Looking to Sea: Britain Through the Eyes of its Artists
*One of The Times Best Art Books of the Year*
'Looking to Sea is a remarkable and compelling book... I loved it.' Edmund de Waal
'In her first, transporting book, Lily Le Brun sweeps the beaches of the past century of British art, collecting treasures from sea, shingle and shore... A book to pack in your picnic basket for shivering dips, heatwave day trips and ice-cream Sundays' The Times
An alternative history of modern Britain, Looking to Sea is an exquisite work of cultural, artistic and philosophical storytelling.
Looking to Sea considers ten pivotal artworks, from Vanessa Bell's Studland Beach, one of the first modernist paintings in Britain, to Paul Nash's work bearing the scars of his experience in the trenches and Martin Parr's photographs of seaside resorts in the 1980s, which raised controversial questions of class. Each of the startlingly different pieces, created between 1912 and 2015, opens a window onto big ideas, from modernism and the sublime, the impact of the world wars and colonialism, to issues crucial to our world today like the environment and nationhood.
In this astonishingly perceptive portrait of the twentieth century, art critic Lily Le Brun brings a fresh eye to a vast idea, offering readers an imaginative new way of seeing our island nation.
'Le Brun's writing is at once bold and delicate, far-reaching and fine-tuned. Her book explores the inexhaustible variety of human perception.' Alexandra Harris
'A smart and clear-eyed set of meditations on marine gaze, made with a painterly touch worthy of the chosen artists. Empathy and intelligence lift memoir into cultural history.' Iain Sinclair
'Elegant and endlessly interesting . . . as much a rich compendium of social history as it is a hard consideration of art itself' Critic
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