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Back to John Hyman

“The longer you work, the more the mystery deepens of what appearance is, or how what is called appearance can be made in another medium." (Francis Bacon, painter) This, in a nutshell, is the central problem in the theory of art.  It has fascinated philosophers from Plato to Wittgenstein.  And it fascinates artists and art historians, who have always drawn extensively on philosophical ideas about language and representation, and on ideas about vision and the visible world that have deep philosophical roots.  The Objective Eye is a radical treatment of this problem, deeply informed by the history of philosophy and science, but entirely fresh.  The book progresses from pure philosophy to applied philosophy and ranges from the metaphysics of color to Renaissance perspective, from anatomy in ancient Greece to impressionism in nineteenth-century France.

More information about The Objective Eye can be found here.

Reviews of The Objective Eye

“I can think of no other philosophical analysis in the last decade or so of comparable value for philosophers and theorists of art.” (Michael Podro, author of The Critical Historians of Art)

“an extremely important book—a radical, exhilarating rethinking of fundamental problems in the understanding of the visual arts.” (John Elderfield, Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture, MoMA)

“A major contribution to our understanding of pictorial art. […] Its scholarship is both immaculate and extraordinarily impressive in its range; and it displays a mind of high intelligence with first-rate analytical and critical powers.” (Macolm Budd, Lebenswelt)

“It reminds me of George Orwell's nonfiction, in that Hyman adamantly refuses to be taken in by the disingenuous rhetoric of others or to deploy such rhetoric himself.” (Journal of Aesthetics and Art  Criticism)

“This erudite and engrossing book […] is firmly in the tradition of analytical philosophy, though it is written without technicality and is intended as much for readers without philosophical background as for initiates.  I hope I have managed to convey some of the work’s richness, and also to have made it plain that for all its admirable lucidity it will run the philosophical tyro at full stretch if he is to keep pace.” (British Journal of Aesthetics)

“The rigorous clarity and elegant concision of Hyman’s writing—literary virtues to which the best analytical philosophy has always aspired—carry his reader through even the most challenging material. No-one will come away from his book without having learnt a great deal about one of the most familiar mysteries of human culture.” (London Review of Books)