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.
'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