The Art Of Gothic (book review)

Hell(o) there.
I'm back this time with a book review.
I recently bought 'The Art of Gothic : music, fashion, alt culture' after seeing the trailer and the video review made by BlackFriday.
The book is written by  Natasha Scharf. She also wrote the more famous book ''Worldwide Gothic: A Chronicle of a Tribe'' (wishlist)

I was very happy when it arrived, it looks pretty impressive. The artwork featured in it is high quality on thick glossy and matte paper. It has 224 pages and around 75% of that are photos. So it's less about history talk and more about images and well... art :D.
I read it all in one stand and here are my (personal) impressions on it.


What can you find in the book :

Classic Goth - From post-punk to gothic-rock. Here it talks about the origins of gothic music.

Dark Fantasy - The new escapism. This is about the fantasy part of gothic, including movies, drawings, literature (especially vampires) etc.

Futuristic - Dystopian visions and cybergoth. Industrial music, S.F.art and fashion.

Sinister - Spooks, deathrock and horror metal. This chapter is all about the horror aspect. It includes horror punk, psichobilly, creepy dolls, video games, comics and other creepy art.

Dark Japanese style - Gothic Lolita and visual kei. Anime, manga and how the Japanese got inspired from the western culture.

Melodrama - Victoriana, steampunk and retro-futurism. The more classy part of goth with Victorian fashion and very impressive steampunk costumes and accessories.

Modern Gothic - Pop gothic, nu-grave and neo-noir. This should be about the modern take on gothic. It'a about gothic core, emo and modern fashion.


 Personal opinions :

The book has some very good artworks. I see it as a small collection of gothic art from different genres. Anybody interested in any form of dark art should have this book.
The information however is pretty basic and I would have loved to see more of a chronological continuity. Even so, I still learned a few things from it.
I loved the chapters with the classic goth and sinister art, I think they are very important and the most dear to me personally.
The book also gave me more understanding about how the different types of goth are related but it still feels weird to put a batcaver and a cybergoth in the same pot hahaha. It's amazing how diverse this culture is !
The chapter about Japanese dark style was really not my thing. I don't like anime and manga, I never had. But it was still nice to learn a bit about it. And I can still say that I really don't like it. :)) As for the fashion... Lolita style is heavy inspired by western styles like Baroque, Rococo or Victorian & Eduardian but call it 'Japanese style'... For me the lolita style, gothic victorian and neo-victorian are very similar and I consider them European styles...


An interesting aspect is that looking trough the art of all that is Goth, you can see that what we call 'goth' started in literature in the 19th century with E.A. Poe, Lord Byron etc. and later in the 20's and 30 we had movies like Nosferatu, Count Dracula (and other Bela Lugosi movies), the character of Elvira etc. The post-punk or positive-punk music in the 80's was inspired by these authors and movies. Of course there are huge variations that turned out over the years, because evolution is always necessary for a subculture to survive.


As for modern goth, the book lacks some info. The most popular fashion movements inspired from gothic is nu-goth and pastel goth (or bubble goth). Even soft grunge has a few gothic aspects. We are actually living a revival of the gothic fashion but obviously in a modern way. The influence of the media and the internet with series like Americam Horror Story, websites like tumblr, youtube and the fact that the mainstream fashion is yet again inspired from the 80 and 90's, brings a fresh look to goth. The only downside is that these are mostly fashion movements with little interest in the cultural aspects. I also would have loved to see mentioned modern bands that keep the spirit of old goth alive (Shadow image, Esoterik etc.)

Conclusion :
It's a great coffee table book but if you want more deep understanding of the social and cultural aspect this book is not the best choice. 
It is however entertaining and made me respect even more the culture with all its different styles. It also made me look up a few artists I didn't knew about.
Very useful for younger audience and even for non goths, just for the art of it.
I'm also reading ''Goth: Identity, Style and Subculture'' and waiting for ''The Goth Bible: A Compendium for the Darkly Inclined'' to arrive this month. 
I also plan in buying a few other books on the topic (if I can) ''Gothic: Dark Glamour'' and ''Goth Culture: Gender, Sexuality and Style'' to mention a few :)

P.S. I just found this site bookdepository.com, it has loads of books with free shipping worldwide (from the UK).




Comments