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More than Meets the EyeWhat Blindness Brings to Art$
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Georgina Kleege

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190604356

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190604356.001.0001

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(p.73) 5 Hearsay
More than Meets the Eye

Georgina Kleege

Oxford University Press

This chapter returns to Denis Diderot and speculates on how his life-long fascination with blindness may have influenced his theories on visual art. For example, why does he open “Notes on Painting” (1765) with a description of a blind woman? His Salon Reviews, which are considered by many to be foundational works of art criticism, employ a number of techniques to describe art work for people who could not see it for themselves. This chapter closely examines his account of his friendship with a young blind woman, Melanie de Salignac, and compares their conversations to autobiographical accounts of other blind writers, activists, scientists, and artists discussing their tactile perceptions and mental imaging.

Keywords:   blindness, Denis Diderot, Melanie de Salignac, mental imaging, Helen Keller, Alice Wingwall

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