Revising Art History's Big Book: Who's In and Who Comes Out? - New York Times
The link goes to an interesting article about the state of the Big Art History Books that art historians use to teach introductory classes. Gardner, Janson, and Stokstad are the big three, and many professors use them as a foil, to "teach against." Everybody can read a survey book and be outraged that some person or some painting was "left out."
The Stokstad is my favorite, and not just because Marilyn Stokstad teaches at my alma mater and is a lovely person. I like it because it is inclusive, wide-ranging, and includes important historical and social information. Growing up in American culture, I have no basis for understanding a West African sculpture from the 18th century, so I need context. Likewise, kids raised in Protestant churches need context in order to understand art made in Catholic societies. And people raised in traditional Asian culture need historical and social context in order to understand Western art. Stokstad does a fine job of covering these bases without getting too far away from the artworks.
Having said that, I'll have to have a good hard look at the forthcoming Janson to see how it works.
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