Cover Image

Larger ImageView Larger

Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees

Expanded Edition, Over Thirty Years of Conversations with Robert Irwin

Lawrence Weschler (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 336 pages
ISBN: 9780520256095
February 2009
$31.95, £21.95
When this book first appeared in 1982, it introduced readers to Robert Irwin, the Los Angeles artist "who one day got hooked on his own curiosity and decided to live it." Now expanded to include six additional chapters and twenty-four pages of color plates, Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees chronicles three decades of conversation between Lawrence Weschler and light and space master Irwin. It surveys many of Irwin's site-conditioned projects—in particular the Central Gardens at the Getty Museum (the subject of an epic battle with the site's principal architect, Richard Meier) and the design that transformed an abandoned Hudson Valley factory into Dia's new Beacon campus—enhancing what many had already considered the best book ever on an artist.
A Note on the Illustrations
A Further Note on the Drifting Present in the Narrative That Follows
Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees (1982)
Introduction

Lifesource
1. High School (1943-1946)
2. Childhood (1928-1943)
3. Army, Schooling, Europe, and Early Work (1946-1957)

The Narrows (Part 1)
4. Ferus (Los Angeles/ New York)
5. The Early Ferus Years

From Abstract Expressionism through the Early Lines (1957-1962)
6. The Late Ferus Years: The Late Lines (1962-1964)

The Narrows (Part 2)
7. The Dots (1964-1967)
8. The Discs (1967-1969)
9. Post-disc Experiments and Columns (1968-1970)

Delta
Prelude
10. Teaching
11. Art and Science (1968-1970)
12. Playing the Horses
13. The Room at the Museum of Modern Art (1970)

Debouchement
Oceanic
14. The Desert
15. Being Available in Response
16. Some Situations (1970-1976)
17. Reading and Writing
18. The Whitney Retrospective Down to Point Zero (1977)
19. Since the Whitney: Return to the World (1977-1981)

Present All Around
20. Seeing Isn't Doing (1985)
21. Play It as It Lays and Keep it in Play
The Irwin Retrospective at MOCA in Los Angeles(1993)
22. When Fountainheads Collide: Robert Irwin at Richard Meier's Getty (1997)
23. Heaven: Irwin and Meyerowitz at the Dia (2000)
24. Irwin in his Seventies (2007-2008)

Afterword: On Robert Irwin and David Hockney
Acknowledgements
Bibliographic notes
Index
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.
“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.”—Robert L. Pincus San Diego Union-Tribune
“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.”—Eugenia Bell Frieze
“Taken together, Weschler's two books [True to Life 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.”—Robert Fulford The National Post
“‘Seeing Is Forgetting’ and ‘True to Life’ are not only about the artists talking to Weschler or, through him, to each other; they're about the artists talking to themselves.”—David Ulin Salt Lake Tribune
“‘Seeing Is Forgetting’ and ‘True to Life’ are not only about the artists talking to Weschler or, through him, to each other; they're about the artists talking to themselves.”—David Ulin Los Angeles Times Book Review
“‘Seeing Is Forgetting’ and ‘True to Life’ are not only about the artists talking to Weschler or, through him, to each other; they're about the artists talking to themselves.”—David Ulin The News & Advance (Lynchburg, Va)
“‘Seeing Is Forgetting’ and ‘True to Life’ are not only about the artists talking to Weschler or, through him, to each other; they're about the artists talking to themselves.”—David Ulin Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
"Robert Irwin, perhaps the most influential of the California artists, moved from his beginnings in abstract expressionism through successive shifts in style and sensibility, into a new aesthetic territory altogether, one where philosophical concepts of perception and the world interact. Weschler has charted the journey with exceptional clarity and cogency. He has also, in the process, provided what seems to me the best running history of postwar West Coast art that I have yet seen."—Calvin Tomkins

Join UC Press


Members receive 20-40% discounts on book purchases. Find out more