Art History For Dummies

Art History For Dummies

by Jesse Bryant Wilder
Art History For Dummies

Art History For Dummies

by Jesse Bryant Wilder

Paperback(2nd ed.)

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Ready to discover the fascinating world of art history? Let’s (Van) Gogh!

Fine art might seem intimidating at first. But with the right guide, anyone can learn to appreciate and understand the stimulating and beautiful work of history’s greatest painters, sculptors, and architects. In Art History For Dummies, we’ll take you on a journey through fine art from all eras, from Cave Art to the Colosseum, and from Michelangelo to Picasso and the modern masters. Along the way, you’ll learn about how history has influenced art, and vice versa.

This updated edition includes:

  • Brand new material on a wider array of renowned female artists
  • Explorations of the Harlem Renaissance, American Impressionism, and the Precisionists
  • Discussions of art in the 20th and 21st centuries, including Dadaism, Constructivism, Surrealism, and today’s eclectic art scene

Is there an exhibition in your town you want to see? Prep before going with Art History For Dummies and show your friends what an Art Smartie you are.

An unbeatable reference for anyone looking to build a foundational understanding of art in a historical context, Art History For Dummies is your personal companion that makes fine art even finer!

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781119868668
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 04/19/2022
Series: For Dummies Books
Edition description: 2nd ed.
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 174,520
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 10.60(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Jesse Bryant Wilder is the founder, publisher, and editor of NEXUS, a series of interdisciplinary textbooks used in high schools around the country. He has written several textbooks on art and art history and was an art critic for The Plain Dealer and

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

About This Book 1

Foolish Assumptions 2

Icons Used in This Book 2

Beyond the Book 2

Where to Go from Here 3

Part 1: Getting Started with Art History 5

Chapter 1: Art Tour through the Ages 7

Connecting Art Divisions and Culture 8

It’s Ancient History, So Why Dig It Up? 8

Mesopotamian period (3500 bc–500 bc) and Egyptian period (3100 bc–332 bc) 9

Ancient Greek period (c 850 bc–323 bc) and Hellenistic period (323 bc–32 bc) 9

Roman period (300 bc–ad 476) 9

Did the Art World Crash When Rome Fell, or Did It Just Switch Directions? 10

Byzantine period (ad 500–ad 1453) 10

Islamic period (seventh century+) 10

Medieval period (500–1400) 10

High Renaissance (1495–1520) and Mannerism (1530–1580) 10

Baroque period (1600–1750) and Rococo period (1715–1760s) 11

In the Machine Age, Where Did Art Get Its Power? 11

Neoclassicism (1765–1830) 11

Romanticism (late 1700s–early 1800s) 11

The Modern World and the Shattered Mirror 12

Responding to modern pressures 12

Conceptualizing the craft 13

Expressing mixed-up times 13

Chapter 2: Why People Make Art and What It All Means 15

Focusing on the Artist’s Purpose 15

Recording religion, ritual, and mythology 15

Promoting politics and propaganda 16

When I say jump: Art made for patrons 16

Following a personal vision 17

Detecting Design 17

Perceiving pattern 17

Rolling with the rhythm 17

Weighing the balance 17

Looking for contrast 18

Examining emphasis 18

Decoding Meaning 19

The ABCs of visual narrative 19

Sorting symbols 19

Chapter 3: The Major Artistic Movements 21

Distinguishing an Art Period from a Movement 21

Tracking Major 19th-Century Art Movements 22

Realism (1840s–1880s) 22

Impressionism (1869–late 1880s) 22

Post-Impressionism (1886–1892) 22

Moving Off the Rails in the 20th Century 23

Fauvism and Expressionism 23

Cubism, Futurism, Dada, and Surrealism 24

Abstract Expressionism (1946–1950s) 25

Pop Art (1960s) 25

Conceptual art, performance art, and feminist art (late 1960s–1970s) 25

Postmodernism (1970–) 25

Part 2: From Caves to Colosseum: Ancient Art 27

Chapter 4: Magical Hunters and Psychedelic Cave Artists 29

Cool Cave Art or Paleolithic Painting: Why Keep It a Secret? 30

Hunting on a wall 31

Psychedelic shamans with paintbrushes 31

Flirting with Fertility Goddesses 32

Dominoes for Druids: Stonehenge, Menhirs, and Neolithic Architecture 33

Living in the New Stone Age: Çatalhöyük, Göbekli Tepe, and Skara Brae 33

Cracking the mystery of the megaliths and menhirs 34

Chapter 5: Fickle Gods, Warrior Art, and the Birth of Writing: Mesopotamian Art 37

