An Irreverent History of Early Art by John Spring

Available now on Amazon (Paperback and Kindle) ISBN 9798794113648. See links below to buy.

Oscar Wilde said that all art is quite useless. However, it wasn’t always. This is the entertaining story of how we discovered art and the useful things we did with it before we started hanging it on gallery walls. An amusing journey, from rock-bashing to the Renaissance, revealing how our changing world transformed what we did with art.

We have spent a long time making art, many thousands of years, but Oscar was right. We now relate to art very differently. It wasn’t always so, and our relationship with art only began to change in the Renaissance. This book explores what was happening in the world around us, why we might have needed art in our lives and the useful things we did with it when we found it…and then how we became so clever that it became useless.

Selected extracts…

On why the Chinese came up with ceramics first… This theory does credit the Chinese with quite an intuitive scientific knowledge. Although any culture that can come up with fireworks six hundred years before Guy Fawkes was even born looks to have some in-built forward thinking going on.

On the appropriation of culture (e.g. as the Romans did with the Greeks)… Maybe it is a characteristic of rapidly emerging military forces that they just don’t have the time, or the experience, to create the finer things in life. It is much easier to adopt a ready-made culture from those that have taken their eye off the ball by creating art and architecture, instead of sensibly making more swords.

On the reappearance of the philosophy of Humanism after The Black Death… If your existence could be snuffed out by the appearance of a lump under your armpit then you might as well make the most of your time on earth. Even if it just turned out to be an infected follicle.

All graphic illustrations by the author. Some graphic language too, so not suitable for children.

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