Cover image for History of art for young people
History of art for young people
Janson, H. W. (Horst Woldemar), 1913-1982.
Sixth edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Harry N. Abrams, [2003]

Physical Description:
695 pages : illustrations (some color), facsimiles (some color), maps, plans, portraits (some color) ; 26 cm
General Note:
Previous ed.: 1997.
Subject Term:
Added Author:


Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
N5300 .J33 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Written with pre-college readers in mind, History of Art for Young People tells the story of art in the Western world from its beginnings in prehistoric Europe and ancient Egypt through to contemporary art of today. The sixth edition of this unsurpassed classic sports a more contemporary, colorful design, 30 percent more color illustrations than the fifth edition, and 42 maps. In addition, the text has been heavily rewritten and edited so that it is far easier to read and remember. With the unmatched credibility of the Janson name, this convenient-to-use reference will enlighten and educate the entire family. Note: This book is sold in the academic market by Prentice Hall under the title Basic History of Art, 6th Edition.

Author Notes

Horst Waldemar Janson was born on October 4, 1913 in St. Petersburg, Russia. He studied at the University of Munich and the University of Hamburg. He came to the U.S. and finished his Ph. D at Harvard University in 1942. He is a scholar of art history known for his book History of Art which was published in 1962. He taught at Worcester Art Museum and the University of Iowa. He authored two award winning books Apes and the Ape Lore in the Middle Ages and The Renaissance and Sculpture of Donatello. He died on September 30, 1982.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 7^-12. The fifth edition of a standard single-volume introduction to Western art for young people is revised, greatly expanded, and handsomely redesigned to be more spacious and easier than ever to use. Coverage ranges from prehistory through the 1990s, and the rich text is enhanced by more than 600 illustrations, 252 in full color, and labeled drawings. The focus this time is on art before 1520, though art in the modern world is certainly not neglected. New to this edition are boxed essays (added "to suggest the larger cultural context in which the visual arts have been created") that comment on music, theater, and poetry through the ages, as well as cultural and religious influences. There are four double-spread maps and four chronological tables spanning history from B.C. 4000 to A.D. 1990, as well as sidebar tables that list major civilizations, periods, dates, etc. Also the glossary has been expanded and the bibliography updated. An exemplary art history, well worth the price. --Sally Estes

Publisher's Weekly Review

The name Janson is synonymous with the introduction of college undergraduates to the canon of western art; this latest volume for the younger set recapitulates the Jansons' particular narrative of art history at a slightly more elementary level. With its brief histories and capsule essays written for an upper school audience by father and son (Anthony took over the History of Art projects after his father's death in 1982), and including nearly 600 illustrations of antique, Gothic and Renaissance masterpieces, this tome is an encyclopedic look at art from the 30,000 year-old cave paintings of Lascaux to fairly recent developments in performance art and photography. From Egypt to Greece to Rome to France, and eventually even to America, the story of art unfolds in an empirical succession of buddings, blossomings and decays, rarely digressing into non-European or particularly idiosyncratic works. While there are certain inconsistencies in pitch-the authors provide a definition for fable, but make the sophisticated observation that, in Borromini's 17th century Roman church, "it is the syntax, not the vocabulary, that is new and disquieting"-overall, this is a rich resource indeed. For the precocious youngster or the older art neophyte, this book offers a skeleton key to civilization's most beautiful visual accomplishments, and does not condescend while instructing. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Appearing fewer than five years after its previous edition, this is a parallel but simplified version of the elder Janson's benchmark college text, History of Art (LJ 5/15/70). The publisher intends this variant for high school students, as the title implies, as well as for general adult readers. Making comprehensible all the complexity of art history is a tall order, even when addressing the most learned adults; this version of Janson shows some of the difficulties of explaining art to a younger audience. Although chapters have been streamlined, the prose has not. It is marred by a needlessly sophisticated syntax that comes across as snooty and affected. With the arrival of inherently less understandable art forms in the 20th century, the challenge to maintain a tone of straightforward description becomes acute; only some of the time does this text meet that task. Readers able to keep up will appreciate the Jansons' adeptness at bringing to light the telling detail and making apt comparisons. But with more accessible surveys available like Marilyn Stokstad's recent Art History (LJ 4/15/96) and Laurie S. Adams's History of Western Art (LJ 9/15/93), this is recommended only for comprehensive collections.‘Douglas F. Smith, Oakland P.L., Cal. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.