Splat!: The Most Exciting Artists of All Time
Here we have an exceptionally informative art book. This was not meant to be a coffee table book to leaf through, rather an educational volume. Splat by Mary Richards may be read and enjoyed by young people interested in art and wish to learn more about it, or by people who love art and would like to have a bit more exposure to the works of some of the greatest artists.
Richards starts with a brief time line beginning with cave paintings some thirty-five thousand years ago, and gives short thumbnail reviews of the great artists up to modern times. She has chosen twenty artists from Michelangelo to Andy Warhol and in two or three pages summarizes their lives, works, history and art showing a full page of one their artworks, and a number of smaller ones with brief but good explanations. With each artist we have a very short bio with a sentence about the artist’s personality, background and most famous pieces. For each artist she also adds a sidebar describing the artist’s technique in one or two sentences, their influence in a few bullets and art movement around the time of the artist’s life. A short quote by the artist is another nice addition. For many artists Richards adds a sidebar called Extra giving further interesting information related to that artist—these also include thumbnail pictures. Everything is very readable, easy to absorb as Richards uses short sentences, plenty of good graphics, pictures and a short text giving an outline about that artist. The book even has and occasional HowTo… sidebars, like How to Draw Shadows and Highlights or How to Play “Exquisite Corps.” The artists are all painters except for one modern sculptor.
Following the twenty artists, Richards add a list of Movers and Shakers: Art Outside giving one-sentence bios of four artists that created artwork outside their studios; under Moving Pictures four more artists in the movie industry; five artists in Dramatic Art; and another five artists Art to Join in With, that give viewers a chance to be part of the artwork.
At the end of this book Richards provides a nice, detailed glossary defining terms used in the art world: for example, cubism, palette, Pop art, woodcut. The index is basically a list of artists, also including some subjects.
Richards selected artists with much varied styles of artworks—they are in chronological order so we can see how art evolved throughout the centuries, starting with Michelangelo whose sculptures and paintings (much influenced by church) were an enormous step in the art’s evolutionary progress, and who created pieces on huge scales. Then his contemporary, the Flemish Bruegel with totally different painting style showing the everyday life of ordinary people at work and play. We then proceed to the impressionists, Monet and Seurat, with styles of their own and then to the works of the struggling Van Gogh whose pieces now sell for millions though in his time there was simply no market for them. We finally reach the modern painters: Pollock and Warhol in mid-twentieth century both bringing art to another, different level with unique styles.
This is a superb art book for people of all ages.
Thames & Hudson