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Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: A Life of Contemporary Artist Robert Irwin Paperback – December 27, 1982


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 215 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; Reprint edition (December 27, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520049209
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520049208
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.9 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #447,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"Robert Irwin, perhaps the most influential of the California artists, moved from his beginnings in abstract expressionism through successive shifts in style and sensibility, into a new aesthetic territory altogether, one where philosophical concepts of perception and the world interact. Weschler has charted the journey with exceptional clarity and cogency. He has also, in the process, provided what seems to me the best running history of postwar West Coast art that I have yet seen."—Calvin Tomkins

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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This is a replacement for the one I misplaced.
KnowHowPro
In short, I highly recommend that anyone devoted to design, be it fine art or architecture, read this book.
Chris
If you haven't heard of him, you should read this anyway.
R. Bible

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
Wechsler is a terrific biographer for Irwin. For while Irwin is himself a voluble and willing subject, Wechsler's insights into the act of creation and the journey of an artist augment Irwin's own insights in an important and illuminating way.
Having had no prior knowledge of Irwin and never having seen his work before, I still found this a fascinating book about creativity and the act of creation. I give this book as a gift frequently to those people who love and appreciate art and artists in all disciplines (painting, film, theater, photography, sculpture, pottery etc.).
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By James Hughes on April 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book completely ruined me. It so opened my eyes and mind that now I spend untold hours paying attention to the most minute details of my paintings. This book coupled with Josef Albers magnum opus "The Interaction of Color" has completely gutted and replumbed my senses.
The most interesting aspects of this book are the insights into Irwin's process and evolution. You can see his linear trajectory and the almost empirical methodology he used to create his work. Irwin's interdisciplinary approach to art confirmed and extended everything that I've been thinking about for the last couple of years. He helps push the artist away from thinking about paint and towards just plain thinking.
The first two sections of the book are amazing, but I found the third section of the book to be a bit tedious. The problem I find with most art historians is that they try to distill or make broad generalizations about what the artist was *trying* to do. The first two sections stayed away from this and mostly stuck to documentation, interviews, etc. leaving the reader to draw their own conclusions. The third section however begins to try and sum up Irwin's contributions which is a horrible mistake. In much the same way that you have to see Irwin's work to grasp an inkling of what is going on, you can't rely on someone else's interpretation of Irwin's life's work. They will inevitably fall far short.
You don't need to know anything of Irwin's work to appreciate this book. Irwin is truly one of the great thinkers of contemporary art. His ideas are what grab you.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By MJR on February 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
This was an amazing read. Not only did it open my eyes to the concept of abstract art, but it opened my eyes to a different way of thinking. I highly recommend this book.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 12, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Whether you know Irwin's work or not, are an art afficionado or not, this is a great read for the curious and perceptually
aware.Weschler translates visual concepts into easily understandable language. His writing is clear and insightful and never falls into boring art jargon. This is no simple task for Irwin's work which is all about looking is not necessarily transferable on paper, but ultimately Weschler's writing does it justice. Weschler gives insight not only into the mind and heart behind this work but the personality that comprises Robert
Irwin. The book is like being in a restaurant and overhearing a really interesting conversation at the adjacent table so you don't resist the urge to eavesdrop and you stay and listen 'till the end.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Felix Salmon on December 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
Robert Irwin is a wonderful artist, and this is a must-read for anybody interested in his work, or in his West Coast brand of conceptualism. But this book is also a fantastic biography in its own right - Weschler, who now works for the New Yorker, writes like an angel, and reading this book is a pleasure indeed. To say that this is one of the best biographies of an artist ever would be far too faint praise: this is one of the best biographies ever, period.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is the best book about art I have read. I had never heard of the artist or seen any of his works (in fact, he could be a complete fiction as far as I'm concerned--I rather like to think he is!) but I bought the book as a remainder because I liked the title. The book opened my mind to this man's art and made me see that there really might be some substance to some of the more outre forms of modern art. The author does a remarkable job of following the artist's growth and evolution.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Chris on February 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
*

I am fascinated by the creative process. I am fascinated by physical manifestations born from the spark of an idea. I am fascinated by the complex psychology, rigorous philosophy and simple backbone evinced by those devotees of method. And I am blown-away by Robert Irwin.

My first contact with Robert Irwin's work came in graduate school when a few friends and I drove from Philadelphia to Manhattan to visit the Dia Center for the Arts. There on an upper floor I encountered a truly shocking, yet subduing, experience. Irwin had taken over the entire level and divided into rooms demarcated with translucent scrim. I walked slowly, from space to space, enclosed but not, silent in presence yet bursting with internal applause, and in awe. I marveled at the solidity of light that slid through the Dia's industrial steel windows, tracing its way across two layers of the thin white fabric and gently landing on the concrete floor. My eyes were tickled by the subtlety of color emanating from the vertical fluorescent lights wrapped in gels. There must have been thirty others there at the same time, meandering like ghosts whitened by one, two, three layers of scrim, yet the space was absolutely quiet. This was the first time that I truly understood the word ?perception.? It came in a space filled with exacted simplicity.

Since then I have tried to follow Irwin's work, both past and present, only to find that it is rarely photographed, as the medium cannot do the work justice. However, Lawrence Weschler's biography on the artist is a tremendous piece of writing that will give you much more appreciation for Irwin than any catalog ever could. Weschler spent years interviewing the artist, tracking down collaborators and researching the works.
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