More Yellow Pages than pocket guide, this book lists the locations of many of the world’s greatest visual art.
Traverso’s (New Directions in Scheduling the Secondary School, 1983) first foray into art history is a vast index of many of the world’s great artists, primarily focusing on where intrepid travelers can view their works. The format is simple: Each entry, listed alphabetically by the artist’s last name, begins with a brief (typically less than half a page) summary of the artist’s style, media and achievements; then, galleries that hold work by the artist are listed—American galleries by state, followed by international galleries by country. Traverso claims that his criterion for inclusion is not based on judgments about the artist’s greatness but rather the artworks’ “accessibility to the general public,” which allows him to include a huge variety of artists. However, this gauge results in a few notable omissions; for instance, Traverso includes neither Matthias Grünewald nor Jan van Eyck, whose few attributable paintings include several indisputable masterpieces. The criterion becomes even more slippery around more contemporary artists; Jeff Koons has no entry, but Richard Serra does. Still, for anyone looking to fully explore an individual artist’s oeuvre, this work could provide a useful tool for trip planning. If Traverso had included lists of titles under each museum, the book might have provided a fount of information for the aware but selective art lover. For novices, some of the descriptions offer great summations of an artist’s concerns, while others are vague and short. Warhol’s entry, for instance, is only three brief sentences. Despite the enormous, impressive amount of labor this work demanded, its usefulness seems limited, since many readers who wish to see specific works might look to the Internet for answers; however, the locations of some hard-to-find works are provided here.
Colossal, but a greater focus on artworks and artist summaries would have proved much more valuable.