Look at This If You Love Great Art: 100 Essential Artworks That Really Matter

Ivy: Ballantine. Jun. 2021. 224p. ISBN 9780711256064. $19.95. FINE ARTS
Art and culture writer Ashby’s book is an accessible and engaging exercise in art appreciation, covering 100 works of art in 10 thematic chapters. Works from artists such as Manet, Kahlo, and Vermeer are represented here, each with a color plate, a description, and suggestions for continued learning. There’s no shortage of art appreciation guides, but Ashby’s volume is unique for its simple, useful tips for what to read or watch and where to go to learn more about a work; for instance, try visiting the Yayoi Kusama Musuem in Tokyo, she recommends, or if that isn’t possible, check out the book Infinity Net: The Autobiography of Yayoi Kusama. Ashby’s short descriptions of artworks include her own observations, which add levity and fun. Although almost all of the works are from the Western canon, there is an effort to include a range of artists, techniques, and time periods therein. Works featured here include modern tapestries, impressionist paintings, and dada collages.
VERDICT An excellent selection for readers who want an easy entry to art appreciation. It’s perfect for readers who wonder why an artwork is significant or why an artist would choose a particular subject. This book is compelling, yet simple enough that it would be appropriate for a general library collection.
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