For skeptics, art lovers, and the millions of us who visit art galleries every year—and are confused—What Are You Looking At? by former director of London’s Tate Gallery Will Gompertz is a wonderfully lively, accessible narrative history of Modern Art, from Impressionism to the present day.
What is modern art? Who started it? Why do we either love it or loathe it? And why is it such big money? Join BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz on a dazzling tour that will change the way you look at modern art forever. From Monet's water lilies to Van Gogh's sunflowers, from Warhol's soup cans to Hirst's pickled shark, hear the stories behind the masterpieces, meet the artists as they really were, and discover the real point of modern art.
You will learn: not all conceptual art is bollocks; Picasso is king (but Cézanne is better); Pollock is no drip; Dali painted with his moustache; a urinal changed the course of art; why your 5-year-old really couldn't do it. Refreshing, irreverent and always straightforward, What Are You Looking At? cuts through the pretentious art speak and asks all the basic questions that you were too afraid to ask. Your next trip to the art gallery is going to be a little less intimidating and a lot more interesting.
With his offbeat humor, down-to-earth storytelling, and flair for odd details that spark insights, Will Gompertz is the perfect tour guide for modern art. His book doesn’t tell us if a work of art is good; it gives us the knowledge to decide for ourselves.
BBC arts editor and former Tate director Gompertz sees a paradox in the contemporary love affair with modern art: while people increasingly visit museums such as MOMA and the Pompidou, they often do not fully comprehend what they re looking at. Gompertz s aim is to demystify modern art, to provide a basic history of each of its isms, and show how these movements are interconnected. Gompertz s highly lucid, lively, and buoyantly composed history begins with Duchamp s omnipresent influence on the history of modern art and then chronicles movements that led up to and followed Duchamp s Fountain (1917), from pre-Impressionist artists Manet and Courbet to contemporary artists Banksy and Ai Weiwei. Gompertz devotes a chapter each to 20 artistic movements, and while his tone is breezy and conversational, he astutely and often wittily describes the core of every movement and its key artists. The result is an entertaining and elucidating guide to modern art, refreshing in its approach and intentions, that will interest the general reader and art enthusiast. B&w art throughout, 8-page color insert.