Cover image for Atlas of world art
Atlas of world art
Oxford University Press.
Corporate Author:
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
1 atlas (352 pages) : color illustrations, color maps ; 35 cm
"Over 300 maps combining cultural and political phenomena create an exciting new perspective on major art events from 40,000 B.C. to the present. Each pair of pages presents a thesis, showing how geography affected the art of an era. The visual presentation of the paths of invasion and migration, as well as the location of natural resources used in art, reveals art history in fresh ways. Succinct text and reproductions of sample works of art make this a strong addition to any collection with a focus on art or an interdisciplinary approach to history"--"Reference that rocks, " American Libraries, May 2005.
Art, hunting and gathering 40,000-5000 BC -- Art, agriculture and urbanization 5000-500 BC -- Art, war and empire 500 BC-AD 600 -- Art religion and the ruler 600-1500 -- Art, exploitation and display 1500-1800 -- Art, industry and science 1800-1900 -- Art, ideas and technology 1900-2000.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
G1046.E64 O9 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ
G1046.E64 O9 2004 Adult Non-Fiction E-Branch

On Order



The Atlas of World Art maps the cumulative traces of humankind's artistic activity and demonstrates the importance of physical and political geography for the history of the world's art. This stunning volume is the first to treat the art of the whole world from prehistory to present day andto show the importance of natural and social factors in shaping artistic activity. The Atlas is divided into seven parts, each devoted to a specific time period: Art of the Hunter Gatherer (50,000-5,000 BCE); Art, Agriculture and Urbanization (5,000-500 BCE); Art, War and Empire (500 BCE-600 CE); Art, Religion and Empire (600-1500); Art, Exploitation and Display (1500-1800); Art,Industry and Science (1800-1900); Art, Competition and Identity (1900-2000). Each section opens with a helpful timeline for that period bringing together important dates from across various cultures. Within each section, the spreads are organized by four broad geographic regions: the Americas,Europe, Africa, and Asia and the Pacific. With dramatic full-color maps, as well as commentaries and illustrations, the Atlas of World Art is an authoritative, comprehensive, and elegant volume.

Author Notes

John Onians is Professor of Visual Arts, School of World Art Studies and Museology, University of East Anglia, Norwich.

Reviews 5

Booklist Review

With approximately 150 large-format double-page spreads, Atlas of World Art0 is, claims the press release, "the first geographical reference to treat the art of the whole world from prehistory to the present day and to show the importance of natural as well as social factors in shaping artistic activity." Each spread integrates full-color maps (more than 300 in all), attractive photographs of significant art or architecture, and text summarizing artistic activity during the relevant era and locale. Arrangement is broadly chronological and then regional. A sampling of topics includes "North Africa, A.D. 300-600," "Scandinavia and the Baltic, 1500-1800," and "Japan and Korea, 1900-2000." The subject matter of maps varies greatly. The three maps for "China and Tibet, 1300-1500" show important visual production sites, routes tracing China's global contacts, and city boundaries (color coded by date) and religious sites in Quanzhou. Given the necessary brevity of text, the bibliography at the end of the volume is essential for further reading. A comprehensive index puts page numbers in bold for map references and extrabold for illustration captions. Captions may be less reliable than text information: China's famed terra-cotta warriors are said to have been discovered in the 1960s in a caption and in the 1970s in adjacent text; the caption describing Juan O'Gorman's huge mosaic mural on the University Library in Mexico City attributes the work to Jose Clemente Orozco. In size and format, Atlas of World Art0 is very similar to Atlas of Western Art History 0 (Facts On File, 1994). The latter's maps are less colorful but are generally larger, often full-page size; the differences in what the maps portray and in choice of illustrations (there is little overlap) are reason enough to have both volumes on hand. Atlas of Western Art History0 limits its coverage to the Western world, including colonial Latin America, from 700 B.C.E. to C.E. 1950, while Atlas of World Art0 takes the whole world, from 40,000 B.C.E. to C.E. 2000, as its domain.\b \b0 Despite occasional inaccuracies, the atlas is highly recommended for high-school, public, academic, and art libraries. --Craig Bunch Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

