Visual art has been a part of our culture as human beings since the beginning of time. In many ways, we have lived with art for all this time without actually thinking about what it means and the human-to-art relationship that has always been around. According to Amazon, Living with Art is the 21st best-selling college textbook available today. This book is a great resource for learning about this “relationship.”

Published by McGraw-Hill and released on October 13, 2009, this 608-page paperback, the slogan for the book is “Analyze, Understand, Appreciate.” This means analyzing the meaning behind visual art, understanding the meaning after this analysis, and then appreciating the art for what it’s worth and for the deeper meaning behind it.

Vincent Van Gogh (Photo by KUUNSTKUULTUR)

The first half of the book looks at nature, vocabulary, and elements of art. It provides a foundation for readers to analyze and think critically about art. The second half of the book delves into the history of art and how certain art forms represented the cultural and societal aspects of the times in which it was popular. Two key elements that make this book unique are the vibrant images throughout it and the fascinating essays that go along with them. The images seem to jump off the page and offer fantastic visualizations that give readers a true glimpse into their meaning. You might not think an art textbook would have a lot of text, but it includes a variety of topical essays that correspond with specific images and general topics. These essays provide greater understanding of what the images truly represent..

The title of the book – “Living with Art” – is the primary theme behind the text. Its focus is on how living with art is essentially like living with ourselves. This is because art is an excellent showcase of the human experience. Not only are humans a key focus of many of the pictures in this book, but also the painters and artists who created these masterpieces showcase their own personalities and the culture influences of certain periods within the art itself.

Author Mark Getlein had originally hoped to pursue advanced music studies at the famous Juilliard School of Music in New York. But he soon gained an equal interest in the downtown art in New York City along with the artistic history preserved within many of the state’s well-known museums. He worked as a pianist and a painter for about 10 years. He later got into writing and has successfully published numerous college textbooks on art and literature. Some of his other works include Art History (995), A History of Art in Africa (2001), and The Longman Anthology of World Literature.

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