Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: Over Thirty Years of Conversations with Robert Irwin (Expanded)


Product Details

University of California Press
Publish Date
6.2 X 8.1 X 0.9 inches | 1.5 pounds

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About the Author

Lawrence Weschler's many books include Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder, Vermeer in Bosnia, and Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences, which won the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism.


"Weschler's ability to concede the book to Irwin does not just attest to his ear for the artist's fluid, if sometimes off-key, dialogue but also confirms that retaining such oddities is often finer than anything a biographer could conjure (it is worth noting that this remarkable book was also Weschler's first). . . . 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"
"Irwin is one of the great artists and artistic innovators of our day. He is also one of the most eloquent. And he was fortunate enough to find his Boswell. Back in the 18th century, pioneering biographer James Boswell preserved writer Samuel Johnson's marvelous style of conversation. And while we have many other means now of preserving someone's words, Irwin's acquire a special life in Lawrence Weschler's magnetic (now expanded) biography."-- "San Diego Union-Tribune"
"The expanded edition of 2009 adds subsequent conversations and later projects to the volume. With these additions, Wechsler shows how Irwin's work has changed and that his thinking has become more supple. . . . [Weschler's] ability to present and comment upon the artistic process without bogging it down in superfluous critical commentary, allows his essays to help us think about what creativity is in the broadest sense."-- "Leonardo"
"Taken together, Weschler's two books [True to Life on David Hockney, UC Press; and. Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees] amount to an engaging argument about visual culture and its possibilities. They shift the reader several levels above the peevish bickering that often deadens cultural discussion and remind us that contemporary art, on some of its best days, draws us into the midst of debates that are wonderfully creative and crucially important while nevertheless unresolvable."-- "National Post"
"Irwin worked through a series of styles which recapitulate a complete strand in American painting. Figuration was replaced by semi-abstraction. This was followed by Abstract Expressionism, then by color-field painting, conceptual art and land art. As each step can seem a willful rejection of complexity and richness, the reasons for the moves Irwin made must justify as well as explain. Set out in Weschler's book (much of it is direct quotation from interviews with Irwin), they are convincing. Irwin's story is one of aesthetic claustrophobia, of attempts to break out of the limits set by his own work."
"Seeing Is Forgetting and True to Life [on David Hockney, UC Press] are not only about the artists talking to Weschler or, through him, to each other; they're about the artists talking to themselves."