August 17, 2009

Art History Challenge

Tasha of Heidenkind's Hideaway has created a crazy-good Art History Reading Challenge. I joined and I think you should too. Here are some of the specifics:

The Challenge in Ten Words or Less: Read six art history books in nine months.

When: September 1st, 2009-May 1st, 2010

The Details: Pick a subject related to art you want to read about. It can be as general or specific as you want. Then read 6 books about that subject from the categories listed below.

What do I mean by this? Well, say you're a fan of Lewis Carroll. Carroll was big into photography and there are several good books about his photographs. Then you could read one of Carroll's novels or a biography of him; or you could go in a different direction and read about other Victorian photographers, like Julia Cameron. This could lead to reading a book by Tennyson (who was Carmeron's next door neighbor and friend). Perhaps this example is a little more specific than most of you want to go, but trust me when I say that you can find art books related to practically any topic, place, or time period you can think of.

Or if you have a book related to art sitting around that you've been meaning to read, like The Da Vinci Code, you can start with that and build up the categories based on it--a catalog from the Louvre, Holy Blood, Holy Grail, etc.

One caveat: You can double-up on categories--e.g., read two fiction books instead of one--but the books you read have to be from at least 3 different categories to complete the challenge. Fortunately, a lot of books can also fit into more than one category, so you have a good deal of flexibility on what sort of books you can pick.

I have decided that my subject is going to be Asian Art. I love Asian artists such as Jia Lu, H. Lueng, and Liu Pei. I'd love to get to know these artists better and discover more. I know I will be using these 3 categories but may choose more:

-General Study
This is basically your typical textbook--a general overview of a subject. I know reading a textbook sounds like sooooo much fun, but there are good ones out there that are really interesting. The ones published by Phaidon are generally pretty good.

There are lots of great biographies of artists, scholarly and not, that are readily available. You can also read biographies of people who were the subjects of a work of art.

What were the techniques artists used to create art? That's the sort of thing practicum books look into and usually try to teach to other people. This would be a great category for anyone with artistic inclinations.

(Please go here to Tasha's challenge page to view all of the many categories.)

I am very excited about this challenge. I can't wait to get started but I know I have other challenges to finish first. When I finish a couple more of the challenges ending in December, I will be diving into this challenge head first!

1. The Art of Tantra by Philip Rawson (3.5 Stars)
2. Chinese Landscape Painting by Sherman Lee (3.5 Stars)
3. Leading the Way by Irene Poon (4 Stars)


  1. You're amazingly ambitious and eclectic in your reading! I find myself moving towards the easier stuff!!!

  2. Yeah I have a wide variety of interests, plus I really like challenging myself in my reading. I will go for easier reads, too, but it gives me a good feeling of accomplishment when I finish a tough read and I also learn a lot. I'm big on learning. :)

  3. I had a feeling you might go for this topic, Rebecca. :) I think it sounds awesome. I'm looking forward to learning about those artists through your posts! Let me know if need any help finding books. <3

  4. Good luck with the challenge - I'm already doing 2, which is about all I can handle.

  5. Good luck with this! I love the subject you've chosen and I can't wait to see the books you'll pick. I don't know much on Asian art, so maybe you'll point out some interesting reading for me. I'll be doing the challenge too, probably on art from the Victorian period since I already own a few books on the subject that I have yet to read!

  6. What an interesting challenge! Good job Heidenkind!!! I just know I wouldn't do this though ... I'm just that kind of reader.


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