History of British Art

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History of British Art by Graham-Dixon, Andrew, 9780563370444
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  • ISBN: 9780563370444 | 0563370440
  • Cover: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2/1/2003
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Andrew Graham-Dixon's original and thought-provoking A History of British Art is the first book to draw together different strands of British art, from the Middle Ages to the present day. It takes the reader on a thrilling journey through the British visual imagination and also through the religious, social and political history of Britain itself. 'Art in Britain', the author writes, 'amounts to an autobiography of the British nation.'
The British are often said to have been a literary rather than a visual people. But A History of British Art argues passionately against that idea, beginning with a revelatory account of the almost unknown masterpieces of the Catholic Middle Ages - works of art equal in power to those of any of the great European masters.
The author also explores the violence and hatred which art has aroused in the British soul. Henry VIII's Reformation and the extraordinary century of image-smashing that followed lie at the centre of this book. In its aftermath, the native British artist became temporarily paralyzed and the baton of invention was passed to two foreign artists - Hans Holbein and Anthony van Dyck - whose influence can be traced to the work of modern British painters such as Lucian Freud and Howard Hodgkin. The relationships between past and present, and foreign and indigenous traditions, are recurring themes in Graham-Dixon's argument.
Ranging from Gainsborough and Stubbs to contemporary artists like Damien Hirst and Rachel Whiteread, this history celebrates the beauty and brilliance of Britain's heritage. It is a tour not only of the mountaintops - St Paul's Cathedral or the paintings of Constable and Turner - but also of the less-frequented byways. As Graham-Dixon writes: 'The history of art in Britain is the most revealing of all our cultural stories. The ambition behind this book is simple: to help myself and others to understand and love British art a little bit more.'
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