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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Building a Bridge between Art and Science to Illuminate Both, 25 May 2012
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 122,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present (Hardcover)
"But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light." -- Ephesians 5:13 (NKJV)

The Age of Insight is a hard book to categorize. Professor Kandel's stated purpose is to demonstrate how a knowledgeable scientist can write clearly about science so that the interconnections between art and science can be exposed to those who know only about the art. As such, this book is more about informing those interested in the humanities than those whose interest is in science. As a necessary part of his method, there's a circumscription around a narrow set of artists and literary figures rather than an attempt to make a universal statement. To have attempted otherwise would have made a hefty book into a multi-volume tome that few would read.

As someone who reads a lot of art history, history of science, and current research on mental processes, I was impressed by the conception of the book and how deftly it was carried out in ways that deepened my appreciation for subjects I have long been familiar with. I was grateful for these new perspectives. I found the book to be enjoyable for the most part. If I got to a part that was too elementary for what I wanted to absorb, I just skipped quickly through until I got to weightier material. I didn't have to do that very often.

This book would be a wonderful gift to a budding artist or writer . . . or to an art historian in training. I'm sure that many wonderful shows could be mounted that would take advantage of the information here in ways that would delight museum and gallery goers.

Although the book will seem flawed to some, I think it succeeds in its purpose of proposing a new way to write about art and science. I'm sure that future books that attempt to do the same will benefit from having observed how this one turned out.

I particularly found the repeated examination of certain art works from different perspectives to be revealing. I think you will, too.

A few times in my younger days I had the opportunity to speak to people who were alive in Vienna during the heady days of the salons that Professor Kandel describes here. Their descriptions carried to me a similar fascination with how the leading thinkers influenced one another there and then. I was pleased to be able to expand my understanding of that unique society in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

I am not much of a fan of Klimt, Kokoschka, and Schiele. I was pleased to learn more reasons to appreciate their work. I must admit that if the subjects had been tied to artists I like better I would have enjoyed the book more . . . but don't let that stop you. This is an important book for you to read!

Bravo, Professor Kandel!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Art appreciation and the new biology of the mind., 27 Feb 2013
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This review is from: The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present (Hardcover)
The first third of the book is a rehash of art history that is well known, and done better by, for example, Gombrich, whom the author praises. The middle third summarizes recent research on the biology of mind, which is one of the greate advances of science in the last thirty years, and will become one of the major scientific achievements in the twenty-first century, once all the pieces have been put together. The author is a leader in this field. He is an expert on the biology of memory.
The final third seeks to link art appreciation with the biology of the mind. Ambitious, but worth attempting. Unfortunately the author fails to make the case that the new biology of mind is ready to contribute significantly to understanding why we appreciate art.
The book is a progress report, rather than a mature work of scholarship. But I enjoyed it, and recommend it, with reservations.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insight indeed, 22 Jun 2012
By 
Jens Olesen (Copenhagen) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present (Hardcover)
So far, I've only read half of "The Age of Insight", and already, I'm so grateful to Eric Kandel for spending the effort and time to write this book. Reading it, I have had so many satisfying episodes of "is that so?" and "oh yes, of course!" that I look forward to reading the rest... With mixed feelings of sadness about the fact that it is going to end and expectation of a long time of rumination and a new found sense of perspective.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent service, 26 May 2012
By 
M. Brownell - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present (Hardcover)
The book is very interesting, and an in depth insight into how the brain works, particularly related to viewing art. The delivery was excellent; it arrived quickly and as described.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A breathtaking beautifully illustrated tour de force, 9 Sep 2012
This review is from: The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present (Hardcover)
Beautifully illustrated and presented, Eric Kandel has managed to produce a superlative book that interweaves art history focusing on the fin de siecle modernist Vienese artists Klimt, Scheile and Kokoscha and Freud's theories as a point of departure for presenting in some detail the developments and experiments leading to the latest insights into how humans percieve and emotionally process the sensory and social world. An amazing feat and a feast for anyone interested in the new science of mind!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Juxtaposition of Art and Psychology, 29 Nov 2012
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This review is from: The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present (Hardcover)
This is a most interesting book, very well written by a retired neuroscientist who was born in Vienna. As a hardback, it is quite large (not too convenient for the bedroom!), but well presented. Highly recommended.
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