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Distributed for Reaktion Books

The Simple Truth

The Monochrome in Modern Art

The monochrome—a single-color work of art—is highly ambiguous. For some it epitomizes purity and is art reduced to its essence. For others it is just a stunt, the proverbial emperor’s new clothes. Why are monochrome works both so admired and such an easy target of scorn? Why does a monochrome look so simple and yet is so challenging to comprehend? And what is it that drives artists to create such works?
In this illuminating book, Simon Morley unpacks the meanings of the monochrome as it has developed internationally over the twentieth century to today. In doing so, he also explores how artists have understood what they make, how critics variously interpret it, and how art is encountered by viewers.

304 pages | 10 color plates | 6 1/4 x 8 1/4

Art: Art--General Studies

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“An indispensable introduction to the intriguing material, optical, and philosophical challenges posed by the monochrome. Morley writes with such tact and insight that anyone interested in the contemporary practice of painting, whether expert or novice, will find the book a delight.”

Malcolm Bull, Professor of Art and the History of Ideas, University of Oxford

“Brilliantly explores the labyrinthine complexities of this apparently simple form of abstract art.”

David Batchelor, artist

Table of Contents

1 Introductions
2 Setting
3 Reception
4 Colour
5 Ground
6 Spiritual
7 Indefinable
8 Nothingness
9 Experiential
10 Zen
11 Material
12 Format
13 Sign
14 Idea
15 Allegorical
16 Expanded Field
17 East-Asia
18 Contemporary
19 Conclusion


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