The Hidden Language of Symbols covers a wide-ranging selection of visual culture and art under one unified theme: symbols. Often not immediately apparent, our day-to-day lives abound with symbols of various kinds, from national emblems to emojis, allegories to logos, all of which have a fascinating story.
Organized across four all-encompassing themes—power, faith, hope, and uncertainty—this stimulating illustrated account of forty-eight key symbols from global art history is aimed at museum-goers, armchair art sleuths, or anyone who wants to understand the history of their visual environment from an unusual and creative angle. Drawing on artistic examples from the imaginary, natural, physical, and religious worlds, from dragons to eagles, butterflies to labyrinths, and rainbows to wheels, author and art historian Matthew Wilson discusses the lives of these different types of symbols. Analyzing their development, why they evolved, and the various ways they have been interpreted, Wilson also explains in what way symbols are markers of identity, that is, how they gain the power to unite and divide societies. Looking at how they have shaped the world beyond the museum, Wilson reveals their impact on the appearance of our cities, the language of advertising, and even the design of corporate logos.
Matthew Wilson is an art historian, educator, and writer. He has written for numerous publications and media on art and culture. His latest book, Symbols in Art in the Art Essentials series, was described as “masterly” by Christopher Lloyd.