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Trying to get cultured - need advice

TheRookie

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As a summer project I'm trying to learn (something) about the art world, architecture, wine, and classical music. Trite I know, but I feel these are topics a man should be able to discuss semi-competently. Any advice on books or other resources to pick up in this quest? Many thanks.
 

faustian bargain

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good survey of architectural history - used in countless architecture departments across the country - is A History of Architecture by Spiro Kostof. Kostof is brilliant, and there's lots of great pictures too. For art and aesthetics, my favorite writer is Ernst Gombrich. Another good one - on modern art - is A Fine Disregard by Kirk Varnedoe. But there are scads of great surveys on art history. There are many books on wine, and I'm no expert, but I like Hugh Johnson's Encyclopedia of Wine. I have an old edition, put out right when California wines were on the rise. Classical music - you'll have to ask Thracozaaq/Koji. All I know is, it's going to involve lots of listening. While you're at it, learn some stuff about world mythologies by reading Joseph Campbell.
 

aybojs

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I'm in the midst of working on a pretty exhaustive fine arts study project; right now I'd rather not go into sources for certain reasons, but maybe in a week or two I should be able to recommend specific texts for general and specific study.

One tip for classical music: learn some basic theory and try to get to a point where you can at least read music. I may just be stuck up from my old days as a coerced-by-parents child violinist, but I think that's the bare minimum for anyone to be able to be considered "cultured" as far as music goes.
 

faustian bargain

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i'll agree with you there about the music, although i kindof take it for granted that most people have had some piano lessons when they were younger. i guess that's probably not true though.

music theory is great to know anyway. broadens the mind and encourages new ways of thinking. like learning math, or any other symbolic language.
 

alchimiste

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Learn from wine in glasses not books. If looking at the label you can provide the bio of the owner and his family but cannot tell Port from Bordeaux when tasting them you may not appear as educated as you wished.
 

PHV

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As a summer project I'm trying to learn (something) about the art world, architecture, wine, and classical music. Trite I know, but I feel these are topics a man should be able to discuss semi-competently. Any advice on books or other resources to pick up in this quest? Many thanks.
Classical music... start with Mozart... by far the most accessible. Bach is appreciate by almost all, but I think his work is not as... well... symetrical as Mozart.

A must must have for ANYONE is the von Karajan box set with the Berlin Philharmonic performing all 9 Beethoven Symphonies. O, and if you want to be trendy... become a huge Lang Lang fanatic.
 

LabelKing

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One of the best Art History tomes is by Janson which has been revised numerous times. However, it deals mostly with Western art.

The thing about culture is not only reading specific facts about paintings, etc. but also knowing the various references like Thomas Mann, the aesthetic criteria of James Joyce, and such.

Also how there is a blurred line between "obscenity," and aesthetics. Which is more prevalent in contemporary art usually.
 

Horace

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One of the best Art History tomes is by Janson which has been revised numerous times. However, it deals mostly with Western art.

The thing about culture is not only reading specific facts about paintings, etc. but also knowing the various references like Thomas Mann, the aesthetic criteria of James Joyce, and such.

Also how there is a blurred line between "obscenity," and aesthetics. Which is more prevalent in contemporary art usually.
I know about Janson -- I think it's been a school text book for quite some time. But FB, what about this Gombrich -- who is he and what's he written? Could you compare it to Janson?
 

globetrotter

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(LabelKing @ June 22 2005,22:20) One of the best Art History tomes is by Janson which has been revised numerous times. However, it deals mostly with Western art. The thing about culture is not only reading specific facts about paintings, etc. but also knowing the various references like Thomas Mann, the aesthetic criteria of James Joyce, and such. Also how there is a blurred line between "obscenity," and aesthetics. Which is more prevalent in contemporary art usually.
I know about Janson -- I think it's been a school text book for quite some time. Â But FB, what about this Gombrich -- who is he and what's he written? Â Could you compare it to Janson?
gombrich is what I had as a texbook for art history. great book, but I can't compare the author to anybody else
 

kabert

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On Art, if you have time, seek out an art history class at a local college. If not, buy the book used for such a class -- they are usually big with lots of pictures, as you'd expect.

On wine, buy yourself a one year's subscription to the Wine Spectator. WS has become more of a "lifestyle" magazine, but it also has lots of good articles, especially for the beginner. Next, I'd agree with the other comments about doing some drinking. (You can read all day about Bordeaux and California red wines, but until you've tasted them, it's hard to be "educated" about the subject. Perhaps sign up for one of those local wine societies, which have tastings and tasting classes. There are several here in Washington, DC. If you really want to get into it, seek out books by Robert Parker.

On architecture, I really don't know, but I would not suggest Architectural Digest, as that's mostly a "lifestyles and interior design of the rich and famous" mag. Fun to flip through sometimes, but it's not going to teach you much IMO. I'm sure there are some architecture basics books or college courses out there. And, plan a trip to Florence.
 

ATM

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Can any music experts here comment on the book Classical Music 101 by Plotkin?
 

faustian bargain

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hey, if money is no object, i would say do an old-fashioned Grand Tour, for your study of Western architecture. I can't compare Gombrich to others either - only took one class in Aesthetics and I don't remember much of the other writers presented. Gombrich's main thesis on aesthetics - outlined wonderfully in Art and Illusion - was that all art is developed using schemata particular to the style in which it is made. i guess it's sortof a linguistic or structuralist approach to aesthetics, although i'm sure i'm not being totally accurate. Anyway: take for example the ancient Egyptian way of showing the human: head and lower body in profile, torso in facing view. looks kindof strange to us, but that was the visual language the Egyptians used, so it made perfect sense to them. Same with any of the 'primitive' looking art from other cultures, or aperspectival stuff from the middle ages, and such. oh, another respected art history textbook is Gardner's Art Through the Ages. i haven't read it though. (i wasn't an art major.) .... i agree as well that wine should be tasted--i think it would be best to take a tasting course where the teacher can point out what to look for and how to describe it.
 

matadorpoeta

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As a summer project I'm trying to learn (something) about the art world, architecture, wine, and classical music. Trite I know, but I feel these are topics a man should be able to discuss semi-competently. Any advice on books or other resources to pick up in this quest? Many thanks.
it does seem trite unlesss you have a genuine interest in these things, which, if you did, you would have no problem learning about them. i took art history and architectural history classes in college because i was interested in them. i go to art museums because i like art, not because i'm trying to gain knowledge about it. i know a little about wine because i like to drink it and i can talk about the wines i like. i used to listen to classical music as kid but i don't like it anymore. i still like opera though. i'm just saying that you should get into these things because you enjoy them, not for knowledge or to impress anyone. that's lame. be yourself.
 
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globetrotter

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to learn about archetecture, you don't have to start in europe. philadelphia and chicago both ahve great archetecture societies, and have tours of buildings in different styles. there may be similar near you. start out that way, and work your way up.

if you have money to spend, I would go to prague - you can see fantastic art from almost any period, see great archetecture, here world class classical music every night and eat reasonable food with reasonable wine every night for a pretty acceptable cost. for a 2 month course at the best price, I would suggest prague.
 

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