From Head to Hand: Art and the Manual

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9780195391220: From Head to Hand: Art and the Manual

In his third book, Strauss delves into the mysterious process whereby an idea is born in the mind and materialized through the hand in the expression of an artwork. How exactly does this happen? It's a question so basic, an act so fundamental to art-making, that it has rarely received attention. It makes an ideal topic for Strauss, a writer with an exceptional ability to animate art's philosophical dimensions in a clear, persuasive manner. During this time when craft and the direct manipulation of materials by the artist appear to be in eclipse, Strauss comes to their defense in a spirited cri de coeur.

Featuring over 35 illustrations, the book examines a wide variety of media and individual examples. It explores the works of sculptors Martin Puryear, Ursula von Rydingsvard, and Donald Lipski; painters Leon Golub and Ron Gorchov; and writers Robert Duncan, Robert Kelly, Guy Davenport, John Berger, and Leo Steinberg. In addition, there are essays on Joseph Beuys's 7000 Oaks in Ireland, contemporary Haida carvers Reg Davidson and Jim Hart, Cecilia Vicuña's "memory of the fingers," and the influence of curators Harald Szeemann and Walter Hopps on the staging of contemporary art exhibitions.

Known primarily for his writings on photography and politics, Strauss here focuses on the least mediated arts--painting, sculpture, and writing. His claims are supported by a series of close readings which succeed in recovering the immediacy of the hand and revitalizing contemporary art's connection to the past.

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About the Author:


David Levi Strauss writes frequently for Aperture. His books include Between the Eyes: Essays On Photography and Politics and Between Dog & Wolf: Essays on Art and Politics. He is Chair of the graduate program in Art Criticism and Writing at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

Review:


"Strauss is an art critic of exceptional originality and depth. I can think of none in this field I would rank ahead of him in terms of his knowledge, his seriousness, his adventure, and the power of his writing."--Arthur Danto


"This is a good book. It is literate, thoughtful, kind, lucid, and meticulous, which is high praise in the Grub Street of contemporary art journalism. It embodies a chastening respect for the artist and the works that is not much in evidence these days. In a serious, somewhat smaller art world, Strauss's book would set the standard for criticism."--Dave Hickey, author of The Invisible Dragon


"David Levi Strauss brings an intellectual poise and gentle regard for fact to write of what is truly urgent in the art and literature he admires. Having found his bearings by attentive looking or reading, he retrieves for us that 'certain sensation' felt in the moment, found here in model instances of translucent prose."--Bill Berkson, Portrait and Dream: New and Selected Poems


"Inspired by Leo Steinberg and John Berger, and drawing on his intimate knowledge of a range of contemporary artists and writers, David Levi Strauss deftly combines inquiry, fact, illumination and response in this brilliant collection. Lucid, passionate and provocative, From Head to Hand reimagines for a new generation the necessity for an active engagement with the material processes and presence of art."--Ann Lauterbach, author of Or to Begin Again


"Strauss's writing is always smooth.... Strauss makes a good case for paying heed not only to the objects before us but also to how they came into being."--Bookforum


"Strauss' writing is as engaging as the intriguing range of practitioners and writing he brings into focus . . . This is a book of words in pursuit of the nature of visual articulation, as gracious as it is informative . . . Highly recommended."--R.W. Liscombe, CHOICE


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