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Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: Expanded Edition Paperback – February 2, 2009


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Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: Expanded Edition + True to Life: Twenty-Five Years of Conversations with David Hockney
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; First Edition, Over Thirty Years of Conversations with Robert Irwin edition (February 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520256093
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520256095
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A magnetic (now expanded) biography."--San Diego Union-Tribune

"Seeing is Forgetting may not be just the best biography of an artist out there but also one of the best books on contemporary art-making."--Frieze

"'Seeing Is Forgetting' and 'True to Life' are not only about the artists talking to Weschler or, through him, to each other; they're about the artists talking to themselves."--Los Angeles Times Book Review

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

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Most successful artists are pigeonholed as shameless self-promoters or tortured geniuses.
MonsoonKing
"Seeing is Forgetting" brings with it an understanding of the processes and theory involved in creating art that is entirely your own.
Michael
A must read for any art student, or anyone who notices that an empty room isn't empty at all.
frank e rittenhouse

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By MonsoonKing on May 1, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read on ton of books of art history and theory, and this one stands out as one of the best.

Through thirty years of friendship and discussions, Weschler traces Bob Irwin's career, from buffing car dashboards in high school to creating monumental gardens and installations in his old age. The benefit of this extended coverage is that we get to see how Irwin develops in every stage of his career, often as these developments are happening. We discover how relationships, environment, the art world, and philosophy influence Irwin's evolution and how each element manifests itself in his work.

Irwin typically deals with abstract, minimalist, and formalist art which is often considered "difficult", even by open minded art viewers. In these interviews, he extensively details his mental and physical process, offering an unparalleled look at just what goes into these works. He recounts staring at a canvas for weeks, trying to decide precisely where a line should go and what impact it will have on the finished work. Even if you don't find yourself mesmerized by the next Agnes Martin you come across after reading this book, you'll at least gain an appreciation of why some people find it interesting and what might have been going through the mind of the artist when he/she created it.

Part of what this makes this biography so compelling is that Irwin is an incredibly appealing character. Most successful artists are pigeonholed as shameless self-promoters or tortured geniuses. Irwin comes across as humble, brilliant, open minded, sincere, and indefatigably dedicated to his work. He seems like an art world version of Richard Feynman; the kind of curious guy you'd love to explore ideas with over a beer. He can talk about betting the ponies and Wittgenstein.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Michael on February 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is an extremely well written and understandable account of the life and work of one of the greatest artist of our time. "Seeing is Forgetting" brings with it an understanding of the processes and theory involved in creating art that is entirely your own. This book includes Art history in the making and should not be missed.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Gary Seelig on February 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
I first read this book in 1983 and now again in December 2010 - and it stands as the best artist biography I have ever read. Irwin begins with customizing cars in the 1940s and proceeds seamlessly through realism, abstraction, minimalism, and on to the Getty Gardens and Dia Beacon - but really the book is not about "isms" - it is about presence and perception - a life altering read.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mel Pal on March 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
I plan to expand this review later, but I just wanted to say that this book has improved the way I use my visual perception. We receive so much information from all of our senses that it is difficult to give the attention required to maximize the value of our experiences. This book encouraged me to be more attentive to and perceptive of what I see as Peter Stankovich has helped me to be more attentive to what I hear. Peter's book is about one on one conversations while this is about viewing inanimate objects, but they are both about being involved in the present with the experience. Both books help you enrich your life as it occurs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mickey Kovari on March 29, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Next level. Beautifully written stories within a meta story about a genius who is incredibly inspiring. I wish more people would read this and be influenced by Irwin's approach to life. Savior the experience, the experience is the art, and the experience is whenever you decide to be present. Whenever you decide to perceive. Whether your eyes are open or closed, you can always see.
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Not reading this book is the stupidest thing you will ever do. Read it often.
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