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1845203208 Diarmuid Costello Jonathan Vickery Art Powered By Docstoc
					Art: key
contemporary
thinkers
          Art: key
         thinkers
            Edited by
Diarmuid Costello and
contemporary

Jonathan Vickery
                        First published in 2007 by
                                   Berg
                             Editorial offices:
   1st Floor, Angel Court, 81 St Clements Street, Oxford, OX4 1AW, UK
               175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010, USA


            © Diarmuid Costello and Jonathan Vickery 2007


                           All rights reserved.
       No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form
       or by any means without the written permission of Berg.

       Berg is the imprint of Oxford International Publishers Ltd.




          Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Art : key contemporary thinkers / edited by Diarmuid Costello and
Jonathan Vickery.
        p. cm.
     Includes bibliographical references and index.
     ISBN-13: 978-1-84520-319-1 (cloth)
     ISBN-10: 1-84520-319-4 (cloth)
     ISBN-13: 978-1-84520-320-7 (pbk.)
     ISBN-10: 1-84520-320-8 (pbk.)
  1. Art, Modern—20th century—Philosophy. 2. Art, Modern—21st
century—Philosophy. I. Costello, Diarmuid. II. Vickery, Jonathan.

    N66.A76 2007
    709.04—dc22
                                                               2006031856




            British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data

  A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.


                      ISBN 978 184520 319 1 (Cloth)
                     ISBN 978 184520 320 7 (Paper)


         Typeset by JS Typesetting, Porthcawl, Mid Glamorgan
       Printed in the United Kingdom by Biddles Ltd, King’s Lynn

                    www.bergpublishers.com
CONTENTS
Acknowledgements                     vii   Section II: Art Theory and History

General Introduction                 ix    Introduction                         47

Section I: Art Theory and Practice         NICOLAS BOURRIAUD (1965–)
                                           Claire Bishop                        49
Introduction                          3
                                           BENJAMIN BUCHLOH (1941–)
                                           Christine Mehring                    53
DANIEL BUREN (1938–)
Melanie Mariño                        5
                                           T. J. CLARK (1943–)
                                           Dominic Willsdon                     57
DAN GRAHAM (1942–)
Eric de Bruyn                         9    THIERRY DE DUVE (1944–)
                                           Gregg Horowitz                       60
MIKE KELLEY (1954–)
John Welchman                        13    JAMES ELKINS (1955–)
                                           Robert Williams                      64
MARY KELLY (1941–)
Margaret Iversen                     17    HAL FOSTER (1955–)
                                           Gordon Hughes                        67
JOSEPH KOSUTH (1945–)
Michael Corris                       21    MICHAEL FRIED (1939–)
                                           Stephen Melville                     71
BARBARA KRUGER (1945–)
Esther Leslie                        24    CLEMENT GREENBERG (1909–1994)
                                           Diarmuid Costello                    74
ROBERT MORRIS (1931–)
                                           ROSALIND KRAUSS (1940–)
Jonathan Vickery                     28
                                           Martha Buskirk                       78

ADRIAN PIPER (1948–)                       W. J. T. MITCHELL (1942–)
Robert del Principe                  32    Riccardo Marchi                      82

ROBERT SMITHSON (1938–1973)                LINDA NOCHLIN (1931–)
Dominic Rahtz                        36    Francesca Berry                      86

JEFF WALL (1946–)                          GRISELDA POLLOCK (1949–)
Stewart Martin                       40    Kirstie Skinner                      90
CONTENTS                                                                                            vI


Section III: Philosophy of Art and Aesthetics        Section IV: Theory and Philosophy of Culture

Introduction                                    97   Introduction                              147

THEODOR ADORNO (1903–1969)                           ROLAND BARTHES (1915–1980)
Michael Kelly                                   99   Nancy Shawcross                           149

J. M. BERNSTEIN (1947–)                              GEORGES BATAILLE (1897–1961)
Espen Hammer                                102      Michael Richardson                        153

NOËL CARROLL (1947–)                                 JEAN BAUDRILLARD (1929–)
Katerina Reed-Tsocha                        106      Mike Gane                                 156

STANLEY CAVELL (1926–)                               WALTER BENJAMIN (1892–1940)
Stephen Mulhall                             110      Helmut Schmitz                            160

                                                     PIERRE BOURDIEU (1930–2002)
ARTHUR C. DANTO (1924–)
                                                     Gordon Fyfe                               164
David Carrier                               114
                                                     JUDITH BUTLER (1956–)
GILLES DELEUZE (1925–1995)
                                                     Rebecca Zorach                            168
Darren Ambrose                              117
                                                     MICHEL FOUCAULT (1926–1984)
JACQUES DERRIDA (1930–2004)
                                                     Scott Durham                              172
Jonathan Lahey Dronsfield                    121
                                                     FREDRIC JAMESON (1934–)
GEORGE DICKIE (1926–)                                David Ayers                               175
Cain Samuel Todd                            125
                                                     MELANIE KLEIN (1882–1960)
JEAN-FRANÇOIS LYOTARD (1924–1998)                    Mignon Nixon                              179
James Williams                    129
                                                     JULIA KRISTEVA (1941–)
MAURICE MERLEAU-PONTY (1908–1961)                    Sara Beardsworth                          183
Alex Potts                        132
                                                     NIKLAS LUHMANN (1927–1998)
ALBRECHT WELLMER (1933–)                             Francis Halsall                           187
Ruth M. Sonderegger                         136
                                                     Glossary of Key Terms                     191
RICHARD WOLLHEIM (1923–2003)
Derek Matravers                             140      Contributors’ Biographies                 209
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
We would like to thank our commissioning editor Tristan Palmer at Berg for first proposing
this project, and the contributors who made it possible. Their generosity, punctuality, and
good-natured responses to numerous requests for clarifications and reformulations made
a potentially hazardous project almost manageable. Particular thanks are due to Michael
Richardson and Riccardo Marchi for contributing at shorter notice. Our gratitude also goes
to D. J. Simpson, Hannah Jamieson, Sarah Shalgosky at the Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts
Centre, and Sue Dibben at the Humanities Research Centre at Warwick University. The School
of Arts & Humanities at Oxford Brookes University supported work on this project prior to
Diarmuid Costello joining Warwick University, as did, indirectly, a Leverhulme Trust Research
Fellowship. In a deeper sense, we are both indebted to the Departments of Philosophy and
the History and Theory of Art at the University of Essex, in whose intense and congenial
atmosphere the intellectual commitments that animate this volume were formed.
GENERAL INTRODUCTION
What different ways of interpreting art are there, and what different concepts and theoretical
frameworks are involved? What is the value of art? How does art communicate, embody or
otherwise express its meaning? Why does art’s form and significance change over time, and
within different contexts? Do changes in art reflect changes in culture and society as a whole,
and if so how? These are questions that continually need to be asked and reassessed. Art
itself is a ‘discourse’ – a conceptual field within which and around which move various kinds of
objects, activities, processes, ideas and theories, subcultures and movements, institutions and
exhibitions. The central characteristic of this discourse, particularly in its most recent forms,
is its unstable, internally conflicted and often bewildering character. This can make trying to
master the discourse of art a frustrating, but equally an intellectually exhilarating endeavour.
Contemporary art in particular has never enjoyed such widespread interest and currency, yet
the theoretical frameworks it produces and draws upon frequently remain opaque.
   This book is a response to this situation, and is intended to put its readers in a position
to explore and question theories, ideas and claims that they might otherwise be forced to
take on trust. Of course no primer, however good, can replace reading the original texts.
But in the case of those thinkers on art considered here, some introduction is necessary to
understanding what one encounters when one does so. If this book sends its readers back to
the originals with greater confidence and curiosity, and a better sense of how a given thinker
sits within a wider field of overlapping debates, it will have served its purpose. To this end the
collection brings together upcoming younger scholars with scholars of international standing
to write in a way that is clear and approachable yet nonetheless challenging – both for the
reader and towards the thinkers and texts discussed. As such, the intention was always to
lay the ground for further critical exploration on the part of the reader. Read in this spirit,
in conjunction with the primary and secondary literature discussed, we believe that this
collection will put its readers in a much better position to develop their own perspective.
   The volume spans the ideas and theories of forty-five ‘key contemporary thinkers’ on
art. What counts as ‘key’, in this context, is a matter of both judgment and the audience we
envisage, and in part hope to forge, through this collection. All such lists are partial, and there
were a number of theorists whose work we were unable to cover in the space available, much
as we would have liked to. By ‘contemporary thinkers’, we mean theorists who are associated
with a coherent body of thought or ideas, which their work on art embodies or reflects, and
whose work continues to impact on thinking about artistic practice, theory and historical
analysis today. As such, we use the term ‘contemporary’ in a fairly loose sense historically
(roughly equivalent to ‘since the 1960s’), and to signify impact rather than origins. To pick an
obvious example: Benjamin is hardly a ‘contemporary thinker’ in biographical terms (he died
in 1940), but his work has had an exceptional influence on art theory and criticism since the
late 1960s. We take the 1960s as our point of departure because it is the locus of the most
salient cultural transformation of our time – the move from modernism to postmodernism. To
GENERAL INTRODUCTION                                                                            x


the extent that we still inhabit postmodernism today or its aftermath today, this is the period
of our ‘contemporaneity’, broadly conceived. This book is in part a cultural, philosophical and
art historical roadmap of the ramifications of that transition.
    The book is divided into four broad sections. These are in no sense meant to exhaust the
range of discourses one can find represented in other books surveying the theory of art
today. But given how widely areas not represented here (areas such as queer theory or post-
colonial theory) have been covered elsewhere, we wanted to focus instead on broad ‘bodies
of thought’ around legacies of modernism and postmodernism in the arts. The first section is
unusual, in so far as artists are typically neglected in anthologies of this kind. We have sought
to redress this by including a section on artists as thinkers, that is, artists who have made a
major contribution to thought about art since the 1960s through their writings as well as their
art. Though one can find many anthologies of artists’ writings, one rarely finds artists treated
on an equal footing with theorists, historians and philosophers when it comes to producing
knowledge about art. Section II includes those art historians and theorists who have made, or
still are making, the greatest impact on thought about art during this period, and whose work
clearly embodies a broader intellectual position despite remaining close to its object. Section
III includes philosophers, from both the ‘analytic’ and ‘continental’ traditions, who have not
only made major contributions to recent debates in aesthetics and the philosophy of art, but
whose work is also widely read beyond the confines of professional philosophy. Section IV is
the most diverse, and in this sense reflects the genuine diversity of thought about art today.
Thinkers in this section are drawn from a range of disciplines, such as sociology, and sub-
disciplines, such as semiotics and psychoanalysis, as well as the ‘philosophy of culture’.
    Most of the thinkers profiled in this book will already be more or less familiar to readers
in the field; though we have also included several we believe are typically overlooked (such
as Wellmer and Luhmann), as well as more recent thinkers (such as Bernstein and Elkins),
whose work is only now beginning to gain recognition and influence. In one case we have
even included a curator (Bourriaud) given how widely his writings and exhibitions have been
discussed over the last decade. If it is possible to talk about a coherent ‘discourse of art’,
it is a hybrid discourse, which includes, in addition to academic discourse, the conventions
of exhibition and display, varying traditions and anti-traditions of artistic practice, and the
rhetoric of art and literary criticism, not to mention the range of cognate discourses the
latter draws on. This volume hopes to engage readers who are involved with the arts in this
expanded sense, as that is where serious thinking about art is today most needed.
Art Theory
       and
  Practice
INTRODUCTION
The term ‘art theory’ is broadly self-explanatory; it is a conceptual framework, series of
principles, or set of substantive theses that explain the appearance, structure, function or
significance of works of art. What is art ‘practice’? In an age of ready-mades, installation art,
video art, environmental art and performance art, that question is more complex, and indeed
more complex now than it has been at any previous point in art history. Perhaps surprisingly,
then, it is no longer regarded as a contentious question. Over the last three to four decades
an ‘institutionalization’ of once-radical avant-garde art practices has taken place: what was
once controversial, experimental, unconventional or simply chaotic, no longer provokes
the shock, censure or marginalization it once did. As the old adage goes – heterodoxy
becomes orthodoxy, and the question ‘but is it art?’ has for the most part simply fallen away.
Contemporary orthodoxy is not doctrinaire, however, or at least is so only to the extent that it
insists on the absence of any restriction on what might count as art, in principle. As such, it
refuses to specify an alternative, or even ‘expanded’, set of art-making procedures to fill the
vacuum left by the demise of previous constraints on art practice.
   Since the 1960s art has thus come to be understood less in terms of an object, and more
in terms of an activity, process, form of ‘intervention’ in a given context or discourse, or
the creation of a new context in which something might happen. Where talk of art practice
previously involved discussing the material construction and artistic creation of works of art
(the demands of the medium, of painting or of sculpture, their techniques and so on), since
the 1960s the medium or material constitution of the work has tended to become increasingly
relative to the means, location and context of utterance; and the ‘visual’ aspect of that act and
that context need not be dominant or explicit, and in some cases is not even apparent. The
only procedural restrictions on practice today take the form of physical-economic restrictions
(what technically can and cannot be accomplished), and institutional protocols (what forms of
practice institutions are or are not prepared to support).
   Many of these characteristics of art practice since the 1960s originate during the 1920s
or even earlier: film, montage, text and image composition, performance, graphic design,
installation, non-art materials, even the use of rubbish and various other forms of detritus.
The European avant-gardes were reacting against ‘classical’ training, where the historical
genres of drawing, painting, sculpture and architecture each had their own hierarchy of sub-
genres, and these were governed by strict procedures of technical convention and stylistic
protocol. The institutional power of the academies, its training mechanisms and grip on the
art market were still significant. But the avant-garde were also reacting against the hermetic
social world of bourgeois ateliers, galleries and salons, where even once-radical forms
such as Impressionism and post-Impressionism were being turned into a form of passive
consumption. In the face of a corrupt and increasingly violent world, the avant-garde came
to see existing art as a mere salve for the eyes, a form of social consolation, with no further
significance or ability to intervene in society for the better.
ART THEORY AND PRACTICE                                                                       4


   During the 1960s such avant-garde impulses were reinvigorated, and with them the demand
that art find ways to address and even intervene in social and political life. Consequently,
many artists felt the need to understand the relation between art and society, and to conceive,
at the level of ideas and concepts, how art and life might be realigned. Intellectual debate and
theorizing about the nature of art became commonplace, and often intrinsic to the process
of art making itself. Articulating one’s practice in written form, writing art criticism, making
public statements, manifesto-like political commitments, or philosophical pronouncements
on the nature of reality or human experience became an increasingly common component
of artistic practice. As a result, practice itself became more and more theorized, and theory
became the framework within which practice was increasingly reconceived.
   Conceptual artists (such as Joseph Kosuth), who believed that claims about the meaning
of art rested on a philosophical understanding of the nature of language were key to this
transition; while sculptors (like Robert Morris) explored how language itself emerged from
a deeper perception and cognitive and bodily engagement with the surrounding world and
its horizons of intelligibility. Other artists from the same period, such as Daniel Buren, Dan
Graham and Robert Smithson, investigated art’s networks of production and dissemination
through both their writings and their works for non-standard contexts (magazines, billboards,
and various other borderline or non-art spaces). Artists such as Adrian Piper and Mary Kelly
added more explicitly political issues such as race and the construction of self and gender
to the equation, and the theoretical context has only got broader since. As a result, the
exploration and construction of meaning has itself become a ‘practice’ viewers need to engage
in, and one made complex by the fact that works or activities are themselves emerging out
of heavily theorized contexts of artistic practice. The artists included here have substantially
contributed to this context since the 1960s.
5                                                                                 DANIEL BUREN




DANIEL BUREN (1938–)
Daniel Buren emerged in the late 1960s             As such, the work’s internal structure was
to reorient site-specific art through the           deduced from its ground’s woven properties.
theory and practice of ‘institutional critique’.   After 1967, Buren pursued the implications
Buren began as a painter, when a visit to          of this gesture by going beyond the pictorial
a Montmartre textile market led him to             field to create works in situ. Turning his
discover the commercially produced, striated       attention toward the institutional frame,
awning canvas that would become his                Buren’s site-specific projects reversed the
signature ‘visual tool’. This tool invariably      usual relationship between art and its places
consisted of alternating white and coloured        of presentation and reception. Parallel to
vertical bands whose width was fixed at 8.7         the contemporaneous displacements of
cm. As this device ‘reprised’ the monochrome       Michael Asher, which took as their point
and the ready-made, it also critiqued the          of departure the ‘conclusion’ of sculpture,
acculturation of those earlier artistic models.    Buren’s strategic placement of his striped
Activating the intrinsic potential of artistic     signs drew attention to their site’s ostensibly
production for critical discourse, Buren           neutral architectural details and exhibition
worked in situ to address the institutional        conventions.
confinement of culture. Positioning his                Some works were situated outside the
neutral, anonymous signs in precise relation       traditional parameters of the art system,
to the architectural context and institutional     such as Affichages sauvages (1968),
support that contained them, his site-             anonymously fly posted rectangular
specific installations dismantled the mythic        sheets of green-and-white striped paper
autonomy of art and its institutions. Buren’s      throughout Paris. Other installations, like
interventions, however, were deconstructive        the artist’s censored contribution to the
rather than destructive in impulse. Working        Sixth Guggenheim International (1971),
within the institutional frame, Buren unveiled     were inserted both inside and outside their
the invisible conventions that regulate the        host sites; for Peinture-Sculpture, Buren
aesthetic meaning and economic value of            suspended two blue-and-white striped
art, as well as its interdependence with the       banners across Eighty-eighth Street and
broader network of social, economic and            through the central shaft of the museum,
political elements occluded by the cultural        obstructing (as some artists protested)
politics of its time.                              the view of other works. From the 1980s to
   Buren’s oeuvre can be roughly divided           the present, Buren’s projects have probed
into abstract painting, in situ installation,      the dispossession of art’s critical function
and works that cannot be characterized as          within advanced capitalism. Increasingly
prompted by their sites, such as the Photo-        enormous in scale, the artist’s manipulations
Souvenirs, or photographic documentation of        of architectural elements and visual
his projects. Between the early and mid-           effects deploy dynamic virtual movements
1960s, Buren shifted from abstract paintings       that conjure the late twentieth-century
on bed sheets and hessian to the vertically        transfiguration of museum architecture
striped awning fabric, whose outermost             into sites for spectacular visual
white stripes he coated with white paint.          consumption.
DANIEL BUREN                                                                                      6


   Drawing on the legacy of minimalism,            to interrogate art’s location, yielding an
Buren’s practice also encompasses a                ‘ideal-object’ that merely feeds the exhibition
considerable body of writing. Cogently             apparatus. Buren’s reading reduces
articulating the political imperative of           conceptual art to the ‘Analytic Conceptualism’
institutional critique for the post-minimalist     espoused by JOSEPH KOSUTH’s proposition,
generation, these texts comprise manifestos        ‘Art as idea as idea’. However, ‘Warning’ also
from the period of his association with            suggests affinities between Buren’s work
Olivier Mosset, Michel Parmentier and Niele        and the more broadly construed ‘Synthetic
Toroni, pronouncing the demise of painting;        Conceptualism’. In the essay, Buren points
interviews, responses and letters that debunk      to the ‘death of the subject’ propounded
objections to Buren’s disclosure of the            by French anti-humanist cultural theory in
relationship of art and its site; critical texts   the 1960s, which decisively influenced the
that define site-specificity in terms of the         discourse surrounding conceptual art (cf.
deconstruction of cultural limits; and verbal      ROLAND BARTHES, MICHEL FOUCAULT).
descriptions that accompany the Photo-             For Buren, the anonymity of his neutral,
Souvenirs, intended primarily as a reference       immutable signs signified the end of
for the reactivation of past projects. Buren       authorial ownership, while inaugurating the
warns that his writings are not intended as        birth of art as public property.
explanations, which might exempt the reader           In ‘Warning’, Buren posits ‘the location
from the direct experience of the work. At         (outside or inside) where a work is seen is
times ambivalent about the status of his           its boundary’. The texts ‘The Function of
criticism, Buren has insisted on its derivative    the Studio’ (1971) and ‘The Function of the
character: ‘the act of painting precedes them      Museum’ (1970) attend to the symmetry
and goes beyond them’ (‘Why Write Texts or         of two such locations. While the former
the Place from Where I Act’ [WTPA], 1973 in        focuses on the space of art’s production,
Les Écrits). Yet, the artist has also alluded      which Buren describes as the least visible
to the complementary relation of his visual        of art’s containers, the latter dissects the
and textual output, thus reinforcing the           space of its presentation, which Buren likens
dissolution of the autonomous art object:          to an ‘asylum’. Moreover, he derogates the
‘They are not to obscure their object but          studio to ‘a kind of commercial depot’, which
rather to permit seeing what they cannot say’      serves not only as a place for the creation
(WTPA).                                            and storage of art but also as a way station
   Buren’s most important theoretical              for the selection and dissemination of objects
contributions dated from 1967 to 1973.             by the museum. Read together, the two
Written for the Conceptual art exhibition,         texts amplify Buren’s critical modelling of
Konzeption/Conception (Städtische Museum,          site as a relay of the distinct, yet interrelated
Leverkusen), ‘Warning’ (1969) invokes              economies of production and consumption.
theory as a revolutionary praxis, following        Buren apocalyptically heralded the death
the lead of the structuralist Marxist Louis        of all art enmeshed in this circuitry (the
Althusser. In ‘Warning’, Buren rejects the         museum is also a ‘cemetery’) and asserted
traditional conception of art and its historical   that his work proceeds from the ‘extinction’
development ‘from the Mythical to the              of the studio.
Historical, from the Illusion to the Real’.           If the museum structurally influences the
To establish the radicality of this break,         production of art, it ‘marks’ the reception of
the essay distances Buren’s project from           art in kind. Delimited as aesthetic, economic
conceptual art; by substituting concept for        and mystical, the museum’s functions ensure
object, Buren contends, conceptual art fails       the proper interpretation of an object’s
7                                                                                  DANIEL BUREN


significance, the management of its social           exclusively political. What is called for is the
and economic value, and the preservation            analysis of formal and cultural limits (and not
of its aura (cf. BENJAMIN). Subverting the          one or the other) within which art exists and
museum’s self-presentation as a refuge for          struggles’ (CL).
art, Buren stresses that ‘whether the work             The explicitly politicized rhetoric of Buren’s
is directly – consciously or not – produced         criticism distinguishes his work from the
for the Museum, any work presented in that          discourse of Minimal art out of which it
framework, if it does not explicitly examine        developed. Informed by the translation
the influence of the framework upon itself,          of MAURICE MERLEAU-PONTY’s work,
falls into the illusion of self-sufficiency – or     minimalist artists rerouted the site of
idealism’. The text aligns those institutional      aesthetic meaning from the self-sufficient
falsifications with ideological complicities,        artwork to the physical context it shares
denouncing the ‘careful camouflage                   with an embodied viewer. In contrast to the
undertaken by the prevalent bourgeois               phenomenological basis of minimalism,
ideology’ (‘The Function of the Museum’,            the historical materialism of Buren’s
1970).                                              critique fuelled its emphasis on art’s
   Buren’s text ‘Critical Limits’ (1970)            mediation by the ideological contradictions
systematically diagrams these camouflage             of advanced capitalism. This conception of
operations within the advanced art of the           cultural production was deeply indebted
time, including minimal art, earth art, and         to Situationist theory, which argued that
conceptual art. The text presents the history       the intensified commodification of the
of art as a ‘history of rectos’. That is, if the    image in the ‘society of spectacle’ called
canvas conceals the stretcher, the work             for the dissolution of art as a separate and
of art conceals its material and political          specialized sphere.
underpinnings. For Buren, this deception               Buren’s revision of Minimalist
extends from traditional through avant-             contextualism was roundly condemned
garde art, so that as conventional painting         by minimal artists such as Dan Flavin and
and sculpture act as ‘a security valve’ for an      Donald Judd. As Alexander Alberro notes,
alienated, bourgeois art system, the ready-         this negative reception was rooted in the
made, which only replaced painting, enacts          cultural and political distance between the
‘the radical (i.e. petit bourgeois) negation        neo-Marxist elements of French cultural
of art in favour of the object (“reality”) as it    theory in the late 1960s, and the more
is’ (‘Critical Limits’, [CL]). His most severe      conservative implications of American
criticism, however, is directed against the         Minimal art. While Flavin similarly challenged
exotic relocation of art to the open landscape,     the auratic art object and Judd lamented the
especially, if implicitly, by ROBERT                museum’s dependency on the commercial
SMITHSON. In Buren’s scathing assessment,           gallery system, both artists remained
Smithson’s ‘artistic safaris’ attempt to            indifferent to the inoculation of art, and
bypass the forces that frame artistic labor         opposed the conflation of avant-gardism
rather than confronting the crisis of culture       with radical political critique. As Flavin
in late capitalist society: ‘Art is not free, the   caustically remarked, ‘the term “avant-
artist does not express himself freely (he          garde” ought to be restored to the French
cannot). Art is not the prophecy of a free          Army where its manic sense of futility
society. Freedom in art is the luxury/privilege     propitiously belongs. It does not apply to
of a repressive society’ (CL). In his most          any American art that I know about’ (‘Some
trenchant formulation of art’s function, Buren      Remarks . . . Excerpts from a Spleenish
concludes, ‘Art whatever else it may be is          Journal’, p. 27).
DANIEL BUREN                                                                                           8


   By the end of the 1970s, however,                the artist–dealer–critic nexus. Other artists,
Buren’s project of critical negation found          including Mark Dion, Renee Green and
a sympathetic audience among critics                Fred Wilson often collaborate with different
associated with October. BENJAMIN                   groups to blur the limits between art and
BUCHLOH lauded Buren’s later fashioning             non-art, pushing Buren’s cultural critique
of ‘the artist as deliberate decorator of           towards a more diversified engagement
the status quo’ (‘The Museum and the                with the social discourses of racism, sexism
Monument’, p. 137). For Buchloh, Buren’s            and environmentalism. At the same time,
paradigm of art as decoration gave                  contemporary artists like Jorge Pardo and
concrete form to capitalism’s swift and             Tobias Rehberger reanimate the decorative
total reappropriation of artistic production        impulse in Buren’s work to explore the
as political ornamentation. HAL FOSTER,             fusion of art and everyday life under the
on the other hand, identified Buren with             regime of design. This recent turn, however,
the second moment of a post-war neo-                problematizes Buren’s mimicry of the very
avant-garde, which reworked earlier avant-          kinds of alienation he opposes. Does this
garde assaults on the institution of art to         critical strategy remain limited by the forces
open new spaces for critical elaboration.           it contests? If so, might this accommodation
Indeed, since the 1980s, artists ranging            to our totalizing culture of design lead art
from Louise Lawler to Andrea Fraser                 back into the path of consumerism it seeks to
developed Buren’s institutional analysis by         divert?
highlighting the multiplied functions within
an art apparatus that has expanded beyond                                        MELANIE MARIÑO




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                       Buchloh, H. D., ‘The Museum and the Monument:
                                                       Daniel Buren’s Les Couleurs/Les Formes’,
                                                       (1981) in Neo-avantgarde and Culture Industry
 Primary literature                                    Essays on European and American Art from
 Buren’s essays are collected in:                      1955 to 1975, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press,
 Buren, D., Les Écrits (1965–1990) (3 vols), ed.       2000.
   J.-M. Poinsot, Bordeaux: Centre d’art            Buren, D., Les couleurs: sculptures/Les formes:
   plastique contemporain, Musée d’art                 peintures, ed. B. H. D. Buchloh, Halifax:
   contemporain, 1991.                                 NASCAD with Paris: Musée national d’art
                                                       moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, 1981.
                                                    Flavin, D., ‘Some Remarks . . . Excerpts from
                                                       a Spleenish Journal’, Artforum vol. 5, no. 4
                                                       (December 1966).
 Secondary literature
                                                    Foster, H., ‘Who’s Afraid of the Neo-Avant-
 Alberro, A., ‘The Turn of the Screw: Daniel           Garde’, in The Return of the Real. Cambridge:
    Buren, Dan Flavin, and the Sixth Guggenheim        MIT Press, 1996.
    International Exhibition’, October 80 (Spring   Lelong, G., Daniel Buren, Paris: Flammarion,
    1997).                                             2001.
9                                                                                     DAN GRAHAM