Climbing toward the Clouds: Sumerian Architecture 38

Zigzagging to Heaven: Ziggurats 38

The Tower of Babel 39

The Eyes Have It: Scoping Out Sumerian Sculpture 39

Worshipping graven images 40

Stare-down with God: Statuettes from Abu Temple 40

Playing Puabi’s Lyre 41

Unraveling the Standard of Ur 42

Stalking Stone Warriors: Akkadian Art 43

Stamped in Stone: Hammurabi’s Code 43

Unlocking Assyrian Art 44

Babylon Has a Baby: New Babylon 45

Chapter 6: One Foot in the Tomb: Ancient Egyptian Art 47

Ancient Egypt 101 48

Segmenting the Egyptian periods 48

Thanking the Nile 49

The Art of a Unified Egypt 49

Depicting the unification 49

Noting art as history in the Palette of Narmer 50

The Egyptian Style: Proportion and Orientation 51

Excavating Old Kingdom Architecture 52

Early mastabas and step pyramids 52

Turning to stone 53

Making the architecture great 53

Spending life preparing for death 54

The In-Between Period and Middle Kingdom Realism 55

New Kingdom Art 56

Hatshepsut: A female phenom 56

Akhenaten and Egyptian family values 56

Raiding King Tut’s tomb treasures 58

Admiring the world’s most beautiful dead woman’s tomb 59

Decoding Books of the Dead 59

Too-big-to-forget sculpture 61

Chapter 7: Greek Art, the Olympian Ego, and the Inventors of the Modern World 63

Mingling with the Minoans: Snake Goddesses, Minotaurs, and Bull Jumpers 64

Greek Sculpture: Stark Symmetry to a Delicate Balance 66

Kouros to Kritios Boy 66

Golden Age sculptors: Myron, Polykleitos, and Phidias 68

Fourth-century sculpture 70

Figuring Out Greek Vase Painting 71

Cool stick figures: The geometric style 71

Black-figure and red-figure techniques 72

Rummaging through Ruins: Greek Architecture 73

Greece without Borders: Hellenism 76

Sculpting passion and struggle 76

Honoring the classical in a new world 77

Chapter 8: Etruscan and Roman Art: It’s All Greek to Me! 79

The Mysterious Etruscans 79

Temple to tomb: Greek influence 79

Smiles in stone: The eternally happy Etruscans 80

Infusing Art with Roman Influence 80

Linking the territory that was Rome 82

Art as mirror: Roman realism and

Republican sculptural portraits 82

Progressing on to propaganda 83

Shirking idealism for authenticity 84

Realism in painting 85

Roman mosaics 86

Revealing Roman Architecture: A Marriage of Style and Engineering 87

Temple of Portunus 87

Maison Carrée 88

Roman aqueducts 88

The Colosseum 88

The Pantheon 90

Part 3: Art after the Fall of Rome: ad 500–ad 1760 93

Chapter 9: The Graven Image: Early Christian, Byzantine, and Islamic Art 95

The Rise and Fall of Constantinople 95

Christianizing Rome 96

After the fall: Divisions and schisms 96

Early Christian Art in the West 96

Rejecting paganism 97

Drawing on Roman art and culture 97

Byzantine Art Meets Imperial Splendor 98

Justinian and Early Byzantine architecture 98

Amazing mosaics: Puzzle art 100

San Vitale: Justinian and Theodora mosaics 101

The mosaics of St Mark’s Basilica, Venice, Italy (Middle Byzantine) 103

Icons and iconoclasm 103

Islamic Art: Architectural Pathways to God 106

The Mosque of Córdoba 107

The dazzling Alhambra 109

A temple of love: The Taj Mahal 110

Chapter 10: Mystics, Marauders, and Manuscripts: Medieval Art 113

Irish Light: Illuminated Manuscripts 114

A unique Christian mission 114

Browsing the Book of Kells, Lindisfarne Gospels, and other manuscripts 114

Drolleries and the fun style 116

Charlemagne: King of His Own Renaissance 117

Weaving and Unweaving the Battle of Hastings: The Bayeux Tapestry 117

Providing a battle blueprint 117

Portraying everyday life in medieval England and France 118

Peddling political propaganda 119

Making border crossings 119

Romanesque Architecture: Churches That Squat 120

St Sernin 120

Durham Cathedral 121

Romanesque Sculpture 122

Nightmares in stone: Romanesque relief 123

Roman sculpture revival 123

Relics and Reliquaries: Miraculous Leftovers 123

Gothic Grandeur: Churches That Soar 125

Building a church-and-state alliance 125

Bigger and brighter 125

Making something new from old parts 126

Finishing touches and voilà! 127

Expanding the Gothic dream 127

Stained-Glass Storytelling 127

Gothic Sculpture 128

Italian Gothic 129

Gothic Painting: Cimabue, Duccio, and Giotto 130

Cimabue 130

Duccio 132

Giotto 133

Tracking the Lady and the Unicorn: The Mystical Tapestries of Cluny 134

Themes of love and desire? 134

Themes with religious connotation? 135

The questions remain 136

Chapter 11: Born-Again Culture: The Early and High Renaissance 137

The Early Renaissance in Central Italy 138

The Great Door Contest: Brunelleschi versus Ghiberti — And the winner is! 138

The Duomo of Florence 139

Vanishing points and perspective 140

Sandro Botticelli: A garden-variety Venus 144

Donatello: Putting statues back on their feet 145

The High Renaissance 146

Reviving self-respect 146

Elevating humanity in art 147

Leonardo da Vinci: Renaissance man 147

Leonardo’s techniques 147

Leonardo’s greatest works 148

Michelangelo: The main man 150

Michelangelo’s greatest works 152

Raphael: The prince of painters 153

Chapter 12: Venetian Renaissance, Late Gothic, and the Renaissance in the North 157

