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The Psychology of an Art Writer

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An openly lesbian, feminist writer, Vernon Lee—a pseudonym of Violet Paget—is the most important female aesthetician to come out of nineteenth century England. Though she was widely known for her supernatural fictions, Lee hasn’t gained the recognition she so clearly deserves for her contributions in the fields of aesthetics, philosophy of empathy, and art criticism. An ear An openly lesbian, feminist writer, Vernon Lee—a pseudonym of Violet Paget—is the most important female aesthetician to come out of nineteenth century England. Though she was widely known for her supernatural fictions, Lee hasn’t gained the recognition she so clearly deserves for her contributions in the fields of aesthetics, philosophy of empathy, and art criticism. An early follower of Walter Pater, her work is characterized by extreme attention to her own responses to artworks, and a level of psychological sensitivity rarely seen in any aesthetic writing. Today, she is largely overlooked in curriculums, her aesthetic works long out of print.  David Zwirner Books is reintroducing Lee’s writing through the first-ever English publication of "Psychology of an Art Writer" (1903) along with selections from her groundbreaking "Gallery Diaries" (1901–1904), breathtaking accounts of Lee’s own experiences with the great paintings and sculptures she traveled to see. Ranging from deeply felt assessments of the way mood affects our ability to appreciate art, to detailed descriptions of some of the most powerful personal experiences with artworks, these writings provide profound insights into the fields of psychology and aesthetics. Her philosophical inquiries in The Psychology of an Art Writer leave no stone unturned, combining fine-grained ekphrases with high fancy and dense abstraction. The diaries, in turn, establish Lee as one of the most sensitive writers about art in any language. With a foreword by Berkeley classicist Dylan Kenny, which guides the reader through these writings and contextualizes these texts within Lee’s other work, this is the quintessential introduction to her astonishing and complex oeuvre.


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An openly lesbian, feminist writer, Vernon Lee—a pseudonym of Violet Paget—is the most important female aesthetician to come out of nineteenth century England. Though she was widely known for her supernatural fictions, Lee hasn’t gained the recognition she so clearly deserves for her contributions in the fields of aesthetics, philosophy of empathy, and art criticism. An ear An openly lesbian, feminist writer, Vernon Lee—a pseudonym of Violet Paget—is the most important female aesthetician to come out of nineteenth century England. Though she was widely known for her supernatural fictions, Lee hasn’t gained the recognition she so clearly deserves for her contributions in the fields of aesthetics, philosophy of empathy, and art criticism. An early follower of Walter Pater, her work is characterized by extreme attention to her own responses to artworks, and a level of psychological sensitivity rarely seen in any aesthetic writing. Today, she is largely overlooked in curriculums, her aesthetic works long out of print.  David Zwirner Books is reintroducing Lee’s writing through the first-ever English publication of "Psychology of an Art Writer" (1903) along with selections from her groundbreaking "Gallery Diaries" (1901–1904), breathtaking accounts of Lee’s own experiences with the great paintings and sculptures she traveled to see. Ranging from deeply felt assessments of the way mood affects our ability to appreciate art, to detailed descriptions of some of the most powerful personal experiences with artworks, these writings provide profound insights into the fields of psychology and aesthetics. Her philosophical inquiries in The Psychology of an Art Writer leave no stone unturned, combining fine-grained ekphrases with high fancy and dense abstraction. The diaries, in turn, establish Lee as one of the most sensitive writers about art in any language. With a foreword by Berkeley classicist Dylan Kenny, which guides the reader through these writings and contextualizes these texts within Lee’s other work, this is the quintessential introduction to her astonishing and complex oeuvre.

30 review for The Psychology of an Art Writer

  1. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    Honestly this just makes me want to visit the paintings and statues in the Uffizi Gallery and reference Vernon Lee’s AMAZING shade she threw at some things. Late Victorian / Early Edwardian queer shade is WONDERFUL. But at the very least have Google handy to see what artworks she is writing about in the majority of the book. The first essay finally allowed Aesthetics as a principle to click for me and makes me want to read more ekphrasis type readings. Read more about art! It’s FUN.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ash Bird

  3. 4 out of 5

    Josie

  4. 4 out of 5

    Emiliano Brooks-Luna

  5. 5 out of 5

    Linnea Österberg

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tai Jeffers

  7. 4 out of 5

    Emma

  8. 4 out of 5

    Claire

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Kelley

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alan Asnen

  11. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Rutherford

  12. 4 out of 5

    Max Lübke

  13. 5 out of 5

    Asma Khoory

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jūra Lazauskaitė

  15. 5 out of 5

    David White

  16. 4 out of 5

    André Bordarampé

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anthropolomon

  18. 5 out of 5

    Clara

  19. 5 out of 5

    Savonarola

  20. 5 out of 5

    Claudia Schenk

  21. 5 out of 5

    Layla

  22. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

  23. 5 out of 5

    Laetitia

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

  25. 5 out of 5

    c de vil

  26. 4 out of 5

    ivan

  27. 5 out of 5

    Leah

  28. 4 out of 5

    Katrina

  29. 5 out of 5

    Hoyee

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joanna Norton

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