Introduction to Art: Design, Context, and Meaning
Pamela Sachant, University of North Georgia
Peggy Blood, Savannah State University
Pub Date: 2016
Publisher: University of North Georgia Press
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This book covers just about everything needed for teaching students the basics of visual literacy and introducing them to art. This text has a range read more
This book covers just about everything needed for teaching students the basics of visual literacy and introducing them to art. This text has a range of images and includes various time periods, styles, and works from Western and non-Western cultures. The textbook, however, lacks significant references to contemporary art. A vast majority of the work presented is pre-1960 and most of the media covered is traditional fine art media (painting, sculpture, drawing). That being said, the authors provide glossaries at the end of each chapter of target vocabulary, a comprehensive index, and write thoughtfully and thoroughly to provide a solid context to the works/images shown within the text.
The text appears to be accurate.
The textbook profiles works from ancient through modern times. The text is arranged in a way that introduces students to important concepts for viewing and considering artwork, and uses a logical sequencing of information. The textbook introduces students to some of the major “movers and shakers” in art history, and has many high-quality images of the works discussed within the chapters. The text, however, largely emphasizes pre-1960 art. In fact, it seems only a handful of post-1960 artists are mentioned and very few supporting images are provided of post-1960 artwork. To be fair, there are links provided, which will require upkeep. An instructor will need to find examples from other sources to expose students to contemporary art (artists, media, themes, and modes of working).
The text’s language is appropriate for college-level readers. Sentences are easily understood and the use of art-specific vocabulary (along with providing a glossary at the end of each chapters) shows students appropriate use of target vocabulary. Chapter topics are presented in clearly, accessibly, and with depth. Images are used effectively in supporting content.
The chapters are uniform in their organization; the writing is consistent. Each chapter starts with outcomes and an introduction. Headings for chapter subsections are clear and specific. Target vocabulary is written in bold type and each chapter has a glossary. Each chapter ends with a summary and review questions to check for student comprehension.
The text is divided in a way that supports teaching a foundation in visual literacy. Each chapter is clearly titled with subsections supporting the chapter’s topic. In some cases, subsections from different chapters could be mixed and matched. One of the strengths is the use of imagery from various time periods within each chapters as opposed to the standard chronological approach to an art history course. This could be further exploited by the addition more contemporary art by the instructor along side more historical examples the text provides.
The chapters are consistently structured. The choice of chapter topics and their flow is appropriate and student-centered. The book starts with basic information (what art is, its structure, media used) and works toward greater complexity (various ways art connects to and shapes our lives).
The supporting images are clear and high quality, allowing the reader to increase the size of the images without losing clarity. Some of the pages feel crowded and a few of the links were nonfunctional. The chapter sections and subsections are clear. The book's font is easy to read with line hierarchy is unmistakable and consistent, and the use of bold lettering indicates target vocabulary for students.
I found no grammatical errors within the text.
The text will provide students with a solid foundation in visual literacy using historical artworks as examples. It includes work and architecture of non-Western cultures and women. However, it (generally) ignores contemporary art (artists, media, modes of working, and thematics) which students will see in today’s world. There are missed opportunities to discuss more recent attitudes & intentions within the arts (for example, in Ch 4: Describing Art, it would seem appropriate to have subsections on Modernism and Post Modernism). It would be helpful if were either more examples of contemporary art along side the more historical examples or if there was final chapter on art post-1960. An instructor will need to find examples of contemporary art (through resources such as Art 21, museum catalogs, artist websites, articles/interviews for arts-related sources) to expose students to contemporary artists and art. Inclusion of more art post-1960 would: 1) present students with more challenging imagery, 2) expose students to themes that are more relevant to them, and 3) further introduce students to the works of more women and minorities. Nonetheless, this book would be an effective tool for an Intro to Art or Art Appreciation course. A strength of the book is its thematic approach instead of the standard chronological approach. I did not find it culturally offensive or insensitive.
This book has enough general information that certain chapters (or parts of chapters) can be used in a Basic Design or Drawing course as well as a general Art Appreciation/Intro to Visual Literacy course..
This texts provides a comprehensive introduction to the world of Art and contains 11 chapters, thematically arranged, to give an overview for read more
This texts provides a comprehensive introduction to the world of Art and contains 11 chapters, thematically arranged, to give an overview for beginners to the subject. The text contains enough content and examples to ensure that there in appropriate contextualisation and that the idea of Art as a concept is covered with sufficient depth and clarity. At the end of each chapter, there is a Key Terms list, which acts as a glossary for the readings just completed. There is no index at the end of the book, but this is not a problem as online PDFs can all be searched using the 'find text' function. There are areas where the text is not greatly detailed - any book of under 300 pages could not possibly cover all areas of art without omissions, so there is a greater emphasis on older works when used as examples. There is little on contemporary art, although it is covered in most detail in the final chapter. As there is no index of Artists, it can be tricky to locate movements using the 'find text' function. The outcome to 'build a broader, more comprehensive view of the nature and definition of visual art' (p.1) is impressively achieved.
The content of the book is accurate and I did not detect any particular biases or error. Of course, any Introduction to Art may inherently contain the biases of Western Culture in relation to the choice of themes and narrative, but there has genuinely been an acknowledgement of the importance of all cultures, and there has not simply been one token chapter to shoehorn in all other civilisations. There is one error in the layout - on pages 280, 282, 284, 286, 288, 290 and 292 in Chapter 11, these are titled 'Chapter 10: Art and Ritual Life" on the top right of these pages.
This text is arranged thematically, so this structure does ensure that there will not be any aspect of the contents that would quickly become obsolete or outdated. Any weblinks used within the text would have to be checked and maintained. These are contained throughout the book - I would surmise they were used if no Creative Commons image was available to illustrate a concept or technique. I did click through to a large number of the weblinks and am pleased to report that they not only were, without fail linking through, they also provided further details and areas for discussion that built upon the content of the text.
