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Artcurious: Stories of the Unexpected, Slightly Odd, and Strangely Wonderful in Art History

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A wildly entertaining and surprisingly educational dive into art history as you've never seen it before, from the host of the beloved ArtCurious podcast We're all familiar with the works of Claude Monet, thanks in no small part to the ubiquitous reproductions of his water lilies on umbrellas, handbags, scarves, and dorm-room posters. But did you also know that Monet and his A wildly entertaining and surprisingly educational dive into art history as you've never seen it before, from the host of the beloved ArtCurious podcast We're all familiar with the works of Claude Monet, thanks in no small part to the ubiquitous reproductions of his water lilies on umbrellas, handbags, scarves, and dorm-room posters. But did you also know that Monet and his cohort were trailblazing rebels whose works were originally deemed unbelievably ugly and vulgar? And while you probably know the tale of Vincent van Gogh's suicide, you may not be aware that there's pretty compelling evidence that the artist didn't die by his own hand but was accidentally killed--or even murdered. Or how about the fact that one of Andy Warhol's most enduring legacies involves Caroline Kennedy's moldy birthday cake and a collection of toenail clippings? ArtCurious is a colorful look at the world of art history, revealing some of the strangest, funniest, and most fascinating stories behind the world's great artists and masterpieces. Through these and other incredible, weird, and wonderful tales, ArtCurious presents an engaging look at why art history is, and continues to be, a riveting and relevant world to explore.


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A wildly entertaining and surprisingly educational dive into art history as you've never seen it before, from the host of the beloved ArtCurious podcast We're all familiar with the works of Claude Monet, thanks in no small part to the ubiquitous reproductions of his water lilies on umbrellas, handbags, scarves, and dorm-room posters. But did you also know that Monet and his A wildly entertaining and surprisingly educational dive into art history as you've never seen it before, from the host of the beloved ArtCurious podcast We're all familiar with the works of Claude Monet, thanks in no small part to the ubiquitous reproductions of his water lilies on umbrellas, handbags, scarves, and dorm-room posters. But did you also know that Monet and his cohort were trailblazing rebels whose works were originally deemed unbelievably ugly and vulgar? And while you probably know the tale of Vincent van Gogh's suicide, you may not be aware that there's pretty compelling evidence that the artist didn't die by his own hand but was accidentally killed--or even murdered. Or how about the fact that one of Andy Warhol's most enduring legacies involves Caroline Kennedy's moldy birthday cake and a collection of toenail clippings? ArtCurious is a colorful look at the world of art history, revealing some of the strangest, funniest, and most fascinating stories behind the world's great artists and masterpieces. Through these and other incredible, weird, and wonderful tales, ArtCurious presents an engaging look at why art history is, and continues to be, a riveting and relevant world to explore.

30 review for Artcurious: Stories of the Unexpected, Slightly Odd, and Strangely Wonderful in Art History

  1. 4 out of 5

    Christina Dudley

    If you're an art history fan, this collection of quirky stories is pretty delightful. I especially enjoyed the chapters on Norman Rockwell, the Mona Lisa, van Gogh, and Hieronymous Bosch. Less interesting were the folks I'd never heard of and whose art didn't personally appeal to me. You have to stay pretty close to your computer while you read this because you'll constantly be Googling works, and it's pretty hard to see on a phone screen. So if you're the type of person who hates to consult maps If you're an art history fan, this collection of quirky stories is pretty delightful. I especially enjoyed the chapters on Norman Rockwell, the Mona Lisa, van Gogh, and Hieronymous Bosch. Less interesting were the folks I'd never heard of and whose art didn't personally appeal to me. You have to stay pretty close to your computer while you read this because you'll constantly be Googling works, and it's pretty hard to see on a phone screen. So if you're the type of person who hates to consult maps, family trees, or Wikipedia while you read--well, what are you doing anyhow, reading art history in the first place?

