Saturday, June 11, 2016

Famous Works of Art and How They Got to be that Way

Author: John B. Nici
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar

This book reminded me of something odd - about 5 years ago I had a sibling's ex smash a valuable camera of my mother's after he took some weird photos with it to show how artistic he was. I saw the photos he left and thought "hey...I can improve on his face easy!" and photoshopped his face into about 12 artworks I randomly picked, all of which are in this book. Shows you how iconic some pieces can be and you should've seen my mother's face with my American Gothic spoof of the Green Acres couple and the ex as Alfred the Pig. This was...interesting. First off - you really need a background in the field I think to properly enjoy this. The author frequently makes snitty little asides that to me made perfect sense, but explaining them to my husband for example I got a blank look every time. The tone is fairly scholarly with a wry tone and it is concerned why several pieces - the Sphinx, Tut's tomb, the Parthenon Sculptures, Apollo Belvedere, Nike of Samothrace, Birth of Venus, Mona Lisa, Sistine Madonna, The Burial of Count Orgaz, Aristotle Contemplating a bust of Homer, Washington crossing the Delaware, Luncheon on the Grass, The Thinker, Starry Night, The Scream, American Gothic, Migrant Mother, Guernica, Campbell's Soup, and the Vietnam Memorial - were created and more specifically why they got to be iconic. Although I do object strongly with calling the Memorial "art," although it is in a sense, that seems disrespectful to me, the rest of the book was handled fairly well. Nice summaries on the times the Mona Lisa was stolen, bits on how his widowed sister in law made Van Gogh an international name, controversies over repatriation and suchlike. These pieces are universal in their appeal and theme and the flow from one to another works really well.

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