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Past. Present. Future.



October 2023


"[A] stunner… It reproduces artworks—some famous and some not—and then annotates them. The text tells us about the materials used, constraints under which each piece was produced and differences between how they were originally appreciated and how they are now."

Star Tribune

"Juxtaposing the famous with the lesser known and the Western with the Eastern, Wilson expertly illuminates technical details without losing sight of art's visceral pleasures. Enriched by lush color reproductions on every page, it's an excellent resource for those looking to get the most out of their next trip to the museum."

Publishers Weekly

"An excellent guide for further understanding art in general but also for deepening your knowledge."

Samuel Emmott, Waterstones bookseller review

"Wilson looks at the truly fine points, leaving readers astonished that they missed these details before ... [a] masterful mix of analytical precision and perceptive commentary."

Ed Voves, Free Library of Philadelphia

For beginners, art history might seem a daunting subject with complex rules and impenetrable technical language. Even for more seasoned art lovers the question of how to think about art is a perennial riddle. Art Uncovered is the perfect resource for both audiences: an engaging, visual primer for the general reader and educators. Designed like an instruction manual, fifty key artworks from around the world are deconstructed with explanations, diagrams, and close-ups in order to reveal the elements that comprise a masterpiece.

Dating from the earliest times to the present, the artworks under analysis are drawn from many cultures and cover all forms of visual media, including drawing, illustration, photography, prints, and sculpture. Matthew Wilson's simple approach, using established art historical methods, enables the reader to discover the fundamentals of art history, from considerations of function, historical context, iconography, and artists' experience to broader issues of identity, including feminism, gender, and postcolonialism. Whether it's the mask of Tutankhamun or Dorothea Lange's photograph Migrant Mother, Katsushika Hokusai's Great Wave or Kara Walker's Gone, each image is dissected on the page in a no-nonsense style, with explanatory notes detailing artists' sources of inspiration, associated styles and movements, plus any relevant quotes, related visuals, and other contextual and issue-led information with keywords for handy cross-referencing. The resulting book is a dynamic visual resource that will inspire and spark enjoyment of art in all its forms.



September 2022


"With an immensely stimulating amount of insight and verve, Matthew Wilson makes us appreciate just how rich in symbolic meanings the history of art turns out to be."

Richard Cork

"Lavishly assembled ... the signs are everywhere with this book as a guide"


"A valuable resource for anyone intrigued by the use of symbols in worldwide art history"

The Arts Society Magazine

"The fateful journey of the swastika from Ice Age carving to Nazi emblem merits a book in itself. Reading symbols in art, says Wilson, our brains are 'performing sophisticated acrobatics': regard this book as warm-up."

Laura Gascoigne, RA Magazine

The Hidden Language of Symbols covers a wide-ranging selection of visual culture and art under one unified theme: symbols. Often not immediately apparent, our day-to-day lives abound with symbols of various kinds, from national emblems to emojis, allegories to logos, all of which have a fascinating story.

Organized across four all-encompassing themes—power, faith, hope, and uncertainty—this stimulating illustrated account of forty-eight key symbols from global art history is aimed at museum-goers, armchair art sleuths, or anyone who wants to understand the history of their visual environment from an unusual and creative angle. Drawing on artistic examples from the imaginary, natural, physical, and religious worlds, from dragons to eagles, butterflies to labyrinths, and rainbows to wheels, author and art historian Matthew Wilson discusses the lives of these different types of symbols. Analyzing their development, why they evolved, and the various ways they have been interpreted, Wilson also explains in what way symbols are markers of identity, that is, how they gain the power to unite and divide societies. Looking at how they have shaped the world beyond the museum, Wilson reveals their impact on the appearance of our cities, the language of advertising, and even the design of corporate logos.

Publisher: Thames & Hudson Ltd 
ISBN: 9780500025291 
Number of pages: 272 
Dimensions: 246 x 186 mm



September 2020

'Masterly … the perfect introduction to a subject that can only heighten the general appreciation of art'
Christopher Lloyd, former Surveyor of The Queen’s Pictures

Iconography, the study of symbols - be they animals, artefacts, plants, shapes or gestures - is an essential element of art history.
This guide unravels over fifty of the most common and intriguing visual symbols from across the globe from 2300 BCE to the present day. While symbols cross dialects and national boundaries, their meanings can vary and are often culturally specific. The snake, an object of fascination and mysticism in Aztec culture, usually represents sin in the west. Yinka Shonibare's Last Supper (2013) plays on the grapevine's historic associations to satiric and startling effect. 

Matt Wilson explores symbolism's subtle implications and overt and covert meanings, providing an indispensable tool for interpretation. A reference section includes suggestions for further reading and a glossary of art and historical terms.

Publisher: Thames & Hudson Ltd 
ISBN: 9780500295748 
Number of pages: 176 
Weight: 400 g 
Dimensions: 216 x 138 mm

Books: Work
Books: Image
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