A Gondola Ride through the Venetian Renaissance 158

First stop, Bellini 158

A shortcut to Mantegna and Giorgione 160

Dürer’s Venice vacations 161

Touring the 16th century with Titian 162

The Venice of Veronese 164

Tintoretto and Renaissance ego 165

La Tintoretta: Marietta Robusti 166

Palladio: The king of classicism 167

Late Gothic: Northern Naturalism 168

Jan van Eyck: The Late Gothic ace 168

Rogier van der Weyden: Front and center 169

Northern Exposure: The Renaissance in the Netherlands and Germany 172

Decoding Bosch 172

Deciphering the dark symbolism of Grünewald 174

Dining with Bruegel the Elder 175

Chapter 13: Art That’ll Stretch Your Neck: Mannerism 177

Detecting the Non-Rules of Mannerism 177

Pontormo: Front and Center 178

Bronzino’s Background Symbols and Scene Layering 179

Parmigianino: He’s Not a Cheese! 180

Contrasting proportions and balance 181

A surreal feel 181

Arcimboldo: À la Carte Art 182

Sofonisba Anguissola (1532–1625): Invading Art History’s Guys’ Club 183

Finding a place in the Spanish court 183

Rubbing elbows with the court painters 184

El Greco: Stretched to the Limit 185

Evolving a unique Mannerist style 185

Drawing inspiration from mysticism 185

How unappreciated was El Greco? 186

Lavinia Fontana: The First Professional Female Painter 187

Applying a rich education and broad network 187

Supplying the missing female storyline 187

Endowing Jesus with more humanity 188

Finding Your Footing in Giulio Romano’s Palazzo Te 189

Architectural surprises outside 190

An inside to die for 190

Chapter 14: When the Renaissance Went Baroque 193

Baroque Origin, Purpose, and Style 194

Annibale Carracci: Heavenly Ceilings 194

Shedding Light on the Subject: Caravaggio and His Followers 195

Elements of Caravaggio style 195

Caravaggio style applied 196

Orazio Gentileschi: Baroque’s gentle side, more or less 197

Shadow and light dramas: Artemisia Gentileschi 197

Elisabetta Sirani and an Art School for Women 199

Sirani’s notable career 199

Portraying brave and capable women 200

The Ecstasy and the Ecstasy: Bernini Sculpture 202

Embracing Baroque Architecture 203

Maderno and the launch of Baroque architecture 203

Bernini: Transforming St Peter’s Basilica 203

Baroque style migrates northward 204

Fischer: Harmonizing Baroque style 204

Dutch and Flemish Realism 205

Rubens: Fleshy, flashy, and holy 206

Rembrandt: Self-portraits and life in the shadows 207

Laughing with Hals 209

Bold Strokes: Judith Leyster 209

Vermeer: Musicians, maids, and girls with pearls 212

French Flourish and Baroque Light Shows 213

Poussin the Perfect 213

Candlelit reverie and Georges de La Tour 213

Versailles: Architecture as propaganda and the Sun King 214

In the Limelight with Caravaggio: The Spanish Golden Age 215

Ribera and Zurbarán: In the shadow of Caravaggio 215

Velázquez: Kings and princesses 216

Chapter 15: Going Loco with Rococo 219