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rachel (Kalanadi)

    3.5 stars

  3. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    For someone who has two degrees in art history, was it even a question that I wouldn't like this book? The podcast must be pretty great if this is based off of it. You'll find something here for both art history novices and experts. I hope we see some reattribution one day for female artists Hilma af Klint (first abstract painting) and Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (for Fountain, historically attributed to Duchamp). For someone who has two degrees in art history, was it even a question that I wouldn't like this book? The podcast must be pretty great if this is based off of it. You'll find something here for both art history novices and experts. I hope we see some reattribution one day for female artists Hilma af Klint (first abstract painting) and Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (for Fountain, historically attributed to Duchamp).

  4. 4 out of 5

    Snow

    I thought the various stories were really interesting and enjoyed the humor of the book. My only real complaint is the constant mentioning of artwork without showing it, which tended to take me out of the book as i’d usually end up trying to find it, but I’m not sure if there’s a cost factor with that. Thanks to this book, I’ll most likely be keeping my eye out for more art history books.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alison Felice

    Not quite finished with the book, but these are my thoughts so far... I may be an artist, but art history was never my forte my experience with art history has been limited to learning about the renaissance masters and of ancient artworks that are not as relevant to me as some more contemporary art might be. I’m other words, art history was always boring. This book, however, has managed to make art history fun and entertaining. From theories of the true identity of Jack the Ripper to artists trad Not quite finished with the book, but these are my thoughts so far... I may be an artist, but art history was never my forte my experience with art history has been limited to learning about the renaissance masters and of ancient artworks that are not as relevant to me as some more contemporary art might be. I’m other words, art history was always boring. This book, however, has managed to make art history fun and entertaining. From theories of the true identity of Jack the Ripper to artists trading their artist services for dead bodies to dissect to learn anatomy for future artworks, this book is full of interesting and odd stories of various artists. If I had to critique anything it would be that o wish there was more artwork in the book. There are several times where the author alludes to various artworks by title, but there wasn’t an image to go with the book. I would have to pause, google the artwork, then go back to the book - it slowed me down. I also think the book could have benefitted from colored images of the artwork vs. black and white that is currently pictured. Some of the artwork is kind of hard to see/understand because the images are in black and white. Other than that, I am thoroughly enjoying this book and I look forward to listening to the podcasts from the author 👍

  6. 4 out of 5

    Steph

    After committing to start reading regularly, I grabbed this book at random in the bookstore when I went for something unrelated. I have not yet listened to the podcast, but the title grabbed me. I was surprised to find the writing and subject matter presented in such an entertaining way. While art history buffs may already know many of these stories, I think most people would pick up really amusing and interesting things they had no idea about famous artworks, artists, and their circles. I do ag After committing to start reading regularly, I grabbed this book at random in the bookstore when I went for something unrelated. I have not yet listened to the podcast, but the title grabbed me. I was surprised to find the writing and subject matter presented in such an entertaining way. While art history buffs may already know many of these stories, I think most people would pick up really amusing and interesting things they had no idea about famous artworks, artists, and their circles. I do agree with others that plates or more pictures of the artworks would make it easier to stay 'in the book,' as I was frequently looking up people and artworks. Aside from that, I truly loved this book and would recommend it even to my friends who might not be particularly interested specifically in art history, as I think this is a captivating book that might pique the interests of anyone who simply enjoys offbeat stories from history.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Passports & Books

    Dasal begins the book with why art isn't always boring and shares her love to meet "committed non-art types" as much as meeting fellow art lovers. She recognizes the "what's the big deal anyway?" moments or that alienating feeling for lack of exposure and fear that one might not be able to understand art. The book explores a wide range of artists from Leonardo Da Vinci of the High Renaissance to Andy Warhol in recent times. Dasal shares plenty of backstories, mysteries, thefts, murders and quirk Dasal begins the book with why art isn't always boring and shares her love to meet "committed non-art types" as much as meeting fellow art lovers. She recognizes the "what's the big deal anyway?" moments or that alienating feeling for lack of exposure and fear that one might not be able to understand art. The book explores a wide range of artists from Leonardo Da Vinci of the High Renaissance to Andy Warhol in recent times. Dasal shares plenty of backstories, mysteries, thefts, murders and quirks behind well-known artists who were also, eccentric geniuses, scientists, inventors and much more. And I found myself enjoying these unexpected, slightly off and strangely wonderful backstories which were entertaining and educational. And, Dasal's humorous writing style helps with learning art history whilst having fun.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sue Myers

