Books

Quick Reads: "What Are You Looking At?" by Will Gompertz

| Fri Nov. 9, 2012 4:03 AM PST

What Are You Looking At?: The Surprising, Shocking, and Sometimes Strange Story of 150 Years of Modern Art

By Will Gompertz

DUTTON

If you've ever wandered into a contemporary art gallery with hope and left with a headache, BBC arts editor Will Gompertz may be your savior. His funny, straight-talking guide to the past 150 years of modernism contextualizes lofty art-speak—neo-plasticism?—using colorful anecdotes, Monty Python and Spice Girls references, and a master's grasp of history. He's not afraid to call bollocks on the art world, either. From Marcel Duchamp's famed urinal to Damien Hirst's dead shark, this book is an engaging tour of art's most radical innovations.

This review originally appeared in our November/December issue of Mother Jones.

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