Cover image for What is painting? : representation and modern art.
What is painting? : representation and modern art.
Bell, Julian.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London : Thames & Hudson, 1999.
Physical Description:
256 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 21 cm
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ND1150 .B45 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



A study and explanation of modern art and the nature of painting

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This is an extraordinarily fine book on the nature of painting. Bell, a practicing painter himself, conducts an informed and erudite account not only of the technical and painterly aspects of his art, but of its cultural and historical context as well. The primary focus is on the idea of representation, traced from its naturalistic origins in mimesis, through the development of portraiture and landscape, to the decline of history painting and the rise of photography. The beginnings of modernism are described, where color and feeling were freed from form and self-expression emerged as the dominant force, with the person producing the works assuming more importance than the objects represented. Bell offers insight into the rise and fall of abstraction, the emergence of postmodernism, and the part played by structuralism and deconstructionism in this transition. His analysis of how the term "art" functions in today's marketplace and the distinction between expression and communication will be helpful to anyone with a critical interest in the arts. Bell displays a masterful grasp of language and a familiarity with the literature that he effortlessly conveys to the reader. A welcome addition to any collection. General readers; upper-division undergraduates through professionals. R. M. Davis; Albion College