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

Jan 29, 2013

What Are You Looking At? is an unusual art history book dealing only with art of the last century, with the focus on the 1980s, “the age when wealth and vanity corrupted Western civilization,” to a little leaner present.  The inside book covers contain a detailed map, which resembles the London tube map, of all obscure genres and movements, some of them little known.  The author’s approachable writing shows a correlation between various art movements and the historical and cultural movements happening simultaneously. The book describes the dynamics of marketing and selling in primary and secondary art markets. It tells the strategies and marketing innovation brought by Charles Saatchi. Gompertz also tries to decipher how and why art as an investment increases for both living and dead artists. Especially interesting is the writing on art from 1988 to today, as art critics are often careful to be the first to name a new or recent art movement. Also fascinating is the story of the rise to fame of Damien Hirst, whose art caused a sensation and who is considered “the richest artist in the world.” This book is intended for anyone who appreciates contemporary art, who wonders about the meaning of some modern and obscure pieces of art, and who also wants to know why the artist made them and how they relate to our society.  After all, it never hurts to expand one’s mind.

Written by Magda B.