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Cave Paintings to Picasso: The Inside Scoop on 50 Art Masterpieces    by Henry Sayre order for
Cave Paintings to Picasso
by Henry Sayre
Order:  USA  Can
Chronicle, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Kerrily Sapet

From a human face carved from a mammoth tusk to the statue of Nike, the winged goddess of victory, to Andy Warhol's Campbell's soup can ... they represent art from about 22,000 B.C. to modern times. Author and art history professor, Henry Sayre, offers up the inside scoop on fifty of the world's most famous masterpieces in his book Cave Paintings to Picasso.

The book begins with a tiny one inch tall carving that is the earliest known representation of a human face. From there Sayre moves on to the cave paintings in Lascaux, France. Each page shows a beautiful color photograph of the work of art, along with a time line on the opposite page, so that both children and adults get a sense of the object's setting in history. Sayre describes the masterpieces in fascinating detail, giving information about when, where, and how they were discovered. In the case of the Lascaux paintings, four boys were searching for a dog that had fallen into one of the many caves that dot the area. Sayre's choices of masterpieces range from Egyptian objects to Etruscan statues to Greek amphora. Also highlighted is the Middle Ages Book of Kells, the statues at Easter Island, Impressionist works, and of course, the Mona Lisa, and David, just to mention a few.

Sayre's book is an excellent and informative resource for both children and adults. The history is far from dry and will keep readers of all ages fascinated. Whether used in an art class or as a bed time book, it offers a wonderful conduit to teach about some of the most famous works of art throughout history. Sayre has done a fantastic job by including a glossary and providing context for each one of the works. His interesting asides - such as the fact that Claude Monet needed to appease local farmers who were afraid his exotic plants would poison their cattle - bring art to life in a new and fresh way. The book is a treasure to look at and to read.

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