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On Reflection Paperback – June, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

When we look into a mirror, we do not "see" the surface, we see only our reflection. But in a painting, our eye is drawn to the marked surface of the canvas, which creates the illusion of a reflection. Jonathan Miller's On Reflection, published to coincide with his show "Mirror Image" at London's National Gallery, is a dazzling investigation of artists as diverse as van Eyck, Dürer, Velázquez, Ingres, Helen Chadwick, and Robert Mapplethorpe. Miller explores the tricks and games by which painting and, more recently, photography create this illusion of reflection.

The artistic representation of reflection has challenged artists for centuries, a problem particularly acute in Miller's most sustained example--the mirror. Drawing on studies of cognitive perception, On Reflection explains how we come to understand the difference between a reflection and "the real thing," and how vital reflections are in defining our own sense of identity. Miller's fascination with his subject comes across in bravura and original reassessments of the paintings he considers, and in the tricks that these works often play on the viewer. Lavishly and imaginatively illustrated, with wonderful inset captions that take the paintings apart in support of Miller's argument, this is one of the most enjoyable, accessible, and original books on art to have appeared in recent years. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Basing his work on an exhibition now on view at London's National Gallery, the polymathic Miller has articulated a fascinating and eloquent disquisition on reflections as they appear within the tradition of European art. Included in this always accessible consideration is not only a subtle analysis of reflective surfaces as they are represented in our pictorial tradition but also a scientifically grounded exposition of the psychological tools with which we deal with these luminous objects. In addition to providing a vocabulary for discussion, Miller explores the manifold artistic and psychic ramifications of the mirror in portraiture and self-portraiture. Miller's characterization of the exquisitely reproduced works is always apt and insightful. Though this handsomely designed volume is ill served by the jokey reversal of page enumerations and awkwardly placed and almost indecipherable plate labels, it is difficult to imagine a student of the visual arts who would not benefit from acquaintance with Miller's reflections.?Robert Cahn, Fashion Inst. of Technology, New York
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Natl Gallery England (June 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857092376
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857092370
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,030,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By dsmith@arts.adelaide.edu.au on March 4, 1999
Format: Hardcover
'On Reflection' is a highly erudite, constantly stimulating, beautifully (and always aptly) illustrated book. Miller has that rare gift of being able to share and indeed pass on his own limitless curiosity about phenomena we normally take for granted: in this case reflections in life and art. Since reading the book I have found myself looking anew at familiar paintings, staring intensely at objects in my house and the world outside, and finding myself more disconcerted than usual when catching a glimpse of myself in a mirror. Reading the book is akin to hearing Jonathan Miller talk: gently, amusingly, non-dogmatically, and always illuminatingly. When you add to that the rich and varied illustrations, the combination is unbeatable!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dorthy on April 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book gives mainly painters' impressions of reflections in mirrors, waters and gleaming surfaces of all kinds, under different light circumstances and different angles. The text explains why our eyes see a reflection at the same time as they see a surface, and why the reflection tells what kind of surface there is. It also deals with the intriguing parts the mirror plays for model, painter, and spectator. This is really a very beautiful book and it is instructive for me, as a painter.
This is a book to look into and to read again and again! Till now I borrowed it from the library, but I am happy to have it for myself now.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Abhilash Nambiar on April 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It was not to understand reflections that I bought this book, but to understand the way Miller thinks. I did understand that to some extent and I understood something about reflections as well.
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By irene auerbach on April 13, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wonderful insight and great lessons in looking.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Elaine Lafferty on October 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Every bit as interesting as the first time I read this book when I was a little girl. So many interesting thoughts. However I don't appreciate the word bimbo.
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