From The Birth of Venus to A Bigger Splash
’50 Artists You Should Know’, by Thomas Koster (with contributions by Lars Roper), is a fantastic introduction to the world of Western art. The beautiful colour reproductions of masterpieces and concise and clearly written text will give you a good understanding of what made each of the artists great and how art has developed over the past 600 years.
Although there are only a few paragraphs written about each artist in this short book, Koster does a fine job of selecting the key information. He describes what the artists were like, how they lived, how they developed their skills, where they found inspiration, what special techniques or ideas they had and how they influenced other artists. Artistic techniques and styles and historical periods are briefly described in sidebars and in a glossary (詞彙) at the end, but the book focuses on individual artists and their work.
In the section on Vincent Van Gogh, for example, you can learn about this famous artist’s lack of success and low self-confidence. He was even sent back one year at the art school he attended because of his poor drawing skills. And as you read about his painting style and how he tried to capture the beauty, light and colour of the French countryside by using thick, powerful brushstrokes in earthy hues of yellow and orange, you can see these techniques for yourself in the paintings that accompany the text.
In 50 Artists You Should Know, the book’s tight focus on the artists and their paintings and sculptures makes it easy to read–perfect first step to learning about the great masterpieces of art from ‘The Birth of Venus’ to ‘A Bigger Splash’.
Originally published in Ming Pao as part of a series of articles written to introduce senior secondary school students to novels and non-fiction books suitable for their School-based Assessment in English.
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