How did a twenty-six year old Michelangelo create the iconic David statue? Who were the first supporters to propel Frida Kahlo into international stardom? Caravaggio was accused of killing whom?All of these answers and more can be found in Key Moments in Art, wherein author Lee Cheshire describes fifty moments that changed the course of Western art history forever.
“As an introductory book,” says Cheshire, “I wanted to give readers a good overview of the ‘big names’ of art history – artists they will be familiar with, see in museums and those who have had large influences on other artists and the way we see art history today. But I’ve also tried to show them in a different light, to show them as real, often flawed, people shaped by their historical or social contexts, or even just buffeted by the random events that shape all our lives.”
Beginning with Renaissance and continuing all the way to the present day, Cheshire has risen to the challenge of educating readers without making Key Moments in Art feel like a textbook. As a Senior Editor and Copywriter at Tate, though, Cheshire has ample experience in making art accessible to all sorts of audiences, and finds that “good art writing is like any other form of (non-fiction) writing.” Because it relies on “clear thinking,” he says, “if you aren’t clear what you are trying to say – or are trying to bluff that you know more than you do – then it will result in a muddied piece of writing. Often I find that the better a piece of writing is made the more it has been thought through, then it works better for both casual and expert readers. People in the art world don’t enjoy reading meaningless tracts of ‘art speak’ any more than a first timer does. But on the other hand, ‘dumbing down’ insults your readers’ intelligence. It’s about expressing complex ideas with confidence and precision.”