In his third book, David Levi Strauss delves into the mysterious process whereby an image or idea is born in the mind and materialized through the hand in the expression of an artwork. How exactly does this exchange take place? It's a question so basic, an act so fundamental to art-making, that it has rarely received attention. It makes an ideal topic for Strauss, one of our best art critics, who has an exceptional ability to animate art's philosophical dimensions in clear, persuasive manner. Featuring over 25 illustrations, the book explores the works of sculptors including Martin Puryear, painters like Ron Gorchov, the work of contemporary Haida carvers, and many recent writers. He takes up Cecilia Vicuna's "memory of the fingers;" reframes the legacy of Leon Golub and Nancy Spero; and grapples with the handiwork of curators in staging exhibitions. Known primarily for his writings on photography and politics, Strauss focuses here on the least mediated arts-painting, sculpture, and writing-to recover art's most raw resource: the immediacy of the hand and the language it makes possible.
David Levi Strauss writes frequently for Artforum and Aperture. He is Chair of the graduate program in Art Criticism & Writing at the School of Visual Arts in New York.