Laurence King's 'Short Story of Art' offers a concise, cross-referenced survey

June 13, 2017

 The Short Story of Art (Laurence King Publishing Ltd)

 

One new art history book stood out at English visual arts publisher Laurence King Publishing Ltd's booth at the recent BookExpo, as it was surprisingly small for the scope of its title--even if the title did suggest as much.

 

The Short Story of Art, with the Mona Lisa on the cover, is only 224 handbook-sized pages. Written by art historian Susie Hodge (also author of books including 50 Art Ideas, How to Survive Modern Art, Why Your Five Year Old Could Not Have Done That: Modern Art Explained and 50 Art Nouveau Works of Art You Should Know), it includes 150 illustrations, but focuses on 50 major works from the cave paintings of Lascaux to contemporary installations.

 

These works are then linked to sections on key art movements, works, themes and techniques.

 

"It's a stylish little package," said Laurence King's Anastasia Scott, who works out of the publisher's U.S. office in San Francisco. "We thought it would do well, but it's already exceeded our expectations."

 

Scott particularly laudsThe Short Story of Art's "easy flip-through format."

 

"There are a lot of similar art history handbooks, but this is so well organized, with cross-references at the bottom of each page that make it so easy to thumb through related pages."

 

Art students or enthusiasts are thus able to navigate through the most important and influential concepts in art via their many historic and conceptual connections.

 

Scott said that the book's been a hit at museum stores, having heard from retailers at a BookExpo museum breakfast.

 

"It makes a great graduation gift," she said, "a starter guide to art."

 

 As for The Short Story of Art's title, Scott pointed to E.H. Gombrich's venerable and much, much larger tome, The Story of Art.

 

"It's a wordplay for the art historian nerds among us," she said, but in this regard it's hardly alone in the Laurence King Publishing catalog, which also contains the Clash of the Titians: Old Masters Trump Game art history card game.

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