288 pages | 15 Color Illus. | 15 B/W Illus.
In this classic text, James Elkins communicates the experience of painting beyond the traditional vocabulary of art history. Alchemy provides a magical language to explore what it is a painter really does in the studio--the smells, the mess, the struggle to control the uncontrollable, the special knowledge only painters hold of how colors will mix, and how they will look. Written from the perspective of a painter-turned-art historian, this anniversary edition includes a new introduction and preface by Elkins in which he further reflects on the experience of painting and its role in the study of art today.
"One of the few essential books on oil painting….In passages from which every critic should learn, Elkins tries to decode the exact physical gestures that produced what he sees….He makes readers feel they are truly tasting a viewpoint of reality alien to the modern scientific world view." --San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle
"A truly original book. It will make you look at paintings differently and think about paint differently." -- Boston Globe
"Wandering in the Metropolitan, needing a break from looking at art, I went to the shop, purchased What Painting Is, and sat down and started to read. When then I got up again, the art looked different. Elkins's best writing teaches you how to look more closely and see more."--David Carrier, Art Journal
"What Painting Is succeeds very well in evoking the odors, stickiness, and intense attraction of the paint itself."--Katerina Duskova, The Art Bulletin
Introduction to the 20th Anniversary edition