See What You’re Missing: New Ways of Looking at the World Through Art

Pegasus. Feb. 2023. 368p. ISBN 9781639361731. $28.95. FINE ARTS
Former BBC News arts editor Gompertz (What Are You Looking At??; Think Like an Artist) insightfully explores the processes and personalities of a remarkable roster of artists by focusing on a single work in each one’s portfolios in his illuminating title. Not limiting himself geographically, historically, or culturally, Gompertz places artworks from artists as disparate as 11th-century Chinese landscape ink brush artist Guo Xi, award-winning Ghanian sculptor El Anatsui, Western United States earth artist James Turrell, Japanese pop designer Yayoi Kusama, and NYC silhouette artist Jennifer Packer alongside unusual pieces from the usual legends O’Keeffe, Constable, Hockney, Cézanne, Noguchi, Basquiat, and Kahlo as the book develops its cohesive thesis that art is a fruitful conduit to “seeing the world afresh.”
VERDICT Twenty-five crisp chapters on 25 separate artists allow Gompertz the room to explore both detail and concept in this well-organized labor of love. His first-person perspective places the historical artworks in the present while making all the artwork immediate and relevant. Effortless prose and laser focus on the communicative potential of art make this a worthwhile read for students, professionals, or interested observers.
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