As I have confessed before, I am a quotaholic: I am powerless over a good quote. And what better way to have a quote a day to fulfill my quota than The Art of Life Tarot Deck by Charlene Livingstone. This stunning deck combines three of my passions: art, tarot and quotes, but what really impressed me the most was the packaging. The cards come in a box where the lid folds up into a nifty little pop up frame, complete with a clear plastic cover, making this a wonderful accoutrement for your desk or altar.
The Art of Life can be used for traditional tarot readings but for me works best as my daily affirmation. The Art of Life Tarot is indeed a treasure and will be treasured for generations to come.
-- Kayla Garnet Rose, on The Enchanted World of Rambling Rose
The Art of Life Tarot is beautiful. And it can hardly help but be given that it's made up of 78 art masterpieces. Charlene Livingstone has taken her experience as an art historian and used it to curate an absolutely gorgeous fine art Tarot. Renoir, Klimt, Van Gogh, Cezanne, and da Vinci are just a few of the many masters represented. She's also included quotes on each card from the greats of philosophy and literature, people like Emerson, Thoreau, Plato, and Lao-tsu. As a mini art-gallery with inspirational commentary, these cards are amazing. The fact that they're structured as a Tarot deck makes them even better.
Though not at all a standard RWS deck, the paintings Livingstone chose to represent each card loosely follow the general themes of the Golden Dawn tradition. And many, in fact, are very clearly RWS inspired. For instance, Gauguin's portrait Van Gogh Painting Sunflowers is a beautiful depiction of the traditional 8 of Pentacles, as is Raphael's Pope Leo X with Two Cardinals for the Hierophant.
Though an understanding of the RWS or Golden Dawn Tarot systems will likely add insight to your readings with this deck, it's not at all necessary. These cards stand alone, both metaphorically, and quite literally. One of the especially nice things about the Art of Life is its oversized cards and the beautiful box they come in. The box allows you to display a card as if it were a little framed painting on an easel. It’s pretty cute, and perfect for the contemplation of a single card and its message.
This is a really nice deck. I recommend it to Tarot reading art fans, bibliomancers, and collectors alike. It's not just a Tarot deck, it's a magical fine art collection in a box.
-- Georgiana Boehnke, on The Tarot Room
What a delightful tarot, appealing to the eye with colorful classic art, and adding as well poignant quotes and combining both within the classic tarot structure. I’ve enjoyed the Art of Life tarot, to ponder meanings that are layered by combining great paintings with compelling bits of literature. The Art of Life Tarot comes in a very clever box; the top lid slides upward and locks into a slot, leaving the plastic see-through front as a ready display easel for whichever card one wants to gaze on…voilà la! The box becomes a miniature gallery.
The little white book gives all the meanings for (upright) cards of the standard 78 card tarot, and as mentioned above adds the image of a notable painting with an apt quote to match. Each card has the tarot title on the top, a color art image that covers most of the card and below is a quote. For example the Eight of Cups has “A Son of His Father” by N.C. Wyeth; the depicted painting shows a young man with suitcase, leaving his home, while what appears to be his mother, head down, with a handkerchief over her mouth. And the quote reads, “In each loss there is a gain, as in every gain there is a loss. And with each ending comes a new beginning.” Thus both the artwork and the quote reinforce the booklet meaning for the eight of cups (page 16): “change, loss, leaving something behind.”
So there is much to discovery here, in the linkage of great art with tarot and life experience symbolism. Each adds to the meaning of the other, and much of the art is from a time gone by, so gazing into the soul of the subject is traveling with one’s mind through time and space. The box measures 4 5/8 x 6 1/8 x 1 5/8 inches, and the deck of cards stack to just under one inch.
The Art of Life cards are fair size, larger than a Vegas deck; they measure 3 ½ x 5 inches and have rounded corners. The card backs are uniformly one image, the “Tree of Life” painting by Gustav Klimt. While technically not symmetrical on the vertical or horizontal axis, the nature of the image does not distract from shuffling where one might otherwise be tempted to track whether the card would end upright when turned over. The 32 page booklet has a few black and white images and offers a fun new spread of five cards—the Creativity Spread. I’ve done that spread and Celtic cross and single draws and all worked well for me with this deck.
I’d recommend the Art of Life Tarot not only for art lovers but also for those who wish to add another layer to their tarot study; the numinous images and thoughtful quotes enhance the self-reflective element of using the tarot. Well done!
—Thomas Freese, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and Board Certified, Registered Art Therapist.