How to Read World History in Art: From the Code of Hammurabit to September 11 - Flavio Febbraro, Burkhard Schwetje
What survives from the past—what we see in textbooks and museums—are the monuments and artworks of an age. But how do we interpret these artifacts? And can we trust, say, images of battle scenes commissioned by the victors to accurately portray their subject? HOW TO READ WORLD HISTORY IN ART (Abrams, $35) explores the relationship between those who control the historical record and the masterworks used to pass down particular versions of events. The authors, Flavio Febbraro and Burkhard Schwetje, give a two-page spread to each of the scores of artworks they study; this includes a summary of the relevant historical event and close scrutiny of the piece’s significant details. The book considers the great figures of history, including Charlemagne and George Washington, and the great battles, but it also offers a look at everyday life during periods of upheaval, such as bubonic plague years, and turning points like the Industrial Revolution. From the Code of Hammurabi to the fall of the Berlin Wall and 9/11, this volume makes a magnificent and masterful tour of unforgettable historical moments and the great works of art in their wake.