Skip to main content
How to See: Looking, Talking, and Thinking about Art

How to See: Looking, Talking, and Thinking about Art

Previous price: $17.99 Current price: $16.95
Publication Date: January 16th, 2018
W. W. Norton & Company
The MIT Press Bookstore
1 on hand, as of Apr 19 6:11pm
On Our Shelves Now


“If John Berger’s Ways of Seeing is a classic of art criticism, looking at the ‘what’ of art, then David Salle’s How to See is the artist’s reply, a brilliant series of reflections on how artists think when they make their work. The ‘how’ of art has perhaps never been better explored.” —Salman Rushdie

How does art work? How does it move us, inform us, challenge us? Internationally renowned painter David Salle’s incisive essay collection illuminates these questions by exploring the work of influential twentieth-century artists. Engaging with a wide range of Salle’s friends and contemporaries—from painters to conceptual artists such as Jeff Koons, John Baldessari, Roy Lichtenstein, and Alex Katz, among others—How to See explores not only the multilayered personalities of the artists themselves but also the distinctive character of their oeuvres.

Salle writes with humor and verve, replacing the jargon of art theory with precise and evocative descriptions that help the reader develop a personal and intuitive engagement with art. The result: a master class on how to see with an artist’s eye.

About the Author

David Salle’s paintings are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery in Washington, DC, the Los Angeles County Art Museum, Tate Modern, the National Galerie Berlin, and many others. He lives in New York City.

Praise for How to See: Looking, Talking, and Thinking about Art

An upbeat, non-combative approach to art criticism.… [F]resh, engaging.
— Roger White - New York Times Book Review

David Salle’s brilliant canvases changed everything, and now his luminescent eye and voice have married in a book that is destined to alter not only how we look at art, but the language we use to describe it. His essays are a gift that, in addition to feeding one’s process of intellection, nourishes one’s art-loving soul. Transcendent.
— Hilton Als

Witty, chatty, intimate, sharp.
— Lorin Stein - Paris Review

Lovely to read.… [How to See] is serious but never solemn, alert to pleasure, a boulevardier’s crisp stroll through the visual world.

— Dwight Garner - New York Times

We feel we are reading the latest from a commentator who has been at it for a lifetime and yet is still making discoveries and sharp, new distinctions… observations that can be funny, warm, offhandedly erudite, arch, or simply commonsensical, and that intensify the part played by art in our lives and the life of art itself.
— Sanford Schwartz - New York Review of Books

[Salle] writes about art that he admires with passion and a discerning eye.… [I]lluminating.
— Glen Roven - Los Angeles Review of Books

A trenchant and light-on-its-feet collection of critical essays… about art, artists, fame, and, if you read it closely enough, what it’s like to have been David Salle for all these years.
— Carl Swanson - New York Magazine

A remarkable painter whose writing is as fresh, vital, and startling as his canvases, Salle… talks about artists and their work in witty, jargon-free, and eminently accessible prose.
— Tirdad Derakhshani - Philadelphia Inquirer

How to See is an exhilarating and cathartic experience[,]… an offering of passion and generosity, and a pulsing invitation to the reader to find the same in the act of seeing.

— Simone Grace Seol - National Book Review

[A] rare mix of eminently readable art criticism and close scrutiny of process and technique. His admiring descriptions… [allow] the reader to momentarily inhabit the consciousness of an artist and to rediscover painting through his eyes.
— Rachel Corbett - Vulture