Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cave Paintings to Picasso

Cave Paintings to Picasso: The Inside Scoop on 50 Art Masterpieces
© 2004 Henry Sayre
93 pages


I found this book while looking for something else (books on wolves, strangely enough), and its title grabbed my attention immediately. Upon arriving at the library I found it to be a different book than I'd imagined, but still amply useful. Cave Paintings to Picasso contains information about fifty works of art from around the world, ranging in medium from the predictable (paintings and sculptures) to the more esoteric (tapestries and medieval books).  I'm reasonably sure that the book was written for children or younger readers, given its shortness and 'wacky' font arrangements, but the author manages to cram in a surprising amount of detail in one-page descriptions, explaining the work's significance in more florid language than I would have expected for a children's book: the author positively waxes poetic in some sections. Most of the fifty sections are divided into two pages: a full-page print and a page of explanation. A few works were only given a quarter of a page, but they are in the minority. While the full-page representations allowed me to soak in the artists' detail and gifts, Sayre's explanations increased my appreciation: he pointed out, for instance, how one particular Chinese work blended calligraphy with the picture, depicting a mountainside in the same general shame as the Chinese symbol for 'mountain'.  Most interesting (for me) was the presence of a painting depicting Muhammad, since I thought Islamic rules forbade the depiction of human forms in art.  Sayre does not mention who the author was, though.

Artworks covered:

  • Woman from Brassembouy
  • Hall of Bulls
  • Toreador Fresco
  • Nebamun Hunting Birds
  • Nefertiti
  • Burial Container for the Organs of Tutankhamen
  • Colossal Olmec Head
  • Achilles and Ajax Playing a Board Game, Exekias
  • She-Wolf
  • Nike of Samothrace
  • Moche Lord with a Feline
  • The Horses of San Marco
  • Book of Kells
  • Easter Island Ancestor Figures
  • The Bayeux Tapestry
  • Early-Spring, Guo Xi
  • Romance of Lancelot
  • Muhammad Placing the Black Stone Upon His Cloak
  • The Effects of Good Government, Ambrogio Lorenzetti
  • Bamboo, Wu Chen
  • January, Les Très Riches Heures, Limbourg brothers
  • Camera Picta, Andrea Mantegna
  • Hundreds of Birds Admiring the Peacocks, Yin Hong
  • Sight
  • Primavera, Sandro Botticelli
  • David, Michaelangelo
  • Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci
  • The Small Cowper Madonna, Raphael
  • Still Life with Flowers, Goblet, Dried Fruit, and Pretzels, Clara Peeters
  • Jahangir in Darbar, Abul Hasan and Manohar
  • Head of an Oba
  • Mandan Battle Scene Hide Painting
  • The Great Wve off Kanagawa, Katsushika Hokusai 
  • Fur Traders Descending the Missouri, George Caleb Bingham
  • The Railroad, Edouard Manet
  • Dance Glass, Edgar Degas
  • Little Girl in a Blue Armchair, Mary Cassatt
  • The Umbrellas, Auguste Renoir
  • Irises, Vincent van Gogh
  • Mahana no atua, Paul Gauguin
  • Water Lily Pond, Claud Monet
  • Improvisation 30 (Cannons), Wassily Kandinsky
  • Man with a Pipe, Pablo Piasso
  • Sugar Cane, José Diego Maria Rivera
  • The Migration of the Negro, No. 32, Jacob Lawrence
  • Nighthawks, Edward Hopper
  • Convergence, Jackson Pollock
  • Ladder to the Moon, George O'Keeffe
  • Big Campbell's Soup Can, 19c, Andy Warhol
  • The Son of Man, René Magritte

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