St Albans author launches new day-by-day look at art history

St Albans author Alex Johnson.

St Albans author Alex Johnson. - Credit: Alex Johnson

In just one week in art history Vincent van Gogh decorated his house at Arles, Picasso’s Guernica returned to Spain, and a piece of art survived the 9/11 terrorist attacks, although by no means intact.

In his 12th book, Art Day by Day: 366 Brushes with History St Albans author Alex Johnson reveals a wide-ranging introduction to art presented through a daily almanac of quotes, diary excerpts, letters, speeches, interviews, song lyrics, transcripts and other testimony.

Alex explained: "I’ve always loved art and history, and also been slightly obsessed with almanacs and books of dates, so it’s been a real pleasure to combine all these interests. It was nearly all written during lockdown so it was a great help in keeping me busy when daily life changed so dramatically.

"There are lots of books about the history of art but this is the first that looks at it from the different angle of picking something intriguing that happened on every day throughout the year.

"So there are 366 snapshots in time from around the world and throughout history such as the first work of art made in space (March 18) and dinner inside a giant dinosaur sculpture (December 31).

"The book naturally features some famous paintings and sculptures, but also comic strips, US President Theodore Roosevelt’s doodles, Michelangelo’s kidney stones, the Etch A Sketch going on sale, and the album cover photo for The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. It’s pretty varied! Each day is accompanied by a short piece of text explaining the importance behind it.

"Each entry can be read and enjoyed entirely on its own but I hope people will find them interesting enough to go further, for example having a go at Van Gogh’s diaries if they like the selections I’ve chosen here. And the beauty is there’s no particular way to read it.

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"You can work through it methodically day by day, randomly as it falls open, by your family’s birthdays, however the fancy takes you."

Art Day By Day: 366 Brushes With History is published by Thames & Hudson and available from all good bookshops, including Books On The Hill hn St Albans.