What You Get in Rococo Art 220

Breaking with Baroque: Antoine Watteau 221

Fragonard and Boucher: Lush, Lusty, and Lavish 222

François Boucher 222

Jean-Honoré Fragonard 222

Flying High: Giovanni Battista Tiepolo 223

Rococo Lite: The Movement in England 223

William Hogarth 224

Thomas Gainsborough 224

Sir Joshua Reynolds 226

Part 4: The Industrial Revolution Revs Up Art’s Evolution: 1760–1900 229

Chapter 16: All Roads Lead Back to Rome and Greece: Neoclassical Art 231

When Philosophers and Artists Join Forces 232

The promotion of reason 232

Enlightened views and political progress 232

Angelica Kauffman: The Queen of Neoclassicism 233

Focusing on women and brother- or sisterhood 233

Not everyone loved the depictions 235

Jacques-Louis David: The King of Neoclassicism 235

Grand, formal, and retro 236

Propagandist for all sides 237

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres: The Prince of Neoclassical Portraiture 238

Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun: Portraitist of the Queen and Fashion Setter 239

Illustrating fashion trends 240

Fleeing for her life 241

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard: From Ideal to Real and Royals to Revolutionaries 241

Starting with socially acceptable miniatures 242

Graduating to sizeable self-portraiture 242

Working with the Revolutionaries 243

Canova and Houdon: Greek Grace and Neoclassical Sculpture 243

Antonio Canova: Ace 18th-century sculptor 243

Jean-Antoine Houdon: In living stone 244

Chapter 17: Romanticism: Reaching Within and Acting Out 247

Kissing Isn’t Romantic, but Having a Heart Is 247

Romancing independence 248

Romancing spirituality 248

Romancing the wild 249

Far Out with William Blake and Henry Fuseli: Personal Mythologies 249

Unifying body and soul 249

Drawing on imagination 250

Inside Out: Caspar David Friedrich 251

The Revolutionary French Romantics: Gericault and Delacroix 252

Théodore Gericault 252

Eugène Delacroix 253

Francisco Goya and the Grotesque 255

J. M. W. Turner Sets the Skies on Fire 257

Rebels with a Cause 260

Courbet and Daumier: Painting Peasants and Urban Blight 261

Gustave Courbet 261

Honoré Daumier: Guts and grit 262

The Barbizon School and the Great Outdoors 263

Jean-François Millet: The noble peasants 263

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot: From naked truth to dressed-up reality 264

Rosa Bonheur: From a Horse Fair to Buffalo Bill 265

Portraying the Paris horse fair 266

Gaining world-wide renown 267

Keeping It Real in America 267

Along came Thomas Cole 267

Westward ho! with Albert Bierstadt 269

George Catlin, painter of western Indian tribes 271

Edmonia Lewis 272

Navigating sun, storm, and sea with Winslow Homer 272

Boating through America with Thomas Eakins 273

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood: Medieval Visions and Painting Literature 273

