From the origins of mark making to art's pivotal role in culture today, Charlotte Mullins brings art to life in this thrilling journey through 100,000 years of art.
A Little History of Art introduces us to overlooked artists, busts a few art history myths, and celebrates global networks of art, from Japan and India to South America and the Middle East. Mullins shows us the first artworks ever made and early masterpieces such as the Terracotta Army and Nok sculptures. She tells the story of the Renaissance, from Giotto to Michelangelo, and introduces us to subsequent leading artists such as Artemisia Gentileschi, Rembrandt, and Hokusai. Through the turbulence of the twentieth century, we see artists group together and break apart and meet trailblazers including Kathe Kollwitz, Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, and Jacob Lawrence. More recently contemporary artists such as Ai Weiwei and Shirin Neshat create art as resistance as they address today's urgent issues.
This refreshing, insightful and inclusive take on art history celebrates art's crucial place in understanding our collective culture and history.
Charlotte Mullins is an art critic, writer, and broadcaster. A former editor of ArtReview, V&A Magazine, and Art Quarterly, as well as a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4’s Front Row and Saturday Review. She has published numerous books, including Lives of the Great Artists (2008), Picturing People (2015), Rachel Whiteread (2017) and A Little Feminist History of Art (2019).
Frances Morris, Tate Modern Director chose this title as our May book of the month.
She writes: ‘My generation grew up taught the Story of Art as a Western story - beginning with the Greeks and ending with Picasso, with a great many Great Men in between. E.H. Gombrich’s narrative, now largely confined to history, was magisterial, and cast a long shadow, but Charlotte Mullins has taken that story on, and in a defiantly Gombrichian format, picking up on his boldly expansive tour de force A Little History of the World, which he famously wrote in six weeks flat, in 1935. Mullins re-cuts, re-shapes, questions and enlarges Gombrich’s tale for our times. Setting off down that same old road she travels further, re-examining the shrines, but also looking far over the hedgerows, turning the way posts, refolding the map to find new territories, new way of telling, and new players and forces. Aztecs. Mughals. Photographers. Artist collaborations. And women: who’d have thought? Sofonisba Anguissola, Berthe Morisot, Lee Krasner, Barbara Kruger and many others, now fully inscribed in the rich tapestry she weaves with freshness and verve.’