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How to Understand a Painting: Decoding Symbols in Art

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Overview

Choosing ten symbols from the natural world (the sun, the shell, the bird) and ten man-made (the window, the book, the mirror), Fran?oise Barbe-Gall illuminates our understanding of how these have been used and developed in art from the fifteenth to the twenty-first century, with sixty-eight wonderfully vivid examples.
Painting has always made abundant use of forms and objects to convey abstract ideas: love, hope for eternal life, loyalty or betrayal. These recurring motifs, ...

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Overview

Choosing ten symbols from the natural world (the sun, the shell, the bird) and ten man-made (the window, the book, the mirror), Fran├žoise Barbe-Gall illuminates our understanding of how these have been used and developed in art from the fifteenth to the twenty-first century, with sixty-eight wonderfully vivid examples.
Painting has always made abundant use of forms and objects to convey abstract ideas: love, hope for eternal life, loyalty or betrayal. These recurring motifs, which were familiar to many in the past, have mostly become mysterious to the audiences of today. Today's art-lover will have to learn to look out for all the small things that can so easily seem like unimportant details, or simply decoration. But a flower, a reflection in a mirror or a bird in flight nearly always mean more than they first appear to.
From Holbein's apple of knowledge to the black cat at the foot of Manet's Olympia, from Magritte's mysterious candles to Georgia O'Keeffe's flowers, this book shows how each work makes use of the language of symbols in an original and more meaningful way.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780711232136
  • Publisher: Lincoln, Frances Limited
  • Publication date: 7/26/2011
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 803,260
  • Product dimensions: 6.70 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Francoise Barbe-Gall studied history of art at the Sorbonne and also at the Ecole du Louvre, where she now teaches. She also directs an association called CORETA (Comment Regarder un Tableau), for whom she gives many lectures. She is regularly called upon to participate in management workshops, where her experience of analysing images in relation to publicity and marketing is called upon. Editions de l'Agenda de L'Empresa have published a collection of her articles, and she is the author of several articles on the work of the sculptor Tom Carr. She is the author of How to Talk to Children about Art and How to Understand a Painting, both published in English by Frances Lincoln.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 25, 2012

    Excellent!

    "How to understand a painting" Is an excellent review of the codes used in painting through the centuries by many cultures. After reading it one will have a different way to look at a painting. It is a great book to have on your personal library if you are an artist.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011

    Eye-Opening

    Insightful and instructive. Anyone who enjoys looking at paintings in museums will appreciate learning the sometimes subtle messages artists through the centuries have slyly inserted into their works.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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