The Art of Seeing

Understanding the world through Goethe’s

ways of seeing Art

with Mary Attwood  

Thursday 29th September 2022 – 7:00pm-8:00pm (UK time) via Zoom


“I have lived among painters and learned, like them, to look at objects with the eye of an artist…The eye was the organ par excellence, through which I apprehended the world.” 

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 In this session we will explore one work of art for the hour with the ideas and framework of Goethe as a guide. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), a great polymath of the Scientific Enlightenment, wrote extensively on his experience of art which introduced a new validation for an engaged, emotional, imaginative and reason-based response. His breadth of understanding of the natural world (he wrote treatises on botany, colour and anatomy among others) extended beyond categorisation of types and species to a much deeper engagement which required a participation from the viewer/ beholder. This fed into the way with which he understood art; not as a thing to be analysed or reduced into types and categories, but as something alive with the forces of nature herself, holding the means with which to apprehend the world. And at the heart of this was the eye – not just as a mechanical function of the human body, but as an organ “par excellence” for seeing deeper into the world and of understanding ourselves in relationship with it. After engaging with the work of art with Goethe’s guidance, you will be invited to share your responses, thoughts and insights about what it might mean for you through your own perception. The work of art will not be revealed until the evening so to allow for a more direct experience, without preconceived ideas. But it is a work of art which Goethe wrote about, a work of art from the ancient Hellenistic period and which  through both its myth and form, comes alive with the forces of nature which may open a way for us to begin to see and apprehend the world differently.


For those who cannot attend live, there will be a recording available.

BOOKING: Please book through Mary Attwood’s website here

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