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the eye of the artist

The Eye of the Artist

Michael F. Marmor and James G. Ravin

St. Louis: Mosby-Year Book, Inc., 1997

by: Brian Schumacher

This book brings together wide-ranging articles on vision and art by a number of contributors—some art historians, some ophthalmologists—and is generously illustrated with charts, diagrams, and reproductions of relevant artworks. In the opening chapter, Michael F. Marmor discusses visual function and eye diseases in the context of art, making the point that “vision is not just a mechanical function of the eye,” since, “in simple terms, the brain intertwines perceptual processes to interpret what we see.” The book includes chapters overviewing the sorts of eye issues (presbyopia, myopia, cataracts, macular degeneration, etc.) and visual phenomena (such as edge effects) that affect and influence artists’ work. Later chapters discuss the works of certain artists in light of their visual ailments. You will find discussions of the vision and work of Charles Méryon, Vincent van Gogh, Renoir, Claude Monet, El Greco, Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Georgia O’Keeffe, and the Greek vase painter Euphronios.

“[There] are two kinds of disturbances of the eyes, stemming from two sources – when they have been transferred from light to darkness and when they have been transferred from darkness to light.”
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