DK Publishing's "Art that Changed the World" Book Summary

by gregpdesrosiers on April 14, 2014 - 12:32pm

What I chose to read, as one of the core emphases of change in communication, is “Art that Changed the World” by DK Publishing, published in August 2013. This documentary book provides specific details on the influence of art in history; every major art movement is described here, including pop art and figurative tradition.

There are timelines, description of paintings, and overall summaries of some of the world’s influential artists, to how art has changed the world for centuries. For instance, we can see the works of Pablo Picasso, Cy Twombly, and Richard Hamilton. A timeline is provided to how modern art since the 1950s have changed the world and lessen the effects of social and economic barriers, and how it has influenced the future based on the culture at that time.

I chose this section of the book because with regards to the environment, we can best represent the serious environmental concerns with some pop art, figurative art, and even abstracted art. Sometimes, our own perception of art can let us identify what is the reality of this artwork, what is the theme this artwork follows, and what are the predictions that must be concerned in understanding the art. Additionally, I have written a few summaries and recommendations of some of the news that has been shared regarding the environment, and what are some of the resources we have that we yet to convey the message on the environment. I also spent about 10 hours of looking through volunteering organizations related to the environment, including one I found at a college organization fair. I decided to take a look on the environment originally, because I find that it’s more concrete-based than taking a look at other issues to study. Plus, I can identify some of the serious consequences we have on our carbon footprint, so that way when I am on my own, I would try to find a way to lower the carbon footprint. I’m more of a person that appreciates electricity, except that the generation of it and how we transmit it does contribute to climate change.

There are two different sections I find particularly useful that can help me advance my understanding of delivering the news related to the environment: pop art, and figurative tradition. Since the environment can be really attached to the industrialized culture we have right now, and there had been numerous multimedia projects regarding the environment including music (when I looked at Al Gore's original site, there was a small initiative to compose music on environmental concerns), there should be some pop culture art where we can spread awareness about the environmental concerns that we must manage. The best bet would be to create some art where it suggests that we preserve the pop culture we've been developing for the past 60 years, yet we start creating activities and initiate campaigns to better manage the environment for generations to come.

From my research on the book, there had been some pop artwork done in the 1950s to let the United States, for example, phase out of World War II, and look forward to more freedom and eliminating much of the social boundaries that existed. I came across an art involving housemaids in fancy homes.

Since there had been so many themes expressed in relation to using figures in art, because the theme behind that figure is adaptable to the setting surrounding it, it's highly compatible to illustrate an environmental concern through, for example, a human dying in the severe wild, complete with drought, tornadoes, heat, and polluted air. One influential artwork involving figures was "Gassed" by John Singer Sargent, who did it as a memo to commemorate the British troops that died in World War I. From what I read in the sections I've chosen, I came across a quote by Baithus: "Painting is the passage from the chaos of the emotions to the order of the possible."

Essentially, these two sections explain that by through both cultural and human artwork, we can bring the urge of changing ourselves to better manage our environment for the many generations to come. They are both very influential in the human philosophy and set out a suggested abstract direction. Overtime, artwork will be so phenomenal, with regards to the environment, that it will draw the attention of almost all humanity.

Art that Changed the World. London: DK Publishing, 2013. Print. April 10, 2011.

About the author

English college student in Computer Science and Mathematics.