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This book

What Paint­ing Is,by James Elkins, is kind of odd. The book is all about one metaphor, explored in great detail. Elkins wants us to under­stand that paint­ing and alchemy are the same. I must admit that he gets off to a great start. He’s an art his­tory aca­d­e­mic who was once a prac­tic­ing artist, and he is inspir­ing in his abil­ity to describe the obses­sive, seduc­tive, over­whelm­ing fas­ci­na­tion of play­ing with col­ored mud. From the Introduction:

Posted in art books, art history.

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  1. Gregg from Houston says

    David, Another book that might inter­est you if you have not already men­tioned it is:
    “Col­ors” by Vic­to­ria Fin­lay. Do an Ama­zon search for it. The fol­low­ing is a quote from Book­list:
    “Jour­nal­ist Fin­lay trav­els the world in search of ancient sources of nat­ural col­ors, recount­ing along the way the sur­pris­ing chem­i­cal processes by which every­thing from stones to insects to mum­mies have been trans­formed into pre­cious pig­ments for paint, dyes, and var­nish.”
    I just fin­ished it. It kept up my inter­est to the end, although I wish some of her chap­ters were longer.

  2. David says


    Thanks. I’ll check it out.

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