Art of the Twentieth Century is the first comprehensive survey of modern and contemporary art since Robert Hughes's benchmark Shock of the New. And like Hughes, the four authors contributing to this two volume set expertly blend historical record and biographical detail to provide a rousing, insightful portrayal of the workings behind the art of this century.
The entire first volume is devoted to painting. The author, Karl Ruhrberg, traces a remarkably seamless line from the innovations of the Impressionists in the late 1800s to the up-to-the-minute workings of contemporary artists around the world. Even veteran art enthusiasts will be startled by the freshness of the abundant images chosen to illustrate the book which pioneer relationships between artists of different countries.
The distinct treatment of categories on sculpture, new media, and photography in the second volume sets this book apart from previous surveys of 20th-century art which repeatedly accorded lesser status to these artforms than to the progression of painting. Different authors handle each section and provide a unique opportunity to trace the development of artists within these fields unimpeded by the simultaneous advances in painting. Additionally, a large portion of the second volume is comprised of helpful biographical sketches of all the artists discussed in the book. Art of the Twentieth Century offers a bright, pleasurable overview of the most dynamic period of development in the visual arts. It is compiled so skillfully that a tour through the cornucopia of illustrations alone will continually inspire new apprecations for the often difficult art of our times.