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Publisher's Summary

What is art? Why do we value images of saints, kings, goddesses, battles, landscapes or cities from eras of history utterly remote from ourselves? This history of art shows how painters, sculptors and architects have expressed the belief systems of their age: religious, political and aesthetic.

From the ancient civilisations of Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece, to the revolutionary years of the 19th and 20th centuries, the artist has acted as a mirror to the ideals and conflicts of the human mind. He has always started with reality, but has selected and reshaped that reality to create a parallel world; a world of the imagination.

©2011 Naxos AudioBooks (P)2011 Naxos AudioBooks

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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ART

Peter Whitfield offers a whirlwind tour of “The History of Western Art”. He begins with cave paintings and ends with performance art by an “artist” locked in a library with a wild animal. The distressing thought is that “art is anything you can get away with.”

In slightly more than five hours of narration, a listener traverses 30,000 years (some say 40,000 years) of art history. Whitfield is a poet and critic. “The History of Art” is an intelligent introduction to a mystifying, fascinating, and intimidating subject.

At the end, one wonders whether art is entering a new dark age where the value of art is degraded by technology that makes too much of medium as message. Art needs to be more than a transaction between willing seller and buyer.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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A whirlwind tour of Western art

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to refresh their previous study of art history, as well as to students who need a concise introduction. Tourists can benefit from the book also: it is a valuable adjunct to European museum visits and city walks. Whitfield takes us on a whirlwind tour of major artistic themes and styles, mostly European, from cave paintings to the edge of postmodernism. Comberti's reading is pleasant and well-paced. The only thing that's missing: the paintings themselves. Having a visual art reference on hand is recommended. I'm an artist, so the subject fascinates me. But I believe anyone can benefit from reading this accessible guide, free from pretentious "art speak."

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • JESSE
  • BATH, United Kingdom
  • 01-01-13

Superbly Written

Would you consider the audio edition of The History of Western Art to be better than the print version?

Peter Whitfield has a deep understanding of art history and manages to communicate it undiluted without pretence. Some of his observations are stunning, and always concise. The other art history university textbooks I've read are watered down and politically bent, but Whitfield just states it like it is with utter virtuosity. His sentences are art.The narration is good, I'm cherishing listening to this.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The History of Western Art?

The Renaissance

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Janelle
  • moree, Australia
  • 05-24-13

AWESOME ART

The author puts art and history together. Easy to listen to and understand.I found I was researching artists and works as the narrative continued. Of course there will be some gaps -- but overall pretty cool.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Good story. Not boring.

An overall good book. The narrator is very nice and has a good voice, clear and enjoyable. The story is not boring and covers a lot of examples and famous painters. I would recommend, although I think it's a superficial reading on the subject as it doesn't explain in details some transitions and basic concepts.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • YANINA
  • Haifa, Israel
  • 10-29-12

A very good introduction to the western art

A very good introduction to the history of western art. In depth written and very nice to hear.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Every thing you need to know about western Art.

Would you consider the audio edition of The History of Western Art to be better than the print version?

Dunno

Who was your favorite character and why?

Vincent Van Gogh - he was so ahead of his time.

What about Sebastian Comberti’s performance did you like?

Excellent

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

This is what makes life worth it. Culture and Art.

Any additional comments?

I listen to it over and over. A joy to hear. Still, I don't understand why Hockeny was so great.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Great history.

This has been a really good book to listen to while working. I wish I could have gone straight through. I will listen again. So much information here. I think if I read it I would have skipped around and missed a lot.

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Great book

Little slow to start. Great synopis of modern art.
The reader has a lovely British accent.

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a great introduction to the worldviews behind art

very solid and engaging only lacking a bit in familiarizing the reader / listener with some of the terminology so that they can understand more about the actual paintings. this work is primarily about understanding the flow of thought behind the art, rather than being able to describe what chiaroscuro is for example.

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  • Crocker
  • 01-28-12

Not entirely what was expected

Whilst the narrator and the text are of interest, I was under the misguided impression that the downloadable PDF would contain visual examples of the work under discussion and not a chapter index and list of background music .This might well be a case of an illustrated book being be a better option

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Zenouf the Birdcatcher
  • 09-22-17

Thought Provoking

A splendidly thoughtful exposition on the world of western art. Highly recommended for anyone with a passing interest in Art.

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  • Erika Gofton
  • 08-17-17

Where are the Women???

Any additional comments?

In the whole history of Western Art there is 1 mention of Georgia O'Keefe and one of Audrey Flack although her name wasn't actually mentioned. Incredibly disappointing!