We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

E-book purchase
Choose a subscription

Downloaded copy on your device does not expire. Includes 4 years of Bookshelf Online.


Where applicable, tax will be added to the above price prior to payment.

E-book purchasing help


Art Matters

A Contemporary Approach to Art Appreciation

Pamela Gordon

Publication Date - 16 December 2019

ISBN: 9780199946518

672 pages
8-1/2 x 11 inches

In Stock

Through rich stories and pedagogy that fosters active learning, Art Matters explores how--and why--to appreciate art


What is art? Is it something confined to a museum or gallery, or can it occupy our communities, our schools, our bookshelves, and even our text message conversations? Is it something beautiful, moving, confusing, or perhaps all of the above? What gives Art meaning? And why is Art so important to us--all of us?

Art Matters introduces students to the wide range of art that is around them. Featuring an enormous assortment of types of art that diverse artists have created for different people around the world, it demonstrates how pervasive and critical art is in our lives--from the emojis we text, to the furniture we sit on, to the buildings we live in, to the photographs we see.

Through stories, examples, thoughtful pedagogy, and in-depth discussions of process and history, Art Matters motivates students to experience art actively and meaningfully. By asking questions and exposing students to different viewpoints and ideas, the author gives them the tools to speak, write, think critically, and form conclusions about what they see in familiar and unfamiliar works.

This book will show students that art is everywhere, art is vibrant, and art matters.


  • Coverage of a wide range of art forms and artworks demonstrates how critical art is in our lives
  • More than 800 high-quality images allow students to engage with a vibrant collection of works from across the globe and throughout history
  • Learning objectives on the first page of each chapter identify the content that students should master by the time they have completed the chapter
  • Compelling and memorable "How Art Matters" stories and accompanying mini-documentaries begin each chapter and bring each story to life
  • "Practice Art Matters" activities provide quick application exercises at several points in each chapter, giving students the opportunity to use the content they have just read
  • "Artists Matter" photos in the margins of each chapter highlight the diversity of creative artists over the ages, allowing students to relate to the creators as people
  • Pronunciation Guides and a Marginal Glossary help students identify and master key terms and artist names
  • "Delve Deeper" boxes give students the opportunity to explore topics in greater depth
  • "Quick Review" questions tied to chapter learning objectives appear at various points in each chapter, ensuring that students understand key points in the reading before moving on to a new section
  • "Critical Thinking" questions at the end of each chapter ask students to analyze and synthesize what they have learned
  • Interactive image walkthroughs in the eBook guide students through figures

About the Author(s)

Pamela Gordon has been teaching at Norwalk Community College in Connecticut since 2009. At NCC, Pam offers two classes: Art Appreciation and The Creative Voice (an interdisciplinary class in which students explore their own creative processes). Pam teaches both in-person and online classes.


Rave reviews from professors: "Art Matters achieves what we are all trying to do with our Art Appreciation audiences: teach students that they can learn to appreciate and enjoy art throughout their lives, no matter what their major field of study or their career."--Kent Boyer, El Centro College

"This text, while working within a standard format, offers a fresh look at art appreciation in the twenty-first century. It is better attuned than any I've seen to the way that students access information."--Mary Shira, James Madison University

"I fell in love with Art Matters by Pam Gordon! She has created a textbook that brings together interesting art and stories of why art is significant to us personally and as a culture, and places it in context for us, which makes us want to learn more."--Patricia Drew, Irvine Valley College and California State University, Fullerton

And from students! "Art Matters is an awesome textbook! The 'Quick Review' and 'Critical Thinking' questions helped me understand the material more. The writing style and design both rate 5/5 stars and a score of 10/10!"--David Vasquez, Cellular Neuroscience major, Florida Atlantic University

"Overall this book is great. It's easy to read and very detailed; I was able to understand everything. It provides so much detail on all the different art pieces. I love it."--Katrzyna Krupa, General Studies major, Norwalk Community College

"The price is incredible. I sincerely appreciate the company's efforts to make this book affordable for college students."--Tristan, Psychology major, Florida Atlantic University

