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History of Modern Art:
When the late H.H. Arnason wrote the first History of Modern Art, he gently guided his readers through such comforting realms as impressionism and pointillism, eventually to deposit them in the unfamiliar territory of cubism, surrealism, and even--help!--abstract expressionism. Now, with the fourth edition of this groundbreaking book, Marla F. Prather, curator of 20th-century art at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., brings readers all the way into the l990s, a decade with precious few "isms" to serve as signposts. It's a long, long trip, one that should not be undertaken without this 850-page guidebook.
The thoughtful, readable, always illuminating text, which begins 150 years ago with Bouguereau's soupy pictures of cherubim, now ends with a haunting video-sound installation by Bill Viola. Although H.H. Arnason modestly wrote, "It must always be recognized that the words of the interpreter are at best only an approximation of the visual work of art," History of Modern Art has always done a terrific job helping the art-loving and art-curious alike understand what they're seeing. This edition, like its predecessors, is picture-packed, with 500 new illustrations joining the nearly 1,000 that have appeared before. --Peggy Moorman [via]