“Exuberant, astute, and splendidly illustrated history of world art . . . draws fascinating parallels between artistic developments in Western and non-Western art.”―Publishers WeeklyIn this beautifully written story of art, Julian Bell tells a vivid and compelling history of human artistic achievements, from prehistoric stone carvings to the latest video installations. Bell, himself a painter, uses a variety of objects to reveal how art is a product of our shared experience and how, like a mirror, it can reflect the human condition.
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Julian Bell is a painter and writer.From Publishers Weekly:
Starred Review. Bell's guidelines in writing this exuberant, astute and splendidly illustrated history of world art-spanning from the cave paintings of Lascaux through contemporary artists such as Julie Mehretu-are threefold: every work is complemented by a reproduction, the narrative is chronological, and art is viewed as "a frame within which world history, in all its breadth, is continually reflected back at us." Bell (500 Self-Portraits; What is Painting?: Representation and Modern Art) is a renowned critic, artist and professor of art history, and son of artist and critic Quentin Bell; he writes of his personal "pleasure" in creating and studying art. Bell draws fascinating parallels between artistic developments in Western and non-Western art: a discussion of Brancusi highlights the influence of West African carving on his work; one of Borromini's domes is juxtaposed with its near contemporary in the Masjid-e-Shah mosque in Isfahan. The survey is selective, presenting some typically overlooked works, but Bell trains his probing perspective to each. His conclusion is unpretentious: he advises readers to supplement his study with "finer-grained art histories" and to "get close to the work itself." Best, he says, is to make things oneself: "What happens in art is up to you." The unique study will appeal to anyone-from the generalist to the scholar-interested in a discriminating and perceptive history of world art. Illus.
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