This area is a real strength of the book. The book explains complex concepts in a very clear and concise way, ensuring that any new or unfamiliar terms are included in the 'Key Terms' pages at the end of each chapter. I was particularly impressed with this in Chapter Seven: Form in Architecture. I think the authors had an intention to provide clear, accessible prose and to ensure that a reader with no knowledge of the areas of design, meaning and context would be able to understand and appreciate them.
Again, with the chapters arranged thematically with the same structure scaffolding each one (learning outcomes, introduction, before you move on and key terms) the text was consistent and the framework extremely clear. I did not find any examples where key terms were overlapping, confusing or contradictory.
As an Introduction to Art with easily digestible sections, these text deserves commendation. Each chapter is approximately 30 pages long, and sections within the chapters are subdivided into smaller sections (e.g. Chapter 8: Art and Identity contains 21 pages and has 5 subsections. The visual aspects of the text -multiple examples, images, photographs, artworks etc, ensure that there are no giant blocks of text, and the book taken as a whole is aesthetically pleasing and a pleasure to consult.
I would suggest that this area could be improved by expanding on descriptions in the contents page - there were sometimes cases of repetition when a concept was discussed across multiple chapters (e.g. the Sacred). This is a hazard of the thematic approach, but I understand that without reverting to a chronological timeline of art, it is very difficult to cover these in one or two paragraphs in one section of a text. The subjects of design, structure and materials provided better scaffolding for chapters.
The text was extremely clear and the images were reproduced at a high definition. Any links taking students through also provided clear images, although these were sometimes rather small. There was no confusion with the image labelling or creative commons attributions, and I found the single column view easy to read.
There were no grammatical errors that I was able to detect.
The text provided references to a variety of cultures throughout the pages. Once again it should be highlighted that non-Western cultural artistic traditions were not simply shoehorned into a chapter, but there was a great deal of inclusivity in the whole book. Indeed, the cultural relevance and variety mentioned is of great artistic importance and is refereed to as crucial to the ethics and raison d'etre of many prominent artists (see especially Chapter Eight: Art and Identity).
This Open Textbook is a valuable addition to the canon of texts currently recommended as an introduction to art. The thematic chapters provide a perfect platform to commence a discussion on a topic (for example, meaning in art). Students would be advised to read the chapter in advance of lectures / tutorials and to use this as a starting point for their research.
This books is not an historical survey, but it offers a wide range of artworks from throughout history and the world to elucidate major themes and read more
This books is not an historical survey, but it offers a wide range of artworks from throughout history and the world to elucidate major themes and concepts. Even while it is non-linear or chronological, the text nonetheless covers terms and ideas specific to historical moments, taking them as case studies to illustrate larger themes. The end of each chapter includes questions to consider and a list of major terms with definitions.
excellent, to my knowledge.
While the book references very contemporary technology, including 3D printing, etc., it contextualizes them in more traditional methods; the themes and of the text remain timeless.
Both the imagery and the phrasing read easily. The images are very detailed and include helpful close ups.
The progression of chapter creates a very readable narrative.
The book is well divided up, and I appreciate the integration of both historical and formal terms throughout, to offer new historical information throughout without becoming dense.
The book lays out a great foundation for material and terms of analysis to get into deeper themes and modes of interpretation.
One thing I would add/change, is for the images to include the dates in the caption, not just in the text. While the text is non-linear, I think it's important for the dates to be readily available to understand the historical breadth of the works.
none that I encountered.
I especially enjoyed the integration of works from throughout the world. Often in more conventional texts, art of the non-western world gets relegated to their own, atemporal chapters. This format allows for thematic comparisons that helps to breakdown the hierarchies of the canon.
This book covers a broad range of areas that are typically included in a college level art appreciation book. Because it covers so many different read more
This book covers a broad range of areas that are typically included in a college level art appreciation book. Because it covers so many different areas—it doesn’t go into a lot of depth in any one area. However, an instructor could easily provide more depth by providing supplementary material for specific areas. The book is arranged by topics or themes which is typical for most art appreciation books. It is not arranged chronological--which is usually the format for art history books.
The book appears to be accurate, error-free and unbiased--although I did catch one inaccurate statement regarding the Vietnam War Memorial. The memorial is below ground level but the book claims that this reflects “the belief that the Vietnam War was initially conducted ‘beneath the surface,’ that is, unknown to most Americans.” However, in the 1995 documentary, “A Strong Clear Vision” the designer (Maya Lin) explains a totally different reason why it is underground. This conflict between what the artist says and what the book says is worth noting. It did make me a bit concerned that other material may also be inaccurate—but I did not catch any other inaccurate statements.
This book should have relevance for a long time because the material it covers is primarily about past art—which for the most part doesn’t change. While it is possible that new information may become available that changes our understanding of the work—for the most part our educated guesses about the message, meaning, or function of the works will remain the same. In addition, the vast majority of images and information included in this book are also found in most of the standard art appreciation textbooks.
The textbook is written in a style that is clear and easy to understand and follow. Specific terms are written in bold text with their definitions listed at the end of each chapter.
There is a consistency in the way the material is presented in each chapter.
Each of the chapters are divided into smaller sections that make it easy to assign or highlight a specific portion of the text. In addition, each chapter starts with Learning Outcomes and ends with Key Concepts, Test Yourself, and Key Terms sections.
The topics in the text are presented in a fairly logical and clear fashion. It is very similar to other art appreciation textbooks I have used in the past. The book starts with fundamental concepts (what is art, art materials and techniques, describing art, finding the meaning, etc.) and then it proceeds into more advanced topics (connecting art to our lives, identity, power, ritual Life, and ethics). There is a separate chapter on architecture which seems a bit odd since no other area was given a specific chapter of its own.
