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Thinking Out of Sight

Writings on the Arts of the Visible

Edited by Ginette Michaud, Joana Masó, and Javier Bassas
With New Translations by Laurent Milesi
Jacques Derrida remains a leading voice of philosophy, his works still resonating today—and for more than three decades, one of the main sites of Derridean deconstruction has been the arts. Collecting nineteen texts spanning from 1979 to 2004, Thinking out of Sight brings to light Derrida’s most inventive ideas about the making of visual artworks.

The book is divided into three sections. The first demonstrates Derrida’s preoccupation with visibility, image, and space. The second contains interviews and collaborations with artists on topics ranging from the politics of color to the components of painting. Finally, the book delves into Derrida’s writings on photography, video, cinema, and theater, ending with a text published just before his death about his complex relationship to his own image. With many texts appearing for the first time in English, Thinking out of Sight helps us better understand the critique of representation and visibility throughout Derrida’s work, and, most importantly, to assess the significance of his insights about art and its commentary.

328 pages | 7 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2020

The France Chicago Collection

Art: Art Criticism, Art--General Studies

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory

Philosophy: Aesthetics, General Philosophy


“Who other than Jacques Derrida could have demonstrated with this degree of insight and lucidity the essential relationship between the visual arts and invisibility, nonappearance, absence, the night, blindness, even death? This superb collection of essays on painting, drawing, photography, video, cinema, and theater will forever transform both the way we understand Derrida and the way we look at the visual arts.”

Michael Naas, DePaul University

“This wonderful collection brings together several of Derrida’s most beautiful and wildly engaging thoughts on the visual and performing arts. Many of the essays, lectures, and interviews are presented here for the first time in English, and others are even published for the first time anywhere. Together, not only do they delineate the relations among drawing, painting, photography, film, theater, and writing, but they also suggest that the arts are never just art; they are different modes of thinking and writing. This collection offers an exquisitely rich introduction to Derrida’s singular contribution to the arts of reading and thinking.”

Eduardo L. Cadava, Princeton University

"This wide-ranging collection of essays, lectures, and interviews, shows philosopher Jacques Derrida (Acts of Religion) (1930–2004) applying his signature deconstructionist thinking to the visual arts...Philosophically minded readers will find much to consider in the way of art criticism."

Publisher's Weekly

Table of Contents

Editors’ Foreword

Part 1: The Traces of the Visible

The Spatial Arts: An Interview by Peter Brunette and David Wills

Thinking Out of Sight

Trace and Archive, Image and Art

Part 2: Rhetoric of the Line: Painting, Drawing

To Illustrate, He Said

The Philosopher’s Design: An Interview by Jérôme Coignard

Drawing by Design


To Save the Phenomena: For Salvatore Puglia

Four Ways to Drawing

Ecstasy, Crisis: An Interview with Valerio Adami and Roger Lesgards

Color to the Letter

The “Undersides” of Painting, Writing, and Drawing: Support, Substance, Subject, Suppost, and Supplice

Part 3: Spectralities of the Image: Photography, Video, Cinema, and Theater



The Ghost Dance: An Interview by Mark Lewis and Andrew Payne

Cinema and Its Ghosts: An Interview by Antoine de Baecque and Thierry Jousse

The Sacrifice

Marx Is (Quite) Somebody

The Survivor, the Surcease, the Surge

Bibliography on the Arts and Architecture
Notes on Editors and Translators

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