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The Meaning of Art

The Meaning of Art - Herbert Read I include this in "explores" because I consider it the best introductory exploration of the visual arts, short of actually surveying them yourself with Read along as guide. Not an easy read, but concise and engaging and rewarding. It opened a window onto the world for me years ago when I first read it, and in addition to remaining a reference it's my idea of devotional reading.

"The more closely we look into their (the artists') lives the more likely we are to discover the presence of what we can only call religious sensibility. The life of Van Gogh is a case in point . . . This depends, of course, on what we mean by art and what we mean by religion. The essential element in the artist, the only element we can certainly never dispense with, is a modicum of this sensibility -- we need not be afraid to call it sensuality."