PRINT February 2007


T. J. Clark

IN HIS PREFACE to Painting as an Art (1987), the philosopher Richard Wollheim described a somewhat unusual way of looking at paintings which he found both “massively time consuming and deeply rewarding”:

I came to recognize that it often took the first hour or so in front of a painting for stray associations or motivated misperceptions to settle down, and it was only then, with the same amount of time or more to spend looking at it, that the picture could be relied upon to disclose itself as it was. I spent long hours in the church of San Salvatore in Venice, in the Louvre, in the Guggenheim Museum, coaxing a picture into life. I noticed that I became an object of suspicion to passers-by, and so did the picture I was looking at.

It was fundamental to Wollheim’s philosophy of art that art presupposes “a common human nature, and that pictorial meaning works through it,” and he was confident

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