In lucid detail that will be easily comprehended by middle- grade children and novices of all ages, a survey of art's styles, techniques, and symbols through the ages; the social, economic, and philosophical reasons underlying them; and how viewers' experiences affect their response to art. Davidson (a gallery owner and former director of Cambridge University Press's educational publishing division) begins with a brisk discussion of this relationship, bringing in diagrams (including one viewer's eye movements over a painting), a Quentin Blake illustration, and numerous other works of art to illuminate her points. Covering such subjects as ""What's Art For?"", storytelling in art, the revelations of ""Body Language,"" the human yen to decorate, and more, she combines an intelligent, abundantly informed text with a wealth of well chosen illustrations (including several by children); lengthy captions capably supplement the text. (In fact, Davidson's well-organized, logical sequence is an excellent demonstration of how the Eyewitness series' technique of scattershot, loosely related facts frequently falls short.) The color reproduction, occasionally, seems amiss, and there is a lamentable lack of full citations, although the author often mentions dimensions, owners, etc. Nonetheless, a splendidly inviting, comprehensive, and rewarding introduction. Brief but select list for ""Further Reading""; index.