How to Look at Modern Art

Philip Yenawine, Author ABRAMS $19.95 (160p) ISBN 978-0-8109-2485-7
This introductory volume supplies a clear, informative overview of the major developments in art from the late 19th century to the present. In the process, Yenawine provides accessible guidelines for deriving meaning from an artwork without knowing any biographical or philosophical data about its creator. Focusing primarily ``on paintings and other two-dimensional art,'' the author breaks the act of observation down into five categories: ``physical properties, subject, illusionary and formal properties, and viewer perspectives,'' giving examples relevant to each category. About the physical properties of Robert Rauschenberg's First Landing Jump, for instance, we learn that the work's tire, plank, tarpaulin and license plate point toward an ``on the road'' theme. Generously illustrated with works by such artists as Giorgio De Chirico, Salvador Dali, Georgia O'Keeffe, Piet Mondrian, Jasper Johns, Cindy Sherman and Eric Fischl, this volume offers art neophytes an engaging entry to the fundamental methods of perceiving. Yenawine is director of education at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. QPB alternate. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1991
Release date: 09/01/1991
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