August 3rd 2008

The Lilith eZine Sunday Edition

Letter from the Editor

The world of art is so much more than Europe and the United States, although sometimes it certainly feels that way if you live in the USA and so rarely see anything that is not made in America. If you open an art history textbook in any high school in the United States the book likely starts with Egyptian, Greek & Roman art, various stages of European art and eventually ends with American movements. Its a very narrow view on the history of art.

Is it the art historians that are to blame? Not so, says our resident art historian Charles Moffat. He blames the publishing industry for turning down more comprehensive books in favour of smaller, more Americentric books. The school boards who choose books too are likewise to blame. They figure students won't appreciate books with a more comprehensive view of African, Asian, Russian and (mon dieu!) South American art... and lest we forget Arabic, Indian, Australia and New Zealand... oh and that place north of the USA... Canada.

So lets say we were to go looking for a book that is comprehensive, what would you choose? Charles Moffat recommends a book called "The Visual Arts: A History" by Hugh Honour and John Fleming. The book was 1st published in 1984, but since then has had multiple updates and editions. The huge 960 page textbook had its 6th edition released in 2002 and is due for a 7th edition sometime in the near future.

Glancing through the book its quick to understand why Moffat recommends the book. It has everything from prehistoric art, Islamic art, Asian art and goes all the way up to contemporary art the late 1990s. It also has a lot of information on printmaking, photography, sculpture and architecture too. Almost nothing is left out or ignored. Moffat does point out the book is missing one large aspect of 20th century art however, and that is fantasy illustrations and paintings (fantasy art he says isn't taken seriously by some art historians and publishers).

For this he recommends a book called "Fantasy of the 20th Century: An Illustrated History" by Randy Broecker.

There is a dozen or so other books Moffat recommends, but his point is clear. Art history books, if they are to be accurate, should also be comprehensive. The same goes with websites; Art history websites should endeavour be more comprehensive. Below we've added some new pages on Estonian and Turkish artists.

Suzanne MacNevin
Editor of the Lilith eZine

The Art History Archive
Turkish Artists
Estonian Artists

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