For our second reading list, we've decided to present a collection of survey books on modern and contemporary Western Art.
The survey book is a necessary part of most undergraduate courses in Art History
. It’s almost always the basis of the introductory survey class (which spans from ancient art to the present) and most American students of art history have relied on either Marilyn Stokstad’s Art History
, H.W. Janson’s History of Art
and Gardner’s Art Through the Ages
for these courses.
As for modern and contemporary art classes however, professors have often sought to move away from the survey text in order to teach a more unstructured version of history, or one less tethered to dates than to themes and ideas. A basic reason for this is art historians are still trying figure out how to explain what has just happened and what is currently happening. As well, surveys have to generalize, and such generalizations often omit important specifics.
At the same time, students still continue to seek out surveys—maybe now more than ever. Surveys are valued for their ability to provide a breadth of material to a new student of the subject, important social, cultural, and political context, as well as a sampling of various lenses through which art is understood.
As before, please feel free to write to us and tell us what surveys you would add. (And we should note, we added a few books which are not strictly surveys but which are great anthologies of artists' writings and theoretical texts.)After Modern Art, 1945-2000
by David Hopkins