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A New Way of Seeing

The History of Art in 57 Works

Kelly Grovier

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A new way of appreciating art that puts the artwork front and centre, brought to us by one of the freshest and most exciting new voices in cultural criticism

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What makes great art great? Why do some works pulse in the imagination generation after generation, century after century? From Botticelli’s Birth of Venus to Picasso’s Guernica, some paintings and sculptures have become so famous, so much a part of who we are, we no longer really look at them. We take their greatness for granted; our eyes have become near-obsolete. We need a new way of seeing.

Unsatisfied with traditional, hand-me-down interpretations of these masterpieces interested only in learning about art, and not from it, Kelly Grovier combed the surface of revered works from the Terracotta Army of the First Qin Emperor to Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits. What did he find? The key to their enduring power to move and delight us. He discovered that every truly great work is hardwired with an underappreciated detail, a flourish of strangeness, that ignites it from deep inside.

A New Way of Seeing casts fresh light on some of the most famous works in the history of art by daring to isolate in each a single, often overlooked detail that is a key to the work’s greatness. Kelly Grovier, one of the most exciting new voices in cultural criticism, offers illuminating analysis of enduring masterpieces, frequently presenting them alongside comparative works, encouraging us to look deeply in order to perceive the richness and strangeness of the ‘eye-hook’ that offers a clue to a work’s truest meaning.

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'Finally, a book that asks, with a restless and sensitive eye, what it is that makes masterpieces sing across the centuries. A highly enjoyable history of art that is also a fascinating meditation on excellence'
Jonathan Jones, art critic

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 27.0 x 22.6 cm

Extent: 256 pp

Publication date: 15 November 2018

ISBN: 9780500239636

Contents List

Ashurbanipal Hunting Lions (c. 645-635 bce)
Ishtar Gate (c. 575 bc)
Parthenon Sculptures (c. 444 bc)
Terracotta Army of the First Qin Emperor (c. 210 bc)
Murals, Villa of the Mysteries (c60-50 bc)
Laocoön and His Sons (c.27 bc and 68 ad)
Apollodorus of Damascus (?): Trajan’s Column (113 ce)
The Book of Kells (c. ad 800)
Travellers among Mountains and Streams (c1000), Fan Kuan
Bayeux Tapestry (c. 1077 or after), likely the work of women embroiderers
Universal Man (1165), Hildegard of Bingen
The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise (c. 1427), Masaccio
Ghent Altarpiece (1430-32), Jan van Eyck
The Descent from the Cross (1436), Rogier Van der Weyden
The Annunciation (c. 1438-47), Fra Angelico
The Lamentation over the Dead Christ (c.1480), Andrea Mantegna
The Birth of Venus (c.1480s), Sandro Botticelli
The Mona Lisa (c.1503-6), Leonardo da Vinci
The Garden of Earthly Delights (1505-1510), Hieronymous Bosch
Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes (1508-1512), Michelangelo
The School of Athens (1510-1511), Raphael
The Isenheim Altarpiece (1509-1515), Matthias Grünewald
Bacchus and Ariadne (c.1525), Titian
Self-portrait (1548), Catharina van Hemessen
Crucifixion (1565-87), Tintoretto
The Supper at Emmaus (1601), Caravaggio
The Ecstasy of St Teresa, Cornaro Chapel (1647-52), Gian Lorenzo Bernini
Las Meninas (1656), Diego Velázquez
Girl with a Pearl Earring (c. 1665), Johannes Vermeer
Self-Portrait with Two Circles (c 1665-9), Rembrandt Van Rijn
Experiment on a Bird in an Air Pump (1768), Joseph Wright of Derby
The Nightmare (1781), Henry Fuseli
The Third of May 1808 (1814), Francisco Goya
The Hay Wain (1821), John Constable
Rain, Steam and Speed - The Great Western Railway (exhibited 1844), JMW Turner
Whistler’s Mother (1871), James Abbott McNeill Whistler
The Thinker (1880-1904), Auguste Rodin
A Bar at The Folies-Bergère (1882), Edouard Manet
Bathers at Asnieres (1884), Georges Seurat
The Scream (1893), Edvard Munch
Mont Sainte-Victoire from Les Lauves (1904-1906), Paul Cézanne
Primordial Chaos (1906), Hilma af Klint
The Kiss (1907), Gustav Klimt
The Dance (1909), Henri Matisse
Nymphéas (1914-1926), Claude Monet
Fountain (1917), Marcel Duchamp
American Gothic (1930), Grant Wood
The Persistence of Memory (1931), Salvador Dalí
Guernica (1937), Pablo Picasso
Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Humming-bird (1940), Frida Khalo
One: Number 31 (1950), Jackson Pollock
Study after Velasquez’s portrait of Pope Innocent X (1953), Francis Bacon
Brillo Boxes (1964), Andy Warhol
The Rothko Chapel (paintings 1965-66; chapel opened 1971), Mark Rothko
Betty (1977), Gerhard Richter
Backs and Fronts (1981), Sean Scully
Maman (1999), Louise Bourgeois

About the Author

Kelly Grovier is a feature writer for BBC Culture and the author of several acclaimed studies of art, including 100 Works of Art That Will Define Our Age, Art Since 1989 and A New Way of Seeing: The History of Art in 57 Works, all published by Thames & Hudson. His writings have appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, The Independent, the Sunday Times, the Observer, the RA Magazine and Wired magazine. His history of London's Newgate Prison, The Gaol, was a BBC Radio 4 ‘Book of the Week’. He is co-founder of the scholarly journal European Romantic Review.

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