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This groundbreaking study explores the deep connections between modern and premodern art, offering a radical reading that reveals the underlying patterns and ideas traversing centuries of artistic practice. Nagel reconsiders from an innovative double perspective some key issues in the history of art, from iconoclasm and illusionism to the status of painting, installation, and the museum as institution. He examines, among other topics, why the medieval workshop was of such importance to the Bauhaus; how the 4th-century Jerusalem Chapel in Rome was a proto-earthwork akin to the projects of Robert Smithson; and the relationship between medieval relics and Duchamps readymades. Alongside an analysis of 20th-century medievalist theorists such as Brecht, Joyce and Eco, Nagel considers a wide range of celebrated artists. This is a radical new reading of art that will profoundly broaden our understanding of both premodern practices and the art of the 20th and 21st centuries.