Italian Art Guide?

Dec 14th, 2004, 07:30 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2004
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Italian Art Guide?

We're visiting Italy for the first time in March. I have no clue about art and i think it would be a crime to visit some of the finest art in the world without being able to appreciate it to the fullest. Any tips on books/guides or other resources available to help me "beef up" on Italian Art?
Badin is offline  
Dec 14th, 2004, 07:58 AM
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Look at the Blue Guides.

For a simple introduction, look at Mona Winks.

But I'd like to hear other suggestions too.
WillTravel is offline  
Dec 14th, 2004, 08:25 AM
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Georgina Masson's "The Companion Guide to Rome" and Amanda Claridge's "Oxford Archaeological Guide Rome" are two excellent sources. For some interesting background reading, look at Ross King's "Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling" and "Brunelleschi's Dome."
Grinisa is offline  
Dec 14th, 2004, 09:09 AM
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Here's my suggestion - a virtual on-line museum - "The Web Gallery of Art"...

TuckH is offline  
Dec 14th, 2004, 12:21 PM
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I find that the Michelin Green guides have plenty of art info in an easily digestible and portable format.

However, for pre-trip browsing I highly recommend the rather large (paperback) book "The Oxford Guide to Christian Art and Architecture."
It is a sort of mini-encyclopedia with alphabetical entries and paragraphs or essays on each topic. I found it invaluable for differentiating among the saints, for example, and it taught me how to recognize one saint from another in paintings where it is not obvious. Great info on church tradition as well. THe book isn't about artistic technique, but about the religious background which is essential for viewing Renaissance, and pre-R and post-R art.

Sister Wendy has some good art overview books and videos.
elaine is offline  
Dec 14th, 2004, 01:16 PM
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In addition to the books mentioned, the Vatican Museum has the best on-site audio guide I've ever experienced anywhere.
HowardR is offline  
Dec 14th, 2004, 03:13 PM
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In addition to previous suggestions:

If you can get a good art history survey book out from the library, the appropriate chapters will give you a good start and put the art in context without being too specialized. They're all aimed at beginners in art history, so they're not too technical, but they're all by "real" art historians.

Some of the old standards include "The Story of Art" by Ernst Gombrich (who also wrote many scholarly works on Italian art), "The History of Art" by H.W. Janson, and "Art: A History of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture" by Frederick Hartt (another Italian specialist). They all have their fans and detractors, but any would probably be okay as an introduction.

I can also give you a long list of specialized scholarly works if you really want to knock yourself out, but I think I'll spare you.
KT is offline  
Dec 14th, 2004, 04:49 PM
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I'm not familiar with the other books that KT mentions but know and like Janson. He provides a good overview of Italian art and architecture, and you should be able to find it in a local library. Three years I was in the cloister of San Lorenzo in Florence, and in my mind's eye I was looking at the black and white photo of the place from editon of Janson. It was sort of weird and comforting at the same time.
Joe_in_Silver_Spring is offline  
Dec 14th, 2004, 05:13 PM
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Assuming that your trip will focus on central and north-central Italy....Do a little reading on medieval and Renaissance history and especially the history of the city-states in Italy. Get a library book about art history. The one we used in college about 40 years ago was by Janson, and I think that's still a pretty standard art hisotry book. Read the chapters that cover the major painters and sculptors in Italy, especially in the late 13th to late 16th centuries. Then borrow some more library books (or look at picture books in the bookstore) to see the works of particular artists that were discussed a lot in Janson or whatever art history book you're reaqding. Then go back to the history books and review what was going on historically during the time and in the places where these artists were active. As far as guide books are concerned, I think he Blue Guides are among the most thorough and well respected on the subject of architecture and archeology. (A classical archeologist friend of mine recommends them, but sometimes I find them a little TOO detailed for my purposes.) The Michelin green guides are just about right for me.
cmt is offline  

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