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How to Look at a Painting
How to Look at a Painting

How to Look at a Painting


136 Pages, 5.25 x 7.5

Formats: Cloth, EPUB, Mobipocket

Cloth, $24.95 (US $24.95) (CA $27.95)

Publication Date: April 2009

ISBN 9780958291606

Rights: US, CA, CAM & SAM

Awa Press (Apr 2009)


eBook Editions Available

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Available from local and national retailers throughout the US.


Encompassing a review of important paintings worldwide—both classical and modern—this exploration assures that anyone can understand and admire art. The reader will find increased appreciation for paintings, greater knowledge of different artists, and improved confidence in this brilliant exposition of painting in all its forms. The keen art collector, serious student, and occasional gallery visitor can all benefit from this journey of exploration through the centuries and across the painted world. This enduringly popular guide was selected as the best art book of the year by national and international newspapers and magazines and awarded the 2006 Montana Book Award for Contemporary Culture.


"Should be compulsory reading. A cultural exploration that deserves to become a classic."  —Christopher Moore, author, Fluke

"Paton’s purpose is to rekindle the energy generated by paintings, today too often upstaged by technology and obfuscated by “artspeak”. How to Look at a Painting is . . . an informed book and a stimulating one. Reading it while visiting galleries in Britain and the American East Coast, I found that it challenged me to look more intensely."  —Elizabeth Rankin, The Art Book

"Nothing gets between Paton and a painting . . . a lively and sensual stylist with a knack for making you feel his enthusiasms."  —New Zealand Listener

"An exhilarating read. Among swarms of implacably obtuse art scribblers, Paton shines like a lighthouse in the dark."  —John Coley, The Press

"A terrific book, amusing, clever, insightful, generous-spirited and genuinely helpful."  —Margo White, Metro books editor

"Paton presents paintings as personable and responsive objects . . . able to both draw viewers in and push them away . . . Elegant, accessible and endlessly thought-provoking."  —Richard Wolfe, Art New Zealand

"Conversational, anecdotal, informative and often humorous . . . Paton encourages us to stand still long enough to read the body language of a painting."  —Sally Blundell, Art News

"In this absorbing book, painting is revealed as a harbour of memories, connection with deep realities—and a source of satisfaction and fun for painter and viewer alike."  —Michael Smither, painter

Author Biography

Justin Paton is one of New Zealand’s foremost art writers and a contributor to many international publications. He is senior curator at Christchurch Art Gallery.