Mirror of the World: A New History of Art

Overview

?Exuberant, astute, and splendidly illustrated history of world art . . . draws fascinating parallels between artistic developments in Western and non-Western art.??Publishers Weekly
In 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...

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Overview

“Exuberant, astute, and splendidly illustrated history of world art . . . draws fascinating parallels between artistic developments in Western and non-Western art.”—Publishers Weekly
In 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.
With hundreds of illustrations and a uniquely global perspective, Bell juxtaposes examples that challenge and enlighten the reader: dancing bronze figures from southern India, Romanesque sculptures, Baroque ceilings, and jewel-like Persian manuscripts are discussed side by side. With an insider’s knowledge and an unerring touch, Bell weaves these diverse strands into an invaluable introduction to the wider history of world art.

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Editorial Reviews

Art & Auction
“A wonderful guide. Bell has a passion for art, a good eye, and a writing style full of grace and energy. . . . A great leap beyond the conventional survey.”
Bloomsbury Review
“A valuable and entertaining adventure in art history.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Bell applies his painter’s eye and sensibility to unusual juxtapositions of world cultures.”
Choice
“An extraordinary book for any reader.”
Publishers Weekly

Bell's guidelines in writing this exuberant, astute and splendidly illustrated history of world art-spanning 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 on 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." This unique study will appeal to anyone-from the generalist to the scholar-interested in a discriminating and perceptive history of world art. Illus. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Choice
“An extraordinary book for any reader.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780500287545
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson
  • Publication date: 5/1/2010
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 1,447,810
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Julian Bell has taught art history for many years and is also a practicing painter. He writes widely on art for magazines, including The New York Review of Books.

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