    A fun read, especially if you enjoy the stories behind the art work. Love the author's sense of humor as she regales you with some of the stories behind great works that we have taken for granted, like the Mona Lisa, Monet and his cronies, Van Gogh's death and/or suicide, the artist who could have been Jack the Ripper, Andy Warhol's "time capsules" and more. My favorite was the presentation on the Dadaist movement and their bucking the stodgy, rich, entitled art establishment. I also love the st A fun read, especially if you enjoy the stories behind the art work. Love the author's sense of humor as she regales you with some of the stories behind great works that we have taken for granted, like the Mona Lisa, Monet and his cronies, Van Gogh's death and/or suicide, the artist who could have been Jack the Ripper, Andy Warhol's "time capsules" and more. My favorite was the presentation on the Dadaist movement and their bucking the stodgy, rich, entitled art establishment. I also love the story of Norman Rockwell's portrayal of the sad state of racial relations in the US, with the painting of Ruby Bridges and the murder of the 3 voting rights activists. This book shows that art is not static or boring! My only criticism is that I had to read the book with my laptop, because the illustrations are sparse and most paintings that are mentioned were not familiar to me. I will start listening to the author's podcasts.

  9. 4 out of 5

    James P.

    Although I enjoyed the writer’s take on the subject matter, I found myself getting impatient with this book. Part of my response, I guess, is due to the few chapters in the middle of the book titled The Slightly Odd. I’m not a big fan of stories about sleuthing that are too complicated. Plus, if all the information about a mystery (is the Mona Lisa in the Louvre real?) adds up to pages and pages of alternate theories and dead ends, it’s frustrating. Just summarize, please. Anyway, that objection Although I enjoyed the writer’s take on the subject matter, I found myself getting impatient with this book. Part of my response, I guess, is due to the few chapters in the middle of the book titled The Slightly Odd. I’m not a big fan of stories about sleuthing that are too complicated. Plus, if all the information about a mystery (is the Mona Lisa in the Louvre real?) adds up to pages and pages of alternate theories and dead ends, it’s frustrating. Just summarize, please. Anyway, that objection aside, it was cool to read a fun book written in a breezy style about art. The stories are unusual, and I appreciated that. It reminded me that art needn’t always be treated with effete attitudes and kid gloves. Gimme a break. When it comes down to it, great art is of the earth. And, the really great stuff is stuff that moves us.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Cat

    Love it! Art lovers will enjoy reading this side of art! I've always known art isn't only the serious, lofty subject it's been taught we should view it as. It's has a really wild (sometimes dark), never boring side, too! I've always thought art, as it's taught in grade school through high school needed to lighten up a bit. So I went to study art for a bit as a kids in a real art school. My instructors there told us kids lots of fun tales about various artists, both dead, and living. I have not l Love it! Art lovers will enjoy reading this side of art! I've always known art isn't only the serious, lofty subject it's been taught we should view it as. It's has a really wild (sometimes dark), never boring side, too! I've always thought art, as it's taught in grade school through high school needed to lighten up a bit. So I went to study art for a bit as a kids in a real art school. My instructors there told us kids lots of fun tales about various artists, both dead, and living. I have not looked at art the same since and thoroughly encourage art lovers to please read about the artists! Sometimes the stories behind the works are known, too. This books a great start! Teach the children! Art is fun! I received a Kindle arc from Netgalley in exchange for a fair review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Zoe Disigny

