Jacket Image

Enlarge Image

215 × 160 × 30 mm
344 pages
10 illustrations
16 Nov 2020

The Simple Truth The Monochrome in Modern Art Simon Morley

The monochrome – a single-colour 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 emperor’s new clothes. Why are monochromes so admired, yet such an easy target of scorn? In this illuminating book Simon Morley unpacks the meanings of the monochrome as it developed internationally over the twentieth century to today. In doing so he explores more general questions such as how artists have understood what they make, how critics variously interpret it and how art is encountered by viewers.

‘The idea of the monochrome – an unmodulated plane of a single colour that entirely covers a given surface - is a strange proposition for a painting, or any work of art. And yet its possibilities have preoccupied and beguiled artists for well over a century. Simon Morley’s book brilliantly explores the labyrinthine complexities of this apparently simple form of abstract painting and in the process invites us to visit numerous types of art, made for wildly different purposes, in dozens of different places, and at many different times.’ — David Batchelor, artist

‘An indispensable introduction to the intriguing material, optical and philosophical challenges posed by the monochrome. Simon 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

Show all

Simon Morley is an artist and writer. He is currently Assistant Professor at Dankook University, Republic of Korea, and is the author of Writing on the Wall: Word and Image in Modern Art (2003) and Seven Keys to Modern Art (2019), and editor of The Sublime (Documents of Contemporary Art) (2010).

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