The History of Tarot Art

Demystifying the Art and Arcana, Deck by Deck

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Pub Date 30 Nov 2021 | Archive Date 29 Dec 2021

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The History of Tarot Art offers a fresh and accessible look at the art styles, artists, and history behind more than a dozen of the world’s most noteworthy tarot decks.

Guided by Holly Adams Easley and Esther Joy Archer, hosts of the popular Wildly Tarot podcast, this deluxe collector’s book provides a fresh look at the influence of tarot from its beginnings to today. The elegant slipcase, 24 removable Sola-Busca tarot cards, and illustrated fold-out timeline with important dates in tarot development make this package a must-have for any tarot fan.

The History of Tarot Art shows how tarot morphed from a fifteenth century card game to a popular modern activity. Learn more about the stories behind the art of tarot’s most influential decks, like Rider-Waite-Smith and Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot, as well as the female artists whose work was often overshadowed in their time.

The History of Tarot Art also takes a close look at the Visconti, Sola-Busca, Tarot de Marseille, Aquarian, Morgan-Greer, Motherpeace, Cosmic, Druidcraft, Wild Unknown, and Deviant Moon decks, alongside dozens of contemporary decks. In many cases, you’ll see how tarot art reflects its era. The Morgan-Greer deck, for example, could only have been born in the 1970s. More recent decks, such as Black Power Tarot and Fifth Spirit Tarot, aim to represent more diverse experiences in regard to race, gender, and sexuality.

The book also provides tips for doing your own tarot readings and a cheat sheet on the meanings of the Rider-Waite-Smith, Thoth, and Tarot de Marseille cards.

Whether you're a longtime tarot practitioner or a newcomer to the practice, you'll find fascinating new insights in this retrospective.
The History of Tarot Art offers a fresh and accessible look at the art styles, artists, and history behind more than a dozen of the world’s most noteworthy tarot decks.

Guided by Holly Adams Easley...

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ISBN 9780760371244
PRICE US$50.00 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

It was an interesting read as one usually knows about the meaning of the single tarot card but the story behind it's usually unknown. I appreciated this well researched book, learned something new and I think it would be great in hardcover. Highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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A comprehensive guide to the various sets of tarot, their artworks, histories, and allegorical references. Peppered throughout with amusing commentary and humorous contemporary references, this read feels more like you've sat down with the authors for an interesting chat than a lecture. References are listed as well as information given on the art of divination with these decks (some of whose styles have been around for almost 600 years). pages of colorful card examples from each deck help familiarize the reader with the nuances of each deck's art style. This foray into the droll history of card play and its connection to alchemy, Kabbalah, and other esoteric fields will make an enlightening read for anyone in search of arcane knowledge.

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Obviously I love this book a lot. It is interesting and funny and beautiful and everyone who is even remotely into tarot should read it!

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The History of Tarot Art: Demystifying the Art and Arcana, Deck by Deck by Holly Adams Easley and Esther Joy Archer Pros: lots of illustrations, sticks to verifiable history, engaging Cons: images of a few discussed cards not included Note: I received a review copy of the ebook from Netgalley and therefore cannot comment on the removable Sola-Busca tarot cards or fold-out tarot timeline that the physical book comes with. The History of Tarot Art takes you on a journey of the most influential tarot decks. After a short introduction there are 12 chapters on specific tarot decks, followed by a chapter that showcases several contemporary decks. Then there’s a quick epilogue and an appendix where the authors explain how to do a tarot reading and provide 2 spreads for beginners. Each chapter talks about the history of that deck, who the artist was and why the deck was created. In a few cases other artworks by the artist are included so you can see their general style. The artists also explain the wider influence of the decks and offer a few suggestions of other decks you might like if that style of art speaks to you. In the introduction the authors make it clear that they are only including verifiable history, no ‘fakelore’. I really appreciated the amount of research that went into this book and how ideas about tarot developed from playing cards to cards for divination purposes. There are a lot of illustrations in the book, mostly specific tarot cards from the decks discussed and recommended. In a few places the authors spoke about specific cards that did not show up in the book, which was unfortunate. There were also a few places where the formatting of the book meant the authors spoke about one specific card, like the sun card, and a different deck’s sun card appeared on that page, which was a bit confusing. It’s fascinating to see how styles changed over time and how various artists created their own decks to address the fact that the current decks didn’t speak to them or show them as practitioners (so feminist and more inclusive decks that made the esoteric content more accessible). On the whole this is a fantastic book if you’re interested in the art and history of tarot cards.

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I received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. Honestly, this is the coolest book I’ve gotten to review so far. The art alone is simply stunning, but the wealth of knowledge and research put into this book is what I’m impressed by the most. This would make an amazing gift, coffee table book (not sure what size it is), or simply a book to read if you’re interested in knowing the history of tarot and various forms of art used in different styles of cards. I loved the recommendations for current decks available to purchase and have added some to my wishlist. I will be buying this one, for sure!

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Excellent history of tarot art. I loved learning about some of the earliest tarot decks and today's modern ones, such as The Wild Unknown. Each chapter focuses on a specific but noteworthy tarot deck, accompanied by artwork, and at the end end of each chapter, they provide a nice touch for you to explore more decks. Anyone interested in tarot would love this book!

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