The pdf interface is very functional to use and easy to navigate and download. While I understand the reasons for including links to copyright protected images I did find having to click on the link cumbersome and somewhat disruptive. In addition, often I felt a bit confused when I started reading about a work of art that did not have a printed picture to accompany it. I found myself glancing around the page trying to find the image that I was reading about only to see that later in the paragraph there was a link. Perhaps having the link at the beginning of the paragraph would have worked better. Plus, it would serve as a notice that the following text is about an image that needs to be viewed via a link. A few of the links brought me to pages that were no longer active.
I did not notice any grammatical errors.
The material in this book does includes examples from a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds—although most of the material is from what is traditional considered the origins and evolution of western civilizations.
This would be a good book for an art appreciation course. Because of its modularity it would be easy for an instructor to assign specific areas to establish a basic foundation and then provide supplementary material for in-depth explorations of chosen topics.
For an art appreciation textbook, there is no set of required information that must be included and, therefore, a textbook's comprehensiveness is read more
For an art appreciation textbook, there is no set of required information that must be included and, therefore, a textbook's comprehensiveness is somewhat subjective. This textbook does cover some core areas for this discipline: the definition of art; the function of art; elements of art and principles of design; and different media used to make art. I thought that the treatment of the elements and principles and of the media was cursory. Beyond that the textbook is thematic, with the choices of themes being somewhat idiosyncratic. The treatment of the subject was constrained by the authors' focus primarily on the traditional media associated with fine arts, such as painting, sculpture, and architecture. Other current art appreciation textbooks also include more modern media, such as film and design. The scope was also hampered, in part, by the distinction the authors' drew between art and craft. The focus of the textbook is mostly on art made before 1960, with most of it produced long before that. There is a dearth of examples of contemporary art being made by artists in the last 20 years. An exception to this is the chapter on Art and Ethics, which addresses recent controversies in the field. The textbook does not include an index or a comprehensive glossary. Terms are defined at the end of each chapter. The table of contents is not sufficient to function as an index.
The content of the textbook is generally error free. There are some opinions expressed that I do not agree with, but these are debates that are not settled within the art history community. The authors do not seem completely up to date on recent scholarship in some areas. For example, the "Snake Goddess" from Crete is included when modern scholarship has called into question the validity of its heavily reconstructed form.
Since much of the art covered in the textbook was made before 1960, the content is up-to date and will not become obsolete quickly. The exceptions to this are the links to external web pages that will need to be maintained on a regular basis. Without this regular maintenance, these links could become obsolete quickly. This could pose a problem since the links are embedded in the content of the text.
The textbook is written in prose that should be accessible for the average college freshman. Specialized discipline-specific terminology is defined in the text and in a list of terms at the end of each chapter. The text does lack an comprehensive glossary of these terms..
The textbook is internally consistent in organizational framework of each chapter and in the use of terminology.
The textbook is divided into small reading sections with clear headings and subheadings. These could easily be reorganized and realigned.
I found it difficult to follow the organization and structure of the text. There seemed to be no clear logic to much of the distribution of the chapters and the chapter sections. Related content can be found in different chapters of the text. For example, both the chapter on Form in Architecture and on Art and Ritual Life contain extensive sections covering sacred architecture. Within the chapter sections, there is some organization based on chronology, although this is not consistent. This creates a problem in which chronology is repeated without a larger, cohesive historical narrative. .
The interface of the textbook was effective overall with no significant issues that would distract or confuse the reader. Of necessity, the textbook provides links to works of art that are not reproducible in the textbook due to copyright issues. These links can be clunky and I would be concerned that students will not take the time to click on them all while reading the textbook. Links need to be reviewed. At least one of the links within the text to external images was broken. For the most part the images included in the textbook are high quality, although I find their sourcing odd from random users on Wikimedia.
Overall, the textbook contains no major grammatical errors beyond a few typographical errors.
The textbook draws its examples primarily from Western (European and American) and Asian cultures. There is some inclusion of other cultures, races, and ethnicities, such as Native American or African, although this aspect of the textbook could be strengthened. An instructor would need to bring in additional examples to make a course using this textbook truly inclusive. The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive.
This textbook could be appropriate for usage in an Art Appreciation class, if the instructor of the course was comfortable with the somewhat idiosyncratic thematic choices of the authors. For example, the inclusion of the chapter on the Significance of Materials is not typically included in an art appreciation textbook. The textbook would not work for an Art History course that is taught in a chronological framework. Specific dates are not provided for most of the objects discussed, although birth and death dates of artists are. The historical context and timeline of the works covered by the text are subsumed within the thematic organization.
The text covers information listed in the table of contents adequately. Content is arranged thematically as is common in art appreciation courses. read more
The text covers information listed in the table of contents adequately. Content is arranged thematically as is common in art appreciation courses. Each chapter includes a glossary of terms covered at the end of the chapter. It does not include an index at the end of the text. Readers must review the table of contents and guess where information may be found.
The historical information listed in the text was accurate. The text included accurate information regarding styles and movements and theory associated with art. However, the text presents basic and surface level information and lacks in depth views on any one topic.
The content of the text is up-to-date particularly in the discussion of media types. Should updates be necessary it would be easy to implement them.
The text clearly defines bolded terminology. Each chapter is divided into sections and information in each section is related to the theme of that content area. The language is clear and easy to read and follow.
The language used, content presented, and organizational themes are consistent throughout the text.
The text follows a pattern of listing objectives, sectioning off each chapter, and following up with review concepts and terminology. Sections of the text can be assigned at different points within the course.
The text includes eleven chapters divided into sections. While each chapter and subsequent section is rich with information, heading and subheadings do not give a clear sense of what content will be present in a given area. Without an index it is not clear to readers when or where readers will find certain information.
When reading the text online I encountered an issue clicking on links to images. The link would bring me to the image in the same window as the text. I would then have to go back to the text and find my place.
I did not find any grammatical errors.
The text was inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities and backgrounds.
