What makes a work of art a masterpiece? Discover the answers in the fascinating stories of how these artworks came to be and the circumstances of their long-lasting impact on the world. Beginning with Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, we travel through time and a range of styles and stories – including theft, scandal, artistic reputation, politics and power – to Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans, challenging the idea of what a masterpiece can be, and arriving in the twenty-first century with Amy Sherald’s portrait of Michelle Obama, a modern-day masterpiece still to be tested by time. Each artwork has a tale that reveals making a masterpiece often involves much more than just a demonstration of artistic skill: their path to fame is only fully disclosed by looking beyond what the eye can see.
Rather than trying to describe the elements of greatness, Making a Masterpiece takes account of the circumstances outside the frame that contribute to the perception of greatness and reveals that the journey from the easel to popular acclaim can be as compelling as the masterpiece itself. Featuring:Birth of Venus, Sandro BotticelliMona Lisa, Leonardo da VinciJudith Beheading Holofernes, Artemisia GentileschiGirl with a Pearl Earring, Johannes VermeerUnder the Wave off Kanagawa, Katsushika HokusaiFifteen Sunflowers, Vincent van GoghPortrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (Woman in Gold, Gustav KlimtAmerican Gothic, Grant WoodGuernica, Pablo PicassoSelf-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, Frida KahloCampbell’s Soup Cans, Andy WarholMichelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama, Amy Sherald Discover the stories of how, why and what makes a masterpiece in this compelling and comprehensive title.