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Theories of Modern Art

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Book Overview

Herschel B. Chipp's Theories of Modern Art: A Source Book By Artists and Critics is a collection of texts from letters, manifestos, notes and interviews. Sources include, as the title says, artists... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

A Rich Feast of Letters, Reviews and Writings

The beauty of this book is that so many letters, reviews, interviews etc. about/by so many artists are conveniently gathered in one place. On the whole, there isn't anything in here that you can't find elsewhere, such as in biographies of the individual artists. For example the letters contained in the opening section on "Post-Impressionism" from both Cezanne and Van Gogh are included in just about every biography on them. The over-riding reason for buying this book is that so many are collected together. So, even for an artist that you might not like enough to go out and buy their biography, atleast you get an insight in to their thoughts/motives etc. In some cases this may spark your interest in a previously less favoured artist and appreciate their works from a new perspective. Chipp covers all the main "isms" of modern art from Post-Impressionism (Cezanne) onwards. Each movement opens with a treatise detailing the main theories/artists/concepts/techniques that made it unique. This is followed by a comprehensive selection of articles/letters/interviews etc. concerning the main players i.e. the section of Expressionism includes writings from Nolde, Kandinsky, Kokoschka, Kirchner, Marc, Klee and Beckmann. One of my favourite pieces is by Stuart Davis. He's responding to a critic's recent review..."in your review you speak of your enthusiasm for my work and call me a "swell American painter". This attitude on your part I heartily approve, but you further state that my style is French and that if Picasso had never lived I would have had to think out a style of my own. Now is that nice Mr. McBride?" and off Davis goes in his defence. Superb. Rather than reading about these various "isms" via the well meaning but often biased views of a expert art historian, here you get the views from the artists themselves. For any art historians dealing with the modern art period this book has to be essential. And for general appreciators of art, as well as artists themselves, this book contains a wealth of information, and pays dividends to both intense study or just random browsing. Since it's first publication in 1968 this book has formed the foundation of any respectable art library. I just checked the bibliography of more recent books on art history - this book is referenced extensively. In my opinion, if anyone is looking for an interesting and enjoyable introduction to the world of "Modern Art" they could do a lot worse than start here. And given the way that any one "ism" owes it's existence to the "isms" that came before it*, this almost reads like a novel. *Regardless of Dali's utterances about Surrealism being a unique movement, unfounded by anything that came before, just go and have a look at the works of Hieronymous Bosch to see that wasn't the case. Recommended!

Very insightful

Not only educational, but inspiring. I not only learned about each artist and what when on during their time of certain artworks, but I was able to get inside their head. The words of the artist's in their letters were captivating. I was caught up in the reading. I especially enjoyed Matisse and Kandinsky. Kandinsky is very spiritual about his writing and gives a deep explanation of colors. Anyway, it is a great read. It was required for my history course, but I enjoyed it. Not very many in my class could understand what they were reading. I guess you not only need intellect, but sophistication. I liked it!

facinating look into modern artists thoughts and beliefs

Even if you are not interested in the arts but simply in thought process- I think you will find this book very interesting. You could say this is the history of modern art without pictures (although there are some pictures)- bringing the reader facinating insights into how different types of artists came to their philosophies of art, and of course, the world. Documented through personal letters, manifestos, and articles, the varity of different thoughts and beliefs catapolts just what art can be. To me it shows that art is a never ending universe of ideas- all connecting but all very individual just the same.

Theories of Modern Art Revisited

Because my first copy from 1968 is dog-eared and worn, I am back to purchase a second copy of Theories of Modern Art by Herschel B. Chipp. Originally, the book was required reading for a college course I took in Philosopy of Art. It is replete with insights into the thoughts and processes of making art by the giants of modern art and their critics, in the form of original quotes and letters. The various schools of art are represented, i.e. post-impressionism, symbolism and other subjective tendencies, fauvism and expressionism, cubism, futurism, neo-plasticism and constructivism, dada, surrealism and contemporary art (including both the Americans and Europeans). One comes away from this book with the feeling of knowing the artists personally. I highly recommend this source book to which you will find yourself returning, as to an old friend, as I have, time after time.
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