The Illustrated Story of Art

Though the text is compact, the range of art over time which some five scholars have put together gives a revealing appreciation of what art has been since earliest times, enhanced by many fine and often unusual illustrations. As a basic text, it covers a great deal, though one has qualms that fully a quarter of the book is devoted to ëThe Modern Ageí,  that is art since 1900: this is surely unbalanced in favour of contemporary celebrity.

The narrative follows the familiar line that runs from prehistory though Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Renaissance and the modern European art. Even there the emphasis is on technique and style rather than the significance of image. God Judging Adam by William Blake, for example, would need more explanation than it is given.

For a book partly produced in India, it is a pity that African, Pre-Columbian, Oriental and Indian art are not covered. Art is an inherent human impulse, indeed religious impulse; to simplify it in this way is to suggest a dominance of Europe which many will think outmoded. Still as an introduction it will delight many developing tastes, and encourage further exploration of both art and its making.