Art history textbooks, so excellent for flattening curled-up rug corners and holding open doors, are expected to tell us the entire story of our civilization, one painting at a time. It's more than any book, even one that weighs a spine-crunching twenty-five pounds, should be expected to do. And it opens our eyes to the way that history is narrated, and taught, and even, it follows, to how paintings are displayed, and museums are curated. So much is touched on; so much is left out. It's too much, and far too little, all at once.
Dr. Charlotte Mullins has decided to lean into the brevity, and in doing so, manages to tell us so much more. In her new book, "A Little History of Art," she tells the story of 100,000 years of art history, in, in her words, language akin to a haiku, every word intentionally chosen, every artwork telling its own story. She turns us into time-travelers in a scant 300 pages.
We talked about reading art history, teaching art history, writing art history, and much more.
Charlotte is the art critic for Country Life and has written for specialist titles and newspapers including the Financial Times, Telegraph, Independent on Sunday, RA Magazine, Art in America and Tate Magazine. A former editor of Art Quarterly, V&A Magazine and Art Review, she has appeared on BBC TV arts programmes and is a regular on BBC Radio 4's Front Row and Radio 3's Free Thinking. She is the author of more than a dozen books including a monograph on Rachel Whiteread and A Little Feminist History of Art, both for Tate, and the internationally acclaimed Painting People, and its companion volume Picturing People, both for Thames & Hudson.
The Blue Dot Sessions, "Spark"
Rod Stewart, "Every Picture Tells A Story"
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