"This is a good textbook. There's not a single thing I dislike about it. The 'How Art Matters' stories are a reminder of the goal that the textbook is trying to reach."--Jason Guajardo, Biology major, El Centro College

Table of Contents

    Chapter 1. Art Matters
    HOW ART MATTERS: Maya Lin's Vietnam Veterans Memorial
    The Importance of Art
    A Central Part of Our Lives
    A Strongly Supported Endeavor
    DELVE DEEPER: Conserving Art
    A Benefit to Society
    A Basis of Power
    Practice Art Matters 1.1. Explore Whether Some Art Should Be Censored
    Practice Art Matters 1.2. Explain Why a Memorial Shows How Art Matters
    The Purposes of Art
    Religion and Spirituality
    Politics and the Social Order
    Practice Art Matters1.3. Figure Out the Purpose of a Work of Art
    Recording and Communicating Information
    Practice Art Matters 1.4. Judge Whether an Image Is Reliable
    Social Action
    HOW ART MATTERS: A Look Back at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
    Chapter 2. What Is Art?
    HOW ART MATTERS: Barnett Newman's Voice of Fire
    Defining Art
    Art as a Physical Object Made from Artistic Materials
    Art as an Aesthetic Experience
    Art as an Object of Value
    Art as Part of the Canon
    Art as a Work Crafted with Skill
    Art as a Work That Has Meaning
    Practice Art Matters 2.1. Consider How Cultural Perception Impacts Views
    Practice Art Matters 2.2. Explore How Physical Perception Changes Meaning
    Art as a Creative Work
    Practice Art Matters 2.3. Discover How to Approach a Difficult Work of Art
    The Themes, Types, and Ingredients of Art
    Themes of Art
    Practice Art Matters 2.4. Judge What Theme a Work of Art Concerns
    Types of Art
    Ingredients of Art
    HOW ART MATTERS. A Look Back at Voice of Fire
    Chapter 3. The Visual Elements of Art
    HOW ART MATTERS: Vincent van Gogh's Letters and Art
    The Character of Lines
    The Direction of Lines
    Actual and Implied Lines
    The Different Uses of Lines
    Practice Art Matters 3.1. See How Lines Draw Attention
    The Character and Direction of Shapes
    Geometric and Organic Shapes
    Positive and Negative Shapes
    Overall Shapes
    The Character and Direction of Masses
    Geometric and Organic Masses
    Mass and Negative Space
    Practice Art Matters 3.2. Explore the Masses of a Car
    Actual and Simulated Texture in Two-Dimensional Works
    Actual and Simulated Texture in Three-Dimensional Works
    Light and Value
    Light Hitting Three-Dimensional Opaque Objects
    Value to Heighten Expression
    Light as a Material
    The Visible Spectrum
    Why We See Color
    The Subtractive and Additive Color Systems
    DELVE DEEPER: The Additive Color System
    The Color Wheel
    The Properties of Color
    Color Schemes
    Practice Art Matters 3.3. Discover How Scheme Impacts Content
    The Characteristics of Color
    Three-Dimensional Space
    Two-Dimensional Space
    HOW ART MATTERS: A Look Back at Vincent van Gogh's Letters and Art
    Chapter 4. The Principles of Design
    HOW ART MATTERS: The Taj Mahal
    Unity and Variety
    Practice Art Matters 4.1. Identify How an Artist Created Variety and Unity
    Symmetrical Balance
    Asymmetrical Balance
    Practice Art Matters 4.2. Determine What Makes Something Visually Heavy
    Radial Balance
    Emphasis and Subordination
    Practice Art Matters 4.3. Consider How Size Affects a Painting
    DELVE DEEPER: The Golden Section
    HOW ART MATTERS: A Look Back at the Taj Mahal
    Chapter 5. Drawing

