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The Art of Looking Sideways Hardcover – August 20, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 534 pages
  • Publisher: Phaidon Press (August 20, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231131372
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714834498
  • ASIN: 0714834491
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 8.6 x 2.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Alan Fletcher's The Art of Looking Sideways is an absolutely extraordinary and inexhaustible "guide to visual awareness," a virtually indescribable concoction of anecdotes, quotes, images, and bizarre facts that offers a wonderfully twisted vision of the chaos of modern life. Fletcher is a renowned designer and art director, and the joy of The Art of Looking Sideways lies in its beautiful design. Loosely arranged in 72 chapters with titles like "Colour," "Noise," "Chance," "Camouflage," and "Handedness," Fletcher's book, which he describes as "a journey without a destination," is "a collection of shards" that captures the sensory overload of a world that simply contains too much information. In one typical section, entitled "Civilization," the reader encounters six Polish flags designed to represent the world, a photograph of an anthropomorphic handbag, Buzz Aldrin's boot print on the moon, drawings of Stone Age pebbles, a painting of "Ireland--as seen from Wales," and a dizzying array of quotations and snippets of information, including the wise words of Marcus Aurelius, Stephen Jay, and Gandhi's comment, "Western civilization? I think it would be a good idea." Fletcher's mastery of design mixes type, space, fonts, alphabets, color, and layout combined with a "jackdaw" eye for the strange and profound to produce a stunning book that cannot be read, but only experienced. --Jerry Brotton, Amazon.co.uk

From Library Journal

This vast collection of assorted visual and verbal content is loosely strung together by the common thread of whatever captures the attention of celebrated designer Fletcher best known for his founding roles in the English design firm Fletcher Forbes Gill and the internationally recognized design group Pentagram. A table of contents (with headings such as "Learning," "Noise," and "Imagination") provides a loose structure for what is an otherwise unfettered stream-of-consciousness outpouring. In the author's own words, the book is "a journey without a destination." The book is tailor-made for those with short attention spans, since any given thought or narrative rarely runs for more than a spread. A worthy companion to other large, contemporary, designer-orchestrated explorations of visual culture, such as Bruce Mau's Life Style (Phaidon, 2000) or John Maeda's Maeda @ Media (Rizzoli, 2000), this book will delight anyone who enjoys unexpected visual and verbal play, cultural and historical observations and insights, and staggering amounts of trivia and anecdotes. Best suited for larger public libraries or libraries with extensive liberal arts, fine arts, or art history sections. Phil Hamlett, Turner & Associates, San Francisco

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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Customer Reviews

This book found me one day and now has me totally in it's pages.
A. J. Cherrington
After a while I realised that this book was an amazing source of information and inspiration and so I started reading from the beginning, taking notes along the way.
Adam Cadwell
The book is so big that every time I look through it, I always find something new to read, enjoy, and ponder.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 77 people found the following review helpful By W. Todd Dominey on January 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The Art of Looking Sideways is an instruction manual of sorts for adults to deconstruct their preconceived belief systems of reality. Readers are encouraged to look, see, explore, turn upside down, rip apart, and to ultimately rebuild that which everyday people believe to be true through a series of word plays, found quotations, paradoxes, and unusual truths. There are no answers. Just questions, and differences of perception.
The book challenges, enlightens, entertains, and ultimately inspires. It's absolutely not a book of gee-whiz optical illusions, a la psychedelic "Mind's Eye" pointillism or perception bending Escher, but rather a playful, witty scrapbook of collected thoughts, newsprint clippings, poetry, photographs, illustrations, and assorted junk found on globe trotting vacations by the book's compiler.
The design of the book itself is a work of art. No two pages are the same. Each idea, or question, is presented with it's own lyrical typeface and placement to further convey the essence of the topic at hand. At my count, there are well over 1,000 different original works of typography and layout -- a stunning feat in and of itself.
"Sideways" is quite simply a fringe experience that is impossible to label, describe, or place in a particular section of a bookstore. As a designer, I felt more inspired, more aware, more energized after just a handful of pages than I can remember feeling in years of buying design and art related books.
It's big, heavy, and worth its weight in gold. A classic.
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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Adam Cadwell on May 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I had never heard of this book before I saw it and no introduction is better than just getting the huge, heavy thing on your lap and looking through it. As most reviewers of this book have said, it cannot be described, but they have tried. I too can only give you an idea about this book and giving ideas is what this book is about.
One day my friend Martine said that I must see this book and dropped it into my lap, I have not yet give it back. I sat there in my comfy chair and leafed through the many, many pages reading a little here, looking a little there. After a while I realised that this book was an amazing source of information and inspiration and so I started reading from the beginning, taking notes along the way.
Todd Dominey, a new media designer, wrote, "As a designer, I felt more inspired, more aware, more energized after just a handful of pages than I can remember feeling in years of buying design and art related books." As indicated by its title, this book is meant to open your mind, to get you seeing the things you never noticed before, to give you a fresh perspective and a new way of understanding.
On the first real page of the book a quote by Montaigne reads "I quote others only the better to express myself." This book has over a thousand quotes from writers, philosophers, artists and anyone who has ever said anything thoughtful. A quote starts each of the books 72 chapters, each having a loose theme such as 'Imagination', 'Noise', 'Wit' or 'Colour'.
But this is so much more than a book of smart remarks, it is a scrapbook of a lifetime of visual awareness.
Read more ›
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79 of 93 people found the following review helpful By The Honourable Husband on May 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Difficult to tell you what this book actually says, except that it's author is a genius. Or at least he quotes lots of other people who are.
But whatever the author is saying, I agree with it. It's about expressing interesting thoughts in a visually interesting way in a conceptually interesting arrangement. I am a smarter, richer, wiser, person for having read it, but I can't say how.
(This isn't going to earn me many helpful votes, is it?)
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Krukster on December 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I came across this book in the local bookstore, randomly finding it while buying a gift certificate for christmas. If you're into artistic expression in any way, buy this book. It's full of delightfully random illustrations, quotes, and wisdom. If you're not the artistic type, I'd suspect you'll find this book a bit tedious or perhaps even pointless. If, however, you are a creatively minded person who enjoys some visual delights (some of the pictures are just amazing to experience) and some mental stimulation, go for it! This would make a great book to pick up and open to anywhere, then see what you find. I've paged through a lot of it, looking at things. I'm now attempting to start from the beginning and read through it. This book is incredible. Worth owning without a doubt.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By obediah on May 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book will open your eyes to a world you never knew existed. Superficially it appears to be the Seinfeld of the literary world, that is a book about nothing. The book appears to be a random collection of quotes and anecdotes on seemingly unrelated topics.
I like this book because it covers such a diverse range of topics in an interesting manner. You can open up virtually any page in the book and find something amusing, thought provoking or plain bizarre. As an example did you realise that in actuality the world is a very dull place? There is no such thing as colour or sound. These are simply waves with different wavelengths and frequencies. The sensation of light and sound is simply the brain parsing information in a specific way, probably because this model was conducive to survival in primitive times.
I must admit a lot of the pages in the book were quite beyond me. I didn't understand why they were there at all and in fact I feel that some of the material should be omitted from the book because it has little value. It also became annoying at times because you have to flip the book sideways and upside down due to its unusual layout (no easy feat with such a hefty tome!).
However all in all this book is an excellent read. One of the best books I've read in awhile. Highly recommended if you are interested in exploring the unusual and thinking outside the square.
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