Though reluctant at first, over the past few months I have jumped wholeheartedly onto the rampant, prolific tech bandwagon, trading my Blackberry for an iPhone, my PC for a Mac. I’ve even upgraded from a good old fashioned washcloth to a super-fun Clarisonic face cleanser. But my books? With their stiff leather spines, their ornate covers, and that smell–that musty, academic combination of paper, ink and glue—am I really ready to give that up just to feel linked in (pun intended) with my high-tech peers? Without books,what will I put on my coffee table (…when I finally buy a coffee table)? And what is so good about e-readers and e-books anyways?
On Tuesday night at the launch of art historian and curator Charles Stuckey’s new e-book, Great Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings: the Musée d’Orsay, I learned—to my simultaneous dismay and delight— that in many ways, the e-book can be far superior to its paper counterpart. Stucky’s e-book, for instance, is not merely a work of nonfiction, but rather, it is an interactive and multidisciplinary tool conducive to learning and researching. The text—which focuses on the lives and works of 27 of the Museé d’Orsay’s Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists—is embedded with hundreds of links to videos, articles, and exhibition catalogues. In addition, the e-book also boasts immaculately detailed images of the artworks, as well as three hours of supplimentary audio commentary by the author. These features allow for a more comprehensive understanding of the text, and therefore of the museum and its collection. Stucky’s 21st century take on 19th century European painting goes to show that the e-book can be a modern, didactic, and beneficial tool with the potential to uniquely enhance our cultural and artistic educations.
Post-Impressionist Paintings: the Musée d’Orsay by Charles Stuckey is published by Artepublishing and will be available for purchase on Apple iTunes July 14.