Innovators in Sculpture and Innovators in Painting by Dianne Durante

Innovators in Sculpture
Self-Published, 2015
162 pp., $8 (Kindle), $30 (hardcover)

Innovators in Painting
Self-Published, 2020
140 pp., $8 (Kindle), $30 (hardcover)

Those interested in art history can choose from an abundance of books stretching back to Giorgio Vasari’s seminal 16th-century work The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, a collection of biographies of Italian Renaissance artists.1 Best-selling modern classics include E. H. Gombrich’s 1950 The Story of Art and W. H. Janson’s 1962 History of Art, which provide sweeping overviews of the Western canon from antiquity. Common among more contemporary books is Art, a 2008 tome showcasing hundreds of artists and artistic movements from around the world.

Although these books and others introduce readers to many artists and their innovations, they generally treat originality as undefinable and elusive. In her pathbreaking books Innovators in Sculpture and Innovators in Painting, Dianne Durante takes readers on a unique journey, a highly essentialized analysis of the major innovations throughout Western art. She expertly navigates this vast, complex subject, displaying artists who have created progressively more representationally accurate and expressive works through unprecedented means.

Author of seventeen books on art and history, Durante based Sculpture and Painting on her walking tours through the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Collectively, they are a manageable 302 pages featuring 584 images from the museum and other sources. . . .

1. Although some Greek and Renaissance writers wrote earlier works on art and artists, Vasari’s book is widely considered to be the first work of art history. British art historian and exhibition curator Martin Kemp called it “the founding work of art history.” See his introduction to Giorgio Vasari, The Life of Leonardo da Vinci: A New Translation (London: Thames & Hudson, 2019).

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