30,000 Years of Art

The story of human creativity across time and space

1000 great works of art from all periods and regions in the world.

Conceived and edited by Phaidon Editors


Price: USD$59.95

This edition is temporarily out of stock

Look Inside

  • Follow-up to Phaidon’s phenomenally successful The Art Book
  • An accessible, fun and informative compendium of world art, that offers a fresh perspective on the whole of art history from 28,000 BC to the present day
  • Debunks art historical classifications and hierarchies by presenting 1,000 masterworks of
    art in simple chronological order demonstrating what was being created all over the globe
    at the same time
  • Only here can you find the Venus de Milo next to a mural from the Mayan civilization, or Velasquez’ Las Meniñas next to a painting from the Chinese Ming Dynasty, an Indian jade wine cup, a ritual Nepalese plaque, a Korean portrait and Vermeer’s Milkmaid
  • Each work has been chosen for its unique place in the history of art, and as a representative example of the art of its culture
  • By juxtaposing works of art from different cultures throughout time, this is the first book
    to offer a balanced appraisal of world art history, revealing the huge diversity, as well as
    the similarity of man’s artistic achievements
  • Each entry includes a colour image of the work and a concise descriptive text that sets the work in context, explaining its contribution to the development of art and the medium in which it was created
  • A comprehensive index, illustrated timelines and a glossary of terms and movements make this book an invaluable reference tool and teaching resource


About the book

30,000 Years of Art presents 1000 great works of art from all periods and regions in the world, arranged in chronological order for a general readership. Breaking through the usual geographical and cultural boundaries of art history, it celebrates the vast range of human artistry across time and space. Each work is accompanied by key caption information (date, title, place of origin, style or culture, medium, dimensions etc.), and a short text providing more information and explaining the art historical context.

The book presents art in a way different from other art history compendia, revealing the huge diversity, or in many cases similarity, of man’s artistic achievements through time and around the globe. Ordered chronologically, the resulting timeline of works leads to compelling browsing: surprising juxtapositions offer intellectual pleasure and a sense of wonder and discovery. The selection of works from across the world, arranged in the sequence in which they were made, take the reader on a global and historical journey, as a Chinese Shang urn stands next to a Mycenaean vase, and Michelangelo’s Slave is followed by a contemporaneous male sculpture from Nigeria. The chronological arrangement responds to such questions as where does the earliest art appear? What were artists creating in China or Africa while Rembrandt was painting self-portraits in Leyden? How were similar subjects – equestrian themes, landscapes, religious scenes – manipulated by artists in Aztec Mexico and Medieval Europe?

Although the sequence of works in the book is strictly chronological, the selection of entries for an individual culture comprises an abbreviated history of the art of that people. Thus, while artworks from ancient Greece or the European Renaissance or pre-Columbian Americas are interspersed with contemporaneous works created in Africa, India or Japan, an extraction of the Greek or Renaissance or American works could stand alone as an essential abridgement of the finest art of that period or culture.


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