'Looking to Sea' considers ten pivotal artworks of the sea, 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 difference 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.
Lily Le Brun is a writer from London. A graduate of Edinburgh University and the Courtauld Institute of Art, she has written on art for publications such as Art Quarterly, the Financial Times, and the Economist. In 2018 Lily won a Royal Society of Literature Giles St Aubyn Award for the early chapters of Looking to Sea. She lives in Paris and this is her first book.
“Looking to Sea is a remarkable and compelling book….I loved it.”
-Edmund De Waal, author of The Hare With Amber Eyes.
“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 Royal Society of Literature Awards