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“The” Oxford History of Western Art - Martin Kemp


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    Oxford University Press, USA
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“The” Oxford History of Western Art

Martin Kemp

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The Oxford History of Western Art is the new authority on the development of visual culture in the West over the last 2700 years, from the classical period to the end of the twentieth century. OHWA is an innovative and challenging reappraisal of how the history of art can be presented and understood. None of the currently available general histories of art offers the wealth of perspectives and cross-media references of this book. Through a carefully devised modular structure, readersare given insights not only into how and why works of art were created, but also how works in different media relate to each other across time. Here - uniquely - is not the simple, linear 'story' of art, but a rich series of stories, told from varying viewpoints. The founding principle of the book has been to use carefully selected groupings of pictures to give readers a sense of the visual 'texture' of the various periods and episodes covered. The 167 illustration groups, supported by explanatory text and picture captions, create a sequence of 'visualtours' - not merely a procession of individually 'great' works viewed in isolation, but juxtapositions of significant images that powerfully convey a sense of the visual environments in which works of art need to be viewed in order to be understood and appreciated. The aim throughout has been tomake the shape and nature of these visual presentations a stimulating and rewarding experience, allowing readers to become active participants in the process of interpretation and synthesis. Another key feature of the narrative is the re-definition of traditional period boundaries. Rather than relying on conventional labels such as Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, etc., five major phases of significant historical change are established that unlock longer and more meaningfulcontinuities: * The art of classical antiquity, from c.600 BC to the fall of Rome in AD 410 * The establishment of visual culture in Europe from 410 to 1527 (the sack of papal Rome) * European visual regimes from 1527 to 1770 * The era of revolutions 1770 to 1914 * Modernism and after, 1914 to 2000 This new framework shows how the major religious and secular functions of art have been forged, sustained, transformed, revived, and revolutionized over the ages; how the institutions of Church and State have consistently aspired to make art in their own image; and how the rise of art historyitself has come to provide the dominant conceptual framework within which artists create, patrons patronize, collectors collect, galleries exhibit, dealers deal, and art historians write. The text has been written by a team of 50 specialist authors working under the direction of Professor Martin Kemp, one of the UK's most distinguished art historians. Whilst bringing their own expertise and vision to their sections, each author was also asked to relate their text to a number ofunifying themes and issues, including written evidence, physical contexts, patronage, viewing and reception, techniques, gender and racial issues, centres and peripheries, media and condition, the notion of 'art', and current presentations. Though the coverage of topics focuses on European notions of art and their transplantation and transformation in North America, space is also given to cross-fertilizations with other traditions - including the art of Latin America, the Soviet Union, India, Africa (and Afro-Caribbean), Australia,and Canada. Professor Kemp and his team similarly deal generously with the applied arts and reproductive media such as photography and prints. The result is a vibrant, vigorous, and revolutionary account of Western art serving both as an inspirational introduction for the general reader and an authoritative source of reference and guidance for students.

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