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Why Art Appreciation?

Many students come to an art appreciation course questioning its value to their education. They tend to think of it as akin to a maraschino cherry sitting atop their education sundae—pretty to look at, but of questionable food value, and of little real use. But as they come to understand art, they realize that they have learned to think better. They can apply the tools of exploration and analysis they’ve mastered by looking and thinking about works of art to their own majors and to their own lives.

Why A World of Art?

The Critical Thinking Process

An art appreciation course can teach critical thinking; it can teach you how to ask the right questions about the visual world that surrounds us, then respond meaningfully to the complexity of that world.

This book is, in fact, unique in its emphasis on the critical thinking process—a process of questioning, exploration, trial and error, and discovery that you can generalize to your own experience. Critical thinking is really a matter of putting yourself in a questioning frame of mind. Without critical thinking, art appreciation can become just a boring exercise in memory work. Our culture is increasingly dominated by images, and all students today must learn to see and interpret the images that surround them. If you just passively “receive” these images, like some television set, you will never come to understand them. We have worked very hard to provide the tools with which to engage works of art as critical thinkers.

A World of Art supports critical thinking with these key features:

Student Toolkit – This quick reference introduces students to the overarching themes of A World of Art. It provides students with a convenient guide to the basic elements of art to use as they interact with works of art.

Seven Steps to Thinking Critically about Art– This one-page list provides students with a helpful guide to thinking critically about art.

The Critical Process – These end-of-chapter sections pose a number of questions based on the chapter material to provoke classroom discussion. At the back of the book are short paragraphs addressing each of the Critical Process sections. By comparing these responses to their own, students can test the quality of their own thinking.

Work in Progress – Over 25 two-page spreads show students an artist’s process as he or she takes a project from start to finish. They are intended to give students insight into the process of artistic creation, to demonstrate that art, like most things, is the result of hard work and, especially,

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of a critical thinking process in its own right. Coordinating with the Works in Progress feature is a series of 10 half-hour videos available from Annenberg Media. Each program in the series is devoted to a contemporary artist who takes one or more works through from start to finish.

Representing the “world of art”

When I began working on the first edition of this book in the late 1980s, it was my goal to make it unique. I wanted to write an art appreciation text that truly reflected “a world of art” by including significantly more work by women, ethnic minorities, and artists from around the globe than the other books available. At that time, work by women, ethnic minorities, and global artists had only recently begun to find its place in the canon of art history, and the very idea of writing about “a world of art,” instead of just the masterpieces of the Western canon, seemed daring, even radical. Today, many of the innovations that drove the earlier editions of this book are part of the mainstream. Almost all art appreciation surveys incorporate the work of so-called “marginalized” voices to a greater degree than ever before. But in this new edition, I have continued to pursue the important goal of representing “a world of art” by including many more new examples of art from all around the globe.

Why This New Edition?

In this new edition, there are several changes that are particularly noteworthy:

A significant number of new works of art with increased emphasis on global and diverse examples. Of the 134 new images in the book, 62 are by Asian, African, African- American, Native-American, or Hispanic artists. There are 30 new works by women. This means that greater than 25 percent of the book’s 728 images are by Asian, African, African- American, Native-American, or Hispanic artists, and that well over one-third of the book’s 365 images that date from 1900 to present are works by women (128 total works by women since 1900). Video and time-based art. Much more attention has been paid to video and time-based media, an area of increasing interest to students. Whenever possible, discussion has centered on works that are commercially available or accessible on an artist’s personal Web site. MyArtsLab. New to this edition is MyArtsLab, a dynamic Web site that provides a wealth of resources geared to meet the diverse learning needs of today’s students. A key feature, the Closer Look tours, lets students experience and interact with works of art. MyArtsLab also includes a complete e-book for A World of Art, which is identical in content and design to the printed text, so students can have access to their text wherever and whenever they need it. Larger art. Many images have been enlarged to allow viewers to see greater detail. For example, see Leonardo’s Madonna of the Rocks (Chapter 6, Fig. 120) and Vija Celmins’ Untitled (Ocean)(Chapter 9, Fig. 228). Reorganized Part 1. Part 1, “The Visual World,” has been reorganized in response to widespread feeling that it needed to be briefer—professors wanted to get to the material in Part 2, “The Formal Elements and Their Design,” more quickly. Three chapters now replace the four chapters of previous editions. The discussion of the roles of the artist in Chapter 1— material that most professors already find extremely useful—has been slightly revised to include material on the public and private roles of the artist from the former Chapter 4. Material

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from the former Chapter 3, “The Themes of Art,” has been incorporated into discussions of representation and beauty in an expanded Chapter 2, “Developing Visual Literacy.” Architecture and design integrated into the media chapters. Many professors have requested this change, so that students can more readily see how artistic vision permeates visual experience in the world. New section on the business of art. Students want to know more about the business of art, and this new section addresses this need. Chapter 3, “Seeing the Value in Art,” now begins with a discussion of the gallery system, the art market, and museum patronage.

