Great works of art cannot be fully understood in a single encounter: to get the most out of modern art, it pays to revisit and reconsider, to reflect and to scrutinize in detail. It is also helpful to understand a work’s context: what has gone before, what it may be reacting against or extending, how it embraces new technologies, and how it relates to contemporary thinking on such subjects as politics, sexuality, identity and the role of the artist.
Modern Art in Detail: 75 Masterpieces spotlights the finer points that even those in the know may miss, casting light upon minutiae that a quick glance will almost certainly fail to reveal. Expert commentary reveals the subtle internal details and technical tricks employed by the artist to achieve particular effects. The book also looks at the themes and external and personal factors influencing the creation of an artwork – everything from global political events, to groundbreaking movements such as Cubism, Abstract Expressionism and Pop, and even scientific and mathematical theories, which are often of great relevance. The book examines 75 works of modern art, from Vincent van Gogh’s The Church at Auvers-sur-Oise, through Marcel Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even and Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for a Crucifixion, to Jeff Koons’s Triple Elvis and Theaster Gates’s Face Over Time.
Approaching each work as part of a tradition that links the oldest work of art to the most recent, it deftly charts the shift from the supremacy of artistic technique to the more recent dominance of the idea behind the artwork itself, as well as being an enlightening, entertaining and accessible guide to a wide range of modern art.