    HOW ART MATTERS: Pablo Picasso's Guernica Drawings
    What Drawing Is
    An Intense Way to See
    Practice Art Matters 5.1. Observe a Piece of Fruit with Intensity
    A Way to Understand the Creative Process
    A Way to Take Notes
    A Finished Work of Art
    Different Drawing Materials
    Drawing Surfaces and Tools
    Practice Art Matters 5.2. Use Different Surfaces and Tools
    Dry Media
    Liquid Media
    DELVE DEEPER: Mixed Media
    Digital Drawing
    HOW ART MATTERS: A Look Back at the Guernica Drawings
    Chapter 6. Painting
    HOW ART MATTERS: Judy Baca's The Great Wall of Los Angeles
    What Painting Is

    An Application of Paint
    An Artform Created with Layers, Tools, and Techniques
    A Message to Viewers
    Different Painting Media
    Practice Art Matters 6.1. Observe an Encaustic Painting Up Close
    Practice Art Matters 6.2. Consider the Fresco Painting of a Modern Artist
    Practice Art Matters 6.3. Compare Two Annunciations Created in Oil Paint
    Transparent Watercolor
    Digital Painting
    HOW ART MATTERS: A Look Back at The Great Wall of Los Angeles
    Chapter 7. Printmaking
    HOW ART MATTERS: The Prints of Honoré Daumier
    What Printmaking Is
    An Indirect, Two-Dimensional Art
    A Collaborative Process
    An Art of Multiple Originals
    An Art Form
    Practice Art Matters 7.1. Compare Two States
    Different Printmaking Techniques
    DELVE DEEPER: Color Woodcut
    Practice Art Matters 7.2. Compare an Aquatint and an Etching
    New Directions
    HOW ART MATTERS: A Look Back at the Prints of Honoré Daumier
    Chapter 8. Photography, Film, and Video
    HOW ART MATTERS: D. W. Griffith's Film The Birth of a Nation
    What Photography Is
    Practice Art Matters 8.1. Contrast Two Photographers' Different Visions
    Different Types of Photographs
    What Film Is
    Practice Art Matters 8.2. See How a Film Helped Make a Difference
    Different Types of Films
    What Video Is
    Different Types of Videos
    HOW ART MATTERS: A Look Back at The Birth of a Nation
    Chapter 9. Graphic Design
    HOW ART MATTERS: The Graphic Design for the Beijing Olympic Games
    What Graphic Design Is
    A Client's Message to a Specific Audience
    A Straightforward and Multiple Form of Communication
    DELVE DEEPER: The Ancient Art of Graphic Design
    An Art Form
    Components of Graphic Design
    Practice Art Matters 9.1. Determine Why a Typeface Might Be Incompatible
    Different Types of Graphic Design
    Signs, Publications, and Packaging
    Corporate Identities
    Practice Art Matters 9.2. Compare an Updated Logo with the Original
    Motion Graphics and Interactive Digital Media
    HOW ART MATTERS: A Look Back at the Graphic Design for the Beijing Olympic Games
    Chapter 10. Sculpture
    HOW ART MATTERS: Akua'mma Sculptures
    What Sculpture Is
    A Three-Dimensional Work of Art
    An Art Form Created from Tangible Materials
    Practice Art Matters 10.1. Examine How Gold Affects a Sculpture
    A Meaningful Expression
    Different Types of Sculptures
    Freestanding Sculptures
    Relief Sculptures
    Practice Art Matters 10.2. Consider the Changing Nature of Earthworks
    Different Sculpture Techniques
    DELVE DEEPER: Casting Human Figures
    Constructing and Assembling
    Practice Art Matters 10.3. Evaluate Who Should Decide the Fate of Public Art
    Digital Sculpting
    HOW ART MATTERS: A Look Back at Akua'mma Sculptures
    Chapter 11. Traditional Craft Media
    HOW ART MATTERS: The Pottery of Maria Martinez
    Conflicting Definitions of Craft
    Skill versus Intellect
    Utility versus Appearance
    Individuality versus Mass Production
    Practice Art Matters 11.1. Consider Whether Mass-Produced Pots Are Art
    Handmade Feel versus Perfection
    Reflections of Societies versus Lone Visions
    Practice Art Matters 11.2. Explore How a Work Challenges Definitions of Craft
    Media Traditionally Associated with Craft
    DELVE DEEPER: Computer-Controlled Looms
    HOW ART MATTERS: A Look Back at the Pottery of Maria Martinez
    Chapter 12. Architecture
    HOW ART MATTERS: The Pantheon
    What Architecture Is
    A Functional Place
    A Three-Dimensional Work
    A Work in an Environment
    A Collaborative and Individual Art Form
    An Art Form Structured to Withstand Forces
    Shell Construction Methods
    Load-Bearing and Corbel
    Post-and-Lintel and Cantilever
    Practice Art Matters 12.1. Explain Why a Paper Lintel Falls Down
    DELVE DEEPER: The Three Orders
    Arch, Vault, and Dome
