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Art as Therapy [Hardcover]

Alain de Botton , John Armstrong

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Book Description

Oct. 14 2013
What is art's purpose? In this engaging, lively, and controversial new book, bestselling philosopher Alain de Botton and art historian John Armstrong propose a new way of looking at familiar masterpieces, suggesting that they can be useful, relevant, and - above all else - therapeutic for their viewers. De Botton argues that certain great works offer clues on managing the tensions and confusions of everyday life. Chapters on Love, Nature, Money, and Politics outline how art can help with these common difficulties - for example, Vermeer's Girl Reading a Letter helps us focus on what we want to be loved for; Serra's Fernando Pessoa reminds us of the importance of dignity in suffering; and Manet's Bunch of Asparagus teaches us how to preserve and value our long-term partners. Art as Therapy offers an unconventional perspective, demonstrating how art can guide us, console us, and help us better understand ourselves.

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Product Description


A captivating, uncomplicated read that challenges how artists, dealers, and particularly, art museums do business, and anyone who cares about art should get a copy.—The Denver Post

When I read through Art as Therapy, paintings that I had long admired suddenly became new when seen through the filter of self awareness and exploration. Really a gem of a book.—Goop

Bountiful food for thought here, elegantly phrased and finely illustrated.—The Seattle Times

A profoundly refreshing and heterodox approach to art. . . Art as Therapy upend[s] the art world's self-referential culture [and] boldly positions art at the center of our daily lives.—Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Alain de Botton is the bestselling author of How Proust Can Change Your Life and Religion for Atheists in addition to other works of fiction and essays. In 2008 he founded The School of Life, dedicated to a new vision of education. His work has been reviewed in The Times, The Guardian, The Economist among many others and he has appeared on BBC Radio 4, Question Time and Newsnight. His popular TED talks have combined received over 3 million views. De Botton lives and works in London. John Armstrong is a philosopher and art theorist based at Melbourne University in Australia. He is the author of several books, including The Intimate Philosophy of Art, Conditions of Love and In Search of Civilisation.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, meditative writing Oct. 16 2013
By Jshah - Published on Amazon.com
I just received this book yesterday and I am savoring it page by page. I have been a huge fan of Alain de Botton for years now so it is no surprise that I pre-ordered this book. His take on the role of art in our individual lives and our spiritual lives is thoughtful and at times, provocative. He talks about art in the context of universal, human truths. He delves into each picture, extracting hidden emotions and details that reveal deeper layers and new ways to look at the art and relate it back to the human truths. I haven't finished it in a day - because this book is meant to be read a few pages at a time and meditated upon.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you enjoy art or want to enjoy art, this is a must read. Excellent! Nov. 8 2013
By Carolina Katharine - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Doesn't get better than this. Most books about art are flat, condescending, basically showing off the author's smarts. This book is very accessible to anyone who loves art and for anyone who has an interest ranging from professional to collector to novice. An intriguing take on humanity in art and how we communicate with art and how modern life dictates our understanding. Thoughtful, enlightening, refreshing, beautiful! Well edited, beautiful lay out, keenly developed and a book that is enjoyable to read over and over again. Brings a sense of discovery to the art viewer. Makes me want to head the nearest museum! Would make an excellent gift for anyone, whether for the holidays or as a thank you.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ahhh............. Nov. 21 2013
By Kathleen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is so different from others I have read. Here, art is not about history, not about technique. It is about the relationship between the viewer and the work. Art - either viewed or practiced - has depths of wisdom and perspective to impart. This is so delicious a book, that I limit my time with it, to make it last. Very interesting. Beautiful artwork.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Art as Therapy Oct. 27 2013
By Leonie J M - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This wonderful book takes you deeply into the effects of art through the ages on the reader emotionally, intellectually and philosophically. I strongly recommend it. A book to read again and again.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book makes both life and art a little bit more interesting Nov. 17 2013
By Antti Nikkanen - Published on Amazon.com
I bought this book kind of "accidentally". You could not consider me a fan of art. I still found the book very interesting. A slow read book, not only because the language is quite difficult but the ideas need a lot of time to be thought about. After finishing the book I found myself to be more calm with the discomfort the universe provides us.