707: A World Art History and Its Objects by David Carrier

by Gerard


707.22: Carrier, David. A World Art History and Its Objects. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania University Press, 2008. 154 pp.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 700: Fine Art and Recreation
  • 707: Education, research, and related topics of fine and decorative arts
  • 707.22: Collected treatment

David Carrier’s A World Art History and Its Objects is a weird one. On one hand, it compels the reader to look at art and its history from a few broad perspectives. There are several art traditions around the world that developed independent from one another until naval travel became more frequent and more effective. This led to many conversations between traditions and the mixing of styles, philosophies, and artifacts in and through each other cultures.

On the other hand, for all its attempts to discuss art and history on a global and complete scale, this book not once mentions African art styles and their history. This becomes more and more salient every time Carrier writes about Chinese, Indian, and Islamic traditions when also discussing Western European styles. Each time the triplet is invoked, my brain was screaming, “You missed one!” And each time, I became a little more disenchanted with the author’s aims.

Granted, this is a very complex and nuanced field that deserves some attention, but at only 154 pages, surely there was room for more. I am left to assume that the author simply did not have the capacity, the courage, or the compassion to include such a long and storied arena of arts and artists. That said, there are nuggets of interest to be found here, but they are heavily dressed in a bitter sauce that left me wanting.