"Archaeologists are experts in the earliest art, anthropologists in the art of modern pre-literate peoples, and art historians in the art of literate peoples," art historian Onians says in his introduction, and as such, the study of art history has been correspondingly divided, preventing "the study of art as a worldwide phenomenon" and inhibiting "the study of the nature and origins of human artistic behaviour." More than 300 full-color maps comprise this unorthodox 9-1/2" x 13-3/8" rectificatory survey. The book starts at 40,000 B.C. and ends at A.D. 2000, with the maps stuffed with depictions of trade routes, migrations, borders, natural resources and human settlements. Accompanying text provides plenty of detail on how the art of particular geographical regions or cultural groups changed with economic, ecological and political situations. Unfortunately, the sparse and undersized reproductions of art often fail to adequately illustrate the text and maps. A student, after reading the survey cover to cover, would be hard-pressed to visually distinguish a Roman fresco from a Piero Della Francesca, or a Maori sculpture from an Inuit carving. But she or he would certainly know how each culture's art was limited by the natural materials available to them, how the rise of hierarchies within societies led to more extravagant projects (a tendency that becomes depressingly and obviously repetitive) or by which route the Visigoths invaded Rome. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Onians (Univ. of East Anglia), the author of several books on classical influences in art, has assembled the contributions of 68 British and North American specialists into a unique publication. The more than 300 full-color maps illustrate the geographical, environmental, and political factors that have influenced the evolution of art as an expression of human culture, tracing the migrations of artists and art movements across the planet. Divided into seven historical sections, each introduced by the editor, the book is written in an accessible language and enriched with color reproductions of works of art and architecture exemplifying each topic. The broad scope of coverage and the clear attempt to avoid Eurocentricism result in a general overview of art currents by geographical region or country. One occasionally longs for more examples of art, but that would not be possible in the context of an atlas of world art, not a history of art. Bottom Line Groundbreaking and handsomely produced, this is a welcome addition to any reference collection.-Edward K. Werner, St. Lucie Cty. Lib. Syst., Ft. Pierce, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 10 Up-Onians has undertaken the gargantuan task of organizing the global range of artistic expression from 40,000 B.C. to the present. Using maps as his primary visual tool, the author divides the book into seven chronological periods. Within these epochs, sections focus on broad landmasses, which are further partitioned into entries about a region or country during a shorter unit of time. An introduction describes the challenges of this approach, particularly the "inherent unevenness" that results from limited knowledge when art was made of "impermanent materials" in "hostile" climates. Thus North and Sub-Saharan Africa are each afforded only two pages for the period A.D. 1500 to 1800, but Italy receives four. Due to the constraints of the single-volume format, the information is idiosyncratic and superficial. Nonetheless, the maps are notable for their clarity and pull together a staggering amount of detail, from the names of artists and the locations of raw materials to trade routes and the political, social, and religious influences on the art of a region. Readers can trace the output of a broad period or area, although the disparity of objects and the paucity of images make comparisons across cultures challenging. One section may depict a necklace, while another highlights a cathedral, a coin, or a site. A thorough index enhances the volume's utility; however, small print, sophisticated writing, and density of detail require that users have prior knowledge of the subject. For specialized collections.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Gathering the contributions of almost 70 scholars under the editorship of Onians, this atlas offers a comprehensive, innovative framework for coverage of art activity around the world from prehistoric times to 2000. It synthesizes the disparate methodologies of archaeologists, anthropologists, and art historians to reflect the continuity and importance of the visual arts for all cultures. Each of the book's seven parts (each covers a period in art history) includes a brief illustrated introduction followed by a standardized sequence of sections on World, American, European, African, Asian and Pacific art. Each subsection, displayed in a double-page spread, includes a signed text, two maps, and two illustrations. The maps and their legends are carefully calibrated to the particulars of the geography, political context, culture, history, and monuments covered in the essay; they vary in order to avoid the monotony of systematic cartographic treatment. The illustrations, modest in size but excellent in quality, enhance the selected objects and media. A concise bibliography and comprehensive index follow the last subsection. Faculty will use the maps to illustrate lectures. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All reference collections. M. Nilsen Pratt Institute