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Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing Paperback – April 1, 2008
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Neurobiologist Margaret Livingstone addresses these and many other questions in Vision and Art, a lively look at the science underlying art. She writes accessibly, but with plenty of technical depth, on such matters as the nature of light and the visible spectrum, the organization of visual-image processing, the structure of the vertebrate eye and brain, and individual and culturally conditioned perceptions of color. Using well-known works of art as case studies, she offers fascinating bits of trivia (on, for instance, how pastels are made and why purple dyes are so rare) alongside practical information for artists (for example, how high-contrast contours and evenly distributed luminance attract the eye).
The result is a literate, lucid blend of art and science that will appeal to artists and connoisseurs alike. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
"Why do Claude Monet's fields of flowers seem to wave in the breeze?"
"What is the secret of Mona Lisa's smile?"
The first two chapters cover some scientific fundamentals- how light and the human vision works. While this is all very scientific, every effort is made to make it understandable, with plenty of full-color diagrams illustrating the concepts. While these 2 chapters are not the easiest to read, they're not rocket science either, and provide a valuable foundation for the rest of the book. Not essential but VERY useful.
Things start to get interesting toward the end of the 2nd chapter, when we start to understand what a red/green colorblind person sees. But the best stuff starts to come in the third chapter ("Luminance and Night Vision"). Plenty of interesting illustrations are provided in this chapter (like red cherries in a blue bowl, where the cherries appear brighter or darker than the bowl depending on the ambient light, or flickering polkadots), and continues until the rest of a book, making it a truly fascinating read.
Oh, and the explanation on Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile is very convincing.
I definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in both visual art and science.
I also recommend it to anyone who's interested in science and how things work- you'll appreciate some art pieces a lot more after reading this book.
The author gets to the structure of our visual systems, makes them very clear, and tells us things that are lasting and verifiable. Her spirit of personal experimentation shows in the book, and makes us think that looking inquisitively at the world will pay off.
to a number of familiar and famous photographs.
Ever wonder what Ansel Adams and Edward Weston were so successful with the black-and-white photographs but not with their color photographs? I have, and her book has provided me with insights into this and other photographic practices.
I bought a used copy and noticed "student underling" in the first chapter, but an abrupt end to underlining in the second chapter. You know what that means: "This course is not what I expected; I'm dropping out!"
The student and I feel the same way, but I got a lot further.
Buy it, but I found Robert L. Solso's book The Psychology of Art and the Evolution of the Conscious Brain to be a far more exciting read. That one is a five star easily.
Another more engaging book covers many of the same things as Livingstone's but in a more readable style: Visual Intelligence by Donald D. Hoffman.
So, if your interested in vision, etc. I'd start with Solso, then move to Hoffman, and lastly to Livingstone.
My natural attraction to the arts left me searching for answers beyond artistic techniques. As much as I thought it was impressive how impressionist painters could portray a scene using thick brushstrokes, I wanted to know what was going on in my head when I looked at it. As a current undergraduate neuroscience student, I was drawn towards the ability of the subject to explain everyday phenomena. I chose this book hoping to come closer to discover why I thought a painting was good from a biological rather than emotional standpoint. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in learning things such as: why your brain perceives Claude Monet's rivers to flow or how Leonardo da Vinci's two dimensional paintings seem to appear in three dimensions.
Margaret Livingstone, a professor of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, successfully articulates her research on visual systems on a level that can appeal to a broad audience. Her approach to communicate her research through the blend of art and science is an effective method. Although it helps to have some exposure to entry level physiology, all that is necessary to enjoy this novel is an interest in the subject. More complex technical information is easily digested with the help of the examples of famous artworks and real world phenomena that follow it. However, I am surprised that this novel did not highlight any sculptural art examples. Dr. Livingstone's tone along with suggested exercises and optical illusions promotes reader participation.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an amazing book for anyone trying to understand the relationship between "art" of two-dimensional images, and what the eye and brain actually see, and how these two... Read morePublished 13 hours ago by Lisa
Livingstone is a major neurophysiologist who loves art. Her research has included a lot of work on color, and this informs her discussions which include some interesting examples... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Frank
This book is difficult to understand.Too much technology,not very well explained.Published 6 months ago by tata
The book is in OK condition but has a completely different cover. Possibly a different revision.Published 8 months ago by Bob Sherman
Very technical, but the book opened my eyes (sorry for the pun) about the topic.Published 16 months ago by Gary Smith