DAN GRAHAM (1942–)
Dan Graham is one of the most prolific artist-        after one season. John Daniels became a site
writers of his generation of post-minimal            of animated discussion, where art theory was
artists. Although generally referred to as a         debated in conjunction with a host of other
conceptual artist, Graham’s practice evades          intellectual currents, such as serial music,
easy categorization. Not only has he deployed        the French New Novel and New Wave cinema,
a variety of media, such as photography,             and new psychological and scientific theories.
film, video, performance, and architecture,           The protagonists of this debate shared an
not to mention the magazine page, but he             anti-humanist stance which opposed the two
has also resisted the tendency towards               dominant, expressionist (Harold Rosenberg)
specialization within the art world (which           and formalist (CLEMENT GREENBERG)
has recently generated such institutional            versions of late modernist aesthetics.
identities as the ‘video artist’ or ‘art critic’).   Minimalist practice, for instance, negated
Instead, Graham’s interdisciplinary approach         Greenberg’s twin postulates of the autonomy
to writing and art making aims to expose             of the medium and the transcendence of
the inner contradictions of the cultural             the viewer, by implicating the architectural
moments he lived through, whether this               structure of the gallery as an exterior frame
concerned the gallery practice of minimalism         of reference and thereby immersing the
or the subcultural domain of rock music,             viewer in literal time and space. Graham
to name but two of the topics he started             realized, however, that minimalism did not
writing about in the 1960s. Furthermore, his         acknowledge the progressive ‘mediatization’
writing frequently plays off more than one           of the artwork in contemporary society. He
register of meaning at the same time and             thus decided to juxtapose the gallery space
does not stand in a mere supplementary               of minimalism to the information space of
relation to his artistic work. To be sure, his       pop art. The result of this dialectical strategy
writerly method fundamentally differs from           were Graham’s ‘works for magazine pages’,
the exhortations of the artist’s manifesto or        which not only transfigured the minimalist
the propositional form of art theory. Graham         object into reproducible, disposable art
particularly refutes the latter genre of writing     pieces, but also functioned as decoys, or
as representative of a ‘logical abstract’ mode       pseudo-objects, in which the overt content of
of thought that leads to an impoverished             the texts masked their underlying procedure
practice of ‘philosophical actualization’ or         of critique.
‘idea art’ (‘My Works for Magazine Pages: A             With circumspection, we may identify three
History of Conceptual Art’, in Two-Way Mirror        phases in Graham’s work: (i) the works for
Power [TMP], p. 12).                                 magazine pages of the latter 1960s; (ii) the
   Graham’s artistic self-fashioning follows         performance and video time-delay works of
directly on the heels of such minimalist             the 1970s; and (iii) the architectural models
artist-critics as Donald Judd, Dan Flavin            and pavilion structures of the late 1970s and
and Sol LeWitt. Graham started out as the            after. While each phase employs different
director of the short-lived John Daniels             means of presentation, there is a common
Gallery in December 1964, where he exhibited         strategy that runs throughout – the use of
the minimalists before the gallery folded            what he calls ‘found structures’ or media
DAN GRAHAM                                                                                     10


clichés that are derived from a popular            most celebrated work of the 1960s is the
discourse on science or psychology. For            photo-essay Homes for America (1966–67).
instance Graham has proposed the term              Accompanied by snapshots of suburban
‘topology’ as the dominant ‘mathematical           housing developments in New Jersey taken
metaphor’ of the 1960s. He appropriates            by Graham, Homes for America reads, at first,
such ‘found structures’ as relational models       as a sociological essay on the standardized
of socio-political organization, which allows      landscape of the ‘new city’, albeit an essay
him to critique the autonomous status of art;      written in an oddly non-committal, paratactic
yet these models-as-clichés always remain          style. In effect, the textual and graphic
critical of themselves as well. Within the         structure of Homes for America mimics
context of his early writing, in particular,       the serialized logic of the housing projects
the text constitutes a kind of ruse that           themselves, which Graham describes as
maintains an ironic relation to the ‘academic      constituting a permutational series of empty
seriousness’ of late modernism and the             ‘shells’. The text is composed, in part, of a
‘idea art’ of certain conceptualist colleagues.    collage of advertising pamphlets which list
Yet, throughout his writing career, Graham         in tabular fashion the predetermined options
consistently maps conflicting systems of            of the potential homeowner. The reader-
discursive knowledge onto each other, and          viewer is thus situated within a shifting
plays the codes of the ‘high’ against the ‘low’.   network of information, rather than offered
   The magazine pieces transferred the             the illusion of an exterior vantage point onto
minimalist grid to the ‘pop’ domain of             a social totality. Yet, this decentring of the
publicity. Schema (1966) is a perfect example      subject does not halt at the borders of a
of this. The schema as such consists of an         disenchanted suburbia; Homes for America
abstract ‘data grid’ of printing components        was first published within the pages of Arts
(font size, number of words, paper stock,          Magazine. To its contemporary audience,
etc.), which acquires a different content with     therefore, the correspondence between the
each instance of publication. Schema’s grid        systemic logic of the tract housing ‘shells’
is thus in-formed by the contingencies of its      and the empty ‘cubes’ of minimalism would
external support. Graham also conceived            have been immediately apparent.
of texts, such as Information, that could             The various characteristics of the
pass under the editorial radar as an essay,        magazine pieces – their performative
but would actually provide a vehicle for           status, their deliberate confusion of the
the publication of his magazine pieces.            pre-packaged messages and uniform
Inspired by, among other sources, Marshall         publics of special-interest magazines
McLuhan’s Gutenberg Galaxy, Information            – were intended as a ‘catalyst for change’.
exposes the manner in which the standard,          Nevertheless, the very ephemerality of the
narrative and spatial order of the Western         magazine works was to reflect the temporal
text imposes a unitary viewpoint on the            condition of an emergent consumer society
reader. Information not only presents various      that dwelled in an eternal present. Hence,
counter-models to the Western text (e.g.           in the 1970s, Graham’s critique would follow
Borges’s ‘Library’ or Mallarmé’s ‘Book’),          an altered path with his video installations
but also, by means of its own modular              and performances, which used time-delay
construction, evades the very literary             loops and multiple, mirroring surfaces.
perspectivalism it attacks.                        These works were intended to foreground an
   This tenuous distinction between the            awareness of the viewer’s own perceptual
categories of ‘magazine work’ and ‘essay’          process and to show the ‘impossibility of
does not always hold up. Perhaps Graham’s          locating a pure present tense’ (‘Video in
11                                                                               DAN GRAHAM


relation to Architecture’, p. 186). As Graham’s   the historical amnesia and deracinated
writing at this point indicates, his videos       character of modern (i.e. functionalist) and
and performances figured as ecological             postmodern (i.e. historicist) architecture.
(or topological) models of the various new        Parallel to this research, Graham begins
social collectivities that emerged during the     to design a series of mirrored pavilion
1970s, from feminist ‘consciousness raising’      structures, which overlay, in a dizzying
sessions to psychological encounter groups.       array of architectural typologies, Marc-
The ‘hermetic, anonymous information              Antoine Laugier’s fantasy of the primitive
quality of earlier “conceptual” work’ is now      hut, baroque garden pavilions, Rococo
abandoned in favour of a deconstruction of        salons, fairground mirror palaces, modernist
intersubjective experience as articulated         glasshouses, corporate architecture and,
within the technological domain of cinema,        of course, the minimalist cube (‘The City as
television and video (‘Performance: End of the    Museum’, 1981/93, in RMR).
“60s”’, in TMP, p. 143). Graham’s theoretical        This renewed emphasis on the public
sources are now, among others, Kurt Lewin’s       space of architecture (which has never
dynamic psychology and Jacques Lacan’s            been totally absent in Graham’s work) is
writings on the mirror stage. The visual          accompanied by an intense fascination with
axes of projection and identification, the         the public media sphere of popular culture, in
process of subjectivation and objectivation,      particular the phenomenon of rock music. He
the positions of self and other, all become       published several crucial essays and video
interchangeable in what Graham calls the          works (e.g. RMR [1982–84]) on youth culture
chiasmic ‘topological’ space of his perceptual    in its hydra-headed form as both a social
‘machines’ (‘Cinema’, 1981, in Rock My            movement of resistance and a commodified
Religion [RMR], p. 169).                          spectacle of revolt. While the video-essay
   In the 1980s, Graham’s investigations          Rock My Religion demonstrates how the
of the mediatized realm of everyday               anxieties of society regarding adolescent
experience lead him back to his previous          sexuality and rebellion have been negotiated
dialogue with the discourse of architecture       within rock music since the 1950s, it is punk
and urbanism that began with Homes                that represents the true revelatory moment
for America. At the same time, Graham             in this history: through its self-conscious
became aware of WALTER BENJAMIN and               manipulation of the codes of fashion and rock
MICHEL FOUCAULT’s work on the status of           music, punk makes its audience aware of its
historical memory, which provided him with        own commercial exploitation. This reading
an antidote to the historicism that pervades      shows Graham’s interest in situationist
postmodernist debates of the early 1980s.         theory (‘McLaren’s Children’, 1981/88,
In a series of important essays, Graham           in RMR), which, by the 1980s, became
traces a genealogy of social power as it          understood as an important forebear of the
filters through the overlapping domains of         dominant critical paradigm of ‘representation
mass media, technology, architecture and          theory’. It also manifests Graham’s conviction
urban planning. More specifically, Graham          that resistance to the social power of late
examines the contemporary issue of the            capitalism remains possible, yet that any
debasement of public space (referring to          form of contestation must unfold upon
the various examples of suburban housing,         the terrain of the spectacle itself. Not
corporate architecture, shopping malls and        surprisingly, therefore, several of his
entertainment parks) and he studies the           contemporary essays explore pre-modernist
attempts of postmodern architects, such as        forms of spectacle (‘Theater, Cinema, Power’,
Robert Venturi or Rem Koolhaas, to counter        1983, in RMR).
DAN GRAHAM                                                                                             12


  Graham was very active as organizer,                 of the magazine pieces within a genealogy of
exhibiter and lecturer within the art                  institutional critique, but since the publication
community of the late 1960s and early 1970s.           of the catalogue raisonné in 2001, the focus of
Widespread recognition of his work, however,           attention has shifted towards the politics of
would come in the course of the 1970s. The             publicity that is implicit in Graham’s work. In
1978 catalogue in the Van Abbemuseum in                the process of unfolding its oblique criticism
Eindhoven that contained the first extensive            of minimalism and pop, Graham’s practice
historical analysis of the work by BENJAMIN            established a complex and ambivalent
BUCHLOH was particularly significant.                   relationship to the emergent spaces of
Dan Graham’s writings and interviews are               information. The feedback structure of
scattered across a wide variety of sources,            the video performances, in particular,
but have been assembled in the two recent              foreshadow certain features of a developed
volumes Rock My Religion and Two-Way Mirror            ‘control society’ (GILLES DELEUZE) and it is
Power. Within the revived debate of the 1990s          this anticipatory horizon of the work to which
on the legacy of conceptual art, Homes for             current, critical scholarship is directed.
America came to assume a central role. The
primary topic of discussion was the position                                            ERIC de BRUYN




 BIBLIOGRAPHY
                                                       Secondary literature
 Primary literature
                                                       Alberro, A., Dan Graham: Models to Projects,
 Graham, D., Video – Architecture – Television:           1978–1995, New York: Marian Goodman
    Writings on Video and Video Works 1970–1978,          Gallery, 1996.
    ed. B. H. D. Buchloh, Halifax: The Press of        Brouwer, M. and Anastas, R. (eds), Dan Graham:
    Nova Scotia College of Art & Design, 1979.            Works, 1965–2000, Dusseldorf: Richter Verlag,
 Graham, D., ‘Video in Relation to Architecture’,         2001.
    in eds D. Hall and J. Fifer, Illuminating Video,   Graham, D., Articles, Eindhoven: Stedelijk Van
    New York: Aperture, 1990.                             Abbemuseum, 1978 (text by B. H. D. Buchloh).
 Graham, D., Rock My Religion: Writings and Art        Martin, J.-H. (ed.), Dan Graham: Pavilions, Bern:
    Projects, ed. B. Wallis, Cambridge: MIT Press,        Kunsthalle Bern, 1983 (text by T. de Duve).
    1993.                                              Pelzer, B., Francis, M. and Colomina, B., Dan
 Graham, D., Two-Way Mirror Power: Selected               Graham, London: Phaidon, 2001.
    Writings by Dan Graham on his Art, ed. A.          Wall, J., Dan Graham’s Kammerspiel, Toronto: Art
    Alberro, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1999.                  Metropole, 1991.
13                                                                                MIKE KELLEY




MIKE KELLEY (1954–)
Mike Kelley was born in Detroit, Michigan,       and their authorship; architecture and the
took a BFA degree from the University of         perception of social space; and the structure
Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 1976, and an MFA         and deployment of vernacular Americana.
from the California Institute of the Arts,       Kelley provides each of his exhibitions,
Valencia, California, two years later. One of    series or projects with a philosophically
the most diverse artists of his generation,      rich, research-driven context, often in the
Kelley has made signal contributions in          form of a supporting text, whether a script,
music and sound culture: beginning in the        dialogue, statement or creative fiction.
mid-1970s with the formation of his noise        While an intermittent reader of the leading
band Destroy All Monsters, continuing with       French post-structuralists, including MICHEL
groups The Poetics and Extended Organ; in        FOUCAULT, JACQUES DERRIDA, Jacques
performance between 1978 (Indianana and          Lacan and GILLES DELEUZE and Félix
My Space) and the late 1980s (and again          Guattari, Kelley has made limited specific
in collaboration with Paul McCarthy in the       recourse to their ideas and methods. This
1990s); in sculpture and installation, notably   is, in part, because one of his main areas of
in his series of floor and related pieces using   interest is in American popular cultures, an
yarn dolls and stuffed animals (beginning        area in which these writers produced little of
around 1987); and in single channel and          note.
sculpturally sited video (from The Banana           The most extensive of Kelley’s
Man, 1983, to his recent exhibition at the       philosophical concerns is a cluster of issues
Gagosian Gallery in New York, Day is Done,       theorized by Sigmund Freud and in later
Autumn 2005). He has also acted in several       psychoanalytic and psychological writings.
videos and films and curated exhibitions,         These include: Freudian concepts such as the
including two versions of The Uncanny (1993      ‘death drive’ and ‘the uncanny’; repression
and 2004). Further, Kelley is an important       and Repressed and False Memory Syndrome;
writer, critic, theorist and interviewer whose   abjection, dirt and bodily ejecta. Kelley’s
collected writings are probably the most         practice is one of the few interventions in this
voluminous and generically adventurous of        area by artists since the 1920s – interventions
any contemporary artist writing in English.      which include automatism and work of
   Unlike some of his peers associated with      dreams by André Breton and the Surrealists;
New York postmodernism in the 1980s,             Salvador Dalí’s dissident ‘critical paranoia’;
Kelley has rarely made work in which             Jackson Pollock’s Jungianism; MARY
theoretical considerations are programmatic      KELLY’s work on language acquisition and
or contrived. Instead, his areas of enquiry      passages into the symbolic; and the various
and reflection are interleaved across the         theories and practices of narcissism and
range of his visual and textual work. These      trauma developed in the 1990s.
include: the aftermath of modernism and its         Examining the history and postmodern
techniques; sonic cultures; psychoanalytic       reinvention of polychrome figurative
and psychological theory and practice;           sculpture, and offering an extended dialogue
performativity; the social actions of memory;    with Freud’s 1919 text ‘The Uncanny’, Kelley’s
science fiction and ufology; artist-subjects      two exhibitions on the uncanny and his essay,
MIKE KELLEY                                                                                  14


‘Playing With Dead Things’ (1993), represent      invented case histories; and poster texts.
one of the most elaborate visual analyses         Foul Perfection comprises two sections: first,
of a complex psychological experience. He         a series of discussions of artists generally
adjudicates the effects of the uncanny with       outside the mainstream modernist and post-
reference to the viewer’s experience of a         Conceptualist canon (David Askevold, Öyvind
number of specific aesthetic, psychological        Fahlström, Doug Huebler, Survival Research
and historical parameters: scale; colour; the     Laboratories, Paul Thek and fellow artist-
relation of body part to whole; the relation      writer John Miller); second, thematic critical
of the body part to lack (which he terms, in      essays (on caricature, architecture, UFOs,
ironic homage to Deleuze and Guattari, ‘The       American film and the Gothic sensibility of
Organs Without Body’); the effects of the         the late 1980s).
ready-made and ‘the double’; two aspects             The statements, commentaries and fictions
of the statuary tradition – its correlation       that constitute Minor Histories are more
with death and function as a surrogate; and,      various, ranging from expository analyses
finally, in a section titled ‘Aping the Mirror     to declarative and persona-driven writings,
of Nature’, in relation to naturalism and         such as ‘Goin’ Home, Goin’ Home’ (1995).
realism.                                          The concatenation of puns, metaphors
   The overlapping desiderata sustaining          and elisions that make up the fictive and
Kelley’s selection of artworks and cultural       expressive register of Kelley’s writing have
objects that generate uncanny effects can         few precedents in the avant-garde art world.
be summarized as follows. First, the work         Their closest relations might be the nonsense
or object must be apprehended physically,         broadsides and ‘lampisteries’ of Tristan
by a body encountering something that is          Tzara. But although they have their anarchic
body-like – at least in a first impression. This   moments, Kelley’s texts don’t produce force
implies, second, that the object should be        fields of senselessness and nihilism; they
roughly human-scaled, or viewed through           offer instead a relentless stream of psycho-
a medium such as photography in which it          semantically altered pop cultural clichés,
can be perceptually rescaled as ‘life-sized’;     governed by free associations trawled
and, third, that the object be flesh-coloured      from the TV, brand names, high art tropes
or wear normal clothing, because work in          and other components of the Kelleyean
monochromatic or non-naturalistic registers       everyday. The seepage of style and effects
tends to resist identification and some forms      of these texts into Kelley’s other work
of transference. Fourth, the texture of the       creates a distinctive postmodern retort to
sculpture or object should also betoken the       the experimental language of the manifesto
palpability of flesh, as in wax or encaustic       associated with the historical avant-garde.
figures.                                           Several other artists of Kelley’s generation,
   Kelley’s writings range from the notes,        BARBARA KRUGER, Richard Prince and
diagrams and scripts that underwrote              Sherrie Levine, also produced writings that
his early performance pieces to ‘creative’        equivocate between fiction and commentary
and critical essays for art and alternative       – though theirs tend to be more abstract or
journals; catalogue essays; artist                narrative-driven.
‘statements’; scripts for sound sculptures;          Following ‘Urban Gothic’ (1985), with its
libretti; dialogues (real and imagined); quasi-   distinct aural and incantatory qualities,
manifestos; numerous interviews (as both          the style and form of his critical writing
interviewer and interviewee); polemics; panel     modulated into a combination of first-person
presentations; screening introductions; radio     critical opinion, contextual observation and
broadcasts; public lectures; CD liner notes;      historical and thematic revisionism. What he
15                                                                                  MIKE KELLEY


terms the ‘library work’ that underwrites his     Kelley separates the writing techniques
projects in different media – his commitment      he developed for performance from either
to research, compilation and citation, and        Joycean stream of consciousness, or pure
its reassemblage, dismantling or explosion        montage and ‘cut-up’ on the basis of his
– remains a constant resource; and the notion     commitment to composition. Aware of the
of ‘poetic’ concentration or ‘condensation’       limitations of fracturing strategies, Kelley
emerges as the key figure of this continuity in    points out that the aesthetic of disassembling
‘idea generation’.                                ‘ultimately fails as a strategy of resistance
   Kelley’s formative influences included          because it emulates the sped up and ecstatic
the Beats, especially the cut-up techniques       effects of the media itself’ (Tony Oursler
of William Burroughs, and early twentieth         INTROJECTION, p. 51). While he admits to the
century avant-gardists like Tzara and             use of ‘disruption . . . in a Brechtian sense’,
Raymond Roussel. He has read extensively          which promotes ‘a return back to the real’,
in Novalis and Lautréamont, Nathaniel             he opposes the solicitation of more radical
Hawthorne and Herman Melville, William            forms (as in the work of Burroughs), desiring
Beckford and Matthew Lewis, Vladimir              instead to arrange transitions between ‘a
Nobokov, Günter Grass, and Witold                 string of associations’. By simulating ‘natural
Gombrowicz. Among his own generation,             flow’ Kelley aims to produce an ‘almost
Kelley supported the literary circle at Beyond    ambient feel’ (Interview in Les Cahiers [LC], p.
Baroque in Venice, California, where Dennis       107).
Cooper, Amy Gerstler and Bob Flanagan                In collaboration with McCarthy at the
made regular appearances. Early on his            Vienna Secession (Sod and Sodie Sock Comp
reading included the psychological studies        O.S.O., 1998), Kelley offered the notion of
of R. D. Laing and Wilhem Reich; and, in          fracture and collage, his most sustained
politics and social criticism, the Yippie         consideration, addressing the idea of
manifestos of Abbie Hoffman and John              appropriated or appositional criticism.
Sinclair. He is also interested in fossilized     The artists’ selection of texts by GEORGES
systems of thought, like the theology of          BATAILLE, Reich and CLEMENT GREENBERG
Thomas Aquinas, and pseudo- or out-of-date        ‘in lieu of a catalogue’, is one of the many
scientific constructions, including Jarry’s        layers of reference Kelley identifies in the
‘Pataphysics’ or the writings of Lucretius.       installation. Like the work, these texts can be
With the exception of the ‘eccentrics’ of         read historically, formally, poetically or in any
the genre – H. P. Lovecraft, P. K. Dick, J. G.    combination. The act of assembling them,
Ballard – he dislikes science fiction. Kelley      and the particular intensities with which they
absorbed many lessons from these genres –         might be consumed (or ignored) by viewers,
appropriation, collage-composition, humour        read with or against each other, and with or
and irreverence, anti-institutionality, the       against the work and its own contexts and
diagnosis of repression, system construction      references, reinforces Kelley’s own sense
(and parody) – all of which passed into his art   of relativity, his refusal to think about texts
practice and the composition of his writings.     or objects in terms of their ‘content or their
   A key aspect of Kelley’s theory and writing    truth value’, but rather as complex entities
is his negotiation with the modernist notion      with their own structures and histories, blind
of collage, particularly the aesthetics of        spots and illuminations. Using these texts
fracture and structure associated with the        ‘for their poetic value’ but also as ‘a rationale’
new novel and post-war experimental fiction        for the materials in the exhibition, Kelley
(Thomas Pynchon, Burroughs, Genet) as             notes both his distrust of the denotative
well as with postmodern media practice.           function of writing and that he has become
MIKE KELLEY                                                                                                16


progressively more involved in the ‘historicist’      Joining with his disavowal of traditional
situation of texts, which superseded his              writerly excellence, and his intermittently
‘interest in the formal aspects of . . . writing’.    cantankerous style, Kelley’s refusal to accept
With the provocative notion of ‘socialized            canonical histories of contemporary art is
visual communication’, Kelley attempts to             one of several measures of his ‘badness’
draw the work, its forms, its audiences, its          as a writer. But being bad is not simply a
conceptual and historical references and the          concession Kelley ironically grants himself:
writings it occasions into a multi-layered            it is a symptom of the difference between
compositional totality based on an open logic         normative conventions and the artistic
of association, consumption and repressive            inflection of a discourse. Kelley’s flirtation
return (In conversation with Paul McCarthy et         with what he terms ‘allowed bad writing’
al. 1998).                                            reaches for the strategic permissibility
   The corrosive humour and irony in many             of a ‘bad style’, the relative dysfunction
of his texts are caught up in another focus           and opacity of which challenge the critical
of Kelley’s work, his conviction that art is          operating systems that pass it by (Interview
connected to ritual, and that one measure of          with John Miller, p. 8).
its power is founded on ‘a kind of structural
analysis of the poetics of ritual’ (LC, p. 119).                                     JOHN WELCHMAN




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                         Kelley, M., Interviews, Conversations, and Chit-
                                                         Chat, ed. John C. Welchman, Zurich, JRP/
                                                         Ringier, 2005.
 Primary literature
                                                      Exhibitions
 Kelley, M., ‘Interview with John Miller (March
    21, 1991)’, in Mike Kelley, New York: Art         Three Projects: Half a Man, From My Institution to
    Resources Transfer, 1992.                            Yours, Pay for Your Pleasure, The Renaissance
 Kelley, M., in conversation with Paul McCarthy,         Society at the University of Chicago, Chicago,
    Martin Prinzhorn and Diedrich Diedrichsen,           1988.
    on the occasion of Sod and Sodie Sock Comp        Mike Kelley: Catholic Tastes, Whitney Museum of
    O.S.O. (an exhibition with McCarthy), Vienna         American Art, New York, 1993.
    Secession, Sept. 23, 1998, transcript, pp. 2,     Mike Kelley, Museu d’Art Contemporani de
    6, 7.                                                Barcelona; Rooseum, Malmo, Sweden;
 Kelley, M., ‘An Endless Script: a conversation          Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The
    with Tony Oursler’, in Deborah Rothschild,           Netherlands, 1997.
    Tony Oursler INTROJECTION: Mid Career Survey      Day is Done, Gagosian Gallery, New York, 2005.
    1976–1999, Williamstown: Williams College
    Museum of Art, 1999.                              Curated exhibitions
 Kelley, M., ‘Interview with Jean-Phillippe
                                                      Mike Kelley: The Uncanny, Tate Liverpool,
    Antoine’, Les Cahiers du Musée National d’art
                                                         Liverpool; Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung
    moderne no. 73 (Fall 2000), p. 107.
                                                         Luwig, Vienna, 2004.
 Kelley, M., Foul Perfection: Essays and Criticism,
    ed. John C. Welchman, Cambridge: MIT Press,
                                                      Secondary literature
    2003.
 Kelley, M., Minor Histories: Statements,             Welchman, J. C., et al., Mike Kelley, London:
    Conversations, Proposals, ed. John C.               Phaidon, 1999 (texts by John C. Welchman,
    Welchman, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004.               Isabelle Graw, Anthony Vidler).
17                                                                                   MARY KELLY




