“Visually stunning and mentally stimulating” – that’s what Scientific American had to say about How to Use Your Eyes by James Elkins, a professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Booklist called it “a wondrous visual tour that Elkins hopes will help us ‘learn to use our eyes more concertedly until the details of the world slowly reveal themselves.’”
In How to Use Your Eyes, James Elkins teaches the reader how to look at anything from postage stamps, pavements and Egyptian hieroglyphs, to grass, moth wings or the inside of your eye. In so doing, he reveals that which is extraordinary in the things we find most ordinary.
Elkins grew up in Ithaca, New York, and obtained a BA in English & Art History, before going on to complete his PhD in Art History in Chicago. Since then, he has lectured at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is currently E.C. Chadbourne Chair at the Department of Art History, Theory & Criticism.
His writing focuses on the history and theory of images in art, science and nature. Some of his previous books, such as What Painting Is and Why Are Our Pictures Puzzles?, are exclusively on fine art. Others such as On Pictures and the Words That Fail Them, also include scientific and non-art images, writing systems, and archaeology. How to Use Your Eyes mainly centers on the world of natural history.
Elkins is currently working on a book called The Project of Painting: 1900-2000 and, among other things, is editing a book on the representation of pain in art. When he is not teaching or working on one of his fascinating books, James Elkins devotes time to intriguing interests that range from microscopy and stereo photography, to piano playing and winter ocean diving.