Abstract

This essay examines the writing of the legendary art historians and aesthetic theorists E. H. Gombrich and Arthur Danto. In my opinion, their books set the highest standards in expository writing in the arts and humanities. Both of them felt equally comfortable writing for a large general audience as for a smaller group of specialists. In fact, they wrote different books for these different audiences. Though highly respected for their scholarship, both Gombrich and Danto are best known for explaining art history and aesthetics to the general public in a simple, clear and engaging manner. They abide by one of the most famous sayings attributed to Albert Einstein — “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough” which, I believe, should be a mantra for expository writing in the arts and letters (creative writing being, of course, another matter).

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