    Practice Art Matters 12.2. Determine the Forces That Act on a Paper Arch
    Practice Art Matters 12.3. Describe Why a Paper Pointed Arch Nearly Stands
    Practice Art Matters 12.4. Explore the Effect of a Cup's Continuous Surface
    Reinforced Concrete Construction
    Skeleton-and-Skin Construction Methods
    Frame Construction
    Practice Art Matters 12.5. Consider the Two Forces That Act on a Necklace
    Recent Innovations in Structures and Materials
    HOW ART MATTERS: A Look Back at the Pantheon
    Chapter 13. The Art of Prehistory and Ancient Civilizations in Europe and the Mediterranean
    HOW ART MATTERS: The Parthenon Sculptures
    Prehistoric Cultures
    The Paleolithic Period
    The Neolithic Period
    Early Civilizations
    Practice Art Matters 13.1. Compare Sculptures of Elite and Non-Elite People
    The Greco-Roman World
    Practice Art Matters 13.2. Describe a Hellenistic Sculpture
    HOW ART MATTERS: A Look Back at the Parthenon Sculptures
    Connections: Power, Servitude, and Ambition
    Chapter 14. Early Jewish and Christian, Byzantine, and Medieval Art
    HOW ART MATTERS: The Lindisfarne Gospels
    The Late Roman Empire
    The Diverse Roman World
    Christianity in the Period of Persecution
    Christianity under Constantine
    Practice Art Matters 14.1. Label the Parts of Old St. Peter's
    The Byzantine Empire
    The Emperor Justinian and the Empress Theodora
    Icons and Iconoclasm
    Practice Art Matters14.2. Compare Images on a Chalice and an Icon
    The Middle Ages
    Early Medieval
    DELVE DEEPER: Relics and Reliquaries
    Practice Art Matters 14.3. Contrast Romanesque and Gothic Churches
    Toward the Renaissance
    HOW ART MATTERS: A Look Back at the Lindisfarne Gospels
    Connections: The Divine, Sacred Spaces, and Prayers
    Chapter 15. Renaissance and Baroque Art
    HOW ART MATTERS: Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel Paintings
    The Renaissance
    The Early Renaissance in Italy
    Practice Art Matters 15.1. Identify Early Renaissance Ideals in a Work
    The High Renaissance in Italy
    The Renaissance in Venice and Mannerism
    DELVE DEEPER: Mannerism
    The Renaissance in Northern Europe
    The Reformation
    Practice Art Matters 15.2. Explore an Artist's Relationship with the Divine
    The Baroque
    The Baroque in Italy
    Practice Art Matters 15.3. Recognize Baroque Ideas in a Work
    The Baroque in Spain and Flanders
    The Baroque in France
    The Baroque in the Dutch Republic
    HOW ART MATTERS: A Look Back at the Sistine Chapel Paintings
    Connections: War, Death, and Remembrance
    Chapter 16. The Art of Africa and Islam
    HOW ART MATTERS: The Great Mosque in Djenné, Mali
    Early Africa
    Traditional Africa
    Practice Art Matters 16.1. Identify the Features of Traditional African Art in a Work
    Muhammad and Islam
    Early Islam
    Medieval Islam
    Practice Art Matters 16.2. Describe the Themes of Islamic Art in a Lamp
    Later Islam
    HOW ART MATTERS: A Look Back at the Great Mosque In Djenné, Mali
    Connections: Love, Birth, and Growing Up
    Chapter 17. The Art of the Pacific and the Americas
    HOW ART MATTERS: Hawaiian Featherwork
    The Pacific
    Practice Art Matters 17.1. Compare Two Polynesian Sculptures
    The Americas
    Practice Art Matters 17.2. Determine the Features of Aztec Society in a Work
    South America
    Practice Art Matters 17.3. Identify South American Themes of Art in a Tunic
    North America
    HOW ART MATTERS: A Look Back at Hawaiian Featherwork
    Connections: Wildlife, the Land, and the Environment
    Chapter 18. The Art of Asia
    HOW ART MATTERS: The Japanese Tea Ceremony
    The Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia
    The Early Indian Subcontinent
    Buddhism on the Indian Subcontinent and in Southeast Asia
    Hinduism in India
    Practice Art Matters 18.1. Identify the Aspects of Indian Art in a Work
    Islam in India
    China and Korea
    Early China and Korea
    Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, and Their Offshoots in China
    Practice Art Matters 18.2. Recognize the Buddha's Attributes
    Later China
    Classical Japan
    Practice Art Matters 18.3. Contrast Heian Period and Northern Song Dynasty Paintings
    Medieval Japan
    Early Modern Japan
    HOW ART MATTERS: A Look Back at the Japanese Tea Ceremony
    Connections: Work, Play, and Relaxation
    Chapter 19. Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Art in the West
    HOW ART MATTERS: Edouard Manet's The Luncheon on the Grass
    The Eighteenth Century

