About the Oxford History of Art Series:
"An impressively challenging and ambitious series intended to rewrite no less than the whole history of art in terms of new ideas and new scholarship."Christopher White, Director of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
"A welcome introduction to art history for the twenty-first century....The best of the past and future."Robert Rosenblum, New York University
The last twenty years have witnessed profound changes in art history, the greatest of which stem from the social and cultural perspectives now attached to art scholarship. Written by scholars at the forefront of new thinking, many of whom are rising stars in their fields, the Oxford History of Art series offers substantial and innovative texts that clarify, illuminate, and debate the critical issues at the heart of art history today. Providing a fresh new look at art that moves away from traditional elitist approaches, the series makes use of new research and methodologies, as well as newly accessible and non-canonical works to offer comprehensive coverage of the art world from archaic and classical Greek art to twentieth-century design and photography, from the artistry of African-American and Native North Americans to the masterpieces of Europe, Polynesia, and Micronesia. Lavishly illustrated and superbly designed, the Oxford History of Art brings new substance and verve to the exciting and ubiquitous world of art.
China boasts a history of art spanning 5,000 years and embracing a wide diversity of images and objectsfrom jade tablets, painted silk handscrolls and fans to ink and lacquer painting, porcelain-ware, sculpture, and calligraphy. But this rich tradition has not, until now, been fully appreciated in the West where scholars have focused their attention on sculpture, while largely ignoring those art forms most highly prized by the Chinese themselves, such as calligraphy. Now, in Art in China, Craig Clunas marks a breakthrough in the study of the subject. Taking into account all the arts practiced in China, and drawing on recent innovative scholarship, this rich text examines the production and consumption of art in its appropriate contexts. From art found in tombs to the state-controlled art of the Mao Zedong era, Art in China offers a novel look and comprehensive examination of all aspects of Chinese art.
These two current overviews of Chinese art take very different approaches. Keeper of the Department of Eastern Art at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Tregear offers a chronologically organized work that covers its topic in brief survey form, using representative examples of bronzes, painting, laquerware, ceramics, jade, and stone carving. The book is so brief and the sweep is so broad that a reader not already familiar with the general outline of Chinese history and common Chinese terms may have trouble forming a coherent picture, particularly in regard to the earliest centuries covered. Significantly, Tregear leaves out the important find of a cache of figures at Shanxingdui in 1986, which has been of enormous importance in broadening the known range of cultures in ancient China. On the other hand, she provides an excellent section on 20th-century Chinese art, an area neglected by many of the standard histories. Clunas's (history of art, Univ. of Sussex) approach, by contrast, involves a more critical, theoretical inquiry into Western notions of Chinese art. He eschews a chronological arrangement in favor of thematic chapters on art at court, in the tomb, in the temple, in the life of the elite, and in the marketplace. He makes a point of including objects that have been considered masterpieces intermixed with other less well-known works. He is concerned throughout his text with issues of the historical place of art in Chinese society and with how that society evaluated various objects. The finds at Shanxingdui are mentioned, and some attention is paid to 20th-century work, though not as much in Tregear's survey. Both of these titles have merits as overviews of Chinese art and both could be used by students as well as interested lay readers. If your library can afford only one work, Clunas's is the more up-to-date, both in approach to its material and in selection of works to discuss.Kathryn Wekselman, Univ. of Cincinnati Lib., Ohio