Books by Philip M. Isaacson

Released: Oct. 1, 1993

Once again, the author of Round Buildings, Square Buildings, and Buildings That Wiggle Like a Fish (1988) informs eye and mind with his lucid, intelligent approach to the visual arts. Here, he ranges from ancient structures through classical painting and sculpture to contemporary crafts—all in a logical progression from pure form to schematic and literal representation and to the impact of color and style on how images are perceived. His demonstration of the difference between photographs as simple records of the visual world and as art is admirably effective (the Taj Mahal is a work of art, for instance, but a photo of it usually isn't). Chapters on ``Useful Things,'' made handsome by the way their form follows function, and on communities—from traditional villages to a modern city—where architectural motifs are particularly harmonious, well integrated, and appropriate, are especially fascinating. The author (a Maine attorney and art critic) makes a splendid guide; his examples are a personal selection, some well known and some unfamiliar but all shrewdly chosen to illuminate ideas that could well spark a lifelong interest in art. (Many of Isaacson's own photos, more than two- thirds of the 84 color images here, are superb.) Beautiful, imaginative, and richly provocative. Notes on the art; index. (Nonfiction. 9+) Read full book review >