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What is art? Why do we value images of saints, kings, goddesses, battles, landscapes or cities in eras utterly remote from our own? This history of art shows how painters, sculptors and architects have expressed the belief systems of their age religious, political and aesthetic. From the ancient civilisations of Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece to the revolutionary years of the 19th and 20th centuries, the artist has acted as a mirror to the ideals and conflicts of the human mind. He has always started with reality, but has selected and reshaped that reality to create a parallel world: a world of the imagination.

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