Seeing Like an Artist:

What Artists Perceive in the Art of Others

“Irresistibly readable, companionable, and quotable.”—Joyce Carol Oates

Learn to see art as an artist does. Discover how a painting’s composition or a sculpture’s structure influence the experience of what you’re seeing. With an artist as your guide, viewing art becomes a powerfully enriching experience that will stay in your mind long after you’ve left a museum.

A visit to view art can be overwhelming, exhausting, and unrewarding. Lincoln Perry wants to change that. In fifteen essays—each framed around a specific theme—he provides new ways of seeing and appreciating art.

Perry is a disarmingly charming tour guide who makes art approachable and accessible. Along the way, he weaves in personal stories, from his own artistic journey as a painter and sculptor to the days when he could still spend nights in his beaten-up VW Bus in the Louvre’s parking lot.

Drawing heavily on examples from the European traditions of art, Perry aims to overturn assumptions and asks readers to re-think artistic prejudices while rebuilding new preferences. Included are essays on how artists “read” paintings, how scale and format influence viewers, how to engage with sculptures and murals, as well as glimpses into some of the great museums and churches of Europe.

Seeing Like an Artist is for any artist, art-lover, or museumgoer who wants to grow their appreciation for the art of others.

CRITICAL PRAISE

“Perry covers ‘how certain paintings and sculpture were made’ in his conversational debut, a convincing ‘plea to look closely.’ Across 15 essays, Perry combines memoir and art criticism . . . ‘Reading Paintings’ is a masterclass in technical components including color, shape, and what Perry calls velocity, or the speed with which the viewer is ‘asked to read through the fictional space of the picture’ . . . his guidance is well delivered: ‘I’ll try to evoke what I’ve come to love not because I believe it’s what you should love, but, rather, because I hope my enthusiasm might inspire you to find what you love.’ Budding art aficionados, take note.”
Publishers Weekly

ADVANCE PRAISE

“Lincoln Perry has written an irresistibly readable, companionable, and quotable artist’s memoir in this Grand Tour of commentary on museums (primarily European) and artists as varied as Rodin, Picasso, Corot, Bruegal, Veronese (the ‘group figure narrative’), Bernini, Courbet, R.B. Kitaj, Masaccio and Masolino, Rubens, Pollock, and Rothko. There is no substitute for seeing art ‘in situ,’ as Perry tells us, but accompanying this ideal observer, a practicing artist with the sharp, sympathetic eye of a fellow craftsman, is an exhilarating experience.”
Joyce Carol Oates, author of Babysitter

“So much writing about art seems like useless noise—abstract, pretentious, gassy. This is not that. Lincoln Perry takes us on a journey, showing us what he sees and how he sees, and it’s wonderful. There is revelation on every page.”
James Gleick, author of Time Travel: A History

 “Lincoln Perry writes so clearly and sees everything in a state of wonder. His visual experience embraces ancient Greece, the Renaissance, African and Asian art, Modernism. He finds the abstractionist in Michelangelo and the storyteller in Picasso. No one knows how to cite quotations better than he. He has looked into museums all over the world and literally lived in a camper next to the Louvre. He is a wonderful companion on the page and an unintimidating expert: this book will open your eyes.”
Edmund White, author of A Previous Life

Lincoln Perry’s distinctive landscapes, figurative paintings, and sculptures have been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions across the country. His large-scale murals can be found in landmark buildings such as the Met Life building in St. Louis and Old Cabell Hall at the University of Virginia. The monograph Lincoln Perry’s Charlottesville includes an essay and interview by his wife, Ann Beattie. His essays on art have appeared in The American ScholarArionSalmagundiThe Yale Review, and other journals. Mr. Perry divides his time between Maine, Virginia, and Florida.