Two thousand years ago, the great civilizations of the world were unaware or only dimly conscious of each other. The Year One
is the attractively produced catalog of an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York that brings together art objects created in different parts of the world at the beginning of the first millennium, from Rome to India to China to the Americas. This interesting concept proves too vast for a single exhibition drawn from the collections of a single museum, even the Met's. The essays on the art of different cultures are informative but necessarily too short for their large subjects, though the main introductory essay paints a fascinating picture of a world being drawn together by conquest and trade. The problem is one of choice: narrowing down which cultures should be represented, and by which art works. Beautiful though each one is, the 150 items selected cannot do the job; they have insufficient context and give the impression of being chosen at random. Dividing the objects thematically might have been more successful than geographically--the spectacular Roman landscape frescoes may be a revelation to the reader, but the opportunity to compare contemporary Egyptian or Han Chinese landscapes is not taken. The photography and description of each object is excellent, however, and there is great beauty in this book. Though The Year One
fails in its overall purpose, the individual artworks it presents are strong enough aesthetically to stand on their own. --John Stevenson
From Library Journal
Seven curators at the Metropolitan Museum of Art joined forces and collections to mount an exhibit of art as it existed through most of the world in the year one. By that time, the world was already growing smaller. Far-flung countries were in contact with one another through trade or diplomacy, allowing art to be shared in widespread areas. The landmass of Europe and Asia held five major empires (Roman, Parthian, Kushan, Xiongnu, and Han). These empires, as well as independent kingdoms in Arabia, India, Southeast Asia, Korea, Japan, and South and Central America are all represented here, and the influence of cultures across time and thousands of miles is startling. Art history texts traditionally focus on Western art with Asian and Pre-Columbian art relegated to a single chapter. Looking at art as it existed through most of the world in one year is an excellent way to put the art of that time into perspective. Recommended for both public and academic libraries. Mary Morgan Smith, Northland P.L., Pittsburgh
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an alternate