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Visual Thinking

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  329 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
For thirty-five years Visual Thinking has been the gold standard for art educators, psychologists, and general readers alike. In this seminal work, Arnheim, author of The Dynamics of Architectural Form, Film as Art, Toward a Psychology of Art, and Art and Visual Perception, asserts that all thinking (not just thinking related to art) is basically perceptual in nature, and ...more
Paperback, Thirty-Fifth Anniversary Printing, 352 pages
Published April 16th 2004 by University of California Press (first published 1969)
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Mar 17, 2007 Ryan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: main
What if pictures, or hieroglyphics, could be made into a deeper and more complex langauge, that is yet more rapidly understandable and recognizable by the same order? Text takes time to export and to absorb in relation to drawings, stalling the creative brainstorming process. Arnheim shows how this visual langauge has developed. One can easily think of the long dashes and violent scribbles that translate into speed and dust clouds of coups de poing that are depicted in every newspaper's comic se ...more
Dr. Carl Ludwig Dorsch
Feb 22, 2014 Dr. Carl Ludwig Dorsch rated it liked it
Shelves: mind-ways
Some 30 years after publishing Visual Thinking, Arnheim described it thus:

“My essential assertion in the book you mentioned [Visual Thinking] is that language is not the formal prototype of knowledge; rather, that sensory knowledge, upon which all our experience is based, creates the possibilities of language.

“Our only access to reality is sensory experience, that is, sight or hearing or touch. And sensory experience is always more than mere seeing or touching. It also includes mental images an
Gridd Consultancy
One of the must-read classics on visual thinking. You'll need some patience to read it, but take your time and read it all.
According to Arnheim: "cognitive processes indicated as thinking are not mental processes above and beyond perception but essential ingredients of perception itself". This book will help you gain some understanding of cognitive psychology.
Cara Byrne
May 31, 2014 Cara Byrne rated it liked it
Recommended by Bill Marling as a good starting point to think about the intersection of images and thought, Arnheim's classic predates some of my favorite visual rhetoric theory, while still engaging in how we should understand/teach visual analysis.

He ends with a chapter entitled, “Vision in Education,” where he argues that we need “the systematic training of visual sensitivity as an indispensable part of any educator’s preparation for his profession. The difference between a picture that make
Dr. A
Oct 17, 2014 Dr. A rated it really liked it
Read this and more reviews of Philosophy books on the History page of (a thinkPhilosophy Production).

This book is a bit dry, but it is a standard and it lays out the terrain where thinking about vision as formative of thought. The two chapters on "The intelligence of perception" I and II, are a review of the philosophical discussions that frame this otherwise formalistic and psychological treatment.

Read this and more reviews of Philosophy books on the Histor
Aug 01, 2012 Damien rated it it was amazing
Absolute classic essays about cognitive and gestalt psychology. Terrifically appealing for visual artists that are interested in a scientific underpinning of how human cognitive powers operate. Relatively early work in the field of what eventually became cognitive neuroscience and/or biopsychology, so its threaded throughout with a bit of the Jungian-influenced concepts so prevalent during the late 50's & 60's. But terrific information and a text I return to every few years just to flip thro ...more
Feb 07, 2016 Lisa rated it liked it
This book gives a deeper understanding on the worth of perception and the intelligence it requires. But, as a designer, I did not find much additional useful information. The density of the writing was not rewarded with better insight into visual thinking - at least for me.
Bo Mcfarland
May 20, 2016 Bo Mcfarland rated it it was amazing
Arnheim is a mad genius.
Judith Rodenbeck
I read this as an undergraduate. Arnheim died last year and SLC, where he taught for several decades, is planning an event in Spring of 2008. It's one of those books that used to be absolutely required of anyone involved in the visual arts, though more recently, at least in poststructuralist art history circles, the psychology of art has gotten a bad rap...
Mar 04, 2014 Nancy rated it it was amazing
A very thorough book. Takes time to really think how your visual thinking works. If you take out your blank canvas, and take a good look at it, it can help boosts your visual thinking. This is just one way. There are so many ways. I would recommend this book for visual artists.
Erik Graff
Jan 31, 2014 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: perceptual psychologists
Recommended to Erik by: Robert Neale
Shelves: psychology
Although I rushed through this book when it was assigned for my first psychology class at Union Theological Seminary in New York, I suspect that its argument and evidences that all thinking is sensory (Arnheim's emphasis being on the visual sense) has influenced me ever since.
Abel Allison
Oct 20, 2011 Abel Allison rated it it was ok
Read through about two thirds. It was a good primer on cognition as it relates the sense of vision and how we organize that information. I found it a bit dated though in its perspective, and didn't really have the energy to finish.
Jul 30, 2012 Zachary rated it really liked it
A lot of reading. Arnheim is more than a little pedantic. Getting through this felt like an accomplishment. Good stuff there to be sure. I just don't remember any of it.
Sfspearman Spearman
Dec 07, 2008 Sfspearman Spearman rated it really liked it
I read this book a long time ago. Now I am re-reading portions of it. It makes me feel good.

Juan Corporan
May 17, 2007 Juan Corporan added it
Recommends it for: everyone
i love this book!!
the perfect way to learn how talk and listen without words.
Paul Marvin
The Library of Congress has my copy of this book.
Feb 09, 2009 Safoura rated it liked it
goo book but need patience to read it.
Oct 02, 2011 Charles rated it liked it
The arguments are often laborious, but overall an excellent caution against reductionism in one's personal epistemology.
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Rudolf Arnheim (1904–2007) was a German-born author, art and film theorist, and perceptual psychologist. He learned Gestalt psychology from studying under Max Wertheimer and Wolfgang Köhler at the University of Berlin and applied it to art. His magnum opus was his book Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye (1954). Other major books by Arnheim have included Visual Thinking (19 ...more
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