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.
About Will Gompertz
WILL GOMPERTZ was a director at the Tate in London for seven years and is now the BBC arts editor, where he writes, presents, and produces programs about the arts. In the summer of 2009, he wrote and performed a one-man show at the Edinburgh Fringe called Double Art History, a light-hearted lecture on the story of modern art. Recently named one of the world’s top fifty creative thinkers byCreativity magazine, he lives in Oxford.
Gompertz is not so much interested in criticism as in exposition and advocacy. Scarcely a breath of complaint or negative noise issues from his lips throughout this brisk, informed tour, and he rarely stumbles over a fact—though he does identify Poe as a novelist, a description that would have pleased the author of a single novel. Gompertz begins with the question that occurs to many laypeople when they view a modern work: “Is it art?” And his answer, throughout, is a resounding “Yes!” (In his generous definition, it’s art if the artist says it is.) The author frequently begins chapters with little narratives—e.g., Duchamp shopping for a urinal he will later display as Fountain. But there’s not a lot of time for narratives, for the author has many names and movements and works to survey. Soon he is zipping along, whisking us through the impressionists, postimpressionism, cubism, futurism and into the current age, which, he says, has not yet earned any agreed-upon name—though it is, as he notes, an age of a lively market with skyrocketing prices and jet-setting artists. Gompertz scolds the current crop for failing to have a sharper political edge. A few names earn a little more space than others: Cézanne, Picasso, Duchamp, Man Ray, Pollock, de Kooning and Warhol are among those who receive more than a paragraph or so. – Kirkus Reviews
BBC Arts Editor Allays Your Art Fears In ‘Looking’
NPR Book Review – October 25, 2012 (Excerpt)
Before his 2010 installation for the Tate Modern’s Unilever Series, in which the former London power station-turned-art museum annually commissions a work for its cavernous Turbine Hall, Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei said, “I try not to see art as a secret code.” He then filled the hall with 100 million handmade porcelain sunflower seeds.
At least he wasn’t trying to be cryptic.
BBC arts editor and former Tate Gallery director Will Gompertz feels our pain. In his wonderfully plainspoken, intelligent new book What Are You Looking At?: The Surprising Shocking, and Sometimes Strange Story of 150 Years of Modern Art, Gompertz says that art today “puts us all at risk of looking like suckers.” We’re afraid we’ll end up “believing in something that isn’t there” or “dismissing a revelatory work of art because we don’t have the courage to believe.”
What Are You Looking At? mitigates that risk. It’s an insightful love letter to modern art and an irreverent rejection of the notion that its pleasures are reserved for a chosen few. “As with most seemingly impenetrable subjects, art is like a game,” the author writes, “all you really need to know is the basic rules and regulations for the once baffling to start making some sense.” [Read the full article...]
QUEEN OF MISFORTUNE A Lady Jane Grey Novel by Peter Carroll
A Love Story of Shakespearean Dimension!
Queen Of Misfortune is the fictional story of Lady Jane Grey as told by her beloved tutor, John Aylmer. At the time of her execution a stranger is recorded to have assisted her when, blind folded, she lost her way upon the scaffold. Was it the same strange who was also recorded to have visited her when she was imprisoned in the Tower? Little is known of this unfortunate girl who was beheaded for treason in the 16th Century. She was only 16. She is omitted from the list of monarchs but was actually queen for nine days. Author Peter Carroll, in his novel, follows John Aylmer’s close relationship with Jane as her tutor and later, as she grows up, her lover. [More...]
We are the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud. The Washington Post
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