This would be a decent text to use in an art appreciation course but not in a survey art history course. The content is not arranged chronologically or by region. Rather it is divided thematically into broad sections. I was pleasantly surprised with the information listed in several portions of the text. While it does not cover any area in depth it does a fair job of presenting a basic foundation for most of the major topics covered in an art appreciation course. Instructors will find they need to expand on most concepts and should plan on supplementing the text with readings and lectures. Without an index it is difficult to gauge when and where readers will find specific content. Chapter titles and section sub heads are very broad and do not help with pinpointing the location of information.
The textbook thoroughly covers the topics of each chapter, and each chapter has enough range that it could easily be supplemented and ideas expanded read more
The textbook thoroughly covers the topics of each chapter, and each chapter has enough range that it could easily be supplemented and ideas expanded upon. The "Key Concepts" and "Key Terms" sections after each chapter are very useful and would prove an effective study tool for students, as would the "Test Yourself" study questions. However, the textbook should have a master glossary of terms at the end for ease of reference. This is a large omission, especially for students studying for midterms and finals, or working on papers or larger group projects.
There are a small number of typos and usages of uncommon words when more simple words would suffice that are confusing and obscure meaning. (E.g., the tile for section 5.4.3: "Prohibition and Destruction of Imagery: Iconoclasm" misspells the word "iconoclasm," which is particularly problematic as "iconoclasm" could easily be reenforced as a key vocabulary word.)
The text is relevant, and one of its strengths is the breadth and depth of the visual examples anchoring the chapters.
The text is fluid, and the language accessible in a way that would be suitable for different levels of students.
While the text is generally well-organized, the organization of the chapters is somewhat confusing. The choice of chapter topics is also somewhat confusing. Certain major topics are omitted (for example, a chapter dedicated to a more in-depth survey of major artistic media), for what are some interesting but less necessary topics (e.g., Significance of materials in art). This will pose a challenge for instructors who might have to carefully weigh which chapters to teach. This might be especially problematic for instructors teaching in a 10-week term system, or who would supplement the text with additional lessons focused on the history of art (which is omitted from this volume).
The text would easily be divided, which is a strength as the organization of the chapters as it stands might not work for every instructor.
The topics are generally presented in a logical, clear fashion. The structure of chapters is easy to read and flows well.
The text cleverly utilizes open access images. The images are generally very compelling and of high-resolution, which is a big bonus in a visual arts textbook. There are only a few images that are grainy or fuzzy and would beed to be replaced (e.g., the statue of Menkaure and Queen). The interface is legible and pleasing to navigate.
The text contains no grammar errors.
An array of images from different time periods, geographical locations, and cultures. This is a huge bonus, as visual arts fields are moving to make curricula more inclusive. It would have been useful to include more contemporary art, as this is an important topic to emphasize when teaching about visual culture, and is relevant to students' lives. It is also important for instructors who might be teaching visual arts and studio students.
A unique text with a compelling choice of images and topics, and worthy entry in the expanding but still very limited field of art appreciation/visual culture textbooks. I would have liked to see a glossary of terms at the end of the text. It would also be useful to have a discussion of art history, and if not a chapter or more dedicated to art history, at least a timeline at the end of the text. The students are presented with an overwhelming number of artworks, so a general historical reference at the end of the text would be useful. Finally, there are some omissions of topics in favor of narrowing or less important topics that would necessitate some supplemental teaching materials or lessons.
The text covers a broad survey of art including many art forms. Photography, digital media and relational aesthetics examples are lacking throughout read more
The text covers a broad survey of art including many art forms. Photography, digital media and relational aesthetics examples are lacking throughout the text. Chapters include examples of Western and non-Western art and architecture. More context could be fleshed out for how works of art were relevant in their own time. The text effectively references images and graphics that are either included in the text or linked on the web. There is no index, and a list of images would benefit the reader by seeing examples listed in chronological order or by medium. Image captions in the text should include mediums, date and location information, which would help with quick reference and to classify a work illustrating an era.
The wrong title is listed in a few image captions. Otherwise, the book appears error-free.
The content of the book spans the ancient world through contemporary art and reflects current art-world values and attitudes in broad terms -- defining art and artists through a contemporary lens and recognizing the omission of women and marginalized groups throughout the canon of art. Though the recognition is valid, more modern and contemporary art examples could be used to reflect the contributions of a broader group of artists. There are many links to outside sources for imagery, and it is unknown how often those may be checked for changes and errors. A safeguard against readers following links to sources that may have changed their content would be to insert those images directly into the text, which would also help the reading flow, particularly when two works are offered for comparison, such as Wiley’s and Clésinger’s "Femme Piquée par un Serpent," in which only Clésinger’s is included in the text.
Text is written clearly using accessible language for students. Adequate context is given for technical terms with minor exception. The questions at the end of each chapter to check for understanding reflect the text, though more attention could be aimed at mirroring the language and terms used in the chapter.
The chapters are subdivided consistently. There are a few instances in which the title of a work in the text narrative does not match the title given in the caption for the image. There are also some terms listed in the glossary that do not appear in the corresponding chapter. Similarly, there are some inconsistencies in the “Test Yourself” questions, in which the corresponding information is missing.
The chapters are clearly defined as are the concise, themed subsections. It could be easily reorganized to fit subunits of a course, though the text is jumbled chronologically due to classification by theme.
The text flows logically by the outlined themes. The book’s organization would benefit from some reference to a chronology. Without this context, a novice student may struggle to follow a somewhat disjointed selection of art and artifacts.
Internal references to images are made sufficiently clear. Over time, the numerous links to other web material may need updating. There is one reference in the text that is missing a link. A few links reveal images and are too small and low-resolution. The handful of formatting mistakes and typos are somewhat distracting, as is the single column layout.
The text appears free of grammatical errors.
The text is inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities and backgrounds. The balance of art examples still favors a white, male perspective. References to “our” perspective should be made explicit as such. Some general examples given to explain concepts lack universality, such as yoga as an example of art and science.