Dante Gabriel Rossetti: Leader of the Pre-Raphaelites 274

Marie Spartali Stillman: From model to artist 275

John Everett Millais and soft-spoken symbolism 276

The Ten: America’s First Art Movement 276

Celebrating the leisure class 277

Creating art for art’s sake 278

Ashcan Artists: Capturing the Grit of Urban Life 278

Presenting the urban underbelly 278

Illustrating the rough life 279

Chapter 19: First Impressions: Impressionism 281

M & M: Manet and Monet 282

Édouard Manet: Breaking the rules 283

Claude Monet: From patches to flecks 284

Pretty Women and Painted Ladies: Renoir and Degas 286

Impressionists and the movement’s midlife crisis 287

Pretty as a picture: Pierre-Auguste Renoir 287

The dancers of Edgar Degas 288

Cassatt, Morisot, and Other Female Impressionists 289

Mary Cassatt 290

Berthe Morisot 291

Eva Gonzalès 292

American Impressionism 293

William Merritt Chase: An Impressionist with Realist ties 293

Frieseke in the Giverny American Art Colony 294

Jane Peterson 295

Chapter 20: Making Their Own Impression: The Post-Impressionists 297

You’ve Got a Point: Pointillism, Georges-Pierre Seurat and Paul Signac 297

Observing the science of color 297

Applying the science of color 298

Red-Light Art: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec 299

Tracking the “Noble Savage”: Paul Gauguin 300

Brittany paintings 301

Tahiti paintings 302

Gauguin’s influence 302

Painting Energy: Vincent van Gogh 303

Trading the ministry for art 303

Expanding artistic energy 303

Painting while confined 304

Love Cast in Stone: Rodin and Claudel 304

Auguste Rodin 305

Camille Claudel 306

The Mask behind the Face: James Ensor 306

The Hills Are Alive with Geometry: Paul Cézanne 308

Art Nouveau: Curves, Swirls, and Asymmetry 309

Art Nouveau: Not a painting style 309

Making functionality pretty 310

Fairy-Tale Fancies and the Sandcastle Cathedral of Barcelona: Antoni Gaudí 310

Part 5: Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Art 313

Chapter 21: From Fauvism to Expressionism 315

Fauvism: Colors Fighting like Animals 315

Henri Matisse 316

André Derain 317

Maurice de Vlaminck 317

German Expressionism: Form Based on Feeling 318

Die Brücke and World War I 318

Der Blaue Reiter 321

Austrian Expressionism: From Dream to Nightmare 324

Gustav Klimt and his languorous ladies 325

Egon Schiele: Turning the self inside out 325

Oskar Kokoschka: Dark dreams and interior storms 326

Chapter 22: Cubist Puzzles and Finding the Fast Lane with the Futurists 329

Cubism: All Views At Once 329

Pablo Picasso 330

Analytic Cubism: Breaking things apart 332

Synthetic Cubism: Gluing things together 332

Fernand Léger: Cubism for the commoner 333

Futurism: Art That Broke the Speed Limit 333

Umberto Boccioni 335

Gino Severini 335

Precisionism: Geometry as Art 336

The Harlem Renaissance and the Jazz Age 338

Chapter 23: Nonobjective Art: Dada, Surrealism, and Abstract Expressionism 343

Suprematism: Kazimir Malevich’s Reinvention of Space 343

The path to Suprematism 344

Reinventing the world in shape and color 344

Constructivism: Showing Off Your Skeleton 345

Tatlin’s Tower 346

A dance between time and space: Naum Gabo 346

Piet Mondrian and the De Stijl Movement 347

Dada Turns the World on Its Head 347

Dada, the ground floor, and Cabaret Voltaire 348

Dada: Influencee and influencer 348

Marcel Duchamp: Nudes, urinals, and hat racks 349

Hans (Jean) Arp: In and out of Dadaland 350

Surrealism and Disjointed Dreams 351

Max Ernst and his alter ego, Loplop 351

Salvador Dalí: Melting clocks, dreamscapes, and ants 352

René Magritte: Help, my head’s on backwards! 354

Dissecting Frida Kahlo 354

Joan Miro 356

My House Is a Machine: Modernist Architecture 357

Frank Lloyd Wright: Bringing the outside in 357

Bauhaus boxes: Walter Gropius 359

