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Distributed for Paul Holberton Publishing

The Human Touch

Making Art, Leaving Traces

Touch is our first sense. Through touch we make art, stake a claim to what we own and those we love, and express our faith, beliefs, and anger. Touch is how we leave our mark and find our place in the world; touch is how we connect.

Drawing on artworks spanning four thousand years and stretching across the globe, this book offers new ways of looking at the fundamental role of touch in the human experience. In a series of essays, the authors explore anatomy and skin; the relationship between the brain, hand, and creativity; touch, desire, and possession; ideological touch; and reverence and iconoclasm. Nearly two hundred lavish illustrations accompany the text, including drawings, paintings, prints, and sculpture by Raphael, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Carracci, Hogarth, Turner, Rodin, Degas, and Kollwitz, along with work by contemporary artists Judy Chicago, Frank Auerbach, Richard Long, the Chapman Brothers, and Richard Rawlins. The events of 2020 have made us newly alive to the preciousness and the dangers of touch, making this a particularly timely exploration of our most fundamental sense.

192 pages | 192 color plates | 9 1/2 x 11

Art: Art--General Studies

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"It takes us through various aspects of the creative process, exploring, from our distant ancestors through to our living contemporaries, the physicality, and hence intimate nature, of mark making. It ponders, across time and space, the religious and spiritual rituals involving touch, and conversely, the strictures forbidding touch to demarcate the corporeal and non-material realms. . . . Not least of all, it explores the emotional power of touch and the meanings we bring to it. . . . The essays here are rich, dense and expansive, referencing philosophies, religious tracts, poems, literary texts, early anatomical studies (medieval and pre-Enlightenment) and so forth."

Art Quarterly

"A melancholy triumph."


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