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Book Review
‘The Art Book: New Edition’
Known for coming up with ambitious and all-encompassing, informative and enchanting surveys of art history, the world-renowned publishing house, Phaidon, is at the work again! The publisher has just unveiled a comprehensive overview of art viewing and appreciation in context of the contemporary scenario and historical perspective. It has updated the earlier version to incorporate the present developments. The document is conceived and a created as a complete guide for an aspiring art lover-collector, often constrained by lack of perspective.

Compiled meticulously over last several years by a team of in-house specialists, ‘The Art Book: New Edition’ (Pages: 592; 600 artists, 600 color illustrations; $59.95) is being rightfully projected as a vastly expanded version of its groundbreaking title. Editors at Phaidon first unveiled the idea in 1994, when the publishing house released the fully-illustrated dictionary of art. Now, nearly decades later, it has introduced this updated version. Some of its important features are as follows:

• Adding over several new works to its roster, its core aim, as stated above, is to reflect new emerging trends in the world of art. Now incorporating photography, video installations and performance art, this updated volume features over 100 new artworks, for an impressive total of 600. It subtly juxtaposes classic works with excellent pieces by highly talented contemporary artists

• It features the innovative ways in which the world of art has been reinvigorated in the last twenty years. Still alphabetically organized by each artist’s name, the category-less review is a much refreshing alternative to the earlier stuffy tomes.

• Easy to read, simple to grasp, informative as well as fun to go through, it’s devised as a holistic guide to many of the greatest painters, sculptors and photographers from the medieval times right until today. It looks to act as a launch pad for ardent art lovers apart from preparing the ideal background to help them pursue their passion for collecting art.

Phaidon is among the world’s premier publishers of books on the visual arts. Founded in Vienna, Austria, in 1923 by Dr Bela Horowiz and Ludwig Goldscheider with the objective of delivering insightful books at affordable prices, it has stayed tuned to the changing media culture by running a webzine and providing new content online. Its website states: “At heart, we believe knowledge of the creative visual arts, in all their forms, confers real and worthwhile social prestige. We aim to make the creative act more exciting and understandable by all.” It has released a string of titles with some of the most renowned artists, architects, designers and photographers of the 20th and 21st centuries, to offer an in-depth idea of the way these creative visionaries engage with the world around them – irrespective of the medium they work in.

Phaidon has enjoyed long-standing relationships with internationally renowned names like Ai Weiwei, Elliott Erwitt, René Burri, Nan Goldin, Ferran Adria, Stephen Shore, John Pawson, Steve McCurry and The Bouroullec Brothers among others. One of its most noteworthy publications, ‘The Art Book’, presents an entirely new way and angle of looking at, understanding and analyzing art. It simultaneously looks to debunk art-historical classifications by giving apt examples from different time periods, visions, techniques and schools. Well, here one can see Carracci alongside Cartier-Bresson, Duchamp beside Duccio. It lets Monet be considered with Mondrian, or Waterhouse contrasted with Warhol. Each artist is represented through a catchy illustration of an exemplary artwork, along with an explanatory text on it and its creator. The entries are cross-referenced. Glossaries of different artistic movements as well as technical terms can be referred along with a directory of international galleries and museums.

“A weighty but extremely valuable, addition to the bookshelves of gallery-goers, the presentation means different styles and periods crash together in a heady way. It's a bookcase essential for anyone who enjoys art,' a review by the AP states. The book is ideal and a good beginning for those seeking the basic structure of a modern art orientation. It takes up a fresher, newer approach to art education with this compilation that draws together the research and artworks of a broad selection of critics, artists, academics and curators. The editorial director of Phaidon, Amanda Renshaw, remarks on the site. "The key to 'The Art Book's' success is its simplicity. It's an easy way into that world that is exciting and inspiring, and it's a door that's open to everyone."

Phaidon (named essentially after a Greek philosopher, and Apollo, the Greek god.) was recently acquired by Leon Black, the billionaire financier and one of the UK’s established art collectors. He bought it over from a British businessman, Richard Schlagman. In a statement released, Mr. Black stated that he and his family ‘are looking forward to supporting the growth of the company, including the development of its publishing program, geographic expansion, and the launch of cutting-edge digital products.’