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Learning to Look at Paintings [Paperback]

Mary Acton
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
RRP: £18.99
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Book Description

30 Sep 2008

Learning to Look at Paintings is an accessible guide to the study and appraisal of paintings, drawings and prints. Mary Acton shows how you can develop visual, analytical and historical skills in learning to look at and understand an image by analysing how it works, what its pictorial elements are and how they relate to each other.

This fully revised and updated new edition is illustrated with over 100 images by a wide range of Western European and American artists, ranging from Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Botticelli to Picasso, Matisse and Rothko, and now includes modern and contemporary artists such as Georgia O'Keeffe, Anselm Kiefer, Tacita Dean and Marlene Dumas. In addition, Mary Acton presents new examples highlighting the survival and revival of painting in recent years.

A new introduction situates the book in the wider context of recent changes in the approach to Art History. A glossary of critical and technical terms used in the language of Art History is also included, with an updated but still selective reading list.

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Learning to Look at Paintings + Learning to Look at Modern Art + A World History of Art
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (30 Sep 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415435188
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415435185
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.7 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 56,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description


'Each of the six chapters has a succint introduction and a short but useful summary... Recommended.' – CHOICE

About the Author

Mary Acton was Course Director of the Undergraduate Diploma and Advanced Diploma in the History of Art at Continuing Education, University of Oxford. She continues to teach at Oxford University and works as a freelance lecturer, and Learning to Look at Paintings is based on her experience over many years as an art historian and teacher. She is the author of Learning to look at Modern Art (2004)

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First Sentence
Composition is the artist's method of organising a subject, of deciding what to put in and what to leave out in order to make an effective picture. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A terse introduction to the stated subject 24 Dec 2005
My interest in this book derived from my interest in photography, and the conviction that study of paintings can teach us about photography as well. Elements that make a painting interesting, beautiful, moving, important, I believe can mostly do the same to a photograph.
I found in the book an exposure of those elements, provided with a terse, clear language, illustrated with reference to works therein reproduced. There is some jargon, made accessible, but not the show-off of complicated language that I found in other writings about art.
I believe this book can help look at paintings and appreciate them, more than to speak about them.
I also found it gives a fresh alternative to the usual approach of looking at art in a chronological way, going by century, slicing instead the same subject in a different way.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
This book is a very good introduction to art history (from the XVth to the XXth century) and helps the layman in the sometimes arduous interpretation of many of the greatest masterpieces of painting that grace our museums.

It is divided into 8 chapters (composition, space, form, tone, colour, subject matter, drawing and prints), each of them picking out representative works and analysing them in a short and vivid text. The pedagogical aim is obvious and the author actually gives the reader a complete guideline to understanding the works of art. The book ends with a very useful glossary of art and technical terms.

One shortcoming though: the quality of the reproductions, most of them in black and white, leaves a lot to be desired.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A useful book for the beginner with an interest in this subject. Black and white and colour pictures assist with understanding the art works. A good book for those who would like to get a little more out of their visits to galleries and museums.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction 9 Jun 2011
By Pete H
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent introduction to the analysis & interpretation of art in a readable format with a useful number of illustrations. If you need more, and all in colour, you'd need to find a bigger book or three.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reference book. 18 Dec 2012
By dkayj
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I love visiting art exhibitions and this is the perfect reference book. Good information presented in a very readable style.
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