MARY KELLY (1941–)
For over thirty years, Mary Kelly has             minimalist installation: ‘the fragmentation
sustained an aesthetic, critical, intellectual,   of the visual field, the imposition of a
political project that has contributed to         temporal sequence, the intrusion of
the formation of what we now understand           peripheral vision, the ephemeral effect of
as art after modernism. In addition, her          light, and above all the physical presence
monumental and thought-provoking                  of the viewer in the installation’ (Imaging
installations have been the sites of serious      Desire [IG], p. xxiv). Her work is a hybrid of
debates concerning psychoanalysis and             conceptual and minimalist practices. Post-
feminism, maternal desire, feminine identity      Partum Document (1973–79) and Interim
and, more recently, masculinity, war and the      (1984–89) were long-term projects that first
effects of trauma. Kelly began her career in      appeared in instalments. Her subject matter
London in the early 1970s when a Marxist-         demanded, as she has said, ‘a rupture of
feminist enquiry into the sexual division of      the single, rather seamless, artifact’. She
labour was beginning to be complemented           borrowed from film and conceptual art the
by a study of psychoanalytic theories of          use of multiple registers of signification.
gender differentiation. She spent formative       Joseph Kosuth’s One and Three Chairs (1965)
years in close contact with Juliet Mitchell       seems in retrospect like a prescription for
(Psychoanalysis and Feminism, 1974) and           such a practice, consisting as it does of
Laura Mulvey (‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative      a chair, a photograph of it and dictionary
Cinema’, 1975). Her early work critically         definition on a panel. But Kosuth didn’t use
engaged with the practice of contemporaries       the heterogeneity of the sign (found object,
like JOSEPH KOSUTH and Art & Language,            photograph, text) to expound anything beyond
opening up their enquiries into the conditions    the art-idea itself. Kelly brought the potential
of art making onto wider social and political     of these various registers and their affective
concerns. She has been remarkably rigorous        differences to bear on the presentation of
and consistent throughout her career, even        extra-artistic subject matter.
though she moved back to the country of              Kelly’s specific intellectual and political
her birth, the United States, in 1987, where      formation meant that she has always refused
she worked first with the Independent Study        any notion of an essential femininity outside
Program at the Whitney Museum of American         of the constitutive social institutions of family,
Art and then in the Department of Art at          language and the law, and this had certain
UCLA.                                             consequences for her art practice. Her
   From 1970 to 1973, she collaborated on         distinctive avoidance of iconic representations
an unconventionally filmed documentary             of women is partly a response to this
about women and work called Night                 ‘constructivist’ feminist position. The writings
Cleaners. The scale, complexity, attention        of Jacques Lacan have been very important
to detail, duration and involvement in            in her effort to rethink the relationship
narrative which is possible in film were           between art practice and psychoanalysis.
transposed by Kelly into a project-based          His imagination of the unconscious as
art of installation. Kelly lists some of the      structured like a language recommended
formal features of her work borrowed from         itself to her project of trying to represent,
MARY KELLY                                                                                      18


using the means of conceptual art, the             and photographic practices. Her strategy
subjective dimension of women’s oppression.        was to relate that work and performance
Following Lacan’s theory of the mirror stage       to the modernist pictorial paradigm. That
of infantile development, she held that the        paradigm, defined by CLEMENT GREENBERG
kind of feminist art practice which offers         and Harold Rosenberg, among others,
‘empowering’ iconic representations of the         insists on the unity and homogeneity of the
woman’s body risked delivering up the female       picture which is understood as expressing
spectator to identifications with an ideal          the essential creativity of the subject. The
mother, an illusory mirror image of herself        painterly gesture is intended ‘to mark the
as whole, self-sufficient and autonomous            subjectivity of the artist in the image itself’
– in short, a female version of the bourgeois      (IG, p. 83). If Jackson Pollock left a painterly
subject. She has also vigorously critiqued         trace of an expressive gesture, argued Kelly,
some women’s body and performance                  then the artistic subject appeared in another
art and this has led to a lively and still         form in the 1970s: ‘In performance work
ongoing debate about the relative merits of        it is no longer a question of investing the
transgressive performance-based work as            object with an artistic presence: the artist is
opposed to Kelly’s more austere and oblique        present and creative subjectivity is given as
art practice.                                      the effect of an essential self-possession’
   This debate is often played out in terms        (IG, p. 91). In many cases the body’s authentic
of a transatlantic divide with Judy Chicago’s      presence is guaranteed by the experience of
Dinner Party (1973–79) positioned opposite         pain. Although there were some prominent
the exactly contemporary Post-Partum               male performance artists who staged acts
Document. It is also couched in terms of           of self-mutilation, the similarities between
a generational shift. Some accounts of             women’s performance work of this nature
women’s art of the late 1970s and 1980s            and traditional representations of female
drive a wedge between the work of an older         masochism made its political effectivity
generation of ‘iconoclastic’ artists allied with   questionable. The problematic character of
conceptualism whose work is a critique of          specifically feminist performance lies not in
omnipresent media images of woman, ‘cut            representations of pain, but in the temptation
to the measure of male desire’, as Laura           to equate the female body and feminine
Mulvey put it, and a younger generation            identity, as though it were a biological given
who have no misgivings about appropriating         instead of a cultural artefact. Further, the
these images and playing with them. Kelly          insistent presence of the artist encourages
is frequently cited as exemplary of the first;      a critical practice that, as Kelly put it,
Cindy Sherman’s performative photographic          converges ‘on the traditional vanishing point
work is often invoked to represent the latter.     of the artistic subject’ (IG, p. 98). Recently,
Although this has been a contested issue for       this has in turn led to the rise of a first-
some time, Amelia Jones recently reanimated        person, confessional, performative critical
it by responding, in her Body Art: Performing      practice.
the Subject (1998), to Kelly’s critique of 1970s       GRISELDA POLLOCK agreed with Kelly in
performance work, ‘Re-viewing Modernist            ‘Screening the Seventies’, where she noted
Criticism’ (1981).                                 that it is difficult to distance the image of
   Kelly’s important essay intervened in           woman sufficiently in order to attain the
the context of a revival of painting and the       required critical view. Amelia Jones, however,
commercial gallery system in the early 1980s       countered these claims by critiquing what
that threatened to eclipse radical, explicitly     she saw as an overly prescriptive definition
anti-expressionist, minimalist, conceptual         of what counts as feminist art practice, and
19                                                                                   MARY KELLY


by rehabilitating ‘anti-Brechtian’ forms            Kelly recently described her working
of solicitation of the gaze in body art. The     procedure to Judi Carlson in an interview
embodiment of the artistic subject, on this      about the first of her installations composed
view, makes difference and identities of         of panels of compressed lint, Mea Culpa
all kinds palpable and destabilizes both         (2000). This installation was a continuation,
modernist and postmodernist (or post-            or, better, the other side of Gloria Patri (1992),
structuralist) sensibilities. One way of going   which investigated the masks of masculinity
beyond the terms of this debate is to appeal     against the backdrop of the Gulf War. Mea
to the difference between performance and        Culpa (I am Guilty) is about the victims
performativity. ‘Performance’ is a unique        of oppression and war. It began with the
and spontaneous event in the present tense       accumulation of an archive of war-related
that cannot be adequately captured on            atrocities. But her interest was, she says,
film or video. ‘Performativity’, by contrast,     primarily in an ‘interrogation of my own
signals an awareness of the way the present      preoccupation with these events’ (Carson’s
gesture is always an iteration or repetition     ‘Interview with Mary Kelly’, p. 75). She was
of preceding acts. It therefore points to the    interested in the traumatic effects of the
collective dimension of speech and action.       fragmentary reports of atrocities, images of
Many, though not all, of the artists admired     distant disasters, which are transmitted into
by Jones, such as Laurie Anderson, are           our everyday domestic lives. The curious grey
distinctly performative body artists, who        waves that festoon the walls of the gallery
take pains to distance and mediate their         turn out, on closer inspection, to be repeated
own image, and thereby escape Kelly’s and        ‘ready-made’ modules of compacted lint
Pollock’s strictures.                            carefully harvested from her tumble dryer. In
   In fact, Kelly’s art practice is not as de-   effect, Kelly turned the dryer into a primitive
personalized as her critique of performance      printmaking device, using it to ‘silkscreen’,
might make it seem. After all, she also          with a dark load of laundry, tersely written
criticized the way conceptual artists tended     short stories of torture and atrocity around
to assume an authoritative position outside      the globe. Rather than circulate photo-
of the field of their investigations: they        documents of these stories, Kelly has made
‘stopped dramatically short of synthesizing      the lint residue suggest some soft and
the subjective moment into that inquiry’ (IG,    vulnerable substance where the traumatic
p. xx). Kelly brought to conceptual art the      information is filtered and inscribed. The
question of the subject and gender difference,   work is an attempt to give mediatized, de-
including her own subjective experience          realized news stories the texture of the real
of that difference. Indeed, her enquiry into     – a fragile, soft monument. Rather than
maternity in Post-Partum Document was            repeat the spectacle of horror, give the literal
occasioned by the birth of her son and           image, Kelly conjures up a sense of a muffled
Interim, about ageing and the fear of losing     voice.
one’s femininity, related many personal             This anti-literalism is perhaps the
anecdotes and displayed photographs of           foremost motive for Kelly’s aniconic practice.
items of her own clothes. However, these         She has said of Post-Partum Document, that
‘researches’ are, for her, the raw material      she wanted to represent the ‘affective force’,
for finished works whose ambition is more         rather than the literal form of the mother–
of the order of history painting than self-      child relationship. Her interest in spectrums
portraiture. Kelly’s work is characterized       of affect off the visible scale no doubt led her
by formal restraint, intellectual rigour and     to collaborate with the composer, Michael
explosive emotional content.                     Nyman. The Ballad of Kastriot Rexhapi (2001),
MARY KELLY                                                                                             20


another lint installation arranged in the form       ciphered through social formations. In short,
of a sound wave, is about a child lost and           her installations are visualizations of the
found amidst the battlefields of Kosovo. The          unconscious. Because Kelly’s subject matter
exhibition opened with a live performance            is strictly unrepresentable, her art hovers at
of the original music composed for Kelly’s           the edge of the image.
libretto. All of Kelly’s art attempts the
representation of psychic effects as these are                                   MARGARET IVERSEN




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                           The Emptiness of the Image: Psychoanalysis
                                                        and Sexual Image, London: Routledge,
                                                        1996.
 Primary literature                                  Carson, J., ‘Interview with Mary Kelly’, Art Journal
 Kelly, M., ‘Re-Viewing Modernist Criticism’,           59 (Winter 1999).
    Screen vol. 22, no. 3 (1981); reprinted in       Iversen, M., Crimp, D. and Bhabha, H. K., Mary
    Imaging Desire, 1996.                               Kelly, London: Phaidon, 1997 (contains
 Kelly, M., Interim, New York: New Museum of            chronology and bibliography).
    Contemporary Art, 1990.                          Jones, Amelia., Body Art: Performing the Subject,
 Kelly, M., Gloria Patri, Ithaca, N.Y.: Herbert F.      Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,
    Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University,          1998.
    1992.                                            Mastai, J., Pollock, G. and Wollen, P., Social
 Kelly, M., Imaging Desire: Mary Kelly Selected         Process Collaborative Action: Mary Kelly
    Writings, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1996.               1970–75, Vancouver: Charles H. Scott
 Kelly, M., Post-Partum Document, London:               Gallery, Emily Carr Institute of Art and
    Routledge, 1983; reprinted Berkeley:                Design, 1997.
    University of California Press; Vienna:          Mulvey, L., ‘Impending Time’, (1986) in L. Mulvey,
    Generali Foundation, 1998.                          Visual and Other Pleasures, Bloomington:
 Kelly, M., ‘Mea Culpa’, October 93 (Summer             Indiana University Press, 1989, pp. 148–58.
    2000).                                           Pollock, G., ‘Screening the Seventies: Sexuality
                                                        and Representation in Feminist Practice
                                                        – a Brechtian Perspective’, in Vision and
 Secondary literature
                                                        Difference: Femininity, Feminism and
 Adams, P., ‘The Art of Analysis: Mary Kelly’s          the Histories of Art, London: Routledge,
   Interim and the Discourse of the Analyst’, in        1987.
21                                                                              JOSEPH KOSUTH




JOSEPH KOSUTH (1945–)
Joseph Kosuth, born in Toledo, Ohio, USA,          self-reflexive critical practice that takes as
is one of the key figures in Conceptual art.        its subject the condition of art, rather than
Kosuth’s significance rests principally on          the subject position of artist or spectator.
artworks and writings produced between             For Kosuth, Conceptual art is essentially an
1966 and 1975. The artist’s current work           objective investigation into all aspects of the
continues to reflect its origins in a larger field   concept ‘art’ – its social context, its logical
of Conceptual art practices that sought to         form and its relationship to the wider culture.
liberate art from the theories and criticism       Above all, Conceptual art enables us to
of modernism as exemplified by the writings         understand how art functions as a signifying
of CLEMENT GREENBERG and MICHAEL                   process, rather than how the concept art
FRIED. Throughout the late 1960s and early         expresses itself through any particular
1970s, Kosuth (i) stressed the need for an art     media. Conceptual art as conceived by Kosuth
practice that reflected on its status as art;       is claimed to be an overarching, transparent
(ii) identified the principal role of the artist    and objective intellectual tool – not simply
as a maker of meaning; and (iii) through           a critical response to existing practice,
the example of his own writings and self-          but a meta-theory of artistic practice in
promotional activities, challenged artists to      general. The work of the artist is framed as
scrupulously control the critical reception of     an investigative activity that is advanced by
their work.                                        whatever intellectual resources are deemed
    In Kosuth’s view, Conceptual art worthy of     necessary to demystify conventional art
the name – also referred to as ‘theoretical        practices and reveal the signifying function
Conceptual art’ in his writings of the 1970s       of art.
– must remain unencumbered by traditional             One of Kosuth’s most controversial
practices such as painting or sculpture            claims addresses the nature and function of
and their attendant critical and aesthetic         Conceptual art’s public. As Kosuth famously
discourses. (Kosuth instances On Kawara’s          notes, the public of this practice is ideally
date paintings as an exception to this             comprised solely of other artists. This
prohibition because here painting is pursued       narrowing of the public of Conceptual art
in an intentionally self-reflexive manner and       has a number of consequences. First, there
can be read as a parody of such media.)            is potentially no member of the audience of
    Since the late 1960s, Kosuth’s writings        Conceptual art who is not, at one and the
have aimed to further refine the distinction        same time, a participant in the making of
between Conceptual art and all other modes         that art. Because of the absence of a lay
of art practice, avant-garde and traditional.      public, Conceptual art can be claimed to be
During the 1970s, Kosuth turned a purifying        as ‘serious’ as science or philosophy. These
polemic on Conceptual art itself, resulting        disciplines, claims Kosuth, also have no need
in the distinction between ‘theoretical’           for a public outside that of the immediate
Conceptual art and ‘stylistic’ Conceptual          practitioners. Finally, as an experimental
art. The former, asserted Kosuth, was the          practice, Conceptual art cannot be expected
only model able to illuminate the essential        to have a direct effect on society at large.
kernel of art’s reality by virtue of its being a   Taken together, these assumptions were
JOSEPH KOSUTH                                                                                   22


intended to announce the redundancy of the         for his practice as a thoroughgoing critique of
art historian and art critic as the principal      formalist art.
agents for the interpretation and propagation         Kosuth’s quintessential statement on the
of Conceptual art.                                 nature of art as a concept is found in the
   Kosuth maintains that an understanding of       seminal text, ‘Art After Philosophy’ (1969).
the signifying nature of all art propositions is   ‘Works of art’, writes Kosuth, ‘are analytic
fundamental to Conceptual art and justifies         propositions. That is, if viewed within their
its dependence upon inscribed language as          context – as art – they provide no information
its principal mode of expression. (At the same     what-so-ever about any matter of fact.
time, it is crucial to distinguish Conceptual      A work of art is a tautology in that it is a
art from other, language-based artistic            presentation of the artist’s intention, that is,
forms, such as concrete poetry. These are          he is saying that a particular work of art is
dismissed by Kosuth as a formalization of the      art, which means, is a definition of art. Thus,
poet’s material.)                                  that it is art is true a priori (which is what
   As cognitive rather than perceptual             [Donald] Judd means when he states that “if
practice, Kosuth boldly positions Conceptual       someone calls it art, it’s art”).’
art as a rival to both philosophy and religion.       At times obscure, Kosuth’s art theory is
Kosuth repeatedly asserts in his writings          above all playful and informal, remaining
the right of Conceptual art to be valued           unencumbered by the strictures of the
on a par with logic, mathematics, science,         disciplines he seeks to emulate. Drawing
anthropology or psychoanalytic theory,             on Ad Reinhardt’s penchant for composing
arguing that all these enquiries share with        polemics out of series of quotations sourced
Conceptual art the qualities of being open-        from a wide range of thinkers, artists
ended and theoretical. Kosuth’s notion of          and poets, Kosuth likewise appropriates
Conceptual art also privileges language as         fragments of texts by key figures in the
the key frame for meaning in all art, past         philosophy of language (analytic philosophy
or present, and regardless of its material         and the works of Ludwig Wittgenstein), the
form. The crux of Kosuth’s argument linking        philosophy of science, anthropology (the ideas
art with mathematics and science is that           popularized by Stanley Diamond), Marxism,
all these practices are in a profound sense        critical theory (WALTER BENJAMIN) and
tautological, and all present their ‘findings’ to   psychoanalytic theory (Sigmund Freud).
the world in the allegedly universal syntax of     This practice of citation has prompted some
analytical propositions.                           critics to brand Kosuth as either pedantic or
   This last claim is most controversial           intellectually vacuous. Yet, the interest shown
and Kosuth goes further in his attack on           by Kosuth in resources of expression that
the epistemological distinction between            are remote from the expected discourses
art and science than any other artist of his       of art and which reflect a vocabulary and
generation. When Kosuth argues that art is         methodology alien to modernist art criticism
a special kind of tautology, he means art as       of the 1960s is hardly unique among artists.
revealed by his practice of Conceptual art.        Many artists at the time flirted with a kind of
Like logic and mathematics, Conceptual art         cod-intellectualism or scientism. Kosuth’s
demands that the art-idea (or work) and            text fragments picture the case for the
the concept of art are identical and self-         epistemological identity of self-reflexive
validating. However, as pointed out by critics     Conceptual art and the logical structure of
such as BENJAMIN BUCHLOH and Frances               philosophy, science and mathematics. Rather
Colpitt, such a theoretical construction of art    than settle the argument of art’s identity, they
fundamentally undermines Kosuth’s claim            point to a possible world where art, science,
23                                                                             JOSEPH KOSUTH


philosophy, and so forth, jostle together as      a blank screen upon which critics could
cultural equals.                                  ratify their narrow taste. Formalist painting
   This intention is announced in one of          and sculpture was conceptually mute and
the earliest of Kosuth’s works of art – or        presented a stumbling block to a higher
‘investigations’ as he called them from 1968      understanding of art.
onwards – subtitled ‘Art as Idea as Idea’.           While Kosuth’s early writings address
Consisting simply of negative photographic        formalism in these terms, his association
prints of dictionary definitions four-by-four      with the Art & Language group in 1970 forced
feet square, these works refer explicitly to      him to reconsider earlier positions and led
Reinhardt’s dictum – ‘Art-is-art; everything      to an accommodation of his art theory to a
else is everything else’ – and mirror the         far more dialogical and politicized model of
format of his late, near-black paintings.         practice. Despite this shift, Kosuth’s version
Along with Marcel Duchamp, Reinhardt              of Conceptual art remained highly abstract
was identified by Kosuth as a key historical       and obscure. The academic seriousness and
precursor to Conceptual art. In an act of         philosophical respectability projected by
homage to Duchamp’s ‘ready-mades’ of              Kosuth’s works from the late 1960s onwards
1913, Kosuth calls his appropriated text          has done much to contribute to the view of
construction the ‘made-ready’. These              Conceptual art as a practice of difficulty and
knowing historical references remain the          remoteness with respect to lived experience.
dominant format of Kosuth’s most widely              Ironically, the stereotypical image of
read art theoretical texts and serve to link      the clinical Conceptual artist is potentially
him to a particular avant-garde tradition.        moderated by one of the more enduring
   For Kosuth, the chief virtue of Conceptual     aspects of Kosuth’s career as an artist,
art is to be found in its opposition to the       namely an insistence on the cohesiveness
formalist and allegedly ‘empty’ (or ‘first-        of his various practices. Here, Kosuth
order’) works of painters and sculptors           underscores the fundamentally organic
such as Kenneth Noland, Larry Poons and           relationship that binds his role as artist,
Anthony Caro. Formalism was bankrupt,             curator, writer and educator into a whole
in Kosuth’s view, because it was unable to        social actor. These roles not only reflect
reflect upon the concept of art in general         the urge towards a more complete and
and left the artist in a position of dependence   satisfying personal practice that resists the
with respect to the art critic. As construed      prerogatives of professional specialization,
by Greenberg and Fried, modernist painting        but also refer to the historical need of
and sculpture is eminently self-reflexive;         Conceptual artists to control directly the
that is, such art eschews all illusory spatial    reception of their work. Kosuth, like many
effects and references to anything outside        others of his generation, emulated the
the fact of its material constitution, be it      multifaceted practices of Ad Reinhardt,
painting or sculpture. This was seen by some      ROBERT MORRIS and Donald Judd. By
Conceptual artists to be an impoverished          aggressively controlling the terms of critical
self-reflexivity, one that prevented artists       discourse that framed his own practices,
from understanding how art ‘means’. With          and by providing a context during the late
its repetitive geometric motifs, relative         1960s for the practices of his artistic allies,
lack of internal complexity, emphasis on          Kosuth could counter the interpretations by
media specificity, and opulent use of colour,      hostile critics that threatened to marginalize
formalist paintings and sculptures were           Conceptual art. According to Kosuth, the
disdained as meaningless objects whose            extraordinary versatility of Reinhardt was
very lack of complexity and detail presented      a tremendous influence on the way he
JOSEPH KOSUTH                                                                                            24


shaped his own career. Reinhardt, in fact,               divisions between them, Kosuth’s version
was a painter, a political cartoonist and                tends to be far more cohesive and self-
activist, a writer, a student of art history,            contained. In one sense, it can be reckoned
and a professor of art history. But where                to be the social face of the tautology ‘art-as-
Reinhardt’s versatility acknowledges the                 idea-as-idea’.
practical differences of these roles and
therefore maintains strict epistemological                                              MICHAEL CORRIS




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                            Gintz, C. and Pagé, S., L’art conceptuel: une
                                                            perspective, Paris: Museum of Modern Art,
                                                            1989.
 Primary literature                                      Goldstein, A. and Rorimer, A., Reconsidering the
 Kosuth, J., Investigationen über Kunst und                 Object of Art: 1965–1975, Los Angeles: The
   ‘Problemkreise’ set 1965 (5 vols), Lucerne:              Museum of Contemporary Art and Cambridge:
   Kunstmuseum Luzern, 1973.                                MIT Press, 1995.
 Kosuth, J., Art after Philosophy and After. Collected   Harrison, C., Essays on Art & Language,
   Writings, 1966–1990, ed. Gabriele Guercio,               Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001.
   Cambridge: MIT Press, 1993/2002.                      Lippard, L. R., Six Years: The Dematerialization
                                                            of the Art Object, 1966–1972, Berkeley and
                                                            Los Angeles: University of California Press,
                                                            1973/1997.
 Secondary literature
                                                         Meyer, U., Conceptual Art, New York: E. P. Dutton,
 Corris, M. (ed.), Conceptual Art: Theory, Myth             1972.
    and Practice, Cambridge and New York:                Wood, P., Conceptual Art, London: Tate
    Cambridge University Press, 2004.                       Publishing, 2002.




BARBARA KRUGER
(1945–)
Barbara Kruger is best known for her photo-              provocative slogans in Futura Bold Italic font.
text collages. These combine photographs,                They have appeared on posters, billboards,
often culled from 1940s and 1950s photo-                 magazine covers, book jackets, bags, T-shirts
annuals and instruction manuals, with                    and mugs, in galleries and outside in various
25                                                                            BARBARA KRUGER


urban settings. Summoning the graphic              between art and design, Kruger states
language of the modernist avant-garde (e.g.        simply that she works with ‘pictures and
John Heartfield, Soviet Constructivism), they       words’. However, Kruger’s practice involves
also invoke the tactics of commercial design.      moves uncommon within traditional art
   Kruger’s art career began in the late           practice. For example, her use of previously
1960s when she made crocheted and                  existing image sources (which largely avoid
sewn hangings for gallery display. These           copyright) raises questions about authorship
challenged separations between art and             and originality. In this respect her work can
craft, thereby probing relationships between       be grouped with the consciously plagiarist
creativity and gender. This interest in feminist   practice of contemporaries Sherrie Levine
concerns segued with issues specific to             and Mike Bidlo. Consistent with the critique
photographic theory when, during a visiting        of authorship, Kruger, in turn, allowed her
artist post at Berkeley in 1976, Kruger            graphic style to be ‘imitated’ by the Pro-
engaged with the writings of WALTER                Choice Education Project in 1998, as part of
BENJAMIN and ROLAND BARTHES and their              their campaign for abortion rights. Kruger is
respective analyses of technically reproduced      not just a thief of images: ‘We loiter outside
art and semiotics. Alongside her art practice,     of trade and speech and are obliged to steal
Kruger has taught, curated and written. For        language. We are very good mimics’ (Remote
several years she regularly wrote criticism        Control [RC], p. 216).
for Artforum, mainly reflecting on TV and              Such appropriation allows examination
film. Her criticism revels in discussions of        of official discourses, stereotypes and
TV flotsam such as The Muppets, Johnny              clichés and all that appears obvious. In
Carson and The Home Shopping Club, and is          this respect, photography is an interesting
seeded with gestures to critical theory, for       tool. Kruger has frequently pointed to
example, commodity fetishism, the rhetoric         photography’s mendacious ability to present
of realism, and the identificatory mechanisms       the seemingly real and evidential. Such
of camerawork. In interview Kruger has             powers are ‘problematic’ and Kruger strives
described her critical project thus: ‘I’m          to undercut photography’s rhetoric of the
interested in how identities are constructed,      real ‘through the textual commentary which
how stereotypes are formed, how narratives         accompanies them’ (RC, p. 218). Photo-
sort of congeal and become history’ (Barbara       collages become polyvalent, assaults on
Kruger [BK], p. 189). Her reflection on her         photographic certainty. This exercise in
own practice is often allusive and adopts          suspicion carries through to her reflections
a similar tone to that of the slogans in the       on historiography, which led to co-editorship
photo-collages. Witness, for example, the          of Remaking History, a collection of essays
paratactic statements in ‘Irony/Passion’           by post-colonialists and post-structuralists
(1979), ‘Work and Money’ (1981), ‘Incorrect’       who question ‘grand narratives’. In
(1982) and ‘Repeat After Me’ (1992), all           its introduction, traditional history is
reproduced in Remote Control (1993).               characterized as ‘a bulky encapsulation
   Kruger began her career as a graphic            of singularity, a univocal voice-over, an
designer at Condé Nast, becoming head              instructor of origin, power and mastery’
designer of Mademoiselle by 1967 and               (Remaking History, p. ix).
working subsequently on House and Garden              Kruger is critical of ‘power’ in various
and Aperture. Carol Squiers stresses how           forms, including the power of the academy
Kruger’s art practice emerged ‘directly’           to circumscribe critical discourse. She has
from her training in selecting and cropping        insisted that theory break out of academia
images (BK, p. 147). Eschewing distinctions        and invade public discourse via a ‘powerfully
BARBARA KRUGER                                                                                26


pleasurable language of pictures, words,           overriding interpretative context is anti-
sounds and structures’ (RC, p. 222). In            capitalist art practice. The photomontage
some sense the displacement of her work            with the slogan YOU INVEST IN THE DIVINITY
from galleries to public spaces attempts to        OF THE MASTERPIECE is read as a critique of
project theory into the public realm. Certainly    painting, shrouded in an ideology of genius
the works have dispatched and attracted            and inspiration, but actually and more
theoretical commentary. While Kruger’s             importantly just another commodity (or
writings disseminated theoretical ideas on         profitable investment) in capitalist society.
topics such as the political nature of high/       For Walker, Kruger’s appropriation of found
low binaries, the force of realism or power’s      images challenges the ‘myth of originality’
reliance on stereotypes, her works became          fundamental to non-media art. As such
a hanger for the ‘theory turn’ of art in the       it exemplifies Walter Benjamin’s theses
1980s.                                             on technical reproducibility. Kruger’s own
   Kruger has been interpreted in three            analysis of artistic form concentrates less
contexts: political aesthetics, feminism and       on painting’s ideological freighting than
postmodern investigations of ‘the gaze’,           photography’s contradictory existence as
and identity and power. Politically oriented       simultaneously faux-objective (in service of
readings of Kruger usually focus in one of         power) and ‘secular’ (and domesticable) (RC,
two directions. One highlights her relation to     p. 218).
photomontage, claiming a lineage from John            Brandon Taylor’s The Art of Today
Heartfield and Hannah Höch and developed            emphasizes the feminist-political aspects of
by Klaus Staeck and Peter Kennard. The             Kruger’s practice, observing that she became
other is closely aligned to critical theory’s      a touchstone for feminists who wanted
reflections on ideology, alienation and             ‘something direct’. Kruger herself conceives
enlightenment. HAL FOSTER provides a               of plural feminisms, which question power
key example of this latter reading. Drawing        and ‘the clichés of binary oppositions’ (RC,
on Barthes and Lacan, he interpreted               p. 223). Taylor reminds readers that Kruger
Kruger’s work as the calling of language into      was very much claimed for postmodernism.
crisis, pinpointing her as a ‘manipulator of       In this context it is less overt politics that
signs more than a producer of art objects’         are addressed in her work and rather issues
(Recodings, p. 100). In her use of pronouns −      of identity, visuality and power in relation
shifting descriptors dependent on context and      to ethical concerns. Kruger’s own writings
interpretation, thus blocking identification        certainly back this reading with their
− and in her marshalling of disjunctures           references to ‘difference’, inclusions’ and
between image and text, connotation and            ‘multiplicities’ – touchstones of postmodern
denotation, the photo-text collages become         ethics (e.g. RC, pp. 217/220). Craig Owens set
destabilizing, critical responses to mediated,     the high-theoretical tone in ‘The Discourse of
illusion-saturated environments. Foster            Others: Feminist and Postmodernism’ (1983),
recognizes Kruger’s stated commitment to           promulgating Kruger’s ‘poststructuralist’,
undermine stereotypes (RC, pp. 222/230) and        ‘deconstructive’ photographic practice
he posits as ideology-critique what she terms      against modernism’s supposed insistence on
the disruption of ‘the dour certainties of         artistic mastery, made graphic in the heroic
pictures, property, and power’ (RC, p. 221).       labour of the brushstroke as guarantee of
   John A. Walker, in his Art in the Age of Mass   cultural authority and value. Indeed Owens’
Media, presents the other type of political        reading of Kruger counters the ‘political’
reading. Kruger is a media artist in the           reading offered by BENJAMIN BUCHLOH, in
company of political photomontagists. The          ‘Allegorical Procedures: Appropriation and
27                                                                           BARBARA KRUGER


Montage in Contemporary Art’ (1982), and          ‘hallowed’ gallery. Kruger’s ‘direct address’
Hal Foster, both of whom refer to universal       reveals the presence of power in ‘apparently
alienation and ideological unmasking. For         neutral spaces’ such as the gallery, now
Buchloh, Kruger manipulates the languages         placed within the ‘concrete social world’.
of popular culture in order to expose the         The denigration of the ‘perfect’ space of the
ways in which they work to enforce dominant       gallery is a dominant theme of post-war
ideology that obscures an underlying truth.       post-painterly critical practice. Deutsche
Owens objects to metaphors of making              underlines Kruger’s own sense of such
visible, because, in contemporary culture,        work as ethical. This is one more instance of
‘visibility is always on the side of the male’.   how Kruger’s theoretical practice coincided
For Owens, Kruger’s photo-text collages map       with the central concerns of critical theory
the existence of patriarchy through a critique    through the 1980s and 1990s. For this reason,
of male desire and its annexing to the gaze,      perhaps, she has not been subjected to
which ‘objectifies and masters’ (Postmodern        critique, but has served rather as an example
Culture, p. 77).                                  of choice for art critics with a theoretical
   That ‘truth’ is a fiction wielded by power      bent. Critics have found reflected in her
is a stance Kruger appears to share. Truth        fractured works and elusive writings their
implies certainty and the oppressive binary       own concerns.
of non-truth. For Kruger, as for Owens, even         Kruger’s early work confronted a male-
the binary of gender is untenable. While,         dominated art world. Kruger observes
for Owens, there is no question that the          that the male hold has lessened and the
address of Kruger’s work is gender-specific,       ‘overqualified understudies’ (BK, p. 192)
deconstruction and post-structuralism teach       may now participate. Whether this is due
that signifiers are unstable, including ‘I’ and    to the energetic work of Kruger and her
‘you’, masculine and feminine. YOUR GAZE          contemporaries is an open question. In
HITS THE SIDE OF MY FACE, a slogan from 1981,     any case, it was one they posed. Kruger’s
castigates a penetrating male stare, but does     influence, according to Steven Heller, can
not naturalize it.                                certainly be found where she started − in
   Similarly in the publication accompanying      graphic design, specifically contemporary
Kruger’s retrospective at MOCA in 1999/2000,      advertising practice. Heller cites the ‘creative
Rosslyn Deutsche observes that the                advertising’ embodied in a campaign such
addressee of you/we/I ‘does not designate a       as Absolut Vodka’s, which uses ‘curious
pre-existing spectator with a fixed identity’,     juxtapositions of product and image’ (BK,
but rather ‘denotes a position marked and         p. 118). And, oddly, for all the claims
transformed by relationships with others’         around critical practice, Kruger has found
(BK, p. 81). This unfixed identity annexes to      herself back in the commercial world. In
a feminist ‘politics of vision’, underpinned      2002 she designed façade banners for the
by psychoanalysis. As an explorer of how          Kaufhof department store in Frankfurt,
visuality informs socio-sexual identity and       Germany. Huge eyes confronted consumers
difference, Kruger is placed alongside artists    menacingly: ‘That is you, that is new, that is
such as Sherrie Levine, Cindy Sherman,            nothing, that is everything, you want it, you
MARY KELLY who ‘disrupted a visual econ-          buy it, you forget it.’ In 2003 and 2005 she
omy in which woman as image and, beyond           provided façade banners, subway posters,
iconography, coherent visual form shore up        billboards and bus wraps for Selfridges.
masculine fantasies of completion’ (BK, p. 83).   These used her most iconic phrase − I SHOP
   Kruger disturbs sites of perfection, be        THEREFORE I AM. If there was still a critical
that the model in the photograph or the           purchase to this, it is submerged. Whether
BARBARA KRUGER                                                                                         28


irony remains is another question, and one          currently privileges a vague notion of ethics
that urgently needs answering if Kruger is          over a specific sense of politics.
not to be seen as a ‘sell-out’ or simply the
logical product of a postmodernism that                                               ESTHER LESLIE




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                       Foster, H., ‘Subversive Signs’, in Recodings:
                                                       Art, Spectacle, Cultural Politics, Seattle:
                                                       Bay Press, 1984, pp. 99–118 (originally
 Primary literature                                    in Art in America [November 1982], pp.
 Kruger, Barbara, Remote Control: Power, Cultures      88–92).
    and the World of Appearances, Cambridge: MIT    Owens, C., ‘The Medusa Effect, Or, The
    Press, 1993.                                       Spectacular Ruse’, Art in America (January
 Kruger, Barbara and Mariani, Philomena (eds),         1984), pp. 97−105.
    Remaking History, Seattle: Bay Press, 1989.     Owens, C., ‘The Discourse of Others: Feminist
 Barbara Kruger, Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2000.       and Postmodernism’, in ed. Hal Foster, The
                                                       Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture,
                                                       Seattle: Bay Press, 1983.
 Secondary literature
                                                    Taylor, B., The Art of Today, London: The
 Buchloh, B., ‘Allegorical Procedures:                 Everyman Art Library, 1995.
   Appropriation and Montage in Contemporary        Walker, J. A., Art in the Age of Mass Media (revised
   Art’, Artforum (September 1982).                    edition), London: Pluto, 1994.




