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Art inSight

Understanding Art and Why It Matters

A first encounter with art is like meeting a stranger: it opens you to new ideas, people, places, and parts of yourself. In Art inSight: Understanding Art and Why It Matters, Fanchon Silberstein delves into the first known art and explores what it can reveal about how its makers saw the world and how contemporary artists can help us to see our own. The result is equal parts an ode to the joy of artful engagement, a how-to for anyone interested in understanding art and culture, and a journey around the world from prehistory to the present day. Readers confront strangeness through observation, description, and conversation, and are given the skills to understand cross-cultural divisions and perceive diverse ways of interpreting the world.
Organized by ideas rather than history, chronology, or cultures, the book presents dialogues, imagining interactions between paintings created centuries apart, and describing discussions among students learning the role of art in conflict resolution. By emphasizing the relationship between viewer and image, Art inSight urges readers to discover meaning in their own ways and offers questions that lead them into profound connections with works of art and the cultures behind them.

175 pages | 65 color plates | 6 3/4 x 9 3/4

Art: Art--General Studies

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"If you think art is inert, Fanchon Silberstein has news for you. In fact, if you think art is . . . well . . . art—beautiful pictures, stunning sculptures, and other lovely things—you still have a lot to learn. But not to worry: the teacher has entered the classroom. In Art inSight, you'll learn that art is not just about seeing, that it’s not even primarily about seeing; it's about engaging with the artist, entering into the world of the artist, and learning about that world and consequently about your own. When you come out of a painting, this book teaches you, you won't be the same person who went in. Nor will you be the same person after reading this book."

Craig Storti, author and director of Communicating Across Cultures

"Silberstein provides a guide to exploring works of art from any time period or culture, enabling both the frequent museum and gallery visitor as well as the novice to enhance their understanding of and pleasure in diverse and compelling objects created by past and present artists."

Carolyn Kinder Carr, PhD, National Portrait Gallery, deputy director and chief curator emerita

"This is a thoughtful and deeply personal consideration of what art is and what it can become for those willing to take the time to look, listen, and reflect. As we follow the author on her wide-ranging inquiry into artistic meaning and intention, we become more aware of the dialogue between a maker and a beholder essential to any aesthetic experience. Most importantly, we learn not to be afraid of works of art that defy our expectations – and appreciate how they communicate their messages, even before we can understand them."

Aneta Georgievska-Shine, University of Maryland and the Smithsonian

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