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The name Janson is synonymous with the introduction of college undergraduates to the canon of western art; this latest volume for the younger set recapitulates the Jansons' particular narrative of art history at a slightly more elementary level. With its brief histories and capsule essays written for an upper school audience by father and son (Anthony took over the History of Art projects after his father's death in 1982), and including nearly 600 illustrations of antique, Gothic and Renaissance masterpieces, this tome is an encyclopedic look at art from the 30,000 year-old cave paintings of Lascaux to fairly recent developments in performance art and photography. From Egypt to Greece to Rome to France, and eventually even to America, the story of art unfolds in an empirical succession of buddings, blossomings and decays, rarely digressing into non-European or particularly idiosyncratic works. While there are certain inconsistencies in pitch-the authors provide a definition for fable, but make the sophisticated observation that, in Borromini's 17th century Roman church, "it is the syntax, not the vocabulary, that is new and disquieting"-overall, this is a rich resource indeed. For the precocious youngster or the older art neophyte, this book offers a skeleton key to civilization's most beautiful visual accomplishments, and does not condescend while instructing.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Appearing fewer than five years after its previous edition, this is a parallel but simplified version of the elder Janson's benchmark college text, History of Art (LJ 5/15/70). The publisher intends this variant for high school students, as the title implies, as well as for general adult readers. Making comprehensible all the complexity of art history is a tall order, even when addressing the most learned adults; this version of Janson shows some of the difficulties of explaining art to a younger audience. Although chapters have been streamlined, the prose has not. It is marred by a needlessly sophisticated syntax that comes across as snooty and affected. With the arrival of inherently less understandable art forms in the 20th century, the challenge to maintain a tone of straightforward description becomes acute; only some of the time does this text meet that task. Readers able to keep up will appreciate the Jansons' adeptness at bringing to light the telling detail and making apt comparisons. But with more accessible surveys available like Marilyn Stokstad's recent Art History (LJ 4/15/96) and Laurie S. Adams's History of Western Art (LJ 9/15/93), this is recommended only for comprehensive collections.?Douglas F. Smith, Oakland P.L., Cal.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.