What Painting Is
Unlike many books on painting that usually talk about art or painters, James Elkins’ compelling and original work focuses on alchemy, for like the alchemist, the painter seeks to transform and be transformed by the medium.
In What Painting Is, James Elkins communicates the experience of painting beyond the traditional vocabulary of art history. Alchemy provides a magical language to explore what it is a painter really does in her or his studio - the smells, the mess, the struggle to control the uncontrollable, the special knowledge only painters hold of how colours will mix, and how they will look.
Written from the perspective of a painter-turned-art historian, What Painting Is is like nothing you have ever read about art.
What people are saying - Write a review
Review: What Painting IsUser Review - Nick - Goodreads
This is getting into the nitty-gritty of the material appeal and fetish interest in oil paint and the painter as alchemist. Very unique perspective for a book on paint and very well written. Read full review
Review: What Painting IsUser Review - Noah - Goodreads
I thought the painting/alchemy metaphor is a bit of a stretch, but still a worthwhile read for painters and anyone interested in THE ACT of painting. Read full review
1 A short course in forgetting chemistry
2 How to count in oil and stone
3 The mouldy materia prima
4 How do substances occupy the mind?
5 Coagulating cohobating macerating reverberating
6 The studio as a kind of psychosis