Why did I love this book?
This book is simply brilliant. I first read it in the 1980s and return to it often for inspiration and to remind myself of its piercing lucidity. Beautifully written, clear, thoughtful, and direct, it expresses a way of looking at art and visual culture that can be applied to other times and places. Baxandall explores the social relationships and practices out of which works of art emerge, connecting the way paintings look with the society in which they were made. He robustly criticises simplistic approaches to the art of the past and shows how we can think differently and understand more. I have deep admiration for Michael Baxandall, whose writings encourage readers to reflect on their own visual skills and habits, how and where they have acquired them.