Titian’s Touch

Art, Magic and Philosophy

Maria H. Loh

Titian’s Touch

Maria H. Loh

Distributed for Reaktion Books

288 pages | 70 color plates, 7 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Cloth $22.50 ISBN: 9781789140828 Will Publish June 2019 For sale in North and South America only
At the end of his long, prolific life, Titian was rumored to paint directly on the canvas with his bare hands. He would slide his fingers across bright ridges of oil paint, loosening the colors, blending, blurring, and then bringing them together again. With nothing more than the stroke of a thumb or the flick of a nail, Titian’s touch brought the world to life. The clinking of glasses, the clanging of swords, and the cry of a woman’s grief. The sensation of hair brushing up against naked flesh, the sudden blush of unplanned desire, and the dry taste of fear in a lost, shadowy place.

Titian’s art, Maria H. Loh argues in this exquisitely illustrated book, was and is a synesthetic experience. To see is at once to hear, to smell, to taste, and to touch. But while Titian was fully attached to the world around him, he also held the universe in his hands. Like a magician, he could conjure appearances out of thin air. Like a philosopher, his exploration into the very nature of things channelled and challenged the controversial ideas of his day. But as a painter, he created the world anew. Dogs, babies, rubies, and pearls. Falcons, flowers, gloves, and stone. Shepherds, mothers, gods, and men. Paint, canvas, blood, sweat, and tears. In a series of close visual investigations, Loh guides us through the lush, vibrant world of Titian’s touch.
Review Quotes
Joseph Leo Koerner, Harvard University
“More than anyone it was Titian who launched what would remain for half a millennium the quintessential art object: the framed, autonomous painting executed in oil on canvas. At long last, Loh has given us a book that does justice to this immense historical achievement. Titian’s Touch is a peerless introduction to the artist and a mesmerizing primer in how to look at paintings.”
Yve-Alain Bois, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University
“Loh’s Titian is a ‘master dialectician, coupling contradictory details together in an almost subliminal mirroring of forms.’ These words, which she penned with regards to the Prado’s Venus and Adonis, could easily be interspersed in any of the piercing investigations that this study offers of one masterpiece after the other by the Venetian master. She too is a master dialectician, particularly apt at the art of synthesis—combining heterogeneous approaches such as contextual, formal, iconographical, material, and historiographical analyses into a shimmering whole. Her erudition about Titian’s cultural world is staggering yet never smothering, as it is always offered in passing to shed light onto this or that understudied aspect of a specific work, not to provide a definitive key to all its mysteries. From La Schiavona, a portrait Titian painted in his youth, to the unfinished Pietà of his last years, in which she uncovers its echo, Loh constructs Titian’s oeuvre as a rigorous, totalizing enterprise—or, to use her expression, as a ‘visual dissertation’—yet she makes sure to leave it open to divergent interpretations. Her intelligence gleams on every page.”
Rose Marie San Juan, University College London
“With Titian’s Touch, Loh has achieved something quite rare, a genuinely fresh and engaging study of an artist whose paintings may be very familiar but are very difficult to turn into a satisfying account. In some ways this book is like a journey that starts from a known place and takes you somewhere you could not have imagined, and does so by interconnecting an impressive depth of knowledge with a highly imaginative approach to images. It is witty and elegant, and always self-aware. And, most importantly, it reconnects the work of Titian with a broader and more contemporary readership.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit https://www.press.uchicago.edu
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