ROBERT MORRIS (1931–)
Robert Morris, born in Kansas City, USA, is         a generation of young artists emerging out
one of the most controversial figures in the         of the hegemony of abstract painting in the
recent history of American art. A progenitor        late 1950s, Morris said ‘no to transcendence
of minimal art, Morris was intellectually more      and spiritual values, heroic scale, anguished
articulate than his peers Carl Andre and            decisions, historicizing narrative, valuable
Donald Judd, and furnished the ‘movement’           artefact, intelligent structure, interesting
with a credible aesthetic theory. As part of        visual experience’ (‘Three Folds in the
29                                                                                ROBERT MORRIS


Fabric’, 1989). Since the late 1950s his            (‘The Art of Existence’, 1971; ‘Aligned with
broad artistic output can be understood as          Nazca’, 1975; ‘Notes on Art as/and Land
successive and reflective critical encounters        Reclamation’, 1980); and (v) a general
with emergent movements in contemporary             critical-historical outline of the history of art
New York art, and his constantly shifting           from the late 1950s to the late 1970s (‘Some
focus was registered in his ongoing writings.       Splashes in the Ebb Tide’, 1973; ‘Three Folds
His syncretism and ever changing artistic           in the Fabric’, 1989).
interests were, to his supporters, complex             Category (i) of Morris’s writings were
and intellectually informed; to his detractors      somewhat polemical and engaged in
Morris was eclectic and opportunist.                the battle between the then dominant
    Morris’s oeuvre can be roughly described in     ‘autonomous formalism’ (mainstream
terms of periods: (i) abstract painting (1955–      modernist abstraction as promoted by
61); (ii) neo-Dada ready-mades (1961–64);           CLEMENT GREENBERG followed by
(iii) performance art (1961–66); (iv) minimal       Michael Fried) and emerging anti-formalist
art (1963–68); (v) process art (1967–73); (vi)      movements like minimal art. Texts (iii) and
land and environment art (1971–79); (vii)           (iv) are in part manifestations of a struggle
installation and ‘public’ art (1974–present);       internal to this battle – a struggle to claim
and (viii) drawings, paintings and reliefs          ownership of the central terms of the
(throughout). Projects and intellectual             emergent discourse of phenomenology.
concerns in Morris’s work overlapped or bled        Texts (ii), (iii) and (iv) are a genre of art
into one another. Morris resisted collective        criticism comparable only to the work of the
affiliations, and sometimes returned to              sculptor-critic ROBERT SMITHSON as they
earlier art practices. In San Francisco as          attempt to forge a new general concept of
early as 1954 Morris became interested              art by integrating phenomenological terms
in contemporary dance, which continued              with cultural theory, anthropology and
after his move to New York in 1960 where            environmental science. And lastly, texts (v)
he became involved in performances with             indicate the battle over certain historical
Yvonne Rainer, Carolee Schneemann and               reference points, where particular moments
others. His enduring interest in the physical       in art history became sites of contestation.
dynamics and physical context of viewing art        These moments can be identified as (a)
animated both his art theory and his practice.      Marcel Duchamp (involving the American
MICHAEL FRIED’s accusation that Morris’s            reception of Duchamp through Cage,
minimal art was ‘theatrical’ generated one of       Rauschenberg and Johns); (b) the legacy
the most contentious debates in the New York        of the European avant-gardes of the 1920s,
art world.                                          particularly Constructivism; and (c) abstract
    Morris’s theoretical output can be              painting of the 1950s, particularly Jackson
categorized as follows: (i) a rationale for         Pollock, but also involving the work of Ad
minimal art (‘Notes on Sculpture’, Parts 1–3,       Reinhardt, Barnett Newman and the younger
1966–67); (ii) a critical outline of process art,   Frank Stella.
including an implicit critique of minimal art          Morris attempted to forge an alternative
(‘Anti Form’, 1968, and ‘Notes on Sculpture’,       historico-conceptual narrative of modern
Part 4, 1969); (iii) an integrated theory of art,   art. It is a mistake to think of Morris’s
aesthetic experience and creative activity          anti-formalism as anti-modernist. Morris
(‘Some Notes on the Phenomenology of                rather attempted to reconfigure the central
Making’, 1970; ‘The Present Tense of Space’,        critical terms of the modernist theory of art
1978); (iv) a critical outline of environment       – art’s socio-cultural ‘autonomy’, ‘medium-
art, land art and proto-installation work           specificity’, ‘form’ and art’s ‘pure’ or unique
ROBERT MORRIS                                                                                   30


visual efficacy – in terms of emergent             sculpture. For Morris, sculpture is a tactile
anti-formalist art practices. His alternative     art, and being three-dimensional, the
narrative of modern art maintained a major        empirical facts of light, space and materials
influence on the early contributors to October     are as much conditions of its medium as the
magazine, evident later in major texts like       aesthetics of scale, proportion and mass. Its
ROSALIND KRAUSS’s The Optical Unconscious         specificity as an art thus lies in its ‘literal’
(1993).                                           existence in ‘literal’ space; it achieves ‘shape’
   Morris’s major contribution to the             not by denying its literalness, but purging
development of art theory was between             itself of everything that mitigates against
1966 and 1970, specifically his ‘Notes on          the literal – all detail, structural complexity
Sculpture’ Parts 1–4. First, in relation to       and colour (all figurative allusion, visual
category (i) texts above, Morris concurred        metaphor, symbol or any other way objects
with the modernist theory of Greenberg and        become a mere function of concepts).
Fried on some fundamental claims about            A simple polyhedron – a ‘unitary form’,
sculpture: (i) sculpture (like all individual     as he calls it – offers the most powerful
arts) inhabits a distinct and specific medium;     instance of the literal. It produces a ‘gestalt’
its medium is not determined by materials         sensation of pure visuality, bringing to
as such, but the dynamics of its occupancy        consciousness the very process by which the
of three-dimensional space; (ii) sculpture        objective interconnection of self and world is
is categorically different from other objects     constructed through perception.
in the world; it exceeds the realm of the            In Part 2 of the ‘Notes’ (October 1966),
empirical (ordinary experience) – it exists       Morris simply expands on this line of
not as empirical ‘object’ but aesthetic           argumentation. For Morris, the objective of
‘shape’; (iii) ‘shape’ is not the sum of the      sculpture is to set up a direct subject–object
material properties of the object (and is         dynamic with the viewer, and for this to be
not synonymous with its compositional             done the object has to be of human scale. The
form) but is the structure of our perceptual      aesthetic function of traditional sculpture is
engagement with it (implying that the object’s    reversed: all internal complexity (of detail
identity as sculpture is not determined by        and composition) is substituted for external
technique, materials, subject matter, style,      complexity (the dynamic of space, light and
skill, etc. but the form of experience it makes   unitary form in the subject’s field of vision).
possible); and (iv), the most fundamental         Where traditional sculpture attempted to
characteristic of this experience is a visual     represent the living experience of corporeality
immediacy or momentousness where a                or human form, unitary forms facilitate
heightened awareness of the object provokes       a reflective apprehension of this very
a simultaneous self-reflexive awareness in         experience.
the subject of the perceptual conditions of          In Part 3 (June 1967) Morris outlines the
that awareness – the way the objective world      nature of his polyhedrons, differentiating
is constructed in and through our active          them from the numerous minimal-art-
perception of it.                                 style objects that were appearing by late
   However, in Part 1 of the ‘Notes’ (February    1966. Morris refused to relinquish a claim
1966), Morris’s points of divergence from         on the term ‘sculpture’, as unitary forms
Fried and Greenberg were apparent. He             ostensibly fulfilled traditional sculpture’s
tacitly accuses Fried of denying sculpture        aim in creating an objective expression of
its medium-specificity, observing that both        corporeal experience (to ‘represent’, or stand
Fried and Greenberg privileged the optical        as a sign for, the body). Part 3 is significant in
character of painting as paradigmatic for         that Morris develops an idea that continues
31                                                                              ROBERT MORRIS


throughout many of his later writings: the         of the work’, that is, it is not to evoke the
significance of sculpture is that it exemplifies     conditions for our perception of the object,
‘the cultural infrastructure of forming’.          but the conditions of the visual field of which
‘Forming’ here is the basic structure of our       objects are just a part.
task-oriented interaction with the objective          In Part 4, and the essay that was to
world. Reconstructed as art, this reveals          follow exactly a year later, ‘Some Notes
a primordial substrate of sensible task-           on the Phenomenology of Making’ (April
oriented knowledge about the world of              1970), Morris continued this exploration,
objects. From the Neolithic to the industrial      shifting the axis of his attention from objects
era, humankind’s interaction with material         to process – from the primacy of visual
nature has taken certain forms – determined        interaction to physical interaction, and
by the propensities of certain materials in        despite his deepening interest in psychology
relation to the propensities of the human          and linguistics, Morris became as attentive
body. The most elementary form of ‘forming’        to the location, environment and materials
is the cubic or rectangle form (production)        of production as to the dynamics of viewing.
combined with the right-angled grid                The ‘medium-specificity’ of sculpture
(distribution). The cube/rectangle became          became all but irrelevant. ‘Shape’, moreover,
the morpheme and the right-angled grid the         was not a single homogeneous gestalt but
syntax of minimal art.                             successive moments of coherence created
    The essay ‘Anti Form’ (April 1968) appeared    and developed through negotiating a visual
exactly a year before ‘Notes’ Part 4 (April        field of indeterminacy and heterogeneity. The
1969), and is where Morris begins to cast          self-reflexivity afforded by this experience
doubt on unitary forms (now identified              of shape was not an attempt to discern
as ‘minimal art’), sensing their points of         the essential substrate of perception, but
convergence with modernist formalism.              to generate the facility of new modes of
Morris’s initial concern with ‘the literal’        perception, an interaction with the world, and
becomes clearer as he states that unitary          thus cultural transformation.
forms embody a ‘generalized usefulness’               In the early 1970s, Morris became a major
constitutive of our objective world – the ‘form’   point of reference for a new generation
of utility itself, the primordial substrate of     of trenchantly anti-formalist art theorists
our knowledge of the world gained through          and historians. Along with Richard Serra,
constructive needs-driven interaction with         Morris’s influence permeates seminal texts
it. However, in ‘Anti Form’ he tentatively         like Rosalind Krauss’s Passages in Modern
suggests that minimal art was mistaken             Sculpture (1977). The intellectual battle in the
in attempting to locate this substrate in an       New York art world between ‘formalism’ and
essential formal logic of cubic form and           ‘anti-formalism’, though ill conceived some
right-angled grid. Any attempt to create a         of the time, set the conceptual framework
single physical configuration of an essential       for subsequent international debates on
structure of subject–object interaction            postmodernism. Morris’s status in the art
becomes ‘functioning idealism’ – the objects       world, as well as his intellectual progeny, was
become mere vehicles for conceptual                apparent with the publishing of his writings
speculation on the nature of reality. ‘Forming’    by October books and MIT in 1993, followed by
has no objective paradigms that remain             an impressive retrospective at the Solomon
constant; rather, the substrate can only be        R. Guggenheim Museum in 1994, co-curated
located within the process of ‘making itself’.     by Rosalind Krauss and Thomas Krens.
With reference to Pollock, art’s central task
is to ‘recover process and hold onto it as part                              JONATHAN VICKERY
ROBERT MORRIS                                                                                           32




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                         Berger, M., Robert Morris, Minimalism and the
                                                         1960s, New York: Harper & Row, 1969.
                                                      Colpitt, F., Minimal Art: The Critical Perspective,
 Primary literature                                      Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1990.
 All the above quoted essays by Robert Morris are     Fried, M., ‘Art and Objecthood’ (1967), in Art and
     available in:                                       Objecthood: Essays and Reviews, Chicago:
 Morris, Robert, Continuous Project Altered Daily:       University of Chicago Press, 1998.
     The Writings of Robert Morris, Cambridge: MIT    Krauss, R., Passages in Modern Sculpture,
     Press/October, 1993.                                London: Thames & Hudson, 1977.
                                                      Krauss, R. and Krens, T., Robert Morris: The
                                                         Mind/Body Problem, New York: Solomon R.
                                                         Guggenheim Museum, 1994.
 Secondary literature
                                                      Strickland, E., Minimalism: Origins, Bloomington
 Battcock, G., Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology,        and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press,
    Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.      1993.




ADRIAN PIPER (1948–)
Since the mid-1960s, Adrian Piper has                 artists and critics who tended to appropriate
produced conceptual art, meta-art and                 concepts from various academic disciplines
critical writings on racism, xenophobia               without mastering them, Piper strengthened
and their underlying epistemic, economic,             her early interest in abstract conceptual
political and spiritual causes and conditions.        thinking by earning a BA (1974) and a
Part of the generation of artists influenced           doctorate (1981) in philosophy, becoming
by minimalism, and early conceptualists               the first tenured African American woman
like Sol LeWitt, Piper immersed herself               professor of philosophy in the United States
in the New York art world beginning in                in 1991.
1966, working and showing with influential                The interplay between Piper’s art and
artists and curators such as LeWitt, Vito             theoretical writings about art is fairly explicit,
Acconci, Hans Haacke, Lucy Lippard and                the interplay between her philosophical
Seth Siegelaub. Unlike fellow conceptual              writings and art less so. The writings about
33                                                                                  ADRIAN PIPER


art, published in exhibition catalogues,           the art critic, as well as the artist’s role, in
international art publications and collected       guiding the interpretation of his or her work.
in Out of Order, Out of Sight (1996), can be          While Piper’s meta-art practice helps
formally categorized as meta-art and art           clarify the personal and social implications
criticism. Both genres employ a self-reflexive      of her work, her art critical writings stress
approach to articulate the conditions that         both the critic’s relationship to the object of
determine and contextualize, respectively,         criticism and its relationship to institutional
her art practice and social status as a            practices and general social concerns. Like
coloured woman artist (‘Triple Negation            JOSEPH KOSUTH’s rejection of the art critic
of Colored Women Artists’, 1990) relative          as ‘middleman’ who makes ‘objective’ value
to art and real world politics; both defend        judgments about art, Piper’s texts challenge
the notion that art, and the artist, can and       the myth of the critic who ‘may impersonally
should play a significant role in socio-            efface herself and her subjectivity in order
political discussions. Combined with her art       more accurately to deliver objectively valid
practice, both represent a strategic union of      pronouncements about the criticized object’
the personal and political that critiques the      (‘Some Very Forward Remarks’, 1996). The
experience, and conditions that determine          critic and the practice of criticism are just as
the experience, of xenophobia and racism.          embedded in economic, social and political
   Meta-art, a form of practice for artists,       circumstances as art and the artist. Piper
‘makes explicit the thought processes,             provides a scathing critique of the legitimacy
procedures, and presuppositions of making          of the kind of criticism that relies heavily on
whatever kind of work we make’ (‘In Support        biographical analysis in place of an analysis
of Meta-Art’, 1973). From the perspective of       of the object. As she shows in an exchange
the artist, it helps to clarify the complexities   with Donald Kuspit, this type of criticism
of one’s art practice, and, consequently,          often masks the critic’s own agenda, effaces
may effect the development of the work. In         the work by psychologically profiling the
her meta-art essays, Piper describes, in           artist or, worse, reveals the critic’s racist and
sometimes intimate detail, the motivations         sexist attitudes and practices.
and processes that condition her art practice.        Piper’s art critical essays helped define
These texts show a mounting self-awareness         a form of criticism that, along with other
of her socio-political position, and this          artists and critics such as Lippard and
awareness in turn informs her art practice,        Howardina Pindell, seeks to expose and
which has become more overtly political over       clear away the layers of racism, sexism and
time. From a critical standpoint, meta-art         other exclusionary practices in the art world.
broaches a couple of still relevant issues         In essays such as ‘Government Support for
originally addressed in critical discussions       Unconventional Works of Art’ (1992) and ‘The
about conceptual art and art criticism. First,     Logic of Modernism’ (1992) she examines
it calls into question and undercuts the           tactics that exclude political art from the
mythologization of the artist as standing          public domain because it contradicts the
outside of social relations by exposing,           socio-political ideologies of the funders, or
through otherwise inaccessible first-person         threatens the hegemony of Euro-ethnic art
insight, the collision of personal and social      and cultural ideals. She rejects CLEMENT
forces that constitute the artist’s practice.      GREENBERG’s conception of Modernism
Second, and perhaps more controversially,          and argues that political art is inherent in
meta-art allows the artist to assert some          the modernist tradition and vitally important
influence over the interpretative framework         to maintenance of a free and democratic
of the work, thereby questioning the role of       society. In ‘Notes on the White Man’s Burden:
ADRIAN PIPER                                                                                  34


Multiculturalism and Euroethnic Art Criticism     and conceptual (post-1967), her art practice
at the Millennium’ (1991) she defends the         is guided by a few primary strategies: the
importance of supporting non-Euro-ethnic          ‘indexical present’, or what she refers to
art, while warning that inclusion in the canon,   as the immediate here and now; ‘catalysis’,
particularly under the guise of ‘postmodern       i.e. art as a catalytic agent of change; and
appropriation’, comes with its own set of         ‘confrontation’, in the sense of objectifying
contradictions and dangers.                       a subject for rational examination and,
   The relationship of Piper’s philosophical      potentially, change.
work to her art and theoretical writing              The pre-conceptual work, mostly
about art is less explicit. Since receiving       representational paintings, drawings and
her doctorate, philosophy has been Piper’s        sculpture, seems unaware, or unaffected,
‘day job’, supporting her art practices and       by trends in minimalism and early
enabling her to remain independent of the art     conceptual art. Rather, her unselfconscious
market. Working within the analytic tradition,    incorporation of expressionism, cubism
her primary focus and publications have           and op art signifies Piper’s fascination with
been on Kant, meta-ethics and the history of      the problem of immediate perception in the
ethics. In her forthcoming book, Rationality      indexical present, and the location of the body
and the Structure of the Self, she critiques      in a spatio-temporal matrix. Works such as
the problems inherent in moral theories           LSD Steve Shomstein (1966), and Self-Portrait
based on a Humean conception of the self,         with Tamiko (1966), for example, suggest the
and develops a theory of the self grounded in     possibility that our perception of the subject
Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.                   is distorted by some kind of visual cover,
   Piper’s philosophical investigations do        perhaps inherent in our own perception. What
not make her art ‘philosophical’. Rather,         seems like immediate unfiltered perception
Kant’s philosophical analysis becomes a           is in fact a presentation coloured by our
point of departure, providing a theoretical       faculties.
ground for her preoccupation with immediate          From 1966 to 1970 Piper began to develop a
perception. She seizes on Kant’s fundamental      more suitable vocabulary for her examination
idea that there are conceptual thought            of the conditions of perception and, later,
processes that shape our experience, and          the presentation of political content. When
deploys it to examine the concepts that           LeWitt stated that the ‘idea of concept is the
constitute our experience of race, ethnicity      most important aspect of the work’, Piper
and xenophobia. Race, in her view, is not a       responded in her work by prioritizing content
fixed a-priori category, nor is it biological      over form. Early conceptual works, such as
or genetic; it is an empirical concept open       Here and Now (1968) and Concrete Infinity 6”
to modification. Racism takes place at             Square (1968), underscore the significance
the moment of concrete and immediate              of content by situating ideas and concepts as
perception through the concepts that              objects that refer both to themselves and to
determine our perception. The possibility         ideas beyond themselves. Later works from
that these concepts are mutable is a source       this period, such as Meat into Meat (1968)
of hope, providing more resolve for Piper’s       and, in particular, Hypothesis (1968–70),
mission to challenge the experience of            exhibit a transition in the content of her work
racism.                                           from problems of abstract temporality to the
   Piper’s art becomes more concrete and          problem of locating herself as an art object in
overtly political as she thinks more abstractly   a spatio-temporal matrix.
about her social and political status. Loosely       Diverging from Kosuth’s view of conceptual
divided into the pre-conceptual (pre-1966–67)     art as an analytic proposition, Piper,
35                                                                               ADRIAN PIPER


in performances from the early 1970s,            lifelong yogi, employs the vocabulary of
transforms herself into an art object that       the Western rationalist tradition and the
refers to both herself, as art object, and to    Vedantic philosophical tradition to provide
concepts outside of the work. In the Catalysis   a tool to peel away the koshas, which
series (1970), Mythic Being (1974) and Some      are illusory impositions that obscure
Reflective Surfaces (1976), she modifies her       the true self. From the standpoint of
appearance to present the viewer with an         Western rationalism, Piper draws on the
anomalous experience, such as the physical       examination of colour as a secondary quality
embodiment of stereotypical images. This         that is inherent in the perceiver, not the
strategy, which some have found hostile and      object itself. Likewise, the ideas that go
antagonistic, initiates unmediated contact       along with our conception of colour are an
with the perception of the viewer, and           imposition on the object. Whether or not
enables both parties to explore the conditions   one agrees with the concept of a ‘true self’,
of perception in the here and now, with the      a concept that has come under fire from
aim of provoking change in the viewer. Later     postmodern quarters, Piper’s questioning
performances, such as Funk Lessons (1983),       of racial categories presents a formidable
adopt a more collaborative approach to           challenge to our traditional notions of
break down the xenophobic presuppositions        identity. Combining both traditions, the
of commonly held stereotypes in order            implications in terms of her social and
to ‘restructure people’s social identities       political attacks on racism and xenophobia
by making accessible to them a common            are clear: colour and race are not biologically
medium of communication’ (‘Notes on Funk         or genetically fixed, but rather impositions
I–IV’, 1983–84).                                 upon the self that are open to modification
   The experience of direct communication        and revision.
with the audience carries significant                In many ways, Piper’s lifelong examination
implications for her later art practice.         of concepts is most squarely placed in
Beginning in the mid-1970s with works like       the Socratic tradition. Unwavering in her
Art for the Artworld Surface Pattern (1977),     conviction that rational discourse is the
she includes more overt, object-oriented,        most effective way to combat racism, she
political content. Later works, such as          displays a consistent willingness to objectify
Vanilla Nightmares (1986), and multimedia        and submit uncomfortable truths to rational
installations such as Cornered (1988) and        examination. Her writings are widely
What It’s Like What It is #3 (1991), continue    anthologized in books on art, philosophy,
to objectify experiences of racism and           cultural studies, feminism and race, and
xenophobia, employing stereotypes and            she lectures extensively around the world.
culturally pervasive images to question the      Two recent comprehensive retrospectives
viewer’s assumptions, and demonstrate the        of her work in the US and Europe show her
extent to which the conditions of perception     to have been an innovator of conceptual
are determined.                                  art practices whose formal strategies have
   Viewed cohesively, Piper’s work suggests a    often prefigured the work of artists such
strategy of confrontation aimed at dissolving    as BARBARA KRUGER and Jenny Holzer.
racial stereotypes and reconstructing            Other artists, dealing with issues of race
concepts of self-identity free of xenophobic     and xenophobia, like Glenn Ligon and Lorna
baggage. This strategy has become more           Simpson, cite her as an inspiration.
explicit in her later works. In artist’s notes
to The Color Wheel Series (2000), Piper, a                              ROBERT del PRINCIPE
ADRIAN PIPER                                                                                           36




 BIBLIOGRAPHY

 Primary literature                                   Secondary literature
 Above quoted essays available in:                    Berger, M. and Meyers-Kingsley, D. (eds), Adrian
 Piper, A., OUT OF ORDER, OUT OF SIGHT: Selected         Piper: A Retrospective, Baltimore: University of
    Writings in Meta-Art and Art Criticism 1968–         Maryland Baltimore County Press, 1999.
    1992 (vols 1 & 2), Cambridge: MIT Press, 1996.    Farver, J. (ed.), Adrian Piper: Reflections 1967–
 Piper, A., ‘Two Conceptions of the Self’,               1987, New York, N.Y.: The Alternative Museum,
    Philosophical Studies vol. 48, no. 2 (September      1987.
    1985).
 Piper, A., ‘Xenophobia and Kantian Rationalism’,
    Philosophical Forum XXIV, 1–3 (Fall–Spring
    1992–93).
 Adrian Piper Research Archive, www.adrianpiper.
    com.




