What are You Looking At?: 150 Years of Modern Art in the Blink of an Eye

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Viking, 2012 - Art movements - 435 pages
What ismodern art? Why do we either love it or loathe it? And why is it worth so much damn money? Join Will Gompertz, the BBC Arts Editor, and probably the world's first art history stand-up comedian, 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- Conceptual art isn't rubbish Picasso is a genius (but CÚzanne might be better) Pollock is no drip Cubism has no cubes A urinal changed the course of art And why your five-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 embarrassed to. After reading this, your next gallery or museum visit is going to be a little less intimidating, and a lot more interesting.

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WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?: The Surprising, Shocking, and Sometimes Strange Story of 150 Years of Modern Art

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A BBC arts editor and authority on modern art guides us on an amiable cruise through the archipelago of personalities, works and movements that have comprised the art world since the mid-19th century ... Read full review

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Q. How did you like the book?
A. It was packed with information. There was a helpful timeline in the inside cover, front and back, which I intend to study. I read the book for this very reason, to
get a better sense of the generational changes in art over the last 150 years.
Q. Did the book serve you for that purpose?
A. It did. Will knows a lot about modern art. He has been an art museum curator.
Q. Any complaints?
A. Of course, Will could not cover all artists, but he seems to concentrate on British artists of today. This is the end of the book. I was surprised, and disappointed, that Chris Burden was not even mentioned.
Q. Who is Chris Burden?
A. He's a performance artist based in Southern California, used to teach at UCLA. He did some stunning work, I thought, when he was young, but Will says nothing about him. Also, I think Will himself is just a little too favorable to artists in general. Yes, he sometimes mentions that others may feel differently, feel like some works passed off as art are just frauds, but as always, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. He beholds it, I don't, not that often.
Q. But he works in the field of art. You wouldn't know an Impressionist from an oral hygienist.
A. That's true. I know a little more now, but I'm still not that interested in this type of art. It's too elitist for me. I think I'll stick with the Sunday funnies.
Q. That's art, too, you know. I think they call it low-brow art.
A. Okay, that's for me. But thanks, Will, for sharing with us yahoos some of your vast knowledge.

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About the author (2012)

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 by "Creativity" magazine, he lives in Oxford.

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