The history of any subject can prove to be limiting. It could also prove to be too broad, too exclusive or even too intimate. Art is a nightmare for all of this. Cover the whole in detail and you have a resource 1000s of pages long and riddled with excess detail. Cover the limited pieces, and you simply look at specific trends, most of them bereft of intellectual substance. So you need to navigate the route both passively and pertinently. The powerful resource, ART : A VISUAL HISTORY explores the discipline in a variety of expected ways. Enlightening for many, the different subjects that are contained inside the subjects roots. Beginning in the pre history period, it starts with broad strokes. An age in which human consciousness can be reflected and on display in its spiritual objectives. Visually, all of this is beautifully depicted. You are always treated by DK and here they have never scrimped.

Religions played a vital role in the formal relationships between the subject and the divine. This is true enough. ART : A VISUAL HISTORY plays this well. Never over indulging the art and the context for its creation. If anything it is a little too soft in its reverence of people for that which we do not know or see. Slowly this perspective changes. Patrons pass and people come forward. We are treated to a more intimate slew of artists. Those we know and love alongside a few that are more exotic. I labour the point here but it is good to explore names unknown. But the read still gets enough of the known, knowns (so to speak). Valuable enough to the few and allows the many to feel they have some level of education in a subject so rich and broad, to be almost impossible to master in a single sweep. Again the visuals are delightful. Each artist has an image and it is high res, lush, missing only the smell of that dried paint and musty rooms. This is something I would suggest is a mark of pride for DK. Solid content, clearly translated and well designed. But the pictures are the most valuable resource for anyone looking into it.

So we descend. ART : A VISUAL HISTORY weakness appears here. This is not its fault mind. Trying to get such a testament to a great subject is almost impossible. We shift between movements, players, artists and as we see day in and out at museums around the globe, keeping relevant and interesting becomes almost impossible. Film in itself suffers from this. History of the subject always misses something, here it misses translating the vast longing, ideas and themes within the subject. However, it is hard to give value, while still giving a course that is valuable. ART : A VISUAL HISTORY is valid but not valuable to those with more than a cursory knowledge of art.

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