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on June 14, 2002
To my mind, this volume treats too many topics to permit a meaningful discussion of any of them. The result is a discursive discussion supported by very selective use of examples. There is no systematic overview of the material culture of any of the areas discussed, and there is only a loose connection between the narrative and the illustrations. The book might have been greatly improved by a more detailed discussion of the geographic and demographic background of the area(s) to be treated, together with a more systematic treatment of the extent material cultural of each area or the region in general. As it is, the chapters seem to have no clear beginning or end. They leave you wondering how what you've seen fits into the bigger picture of the artistic output of the area and oceanic art in general.
To be fair, however, this may not be the fault of the author. This is a tough topic to treat in a book of this length, intended for a general audience. The publisher might have done better to break the topic up into separate volumes.
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on June 13, 2000
In his book Oceanic Art, Nicholas Thomas goes beyond the eye's view of the artwork produced from Oceania, giving the reader the background information and reasons why the distinct works of art were created. Thomas goes through each culture, giving and explaining examples to match the history of each respective culture. I was impressed by the thoroughness of Thomas, not only showing ancient artwork, but photos from Oceania today, as the respective cultures are being preserved. His analysis of the artwork was very well done as he not only explains the artwork, but gives the reader a sense of the culture also. Having studied art, I was impressed with all the examples and pictures in the book, then relating art with history. I would highly suggest this insightful book.
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