ROBERT SMITHSON
(1938–1973)
Robert Smithson was born in Passaic,                  exemplifying American postmodernist art
New Jersey. He moved from New Jersey to               of the 1960s and 1970s, and continue to
New York City in 1957 and lived there until           resonate with many contemporary artistic
his accidental death in 1973. His art and             and intellectual concerns. Although he
writings have since come to be established            received some art education in his teens,
as one of the most important bodies of work           including the Art Students League in
37                                                                           ROBERT SMITHSON


New York, Smithson was essentially self-           depends most on his having been the main
educated, reading widely throughout his life       instigator of the ‘earthworks’ movement,
in a number of areas besides art, including        centred on Dwan’s gallery. Throughout the
literary criticism, religion, philosophy and       same period Smithson was also publishing,
science. Many of these areas of knowledge          mainly in the influential American art journal
became resources for his art and writings,         Artforum, highly unconventional essays that
and predictably have also been so for many         may be seen as at once a strand of his artistic
later explainers of his work. Probably             practice and a theorization of that practice, as
because Smithson’s sculptural works were           well as of recent art in general. The formalist
often either ephemeral or, where they have         modernist art critic MICHAEL FRIED was also
lasted, are in places that are difficult to get     publishing his important essays in Artforum
to, his writings, particularly from the time of    during the same period, and in many
their first collected publication in 1979, have     respects the defining opposition of 1960s
played a prominent role in the history of the      American art between formalist modernism
reception of his work.                             and an anti-formalist postmodernism can
   Like many artists of his generation             be seen played out in the pages of Artforum
Smithson started out as a painter in the           between Fried (and other followers of
wake of abstract expressionism; but from           CLEMENT GREENBERG) and a generation of
1964, around the same time as the work of          artist-writers that included Smithson, Robert
Donald Judd, ROBERT MORRIS and other               Morris, DAN GRAHAM and JOSEPH KOSUTH.
Minimal artists began to gain attention in the     Smithson recognized Fried as an important
New York art world, he turned to sculptural        adversary, and correspondingly Fried has
work. During the next few years, Smithson          written that in retrospect it was Smithson’s
expanded his practice in various directions,       writings that represented the most important
and his work may be divided (following             contemporary critical response to his
Robert Hobbs) into the following categories,       famous 1967 critique of minimal art, ‘Art and
some of which overlap or were combined             Objecthood’.
in the same work: (i) the quasi-minimalist            As theoretical reflections on his art
sculptures, often based on crystallographic        practice, and on art in general, Smithson’s
forms; (ii) collaged map drawings; (iii) the       writings are far from systematic, and were
series of ‘nonsites’ begun in 1968, which drew     not intended to be. Nevertheless there
relationships between material presented in        are some common themes. In the most
the gallery and a site outside; (iv) travelogues   general terms, Smithson’s worldview may
and other narrative texts; (v) ‘gravitational’     be described as anti-humanist, in the sense
pieces which involved the pouring of               that he sought to refute explanations of the
substances; (vi) monumental earthworks,            world, history, nature, self, art and so on
such as Spiral Jetty (1970), which was             that were premised on the centrality of the
constructed in the Great Salt Lake, Utah, and      human or the category of ‘man’ (cf. MICHEL
is probably Smithson’s most famous work;           FOUCAULT). This outlook manifested itself
and (vii) the land reclamation proposals that      in several registers in Smithson’s thinking.
he was pursuing just prior to his death.           One of the most important of these was
   Smithson had a close working relationship       in what may be called his materialism, his
with the dealer Virginia Dwan during the           emphasis on the priority of the material over
crucial years from 1966 to 1971, and most of       the human. In his writings this can be seen
his important exhibitions were held at either      in the frequent rhetorical strategy of giving
her New York or her Los Angeles gallery.           humanly meaningful productions such as
Smithson’s significance as an artist probably       art, language and thought the attributes of
ROBERT SMITHSON                                                                                38


physical, material processes or conditions,         Smithson also applied such scepticism
a strategy that can be seen to striking          regarding historical progress to what he saw
effect in Smithson’s essay from 1968, ‘A         as the reliance on ‘progress’ in the formalist
Sedimentation of the Mind: Earth Projects’.      modernist accounts of the development of
   The most discussed of these material          modern art put forward by Greenberg and
processes or conditions has been Smithson’s      Fried. He criticized them for their separation
appropriation of the scientific term entropy      of art from such modes of temporality as
to refer to what he saw as a general process     generalized entropic disintegration, and
of material disintegration underlying and        the actual process of producing art by the
ultimately undermining all attempts by           artist, which he claimed never resolved itself
human beings to order the world. ‘Entropy’       into the ‘fiction’ of the art object: ‘Criticism,
describes the thermodynamic principle            dependent on rational illusions, appeals to a
whereby a closed system tends to lose            society that values only commodity type art
energy and become increasingly disordered.       separated from the artist’s mind . . . Separate
Smithson was drawn to marginal regions           “things”, “forms”, “objects”, “shapes”,
in which he could perceive the dissipation       etc., with beginnings and endings are mere
of the ‘energy’ associated with industrial       convenient fictions: there is only an uncertain
modernization, including declining               disintegrating order that transcends
industrial areas, disused quarries and the       the limits of rational separations.’ In ‘A
architecture of urban sprawl, the latter of      Sedimentation of the Mind: Earth Projects’
which he associated with contemporary            (from which the words just quoted come),
(mainly minimal) sculpture in his first major     the ‘rational separations’ that secured the
published essay, ‘Entropy and the New            coherence of the art object for a formalist
Monuments’ (1966).                               critic such as Fried were contrasted to a
   Similarly, Smithson’s conception of history   radically decentred absence of boundaries
was opposed to the usual sense in which it       and lack of focus, which Smithson referred
is thought of as consisting of a progressive     to using the psychologist Anton Ehrenzweig’s
sequence of events meaningful in narrative       term dedifferentiation.
terms. He saw historical time as rather a           Smithson’s sculptural works also often
mere series of frozen states lacking any         attempted to undermine the formalist
overarching order. Smithson frequently           emphasis on the art object, most notably
used the metaphor of crystal formation, and      in his series of nonsites (begun in 1968). In
especially the crystallographic principle        their display of material gathered from a site
of mirroring, to suggest this process, as in     outside the gallery (a quarry for instance)
his 1967 essay ‘A Tour of the Monuments          these drew attention to the relationships
of Passaic, New Jersey’: this was a              – between sign and referent, centre and
photographic and textual record of one of        margin – between such a work in the gallery
several excursions made by Smithson to his       and the site outside (usually also referred
native New Jersey (often in the company of       to by way of maps, photographs and other
artist-friends such as Carl Andre, Robert        documentary material). The problem
Morris or Dan Graham). Here he described         with such subversions of the art object
the civil engineering projects being built       from the perspective of Greenberg’s and
in the city of Passaic as ‘ruins in reverse’,    Fried’s modernism would be the loss of the
thereby representing such instances of           distinctiveness of painting or sculpture based
historical ‘progress’ as mirror images of the    on a tradition of formal self-criticism, and
city’s industrial decline, and so ‘freezing’     hence the loss of a special mode of aesthetic
them in time.                                    response. Following such critiques of the art
39                                                                           ROBERT SMITHSON


object, Smithson (in texts such as ‘Cultural        theories of postmodernism, such as
Confinement’, his ‘contribution’ to the 1972         ROSALIND KRAUSS’s account of sculpture’s
Documenta exhibition) became one of the             transgression of modernist medium-
first artists or critics to question seriously the   specificity to constitute a new ‘expanded
whole institutional framework of museums            field’. Even more influential in Smithson’s
and galleries which underwrote the isolated         specific case was Craig Owens’s claim that
mode of existence of the work of art (DANIEL        Smithson’s foregrounding of the textual in
BUREN was another).                                 his practice constituted the characteristic
   Smithson’s essays typically combined             postmodernist artistic gesture, the textual
both textual and visual material, the text          having been excluded in formalist modernism
frequently playing a graphic role in the            as extraneous to art practices delimited
overall ‘look’ of the piece. Consistent with his    by the concept of medium-specificity.
criticisms of ‘rational separations’, Smithson      Smithson’s work was seen by Owens as
refused to apportion the activities of reading      typical of an ‘allegorical impulse’, where
and looking according to the textuality or          allegory was defined in WALTER BENJAMIN’s
visuality of the material at hand, as can be        terms as a disjunctive, disarticulating
seen in his short chiasmic text announcing          principle always at work in textual meaning,
the first of the Dwan Gallery’s ‘Language’           a principle that was recognized as being at
exhibitions, ‘Language to be Looked At and/or       work in Smithson’s foregrounding of the
Things to be Read’ (1967), and in his essay         materiality of language and his entropic view
‘A Museum of Language in the Vicinity of            of history.
Art’ (1968). Smithson frequently represented           More recent writers on Smithson have
his surroundings – physical-geological,             often felt it necessary to distinguish their
architectural, visual-cultural – in linguistic      own approaches from this postmodernist
terms, an approach that was supported by            interpretation, sometimes asserting
his reading of structuralist thinkers such as       the importance of a theory of history in
ROLAND BARTHES and Claude Lévi-Strauss              Smithson’s thinking or situating Smithson’s
(for whom language provided a model for             art and writings in more social-historical
cultural and anthropological analyses).             terms. Smithson’s subversions of historical
Smithson saw language itself as having a            time have recently been criticized by Jennifer
material condition prior to its capacity to take    L. Roberts for their tendency to conceal
on meaning, a view that some subsequent             real historical conflicts that have in fact
writers on Smithson have related to the             determined Smithson’s approach to the
contemporaneous literary-philosophical              historical material in the first place. Even
theoretical approach, ‘deconstruction’ (cf.         as Smithson’s work changes from being an
JACQUES DERRIDA). The importance that               object of criticism to an object of history,
Smithson gave to language and textuality            however, the ramifications of his ways of
considerably complicates any straightforward        working and thinking are still being played
understanding of his materialism, since his         out in recent art and art theory, and can be
emphasis on the materiality of language             seen as influential in such areas as site-
precludes any simple relationship of                specificity, classificatory and museological
exteriority materiality might have with             art practices, and in the recent intersections
respect to consciousness.                           between art and ecology.
   In the late 1970s, Smithson’s work
became an important element in emerging                                          DOMINIC RAHTZ
ROBERT SMITHSON                                                                                        40




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                         Owens, C., ‘Earthwords’ and ‘The Allegorical
                                                         Impulse: Toward a Theory of Postmodernism’,
                                                         in Beyond Recognition: Representation, Power
 Primary literature                                      and Culture, Berkeley: University of California
 Above quoted essays by Smithson are collected           Press, 1992.
    in:                                               Reynolds, A., Robert Smithson: Learning from New
 Flam, J. (ed.), Robert Smithson: The Collected          Jersey and Elsewhere, Cambridge and London:
    Writings, Berkeley, Los Angeles and London:          MIT Press, 2003.
    University of California Press, 1996.             Roberts, J. L., Mirror-Travels: Robert Smithson
                                                         and History, New Haven and London: Yale
                                                         University Press, 2004.
 Secondary literature
                                                      Shapiro, G., Earthwards: Robert Smithson and Art
 Boettger, S., Earthworks: Art and the Landscape of      after Babel, Berkeley: University of California
   the Sixties, Berkeley, Los Angeles and London:        Press, 1995.
   University of California Press, 2002.              Tsai, E. (ed.), Robert Smithson, Berkeley, Los
 Hobbs, R., Robert Smithson: Sculpture, Ithaca:          Angeles and London: University of California
   Cornell University Press, 1981.                       Press, 2004.




JEFF WALL (1946–)
Jeff Wall is a Canadian-based artist who,             mistaken, to dissociate these texts from
besides achieving immense commercial,                 Wall’s artworks. Yet they are neither of that
institutional and critical success through            genre of ‘artist’s writings’ that claim to be
his photography, has assembled a body                 artworks themselves; nor are they expressive
of writings that deserve recognition as               or personalized documents. They conform to
a decisive contribution to thinking about             the conventions of academic texts, albeit with
contemporary art. It is difficult, and probably        an uncommon rhetorical flare and stripped
41                                                                                    JEFF WALL


of ornamental referencing. As such, they          experience of the intervening avant-garde
offer their claims and arguments for critical     movements, culminating in conceptual
scrutiny.                                         art. Wall’s ‘painting of modern life’ is
   The parallel development of Wall’s             only possible after conceptual art, as an
writing and artwork has been enabled by           alternative form of ‘post-conceptual art’.
his background in academic art history,              Conceptual art’s critique of modernism
which often informs his photographs very          focused on the way in which its privileged
directly. But it is also symptomatic of Wall’s    forms (abstract painting and sculpture, and
early engagement with, and subsequent             minimalist works) had, by the late 1960s,
criticism of, Conceptual art, which produced      come to function affirmatively within late
texts that were intentionally ambivalent          capitalist culture, often despite the intentions
and transgressive as to whether they were         of the artists. This modernist art did not
artworks or some form of supplementary            simply withdraw from the instrumental
document (like Art & Language’s Index 01).        forms of the culture industry (cf. ADORNO),
Wall does not seek this transgression, but a      as was often claimed, but also imitated them
more conventional observance of genres in         uncritically, unconsciously mimicking the
his writings, as in his artworks. Despite their   alienating forms of corporate capitalism.
often occasional and delimited scope, Wall’s      Conceptual art recovered the memory of
writings combine to outline a remarkably          the radical European avant-gardes between
consistent and coherent project: a reinvention    1910 and 1930 that had been suppressed
of the painting of modern life, generated         by Greenberg – particularly Duchamp’s
through a critique of conceptual art.             antipathy to aesthetics and his deployment
   Wall interprets conceptual art as              of readymades – and sought to expose the
presenting a crisis for artistic modernism in     institutional and ideological mechanisms
general that continues to define art today,        constituting art. While Greenberg had
not merely a historically discrete grouping of    presented modernism as a process of self-
artists and artworks. Conceptual art exposed      critical reduction to the aesthetic properties
a fundamental limitation in the conception        of the artistic medium, conceptual art
of modernist art that prevailed in the late       radicalized this process to its breaking point:
1960s, especially as propagated by CLEMENT        reducing the aesthetic dimension of art to
GREENBERG. For Wall, as for many others,          zero and making the imitation of non-art the
this produced the opposed consequences            criterion of art’s self-criticism. It thereby
of (i) the collapse of modernism into an          sought to free itself from the prejudices
affirmative form of commodity production,          of taste in which it saw the ideology of the
in which the values of art are overtaken by       bourgeoisie and the reduction of art to
the values of the market, and (ii) the radical    commodification.
rethinking of the terms of a critical art            Wall’s critique of conceptual art draws
practice: hence the profoundly contradictory      attention to the contradictoriness of this
terrain of what is often referred to with         strategy of self-criticism and its political
misleading unanimity as ‘postmodernism’           significance. Conceptual art sought a radical
or ‘post-conceptual art’. What distinguishes      criticism of art as a form of capitalist culture,
Wall’s project is his commitment to renewing      extended to the point of art’s complete
the mid-nineteenth-century origins of             negation. However, unlike the historical
modernism as a critical project. He does          avant-gardes that it repeated in this strategy,
not propose its immediate recovery – i.e.         it did not seek the dissolution of art into life
simply returning to painting à la Manet – but     or politics or some other utopian goal, but
rather a reinvention that is mediated by the      to make art. (In these terms, conceptual
JEFF WALL                                                                                  42


art corresponds precisely to what Peter          of industrialized naturalism. It only makes
Bürger calls a ‘neo-avant-garde’). However,      sense if we read Baudelaire in reverse, from
this was not proposed as an intra-artistic       the perspective of the crisis of the avant-
utopia, but, at least for the more politically   garde that Wall diagnoses.
minded artists, the melancholic symbol              Wall argues that photography becomes an
of a post-capitalist world that art itself       autonomous art form, developing through
could not achieve. Consequently, Wall            self-criticism, only via conceptual art’s use
brands conceptual art ‘the reinvention of        of it in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It
defeatism’. What made this contradictory         was only then that photography criticized its
self-criticism convincing was the extent to      establishment as an autonomous art form
which conceptual art managed to occupy           in the 1940s and 1950s, conscious of its own
the art world without affirming its forms of      non-painterly form of picturing, which it
institutionalization and commodification. But     had achieved through the factographic and
in a culture of generalized commodification       ‘anti-painting’ photography of the 1930s.
this was utopian, and once it did become         However, unlike the self-criticism of other
institutionalized and commodified, the            arts, like painting, this autonomy was not
critical dimension of mimicking the              won through the exclusion of social content,
alienating structures of the art world was       which, Wall argues, remained inextricable
lost and it became merely imitative, its         from photography’s depictive medium.
negativity aestheticized as an art world         It was as such that Wall’s own practice
‘look’. Conceptual art is revealed as the        emerged from conceptual art in the early
dark döppleganger of its nemesis, pop art,       1970s as a post-conceptual art-photography,
and reduced to uncritically mimicking the        able to reinvent a modernist art of social
culture industry. Wall diagnoses conceptual      content. Photography therefore provided the
art’s defeatism as the result of its inability   framework for rethinking the crisis of avant-
to represent the social world other than         gardism through a return to the origins of a
negatively or ironically, which it had           painting of modern life.
unconsciously inherited from modernism’s            In his analysis of Manet, Wall argues
taboo on social content, generated in reaction   that the painting of modern life began as
to totalitarian propaganda art in the 1930s      a crisis of the Renaissance concept of the
and 1940s. Wall’s reinvention of the painting    picture, in which the drama of the figure as
of modern life is therefore proposed as a        painted and as represented in perspective
‘reinvention of social content in modernist      is staged and harmonized. This harmonious
art’ that would overcome the crisis of avant-    unity was enforced through the ideal
gardism.                                         social spaces of the church and state. Wall
   Baudelaire’s conception of the ‘painting      argues that this concept of the picture was
of modern life’ subjects the rigid hierarchy     undermined by photography, not because it
of the genres of academic painting to the        was a new technique of picturing – one-point
experience of ‘the new’, modernity’s social      perspective had been well-established since
forms. Wall sees this as the beginning of        the Renaissance – but because photography’s
an art that attempts to picture the drama of     mechanization of perspective was
modern capitalism, presenting it critically      associated with the alienating, fragmenting
in terms of the antagonisms and suffering        mechanics of capitalist modernity. The
it generates. But it is not immediately          exclusion of photography from painting
apparent how Wall’s defence of genre-based       therefore demanded a new form of non-
photography is indebted to Baudelaire, who       representational or abstract painting that
rejected photography as a decadent form          enabled the exclusion of social content from
43                                                                                  JEFF WALL


modernism, but which as a consequence,          to Greenberg’s preoccupations by revealing
Wall argues, found itself helplessly            the picture plane specific to photography.
mimicking the abstract, fragmented and             This convergence should not be mistaken
alienating effects of capitalism. In sum:       for reconciliation, but it begs the question
post-conceptual art-photography is able         of what approach a more radical critique of
to reinvent the painting of modern life as      Wall’s project might take. Ostensibly, this
the picturing of the contemporary drama         would revolve around a reassertion of the
of capitalist life, recovering the repressed    claims of the early avant-gardes, which
social-historical content of painting’s         Wall has consistently positioned himself
genres from their occlusion by the limits       against (remarkably, Bürger does not
of the avant-garde; it does this through a      criticize him for this). Wall’s retrospective
photography that is free of instrumental        reading of the painting of modern life has
naturalism and constructs its pictures self-    sought to suppress its avant-gardist legacy,
consciously or, as Wall has described his       recovering a critical academicism, against
practice, ‘cinematographically’.                its utopian transgression. But we need to
   The response to Wall’s photographic          question whether this has not abandoned
project has been remarkably sympathetic         the terms of criticism inaugurated by the
and uncontroversial – certainly, his            painting of modern life. Wall’s insistence on
detractors have kept relatively quiet to        the art historical precedents of his pictures,
date. Wall’s ‘cinematographic pictorialism’     studiously followed by his commentators,
seems matched only by the serialized            often renders them ‘contemporary dress
documentary of the Bechers in its influence      dramas’ that are just as withdrawn from the
on the terms of contemporary art-               contemporary image culture in which they
photography. Furthermore, the responses         need to be judged as the history painting
to Wall’s work have largely remained within     Baudelaire denounced. And his pictures have
the parameters that he has outlined in          failed to achieve the scandalousness that
his writings. A remarkable feature of this      marked Manet’s critical academicism.
response has been the convergence of               Wall’s rejection of avant-gardism is
otherwise opposed positions. Thus, Wall’s       premised on the need for a critical practice
attempt to recover an alternative genealogy     of picturing the drama of capitalist life within
of modernism in the light of the lessons of     the terms of autonomous art. However, this
Conceptual art is largely consistent with       does not silence the early avant-garde’s
the transformation of academic art history      objection that such criticism is circumscribed
from the 1970s, which rejected Greenberg’s      by art’s autonomy: that the capacity of art to
formalist modernism and revised his account     adequately picture the drama of capitalist life
of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-        is due to a suppression of its antagonisms
century modernism (cf. Thomas Crow,             within the idealized space of the art
‘Profane Illuminations’). However, Wall         institution – a modern extension of church
elaborates autonomous art-photography           and state. The ‘beauty’ that Wall increasingly
as the self-criticism of its medium, and        seeks in his pictures is not so much a
understands avant-garde experimentation         critique of the fragmentation of capitalist
as productive of the autonomy and tradition     life, as the mimicry of its consolidation: a
of art, rather than its negation, in a way      disintegration of the painting of modern life
consonant with Greenberg. THIERRY DE            into aestheticism.
DUVE has argued that, in photographs like
‘Picture for Women’ (1979), Wall remains true                               STEWART MARTIN
JEFF WALL                                                                                            44




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                          Contemporary Art, Dia Centre for the Arts,
                                                       New York, No. 1, Warminster: Dia Center for
                                                       the Arts, 1996.
 Primary literature
 Writings by Jeff Wall quoted above, along with a
                                                    Secondary literature
    comprehensive bibliography, appear in: Jeff
    Wall: Photographs, Vienna: Walther König,       Crow, T., ‘Profane Illuminations: The Social
    2003.                                              History of Jeff Wall’, in Modern Art in the
 Wall, J., Dan Graham’s Kammerspiel (1985),            Common Culture, New Haven and London: Yale
    Toronto: Art Metropole, 1991.                      University Press, 1996.
 Wall, J., ‘“Marks of Indifference”: Aspects        de Duve, T., ‘The Mainstream and the Crooked
    of Photography in, or as, Conceptual               Path’, in Jeff Wall, London: Phaidon Press,
    Art’, in eds A. Goldstein and A. Rorimer,          1996.
    Reconsidering the Object of Art: 1965–1975,     Bürger, P., ‘On a Critique of the Neo-Avant-
    London and Cambridge: MIT Press,                   Garde’, in Jeff Wall: Photographs, Vienna:
    1995.                                              Walther König, 2003.
 Wall, J., ‘Unity and Fragmentation in Manet’, in   Roberts, J., ‘Jeff Wall: The Social Pathology
    Jeff Wall, London: Phaidon Press, 1996.            of Everyday Life’, in The Art of Interruption:
 Wall, J., ‘Monochrome and Photojournalism             Realism, Photography and the Everyday,
    in On Kawara’s Today Paintings’, in eds            Manchester and New York: Manchester
    Cooke and Kelly, Robert Lehman Lectures on         University Press, 1998.
Art Theory
       and
    History
INTRODUCTION
This section brings together art historians and theorists whose writings are characterized not
simply by an acute attention to the specificity of their object (whether that be traditional fine
arts such as painting and sculpture, the wider domain of visual culture or the expanded field
of contemporary art practice) but also by a broader intellectual project underpinning their
claims about specific works and cultural products. As such the labels ‘art historian’ and ‘art
theorist’ tend to apply to one and the same author here, in so far as their historical claims
(claims about works of art) tend to embody their more substantive underlying art theoretical
agendas (concerning the broader cultural significance of art, the relation between art,
constructions of identity and the self, or the relation between art, social history and politics).
   The intellectual backdrop for many of these authors’ concerns (sometimes positively,
though much more often negatively) is Clement Greenberg, the chief theorist and advocate
of modernism in the visual arts. Though not all the figures included here have responded at
length to Greenberg directly (though Clark, Fried, de Duve, Krauss and Pollock have all done
so) he is one common point of reference to the extent that he is synonymous with modernism
in the visual arts, and the values it has come to be associated with (the autonomy of art, the
separation of the arts, the intrinsic relation between art and aesthetic value, the distinction
between high art and mass art, and the focus on ‘form’ to the exclusion of issues of content,
context and meaning). By contrast to Greenberg, who belongs to the same intellectual
generation as Adorno, the more recent historians and theorists canvassed here are in one way
or another associated with the expansion of artistic or theoretical possibilities that signalled
the demise of modernism.
   Krauss, de Duve and Fried have all responded to Greenberg head-on – Krauss as the former
acolyte whose work on modern sculpture breached the strictures of modernist theory from
within. Like Foster she has since been associated with the study of Surrealism in particular,
which is notable in this regard as the artistic movement most conspicuously written out of
Greenberg’s history of modernism. Perhaps more than any of the other thinkers represented
here, the work of theorists like Krauss and Foster, and the journal October that has been its
primary vehicle, has come to be synonymous with postmodern art history and theory. This is
less true of de Duve, as his work has been less overdetermined by reaction to both modernism
and Greenberg. Fried is a special case. Widely regarded as Greenberg’s leading inheritor,
and still infamous for his critique of minimalism in 1967, Fried has since distanced himself
from Greenberg’s own theorization of modernism, if not his ‘canon’ of privileged artists and
artworks.
   Buchloh, on the other hand, has focused on the legacy of the historical avant-garde –
generally regarded as the competing tradition to modernism in art, in so far as it foregrounds
art’s embeddedness in the social world, as opposed to stressing its autonomy – particularly
the rekindling of various avant-garde aspirations in more recent ‘neo-avant-garde’ form. To
understand the critical nature of contemporary artistic practice in the light of its recent history
ART THEORY AND HISTORY                                                                         48


and historical precursors is a concern Buchloh shares with Foster. Outside these Octoberist
responses to modernism, T. J. Clark has helped transform the practice of mainstream art
history, since the 1970s, by bringing a form of Marxist analysis to bear on art as an expression
of the broader social history of modernity. Meanwhile Nochlin and Pollock have, in different
ways, addressed the exclusion of women from both the historical canon and the categories
through which that canon is promulgated. Pollock in particular initiated a debate between
the social history of art and feminism by arguing that this remained true of Clark’s stress
on issues of class to the detriment of questions concerning gender in his analysis of art’s
modernity. And she has gone on to develop an ambitious theory of the aesthetic, unique for
being aligned with a feminist practice of art and art history, rather than being its target.
    Elkins and Mitchell come from rather different perspectives, both from one another, and
from the theorist-historians already discussed. Mitchell has maintained a long-standing
concern with the relation between pictorial and linguistic representation, which eventually
extended into a broader investigation of the cultural economy and circulation of imagery more
generally. This even helped to found a new sub-discipline: ‘visual culture’ or ‘visual studies’ as
it is sometimes known. While Elkins, who shares Mitchell’s interest in the wider cultural realm
of imagery, particularly scientific imagery, writes from a standpoint of radical empiricism that
marks him out from some of the more abstruse theoretical reflections and language of other
thinkers included here. The other exception is Bourriaud, a leading contemporary curator. We
have included Bourriaud because his ideas, notably that of a ‘relational’ aesthetic, have had
exceptional currency in the art world over the last decade. This ‘rise of the curator’ in recent
art discourse, theory and practice reflects a broader cultural shift: it shows the extent to which
the relation between an individual artwork and viewer at the core of modernist theories of art
and aesthetics is now contested in the realm of creative practice, by artists, curators, theorists
alike.
49                                                                          NICOLAS BOURRIAUD




NICOLAS BOURRIAUD
(1965–)
Nicolas Bourriaud is an independent curator,       works that take as their point of departure
and was co-director, with Jerôme Sans, of          the changing mental space opened by the
the Palais de Tokyo in Paris (1999–2005).          Internet (Postproduction [PP], p. 8).
Prior to this he ran the literary quarterly           Bourriaud defines as ‘relational’, art which
Revue Perpendiculaire, co-founded and edited       takes as its theoretical horizon ‘the realm of
the contemporary art magazine Documents            human interactions and its social context,
sur l’Art (1992–2000) and curated numerous         rather than the assertion of an independent
exhibitions including Aperto (Venice Biennale      and private symbolic space’ (RA, p. 14). In
1993), Traffic (Capc Bordeaux, 1996), Touch         other words, relational art seeks to establish
(San Francisco Art Institute, 2002), GNS           intersubjective encounters that literally take
and Playlist (Palais de Tokyo, 2002 and 2003       place – in the artist’s production of the work,
respectively); he was also co-curator of the       or in the viewer’s reception of it – or which
First Moscow Biennale and the 8th Lyon             exist hypothetically, as a potential outcome of
Biennale (both 2005). Bourriaud’s career           our encounter with a given piece. In relational
reflects the rise of the curator as a dominant      art, meaning is said to be elaborated
influence on contemporary art discourse in          collectively (RA, p. 18) rather than in the space
the 1990s.                                         of individual consumption. Relational art is
   Bourriaud is best known among English           thus conceived as the inverse of the privatized
speakers for his publications Relational           space of modernism as articulated differently
Aesthetics (2002) and Postproduction (2000).       by CLEMENT GREENBERG and ROSALIND
Relational Aesthetics in particular has come       KRAUSS: rather than a discrete, portable,
to be seen as a defining text for a wide variety    autonomous work of art that transcends
of art produced by a generation who came to        its context, relational art is beholden to
prominence in Europe in the early 1990s. The       the contingencies of its environment and
book attempts to identify and characterize         audience. In some manifestations of this
what is distinctive in contemporary European       art, such as the performance-installations
art as compared to that of previous decades.       of Rirkrit Tiravanija, viewers are addressed
It does so by approaching it in a way that         as a social entity, and are even given the
ceases ‘to take shelter behind Sixties art         wherewithal to create a community, however
history’ (Relational Aesthetics [RA], p. 7), and   provisional or utopian.
instead seeks to offer different criteria by          Most of the artists cited in Relational
which to analyze the often opaque and open-        Aesthetics seem to be relational primarily
ended works of art of the 1990s. To address        through their working process; their
this work Bourriaud imports the language of        interest in ‘intersubjective’ relations takes
the 1990s Internet boom, using terminology         place before being presented to viewers
such as ‘user-friendliness’, ‘interactivity’ and   in the gallery (for example the sculpture,
‘do-it-yourself’. Indeed, Bourriaud describes      video and photographic work of Maurizio
Relational Aesthetics as a book addressing         Cattelan, Douglas Gordon, Pierre Huyghe,
NICOLAS BOURRIAUD                                                                               50


