I have always enjoyed museums and visit them whenever I see one. I have visited some interesting ones in the US and abroad including the Carnegie Museum, a great small town one in Roseville, Calif. and the Bread Museum in Ulm, Germany, (one of four bread museums in Germany.)
However what little art history and appreciation that I might have once possessed has long since abandoned me. This is really not an issue when looking at Renaissance, Baroque, Impressionist and many other art movements. It is when I hit the 20th Century that I am at a loss. It never occurs to me when I am at the library or book store to get a basic book that might explain what I am looking at and how art progressed to this point.
Enter the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. I am not sure where I found the link but the museum has a great offer for free e-books on art, and primarily on Modern art. There is little I like better than free books, ok, free anything is pretty great to be honest. More than 200 books and catalogs from shows are available including Picasso and the War Years and a number of books on different stages of Kadinsky’s career.
It is not all modern art as there are books on 5,000 years of Chinese art and the Aztec Empire to name others. As a bonus there is also a link to New York’s Museum of Modern Art that has a digital record of every exhibit held at the museum since 1929 that you can explore online.
Almost as important for me there is a short book, fewer than 50 pages, Elements of Modern Painting, on how to view modern art. I hope that this will enable me to understand what is going on and that it is not just a black canvas.
One caveat. The books have flaws from the scanning process. If you are familiar with digital books you might barely notice, but if not be forewarned that there might be odd symbols or space breaks in words. One book that I downloaded Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collection: From Picasso to Pollock, appeared to be in some strange foreign language. However the price was right.