For beginners, art history might seem a daunting subject with complex rules and impenetrable technical language. Even for more seasoned art lovers the question of how to think about art is a perennial riddle. Art Uncovered is the perfect resource for both audiences: an engaging, visual primer for the general reader and educators. Designed like an instruction manual, fifty key artworks from around the world are deconstructed with explanations, diagrams, and close-ups in order to reveal the elements that comprise a masterpiece.
Dating from the earliest times to the present, the artworks under analysis are drawn from many cultures and cover all forms of visual media, including drawing, illustration, photography, prints, and sculpture. Matthew Wilson’s simple approach, using established art historical methods, enables the reader to discover the fundamentals of art history, from considerations of function, historical context, iconography, and artists’ experience to broader issues of identity, including feminism, gender, and postcolonialism. Whether it’s the mask of Tutankhamun or Dorothea Lange’s photograph Migrant Mother, Katsushika Hokusai’s Great Wave or Kara Walker’s Gone, each image is dissected on the page in a no-nonsense style, with explanatory notes detailing artists’ sources of inspiration, associated styles and movements, plus any relevant quotes, related visuals, and other contextual and issue-led information with keywords for handy cross-referencing. The resulting book is a dynamic visual resource that will inspire and spark enjoyment of art in all its forms.
[A] stunner… It reproduces artworks—some famous and some not—and then annotates them. The text tells us about the materials used, constraints under which each piece was produced and differences between how they were originally appreciated and how they are now.
— Star Tribune
Juxtaposing the famous with the lesser known and the Western with the Eastern, Wilson expertly illuminates technical details without losing sight of art's visceral pleasures. Enriched by lush color reproductions on every page, it's an excellent resource for those looking to get the most out of their next trip to the museum.
— Publishers Weekly
Matthew Wilson is an art historian, educator, and writer. He has written for numerous publications and media on art and culture and is an examination specialist in art history. He is the author of Symbols in Art and The Hidden Language of Symbols.