REVIEW: Art as Therapy by Alain de Botton & John Armstrong (Review by John Purcell)

by |November 11, 2013

Alain de Botton’s early successes How Proust Can Change Your Life and The Consolations of Philosophy attempted to teach us that literature and philosophy are not rarefied artefacts to be shut between leather binding, studied and venerated but are instead practical, useful guides to living well.

In his new book, Art as Therapy, de Botton joins forces with philosopher John Armstrong to remake our relationship with art:

“This book proposes that art (a category that includes works of design, architecture and craft) is a therapeutic medium that can help guide, exhort and console its viewer, enabling them to become better versions of themselves.”

AlainSome may call this approach naïve, but I believe any attempt to strip art from the hallowed walls of the world’s galleries where it is invariably viewed through the befuddling mist of conscious appreciation must be lauded. I agree that art is more valuable to us than we are lead to believe. So a new approach should be given consideration.

But beyond these concerns on a purely aesthetic level, the publisher Phaidon has produced a beautiful book filled with gorgeous reproductions of world art. So if the treatise does not please you, the pictures will.

Read more about Art as Therapy here

Read more about Art as Therapy here

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About the Contributor

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. ​Now, as the Director of Books at, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.

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