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A valiant, but only partially successful effort
on 24 November 1998
The New Oxford History of Art represents the first massive effort to rethink this field in detail since Nikolaus Pevsner launched the Pelican History fifty years ago. The volumes are well printed, advantageously priced, and generally refreshing in their point of view. Preziosi's volume is sui generis in that instead of dealing with a period or theme, it is a second order study--of the study of art history. It combines an anthology with interspersed commentary. Unfortunately, the Preziosi commentary, demonstrating the author's effort to find a new approach, is marred by opaque language and a sketchy presentation of ideas. For example, he says that one of his approaches will be based on the principle of the anamorphic image. Although he reproduces one by Holbein, he does not adequately explain it. Still, for those with an interest in the subject this volume is worth struggling with.