How to Read World History in Art

How to Read World History in Art

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by Flavio Febbraro, Burkhard Schwetje
     
 

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How does an artist’s interpretation of historical events alter our understanding of them? Kings, queens, presidents, and generals from Alexander the Great to Theodore Roosevelt have commissioned paintings, drawings, sculptures, and photographs of major events, and artists have responded to important moments with works that forever shape historical

Overview

How does an artist’s interpretation of historical events alter our understanding of them? Kings, queens, presidents, and generals from Alexander the Great to Theodore Roosevelt have commissioned paintings, drawings, sculptures, and photographs of major events, and artists have responded to important moments with works that forever shape historical memory.

The book deals with specific episodes, from the proclamation of the Code of Hammurabi to more recent events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. It also deals with broader themes, such as the founding of states (Persia, Rome, the Chinese Empire, the United States) and war (Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People, Picasso’s Guernica). Here too are the great voyages of exploration, the industrial revolution, and much more. World history is vividly elucidated in these works of art.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780810996830
Publisher:
Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
Publication date:
10/01/2010
Pages:
400
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 9.70(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
13 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Burkhard Schwetje has written about diverse facets of 19th- and 20th-century history.

Flavio Febbraro has edited and contributed to many publications and websites dealing with art history.

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How to Read World History in Art: From the Code of Hammurabi to September 11 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
many history books do not discuss art and this book is a perfect cross over that shows how art and history coincide and can enhance one another. this book is beautiful and well written.
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
Whether you're interested in art, in art history, or in the history of the civilizations of our planet, this is an ideal book to read and savor. From the stela from 1792 BCE showing the Code of Hammurabi to a large mixed-media canvas giving the impressions of artist Jack Whitten of the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the 130+ works of art in this splendid book illustrate our story. We're fortunate that so many artists were either paying attention or were hired to sculpt and paint important events in Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. The authors, Italian scholars, write that the book "investigates the complex relationship between art and history and demonstrates over and over again how art has retold and reinterpreted historical 'facts'" (pg. 8). Examples of reinterpretation include paintings by Jacques-Louis David, the "official"-but hardly unbiased-illustrator of the French Revolution and Picasso's Guernica, "which summarizes the destructive force of modern warfare and the blind violence of totalitarian ideologies" (pg. 8). We also see paintings of great battles painted a century or more after the battle in question to illustrate the agenda of the winner or the loser, the graffiti on the Berlin Wall, and even Whitten's 9/11 canvas, into which this New York artist rubbed silica, crushed bone, blood, mica, rust, and ashes. Each work of art is given a two-page spread (though a few get four pages). The headline names the event, followed by the title of the work, the artist, and its location (sometimes in situ, like the reliefs from the temple of Ramses II, more often the museum where it resides). The work of art is on the right-hand page. On both pages are sidebars in blue that summarize the history surrounding the work (the barbarian invasions from 375 to 476, the wars between the Hohenstaufen emperors and the pope, global trade in the 17th century, the collapse of Napoleon's empire, European influences on Japan, modern urban technology) and details from the work with excellent explanatory captions. Styles go from a painted Mycenaean krater to the great works of the European renaissance to Persian miniatures to realism and expressionism. Every single page in the book is astonishing. Quill says: The philosopher George Santayana famously wrote, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." We're fortunate that so many artists have given us their visions of the past. If we have to repeat it, at least we can see what we're repeating.