Reading Pictures

Alberto Manguel

NON FICTION. RANDOM HOUSE, 2000. 352 PAGES.

"After all, every picture is a history of love and hate when read from the appropriate angle", wrote Leopoldo Salas-Nicanor in 1731, and in this marvellously illuminating book Alberto Manguel sets out to find those histories explicitly or secretly woven into all kinds of works of art, drawing us -"common viewers" like himself- into the storied world of paintings, buildings and sculptures, picture postcards and even museums. 

The language in which we speak about art has become steadily more abstruse, though for thousands of years this was not the case. Today, we live in a kaleidoscopic new world of images: Is there a vocabulary we can learn in order to read these images? Is there something we can do so as not to remain passive when we flip through an illustrated book or wander through a gallery, or are there ways in which we can "read" the stories within paintings, monuments, buildings and sculptures? We say "every picture tells a story" - but does it?

Taking a handful of extraordinary imagesphotographed, painted, built, sculpted- Alberto Manguel explores, with delight and erudition, how each one attempts to tell a story that we, the viewer, must decipher or invent. 

Reading pictures is not about art history or theory -but it could inform the way we "read" this visual world, and help open our eyes and minds to its astonishing riches. 

Spanish ALIANZA | Chinese THE COMMERCIAL PRESS | Czech HOST | English KNOPF | French BABEL / ACTES SUD |  Japanese HAKUSUISHA | Korean SEJONG BOOKS 

 

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