Le Corbusier: Machines for living and Notre-Dame du Haut 359

Abstract Expressionism: Fireworks on Canvas 361

Arshile Gorky 361

Jackson Pollock: Flick, fling, drip, splash, swirl — action painting 362

Lee Krasner: Almost patterns 363

Willem de Kooning 364

Chapter 24: Anything-Goes Art: Fab Fifties and Psychedelic Sixties 365

Artsy Cartoons: Pop Art 365

The many faces of Andy Warhol 366

Blam! Comic books on canvas: Roy Lichtenstein 367

Fantastic Realism 368

Ernst Fuchs: The father of the Fantastic Realists 368

Hundertwasser: Organic architecture and art 369

Louise Nevelson: Picking up the Trash and Assemblage 370

Louise Bourgeois: Sexualized sculpture 371

Less-Is-More Art: Rothko, Newman, Stella, Frankenthaler, and Others 372

Color Fields of dreams: Rothko and Newman 372

Helen Frankenthaler 373

Minimalism, more or less 373

Photorealism 374

Richard Estes: Always in focus 374

Clinical close-ups: Chuck Close 375

Helen Hardin: Native American Futurism 375

Performance Art and Installations 376

Fluxus: Intersections of the arts 376

Joseph Beuys: Fanning out from Fluxus 377

Carolee Schneemann: Body art and breaking taboos 378

Chapter 25: Photography: From Science to Art 381

The Birth of Photography 381

Transitioning from Science to Art 382

An early attempt to “artify” photography 383

Focusing on documentary photography 384

Alfred Stieglitz: Reliving the Moment 384

Recognition for photography as high art 385

Picturesque pictures 385

Henri Cartier-Bresson’s uncanny eye 386

From painting to photography 386

Stealth and the “Decisive Moment” 386

Group f/64: Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, and Ansel Adams 387

Dorothea Lange: Depression to Dust Bowl 388

Margaret Bourke-White: From Industrial Beauty to Political Statements 389

Photographing for Fortune 389

Photographing for Life 389

Fast-Forward: The Next Generation 391

Chapter 26: The New World: Postmodern Art 393

From Modern Pyramids to Titanium Twists: Postmodern Architecture 393

Viva Las Vegas! 394

Chestnut Hill: Case in point 394

Philip Johnson and urban furniture 395

The prismatic architecture of I M Pei 395

Deconstructivist architecture of Peter Eisenman, Frank Gehry, and Zaha Hadid 396

Making It or Faking It? Postmodern Photography and Painting 399

Cindy Sherman: Morphing herself 399

Gerhard Richter: Reading between the layers 400

Installation Art and Earth Art 401

Judy Chicago: A dinner table you can’t sit at 401

It’s a wrap: Christo and Jeanne-Claude 402

Robert Smithson and earth art: Can you dig it? 403

Glow-in-the-Dark Bunnies and Living, Genetic Art 404

Part 6: The Part of Tens 407

Chapter 27: Ten Must-See Art Museums 409

The Louvre (Paris) 409

The Uffizi (Florence) 410

The Vatican Museums (Rome) 410

The National Gallery (London) 410

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC) 410

The Prado (Madrid) 411

The National Gallery of Art (D.C.) 411

The Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam) 411

British Museum (London) 412

The Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna) 412

Chapter 28: Ten Great Books by Ten Great Artists 413

On Painting, by Leonardo da Vinci 413

Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, by Giorgio Vasari 413

Complete Poems and Selected Letters of Michelangelo 414

The Journal of Eugène Delacroix 414

Van Gogh’s Letters 414

Rodin on Art, by Paul Gsell 414

Der Blaue Reiter Almanac, edited by Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc 414

Concerning the Spiritual in Art, by Wassily Kandinsky 415

The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait 415

Hundertwasser Architecture: For a More Human Architecture in Harmony with Nature, by Friedensreich Hundertwasser 415

And Others 415

Index 417

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