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Seven Keys to Modern Art

Simon Morley


A unique guide to making sense of modern and contemporary art through seven different approaches, focusing on 20 major artworks from around the world

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In a world where artists place a premium on self-expression and innovation, obtuse intellectualism and outrage for outrage’s sake, this guide aims to decipher the bizarre and often intimidating phenomenon of ‘modern art’. Ranging across the widest variety of media, styles, subjects and intentions, Simon Morley offers seven different lenses through which to interpret twenty works of art, reflecting the impact of globalism and neuroscience. Without recourse to inflexible ‘readings’, he invites the reader to unlock the meanings of some of the world’s most intriguing and contested art.


'Morley marshals ways of seeing and understanding that will give both the lay reader and the aficionado the tools for a deeper engagement with art and ideas'
Iwona Blazwick, Director, Whitechapel Gallery

Product Information

Book Details

Format: PLC (no jacket)

Size: 21.0 x 14.0 cm

Extent: 256 pp

Illustrations: 40

Publication date: 7 February 2019

ISBN: 9780500021620

Contents List

Contents The Red Studio, Henri Matisse (1869–1954) • Bottle of Vieux Marc, Glass, a Guitar and Newspaper, 1913, Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) • Black Square, Kazimir Malevich (1878–1935) • Fountain, Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968) • The Empty Mask, René Magritte (1898–1967) • New York Movie Theater, Edward Hopper (1882–1967) • Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair, Frida Kahlo (1907–1954) • Head VI, Francis Bacon (1909–1992) • Black on Maroon, Mark Rothko (1903–1970) • Big Electric Chair, Andy Warhol (1928–1987) • Infinity Mirror Room – Phalli’s Field, Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) • The Pack, Joseph Beuys (1921–1986) • Spiral Jetty, Robert Smithson (1938–1973) • Osiris and Isis, Anselm Kiefer (b. 1945) • Untitled (I shop therefore I am), Barbara Kruger (b. 1945) • A Book from the Sky, Xu Bing (b. 1955) • The Messenger, Bill Viola (b. 1951) • Maman, Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010) • Correspondence, Lee Ufan (b. 1936) • Untitled, Doris Salcedo (b. 1958)

About the Author

Simon Morley is a visual artist and Assistant Professor in the College of Arts, Dankook University, Republic of Korea. He has lectured at such museums as Tate, The National Gallery, Hayward Gallery, Serpentine Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery and Camden Arts Centre, and has contributed to numerous publications including Third Text, World Art, the TLS, The Burlington Magazine, Art Monthly, The Art Newspaper, Contemporary Art and the Independent on Sunday.