Phillippe Parreno and Gillian Wearing).               To date, Relational Aesthetics has been
A smaller number of artists confront the           widely referenced and debated, but has
viewer first-hand with literal presentations        received only two sustained critiques.
of social relationships (for example the           George Baker (‘Relations and Counter-
hybrid performance-installations of Vanessa        Relations’, 2002) contrasts two installations
Beecroft, Christine Hill, Rirkrit Tiravanija).     organized around the convivial consumption
A smaller number again thematize social            of food: one by Rirkrit Tiravanija (arguably
relationships as the rationale leading             the paradigmatic relational artist) and one
to formal concerns that elaborate on               by Christophe Philipp Müller (an artist not
architecture and design (e.g. Liam Gillick,        discussed by Bourriaud). Baker argues
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Jorge                 that once relational art is canonized in the
Pardo). Bourriaud regards the Cuban                museum – specifically, the Palais de Tokyo
artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957–96) as          – it becomes indistinguishable from leisure
an important precursor of relational art,          and entertainment. Ultimately, he argues,
since his sculptures concern the joint             relational aesthetics is ‘a compensatory move
presence of spectators before the work             made in the face of the overwhelming lack
(such as piles of sweets to be taken away by       of relationality in contemporary social life’
visitors). Joseph Beuys’s concept of Social        (p. 135). Instead, and referring to Jean-Luc
Sculpture is considered less relevant, since       Nancy’s The Inoperative Community (1991),
he approached the democratization of art           Baker approves the ‘counter-relational’
through the belief that ‘everyone is an artist’,   art of Müller that foregrounds a lack at the
rather than through interactive procedures in      centre of social space; unlike Tiravanija’s
the work itself.                                   escapism, Müller’s work has critical
   Relational Aesthetics cites a large number      potential. In a similar vein, this author has
of theorists and philosophers, including           contested Bourriaud’s claim that relational
Louis Althusser, Guy Debord, GILLES                art is a political and emancipatory mode
DELEUZE, Emmanuel Lévinas and Karl Marx,           of artistic practice, and questioned the
with Félix Guattari (1930–92) as the most          prevalent view that dialogue between viewer-
frequently cited thinker. Bourriaud takes          participants is automatically ‘democratic’.
from Guattari the idea that the work of art is,    Referring to Ernesto Laclau and Chantal
like subjectivity, a process of becoming: it is    Mouffe’s Hegemony and Socialist Strategy
a collectively produced and open-ended flux         (1985), which maintains that democracy
that resists fixity and closure. Bourriaud’s        is not marked by consensus but a state of
interest in open-endedness can also be             irresolvable antagonism, I have argued that
compared to Marcel Duchamp (see his ‘The           the model of political subjectivity underlying
Creative Act’, 1957), Umberto Eco (The Open        relational artworks by Rirkrit Tiravanija and
Work, 1962) and ROLAND BARTHES (‘The               Liam Gillick is founded on the harmonious
Death of the Author’, 1968), all of whom           identification of full subjects, by comparison
argued for the audience’s active role in           to the dis-identified, partial and ‘antagonistic’
creating a work of art’s meaning. However,         subject position produced in certain works
for each of these authors all works of art         by Santiago Sierra and Thomas Hirschhorn
are open-ended entities; for Bourriaud, only       (‘Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics’,
relational works have this quality. Bourriaud      2004).
implies that because of this generosity               Other objections to Relational Aesthetics
towards the viewer, relational art presents        tend to focus on Bourriaud’s apparent
a superior ethical and political model to          disregard for art historical precedents
traditional art forms such as painting.            (‘editorial introduction’, 2004) and his
51                                                                        NICOLAS BOURRIAUD


theoretical framework, in which a wide            and creative approach to our surroundings;
variety of philosophers are cited without         they urge us to consider global culture as
sustained engagement (see Dagen, 1999;            a ‘toolbox’, and open onto a multiplicity of
Sausset, 2004). Without referring to              narratives rather than accepting a dominant
Bourriaud directly, Jacques Rancière has          production line: ‘Instead of prostrating
questioned the rhetoric of relational art and     ourselves before works of the past, we can
its attempts to strengthen a fantasmatic          use them’ (PP, p. 88).
social bond. Despite these criticisms,                Unlike Relational Aesthetics, Postproduction
Relational Aesthetics should be recognized        makes few theoretical references and
as a serious and timely attempt to pinpoint       focuses primarily on a discussion of
important developments in 1990s art, thereby      individual practices. Nevertheless, the
allowing artists and critics to articulate and    text seems indebted to post-structuralist
situate their practices.                          investigations into Jackobsonian linguistics
   Postproduction is a shorter and more           (in particular the assertion that the meaning
focused study, and discusses many of the          of a given element varies according to
same artists. The book claims that many           its syntagmatic position in the chain),
contemporary artists can be compared to           and to Deleuze and Guattari’s euphoric
computer programmers or DJs: they take            understanding of ‘rhizomatic structures’.
pre-existing cultural products (including         Such works can be seen as musical scores
other works of art), and remix them to            or unfolding scenarios that challenge
produce new cultural meanings. Bourriaud          passive, hierarchized culture in a de-
offers five emblematic types as a way to           territorializing ‘line of flight’. However,
demonstrate this idea: reprogramming              it remains questionable to what extent
existing works (such as Mike Kelley and           remixing alone can produce an aesthetically
Paul McCarthy’s Fresh Acconci, 1995, a            valuable work. Art historically, Bourriaud
video restaging of 1970s performances             situates postproduction as the most recent
by Vito Acconci); inhabiting historicized         incarnation of appropriation art, noting the
styles and forms (e.g. Liam Gillick diverting     importance of Marcel Duchamp, Nouveau
minimalism towards an ‘archaeology of             Réalisme, Pop art, Sherrie Levine and Jeff
capitalism’); using pre-existing images (e.g.     Koons as precursors. The Situationist idea
Douglas Gordon’s 24 Hour Psycho, which            of détournement is also alluded to, but the
slows down Hitchcock’s original film to last       comparison is not pursued. Postproduction
a whole day); using society as a catalogue        also cries out for comparison to ideas in
of forms (e.g. Jens Haaning relocating a          literary theory and the social sciences:
sweatshop into the Middelburg Kunsthalle);        Claude Lévi-Strauss’s bricolage, Oswaldo
investing in fashion and media (e.g. Vanessa      de Andrade’s anthropofagia and Edouard
Beecroft’s performances using models in           Glissant’s créolisation.
designer shoes). Taking his cue from Michel           Relational Aesthetics attempted to lay out
de Certeau’s claim that to use an object is       a mode of judgment for the works discussed,
to interpret it (The Practice of Everyday Life,   and Postproduction offers a similar set of
1984), Bourriaud regards these practices as       criteria – albeit one that produces precarious
empowering alternatives to globalization:         and provisional judgments. Bourriaud argues
‘artists reactivate forms by inhabiting them,     that ‘It is up to us to judge artworks in terms
pirating private property and copyrights,         of the relations they produce in the specific
brands and products, museum-bound forms           contexts they inhabit’ (PP, p. 88), without
and signatures’ (PP, p. 88). Techniques of        providing specific examples of such relations
sampling and remaking permit an active            and contexts. The filmmaker Jean-Luc
NICOLAS BOURRIAUD                                                                                         52


Godard is invoked as a precursor for this              of the Palais de Tokyo, has prompted intense
ethic of individual responsibility: ‘If a viewer       debate; it has also occasioned a backlash
says, “the film I saw was bad”, I say, “it’s your       among a subsequent generation of artists for
fault; what did you do so that the dialogue            whom recent world events have prompted
would be good?”’ (PP, p. 29.) A good work              the need for a more politically engaged
of art is therefore one that allows viewers            art that addresses specific contexts less
to engage with both the art and its context            opaquely. Bourriaud’s curatorial position is
– and since the latter is open to constant             ultimately both his strength and weakness:
renegotiation in every presentation of the             on the one hand close dialogue with artists
work, judgments are only ever partial.                 has given him permission to ingeniously
   As Sausset observes apropos                         reframe contemporary practice unfettered
Postproduction, and by extension Relational            by older models; on the other hand his texts
Aesthetics, ‘Few critical works are so full            are symptomatic of curatorial writing in
of flashes of ideas one would love to see               preferring to furrow many paths lightly, overly
deepened and developed . . . Few books,                focusing on the present instead of grounding
too, are this annoying in their discursive             observations within a broader historical
dead ends, their appropriation of certain              and theoretical context. It is perhaps fitting
ideas and their dogged will to convince                that his writing articulates the convergence
readers, especially by means of a citational           of artistic practice with the mediatory role
eclecticism’. Bourriaud’s ‘toolbox’ approach           of the curator – the relational remixer par
to critical theory, and the apparent                   excellence.
contradiction between his left-leaning
discourse and the commercial phenomenon                                                  CLAIRE BISHOP




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                              Contextualise/Zusammenhänge herstellen,
                                                           Kunstverein Hamburg and Köln: DuMont
                                                           Verlag, 2002, pp. 134–46.
 Primary literature                                    Baker, G., ‘Editorial Introduction’, October 110
 Bourriaud, N., Formes de vie. L’art moderne et            (Fall 2004), pp. 49–50.
   l’invention de soi, Paris: Editions Denoël, 1999.   Bishop, C., ‘Antagonism and Relational
 Bourriaud, N., Postproduction: Culture as                 Aesthetics’, October 110 (Fall 2004), pp. 51–79.
   Screenplay: How Art Reprograms the World,           Dagen, P., ‘Vague propos sur l’art’, Le Monde
   New York: Lukas & Sternberg, 2000.                      (26 March 1999).
 Bourriaud, N., Relational Aesthetics, Paris:          Gillick, Liam, ‘Contingent Histories: A Reply to
   Presses du reel, 2002.                                  “Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics”’,
                                                           October 115 (Winter 2006), pp. 95–106.
                                                       Rancière, J., Malaise dans l’esthétique, Paris:
 Secondary literature
                                                           Galilée, 2004.
 Baker, G., ‘Relations and Counter-Relations:          Sausset, D., ‘Playlist at Palais de Tokyo’ (review),
   An Open Letter to Nicolas Bourriaud’,                   Art Press 302 (2004), pp. 74–76.
53                                                                          BENJAMIN BUCHLOH




BENJAMIN BUCHLOH
(1941–)
Benjamin Buchloh is co-editor of October and        during post-war German reconstruction
teaches modern art at Harvard University.           and studied in the country’s hotbed of 1960s
The significance of Buchloh’s work lies in           student protests (he received an MA in
its expansion of the modern art canon, the          German literature with a minor in art history
demonstration of the critical potential of          from the Freie Universität Berlin in 1969).
art, and the straddling of micro and macro          The West German student movement had
levels of history. Buchloh’s scholarship on         galvanized not only around the brutalities
art in post-war Europe or on unconventional         of Vietnam, and increasingly repressive
media has broadened previous, particularly          tendencies of its own government, but
American, understandings of modern art.             also around continuities with the National
   A rigorous historical researcher, Buchloh        Socialist regime and the nation’s inability
always also assumes the role of critic,             to work through its fascist past. Against
insisting on the critical responsibility of         this background, student and public
art vis-à-vis history and the present, while        discussion questioned the social and
cautious about its limits. He maintains that        political relevance of cultural and artistic
one core function of art is to present the          expression, fuelled by Frankfurt School
illusion, if not the realization, of a suspension   Critical Theory (cf. Adorno and BENJAMIN),
of power (Neo-Avantgarde, p. xxiv; cf.              the mounting political influence of the news
ADORNO). In keeping with this, Buchloh often        media, an omnipresent culture industry and
writes on artists of his own generation whose       the market for American painting. Following
practice and thinking he knows intimately,          two years spent in London writing fiction,
and on artists who share his commitment,            Buchloh entered the German art world in
most importantly conceptual artists of the          1971. He worked as an editor, notably on the
late 1960s and 1970s. Buchloh’s combined            last two issues of Interfunktionen, a leading
roles as historian and critic spearheaded the       post-war European art magazine. He worked
merger of art history and art criticism that        as a teacher – from 1975 to 1977 he was
today defines writing on post-war art. Finally,      lecturer on contemporary art history and
Buchloh’s thinking interweaves macro and            criticism at the Staatliche Kunstakademie
micro perspectives on art, anchoring broad          in Düsseldorf, where his students included
historical arguments in formal and material         Isa Genzken, Thomas Schütte and Thomas
details; he demonstrates, as in his writings        Struth. And he worked as a (co-)curator
on the ‘neo-avantgarde’, historical and             of one-man shows (such as Marcel
hermeneutic differences between seemingly           Broodthaers, DAN GRAHAM, and Gerhard
similar artistic practices, and the similarities    Richter, at Rudolf Zwirner Gallery), on a
between ones seemingly different. Buchloh,          survey of art exhibitions in Europe since 1946
in short, demonstrates why art matters.             and the first retrospective of Sigmar Polke,
   Buchloh’s intellectual formation pushed          both at Düsseldorf’s Städtische Kunsthalle in
him in these directions. He came of age             1976.
BENJAMIN BUCHLOH                                                                               54


   The Polke exhibition bore the seeds of         abstract paintings of gestural strokes,
Buchloh’s intellectual career. The exhibition     monochromes or grids – probe each other’s
catalogue, Buchloh’s first publication on art      validity. Reference points are modern
and one of the first scholarly treatments of       European and post-war American artists,
a post-war European artist, attends to the        historical and contemporary conditions
relationship between art and the culture          of mass culture, and crucial moments in
industry and the former’s critical potential.     German history like National Socialism and
Polke’s trivial, appropriated iconography         the divided Germany which Richter, himself
and techniques, Buchloh argued, negate            an émigré from the GDR, experienced
traditional conceptions of the creative artist    first-hand. The gestural paintings hover
while questioning their own evasion of            ambivalently between mechanical emptiness
communication. The exhibition itself formed       and sublime detail, between affirmation of
an important early moment in German               and resistance to mass culture. Likewise,
art’s slow process of working through the         Richter’s painterly blurring of mass media
historical weight of the Holocaust years. For     and family photographs references and
the Düsseldorf venue of the exhibition, Polke     resists practices of amateur photography and
presented his major paintings wrapped up in       banal photojournalism, the realist premises
plastic and leaning against the back of a gate    of Socialist Realist and National Socialist
he had built carrying the insignia Arbeit Macht   painting, and the deskilling and montage
Frei, recalling the entrance to the Auschwitz     techniques common to politically engaged
concentration camp. The provocative display       art before the Second World War. Central
caused a scandal because it embodied,             paintings for Buchloh are Onkel Rudi and
interrogated and ended a long silence. A          18. Oktober 1977, because they figure the
year later Buchloh moved to North America.        unrepresentability of (German) history while
Eager to leave the ‘strictures of the highly      insisting on the role of art to commemorate;
overdetermined cultural identity of postwar       and 48 Portraits, because they project a
Germany’, the new continent promised a            ‘post-traditional identity’ that acknowledges
welcome ‘model of a postnational cultural         the impossibility of a national, historical and
identity’ (Neo-Avantgarde, p. xvii). Buchloh      cultural identity in post-fascist Germany.
produced the majority of his writing on art          Other European post-war artists are
following this move. Its threefold significance    in Buchloh’s estimation less successful
can be traced in three central topics: post-      in acknowledging the difficulties and
war European art, conceptual art, and the         complexities of working through national
‘neo-avantgarde’.                                 identity, history and mass culture. An essay
   Writings on post-war European artists          on Joseph Beuys, widely discussed and
redress the widespread exclusive focus            earning Buchloh the reputation of a scathing
on American figures. The German painter            critic, hinged on two points. He demonstrated
Gerhard Richter forms the most significant         that the autobiographical story which Beuys
and sustained subject of Buchloh’s work,          presented as the source of meaning in his
including his dissertation and more than ten      work – a plane crash in the Crimean as a
essays, partially collected in a retrospective    Nazi fighter pilot and his survival in the
catalogue. Richter’s art, for Buchloh,            hands of Tartars who treated him with
is deeply dialectical, engaging visual            felt and fat – was pure fiction. Further,
traditions and historical conditions while        that Beuys’ art was not only private and
simultaneously questioning and opposing           obsolescent, but also reactionary, even
them. Richter’s multiple pictorial strategies     totalitarian, given its self-declared efforts to
– blurred representational paintings and          transfer politics into art. Aesthetic meaning
55                                                                         BENJAMIN BUCHLOH


retreated from critical history into uncritical    Belgian Marcel Broodthaers (like Richter,
fiction and privacy.                                central to Buchloh’s thinking) dialectically
   Buchloh’s writings on conceptual art and        and farcically enacted that critical potential,
artists practising ‘institutional critique’        while also drawing attention to the implicit,
demonstrate the critical potential of art while    devastating erosion of the sphere of art.
also attending to its problems. The seminal        Buchloh distinguished JOSEPH KOSUTH
essay ‘Conceptual Art 1962–1969’ (1990,            from his conceptual line-up; not only does
hereafter CA) lays out a historical genealogy      he question the artist’s dating of his well
of the term and practice and argues that           known Proto-Investigations to 1965 or 1966,
an aesthetic vocabulary of administration          but he charges him with perpetuating a self-
initially employed by proto-conceptualists         reflexive modernism that fails to engage its
and conceptualists was transformed into            context critically.
a critique of the institutional frameworks            The concept ‘neo-avantgarde’ features
of art in the hands of other artists. The          prominently in Buchloh’s thinking and in his
former replaced the transcendental, visual         hands becomes a powerful tool for thinking
and material foundations of art making             across the full span of twentieth-century art
with a set of aesthetic strategies related         while simultaneously tending to individual
to the vernacular realm of administration.         artists and works. The term originates in
Examples during this period include: the           literary theorist Peter Bürger’s 1972 book
linguistic turn in the art of Sol LeWitt, who      Theorie der Avantgarde (first translated 1984)
worked with contradictions between visual          where the avant-garde between 1910 and
and verbal signs; legal documents in/as            1930, with its critique of artistic autonomy, is
works of art such as ROBERT MORRIS’s               contrasted with a post-war ‘neo-avantgarde’,
Statement of Aesthetic Withdrawal and              which merely institutionalizes the original
Piero Manzoni’s certificates of authenticity;       critique. Buchloh deems Bürger’s reading
vernacular forms of distributing art like Dan      faulty and reductive. In fact, all his writings
Graham’s publication of Homes for America          on post-war art in one way or another
in Arts Magazine; arbitrary and abstract           demonstrate more complex and concrete
methods of quantification in Ed Ruscha’s            ways in which it can be thought of in relation
commercially produced books like Twentysix         to pre-war art, ways in which the re-
Gasoline Stations; and the architectural           emergences of earlier pictorial strategies like
determination of art in Robert Barry’s square      the grid, the monochrome, the ready-made,
canvas to be placed in the exact centre of the     collage and photomontage are not merely
display wall. Artists practising institutional     repetitions.
critique furthered the critical potential of          In ‘The Primary Colors for the Second
this aesthetic of administration by using it       Time’ (1986), he argues that historical
to critique the social and artistic institutions   context, especially reception histories, is
which are themselves based on the logic of         essential in understanding post-war art
administration.                                    beyond influence, imitation and authenticity.
   Artists like Lawrence Weiner, Hans Haacke       Thus, post-war French painter Yves
and DANIEL BUREN demonstrated that                 Klein’s self-proclaimed invention of the
art – its making, materials and display – is       monochrome, along with his blue, red and
‘always already inscribed within institutional     gold monochromes, cannot be understood
power and ideological and economic                 as simply repeating pre-war Russian artist
investment’ (CA, p. 136) and turned by these       Alexander Rodchenko’s The Last Painting
institutions into a ‘tool of ideological control   (1921), a red, yellow and blue monochrome
and cultural legitimation’ (CA, p. 143). The       triptych. Instead, while the latter sought
BENJAMIN BUCHLOH                                                                                       56


to abolish traditional aesthetic notions of            expressionism, challenged Buchloh to
myth and cult, the former revives practices            acknowledge that modernism had become
of negation and esoteric experiences at a              an empty stereotype of itself and that neo-
time when mass culture began to eliminate              expressionism simply revealed the artificial
oppositional art practices and individual              nature of expression in a technological
experience. In essence, reference points               society where immediate experiences were
over the course of thirty years shifted from           no longer possible. Joseph Kosuth defended
bourgeois art to corporate state. In other             himself by stressing that Buchloh’s critique
cases, Buchloh stresses similarities between           was based on his writings rather than his art
pre- and post-war art to reveal unexpected             and by explaining the dating of his early work.
continuities in meaning. In ‘Figures of                Buchloh’s attack on Beuys led scholars Peter
Authority, Ciphers of Regression’ (1981), he           Nisbet and Gene Ray to clarify the historical
argues that the relation between traditional           emergence of Beuys’s autobiographic story
modes of representation in European art of             and its role in Beuys’s art. In the introduction
the 1920s and 1930s and the rise of fascism            to Neo-Avantgarde and Culture Industry,
reveals a new authoritarian attitude and               Buchloh discusses problems with his
politically oppressive climate underlying              earlier work ranging from its exclusion of
the return to figuration in 1980s neo-                  women artists to efforts to elevate artists to
expressionism.                                         canonical stature. Such self-critique may be
   Buchloh’s critics have generally targeted           the true mark of critical competence.
his few sustained critiques of artists.
Thus Donald Kuspit, a champion of neo-                                           CHRISTINE MEHRING




 BIBLIOGRAPHY

 Primary literature                                    Secondary literature
 Buchloh, B., ‘Polke und das Große Triviale            Christine, M., ‘Continental Schrift: The Magazine
   (mythisch oder pythisch?)’, in Sigmar Polke:           Interfunktionen’, Artforum (May 2004).
   Bilder, Tücher, Objekte: Werkauswahl 1962–          Crow, T., ‘Committed to Memory’, Artforum
   1971, Tübingen: Kunsthalle Tübingen, 1976.             (February 2001).
 Buchloh, B., ‘Figures of Authority, Ciphers of        Ray, G. (ed.), Joseph Beuys: Mapping the Legacy,
   Regression’, October (Spring 1981).                    New York: D.A.P., 2001.
 Buchloh, B., ‘The Primary Colors for the Second       Kosuth, J. and Siegelaub, S., ‘Reply to Benjamin
   Time: A Paradigm Repetition of the Neo-                Buchloh on Conceptual Art’, October (Summer
   Avantgarde’, October (Summer 1986).                    1991).
 Buchloh, B., ‘Conceptual Art 1962–1969: From          Kuspit, D., ‘Flak from the “Radicals”: The
   the Aesthetics of Administration to the                American Case against Current German
   Critique of Institutions’, October (Winter 1990).      Painting’, in Expressions: New Art from
 Buchloh, B., Gerhard Richter. Band II: Texte,            Germany, Munich: Prestel, 1983.
   Bonn: Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der
   Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1993.
 Buchloh, B., Neo-Avantgarde and Culture Industry:
   Essays on European and American Art from
   1955–1975, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000.
57                                                                                    T. J. CLARK




T. J. CLARK (1943–)
T. J. (Timothy James) Clark pioneered the          the earlier work on mid-nineteenth-century
social history of art in its contemporary form     France into the chronology of Farewell to
and remains its principal representative.          an Idea to create the impression of a single
As such, he was a leading figure in the             history of modern art from the French
emergence, in the 1970s, of ‘the New Art           Revolution to the Cold War. To unify his work
History’. He was educated at the Courtauld         in this way, however, would be to conceal
Institute of Art. He taught at Essex University,   both the changing mood of his thinking over
Camberwell School of Art and Leeds                 thirty years, and the ways in which each
University in the late 1960s and 1970s, then       phase responds to the political circumstances
moved to the United States in 1980, first to        of the time at which he was writing.
Harvard University and then to the University         The first two books were written (in
of California at Berkeley.                         1969–70) in the aftermath of the miscarriage
   Clark’s writings are concerned mainly           of the revolutionary potential of the 1960s.
with the history of modernist painting in          They offer Marxist rewritings of the ways
nineteenth- and early twentieth-century            in which, around 1848, modern art became
France, and in the United States during            intertwined with processes of revolution and
the 1940s and 1950s. His first two books,           counter-revolution. In their aims, values and
which appeared together in 1973, look at           method the books marked a clear break with
the relationship between art and politics in       orthodox art history. In 1974, Clark wrote
France during and after the 1848 revolution.       an influential essay for the Times Literary
Image of the People focuses on Courbet, The        Supplement, ‘The Conditions of Artistic
Absolute Bourgeois on Daumier, Millet and          Creation’, which can be seen as a reflection
Delacroix. From the mid-1970s, he turned to        on method to complement his two books,
the study of Manet and the Impressionists,         and a manifesto for the social history of art.
culminating in The Painting of Modern Life         In this essay, he is critical of what he sees
(1985), arguably his most influential book.         as the decline of art history from a discipline
   A third phase, from the mid-1980s, builds       central to human self-understanding, in the
towards the publication in 1999 of Farewell        nineteenth and early twentieth centuries,
to an Idea, featuring seven more moments           to one which, in the post-war period, had
in modern art from David to Abstract               arguably become little more than a vehicle
Expressionism. Its subtitle, ‘Episodes             for connoisseurship in the service of the
from a History of Modernism’, can be said          art market. Clark argues that earlier art
to describe Clark’s art historical writings        historians such as Riegl and Panofsky were
as a whole. They consist of analyses of            able to ask more fundamental questions
exemplary moments at which modernist               (e.g. about the nature of representation)
painting, typically in what it fails to be able    by virtue of the dialectical methods, drawn
to do, makes vivid the prevailing conditions       from Hegel, which enabled them to analyze
of social life; that is, the consequences of       complex relationships between subjective
capitalism and technocracy, for which Clark,       and objective moments in visual phenomena.
in a tradition of Marxist cultural theory, uses    Clark then proposes a renewal of art history
the term ‘modernity’. It is tempting to fit         involving a return to dialectical methods
T. J. CLARK                                                                                    58


but, against the idealizations of early art         1966 and 1967; Situationist thinking remained
history, drawing upon a materialist Marxist-        an important frame of reference for him.) For
Hegelian tradition represented, for example,        Clark, the achievement of paintings such as
by Lukács. This ‘social history of art’ would       Manet’s The 1867 Universal Exposition (1867)
have among its constitutive concerns (i) the        is that they show spectacle to be a process,
relationships between style and ideology (in        and so allow some critical distance from
the Marxist sense of ideology as a regime           its products. The unresolved and disorderly
of representation that naturalizes class            aspects of Manet’s paintings are seen as
hierarchies); and (ii) the conditions and           ways of making visible how Paris at that time
relations of artistic production in specific         was a construction site for the production of
cases, which determine any particular               spectacle.
relationship between style and ideology.               Clark’s work on Manet and the
   The Painting of Modern Life offers a social      Impressionists attracted criticism from
history of the art of Manet and the Impression-     feminist perspectives. GRISELDA POLLOCK
ists. In opposition to traditional studies’ focus   argued that Clark’s emphasis on class as
on stylistic innovations, Clark’s book explores     the fundamental category of social analysis
the relationship between those innovations          means that he is unable to account for
and the new forms of social life, and myths         the importance of sexual difference in the
of modernity, which appeared in Paris and its       contexts he studies. She drew attention to
environs at the time. Its chapters deal with        how male perspectives were privileged in
representations of the new environments             the new public spaces of modernity, and how
of Second Empire Paris, especially the new          Clark’s account of modernity is generically
spaces for leisure, such as the café-concerts,      ‘male’. In the preface to the second edition
expositions and the day-trip destinations           of The Painting of Modern Life, Clark accepts
along the Seine. Just as his books on the           feminist criticisms of the book as among the
post-1848 period address politics post-1968,        most significant.
so The Painting of Modern Life is written for          Clark’s treatment of canonical modernist
the even less propitious circumstances,             works is a challenge to CLEMENT
as they seem to its author, of the 1980s.           GREENBERG’s dominant theory of
Second Empire Paris provides a context in           modernism. The terms of the debate are set
which to analyze the extension of capitalism        out in an exchange of essays between Clark
into new areas of everyday life (specifically,       and MICHAEL FRIED from 1982 (reprinted
those concerned with public pleasure), the          in Frascina, 1985). In ‘Clement Greenberg’s
consequences for social identities, and the         Theory of Art’, Clark recognizes the Marxist
problems of representation – issues which           agenda of Greenberg’s early essays but
became vivid in the 1970s and 1980s. Much of        questions his account of modernity and the
the book is concerned with how the process          theory of modernism that follows from it. On
of remaking Paris as a coherent set of images       the basis of closer socio-historical attention
(in the period of Baron Haussmann’s urban           to the conditions under which modernist
replanning) was a means for the bourgeoisie         art exists, he argues (i) modernist art is not
to enforce greater social control.                  ‘autonomous’, it cannot entirely possess
   This process is understood as the creation       its own values (let alone secure its value
of ‘spectacle’, a term drawn from Guy               against a devalued culture at large) but
Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle (1967),       that its values always exist in a dialectical
the most influential theoretical text produced       interplay with those of the bourgeois class
by the Situationist movement. (Clark was a          to which modernism belongs; (ii) the idea of
member of the Situationist International in         autonomy misses the ideological dimension
59                                                                                       T. J. CLARK


of modernism’s formal and material                     Clark’s pessimism is even deeper in
characteristics, not least those foregrounded      Farewell to an Idea than in previous books. His
by Greenberg (e.g. ‘flatness’ in painting can       view is that capitalism has now extinguished
be an analogue for ‘the popular’ or ‘the           the remaining possibilities for modernism’s
workmanlike’); and (iii) Greenberg misses the      moments of critical detachment and
essentially negative character of modernism.       social hope. The book presents itself as an
For Clark, modernism is an art that acts           archaeology of the modernist past which
against the conditions of its own value in         aims to recreate, in each case, the world to
order to act indirectly against the prevailing     which fragments of modernist practice gave
conditions of value in the social world.           rise, even though those fragments cannot
   The subsequent exchange with Fried is           be taken up as models for current practice.
something of a missed encounter, each              It is in this respect that Clark is at odds with
refusing to recognize the other’s premises.        dominant tendencies in the history of modern
Fried argues that Clark’s insistence on the        art since the 1980s. More influential writers
negative character of modernism prevents           such as ROSALIND KRAUSS, HAL FOSTER
him from accounting for, what Fried himself        and BENJAMIN BUCHLOH are all, in various
sees as, the positive and independent              ways, committed to the idea that rewriting
aesthetic value of particular modernist            the canon of modern art, with more attention
works; Caro’s sculptures are his prime             to the practices disregarded by Clark (Dada,
example. Fried’s claims for modernism’s            Surrealism, photography), can reveal critical
positive value entail a denial of the conditions   possibilities in the art of the present. Clark’s
of modernity as determined by capitalism.          distance from these approaches is indicative
Clark refuses to admit Fried’s particular          of (i) his commitment to painting, (ii) his
aesthetic judgments as grounds for an              low regard for Duchamp and his legacy and
argument about the value of modernism              (iii) his antipathy to postmodern and post-
and denies that the aesthetic achievement          structuralist theories on the grounds that
of Caro’s sculptures (or other works from          they forego the attempt to grasp the problem
Fried’s canon) must be acknowledged.               of modernity, that is, capitalism, in its totality.
Clark also argues that his account allows,             Although Clark’s work (and, for the most
in principle, a wider range of modernist           part, its influence) has remained within
practice, including, for example, photography      the study of an established Western canon
and Dada. This is significant since his own         of modernist painting, it is not clear that
later history of twentieth-century modernism       his approach is necessarily limited to it.
conspicuously does not cover those other           It is central to his thinking that modernist
practices. Although the introduction and           painting’s critical work on the representation
conclusion to Farewell to an Idea refer to an      of the social always involved some work
expanded modernism – which includes film            against both the medium of art and its place
and photography – the seven case studies           in society, and he nowhere argues that that
all concern themselves with painting.              work is proper only to modernist painting.
Since the 1980s, however, Clark and Fried          However, adapting Clark’s account of
have developed a mutually productive               modernism’s critical work to admit other,
dialogue. This is probably because they            maybe more recent, practices would entail
value approximately the same canon of              finding equivalent aesthetic resources
modernist painting, including notably the art      in technologies other than painting, and
of Jackson Pollock, and share, albeit for very     resisting his view that the processes of
different reasons, a disregard for both art        modernity are now complete.
after modernism and modern visual culture
beyond art.                                                                   DOMINIC WILLSDON
T. J. CLARK                                                                                                   60




