How can you capture everything about the world of art in a single book? The answer is simple: You can’t. Art is an incredibly broad and ever-changing field, and it would be silly for us to think we could fit it all into one little book. The definition of art itself is so elusive that people have been arguing about it for thousands of years with no consensus in sight. (See page 19 for more on “what is art?” It’s okay—you can skip around a bit if you like.)


With respect for the art world’s enormous scope, we’ve slimmed down our subject matter to touch mainly on the visual arts, highlighting ideas, events, and personalities that we feel are important to understanding the big picture of art and its fluid boundaries. Whether your ...

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