The Hidden Language of Symbols


This book is not yet published, but will be available from November 2022.

ISBN: 9780500025291 Category:

Matthew Wilson


A stimulating narrative and reference resource that guides the reader through the most significant symbols from worldwide art history.

The Hidden Language of Symbols covers a wide-ranging selection of visual culture 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 exert a strong hold in the image-saturated, globalized world of the 21st century and 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 gallery-goers, armchair art sleuths or anyone who wants to understand the history of their visual environment from an unusual and creative angle. Drawing on 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 different types of symbols from their creation, their development and why they evolved, to the various ways they have been interpreted. He also explains in what way symbols are markers of identity that have the power to unite and divide societies and looks at how they have shaped the world beyond the gallery, revealing their impact on the appearance of our cities, the language of advertising and blockbuster films and even the design of corporate logos.

Additional information

Weight 300 g
Dimensions 18.6 x 24.6 cm
Publisher name Thames and Hudson Ltd
Publication date 22 November 2022
Number of pages 272
Format Hardback
Dimensions 18.6 x 24.6 cm
Weight 300 g


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Matthew Wilson is an art historian, educator and writer. He has written for numerous publications and media on art and culture, and is an examination specialist in History of Art. His latest book, Symbols in Art in the Art Essentials series (Thames & Hudson, 2020) was described as 'masterly' by Christopher Lloyd.