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Edited by Susan Doyle, Jaleen Grove and Whitney Sherman
592 pages, softcover, $90
Published by Fairchild Books
bloomsbury.com

History of Illustration is the first textbook on the topic to provide a global overview of illustration practices from before written language to the digital age. The book is roughly organized by both chronology and subject specialization and then divided into sections that group chapters by era or scope. From cave art to digital art, the editors place emphasis on the “social, historical, technical and theoretical contextualization” of the hundreds of images presented. Five years in the making, the book does not purport to be a definitive history, but a milestone that took a community to bring to life. Illustration in its various forms, such as advertising, comics and periodical illustration, has been largely excluded from histories of art, and has often been marginalized in the larger art discourse. As the editors here show, because so much of illustrated media has been made in service of popular culture, the study of illustration can provide insight into past as well as current societies. The editors, all of whom have impeccable education credentials, have aimed the book toward undergraduate illustration students, but it is equally intended for art, design and media students who want to expand their understanding of visual culture. The subject matter is so interesting and so well organized and presented, it should be of interest to those outside academia. It is not light reading, but it is stimulating, encouraging another look at images we may have taken for granted, without understanding their deeper historical and cultural context. —Anne Telford

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