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Optic Nerve: Perceptual Art of the 1960s Hardcover – March 1, 2007


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Hardcover, March 1, 2007
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Merrell Publishers (March 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1858943892
  • ISBN-13: 978-1858943893
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 9.6 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,172,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Short and sturdy history - strikingly persuasive - WORLD OF INTERIORS A beautifully produced and informative introduction to the subject of Op and related art forms of the 1960s - handsome publication - THE ART BOOK

About the Author

Joe Houston is Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio. Dave Hickey is an award-winning culture and arts critic whose articles have appeared in Artforum, Rolling Stone and The New York Times.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 2, 2008
The publication of "Optic Nerve" was designed to coincide with the exhibition of Op Art at the Columbia Museum of Art in Columbus, Ohio last year. As such it is a retrospective on a curious cultural phenomenon that those of us who came of age in the sixties remember well. It was a time of irreverence in many ways as many Americans protested against the war in Vietnam and against racial inequality at home. Op Art, in its kinship with Pop Art, represented an anti-establishment movement in the art world that was not entirely welcome. With the opening of "The Responsive Eye" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1965, Op Art came of age. The response of the public was something close to sensational, although the critics were not so thrilled. Almost immediately artifacts of culture, from the interiors of buildings to the covers of magazines, to rock band t-shirts, to advertisements, even to women's dresses, became emblazoned with examples of optic art, or perhaps more properly, "perceptual abstraction."

In a sense Op Art is anti-art in that the artist, instead of helping the viewer to make sense of the painting (which is of course an illusion, as all painting is an illusion), does exactly the opposite by attempting to confuse the eye, and ultimately the mind of the viewer. Instead of expression, in Op Art we have sensation. Dave Hickey, who wrote the introductory chapter entitled "Trying to See What We Can Never Know" believes that "the ramifications of psychedelic drugs, sexual liberation, generational autonomy, optical art, and digital culture have each contributed to a contemporary model of consciousness conceived as a `limited-capacity system.'" (p. 11) In other words, Op Art reminds us that there is lot going on in our heads that we know nothing about.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Debra Jan Bibel TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 20, 2009
Optic Nerve is a superb, vivid history of a major movement in art, richly illustrated with large color photographs that will amaze, educate, and bring wonder to your life. So rooted in optic neuroscience, cognition, and perceptive psychology, Op Art has also a philosophical underpinning. It is not all about optical illusions of spatial relationships and colored afterimages or virtual shadings from intense contrasting hues. Indeed, as the book demonstates, the artistic examination of color and line relationships goes back to the early 19th century. But it all came together in the zeitgeist of the 1960s cultural revolution, when studies of mind and perception and personal explorations of alternative realities became a hallmark. While Escher's playful drawings and Magritte's surrealism were popular among hippies, enhanced by ultra-violet light and phosphorescent paint reproductions, academics were drawn more toward Op Art artists, whose brief biosketches are provided at the end of the book. Here, Op Art expanded from the Bauhus lessons of Klee and Kandinsky. With some 250 illustrations, we examine the wide variety of forms of this movement and see how it entered mainstream commerce. As an artist myself who has dabbled in illusions as part of my explorations, I found this book to be both beautiful and validating. It is a good read too.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on July 7, 2007
Joe Houston's OPTIC NERVE: PERCEPTUAL ART OF THE 1960S covers 'Op Art' or the fine art of perceptual abstraction, and is published to accompany the first major exhibition of Op Art in over twenty years. More than just a catalog of some 250 works by key Op Artists in the field, though - packing in color images on nearly every page - OPTIC NERVE also provides a critical and biographical foundation for reference, making it a pick art libraries will want.
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By pavots on March 6, 2014
Best book on Op Art I've come across in the last 20 years. Unfortunately there is not enough Bridget Riley but that can be remedied elsewhere.
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By Jim C. on September 27, 2013
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This book is a nice look into the Optical Pop movement in the 60s and 70s. It surveys many well-known artists with great voluptuous illustrations of their work.
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