As we have alluded to in previous posts, art is a language. It speaks to us in ways that words cannot. Like any other language, to fully understand and appreciate it, you need to be fully engaged in the culture. Therefore, immersion in art begets further awareness and comprehension. This was the case for me regarding sculpture. I had always admired sculpture, but it didn’t excite me or speak to me the same way a painting would. However, a trip to the Meijer Sculpture Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan, changed all that. Experiencing the sculptures in an environment devoid of distractions, surrounded by lush, tranquil foliage, flipped a switch, and I was immediately under the influence of the genre. I was mesmerized by the scale, form, line, and patina of these works and found myself addicted and craving more.
Upon return from Michigan, I immediately went to our public library and checked out every book on sculpture. I was looking for an introduction to sculpture, something that I could read in the fringe hours before bed. Fortunately, I stumbled upon 50 Sculptures You Should Know from Prestel. This book is not a tome of sculpture’s entire history; however, it does take you through the historical highlights from ancient times to present. The layout is simple, consistent, and chronologically well-organized. There is a discussion of each artist with a succinct biography and timeline of historical events surrounding the creation of the work. This is followed by a brief narrative of the sculpture’s history. Each article can be quickly read in a matter of minutes making this a wonderful book for the bedside table to be enjoyed before you wander off to sleep. While you will not become an expert in sculptural analysis after reading this book, you will have a greatly increased appreciation of sculpture and the artists who painstakingly create it.
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