    This is a wonderful book for art history lovers like me. Dasal’s stories are irreverent, down to earth, witty, and backed by the latest research. She poses questions, postulates answers, and encourages us to think. It’s hard to say which story I liked best since they all captivated me in one way or another. I certainly loved the chapter “Seances and Surprises: The Spiritualists Women who invented Modern Art.” It’s about time this huge step in the development of art was attributed correctly. But This is a wonderful book for art history lovers like me. Dasal’s stories are irreverent, down to earth, witty, and backed by the latest research. She poses questions, postulates answers, and encourages us to think. It’s hard to say which story I liked best since they all captivated me in one way or another. I certainly loved the chapter “Seances and Surprises: The Spiritualists Women who invented Modern Art.” It’s about time this huge step in the development of art was attributed correctly. But most of all, I loved how Dasal takes art history down off her champagne pedestal and invites her in for an excellent craft beer. What a refreshing change!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Anjali

    This book arose out of Dasal's ArtCurious podcast, which I've never listened to. I thoroughly enjoyed these entertaining stories from art history, and I will definitely be checking out the podcast. One strange oddity in the narration of this book, which I assume is on the podcast as well: Dasal pronounces years such as 1906 as "nineteen six" which I've never heard done before and found quite distracting. A small thing, but one that jarred me out of what she was saying every single time she did i This book arose out of Dasal's ArtCurious podcast, which I've never listened to. I thoroughly enjoyed these entertaining stories from art history, and I will definitely be checking out the podcast. One strange oddity in the narration of this book, which I assume is on the podcast as well: Dasal pronounces years such as 1906 as "nineteen six" which I've never heard done before and found quite distracting. A small thing, but one that jarred me out of what she was saying every single time she did it. But don't let that keep you away from the book, as it's an informative and engaging read (listen).

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jillian Kohler

    One of my colleagues perfectly described this as walking through a museum, with a friend who's also an Art Historian. It's so true - it delves into many well known styles, and pieces we think we know but have so much to learn it their fascinating historical factoids. After you read it, you feel a smarter - a super erudite experience! It's explanation of trends in art, readability, and unique style reminded me of how Cork Dork illustrated the wine industry in a conversational way. A wonderful pers One of my colleagues perfectly described this as walking through a museum, with a friend who's also an Art Historian. It's so true - it delves into many well known styles, and pieces we think we know but have so much to learn it their fascinating historical factoids. After you read it, you feel a smarter - a super erudite experience! It's explanation of trends in art, readability, and unique style reminded me of how Cork Dork illustrated the wine industry in a conversational way. A wonderful personal exploration or universal gift indeed. Galley borrowed from the publisher.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jillian Doherty

    One of my colleagues perfectly described this as walking through a museum, with a friend who's also an Art Historian.  It's so true - it delves into many well known styles, and pieces we think we know but have so much to learn it their fascinating historical factoids. After you read it, you feel a smarter - a super erudite experience! It's explanation of trends in art, readability, and unique style reminded me of how Cork Dork illustrated the wine industry in a conversational way.  A wonderful pers One of my colleagues perfectly described this as walking through a museum, with a friend who's also an Art Historian.  It's so true - it delves into many well known styles, and pieces we think we know but have so much to learn it their fascinating historical factoids. After you read it, you feel a smarter - a super erudite experience! It's explanation of trends in art, readability, and unique style reminded me of how Cork Dork illustrated the wine industry in a conversational way.  A wonderful personal exploration or universal gift indeed.  Galley borrowed from the publisher. 

  15. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

    The best teachers of art history are those who can weave the technical aspects of a particular way of looking at art into stories that capture and remain in the imaginations of the everyday museum wanderer. Jennifer Dasal does just that. I read this with my computer to hand, pulling up photos of the works as she talked about them. Glimpsing the inner and social worlds of artists gives learners a unique understanding of the cultures in which they lived. And this was a fun way to learn! Thanks to # The best teachers of art history are those who can weave the technical aspects of a particular way of looking at art into stories that capture and remain in the imaginations of the everyday museum wanderer. Jennifer Dasal does just that. I read this with my computer to hand, pulling up photos of the works as she talked about them. Glimpsing the inner and social worlds of artists gives learners a unique understanding of the cultures in which they lived. And this was a fun way to learn! Thanks to #NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review #Artcurious.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Konet

