How to See

Looking, Talking, and Thinking about Art


David Salle (Author)

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A masterclass in contemporary art by one of the pre-eminent painters of our time.

In How to See, David Salle explores how art works and how it moves us, informs us and challenges us. This internationally renowned painter’s incisive essay collection illuminates the work of many of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. 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—How to See explores not only the multilayered personalities of the artists themselves but also the distinctive character of their oeuvres.

Salle writes with humour 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 is a master class on how to see with an artist’s eye.


“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

“The book is scrupulously positive, but Salle is at his most engaging when he is wrestling with mixed feelings about an artist’s work… How to See makes a strong case that the best, most enjoyable way to understand art is simply to look at it, a lot, and then talk about it, preferably with friends.” — Roger White, The New York Times

“Reading this collection of essays is much like spending a day gallery-hopping in New York with an unusually erudite, engaging, energetic friend who engages you by combining high-energy riffing with deep knowledge and love of visual art... Above all, Salle is a remarkably enthusiastic guide who genuinely loves art, and it is bracing to be in the company of one who has maintained his capacity for wonder after more than four decades of activity in the art world.” — Times Literary Supplement

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