Audio Books for Art Lovers

June 14, 2011

Those who enjoy poring over the shapes in a Picasso, the brush strokes of a Van Gogh, or the form, color, and line of a Kandinsky are likely more interested in what can be seen rather than heard.  But for art lovers in general, there is a whole world of audio books that can allow the listener to learn more about the artists and movements they appreciate.  So if your enthusiasm for a particular style extends only as far as what you’ve seen, maybe it’s time to garner a little background information to round out your education.  Here are some audio books that might whet your artistic appetite.

  1. The Art Detective: Fakes, Frauds, and Finds and the Search for Lost Treasures by Philip Mould.  This art dealer from across the pond is probably best known for his appearances on Antiques Roadshow, but his real passion is finding works of art that have been lost or misidentified.  In this fascinating audio book, he talks about pieces he has uncovered (by such artists as Winslow Homer and Thomas Gainsborough) and the journey to locate and authenticate them.  Even the layman will find something to like in these illuminating tales.
  2. The Art Historians by The Reindeer Company.  If you don’t have time to take an art history course, this audio book can give you the same experience at a lot less cost (in both money and time).  Nonwestern art (Asia, Africa, Oceania) is covered from prehistory up to present day and you can pop it in your computer to see complementary images from 300 different sources.
  3. Stealing the Mystic Lamb: The True Story of the World’s Most Coveted Masterpiece by Noah Charney.  The world of art theft has been deftly covered in every form of fictional media, from literature to cinema, but this real life tale of the most stolen piece of art in history will have you riveted.  The 15th century Flemish painting known as the Mystic Lamb (also the Ghent Altarpiece) consisted of 12 painted panels that have been censored, hidden, copied, ransomed, and stolen many times over the span of six centuries.  Charney delivers the astonishing history of this piece, which is considered by some to be the most sought after painting in the art world, as well as insight into the world of art theft.
  4. Festival Dada Paris: Soiree du Couer a Barbe – The Music of Paris Dada 1920-23 by James Hayward (editor).  Few art movements are also cultural movements, but Dada is one such oddity.  Not only does Dadaism embody a political philosophy (which began in Switzerland during WWI), it also permeates art, theater, and music.  If you are interested in the abstract form that started it all, then you should definitely listen to some of the music that accompanies the movement.
  5. In the Footsteps of Da Vinci – Da Vinci Code Tour by Artineraries Tours.  Those who fell in love with Dan Brown’s fictional work about the trail left by Leonardo Da Vinci will no doubt find a wealth of additional (and accurate) information about his life and work, including places he lived, worked, and continues to live on through his art.  The audio books by Artineraries have often been cited as “the best audio experience around” and this is no exception.

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