This text provides an accessible critical introduction to a variety of different analytic strategies for understanding the range of objects (paintings, sculpture, adverts, furniture, textiles, photography, fashion, etc.) that make up visual culture. Beginning with a discussion of what understanding can be taken to mean in relation to visual culture, it devotes separate chapters to different approaches to its study, using carefully chosen examples to illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of these. The major figures associated with particular analytic strategies (Hebdige, Panofsky, Barthes, Wolff, etc.) are critically discussed throughout. Alternative, more advanced readings are also explored and crucial questions posed, such as 'Are we always, or ever, in control of our understanding?'