    The Rococo
    Practice Art Matters19.1. Identify the Neoclassical Features in a Work
    The Nineteenth Century
    Practice Art Matters 19.2. Contrast Neoclassical and Romantic Images
    Practice Art Matters 19.3. Identify Japanese Influence in a Work
    Art Nouveau
    HOW ART MATTERS: A Look Back at The Luncheon on the Grass
    Connections: Art, the Artist, and the Inner Mind
    Chapter 20. Modern Art in the Twentieth-Century Western World
    HOW ART MATTERS: The Earth-Body Works of Ana Mendieta
    The Early Twentieth Century through World War II
    Expressionist Movements
    Practice Art Matters 20.1. Identify the Features of Fauve Art
    DELVE DEEPER: Responses to Analytic Cubism
    The Art of the Irrational
    Practice Art Matters 20.2. Explain Why a Work Is Classified as Dada
    Art for a Better World
    Art in the United States
    Post-World War II through 1980
    The New York School
    Art and Reality
    The Art of Ideas
    Practice Art Matters 20.3. Contrast the Goals of Minimalism and Conceptual Art
    Combatting Prejudice
    HOW ART MATTERS: A Look Back at the Earth-Body Works of Ana Mendieta
    Connections: Suffering, Health, and Survival
    Chapter 21. Art Since 1980
    HOW ART MATTERS: The Art of Yinka Shonibar MBE
    The Postmodern Period
    Postmodern Ideas
    Diverse Media
    Practice Art Matters 21.1. Explain Why an Installation Is Postmodern
    Protest Art
    Practice Art Matters 21.2. Consider Whether a Work Is Protest Art
    Practice Art Matters 21.3 Explore How Museums Influence Our Views
    Art That Draws on Prior Work
    The Contemporary Global World
    Globalization and Art
    Art of Diverse People
    Practice Art Matters 21.4. Describe How a Work References Identity
    Art of a Global World
    HOW ART MATTERS: A Look Back at the Art of Yinka Shonibar MBE
    Connections: Identity, Discrimination, and Social Ties

Related Title

Art for Everyone

Art for Everyone

Chemeketa Community Community College Art Faculty

Instructor inspection copy request