Book Review: Seeing Slowly
This week, I read Seeing Slowly by Michael Findlay and thought it was great! Here's why:
The author of this book has had an impressive career in the arts working for auction houses, and as an art dealer. Unlike 7 Days In The Art World, this book demonstrates a real love and passion for visual art. He balances a realistic assessment of the elitist and academic tendencies of the different players in the art world with a respect for what draws them to art in the first place.
In this book, the author shares how to approach an exhibition of modern art. The mention of modern art in the title is important because the author repeatedly shares his dislike for wall text. I agree with this, but with the exception of older artwork that may depict royalty or an important moment in history. In those cases, I find wall text to help me understand the context in which the work was created. So I was happy he specified modern art in the title. (Ha ha I guess this is ironic because he doesn't like titles but if he hadn't specified modern art in the title of the book I wouldn't have agreed with his argument against wall text.)
His approach to viewing an exhibit is so elegantly simple. He suggests entering a gallery, moving towards the piece that calls your attention, clear your mind, and look at it for 3 minutes. Imagine describing the piece to someone else. I thought that was an interesting suggestion because recently I've found it helpful to put together a written description of a piece before drawing. Something more complete happens when the two seemingly unrelated skills of seeing and writing come together.
His approach to viewing art is so meditative, I love it!
The book continues with research and the author's personal observations supporting the role of art and why it's worth your attention.
Some reviews claimed this book was repetitive and...yeah, he did often reiterate his main point. However, I found the authors supporting information and examples to be quite helpful especially since I'm someone who regularly shares and discusses art with people who may find it intimidating. There are many astute observations of how exhibits are designed and how we're trained to move through spaces. He encourages viewers to leave their standard mode of operating behind and open up to letting the art do the talking.
I think this book is best for people in the art industry specifically in galleries and museums. It would also appeal to anyone who finds themselves regularly attending art events but may feel lost or disconnected from the work. It's full of love for art soooo yeah I recommend it!
Also, he mentioned this game which I totally have to play now!