Cover image for The informed eye : understanding masterpieces of western art
The informed eye : understanding masterpieces of western art
Cole, Bruce, 1938-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chicago : Ivan R. Dee, [1999]

Physical Description:
xv, 239 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm
Subject Term:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
N7477 .C645 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Illustrated throughout, this work will help readers better understand the nature, methods and meaning of great art.'

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

In Vaizey's Art: The Critics' Choice, art historians have selected their favorite works of Western art or those they deem the most influential from Antiquity through the present. Concise overviews of each period provide a good introduction for the novice and a handy brush-up for those familiar with the material. As with any personal "best of" listing, there's bound to be arguments over the merits of what was selected and what omitted. In general, however, most of the icons of Western art are presentÄit's only when the authors move into the later 20th century that the choices become debatable. In contrast, Cole's The Informed Eye is the focused aesthetic opinion of a single art historian. Covering roughly the same time period, Cole provides rough thumbnail sketches of artists' lives and the creation of their work, which he then places in the larger context of Western art history. Cole builds persuasive arguments for each "masterpiece" he selects; as in Vaizey's work, there are no major surprises. Both volumes are appropriate for newcomers to art history seeking a quick introduction as well as for more seasoned viewers in search of an aesthetic debate, and they complement each other stylistically: Cole's train of thought is more coherent, while Vaizey's book presents more color illustrations in a larger format. Recommended particularly for public libraries with an interest in art and architecture.ÄMartin R. Kalfatovic, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Cole (Indiana Univ.) introduces Western art using "case studies" of a few carefully selected "masterpieces," an alternative to the sweeping surveys of art history that are the standard introductory college fare and also to equally broad art appreciation books, which generally march through a range of "visual elements" and "media" as well as selected styles and historical segments. The 32 featured works or groups of related works are presented chronologically, ranging from the Egyptian Triad of Mycerinus, the Pantheon, San Vitale Mosaics, Giotto's Lamentation, a D"urer print, Michelangelo's Pieta, Velazquez's dwarfs, David's Death of Marat, Van Gogh's Night Cafe, the Wainright and the Carson Pirie Scott buildings, photographs by Dorothea Lange, and paintings by Picasso, Hopper, and Pollock. Each chapter includes reproductions, some in color and some with details, and each introduces concepts or issues well illustrated by selected examples but having more general application, such as "The Reuse of Symbols"' and "Space and Color as Emotion." Without benefit of classroom discussion or instructor's guidance, the case study approach to understanding art may be less daunting than its encyclopedic alternatives. Avoiding the "art historical jargon, obtuse theory and fashionable interpretation" that his introduction deplores, Cole's commentaries are lucid, intelligent, and appropriately accessible. Chapter reading lists. General readers; lower-division undergraduates. W. B. Holmes; University of Rhode Island

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. v
List of Illustrationsp. ix
Introductionp. 3
1 The Ruler as God: The Triad of Mycerinusp. 5
2 Form and Function: The Euphronios Craterp. 12
3 The Birth of Western Art: Three Greek Statuesp. 17
4 Art in the Service of Power: The Augustus of Prima Portap. 23
5 A Home for the Gods: The Pantheonp. 29
6 The Reuse of Symbols: The Sarcophagus of Junius Bassusp. 36
7 Icons of Power: The San Vitale Mosaicsp. 41
8 Inventing Western Drama: Giotto: The Lamentationp. 48
9 The Style of Heaven: Duccio: The Maestap. 54
10 The Transmigration of Meaning: Donatello: Judith and Holofernesp. 61
11 Printed Images: Durer: Knight, Death, and the Devilp. 67
12 Leonardo and Tradition: The Last Supperp. 73
13 Michelangelo's Pietasp. 80
14 A Late Work by an Ancient Master: Titian: The Flaying of Marsyasp. 89
15 The Clash of Cultures: El Greco's Burial of the Lord of Orgazp. 96
16 The Making of Cellini's Persusp. 104
17 Reality Rearranged: Caravaggio: The Contarelli Chapedp. 113
18 The Dwarfs of the King's Painter: Velazquezp. 121
19 Art Without Boundaries: Bernini's Saint Teresap. 129
20 Depicting Divine Right: Van Dyck: Charles I on Horsebackp. 137
21 The Painter as Prince: A Self-Portrait by Rembrandtp. 143
22 Chardin's Living Still-Lifesp. 149
23 Images of Sacrifice: David's Death of Maratp. 154
24 The Horrors of War: Goya's The Third of May 1808p. 161
25 Space and Color as Emotion: Van Gogh's Night Cafep. 167
26 The Devolution of Heroism: Rodin and the Burghers of Calaisp. 174
27 The Birth of Modern Architecture: The Wainwright and Carson Pirie Scott Buildingsp. 182
28 Picasso: Innovation Within Tradition: The Studiop. 191
29 Transcendental Pictures: Three Photographs by Dorothea Langep. 197
30 The Twentieth-century Artist: Jackson Pollock's Lavender Mistp. 204
31 The Elevation of the Ordinary: Hopper's Hotel Lobbyp. 211
32 Rethinking Sculpture: David Smith's Cubisp. 217
Epiloguep. 223
Suggested Readingp. 227
Illustration Credits and Permissionsp. 229
Indexp. 233