More than Meets the Eye: What Blindness Brings to Art

ISBN : 9780190604356

Georgina Kleege
176 ページ
156 x 235 mm

In More Than Meets the Eye, Georgina Kleege explores the ways that ideas about visual art and blindness are linked in many facets of the culture. While it may seem paradoxical to link blindness to visual art, western theories about art have always been haunted by the specter of blindness. The ideal art viewer is typically represented as possessing perfect vision, an encyclopedic knowledge of art, and a photographic memory of images, all which allow for an unmediated wordless communion with the work of art. This ideal viewer is defined in polar opposition to a blind person, presumed to be oblivious to the power of art, and without the cognitive capacity to draw on analogous experience.

Kleege begins her study with four chapters about traditional representations of blindness, arguing that traditional theories of blindness fail to take into account the presence of other senses, or the ability of blind people to draw analogies from non-visual experience to develop concepts about visual phenomena. She then shifts focus from the tactile to the verbal, beginning with Denis Diderot's remarkable range of techniques to describe art works for readers who were not present to view them for themselves, and how his criticism offers a powerful warrant for bringing the specter of blindness out of the shadows and into the foreground of visual experience.

Through both personal experience and scholarly treatment, Kleege dismantles the traditional denigration of blindness, contesting the notion that viewing art involves sight alone and challenging traditional understandings of blindness through close reading of scientific case studies and literary depictions. More Than Meets the Eye introduces blind and visually impaired artists whose work has shattered stereotypes and opened up new aesthetic possibilities for everyone.


Introduction; Chapter One: The Tenacious Life of the Hypothetical Blind Man; Chapter Two: Touching on Science; Chapter Three: Visible Braille, Invisible Blindness; Chapter Four: Touch Tourism; Chapter Five: Hearsay; Chapter Six: Dialogues with the Blind; Chapter Seven: Audio Description Described; Chapter Eight: What They Talk About When They talk About Art; Chapter Nine: Blind Self Portraits: Studies in Blue and Bronze


Georgina Kleege is Lecturer in English at the University of California, Berkeley. Her previous books include Blind Rage: Letters to Helen Keller (2006) and Sight Unseen (1999).