Learning to Look at Paintings: 2nd Edition (Paperback) book cover

Learning to Look at Paintings

2nd Edition

By Mary Acton


304 pages

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Paperback: 9780415435185
pub: 2008-09-30
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Hardback: 9780415435178
pub: 2008-10-01
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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.


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

Table of Contents

Introduction to the Second Edition List of Figures List of Plates Preface Acknowledgements Introduction 1. Composition 2. Space 3. Form 4. Tone 5. Colour 6. Subject Matter 7. Drawing and its Purposes 8. Looking at Prints. Conclusion: The Use of Comparison as an Aid to Looking. Appendix 1: Some Questions to Ask Yourself When Standing in Front of a Painting Appendix 2: Glossary of Art Terms. References and Further Reading. Index

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)

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / Criticism & Theory
ART / History / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies