*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
This history of twentieth-century Britain, refracted through ten artistic responses to the sea, is beautifully written - authoritative and questioning; scholarly, but also vividly insightful about bodies, private lives, feelings, the often-overlooked quotidian. -- Aida Edemariam, judge of the RSL awards
Looking to Sea is a remarkable and compelling book. It is both a wonderfully sustained mapping of the intersection between artists, writers and the sea and a meditation on belonging and displacement. I loved it. * Edmund de Waal *
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 *
An elegant scheme, beautifully written... From Alfred Wallis to Tracey Emin's Margate beach hut, this is an elegant guide to a century of seaside art... This book will give you sea fever. Pack your sou'wester, fill your Thermos, take a train to the coast. Read this sitting on the pier and see what you can see -- Laura Freeman * The TImes *
Ambitious . . . accessible . . . a chronicle of British art, unfurled against the panoramic backdrop of 20th-century history * Sunday Telegraph *
A carefully considered and enjoyable mix of biography, art criticism and personal reflection -- Chloë Ashby * Spectator *
One for wild swimmers, beachcombers, wind surfers and all who like to be beside the seaside with a sketchbook and watercolour set. 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. -- Books of the Year * The Times *
Held within a neatly conceived structure and based on far-reaching research, this book is not only about art but also about national identity, belonging and displacement. It churns with large ideas as well as persuasive arguments . . . Le Brun has an eye and ear for details that catch the reader's attention. She handles words with great skill and piercing thought -- Frances Spalding * Literary Review *
Ten hallmark, water-themed artworks provide a key into reading the modern history of the UK and the 20th century * Monocle *
A beautifully illustrated, meditative book for art lovers who also like the sea . . . This guide will make you long for salty air, sand and fish and chips. Pack the book and a flask of tea (or whisky) and head for the coast * The Lady *
[A] rich portrait of our island nation . . . Le Brun has written a study of Britain imagined, Britain as it recently was, and of Britain becoming . . . elegant and endlessly interesting . . . as much a rich compendium of social history as it is a hard consideration of art itself . . . reading Le Brun's book will give you a renewed love for this place that sits apart -- Patrick Galbraith * Critic *
Each chapter mixes biography with anecdote, cultural criticism with lyrical description and wider philosophical musing . . . Le Brun apparently uses the artists' own visions to comment on today's Britain, though in fact her own range often outstrips theirs -- Jan Dalley * Financial Times *
Dimensions: 218mm x 164mm x 26mm