Why Pearson?

I first signed a contract with Prentice Hall—now Pearson Education—in 1987. It is hard to believe that I am still writing for them over 20 years later, with this book now in its sixth edition. But there is a reason for that.

Pearson/Prentice Hall has always led the way in arts publishing for the college market. No organization provides the kind of support to a book that Pearson does. The reproduction resources it provides for instructors, particularly the Prentice Hall Digital Library, with its high-DPI downloadable Power-Point presentations and its zoom feature, have both eased the preparation process and provided untold possibilities for detailed analysis of individual images. The way I teach has been transformed with this tool.

No other publisher provides such an array of useful learning tools for students. The new MyArtsLab is an example of their innovative and student-centered approach to art publishing.

Pearson has given me, over the years, the opportunity to make beautiful books, with the highest- quality images, true-color fidelity, and award-winning design. I hope you find this new edition as beautiful as I do.


The video series Works in Progress was conceived over a decade ago in response to the demands of creating a distance-education curriculum for the Annenberg/ CPB Project. The video series continues to stand as one of the important contributions to our understanding of the working processes of contemporary artists, in no small part due to the visionary work of the folks at Oregon Public Broadcasting who worked with me on the project. In particular, John Lindsay, who served with me as co-executive producer of the series; video-graphers Greg Bond and Steve Gossen; sound engineers Merce Williams, Bill Dubey, and Gene Koon; editor Milt Ritter; and series producer Bobbi Rice. Our wonderful team of directors included Dave Bowden, Peggy Stern, John Booth, Marlo Bendau, and Sandy Brooke. Marlo especially did yeoman’s service, and with the highest degree of skill.

The artists for the series were chosen in consultation with an advisory board, whose members oversaw the project at every level: David Antin, of the University of California, San Diego; Bruce Jenkins, then of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; Lynn Hershman, of the University of California, Davis; Suzanne Lacy, of the California College of Arts and Crafts; the late George

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Roeder, of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (whom we all miss very much); and John Weber, then of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In addition, two members of the Annenberg/CPB staff, Hilda Moskowitz and Pete Neal, made major contributions.

The contributions of all the people at Oregon State University who originally supported me in getting this project off the ground—Jeff Hale; three chairs of the Art Department, David Hardesty, Jim Folts, and John Maul; two deans of the College of Liberal Arts, Bill Wilkins and Kay Schaffer; and two university presidents, John Byrne and Paul Risser—cannot be forgotten. To this day, and down through this new edition, I owe them all a special debt of gratitude. Finally, in the first edition of this book, I thanked Berk Chappell for his example as a teacher. He still knows more about teaching art appreciation than I ever will.

A number of colleagues made valuable suggestions to this revision, and I’d like to thank them for their contributions: Meaghan Houska, Oregon State University; Sharon Jones, College of the Desert; Stanley Kaminski, Houston Community College–Northwest; Beverly Twitchell Marchant, Marshall University; Lindsey Pedersen, Arizona State University; Cheryl Smart, Pima Community College; Sue Anne Rische, Texas Tech University; Donn Roll, Manatee Community College; Deborah Stokes, University of Illinois–Chicago; Paul Van Heuklom, Lincoln Land Community College; Mark Van Stone, Southwestern College; Marie Westhaver, Howard Community College, and Bryan Wheeler, Texas Tech. At Pearson, Norwell “Bud” Therein remains the visionary behind this project, while Amber Mackey and Sarah Touborg knowingly guided it through to this sixth edition. My discussions with all of my colleagues at Pearson are what make this work as enjoyable as it is. I’m especially grateful for the good work of project manager Barbara Taylor-Laino and photo researcher Francelle Carapetyan.

Finally, as always, I owe my greatest debt to my colleague and wife, Sandy Brooke. She is present everywhere in this project. It is safe to say she made it possible. I can only say it again: without her good counsel and better company, I would not have had the will to get this all done, let alone found the pleasure I have in doing it.

Henry M. Sayre

Oregon State University–Cascades Campus

A World of Art, Sixth Edition Preface ISBN: 9780205677207 Author: Henry M. Sayre Copyright © Pearson Education (2010)

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