The Atlantic

To Understand Art, Think Biology
Jan. 16, 2019

“Just as cells are the building blocks of the human body, a painting’s points, lines, colors, and tensions are the building blocks of its life.”

Read More…

The American Scholar

Art for All
By Katie Daniels
Dec. 20, 2018

“Disoriented and confused” may well describe most people’s reactions to modern and contemporary art…Lance Esplund doesn’t disabuse this stereotype so much as he primes readers to understand the fundamentals that shape the artwork, empowering viewers to look beyond the gallery walls and think for themselves. ”

Read More…

Detroit Free Press

Gift guide: These books will delight and inform readers on your list
By John J. Kelly
Dec. 15, 2018

“[Among] the best, most-loved books of the year…The Art of Looking…empowers and enables us to appreciate [modern and contemporary art] with ‘new eyes’…to trust our own tastes, feelings and opinions.”

Read More…


Book Reviews
By Sarah Jilani
Dec./Jan. 2018

“Guides the interested newcomer towards confidence in approaching western contemporary art…Esplund believes art should actively stir, not passively amuse.”

Read More…

My Modern Met

10 Art Books That Will Nourish Your Creative Soul This Month
By Sara Barnes
Dec. 14, 2018

“Will nourish your creative soul…[Esplund] guides us through art made in the last century and how we can approach it in a way that’s accessible and rewarding.”

Read More…

The New Criterion

The Critic’s Notebook
By Andrew L. Shea
Dec. 10, 2018

“A ‘how-to’ primer for newcomers to modern and contemporary art, Lance Esplund’s conversational new book aims to coach its readers through the slow process and at-times-difficult experience of seeing. Esplund, an art critic for The Wall Street Journal and a frequent lecturer at a number of schools and universities, is the first to admit that much of the art he discusses is resistant and even antagonistic to this sort of basic interaction with its audience, but he nevertheless encourages readers to keep an open mind when encountering the works of artists as disparate as Manet and Marina Abramović, Klee and Robert Gober. ”

Read More…

Literary Hub

“Abstract Art Didn’t Begin With Picasso: On the 19th-Century Art Historian Who Saw it All”
Adaption from The Art of Looking: How to Read Modern and Contemporary Art
By Lance Esplund
Dec. 4, 2018

“Artists are storytellers. They have something to say. People often think of artists as illustrators of stories or ideas, and many of them are, but because artists are poets, their artworks are not literal tellings of those stories. As artists learn from the work of other artists, among the principal stories artists tell is that of the ongoing story of art.”

Read More…

The Washington Post

“How to Open Your Mind—and Your Heart—to Contemporary Art”
By Alexander C. Kafka
Nov. 29, 2018

Esplund gives readers the confidence to make up our own minds about art and encourages us to find intellectual and emotional joy in doing so.

“In October, a stenciled, spray-painted ‘Girl with Red Balloon,’ by the anonymous British graffiti artist Banksy, was sold at Sotheby’s London auction house for $1.4 million. A moment later, it self-destructed, the bottom of the pretentiously ornate frame acting as a shredder presumably activated by remote control. The remains increased in value to $2 million.

“Fortunately, at the time, I was reading Lance Esplund’s wise, wonderful new book, The Art of Looking: How to Read Modern and Contemporary Art,…”

Read More…

New York Journal of Books
“The Art of Looking: How to Read Modern and Contemporary Art”
By Cindy Helms
Nov. 27, 2018

The Art of Looking explains in layperson’s vernacular why investing oneself in art history matters at both a personal level and to the community at large.”

Read More…

The Wall Street Journal

“A Life-Changing Art Encounter”
Adaptation from The Art of Looking: How to Read Modern and Contemporary Art
By Lance Esplund
Nov. 23, 2018

“When I was 13 years old, my parents gave me an enormous book about Leonardo da Vinci for Christmas. Inside were large color pictures of “The Virgin and Child With St. Anne,” the “Mona Lisa” and “St. John the Baptist,” as well as an impressive “Last Supper” centerfold. The book included drawings of nature, anatomy, innovative weaponry and flying machines—all of which struck me then as very cool. I admired and pored over their details. But what I remember most was that the paintings and drawings didn’t move me, and the secret shame I felt because I knew that Leonardo was considered among the greatest artists of all time. What did it say about me that I wasn’t excited by his work?”

Read More…

Kirkus Reviews
“THE ART OF LOOKING: How to Read Modern and Contemporary Art”
Sep. 2, 2018

“A critic offers encouraging words for viewers baffled by contemporary art…In a friendly and conversational tone, Esplund shares his insights honed during a long career…Inviting and informative.”

Read More…

Publishers Weekly
“Fall 2018 Adult Announcements
The Big Titles of Autumn: Art, Architecture & Photography”
By Jonathan Segura
June 22, 2018

Read More…