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How to Read a Modern Painting

Understanding and Enjoying the Modern Masters

Jon Thompson


The perfect museum companion, which will help you unlock the meaning behind over 200 paintings


The complex themes and characteristics of modern art can intimidate and baffle the casual observer. In this accessible, practical guide, Jon Thompson explores more than 200 works, helping readers to unlock each painting’s meaning. Beginning with the Barbizon school and the Realist movement of the mid-19th century and continuing right up to the 1980s avant-garde, he analyses works by some of the greatest and most popular artists of the modern era, including Bonnard, Van Gogh, Picasso, Pollock, Rauschenberg, Warhol and Basquiat, describing each artist’s use of media and symbolism, and providing useful biographical information.

The perfect museum companion for art lovers everywhere, this book is a vibrant, informative trip through one of art history’s most compelling periods.

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'Liberally illustrated, well-designed and, above all, thoughtful … makes us eager to seek out the originals and discover them for ourselves'
Art Quarterly

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Flexibound PLC (no jacket)

Size: 24.0 x 17.0 cm

Extent: 400 pp

Publication date: 1 February 2007

ISBN: 9780500286432

Contents List

Preface • From Courbet to Warhol • Bibliography • Topographical index Index of names • Photographic acknowledgements

About the Author

Jon Thompson is an artist, writer, curator and teacher. The former head of the fine art department at London University, he recently retired from his post as senior research professor at the University of Middlesex.