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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 February 2010
This art book is primarily a celebration of form and color as done by artists on the autistic spectrum. I counted 53 different artists with a wide range of styles. Just to note a few: there is the blueprint precision of Temple Grandin, the cubist-like work of Wil C. Kerner, the pointillism style of Esher Brokaw, the cartoons of Justin Canha and Glen Russ, the categorical detailed work of Gregory L. Blackstone, the ethereal anguish of Marilyn Cosho, and many more. I felt an overall sense of estrangement and longing that is at the heart of the human predicament. We are both part of this world and estranged from it; we are among family and friends and yet we are alone. We feel the contradictions and the confusions of life and we try to make sense of it.

I think it was at least partially the intent of Jill Mullin, who edited the book and conducted the interviews with the artists, to allow the artwork to reveal the unique soul of autism. She writes: "...I sorted the work so that it provides an overview of the spectrum while celebrating the creative individuality of every single person on the spectrum. These themes and visual tendencies do speak to aspects of the diagnoses." (p. 13)

We, so-called "normal" people, necessarily see the world in a utilitarian sense heavily colored by subsistence and social need. Consequently I have always thought that one of the things that an artist must do is free our minds from the prison of utility in which we see the world only in so far as it is useful to us or not. While most manmade objects in our lives are useful for something, art is its own reason for being.

It is in this context that I find this book most interesting. Some autistics naturally see things as they are, without the coloration of utility. Temple Grandin, who wrote the introduction for "Drawing Autism," is probably the most famous autistic in the world. (A movie about her life, Temple Grandin (2010), starring Claire Dane in the title role has recently been aired on HBO.) She is an artist herself although her work is enormously precise and detailed and in fact of great utility. But much of the "utility" in her designs for the livestock industry shows that she sees the design from the point of view of the animals themselves, and that is the secret of her success. Most designers of such equipment would naturally be interested in designs that work for the company, and would be unlikely to see things from the point of view of the animals. But Grandin did, and because the equipment that she designed calmed the animals, the equipment proved to be very useful to the industry and a godsend to the animals.

Similarly the art of Donna Williams, for example, as shown in this book depicts a unique, non-utilitarian, non-social point of view. In "Cat's Home" (p. 20) she identifies with a homeless cat. In "The Outsider" on the next page, she identifies with someone outside a social network. She says, "Being object blind and context blind, I'd tap everything to make noise, to hear its 'voice,' flick it to feel its movement, turn it to experience how it caught light..." (p. 21) The "normal" person would not see the object beyond what it is useful for, and the context would be monetary, social or sexual.

Professor Grandin sees three types of specialized minds on the autistic spectrum. First there is the visual thinker who sees the world primarily in pictures like herself. The second type is the pattern thinker who see relationships between numbers and geometric forms. The third type is the word specialist. Grandin notes, "These people are often really good with words, and they usually are not interested in art." I think people of this third type are often recognizes as "Aspies," or people with Asperger's syndrome, which is now consider part of the autistic spectrum of disorders--a designation that has been met with much controversy.

One thing is clear: most of those on the spectrum have reduced social skills and so can examine and experience the world from an outsider's perspective. In other words, we can learn from them things we could not learn by ourselves, and we can gain from them a view of the world cleansed of utilitarian bias. But is also obvious from looking at the work of the autistic artists presented here that there is a great yearning for social acceptance and understanding.
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on 20 January 2011
This book is ace. I simply love it, as it just gives you a better understanding of how many autistic minds work. This book is appealing to me, as it is art that not influenced by media ect - this simply is a book of their minds.
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on 10 August 2015
Fabulous hard cover book showing various artworks made by people who are on the autistic spectrum. I bought this after seeing it in the Wellcome collection museum in London to show my mum and autistic brother and the images are great,showing me what life is like through an autistic persons ryes.the condition makes communication difficult but through art they can express themselves and freely communicate with us, the reader. Perfect coffee table book that I regularly flick through. Item received promptly and as described too.
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on 29 September 2011
this is a superb collection of images, some relatively conventional, some really strange, that are all created by people on 'the autistic spectrum' (which includes Asbergers). It raises a lot of questions: in what ways are these images 'typical' of autism? what do they tell us about how it's like to be autistic? and more...
well worth getting for anyone interested in this field
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on 27 March 2015
Gave this to my son's girlfriend as her little boy has just been diagnosed with Autism. Lovely inspiring book and she was delighted. Thank you.
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on 11 July 2014
lovely book and conversation piece. would probably make a good gift but I'm keeping it!
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on 27 May 2016
Stunning insight, very moving book and great art work.
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on 17 October 2014
Inspirational, exciting and impressive in every way.
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on 18 April 2015
Fantastic insightful book.
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