Atlas of World Art

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The Atlas of World Art maps the cumulative traces of humankind's artistic activity and demonstrates the importance of physical and political geography for the history of the world's art. This stunning volume is the first to treat the art of the whole world from prehistory to present day and to show the importance of natural and social factors in shaping artistic activity.
The Atlas is divided into seven parts, each devoted to a specific time period: Art of the Hunter Gatherer (50,000-5,000 BCE); Art, Agriculture and Urbanization (5,000-500 BCE); Art, War and Empire (500 BCE-600 CE); Art, Religion and Empire (600-1500); Art, Exploitation and Display (1500-1800); Art, Industry and Science (1800-1900); Art, Competition and Identity (1900-2000). Each section opens with a helpful timeline for that period bringing together important dates from across various cultures. Within each section, the spreads are organized by four broad geographic regions: the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia and the Pacific. With dramatic full-color maps, as well as commentaries and illustrations, the Atlas of World Art is an authoritative, comprehensive, and elegant volume.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This is an exciting book in many ways, not the least in that the simple, elegant, and clear presentation of the visual and textual material makes one want to know more about every subject covered." -- College & Research Libraries News

"This innovative reference covers the history of world art geographically, by time periods. In each period, it correlates developments around the globe, from the Americas to Asia and the Pacific. The atlas is not only a magnificent and useful reference book, but its commentaries and superb maps also can, and should, be read for pleasure."--Philadelphia Inquirer

"The broad scope of coverage and the clear attempt to avoid Eurocentrism result in a general overview of art currents by geographical region or country....Groundbreaking and handsomely produced, this is a welcome addition to any reference collection."--Library Journal

"This unique reference traces art history from antiquity to the end of the 20th Century....The first geographical reference to treat the art of the whole world from prehistory to the present, this book will be an invaluable resource."--Museum Store Magazine

"All-inclusive, meticulously detailed, lavishly illustrated---all makes for this to be one of the most comprehensive overviews of world art yet to be produced....A must for libraries, learning institutions, arts organizations."--Art Times

Publishers Weekly
"Archaeologists are experts in the earliest art, anthropologists in the art of modern pre-literate peoples, and art historians in the art of literate peoples," art historian Onians says in his introduction, and as such, the study of art history has been correspondingly divided, preventing "the study of art as a worldwide phenomenon" and inhibiting "the study of the nature and origins of human artistic behaviour." More than 300 full-color maps comprise this unorthodox 9-1/2" x 13-3/8" rectificatory survey. The book starts at 40,000 B.C. and ends at A.D. 2000, with the maps stuffed with depictions of trade routes, migrations, borders, natural resources and human settlements. Accompanying text provides plenty of detail on how the art of particular geographical regions or cultural groups changed with economic, ecological and political situations. Unfortunately, the sparse and undersized reproductions of art often fail to adequately illustrate the text and maps. A student, after reading the survey cover to cover, would be hard-pressed to visually distinguish a Roman fresco from a Piero Della Francesca, or a Maori sculpture from an Inuit carving. But she or he would certainly know how each culture's art was limited by the natural materials available to them, how the rise of hierarchies within societies led to more extravagant projects (a tendency that becomes depressingly and obviously repetitive) or by which route the Visigoths invaded Rome. (July) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Onians (Univ. of East Anglia), the author of several books on classical influences in art, has assembled the contributions of 68 British and North American specialists into a unique publication. The more than 300 full-color maps illustrate the geographical, environmental, and political factors that have influenced the evolution of art as an expression of human culture, tracing the migrations of artists and art movements across the planet. Divided into seven historical sections, each introduced by the editor, the book is written in an accessible language and enriched with color reproductions of works of art and architecture exemplifying each topic. The broad scope of coverage and the clear attempt to avoid Eurocentricism result in a general overview of art currents by geographical region or country. One occasionally longs for more examples of art, but that would not be possible in the context of an atlas of world art, not a history of art. Bottom Line Groundbreaking and handsomely produced, this is a welcome addition to any reference collection.-Edward K. Werner, St. Lucie Cty. Lib. Syst., Ft. Pierce, FL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up-Onians has undertaken the gargantuan task of organizing the global range of artistic expression from 40,000 B.C. to the present. Using maps as his primary visual tool, the author divides the book into seven chronological periods. Within these epochs, sections focus on broad landmasses, which are further partitioned into entries about a region or country during a shorter unit of time. An introduction describes the challenges of this approach, particularly the "inherent unevenness" that results from limited knowledge when art was made of "impermanent materials" in "hostile" climates. Thus North and Sub-Saharan Africa are each afforded only two pages for the period A.D. 1500 to 1800, but Italy receives four. Due to the constraints of the single-volume format, the information is idiosyncratic and superficial. Nonetheless, the maps are notable for their clarity and pull together a staggering amount of detail, from the names of artists and the locations of raw materials to trade routes and the political, social, and religious influences on the art of a region. Readers can trace the output of a broad period or area, although the disparity of objects and the paucity of images make comparisons across cultures challenging. One section may depict a necklace, while another highlights a cathedral, a coin, or a site. A thorough index enhances the volume's utility; however, small print, sophisticated writing, and density of detail require that users have prior knowledge of the subject. For specialized collections.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195215830
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 5/20/2004
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 13.50 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

John Onians is Professor of Visual Arts, School of World Art Studies and Museology, University of East Anglia, Norwich.

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