Abrahams takes us to the heart of art, showing how paintings have been created, the text following her progress as she experiments with the materials used and the techniques employed, and step-by-step illustrations demonstrate how each painting style was achieved. We, the readers, feel we are standing at her shoulder as she murmurs her experience of stepping into the shoes of a Michelangelo or Titan, gaining a whole new way of experiencing art. ( Publishing News)
Most of us at some point will have stood before a work of art in awe, wondering at the skill in its execution - the fineness of brush stroke, layering of paint or purity of line. The job of the art historian is to look more closely; few, however, take quite the hands-on approach of Philippa Abrahams. An artist and conservator, she constructs each stroke, layer or line in the interests of research, demonstrating changing materials, techniques and preoccupations in the history of art. The results are a delight to the artist and casual enthusiast alike - and the reconstruction of such works as a Michelangelo study or a Titan oil is surely forgery of the most harmless and educational kind. ( House & Garden)
In Beneath the Surface [Philippa Abrahams's] enthusiasm, sense of humour and expertise are pervasive - both in the text and lavish illustrations. ( Ham & High)
With a technical subject of this kind, there is always a risk that the book may read like an extended glossary or, worse still, a soporific lecture. Happily there are no such worries here. Abrahams's tone is light and conversational, and the text is pepppered with lively anecdotes. Non-practising art lovers should derive particular enjoyment from this book and, it is safe to say, may never look at a painting in quite the same way again. ( Art Quarterly)
Abrahams's direct approach and enthusiasm are infectious and make this book a requisite for any museum dealing with painting and drawing. ( Museums Journal)
Have you ever looked at a painting by Holbein, or Titian, or Matisse, and wondered 'How was that done?' Taking a practical rather than a theoretical approach to appreciating art, this book tells the story that lies beneath the surface of the paintings and takes the reader on a journey that reveals how the end results were achieved. Along the way we find out about the complexities, dangers, successes and failures of the artist's search for brilliant colours, useful tools and effective techniques.
Guided by artist and conservator Philippa Abrahams, we follow the history of art from the drawings of Michelangelo to the works of Jackson Pollock and David Hockney. The story is punctuated by changes in materials and techniques that enabled artists to work in different ways.
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