Abstract Art: A Global History by Pepe Karmel (Thames & Hudson, 2020)
Art historians often begin with a close focus on an individual artifact before setting that object into a history. Earlier, later, latest: that’s the basic historical structure. Giotto was studied by Masaccio, whose art influences Michelangelo’s. Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (1550) presents such a history. So too does E. H. Gombrich’s The Story of Art (Phaidon, 1950), which discusses the progressive improvement of techniques of representation, what in a later, related book he calls the history of Art and Illusion (Pantheon Books, Bollingen Series, 1960).