Greatest Works of Art of Western Civilization

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9781885183538: Greatest Works of Art of Western Civilization

One early morning of an exceptionally beautiful day I got the idea of retracing every step of my life as an art expert--from 1951--and writing down the works of art that had bowled me over visually and emotionally. The ones that after years I could describe down to the tiniest details, as if standing in front of them. These are the ones that changed my lifeÓ So begins Thomas Hoving--the man who revolutionized the Metropolitan Museum of Art and with it the museums of the world--in this sumptuous book that contains his passionate, opinionated, and sometimes controversial selection of the 111 masterpieces of Western art. Encompassing classical Greek statuary, paintings by Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Renoir, Munch, and Pollack, frescoes by Piero Della Francesca, mosaics, altarpieces, tapestries, even Benvenuto Cellini's Great Salt Cellar, this book takes a fresh, engaging look at Western man's artistic accomplishments. Interpreted with wit, zeal, and passion, The Greatest Works of Art includes treasures from the Museum of Modern Art, the Phillips Collection, the National Gallery of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Art Institute of Chicago, and of course the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Review:

Thomas Hoving, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, has selected the 111 greatest works of Western art. These are the pieces he deems "the pinnacles of quality, elegance, and artistic strength, the best mankind has created, the hallmarks of unalloyed genius," and it's really a terrific selection. Spanning the globe and the centuries, Hoving playfully mixes old standbys such as the Venus of Willendorf and Picasso's Les Desmoiselles d'Avignon with lesser-known works--The Street by Balthus and Leonardo's Lady with an Ermine, for example. Accompanying each of the illustrations is a friendly, informative essay describing both the work and the artist, placing both in historical context. The works are presented in no particular order, but this randomness allows readers to view each piece on its own--out of context, with a kind of freshness. While some may be turned off by the book's occasionally self-absorbed tone, Hoving offers a highly educational, thoughtful survey, and his knowledge and discernment are undeniable.

From the Inside Flap:

One early morning of an exceptionally beautiful day, wrote Thomas Hoving, "I got the idea of retracing every step of my life as an art expert...and writing down the works of art that had bowled me over visually and emotionally. The ones that after years I could describe down to the tiniest details, a if standing in front of them."

The result is Greatest Works of Art of Western Civilization by Hoving, the man who revolutionized New York's magnificent Metropolitan Museum of Art and with it the museums of the world. This sumptuous book records Hoving's passionate, opinionated, and sometimes controversial selection of the 111 masterpieces of Western art that have changed his life. It fairly bursts with the affection and exhilaration he feels for his often unexpected choices. Encompassing paintings by Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Renoir, Matisse, and Pollock; frescoes by Piero della Francesca; mosaics and altarpieces; jewelry, tapestries, and illuminated manuscripts; and sculpture by Cellini and Michelangelo, the book offers a fresh, stimulating take on Western man's artistic accomplishments through the unerring eye of an often provocative and always impassioned connoisseur. Each work is reproduced in glorious color and is accompanied by Hoving's incisive, succinct, and witty explanation of its hold on his heart and mind.

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Hoving, Thomas
Published by Artisan (1997)
ISBN 10: 1885183534 ISBN 13: 9781885183538
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Hoving, Thomas
Published by Artisan (1997)
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