Seven Keys to Modern Art


A unique guide to making sense of modern and contemporary art through seven different approaches, focusing on twenty major artworks from around the world.


ISBN: 9780500021620 Category:

Simon Morley


As artists push further and further beyond their, and our, comfort zones, this book aims to help decipher the bizarre and often intimidating aspects of modern and contemporary art by exploring twenty works of art in terms of seven ‘keys’. History, biography, aesthetics, experience, theory, criticism and the market represent conventional ‘modes of existence’ for every artwork discussed, but in a fascinating variety of ways. Simon Morley shows how twenty well-known but little-understood works of art can serve as useful springboards not only for understanding each other, but also for appreciating works by the same artists, and from the wider world of art in general.

Rather than proceeding on the basis of familiar art ‘movements’ or ‘-isms’, Morley focuses on just twenty individual works of art, from Matisse’s The Red Studio to Doris Salcedo’s Untitled. Representing a variety of media, styles, subjects and intentions, being the creations of men and women of different periods and places, coming from disparate social and ethnic backgrounds, these works show a rich diversity in modern and contemporary art.

Additional information

Weight 546 g
Dimensions 14.7 x 21.4 cm
Publisher name Thames and Hudson Ltd
Publication date 7 February 2019
Number of pages 256
Format Hardback
Dimensions 14.7 x 21.4 cm
Weight 546 g


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Dr Simon Morley is an assistant professor at Dankook University, South Korea, in the School of Fine Art. He is the author of Writing on the Wall: Word and Image in Modern Art (2003), editor of The Sublime: Documents in Contemporary Art (2010) and co-author of The Winchester Guide to Keywords and Concepts for International Students in Art, Media and Design (2014). He is also a practicing artist.