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Posted by A. Rich on 7/30/2007
As a student of fine and decorative art, "A World History of Art" has proved an invaluable resource for me. Unlike so many texts intended to provide a comprehensive overview of the history of art, this book is fresh and enjoyable, offering a wealth of information in a succinct and articulate manner. It is all too easy to deteriorate into ponderous, heavy prose when discussing the history of art, but Honour and Fleming generally manage to avoid the trap and move steadily and seamlessly through both time and place in discussing the progression of art.
"A World History of Art" is, primarily, an academic text and is therefore a proverbial doorstop of a book - I would not recommend it as a coffee table adornment, but would strongly encourage students or connoisseurs to consider it as a reference. It is an ideal source of general information for the university or postgraduate student, and would serve as an excellent introduction for anyone seeking to study the history of art.
The best art history text book there is
Posted by Mr. DN Clayton on 8/10/2010
Well there might be a better one, but this is orders of magnitude better than anything else I have read, including Gombrich. The great thing about it is that it attempts to relate the form and content of the art to the worldview of the artists and the society of the time that the art was produced. In support of its arguments it gives lots of extended passages from contemporary writers as well as many, many quotations from the artists themselves. The philosophical and theological connections are well explained.
What it doesn't do is attempt to re-interpret things as seen through an atheist/materialist worldview, (which assumes that any worldview based upon faith is founded in error and assumes that it cannot be a true motivation for the artist does). This is what nearly every other art book does. For example, much of Western art history is linked to Catholic beliefs. Honour and Fleming do not question the truth of Catholic beliefs, as nearly every art book I have come across does, but seeks to explain how, given these beliefs, their art might be as it is. So they explain clearly and accurately what those beliefs are then relate what we see to them. I find their analysis very convincing. They have the same approach to art of non-Christian cultures as well.
The only section that I find weak is that not written by Honour and Fleming, on the art of the 20th century. The writers seem are not able to articulate the worldview behind it in the same clear way.
A Lucid Overview of Art in Context
Posted by L. Nguyen on 4/4/2000
This book is a marvelously wide-ranging foray into art as practiced from prehistoric to modern times. What sets it apart from other surveys is the care the authors have taken to place art and artists in their cultural, political, and religious context. (For instance, the economics and theology of medieval Christendom are discussed as a background that focuses more sharply the true significance and accomplishment of the Gothic cathedral.) The book also provides time charts for each chapter, and sidebars quoting primary sources and contemporary responses to art. Over 1,300 illustrations, maps, and diagrams are included. In elegant and readable prose, the authors explore the creation of art not only through time but also across continents. Art from the Americas, Africa, and the East (Near and Far) are discussed in addition to the more familiar Western European masterpieces. I consider The Visual Arts: A History to be a lucid, thorough, and wonderfully written account of the impulse toward and creation of art as it has developed throughout history and within different cultures.
Posted by lars eigil holtan on 10/9/2009
a very broad, complete overlook at the total history of arts in the world from 30 000 bc up to today thru buddhist, hinduhistic,chinese, western, eastern, you name it! it seems like nothing is missing, but then again this brickstone of a book is a thousand pages long. For me as a painter i have never been more satisfied reading a book about art, it is a travel in delight.