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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 57.
- Review Date: 2007-12-31
- Reviewer: Staff
This enormous, extraordinary collection brings together 1,000 high-quality color illustrations, showcasing the evolution of creative arts over diverse cultures from prehistoric to modern times. Arranged chronologically, each piece is given its own page and a condensed summary of its provenance, key features and cultural context. Book-ended by a ritual “lion man” figurine from 28,000 B.C. found in a cave in southern Germany, and an as-yet-unfinished environmental sculpture by American artist James Turrell (materials: “Extinct volcano and light”), it also contains two time-lines, one covering major movements in the 13 cultures represented (Mesopotamia, Iran and the Arabian Peninsula; Anatolia and the eastern Mediterranean; Egypt and Africa; Europe; North America; Central America and the Caribbean; South America; Oceania; Japan; Korea; China; Southeast Asia; and Central Asia) and another comprised of a 28-page horizontal index that sets each piece against major world events. A 10-page glossary and comprehensive index completes this invaluable resource. Ably capturing the ancient and unsuppressible creative drive of the human spirit and the sweep of history, this is a book art lovers and cultural anthropologists—scholars and laypeople alike—are guaranteed to cherish. (Nov.)
30,000 Years of Art
The folks at Phaidon have come up with a subversive approach to art history: Rather than examining a particular country or era, they've decided to explore what was happening around the world at various points in time30,000 years' worth of time, in fact. That explains why 30,000 Years of Art: The Story of Human Creativity Across Time and Space has more than 1,000 pages and weighs an arm-straining 13 pounds. The history begins in 28,000 B.C. with Germany's "Lion Man of Hohlenstein-Stadel" and concludes with an as-yet-unfinished American work, "Roden Crater." In between, there are works from China, Italy, Syria, Greece and more; the artwork ranges from sculptures to paintings to masks to collages. The timeline and glossary at book's end add context, and its design encourages art-immersion: There is one piece of artwork per page, with explanatory text tucked away at the bottom or side. There, like the best museum guides, it quietly makes information available, but doesn't distract the viewer from the art.