone who would like to benefit from a
broader knowledge of art and art history can do so from anywhere with little to no expense.
Visual art study benefits from visual aids. When reading about art in particular it is helpful to
have some visual reference in front of you, as the words convey the ideas in one way, the eyes
can convey what words alone never could.
Life is busy. We don’t want anyone feeling that there is not enough time in a day to learn. So if
formal study from open books is an impossible luxury, think audiobooks. Downloadable from
many sources, audio books are flexible when your schedule is not. Picture this; cooking dinner
and listening to your latest audiobook about renaissance art, smiling with enlightened
satisfaction. And if you really want to get into it you could plaster your fridge in art from the
renaissance! Your friends will think you are nuts, but you know better.
As well there are of course incredible resources to be found online. These can take the form of
videos lectures, articles and much more. To begin though it is helpful to narrow your field of
study to the basics. Because of the abundance of resources available online it can be difficult to
discover where at first to begin and to which sources most credit is due.
After you have gained an overview on art history and art fundamentals, you may find yourself
drawn to a particular form of artistic expression. To explore that interest further I suggest
submerging yourself in the era that the art was created in. Learning about the location, politics,
religion, music, literature and social structures will serve to deepen your appreciation of that art
Art Fundamentals Theory and Practice
“The original textbook that set the standard for art foundations courses across the country, Art
Fundamentals has guided generations of students through both the essential elements of art
and the rich and varied history of their uses. We have organized Art Fundamentals to assist with
“knowing” and “feeling” the fundamental concepts of refined creation. Our intent is to stimulate
without locking students into a restricted mind-set or mechanical copying of ideas.”
The Book of Art for Young People
“Early twentieth century husband and wife collaboration concerning Fine Art, aimed at children.
This is a charming book on Art History for children (and everyone else). Each chapter focuses
on a great painting, reproduced in color in the original text. The authors explain the story behind
the paintings, as well as the life, times, and techniques of the artists.”
Stealing The Mystic Lamb
“Jan van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece is the most frequently stolen artwork of all time. Since its
completion in 1432, this twelve-panel oil painting has been looted in three different wars,
burned, dismembered, forged, smuggled, censored, hidden, attacked by iconoclasts, hunted by
the Nazis and Napoleon, used as a diplomatic tool, ransomed, rescued by Austrian
double-agents, and stolen a total of thirteen times. In this fast-paced, real-life thriller, art
historian Noah Charney unravels the fascinating stories of each of these thefts. Charney also
explores the history of art crime—and the ideological, religious, political, and social motivations
that have led many men to covet this one masterpiece above all others.”
BBC Power Of Art Series
“This is not a series about things that hang on walls, it is not about decor or prettiness. It is a
series about the force, the need, the passion of art …the power of art. And it will wet your appetite
with in depth study into the life and times of artist
like Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Van Gogh and more.”
Tate Blogs & Channel
“Blogs, features, news and videos about Tate and beyond. So much to learn, an incredible
resource for free art education”
ArtBookGuy (especially the section dedicated to “Collecting Art”)
“A website full of blogs, interviews, recommended reading, and cool stuff with a contemporary
all kinds of people. Art is always open for everyone and encourages us to observe, create,
discuss and take action to move society forward.”
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