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The Sight of Death: An Experiment in Art Writing

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  109 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
Why do we find ourselves returning to certain pictures time and again? What is it we are looking for? How does our understanding of an image change over time? In his latest book T. J. Clark addresses these questions—and many more—in ways that steer art writing into new territory.

In early 2000 two extraordinary paintings by Poussin hung in the Getty Museum in a single room,
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 15th 2008 by Yale University Press (first published June 23rd 2006)
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Dec 03, 2013 Trevor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art
I’ve recently finished a book about how to look at great works of art (The Intimate Philosophy of Art). A large part of the point of that book is to give people some tools to use when they are confronted with a piece of art they know is ‘great’, but that when they look at it doesn’t exactly ‘speak’ to them. The advice given is to basically do what your high school English teacher would have suggested when reading poetry. That is, try to figure out why each word is there, think of the other words ...more
May 24, 2010 AC rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art
Well - the second half was a letdown. The subjective crawled in... quietly, and surreptitiously... like a snake... and finally coiled itself around the body of the text and strangled it... like the corpse in Snake. Even Clark, with all his passionate looking, couldn't trust entirely simply to... looking. That is sad, because what he does in the first half of this beautiful book is so original and sustained... and successful.

Despite all this, I can't recommend this book highly enough -- provided,
Have not read and have never heard of this book.
‘It takes more than seeing to make things visible’: at the beginning of The Absolute Bourgeois, first published in 1973, T.J. Clark lays claim to the wager that will run throughout his substantial oeuvre. Provocative, intuitive, that wager comes right to the fore in The Sight of Death: An Experiment in Art Writing, a book devoted to the work of looking at, and writing about, two paintings: Nicolas Poussin’s Landscape with a Calm (1650–51) and Landscape with a Man Killed by a Snake (1648). Both p ...more
Gareth Schweitzer
This is a beautiful book in many senses - it's lovely to hold, with great paper and has many fantastic reproductions, whose details are even better than seeing the actual painting "Landscape with Snake" in the National Gallery which has aged terribly.

However this kind of art writing often really annoys me. At times it comes across as too academic, too closed, too esoteric. I switch off or am totally baffled by some it. I don't think the author even knows what he means some of the time.

There are
Dec 15, 2011 carelessdestiny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art-stories
A mesmerising book. He goes to a room in the Getty Museum every day to look at two Poussin paintings that are hanging in splendid isolation. He then writes about his daily devotion, uncovering layer after layer of meaning and taking me on a unique journey.
David Thomas
May 24, 2015 David Thomas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books on looking at painting that I have read. What it reminds one is that paintings are not genre or something that the artist did, or how he spent his childhood. All these are peripheral to the main event of the actual painting and it's to this that Clark directs most of his attention. It's a corrective to the over-curated, contextualised, biographised, "block-buster" view of painting and re-iterates the opinion that a painting is a silent, profound and eternally renewing exper ...more
Egor Sofronov
Mar 02, 2013 Egor Sofronov rated it liked it
Clark can make even Poussin thrilling.
Nov 25, 2008 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An Art Historian's experimentation with his own approach to art. This is written in a journal-format, and the author is looking specifically at two Poussin paintings.
I enjoyed reading this. Clark's approach was simple and sincere. But, as I progressed further into the book, I realized that Clark's text lacks any academic references. His experiment depends the study of one's own personal response to a painting, rather than academic analysis. It was an interesting read, but I found myself fundame
Nov 18, 2013 Thorlakur rated it did not like it
What possessed T. J. Clark to enter this book for publication is completely baffling to me. Here, Clark, presents his thoughts on two paintings by Nicolas Poussin (Landscape with a Calm and Landscape with a Man Killed by a Snake) in the form of a diary. As this diary has few entries of a personal nature, this should accurately be described as dated collection of notes. There is a good age-old reason why notes are edited, researched further and finally put into a legible prose. I finished this bo ...more
John steppling
Jun 15, 2015 John steppling rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Clark remains one of the great critics of painting and art, of our time.
Jun 12, 2011 Jien rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read this as textbook for a painting class. It was hard to get through because I was not interested at all, however it did present some useful ideas.
Jan 09, 2013 Mariam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clark provides his own reading of a painting that he happened to face every day as a curator
May 22, 2009 Jon rated it really liked it
really enjoyed this meditation on the process of seeing and experiencing.
Jul 14, 2008 Alissa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Please note that I read the hardcover and not the paperback.
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Timothy James Clark often known as T.J. Clark, is an art historian and writer, born in 1943 in Bristol, England.

Clark attended Bristol Grammar School. He completed his undergraduate studies at St. John's College, Cambridge University, he obtained a first-class honours degree in 1964. He received his Ph.D. in art history from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London in 1973. He lectured
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