How many of us have stopped before a famous painting or building only to realise, with quiet disappointment, that we can't quite see what the fuss is about? What do we have to do - beyond just staring - to get the most out of art? How do we come to develop an attachment to individual works and find them deeply fascinating? How do they come to matter to us? While many have diligently directed attention to questions in art history, theory or criticism, the author, in a powerful and original shift of focus, considers the roots of our personal engagement with art. perhaps this is both the most important and most neglected aspect of thinking about art. There is no access to art except in private - in looking, thinking and feeling in the presence of an individual work. In this book, the author describes the resources we each need to cultivate in order to enjoy painting and architecture; resources such as reverie, attention and the investment of emotion. Moving easily between the intimacies of personal experiences and lucid, accessible philosophical reflection, the author acts as a sensitive and persuasive guide.
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John Armstrong's The Intimate Philosophy of Art is much less a philosophy or a critique of particular artworks or a retread through the now familiar course of art history than an invitation to look. Armstrong's argument has a wonderfully egalitarian underpinning--it is not book learning, he argues, that is going to help us get the most out of a particular art work (although contextualising art may add something to our appreciation of it) but rather cultivating the (difficult) skill of looking. What constitutes this skill? Reverie, contemplation (classically broken down into five parts: animadversion, noticing details; concursus, seeing relationships between parts; hololepsis, seizing the whole as the whole; the lingering caress; catalepsis, mutal absorption) and investment. This is somewhat akin to the process of falling in love. And if we are to love, and so get the most out of, particular works of art this process of properly looking is what should concern us. If we really look, and spend the time to look that huge galleries packed full of more and more works so hinders, and speeding past wonderful buildings forbids, then art will respond to our gaze and will reveal what it has revealed to the likes of Ruskin, Goethe and Proust. Armstrong writes clearly and cleverly about art, architecture and philosophy. He gives a particularly good, not to say pithy, account of Kant, Schiller and Hegel's aesthetics. The book itself is abundantly illustrated with some 37 excellent reproductions to encourage the skills that Armstrong describes throughout his essay. This is a really superb book and one all art lovers should add to their shelves. -- Mark ThwaiteReview:
"* 'Full of valuable and provocative insights that go against the grain of many contemporary assumptions' Independent * 'An elegant book, arguing that the private use we make of works of art is an essential feature of the appreciation of art' The Times * 'John Armstrong's book will be welcomed by readers mystified by the jargon of art criticism... He gives us an illuminating lecture on a handful of paintings which deepened and refined my personal response no end. The man's an education' Time Out * 'Everyone who cares about art should read this elegant, intelligent and timely essay.' The Tablet"
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Book Description Penguin Books Ltd, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110140288120