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Volume VIII Number 12 . . . . February 15, 2002
A First Book of Canadian Art, a beautiful volume with eye-catching full colour illustrations on the cover and on every page, is authored by Richard Rhodes, editor of Canadian Art, the largest art magazine in the country. This vivid, brief history begins with the earliest art of our indigenous peoples and takes the reader through the centuries to contemporary art forms in our information age.
The authoritative text is organized in a historical manner with double page spreads devoted either to individual artists (Paul Kane, Michael Carr), to an era or movement (Canadian impressionism, cold war realism), or to a theme (woman's view, colour coast to coast). A good glossary of art terms is provided which would help students who might otherwise find the language of the book rather sophisticated.
As one would expect in a volume of under 70 pages, the book provides essentially a concise portrait of more than 30 artists from several centuries. There are brief descriptions of these artists and their work as well as some anecdotal stories. This approach makes the book excellent for forming a context for Canadian art rather than for researching in-depth information. Therefore, it would be popular with students looking for an overview rather than those working in more detail on a particular artist or era. It is not intended for the art elitist but rather functions to inspire readers to enquire further and to broaden their artistic horizons. A First Book of Canadian Art is not only a delight to browse through but is at the same time a useful reference tool.
Ann Abel is a former teacher of high school English and French and currently is teacher-librarian at Peterborough Collegiate in Peterborough, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.