    The author presented the topic of art history in a fun manner and some of the descriptions made me laugh, but this really isn't the book to learn the pivotal and important part of art history. Although, what do I know only having a miniscule understanding on the subject. However, I did learn a bit more about some famous masterpieces and why. It is clear the author loves art, so I appreciated that. Just wasn't the book for me. Thanks to Netgalley, Jennifer Dasal and Penguin Group Books for an ARC i The author presented the topic of art history in a fun manner and some of the descriptions made me laugh, but this really isn't the book to learn the pivotal and important part of art history. Although, what do I know only having a miniscule understanding on the subject. However, I did learn a bit more about some famous masterpieces and why. It is clear the author loves art, so I appreciated that. Just wasn't the book for me. Thanks to Netgalley, Jennifer Dasal and Penguin Group Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Available: 9/15/22

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joanne

    I've always had an interest in art history and figured this would make for an interesting read. It was just that...interesting. Not fascinating, not mind-blowing, not boring. The author took an artist or an artistic era and then said, "here's an unusual story about that." Some were enjoyable and some were not. I'm glad I read it, but I probably won't remember any of it in a week or so. Thank you to Net Galley and the publisher for the advanced reader's copy in exchange for an honest review. I've always had an interest in art history and figured this would make for an interesting read. It was just that...interesting. Not fascinating, not mind-blowing, not boring. The author took an artist or an artistic era and then said, "here's an unusual story about that." Some were enjoyable and some were not. I'm glad I read it, but I probably won't remember any of it in a week or so. Thank you to Net Galley and the publisher for the advanced reader's copy in exchange for an honest review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    MacKenzie Alexander

    Perhaps it’s the Art History major in me, but the stories were not quite fascinating enough. Merely interesting tidbits that are more common knowledge for those who are art history lovers like myself. I did really appreciated her enthusiasm, and would recommend to any of my friends who want to hear more interesting stories about art!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Deb

    I read most of this book, but I am in no hurry really to finish it. I am not exactly sure why this isnt riveting, I like a good artist story. It isn’t wildly entertaining like it is described. Some of the information is kind of dull. Which art history is definitely not. I will revise this when/if I finish the last few chapters... I skipped around trying to find a really great story.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sheri

    ArtCurious: Stories of the Unexpected, Slightly Odd, and Strangely Wonderful in Art History by Jennifer Dasal is a fantastic read for anyone curious about art. She is a wonderful storyteller and brings the art and the story to life.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Ever since reading Catherine House last month, I’ve been on an art theory / art history bender. I really liked ArtCurious - it’s written in a normal, accessible style for normal people, instead of that snooze-inducting academic writing style. I was entertained and I learned a lot!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mary Miller

    An educational read about little known facts of the life of art and artists. The chapters are taken from her podcasts and the chapters are rather lengthy. During this stressful time I am researching the painters and their paintings to stay in a peaceful and calm state of mind.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Richard A

    An informative and entertaining read of "behind the curtain" stories from art history, among them the ongoing mystery of Van Gogh's death, Andy Warhol's time capsules, and the uproar caused by the emergence of the Impressionists. An informative and entertaining read of "behind the curtain" stories from art history, among them the ongoing mystery of Van Gogh's death, Andy Warhol's time capsules, and the uproar caused by the emergence of the Impressionists.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I bought this book on a whim (didn’t even realize it was signed!). It was a nice break from the fictional worlds I’ve been reading about lately—some chapters were better than others. I’m glad it ended with Andy Warhol—that was one of my fav chapters. Overall, an ok book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Miriam

    The juicy Goss of classic artists and works of art. Enjoyed this a lot, and have already had several occasions to retell lotsof little anecdotes to family and friends, definitely lots of things that are so fun to know and think about.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Christina A. McMahon

    Not a very sophisticated book but some interesting stories.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tracy Solak

    Interesting and entertaining art history for those of us who never took an art history course.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Phyllis

    An engaging writing style and an obvious love of all art makes this a terrific read. I learned something new about every artist she profiles.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    I think I’ll check out her podcast.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jg

    Super! Great stories and you can almost hear Jen reading them aloud!!

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