 BIBLIOGRAPHY
                                                       Clark, T. J., ‘The Conditions of Artistic Creation’,
 Primary literature
                                                          (1974) in ed. E. Fernie, Art History and its
 Clark, T. J., The Absolute Bourgeois: Artists and        Methods, London: Phaidon, 1995.
    Politics in France, 1848–51, London: Thames        Clark, T. J., Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from
    & Hudson/Berkeley: University of California           a History of Modernism, New Haven: Yale
    Press, 1973/1999.                                     University Press, 1999.
 Clark, T. J., Image of the People: Gustave Courbet
    and the 1848 Revolution, London: Thames &
    Hudson/Berkeley: University of California
                                                       Secondary literature
    Press, 1973/1999.
 Clark, T. J., ‘Clement Greenberg’s Theory of Art’     Fried, M., ‘How Modernism Works: A Response
    and ‘Arguments about Modernism: a Reply to            to T. J. Clark’, in ed. Francis Frascina, Pollock
    Michael Fried’, in ed. Francis Frascina, Pollock      and After: the Critical Debate, London: Harper
    and After: the Critical Debate, London: Harper        & Row, 1985.
    & Row, 1985.                                       Pollock, G., ‘Modernity and the Spaces of
 Clark, T. J., The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in      Femininity’, Vision and Difference: Femininity,
    the Art of Manet and his Followers, London:           Feminism and the Histories of Art, London:
    Thames & Hudson, 1985/1999.                           Routledge, 1988.




THIERRY DE DUVE (1944–)
You might think that the arrival in the art            antiquated theory of aesthetic experience
world of everyday, abject and literary objects         impede your comprehension of art, and
brought with it the end of the relevance for           therefore that we need fresh theories capable
aesthetic theory of Kant’s philosophy of               of synthesizing our distance from all that
form and judgment. And you might believe               happened in the age of modernism, you’d
that this transformation – one version of the          certainly find that you have plenty of company
end of artistic modernism – was ushered in             these days. But if, after a careful study of the
by Marcel Duchamp’s ready-mades. Once                  postures available in the current art field,
bottle-racks, urinals and boxes of paper have          you find no room at all for a contemporary
muscled their way into the artistic canon,             Kantian account of art and judgment, then
you couldn’t be blamed for thinking that               your survey could not be complete, because
the Kantian idea that art is the occasion for          you’d have neglected the work of Thierry de
cognitively significant exercises of aesthetic          Duve.
judgment is at the end of its rope. And if                De Duve is a curator, critic, historian
you feel that the concepts proffered by this           and theorist. His major works in English
61                                                                             THIERRY DE DUVE


include historical and critical interpretations   paint in 1911–12, he was not, in fact, simply
of Duchamp (Pictorial Nominalism: On              stopping painting. Rather, he was finding
Marcel Duchamp’s Passage from Painting to         new and unexpected strategies to achieve
the Readymade (1991) and The Definitively          what painting itself had long aspired to: ‘If
Unfinished Marcel Duchamp (1993), which he         [Duchamp’s] abandonment of painting was
edited), a philosophical reanimation of Kant      strategic, this strategy was not different
for contemporary aesthetic theory (Kant           in principle from the abandonment of
after Duchamp, 1996), a study of CLEMENT          chiaroscuro by Manet, of perspective by
GREENBERG (Clement Greenberg Between              Cezanne, of figuration by Malevich’ (Pictorial
the Lines, 1996) and a catalog from his           Nominalism [PN], p. 151).
exhibition devoted to passages through               Even, then, of Duchamp’s bottle-rack
modernism (Look: 100 Years of Contemporary        and hair-comb, we cannot say that they are
Art, 2000). De Duve has also authored critical    not paintings, or at least not on principled
essays on modern and contemporary artists         theoretical or historical grounds. De Duve
from Edouard Manet to Jeff Wall, but it           finds that Greenberg also concedes this point,
is Duchamp he recurrently champions in            albeit obliquely, when,
unexpected Kantian terms. In concluding
Kant after Duchamp, a text that integrates          concerned to show that ‘modernist painting’
history, theory and criticism, de Duve says         only deconstructs the historical conventions
that his aim, when all is said and done, is to      of painting one by one, in order to better
                                                    anchor it to its irreducible being, [he] ends
understand why Duchamp is such a great
                                                    up localizing this being on the formal and
artist. To understand de Duve we must
                                                    technical qualities of an unpainted canvas,
comprehend from his point of view (i) what a        a readymade bought in an art supply store!
fresh defence of Duchamp, whose influence            Why stop there, and why not accept calling
in contemporary art seems undeniable,               Duchamp’s urinal a painting?’ (PN, p.
achieves at this moment in art’s history; (ii)      156–57)
how such a defence can serve as the medium
for a reanimation of Kant for contemporary        That de Duve puts his challenge to a firm
aesthetic theory; and (iii) why Clement           distinction between painting and art that
Greenberg, by common opinion a resolute           is not patently painting in the form of a
nemesis of Duchamp’s, should remain               question is not mere rhetoric, for Duchamp’s
central to writing and thinking about art after   artistic achievement, he argues, is to have
modernism.                                        turned the normal discursive practice of
   Duchamp stands at the head of that river       designating things as art by locating them
of twentieth-century art that veers away          in the history of their proper media into a
from sensuous experience towards an ever          persistent, perpetual problem of judgment.
expanding conceptualism. This claim puts          ‘The readymade does not put the concept
in a theoretical voice the perception that        of painting into contradiction with itself;
Duchamp stands at the beginning of the            it renders the act of naming the painting
end of the tradition of Western art that took     undecidable’ (PN, p. 159).
painting, the art of sensuous immediacy               De Duve takes the concept of
par excellence, as paradigmatic for artistic      ‘undecidability’ from deconstruction in
experience. But because it is no business         isolating how the use of the name ‘painting’
of de Duve’s to deny this truism about            became uncertain; however, his argument
Duchamp’s break with painting, it is startling    takes a surprising turn to connect the
when he argues that even as Duchamp was           problem of artistic naming in general to a
giving himself the programme of ceasing to        reinterpretation of Kant’s theory of aesthetic
THIERRY DE DUVE                                                                                 62


judgment. De Duve’s argument, detailed             realm of experts, it merges with practices
in Kant after Duchamp, is hard to compact,         of judgment unanchored by expertise. In
but in rough outline it is this: Duchamp’s         other words whereas for the Kant of the
abandonment of painting does not deny              eighteenth century aesthetic judgment takes
the centrality of painting to modernist art.       the form ‘X is beautiful’, for de Duve’s post-
Rather, in the specific ways he departs             Duchampian Kant the exemplary aesthetic
from painting – from that art and no other         judgment is ‘X is art’. Thus, Kant’s antinomy
– Duchamp redirects the fate of whatever           of taste – rational disputation about taste
was at stake in the experience of paintings        entails that judgments of taste are based on
towards an expanded realm of practice              universal concepts while the singularity of
and experience. In this sense, Duchamp’s           such judgments entails that they are based
project is not readily distinguishable from        not on concepts but on feelings – becomes an
the practices of abstraction that constitute       antinomy of art:
standard histories of modernist painting.
However, ‘Duchamp put his abandonment                Thesis: Art is not a concept.
of painting on the record. Fountain spoke of         Antithesis: Art is a concept.
art, or prompted people to speak of art in
connection with it. We have passed from the            After Duchamp, the concept of art – the
specific to the generic, and this passage is        rule of inclusion in and exclusion from the
a switch of names. Exit the painter, enter         world of artistic experience – is tainted
the artist, the artist in general’ (Kant after     with the same lack of decisive conceptual
Duchamp [KD], p. 194).                             meaning that led Kant to postulate a sensus
   Duchamp made the relation of art to             communis (shared faculty of feeling) as the
abandoned norms – the distance of ‘art             ground of taste. Here we arrive again at the
in general’ from the conventions that had          undecidability of naming art. According to
historically sustained the art of painting         de Duve, historical concepts no longer save
– an explicit problem for the practice of art.     us from the task of aesthetic judgment.
Thus, de Duve argues that when Duchamp             Rather, they express aesthetic judgments.
tried to slip Fountain past the jury-that-was-     ‘It is part of the postmodern heritage
no-jury at the New York Independents in            of modernity that [aesthetic] judgment
1917, he addressed thereby the ‘crowd at           should be anyone’s . . . what to do with our
large’, and so ‘[gave] the crowd something         modern past cannot be decided by collective
it could judge on its own scale: art at large’     agreement. The sentence “this is art” is
(KD, p. 273). And it is with this category of      uttered individually and applies to individual
‘art at large’ – modern art that addresses         works’ (KD, p. 325). Persistent dispute now
no one in particular but rather anyone who         opens before us as the unending tribunal of
can judge; modern art that arises out of the       judgments of art.
abandonment of the specificity of media                 The claim that ‘X is (or is not) a work
and thereby makes the burden of judgment           of art’ is an aesthetic judgment and not
universal; modern art that transfers the           a matter of fact implies that there is no
authority of the Kantian tribunal of historical    theoretical exit from the space of judgment.
experts to all possible audiences for art – that   When the conventions of an art – painting,
de Duve’s Duchamp begins to speak a version        say – sustained that art on the basis of a
of the language of Kant. ‘Duchamp’s urinal         tacit pact between artists and cultivated
is the outcome of an aesthetic judgment            spectators about what instances of the art
as surely as non-art is a “category” of            should achieve, the question of what counts
art’ (KD, p. 273). As art leaves behind the        as art could not arise. (That’s the glory
63                                                                                  THIERRY DE DUVE


of tacit conventions.) But once Duchamp                compel the assent of others, but at the same
has made the normative dimension of                    time (as Duchamp has it) intuition can find
naming art explicit, two paths open up, as             no respite from the dissent of others in a
will happen when one struggles with an                 self-arrogation of tacit, expert knowledge of
antinomy. One path aims to reground the                the right conventions, judgment comes down
‘art’ concept theoretically; for de Duve,              to quality, which is to say, to form. Because,
however, who is no stranger to sophisticated           after Duchamp, we are all addressed by art
aesthetic theory, this misunderstanding                as members of the crowd and not as experts,
of the function of art theory amounts to               the critic must take on his own shoulders the
an avoidance of the problem that, in our               burden of experiencing art properly despite
moment after modernism, a work of art can              uncertainty about whom art is addressing.
arise whose significance as art simply is the           De Duve claims to learn from Greenberg
undecidability of its status. The other path           that ‘everything begins with the address, and
is Greenberg’s. ‘The good art critic’, says de         the address is a demand for a pact’ (CG, p.
Duve of Greenberg ‘doesn’t deprive himself of          64), that is, a new consensus forged through
theorizing, but he always proceeds intuitively’        changed artistic conventions, but he adds the
(Clement Greenberg [CG], p. 25).                       worry that we can never rest assured that this
    In using ‘intuition’ here, de Duve embraces        demand has been met.
the Kantian notion that our subjectivity                  The importance de Duve attaches to
is staked to the convincingness of our                 art’s address is clear when he divides his
experience. ‘Greenberg writes in such a way            exhibition Look (2000) into three parts: ‘Here
that the speaking subject never disappears             I Am’, ‘Here You Are’, ‘Here We Are’. But the
behind the subject of the sentence, but also in        matter of address is equally apparent in Kant
such a way that we feel that this assignation          after Duchamp, a highly theoretical text that
of the subject to different places does not            begins: ‘Imagine yourself an ethnologist . . .’.
dissolve the writing into subjectivism’ (CG, p.        Because art after modernism has no settled
17). That the condition of aesthetic judgment          address, the Greenbergian insistence
after Duchamp offers no place to hide (from)           on offering your experience to others in
the judge’s subjectivity is the challenge              judgment is inescapable. De Duve’s coupling
Greenberg’s criticism accepts. De Duve thus            of Duchamp and Greenberg may seem
argues, contrary to much contemporary art              perverse, yet it provides the twist needed
theory, that Greenberg was right: in the end,          to keep the story of modernism’s end from
it is the quality of art that critics judge. In        ending once and for all.
other words since the test of the validity of
an intuition is (as Kant had it) its ability to                                     GREGG HOROWITZ




 BIBLIOGRAPHY
                                                       de Duve, T., Clement Greenberg Between the Lines,
 Primary literature
                                                          Paris: Dis Voir, 1996.
 de Duve, T. (ed.), The Definitively Unfinished Marcel   de Duve, T., Kant after Duchamp, Cambridge: MIT
    Duchamp, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991.                  Press, 1996.
 de Duve, T., Pictorial Nominalism, Minneapolis:       de Duve, T., Look: 100 Years of Contemporary Art,
    University of Minnesota Press, 1991.                  Amsterdam: Ludion, 2000.
JAMES ELKINS                                                                                     64




JAMES ELKINS (1955–)
James Elkins was trained as both a painter         analytical techniques in dealing with visual
(MFA, University of Chicago, 1983) and art         imagery; Why Are Our Pictures Puzzles? (1999)
historian (Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1989);    considers the hypertrophy of writing about
he currently holds positions at the School         art in the twentieth century and interprets it
of the Art Institute of Chicago and in the         as a sign of anxiety about the ways in which
Department of the History of Art at University     images fundamentally resist reduction
College, Cork. Much of his written work can        to meaning. The Domain of Images (1999),
be described as a critique of academic art         perhaps the most satisfying of the books in
history from the perspective offered by his        the series, is an effort to survey the entire
experience of the studio, but this critique is     range of what can be classified as images and
nested within a larger enterprise, an effort       to suggest how it might be comprehended
to liberate our engagement with images             within analytical practice that greatly exceeds
from unnecessary conceptual constraints of         the scope of art history.
all kinds. His writings might thus be divided         Critiques of art history are far from
between academically oriented texts that           unusual. The so-called ‘new art history’,
interrogate traditional art history from within,   which began in the 1970s and 1980s, sought
so to speak, and works addressed to a wider,       by a number of different means to overcome
non-academic audience. Few writers move so         what it saw as the stultifying limitations
easily from one genre to the other; his work       of traditional practices, and Elkins shares
is impressive for the energy and assurance         many of its prevalent assumptions and
with which it assimilates wide-ranging             strategies. The notion that ‘art’, understood
interests and approaches, and perhaps even         as ‘high art’, needs to be displaced as the
more so for its intellectual independence.         privileged object of enquiry, for instance, is
   Elkins’ first book, The Poetics of Perspective   now widespread: its original motivation was
(1994), attempts to show that art historical       largely political, an effort to subvert the
scholarship has superimposed a false unity         elitist cultural perspective that a fixation on
of aim and method onto the development of          high art objects seemed to reinforce. Elkins
geometric perspective since the Renaissance,       shares the desire to shift the emphasis away
and thus normativized and rationalized             from high art, but he has gone further than
what is actually a much richer and more            any new art historian in suggesting that
chaotic phenomenon. This critique of art           images of all kinds – not just ‘low’ art objects,
history is elaborated in a series of books         but things like charts, scientific diagrams
that followed in the course of the next few        and advanced forms of computer imaging
years: Our Beautiful, Dry, and Distant Texts       – also demand attention. Another well-
(1997) examines some of the conventions            established theme of the new art history,
of art historical writing, attempting to show      related to the first, is dissatisfaction with
how the discipline is hampered by its self-        the predominantly Eurocentric quality of
imposed obligation to posture as a rigorous        traditional art history. Again, Elkins has
science or form of philosophical enquiry; On       gone further than most towards redressing
Pictures and the Words that Fail Them (1998)       this situation with projects such as Chinese
probes the limitations of language-based           Landscape Painting as Western Art Theory
65                                                                                 JAMES ELKINS


(1999), a text published in Chinese and in         Strange Place of Religion in Contemporary
China. A similar project, Why is Indian Painting   Art (2004) he addresses an issue that critics
Not Known in Europe?, to be published in           and new art historians have taken care to
India, has been delayed.                           avoid, attempting to initiate an enquiry into a
   In some respects, however, his position         source of interest suppressed even by those
differs from that of most new art historians.      who consider themselves progressives. While
Where much of their work has involved              he thus clearly extends the project begun
the application of ‘theory’ – interpretative       by the new art history, he can also be seen
methods developed in the fields of literary         as subjecting it to much-needed, productive
criticism, psychoanalysis and sociology            critique.
– Elkins is critical of such adaptation when          Perhaps the most fundamental criticism
it seems to him to oversimplify the issues         that can be made of Elkins’s work is its
specific to visual experience. His review           dependence on the concepts of ‘image’ and
of HAL FOSTER’s Compulsive Beauty, a               ‘visual’. He is not unaware of the fact that
much-admired book about Surrealism, for            they are problematic, that they are cultural
instance, takes issue with the usefulness of       and historical constructs as much as natural
psychoanalysis as an interpretative tool; in       categories, yet by proceeding as if they
this review he makes use of the scepticism         constitute the unchallenged foundation for
of traditional empiricists while also              the kind of enquiry he offers in place of art
arguing the need for both a more intensive         history, he might be thought to run the risk
critical engagement with the limitations of        of ‘visual essentialism’. A radical art history,
empiricism and a more radically creative           after all, might begin by questioning whether
exploitation of its possibilities. On Pictures     the history of art is in fact congruent with,
and the Words that Fail Them is a sustained        or even only concentric with, a history of
critique of semiotics, which Elkins regards as     images, or of specifically visual experience,
but another form of ‘logocentric’ art historical   whether art is not always more conceptual
rationalism. His insistence that images            than visual. Yet most art historians, even
are fundamentally ‘meaningless’, open to           most progressives, would not be willing to
criticism on a number of fronts, is perhaps        go that far, to abandon the assumption that
best understood as a tactical overstatement        the path beyond the limitations of traditional
intended to emphasize the way in which the         art history must take us through a more
need to find meaning inhibits our ability to        intensive engagement with the ‘visual’ quality
see what is actually there before our eyes.        of ‘images’ that do not necessarily qualify as
   The book Visual Studies: A Skeptical            art.
Introduction (2003) surveys one of the most           In so far as such an emphasis on visuality
important developments associated with the         could be seen as supporting a naturalistic
new art history, the emergence of ‘visual          grounding of reality in unmediated sense
culture’ studies. While some of the more           experience, it might also be thought to
ambitious proponents of the new field have          be unhistorical; but Elkins’s interest in
argued that it should supplant art history         the visual is complemented by an almost
altogether, they have also disagreed among         equally intense concern with the challenge
themselves in fundamental ways, and these          of writing about art and a sensitivity to the
disagreements have threatened to undermine         historicity of discourse about art, so that his
the entire enterprise. Elkins considers            approach works to reconstruct a historical
a variety of practices and possibilities,          perspective that in other respects it may
suggesting ways in which the field might            seem to dismantle. His most recent book to
constructively redefine itself. In On the           date, Master Narratives and Their Discontents
JAMES ELKINS                                                                                                66


(2005), is a critical survey of the various             is worthwhile because, for Elkins, both
historiographic models that have been                   practices are ‘serious and sustained attempts
developed to explain artistic modernism                 to understand what substances are and how
and postmodernism. By objectifying them                 they carry meaning’. How to Use Your Eyes
historically, it offers a fresh perspective on          (2000) consists of thirty-three short essays
their dogmatic underpinnings, and hence                 on various features of the visible world and
performs a useful critical service. Turning             the way in which an informed attentiveness
history against history, so to speak, it points         to them can help one to experience the
towards the role that history might play in the         world as ‘thick with meaning’. Such essays,
comprehensive approach to the visual that               reminiscent of Joycean epiphanies, reveal the
Elkins advocates.                                       deep liberatory ambition of Elkins’s project,
   The idea of meaning, which Elkins’s                  its affinity with the liberatory ambition of high
academic work is often at pains to                      modernism. This quality may prove to be the
undermine, is frequently invoked in his                 most critical, most forward-looking thing
popular writing. What Painting Is (1998)                about it.
offers an extended meditation on the relation
between painting and alchemy; the exercise                                              ROBERT WILLIAMS




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                              Gu Ling, Hangzhou: National Academy of Art,
                                                           1999.
                                                        Elkins, J., How to Use Your Eyes, New York:
 Primary literature                                        Routledge, 2000.
 Elkins, J., ‘Art History without Theory’, Critical     Elkins, J., Our Beautiful, Dry, and Distant Texts: Art
    Inquiry 14 (1988), pp. 354–78.                         History as Writing, Pennsylvania: Penn State
 Elkins, J., The Poetics of Perspective, Ithaca:           University Press, 1997.
    Cornell University Press, 1994.                     Elkins, J., Visual Studies: A Skeptical Introduction,
 Elkins, J., ‘Review of Hal Foster, Compulsive             New York: Routledge, 2003.
    Beauty’, Art Bulletin 76 (1994), pp. 546–48.        Elkins, J., On the Strange Place of Religion in
 Elkins, J., The Object Stares Back: On the                Contemporary Art, New York: Routledge, 2004.
    Nature of Seeing, New York: Harcourt Brace,         Elkins, J., Master Narratives and Their Discontents,
    1997.                                                  New York: Routledge, 2005.
 Elkins, J., On Pictures and the Words That Fail
    Them, Cambridge: Cambridge University
                                                        Secondary literature
    Press, 1998.
 Elkins, J., What Painting Is: How to Think about Oil   Bal, M., ‘Semiotic Elements in Academic
    Painting, Using the Language of Alchemy, New           Practices’, Critical Inquiry 22 (1996), pp.
    York: Routledge, 1998.                                 573–89.
 Elkins, J., The Domain of Images, Ithaca: Cornell      Duskova, K., Review of ‘James Elkins, What
    University Press, 1999.                                Painting Is; The Object Stares Back: On the
 Elkins, J., Why Are our Pictures Puzzles? On the          Nature of Seeing; Our Beautiful Dry, and Distant
    Modern Origins of Pictorial Complexity, New            Texts: Art History as Writing; On Pictures and
    York: Routledge, 1999.                                 the Words That Fail Them; How to Use Your
 Elkins, J., Xi fang mei shu xue zhong de Zhongguo         Eyes’, Art Bulletin 84 (2002), pp. 186–88.
    shan shui hua. Chinese Landscape Painting as        Williams, R., ‘Sticky Goo’, Oxford Art Journal 25
    Western Art History, trans. Pan Yoachang and           (2002), pp. 97–102.
67                                                                                 HAL FOSTER