This book would serve well as primer for beginning art students for its far-reaching historical scope and theme-based approach, though a student would need supplemental material to address contemporary art forms and the contributions of a broader group of artists.
The text is organized thematically and covers some of the areas of Art. Some of the content is overly simplified , and some important artistic read more
The text is organized thematically and covers some of the areas of Art. Some of the content is overly simplified , and some important artistic movements are omitted. There is no index, which make it difficult for students to comprehend some key concepts.
Content is accurate and error free. Images shown and links to artists are mostly of Western Art/ Artist, very few examples , in comparison, of Non-Western Art/Artist.
The text is current and few sections would need updating.Necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement.
The text is written in clear and concise manner.
The text is consistent in terms of terminology and framework.
The text is easily dividable into smaller sections to fit with various topics of discussion throughout a term.
The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion, but smoother transitions between the different chapters would help.
The text is free of significant interface issues, easy to navigate , with clear images. very easy to download and print.
The text contains no grammatical errors.
The text does not have many examples of non-western artist and is not overly inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, backgrounds, gender.
This text successfully manages the difficult task of synthesizing a plethora of approaches when studying art and its history. It considers numerous read more
This text successfully manages the difficult task of synthesizing a plethora of approaches when studying art and its history. It considers numerous ethical, philosophical, and thematic issues typically left out of traditional survey books. While these comprise a robust and welcome conversation about the reception, agency, epistemology, and meaning of art, it comes at the cost of a slightly anemic treatment of major historical developments along conventional lines. No index is present or list of illustrations.
Some problems with Italian language terminology are evident, such as "giornate."
The content incorporates relevant and informed perspectives on crucial art world debates, including issues of ethical circulation of cultural property and material culture. Its content offers a broad appeal across the humanities and even social sciences, with relevance to students of philosophy and history as well archaeology and communication.
The prose tends to be clear and readable, though veers towards a somewhat overly conversational and colloquial tone. In places it seems imprecise and too rambling, needing much more concise and to the point verbiage. Also, captions for images are not given information relating to date, medium, or dimensions--a crucial oversight!
The text displays consistency throughout and does a good job of integrating key terms and concepts throughout its chapters. The bolded key terms that appear as a glossary at the close of each chapter is especially helpful, as well as the "test yourself" sections and introductory concepts that start each chapter. Such stand-alone devices are a great boon to students and surely aid with comprehension.
One keen advantage of this text is the authors' clever division of the material into cogent modules that mesh well with poignant themes currently driving the discipline of art history and also the best courses at colleges and universities. In this way, the text serves as an indispensable resources in introductory design and art history courses, as well as upper-level seminars focused on interpretation, methodology, and philosophy of art.
Overall the book is logically organized, particularly chapters 1-5 and 8-11. However, chapters 6-7 are oddly placed and the section on architecture is not well integrated into the rest of the text. It is treated like a separate and outlying practice instead of being carefully woven into the rest of the chapters on form, production, materials, etc. Likewise, chapter 7, though integral and vital, seems out of place. It would perhaps best be placed before the chapter on meaning, since it offers background on socio-cultural behavior as foundation through which to better understand art.
In general, the illustrations and figures are crisp and high resolution. However, they are not expandable or zoomable as is common in other electronic or digital textbook platforms currently available. Likewise, the internet hyperlinks could be replaced with embedded content to better increase the longevity of the text. Some odd spacing around the figures and illustrations is distracting as well.
See comment 4 above. In general, the discussions could be edited to offer a more precise and concise analysis that is less conversational and more direct. Right now it reads as if the authors are pandering a bit to a student audience by invoking memes, selfies, and other ostensibly trendy cultural phenomena.
Another great advantage of this text is its admixture of canonical and popular objects, drawing upon mainstays of art history as well as more of-the-moment visual culture. It is particularly adept at addressing themes that weave together global works in many media from makers of many backgrounds, thereby questioning the entrenched and monolithic canon.
While the text covers such a vast amount of visual art history, genres, meaning, symbolism, materials, etc., because it's so much, it can only very read more
While the text covers such a vast amount of visual art history, genres, meaning, symbolism, materials, etc., because it's so much, it can only very briefly mention these topics. That said, the glossary of terms is thorough and appropriate. The 'learning outcomes' and 'test yourself' sections are also very well organized. It can help students understand the kinds of questions and testing done in art survey classes. In terms of studio art though the book can be a supplement only. Textbooks can be excellent but still not substitutes for the instruction of the hands on manipulation of materials.
The book is unbiased (if there is any bias, it's very slightly European. But which comprehensive survey book is?!) and presents its varied historical genres accurately.
The book suffers slightly from not discussing more contemporary artists and genres, especially performance, installation and public- art based works. Mid 20th century and before, the book is quite thorough. Because of this it is perhaps mildly more prone to obsolescence.
The book is excellent in its prose. Very clear, easy to understand, many good images and illustrations.
The book feels consistent overall. As described elsewhere, it may suffer a little from its lack of discussion of contemporary genres, artists, techniques, etc.
The modularity is the book's necessary natural feature since it cover so much. The chapters are quick and concise.
The 'Personal and Communal Need to Create' sections are so important. I appreciate that this was covered at length. Some sections are not elaborated on as much. I believe the isolated discussion of different art materials (a section on oil paint, a section on print, etc.) is clear and organized- I also believe it should be discussed that these techniques and materials are also very interchangeable.
The book is very well organized. Illustrations and pictures are appropriately shown. More images of 'artists at work' could improve the text.
No grammar issues detected.
The book does a good job of being varied and unbiased, especially when describing art made in varying regions by peoples with different ethnic backgrounds.
I believe the book can function very well as an Open Art History/ Survey Textbook.
The text presents its themes in an order that is easy to follow. The examples provided are relevant and serve well to illustrate the concept. The read more
The text presents its themes in an order that is easy to follow. The examples provided are relevant and serve well to illustrate the concept. The prompts at the end of each chapter also present good starting points for class discussion.
