An innovative exploration of the arts of antiquity, from the earliest European cave paintings to the coming of Christianity and Buddhism in the Old World and the arrival of the Spaniards in the New World.
Dividing the ancient world into three broad climatic categoriesthe northern nomadic, the temperate farmers and city dwellers, and the tropicalJohn Boardman focuses on common solutions that Man the Artist has devised for the problems posed by the environment, a factor that has also determined the nature of society and its arts. The solutions are shown to have been very similar worldwide within each broad environmental zone, and the pattern can be demonstrated in the arts no less than in social organization. Richly illustrated and clearly captioned, the book covers the full range of ancient art produced across the globe, from China and Egypt through Classical Greece to South America, Africa, Australasia, and Oceania. It illuminates the many similarities and differences to be observed over the millennia in which artists were required to serve man and his gods more completely than they have ever done since. 690 illustrations, 160 in color.
The 20th century has ended, yet this book recalls an academic style prevalent in introductory art history survey classes taught 50 years ago. Boardman (classical archaeology & art, emeritus, Oxford Univ.; Athenian Black Figure Vases), an expert on Greek art, has attempted to sew together the remnants of every civilization on earth into a quilt intended to set the stage for the triumph of "Western Civilization." This reviewer is not sure that such a task is possible, and reading this potpourri of bland, clipped writing and examining myriad photos of art objects have done nothing to make a persuasive case. The art objects and architecture illustrated in 850 mostly black-and-white photos of variable quality are heavily oriented toward Greek and other Mediterranean cultures. China is given a perfunctory section of its own and Africa and the Americas are examined not so much for their innate interest as for their interface with other cultures. Because stone and ceramics survive the centuries, they are almost the only works illustrated. Are there no extant textiles or other works on organic substrates? The very spare index is hard to use because the italic and regular numbers are too similar. Spend your $65 on more modern and specific books; not recommended. David McClelland, Philadelphia Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.