Book Review: How to Read a Modern Painting: Lessons from the Modern Masters

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Collected in this 400-page paperback edition is an introduction to selected paintings from 1855 to 1986 around the modern art era.

This book is more of an introduction than a technical guide on how to read paintings. The paintings are arrange chronologically and two pages are devoted to a main painting. There's an artist profile, analysis of the painting and two or three smaller examples from the artist.

I like the variety of paintings included. It's insightful to study the paintings and the creative process of the artists.

There are of course many well known artists whose works are included, namely Gustave Courbet, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Georges Seurat, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Paul Cezanne, Gustav Klimt, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Winslow Homer, Piet Mondriann, Joan Miro, Salvador Dali, Jackson Pollock, David Hockney, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Andy Warhol and more.

As with modern art, there will be certain pieces that make you go "I can paint that too". Those would be the paintings with big blocks of colours or geometric patterns. Those really make you wonder if they are considered art.

The analysis is more on the thought process and the story in the painting rather than on techniques. More could definitely be written about the paintings. Judging by the length of the text and the only two pages devoted to each painting, this book is probably meant for casual art enthusiasts.

For the price of the book, it's a worthwhile purchase. It's insightful and introduces many artists, not just the well known ones.

If you're interested in this sort of books on art analysis, also check out Art in Detail: 100 Masterpieces which features art from pre-1500 to the post-1900 period. That book has deeper analysis as it has more pages devoted to fewer paintings.

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This review copy is provided by book seller and distributor APD Singapore (website | facebook). You can get the book from them and major bookstores in Southeast Asia.

How to Read a Modern Painting: Lessons from the Modern Masters is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | AU | JP | CN) and Book Depository

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This review copy is provided by book seller and distributor APD Singapore (website | facebook). You can get the book from them and major bookstores in Southeast Asia.

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