The content is accurate. The definitions provided are concise.
The content is current. The inclusion of "fourth dimensional" art is particularly helpful in discussing contemporary art.
The terminology used is easy to understand. The "key terms" section is also helpful in its definition of terms that are introduced in that chapter.
The terminology used is consistent and works to expand on the content for proceeding chapters.
The arrangement of sections allow for each to be taken separately as necessary. The chapters can be presented in different order or omitted altogether.
The order of each chapter and its individual sections are easy to follow. Presenting basic concepts on the definition of art and the formal qualities that comprise an artwork in the first four chapters provides a good starting point for the context and meaning discussed further into the text. The only issue with the "flow" would be the inclusion of the chapter on architecture.
The images were presented within the appropriate text and were displayed clearly. The size of the PDF makes searching for a specific term or section a bit difficult, but otherwise there are no problems with the interface.
There were no grammatical errors in this version of the text.
A broader cultural range of examples would be more helpful, however, this is something an instructor can easily amend within classroom lecture or discussion.
This is an excellent introductory text to basic art elements and concepts. On its own, it provides a clear overview for students with no art history background. It can also be used to support other texts where more specific art movements are discussed.
The text is a bold work in terms of content coverage. It focuses on the nuts and bolts of learning about and discussing art and its context, and read more
The text is a bold work in terms of content coverage. It focuses on the nuts and bolts of learning about and discussing art and its context, and combines these with some considerable information on art history, It therefore aptly fits the needs of a foundation class. Although it has semblances of existing studies, this is not your traditional introductory art textbook. Apart from the in-depth discussion of concepts, techniques, and terminologies, the authors have included learning outcomes at the beginning of each chapter, exercises (review questions) at the end plus key terms to help users review and affirm the content of every chapter. I also find very instructive the discussion of ways of looking at and understanding works of art in chapter 4; the distinction between formal and critical analysis, and the distinction in analysis, description, interpretation and evaluation. These comprehensive discussion make the text a great resource. The material is also reader friendly. I find that there is minimal references to non-western art especially African and African Diaspora Art. This is palpably obvious even under the discussion 4.5.1 Cultural Style in Chapter 4. The illustrations in the text are also geared towards the examination of western art than other categories including Asian and African. In the discussion of two and three dimensional art (with highlights on materials and techniques), almost all illustrations and examples are western art, with some minimal references to Chinese and Japanese preferred materials for art, and their processes.
There are minor typos found in different pages of the text. For instance: i). Introduction: 2.4. Art Forms (cat egories should read categories) ii). Chapter 8: p. 247 "iconoclas" should read "iconoclasm"' Additionally, there is issue of consistency when "iconoclasm" is used as a sub-heading but not mentioned again in the body of the text.It also does not appear in the list of terms of reference. Consistency in reference to location: Benin is in Nigeria, West Africa and not just Africa as presented in the text on page 232. It is correctly referenced in previous pages.
Content is up-to-date. However, it may require updating in the next three years to expands coverage particularly the diversity of the subject matter covered, illustrations, and invariably to bring new content into the chapters.
The text is ready friendly, written in straightforward accessible prose. The definitions of terminologies accurate and simplified for readers to grasp the concepts quickly.
A consistent template runs through the chapters. However, there is an issue with consistency when "iconoclasm" is used as a sub-heading but not mentioned again in the body of the text.It also does not appear in the list of terms of reference. Consistency issue with the way a culture's location is referenced: Benin is in Nigeria, West Africa and not just Africa as presented in the text on page 232. It is somewhat appropriately referenced in previous pages. Consistency issue with the spelling of terracotta (pages 273-4, and 277)
Excellent compartmentalization, though I find the many sub-headings a bit problematic.
The structure of the book is very well organized. The topics are presented in logical sequence.
The interface appears many and a bit distracting. The links interspersed in the text forces the reader to go in and out of the text to check images being compared with those embedded in the text. It would have been more effective if these were readily accessible in the text for immediate comparison. No evidence of overtly distorted images (Perhaps Figure 10.37?). However, some of them could be improved for clarity (Figure 10.48 and 10.49).
No grammatical errors but there are typos.
The text could do with some examples of ideas and images about diverse cultures that the learner in the introductory class can later build upon.
Nothing beyond the outlined responses to other questions in this review.
This text does cover the material its title implies at an introductory level. More depth could be used in some areas. In the chapter on describing read more
This text does cover the material its title implies at an introductory level. More depth could be used in some areas. In the chapter on describing art some major stylistic movements were omitted. The approach to describing art changes relevant to the time period and that is not addressed here by omitting some of the major Art movements like Impressionism, Cubism, Realism, photography and digital imagine.
All external Links work Information is accurate but seems to lack in depth in some areas. The artwork shown is primarily from the western world and the art of dead white men. In choosing which art to include as examples more diversity in artists’ ethnicity and gender should be included for a more balanced and realistic scope of art
The technical content of the text is up – to – date. The information as far as approaches to understanding art in general don’t change. Many of the artworks used to illustrate concepts are well known and appear in many standard art history textbooks. However, the lack of contemporary art examples makes some of the content less relevant to the life of the contemporary student. Art, how and why its made) is changing and this text does not necessarily address how to understand new practices in art
The text is clearly written in an easy to understand format.
The format, vocabulary and tone of writing is consistent throughout the text.
a. Each chapter is broken down into subsection that focus on a specific aspect of the overall chapter theme. b. Sections could be combined for instructional purposes c. Sections are brief enough to allow for quick coverage but also leave room for individual teacher adjustments to focus more time and discussion on specific concepts
a. The topics and objectives of each chapter are clear and flow in a logical format. While there could be an argument for some readjustment of chapter ordering, it progresses in a thoughtful format.
o This is a pdf text that can be downloaded to computer or tablet form the web. This allows students access to the main content without having to have internet for most of the content. o The outside links to artworks are necessary to view significant artwork that is not in the creative commons directly at this point. However over time that will change as the original artist dies and time has passed from the date of its creation.
