David’s Sling: A History of Democracy in Ten Works of Art
Some works of art are instantly recognizable as examples of expertise and artistry, but very few people know the history behind them. Victoria Coates selects ten masterpieces that represent the history of democracy. We travel from the Parthenon and the birth of democracy in Ancient Greece, to Picasso’s Guernica and the threat posed by fascist dictators. In between, we visit Michelangelo’s David, The St. Mark’s Basilica, Bierstadt’s Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak, The Last Breath of Marat, and several other seminal works. Each is explained in its historical context, showing how each exemplifies democratic ideals of its time. The journey of democracy from its earliest struggles to its current incarnations.
Coates relies on solid and thorough research to recreate conversations of commissions, bringing an immersive immediacy to the stories. The book is full of beautiful color reproductions of not only the ten main artworks, but many others as well. Coates examines the artists’ evolving art techniques, styles, and mastery as influenced by their culture’s evolving democratic movements in a lucid, detailed yet accessible style that is a pleasure to read. This book draws unique connections and gives an interesting perspective on the relationship between art and its cultural context.
Victoria C. Gardner Coates