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Introduction to Art: Design, Context, and Meaning

(24 reviews)

Pamela Sachant, University of North Georgia

Peggy Blood, Savannah State University

Pub Date: 2016

Publisher: University of North Georgia Press

Language: English

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Reviewed by Mandy Keathley, part time professor, Linn-Benton Community College on 1/29/19

Considering how entry level and accessible the text is, it is also fairly comprehensive. I wish there were more contemporary art examples, but I was able to fill in as needed. I found it sufficient as an outline, and did a lot to fill in the gaps. read more


Reviewed by Bob Casper, Adjunct Faculty, Boise State University on 1/9/19

I used it a supplement for a Webdesign course, reinforcing artistic concepts, and it was well received by the students. read more


Reviewed by Lori Parks, Visiting Assistant Professor, Art History, Miami University on 8/3/18

The focus and organization of this text is similar to a number of other Art Appreciation textbooks currently available. For example, there are a number of texts that present Art Appreciation through a thematic structure. The material is... read more


Reviewed by Dina Pizzarello, Adjunct Assistant Professor, LaGuardia Community College on 5/22/18

This textbook would be a wonderful source for any beginner art or art appreciation class. It does not delve too deeply, but that is a plus for the beginner and/or typical non-artist using this resource. An index and glossary would be great... read more


Reviewed by Jonathan Johnson, Associate Professor, Otterbein University on 5/22/18

This textbook is ambitious and covers a lot of ground—both theoretically and historically. The thematic (as opposed to purely chronological or geographical) approach and interface allows the soaring comprehensiveness of this text to take a... read more


Reviewed by Arianne Fernandez, Full - Time Lecturer, LaGuardia Community College on 5/22/18

The range of topics this book covers provides a great resource for teaching students the basics of visual art and introducing them to various media and techniques as well as the process of art making, from multiple. Since the text covers a wide... read more


Reviewed by Peter Spooner, Instructor, Lake Superior College on 5/22/18

With eleven chapters in just under 300 pages, the text provides a comprehensive framework with which to explore the topic of art appreciation. It does not (nor does it claim to) offer a complete art historical survey, but rather uses examples of... read more


Reviewed by Victoria Hutson, Art Faculty, Lake Superior College on 2/2/18

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... read more


Reviewed by Eleanor Johnston, Academic Skills Librarian, Staffordshire University on 2/2/18

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... read more


Reviewed by Renee Couture, Assistant Professor of Art, Umpqua Community College on 2/2/18

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... read more


Reviewed by Elizabeth Maynard, Adjunct Professor, Rhode Island College on 2/2/18

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... read more


Reviewed by Nancy Pettigrew, Associate Instructor, Tidewater Community College on 8/16/17

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... read more


Reviewed by Joe Macca, Adjunct Faculty, Portland Community College on 6/21/17

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... read more


Reviewed by James Jewitt, Manager and Instructor, Arts Minor, Virginia Tech on 6/21/17

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... read more


Reviewed by Sasa Miljevich, Adjunct Instructor (Fine Art), Portland Community College on 6/21/17

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... read more


Reviewed by Hilary Galián, Instructor, Portland Community College on 6/21/17

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... read more


Reviewed by Isabelle Havet, Faculty, Linn-Benton Community College on 6/21/17

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... read more


Reviewed by Samantha Moore, Adjunct Instructor, Art History, Northern Virginia Community College on 6/21/17

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... read more


Reviewed by Aderonke Adesanya, Associate Professor, James Madison University on 6/21/17

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... read more


Reviewed by A.D. Rocha, Fine Arts Advisor and Instructor, Washington State University on 6/21/17

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. read more


Reviewed by Renee Garris, Adjunct Professor, J Sargent Reynolds Community College on 2/9/17

The text covers Art in a thematic approach. It explains concepts in an easy to understand manner. 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... read more


Reviewed by Stephanie Wirt, ACA Art History Adjunct Professor, Reynolds Community College on 2/9/17

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... read more


Reviewed by Deborah Cibelli, Professor , Nicholls State University on 12/6/16

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... read more


Table of Contents

Chapter One: What is Art?
1.1 Learning Outcomes
1.2 Introduction
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
2.2 Introduction
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
3.2 Introduction
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
4.2 Introduction
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
5.2 Introduction
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
6.2 Introduction
6.3 Aesthetics
6.4 Expression (Philosophical, Political, Religious, Personal)
6.5 Unification/Exclusion
6.6 Communication
6.7 Protest and Shock
6.8 Celebration and Commemoration
6.9 Worship
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
7.2 Introduction
7.3 Residential Needs
7.4 Community and Government
7.5 Commerce
7.6 Worship
7.7 Before You Move On
7.8 Key Terms
Chapter Eight: Art and Identity
8.1 Learning Outcomes
8.2 Introduction
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
9.2 Introduction
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
10.2 Introduction
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
11.2 Introduction
11.3 Ethical Considerations in Making and Using Art
11.4 Censorship
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.