The book's grammar is written using correct English.
The text does not show any outright bias against any specific cultural, racial or ethnic groups. However they are not many examples of non-western art or artists or women artists within the examples provided within the book. This is not unusual for many art survey books but there is a new movement in art education to expand the examples of art to include more people of color and women as well as more diversity in cultural arts within educational texts.
o This book is a good introductory text for a basic art survey class. It doesn’t go into depth in art history or studio practices but it does present a basic knowledgebase for understanding art in general and how to interpret and appreciate a variety of elements of art. o A teacher using this text would want to supplement the reading with practical studio experiences to give students a better understanding of some of the media and techniques presented in the book as well as an opportunity to practice the methods of analyzing artworks with more contemporary artworks.
Content adequately covers the subjects it purports to include. However, there is no comprehensive index. A brief list of Key Terms is included within read more
Content adequately covers the subjects it purports to include. However, there is no comprehensive index. A brief list of Key Terms is included within each chapter. These lists are barely adequate and probably confusing to neophyte students with no art background. For instance, in 1.9 KEY TERMS, p.30, Icon is described primarily as often religious. “Icon”, in art, may have multiple meanings according to the culture that produced the artifact and its use by those members of that group. As an example, the image of “Isis” is an icon found throughout Egyptian culture with various “religious” as well as “power” and other cultural meanings. This criticism can be directed to all KEY TERMS lists in the text to some extent. Illustrations appear to be consistent with the knowledge base of the written text. In other words, illustrations fit the need and are usually of good quality and reference the dialog effectively. Titles are included for each image along with the artist/author and sources where appropriate. Missing are important notes about media, method, size, and date alongside the illustration. Non-art students are wont to go to the trouble of looking up this important information.
Some KEY TERMS terminology is lacking in completeness or accuracy. Perhaps it is because the editors wished to make definitions simple, too simple. Bias is toward pleasing everyone while skimming over important iconographic details of the art forms examined. Dialog needs to be aimed at describing the iconographic content of art rather than ancillary historic events.
Content appears to be current in a way that will not make the text out-of-date within a normal time period. Updates, except for items that need immediate attention, should be easy to implement.
This text is actually written in a student-oriented manner that makes a connection between current student populations and information required to cover the subject matter. Applause to the editors.
This text is consistent with overall use of terms and organizational framework. Iconographic statements should be revised so they are accurate and clearly defined to explain the focus, use, and understanding of the art.
This text is divided into eleven rather arbitrary chapters. Editors chose these topics to somehow relate not only to history of art but to serious ways of making art. So this text is not aimed at teaching students about the why of art but about the construction of art. This makes it an art appreciation text, not an art history text. The format does not flow historically but topically.
It is difficult for the novice student to follow these disjointed chapters to a conclusion about what art really is. Each module or chapter is an end in itself and does not develop a cohesive theme about art itself. The Art and Ethics chapter is particularly misguided. This chapter’s content should be placed alongside relevant art objects and discussed in relation to that art.
Text is rife with various and confusing imagery placed next to each other making it difficult for the beginning art historian to make sense of it. There is a lack of cohesive structure throughout the text with a few exceptions. One example is the discussion of “porphyry” in chapter three. This dialog goes from the Sarcophagus of Constantina to the Palace Chapel of Aachen with no real discussion of how valuable materials are used for iconographic purposes. It then goes on to explain a "mausolea" for some reason. In addition, I find reading the book difficult because it does not use two columns as a standard interface. It uses only a single column throughout the text.
I find no essential grammatical errors or problems.
Text is very inclusive and comprehensive in this matter.
In chapter five I found the Key Concepts very well written and useful to students It is strange that there is a chapter on Architecture alone as an art form. Photography? or Painting? or Sculpture? or Ceramics? or Weaving...
The text covers Art in a thematic approach. It explains concepts in an easy to understand manner. read more
The text covers Art in a thematic approach. It explains concepts in an easy to understand manner.
The content is accurate and error-free.
The text is current and few sections would need updating.
The text is written is a manner that those who are new to art and art history can easily understand. There are definitions for words that are new for the readers.
The text is consistent in its use of terms and the framework in which it is written.
The text is written with smaller rather than larger sections and is follow throughout the chapters of the book.
There is a logical progression to the text.
It is free of distortion of images and the illustrations are clear.
It is free of grammar errors.
It is culturally sensitive without bias. It could use more examples of art from the non-Western world for some sections to provide better balance.
Enjoyable read and could be used alone or with supplemental material.
The text is organized thematically and does not offer a chronological survey of the history of art. Chapters discuss forms and materials, the read more
The text is organized thematically and does not offer a chronological survey of the history of art. Chapters discuss forms and materials, the processes of describing and interpreting art, aesthetics, architectural form, art and identity, art and power, art and ritual, and art and ethics. These topics are all covered effectively. Chapters include examples of Western and non-Western art and architecture and offer many comparisons of art from different cultures. While there is no index, the reader may refer to the chapter titles and the glossaries found at the end of each chapter.
The factual information provided is accurate, does not contain errors and is sensitive to world views.
The themes that have been selected are well chosen and will remain relevant so that the text will not require constant revision. However, the URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) or web addresses for different web sites may change over time and the authors may want to update the text by adding examples of contemporary art.
The text discusses complex ideas in a clear and concise manner. Terms used in each chapter are clearly defined in the text and in the chapter glossaries.
Each chapter covers material outlined in the table of contents and the introductory chapter. Each chapter also has a summary of key concepts and reinforces the themes developed throughout the text.
The chapters and sections within the chapters are clearly delineated. There are on average, eight sections in every chapter, making it easy to divide the text into discrete units and easy to refer to specific topics.
The themes and ideas covered in the text are clearly delineated. There are clear transitions from section to section and from one idea to the next.
The illustrations are clearly numbered and referenced in the text. The images are from public domain sources on the web and are identified as such. It would be helpful to have dates for the images and references to the museums where the art objects are located either in the text or as additional information added to the labels for the images.
There are few grammatical errors. There are a few typographical errors such as misspellings of memento mori on page 98, of Edgar Allan Poe on page 214, and of iconoclasm on page 246.
The text compares works of art from different cultures and seems inclusive, objective, and balanced in terms of the items included and the content.
The text departs from standard introductory surveys by referring to objects from different cultures and historical periods that have been selected to illustrate the myriad functions of art, that is, art as map, religious work, “secular icon”, etc. Material is organized thematically rather than chronologically using a comparative model. The chapters on forms, materials, description, symbolic interpretation, aesthetics, architectural form, identity, power, ritual, and ethics, also encourage the reader to make connections to contemporary art and culture. Key concepts are reviewed in the chapter summaries and each chapter has a list of questions that can be used by the student to review the material as well as a glossary of key terms. The chapters on forms and materials support the study of art based on media. In the discussion of interpretive methods, the reader also gains insight into the role of the viewer as well as the artist in determining meaning and is asked to consider the continued relevance of artistic expression. The book could be adapted for teaching a more conventional survey of art if sections are assigned based on content. Chapter 10 on art and ritual, for example, largely follows a historical trajectory that begins with Stonehenge and examines architectural forms in Hawaii and Japan before discussing the sacred spaces and art of the medieval period that have been produced in different media. The strength of this work is that students are asked to make comparisons. They are also asked to think contextually about global art.
Table of Contents
Chapter One: What is Art?
1.1 Learning Outcomes
1.3 What is Visual Art?
1.4 Who is Considered an Artist? What Does It Mean To Be An Artist?
1.5 The Role of the Viewer
1.6 Why Do We Make Art?
1.7 Concepts Explored in Later Chapters
1.8 Before You Move On
1.9 Key Terms
Chapter Two: The Structure of Art
2.1 Learning Outcomes
2.3 Art Specific Vocabulary
2.4 Art Forms
2.5 Form and Composition
2.6 Before You Move On
2.7 Key Terms
Chapter Three: Significance of Materials Used in Art
3.1 Learning Outcomes
3.3 Utility and Value of Materials
3.4 Precious Materials, Spolia, and Borrowed Glory
3.5 Liquidation of Treasures
3.6 Wood, Inlay, and Lacquer
3.7 Intrinsic Values and Enhanced Worth of Metals
3.8 Rare Materials and Prohibited Uses
3.9 Material Connotations of Class or Station
3.10 Before You Move On
3.11 Key Terms
Chapter Four: Describing Art
4.1 Learning Outcomes
4.3 Formal or Critical Analysis
4.4 Types of Art
4.5 Styles of Art
4.6 Before You Move On
4.7 Key Terms
Chapter Five: Meaning in Art
5.1 Learning Outcomes
5.3 Socio-Cultural Contexts
5.4 Symbolism and Iconography
5.5 Before You Move On
5.6 Key Terms
Chapter Six: Connecting Art to Our Lives
6.1 Learning Outcomes
6.4 Expression (Philosophical, Political, Religious, Personal)
6.7 Protest and Shock
6.8 Celebration and Commemoration
6.10 Information, Education, and Inspiration
6.11 Before You Move On
6.12 Key Terms
Chapter Seven: Form in Architecture
7.1 Learning Outcomes
7.3 Residential Needs
7.4 Community and Government
7.7 Before You Move On
7.8 Key Terms
Chapter Eight: Art and Identity
8.1 Learning Outcomes
8.3 Individual vs Cultural Groups
8.4 Before You Move On
8.5 Key Terms
Chapter Nine: Art and Power
9.1 Learning Outcomes
9.3 Propaganda, Persuasion, Politics, and Power
9.4 Imagery Of War
9.5 Before You Move On
9.6 Key Terms
Chapter10: Art and Ritual Life
10.1 Learning Outcomes
10.3 Exterior Ritual Spaces
10.4 The Sacred Interior
10.5 Masks and Ritual Behavior
10.6 Funerary Spaces and Grave Goods
10.7 Before You Move On
10.8 Key Terms
Chapter Eleven: Art and Ethics
11.1 Learning Outcomes
11.3 Ethical Considerations in Making and Using Art
11.5 Ethical Considerations in the Collecting and Display of Art
11.6 Before You Move On
11.7 Key Terms
About the Book
Introduction to Art: Design, Context, and Meaning offers a comprehensive introduction to the world of Art. Authored by four USG faculty members with advance degrees in the arts, this textbooks offers up-to-date original scholarship. It includes over 400 high-quality images illustrating the history of art, its technical applications, and its many uses.
Combining the best elements of both a traditional textbook and a reader, it introduces such issues in art as its meaning and purpose; its meaning and purpose; its structure, material, and form; and its diverse effects on our lives. Its digital nature allows students to follow links to applicable sources and videos, expanding the students’ educational experiences beyond the textbook. Introduction to Art: Design, Context, and Meaning provides a new and free alternative to traditional textbooks, making it an invaluable resource in our modern age of technology and advancement.
About the Contributors
Pamela Sachant is an art history professor at North Georgia College & State University located in Dahlonega, Georgia.
Peggy Blood is Director of Confucius Institute and Full Professor in the Department of Fine Arts Humanities & Wellness. Prior to SSU she Directed satellite campuses (Fairfield &Travis AFD) for Chapman Universities in California. Her area of specialization is Fine Arts, Higher Education & Administration. She is a Fulbright Specialist & Fulbright Specialist Program Peer Reviewer, and reviewer for other academic fellowships and scholarships. Blood is a visiting scholar at Jiujiang University in Jiujiang, China.