HAL FOSTER (1955–)
Hal Foster’s intellectual formation was           tried to hold the two in tandem, in tension.
constituted, initially as a critic, then as a     History without critique is inert; criticism
critical art historian, in the fraught cultural   without history is aimless’ (‘Polemics,
context of New York in the late 1970s and         Postmodernism, Immersion, Militarized
1980s. In 1978 he began to write art criticism    Space’, p. 322). This dialectical imperative of
for Artforum that was marked by a precocious      history conceived through criticism stems, in
ability to theorize postmodernism through         large part, from the cultural context in which
critical theory. The strength of his early        Foster first began to write criticism: at the
writing quickly established Foster as a           juncture of late modernism and emergent
major presence in the New York art scene:         postmodernism. For Foster, as for other like-
from 1981 to 1987 he was an associate,            minded critics, postmodernism offered the
then senior editor at Art in America; in 1983     potential of an artistic rupture with the past,
he edited a seminal collection of essays on       while crucially maintaining ties to historical
postmodernism, The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on      and neo-avant-garde movements. As he
Postmodern Culture; and in 1985 he published      describes in The Return of the Real, this often
his first collection of essays, Recodings: Art,    vexed relation between historical continuity
Spectacle, Cultural Politics.                     and discontinuity strikes to the heart of the
    After the appearance of Recodings, Foster’s   avant-garde problematic: ‘Crucial here is the
semi-independent position as an art critic        relation between turns in critical models and
shifted towards a more academically oriented      returns of historical practice . . . how does a
position as an art historian. In 1987 he          reconnection with a past practice support a
became the Director of Critical and Curatorial    disconnection from a present practice and/or
Studies at the Whitney Independent Study          a development of a new one?’ (Return of
Program, and in 1990, after receiving his         the Real, p. x). The continued avant-garde
Ph.D. from CUNY Graduate Center (his              negotiation between social-political critique
dissertation on Surrealism, published             and historical engagement is, for Foster,
as Compulsive Beauty, was directed by             the core challenge of art in the wake of
ROSALIND KRAUSS), he assumed a position           modernism.
in the Art History Department at Cornell             The urgency during the 1980s of
University. Foster joined the editorial board     articulating a historically critical
of October in 1991, and in 1997 he was made       postmodernism stood in opposition to a
Professor at Princeton University.                countervailing, pluralistic postmodernism
    Along with other members of the October       that proclaimed the failure of the avant-
editorial board, and an older generation          garde. ‘Against Pluralism’, the opening essay
of critic-historians whom Foster cites as         of Recodings, took direct aim at this brand
intellectual models – MICHAEL FRIED,              of postmodern eclecticism, charging the
Rosalind Krauss and T. J. CLARK – Foster          embrace of historical pastiche with market
has consistently assumed the double role          complicity and outmoded aestheticism.
of critic and historian. As he has stated,        In Recodings, Foster posits two mutually
‘I’ve never seen critical work in opposition      exclusive directions for postmodernism:
to historical work: like many others I’ve         either a historical continuation of avant-garde
HAL FOSTER                                                                                         68


criticality – moving vertically (diachronically)    minimalism and post-minimalism activated
through history while horizontally                  the body of the viewer, postmodernism no
(synchronically) widening the social fabric         longer assumes this body to be indifferent
of art; or the abandonment of a historically        to the conditions of gender, race or
necessitated criticality in favor of traditional    class. Finally, postmodernism develops
conceptions of artistic expression, taste and       new strategies by which to resist the
style. As Foster writes: ‘[with pluralism]          institutionalization of ‘institutional critique’
old values are revived, ones necessary to a         itself – to resist, that is, the relentless
market based on taste and connoisseurship,          appropriation of avant-garde critique into
such as the unique, the visionary, the              the professionally sanctioned folds of mere
genius, the masterpiece . . . Style, that old       expertise.
bourgeois substitute for historical thought, is        Foster has also criticized ‘visual
preeminent once again’ (Recodings, p. 17).          culture’ studies, accusing it of ‘a loose,
   In opposition to a pluralistic, pick-and-        anthropological notion of culture, and a
choose-style postmodernism, Foster                  loose, psychoanalytic notion of the image’.
championed a generation of early to mid-            Douglas Crimp has led the counter-attack
1980s artists including Martha Rosler,              in his article in Social Text in 1999, ‘Getting
Sherrie Levine, Louise Lawler, Dara                 the Warhol We Deserve: Culture Studies
Birnbaum, BARBARA KRUGER, Jenny Holzer,             and Queer Culture’, arguing that Foster’s
Krzysztof Wodcizko and Allan McCollum.              emphasis on the historicity of the avant-garde
Crucial to what Foster calls the ‘situational       suppresses the broader cultural network
aesthetics’ (‘special attention to site, address,   in which it is situated. Crimp is particularly
and audience’) of these artists is their            critical of Foster’s elision of sexual identity in
extension of the neo-avant-garde institutional      his treatment of Andy Warhol in The Return of
critiques advanced by such artists as DANIEL        the Real.
BUREN, Michael Asher, Hans Haacke and                  Despite the advances of early
Marcel Broodthaers. Foster writes, ‘just            postmodernism, by the mid-1990s the future
as the conceptual artists extended the              viability of a postmodern avant-garde had,
minimalist analysis of the art object, so too       for Foster, entered a state of crisis. The
these later [postmodern] artists have opened        necessary dialectical tension between the
up the critique of the art institution in order     vertical/historical axis of continuity and
to intervene in ideological representations of      the horizontal/social axis of discontinuity
languages and everyday life’ (ibid., p. 100).       had broken down such that, ‘sometimes
   Foster argues for a variety of ways in which     the vertical axis is neglected in favor of the
postmodernism furthers the work of the neo-         horizontal axis, and often the coordination of
avant-garde. First, postmodernism expands           the two seems broken’ (Return of the Real, p.
the site of critique beyond the infrastructure      xi). For Foster, this breakdown resulted not
and institutions of art (gallery, museum, art       from the avant-garde’s failure, but from its
market) into a more extended public sphere          success.
(bus shelters, baseball stadiums, taxi cabs,           The seeds of this crisis can be traced, he
etc.). Second, moving beyond a restricted           claims, to the avant-garde’s efforts to shift
institutional framework enacts a shift away         from a historically grounded criterion of
from conventional media (such as painting           quality, to a critically determined criterion of
and sculpture) as the objects of ideological        interest. Locating the dialectical breakdown
and ontological critiques towards media,            of contemporary art in the success, rather
images and language such as advertising,            than failure of the avant-garde, is a strategic
television or political rhetoric. Third, while      move on Foster’s part, allowing for the
69                                                                                      HAL FOSTER


open acknowledgement of avant-garde                 and narrativity are required; far too much is
crisis, while resisting the despondency of          at stake in practice, pedagogy, and politics
critical and historical surrender. Taking           not to challenge the blindered ones that are
aim at Peter Bürger’s influential Theory of          in place’ (Return of the Real, p. 28). Instead,
the Avant-Garde (1984)– a work that asserts         he proposes a radically non-dialectical model
not only the failure of the historical avant-       based on the Freudian notion of ‘deferred
garde, but posits a cycle of farcical repetition    action’ (nachträglichkeit). According to this
within its ‘neo-avant-garde’ counterpart            model of deferred action, the historical and
– Foster argues for a dialectical model by          epistemological significance of the avant-
which to redeem these purported failures.           garde is never fully apprehended in the first
‘Immodestly enough’, he writes, ‘I want to do       instance. Nor can it ever be, as the avant-
to Bürger what Marx did to Hegel: to right his      garde is registered as a form of trauma – as
concept of the dialectic’ (Return of the Real,      a hole in the symbolic order of history. Thus,
p. 15). To this end, Foster puts forward an         while the historical avant-garde struggled to
alternative model of the neo-avant-garde’s          work through the traumas of modernity, the
engagement with historical antecedents.             neo-avant-garde responds to, and attempts
Using the example of Marcel Duchamp’s               to work through, the deferred action of
ready-mades, Foster grants limited credence         this initial trauma. In place of a succession
to Bürger’s claim that Duchamp failed to            of avant-garde movements building on
undermine bourgeois notions of artistic             preceding movements (an evolutionary model
expressivity or to push artistic autonomy           of historical progress), Foster posits a new
into the everyday. This initial failure, Bürger     temporal model of the avant-garde in which
claims, is not only repeated in the neo-avant-      the future-anterior tense of deferred action
garde ready-mades of Jasper Johns, but,             – the will-have-been – replaces the stable,
worse, the latter actually nullify Duchamp’s        self-contained temporality of the ‘past’,
initial critiques, such that the avant-garde is     ‘present’ and ‘future’ tenses (that is, ‘past’
institutionally affirmed and legitimized within      artistic movements advanced by ‘present’
mainstream artistic production. While Foster        and ‘future’ movements). The future anterior
grants Bürger partial due, he insists that this     thus marks the temporality of an avant-garde
view misses what is essential to the advances       that is never fully present to itself because it
of the neo-avant-garde – namely the ways            will never have fully taken place in the first
in which it uses the historical avant-garde’s       instance.
initial failures and institutional appropriations      In his model of deferred action, Foster
to provide the very objects of critique that        has an unlikely ally in another influential
allow for neo-avant-garde continuity and            thinker of the postmodern, JEAN-FRANÇOIS
discontinuity. Thus, the multiple historical        LYOTARD. Although there are many
incarnations of the ready-made do not               differences between these two theorists, they
simply echo a distant origin in Duchamp, but        share a view of avant-garde production as
diachronically and synchronically open the          the necessary working through of historical
Duchampian ready-made into ever expanding           trauma. As Lyotard describes this process:
areas of critique.
                                                       We would have to compare [avant-garde]
   Where Foster advocates a recuperative
                                                       work with anamnesis, in the sense of
dialectic for the first generation of neo-              psychoanalytic therapy. Just as patients try
avant-garde postmodernism, he finds the                 to elaborate their current problems by freely
dialectical engine of history and critique             associating apparently inconsequential
inadequate by the mid-1990s, observing:                details with past situations – allowing them
‘Different models of causality, temporality,           to uncover hidden meanings in their lives
HAL FOSTER                                                                                                 70


  and their behavior – so we can think of the          Foster claims, is never simple repetition
  work of Cézanne, Picasso, Delaunay . . . as          – never mere redundancy or outright failure
  a working through performed by modernity             – but a symptomatic displacement of an
  on its own meaning. If we abandon that               initial failure that must be continually worked
  responsibility, we will surely be condemned
                                                       through and never fully understood. In the
  to repeat, without any displacement.
                                                       end, the historical returns of the avant-garde
  (‘Note on the Meaning of “Post-”’, in The
  Postmodern Explained, pp. 79–80)                     constitute, for Foster, a history of the Real
                                                       that returns not only from the past, but also
                                                       from future avant-gardes that will attempt,
   Equally committed to the responsibility             and fail, to work through a breakdown in the
of an avant-garde that works through                   symbolic order at the heart of history and
the traumatic ruptures of history, Foster              criticism.
also refuses to accept repetition without
displacement. For avant-garde repetition,                                               GORDON HUGHES




 BIBLIOGRAPHY
                                                       Foster, H. (ed.), Vision and Visuality: Discussions in
                                                          Contemporary Culture, No. 2, Seattle: The Bay
 Primary literature
                                                          Press, 1988.
 Foster, H., Recodings: Art, Spectacle, Cultural       Foster, H. with Hughes, Gordon (eds), October
    Politics, Seattle: The Bay Press, 1985.               Files: Richard Serra, Cambridge: MIT Press,
 Foster, H., Compulsive Beauty, Cambridge: MIT            2000.
    Press, 1993.                                       Smith, Marquard, in conversation with Hal Foster,
 Foster, H., The Return of the Real, Cambridge:           ‘Polemics, Postmodernism, Immersion,
    MIT Press, 1996.                                      Militarized Space’, Journal of Visual Culture
 Foster, H., Design and Crime (and other Diatribes),      vol. 3 (2004).
    London: Verso, 2002.
 Foster, H., Prosthetic Gods, Cambridge: MIT
    Press, 2004.
                                                       Secondary literature
 Foster, H., with Krauss, R., Bois, Yves-Alain and
    Buchloh, B. H. D., Art Since 1900: Modernism,      Bürger, P., Theory of the Avant-Garde, trans.
    Antimodernism, Postmodernism, New York:               Michael Shaw, Minneapolis: University of
    Thames & Hudson, 2004.                                Minnesota Press, 1984.
 Foster, H. (ed.), The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on       Lyotard, J.-F., The Postmodern Explained,
    Postmodern Culture, Seattle: The Bay Press,           Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,
    1983.                                                 1992.
71                                                                                    MICHAEL FRIED




MICHAEL FRIED (1939–)
Michael Fried’s early reputation was                       This is said with respect to historical
established by a body of criticism written              writings that have the clearest relation to
between 1961 and 1970 that has proved                   the criticism; the task of offering an overall
central to understanding the American art               account of Fried’s work becomes still more
of the period and continuously controversial.           difficult given Fried’s ongoing attention
This is particularly true of ‘Art and                   to work that appears independent of the
Objecthood’ (1967), an attack on minimalism             particular French tradition that Fried takes to
which has set the terms for discussion of               inform his criticism.
that movement and so also for the ways in                  This same introduction includes an
which critics and art historians have taken             autobiographical sketch in which Fried
up its relation to particular movements and             notes a number of formative influences and
bodies of work, as well as larger questions             relationships: his undergraduate friendship
concerning a putative ‘postmodernism’                   at Princeton with Frank Stella and, through
that surfaced in the visual arts from 1980              Stella, Darby Bannard, both of whom he
onwards.                                                later championed as painters; his early
   Fried effectively withdrew from the field             acquaintance with CLEMENT GREENBERG;
of contemporary art around 1970 and                     and two years spent in England (initially on
has since been primarily active as an art               a Rhodes Scholarship) notable for his
historian, producing an interlocking series             criticism as a London correspondent for Arts
of studies of Diderot, Courbet, Manet,                  Magazine, a period of philosophical tutelage
Eakins and Menzel, as well as a number                  with Stuart Hampshire and RICHARD
of essays that point to other projects still            WOLLHEIM and, perhaps most importantly,
underway – one on ‘literary impressionism’,             his first encounter with the work of Anthony
another on Caravaggio and a third on large-             Caro – an experience that secured for him the
scale photography that marks a return to                place of conviction within critical response
contemporary art. The relations between                 and gave him a continuing and crucial
the two sides of Fried’s work are not easy              touchstone.
to sort out; in the introduction to a recent               Returning to the US in 1962, Fried entered
collection of his criticism from the 1960s,             Harvard’s graduate programme in art
Fried writes:                                           history while continuing to write criticism
                                                        (primarily for Arts International). During this
     [B]etween myself as historian of the French        period he also curated the 1965 exhibition
     antitheatrical tradition and the critic who        Three American Painters: Kenneth Noland,
     wrote ‘Art and Objecthood’ there looms an          Jules Olitski, and Frank Stella at the Fogg Art
     unbridgeable gulf . . . The present writer . . .
                                                        Museum, writing his first major critical essay
     sees no way of negotiating the difference
                                                        for that catalogue. It was at Harvard that
     between the priority given in his criticism
     to judgments of value both positive and            Fried met STANLEY CAVELL; the value and
     negative and the principled refusal of all         intensity of their conversations have been
     such judgements in the pursuit of historical       repeatedly acknowledged by both figures,
     understanding . . . (Art and Objecthood: Essays    and significant stretches of their individual
     and Reviews [AO], p. 51)                           works are not fully comprehensible without
MICHAEL FRIED                                                                                           72


reference to the other’s. A self-confessed          with Greenberg that has deepened over time.
‘philosophical groupie’, Fried’s work has           The particular point of disagreement is over
unfolded in continuous conversation with            the status of ‘medium’ – Greenberg holding
philosophy: in addition to Cavell, MERLEAU-         to an untenable notion of a timeless essence
PONTY has been a major reference and                underlying each of the individual arts,
resource throughout Fried’s career, and             and Fried holding a much more markedly
particular works have drawn on the writings         conventionalist and historicist notion of a
of Derrida, Kierkegaard and Wittgenstein.           medium’s ‘essence’:
Fried’s acknowledgements also underline
the importance to him of developments and             [T]he crucial question is not what those
arguments in literary theory from the early           minimal and, so to speak, timeless
1970s onwards; the literary critic Walter             conditions are, but rather what, at a
                                                      given moment, is capable of compelling
Benn Michaels is prominent among the
                                                      conviction, of succeeding as a painting. This
many interlocutors whose influence Fried
                                                      is not to say that painting has no essence; it
acknowledges.                                         is to claim that that essence – i.e. that which
   In the mid-1960s Fried’s critical essays           compels conviction – is largely determined
began appearing in Artforum, which under              by, and therefore changes continually in
the leadership of Philip Leider constituted           response to, the vital work of the recent
a sustained experiment in criticism,                  past. (AO, p. 169)
publishing an extraordinary range of essays
by both critics and artists, and establishing          The qualification ‘at a given moment’
itself as the decade’s foremost journal of          suggests that for Fried we do not know
contemporary art. ‘Art and Objecthood’              what a form is apart from a strong grasp
appeared in Artforum’s June 1967 issue              of its appropriate context, and Fried’s
devoted to ‘American sculpture’. The March          historical work does indeed reflect a strong
1969 issue was subsequently given over in its       contextualist orientation – the account
entirety to publication of Fried’s dissertation,    offered of Courbet consists largely in close
Manet’s Sources: Aspects of His Art, 1859–1865,     interpretations of a number of individual
marking the beginning of Fried’s turn away          works, the account of Manet draws more
from criticism and towards art history, a turn      heavily on both contemporary criticism and
roughly coinciding with both his departure          the evidence of certain kinds of compositional
from Harvard for Johns Hopkins University           difficulty evident in the work of Manet’s
and the acrimonious break up of Artforum.           generation, and the account of Menzel locates
   The controversies of the 1960s have              him in relation to a nineteenth-century
continued to strongly condition the reception       discovery of the ordinary that Fried finds
of Fried’s work, both critical and historical. In   well-glossed by Kierkegaard’s Judge William
particular, he and Greenberg – whose early          (as well as Cavell’s Thoreau). At the same
influence on him is indubitable – have been          time, Fried’s goal across these books is to
repeatedly linked under the rubric of ‘Kantian      render the work visible – that is, to elaborate
formalism’, a rubric that has led to a range        the terms in which the work most fully shows
of further simplifications. It is important to       itself to be what it is. Arguably, a sense that
note then that while ‘Art and Objecthood’           the work remains in need of showing is the
advances judgments that are, as a matter of         underlying motive of ‘formalism’, particularly
taste, largely in line with Greenberg’s (with       in contrast with other modes that take the
the proviso that Greenberg never shared             exposition of meaning to be the primary task.
Fried’s support of Frank Stella’s work), the           Understood this way, Fried’s proposed
essay marks a significant theoretical break          contrast between his historical and critical
73                                                                               MICHAEL FRIED


activities is less marked than may first            experience of art means that the difference
appear: the point would simply be that             between criticism and history is a matter
critical judgments cannot be deductively           of dialectical accent in a situation where
justified by a history (and vice versa). This       there is no final punctuation for art’s history
feeling for the continuing openness of past        and so no definitive parsing of its rhythms
and present to one another informs Fried’s         nor any definitive way of locating one’s self
writing from the beginning of his career. In       securely within them – a point powerfully
this sense, art history is for Fried, as it is     made by Cavell in his two key early essays
for Michael Baxandall, essentially a branch        in aesthetics, ‘Music Discomposed’ and ‘A
of art criticism. Seeing this helps in seeing      Matter of Meaning It’ (both 1967).
something that Fried’s remark about the                If there is a certain ‘Kantianism’ at the
contrast between ‘the priority given . . . to      heart of Fried’s view of art, it has very
judgments of value’ and ‘the principled            little to do with Greenberg’s arguments
refusal of all such judgment’ threatens to         about a modernist imperative for the arts
gloss over: critical judgment in Fried’s writing   to hunt themselves back to their areas of
is never a matter of something like a decision     irreducible competence (a notion loosely
based on descriptive or other evidence;            derived not from Kant’s aesthetics but from
judgment is rather the fact of description         the introduction to the First Critique), and
itself. Thus one core version of the argument      everything to do with the thought that there
of ‘Art and Objecthood’ is: if this is indeed      is something like a judgment of experience
the experience in question, this is not the        – a judgment integrally embedded in
experience of a work of art.                       experience and registered in a voice that
   Fried’s description of the experience of        is not exactly one’s own and so given to
minimalist work has been widely accepted           testing its shareability. If we can get that far
as definitive; that many of his critics think       paraphrasing Kant in the vicinity of Fried,
they can then simply reverse his judgment of       one would have to add the further, very
its value is deeply peculiar, and indeed the       unKantian, thought that experience is not
peculiarity of that thought must for him be        to be had apart from its various modes of
of a piece with the peculiarity of minimalism      self-evasion and self-refusal. This is one way
itself, as if minimalism were something like       to state the interest Fried continues to find
the mistaking of its own initiating experience.    in Cavell and Wittgenstein, in DERRIDA and
Imagine someone going through a museum             Kierkegaard.
taking careful notes on what everything in             That art matters for Fried in no small
it means, and then sitting down to make            part because it is a place where we test
something meaningful of his own; you might         or discover our capacity for experience is
say that he or she failed to see that those        one way of phrasing the ethical or political
things were paintings, or took that feature of     animus so palpable just beneath the surface
them to be some ‘mere convention’ floating          of his writing. Like T. J. CLARK, Fried’s
– or perhaps imposed – on the deeper               concern is less with the ins and outs of our
substance of meaning. Minimalism on                stories about modernism and postmodernism
Fried’s account is something like that, inviting   than with the larger fate of modernity, and
us into deep confusions about the relations        the ways in which we are and are not able to
between the fact of a work and something           find or live our lives within it.
we’ll be tempted to distinguish as its value.
That value and description mesh in the                                       STEPHEN MELVILLE
MICHAEL FRIED                                                                                           74




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                        Secondary literature
                                                     Cavell, S., The World Viewed: Reflections on the
 Primary literature                                     Ontology of Film, New York: Viking Press, 1971.
                                                     Cavell, S., Must We Mean What We Say?,
 Fried, M., Absorption and Theatricality: Painting
                                                        Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
    and Beholder in the Age of Diderot, Berkeley:
                                                        1976.
    University of California Press, 1980.
                                                     de Duve, T., Kant after Duchamp, Cambridge: MIT
 Fried, M., Realism, Writing, Disfiguration: On
                                                        Press, 1996.
    Thomas Eakins and Stephen Crane, Chicago:
                                                     Frascina, F. (ed.), Pollock and After: The Critical
    University of Chicago Press, 1987.
                                                        Debate, New York: Harper & Row, 1985.
 Fried, M., Courbet’s Realism, Chicago: University
                                                     Melville, S., Seams: Art as a Philosophical Context,
    of Chicago Press, 1990.
                                                        Amsterdam: G+B Arts International, 1996.
 Fried, M., Manet’s Modernism or, The Face of
                                                     Michaels, W. B., The Shape of the Signifier: 1967
    Painting in the 1860s, Chicago: University of
                                                        to the End of History, Princeton: Princeton
    Chicago Press, 1996.
                                                        University Press, 2004.
 Fried, M., Art and Objecthood: Essays and
                                                     Mulhall, S., ‘Crimes and Deeds of Glory: Michael
    Reviews, Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
                                                        Fried’s Modernism’, British Journal of
    1998.
                                                        Aesthetics vol. 41, no. 1 (January 2001).
 Fried, M., Menzel’s Realism: Art and Embodiment
                                                     Pippin, R., ‘Authenticity in Painting: Remarks on
    in Nineteenth-Century Berlin, London: Yale
                                                        Michael Fried’s Art History’, Critical Inquiry
    University Press, 2002.
                                                        vol. 31, no. 3 (Spring 2003).
                                                     Ross, T., Robert, M. and Beaulieu, J. (eds),
                                                        Refracting Vision: Essays on the Writings of
                                                        Michael Fried, Sydney: Power Publications,
                                                        2000.




CLEMENT GREENBERG
(1909–1994)
Clement Greenberg was probably the most              highbrow, Marxist intellectuals and critics.
influential art critic and theorist of the            Greenberg became an editor of the magazine
twentieth century. His first articles appeared        for two years in 1941, and served as art critic
in Partisan Review in the late 1930s. At             to The Nation throughout the 1940s, before
Partisan Review he was part of a circle of           focusing on longer articles, catalogue essays,
75                                                                       CLEMENT GREENBERG


and organizing exhibitions during the 1950s.       position is encapsulated in ‘Avant-Garde and
Throughout this period he was an associate         Kitsch’ (1939) and ‘Towards a Newer Laocoon’
editor of Commentary. His reputation was           (1940), his mature work by ‘Modernist
built on championing New York School               Painting’ (1960) and ‘After Abstract
painting, which he took to be inheriting, and      Expressionism’ (1962), and his late work by
extending, the formal advances of pre-war          the ‘Bennington Seminars’ (1971). Despite
School of Paris.                                   appearances to the contrary, Greenberg’s
   In 1961, Art and Culture, his first collection   position remained consistent, though its
of his essays and criticism, appeared, and         emphasis shifted: where Greenberg’s early
became hugely influential for both followers        work focused on the historical and social
and detractors. The fact that Greenberg,           question of why modernism arose, and
a highly partisan critic, supplemented his         his mature work on the formal or artistic
income as an advisor to galleries such as          question of how it worked, his late work
French & Co. only added to the controversy         addressed the aesthetic theory underpinning
surrounding him. This was compounded               this account. This increasing concern with
when the USIA (United States Information           modernism’s autonomous development
Agency) broadcast ‘Modernist Painting’ as          and questions of taste, at the expense of his
a ‘Voice of America’ radio lecture as part of      earlier social theory, is the reason Greenberg
its effort to project an image of America’s        is often said to have abandoned his early
cultural freedom during the Cold War.              artistic and political radicalism in favour of
When historical and sociological analysis of       a conservative defence of artistic values for
Greenberg’s role in American culture began         their own sake.
in the early 1980s, this fact led to a deepening      Greenberg offered a variety of reasons for
perception of a theoretical and political          why modernism arose, including the social
retrenchment in Greenberg’s views in his           turmoil of mid-nineteenth-century France,
later work.                                        which politicized artists while leaving them
   But as early as the mid-1960s Greenberg’s       unsure of who their work addressed, and the
position came under pressure from a range          preference for the ‘positive’, ‘concrete’ and
of movements, including Minimalism,                ‘immediate’ in modern experience. But he is
Conceptual art and Pop art, that flouted the        best known for the claim (in ‘Avant-Garde and
strictures of modernist theory. At the same        Kitsch’) that avant-garde art was under threat
time, Greenberg’s increasingly dogmatic            on two fronts. The stagnation of the French
pronouncements about an art world that             Academy by the latter half of the nineteenth
had rejected his canon, and the taste that         century threatened art with vacuity and
underwrote it, made him something of a             irrelevance; while the need to feed the new
hate-figure during the 1970s and 1980s.             urban mass’s desire for distraction and
This changed with the publication of his           entertainment gave rise to ‘kitsch’, a
Collected Essays and Criticism in 1986 and         debased surrogate for authentic culture that
1993; the seriousness of his criticism             raided the latter for whatever it could strip
was acknowledged once more, for all                away and represent in predigested form (cf.
its trenchancy and exclusions, and his             ADORNO on ‘culture industry’). In the face of
work received renewed attention from art           this dual threat to its existence, Greenberg
historians and theorists not involved in the       claimed high art turned in on itself in order to
bitter rejection of his views the first time        survive.
round.                                                Looking back over a century of modernism,
   Greenberg’s work can be divided into an         Greenberg claimed (in ‘Modernist Painting’)
early, mature, and late period. His early          that one could – if only in retrospect – trace
CLEMENT GREENBERG                                                                               76


this inward turn as each art tried to show       the nature of both aesthetic judgment and
that it offered a form of experience not to      works of art as privileged objects of such
be found elsewhere. This is the root of his      judgment. He maintains, controversially, that
account of how modernism works. Each art         aesthetic experience boils down to positive
foregrounded the ‘unique and irreducible’        or negative judgments of taste predicated
properties of its medium as the source of        on a work’s form, that such judgments can
whatever was specific to the experience           be shown to be objective by appealing to the
it had to offer. Painting, for example,          record of taste converging over time, and that
showed that it consisted minimally and           such judgment derives from an attitude that
essentially of ‘flatness and the delimitation     ‘distances’ the judge from his or her everyday
of flatness’ (‘After Abstract Expressionism’)     concerns.
because adhering to these two ‘constitutive          From the mid-1960s onwards, various
conventions or norms’ sufficed to create an       criticisms were levelled at Greenberg’s
object that could be experienced as painting.    work. The first was internal: Michael Fried,
As a result, painting foregrounded flatness       Greenberg’s leading follower, claimed that
as the guarantor of its specificity as an art,    his theory of modernism was flawed because
and hence its unique source of value. In         it relied on an untenable conception of an
Greenberg’s narrative, this process led from     artistic medium. Drawing on STANLEY
Manet, through Impressionism and post-           CAVELL, Fried argued that, rather than
Impressionism, via Cubism (and the flagrant       seeking the ‘irreducible essence’ of each art,
marginalization of Dada and Surrealism), to      modernist artists seek to ‘compel conviction’
culminate in European abstract artists like      that their work bears comparison to the
Mondrian and Miro, before it was taken up        highest achievements of past art in their
by post-war Abstract Expressionism in New        discipline. On this view, the ‘essence’ of an
York.                                            artistic medium is a conventional product
   By the mid-1960s this narrative forced        of the ongoing practice of the discipline. As
Greenberg (and his follower MICHAEL              conventions change historically, so too does
FRIED) to reject the majority of work then       essence. However, Fried’s work was soon
occupying the art world’s attention. In this     criticized in turn for its equal inability to deal
respect the first critics of Greenbergian         with art (such as minimalism) that refused to
modernism were those artists whose work          respect the modernist boundaries between
flouted its constraints: Pop art contested        artistic media.
its distinction between high art and popular         From a different direction, Greenberg’s
culture; minimalism refused any a-priori         work was criticized by social art historians,
division between the arts in terms of            such as Thomas Crow and T. J. CLARK. Clark
media; and conceptual art rejected taste         claimed that his later work failed to explain
as an adequate measure of artistic value.        what made ‘flatness’ vital symbolically at a
Greenberg responded by dismissing them all,      particular historical juncture. Clark suggests
leading to his own increasing marginalization.   various things flatness might have stood for
In response, Greenberg sought to fortify         in an attempt to reintroduce the urgency of
his position by appealing to Kant’s              the ‘why’ back into the ‘how’ of Greenbergian
aesthetics. This inaugurates the late period     theory. But Clark and the general approach
in Greenberg’s work, in which he sought          of social art history have been sanctioned
to philosophically ground the notions of         in turn (not least by Fried) for their
aesthetic experience and value that implicitly   tendency to reduce abstraction to a covert
underpinned his theory and criticism. In the     representationalism. On a different tack,
‘Bennington Seminars’ Greenberg considers        Crow has objected to Greenberg’s one-sided
77                                                                         CLEMENT GREENBERG


view of the relation between high and low           Kantian framework Greenberg appealed
culture. Crow argues that modernism also            to in his later work. Greenberg resorted to
reinvigorated itself by drawing on popular          the supposed fact that taste converges over
culture, and cites the use of mass-cultural         time to argue for its alleged ‘objectivity’,
products and references in cubist painting          when Kant maintained that judgments of
and collage. More generally, Greenberg’s            taste only lay claim to validity over all judging
belief that high art had to maintain its ‘purity’   subjects, this being insusceptible to proof.
from culture at large at all costs, if it was to    Moreover, Greenberg conflated Kant’s notion
survive, made his theory appear increasingly        of ‘disinterest’ as a necessary precondition
irrelevant given the ways in which this divide      for a judgment counting as aesthetic with his
began to break down during the 1960s.               own psychological idea of an ‘aesthetically
   More recently a generation of critics            distanced’ state of mind. Despite this, the
associated with the journal October have            art world continues to take Kant largely at
thematized the work that Greenberg was              Greenberg’s word. Even ARTHUR C. DANTO
forced to ignore in order to construct his          uses Greenberg’s recourse to Kant as
narrative of modernism. ROSALIND KRAUSS             evidence for inadequacy of Kantian aesthetics
and Yves-Alain Bois, for example, have              as a basis for a theory of art today. For
sought to retrieve the impulse, repressed           Danto, Greenberg’s inability to deal with
by Greenberg’s emphasis on taste and good           questions of content in art follows directly
form, towards ‘formlessness’ in modern              from his recourse to Kant’s formalism. It
art. While Krauss and HAL FOSTER have               reflects a failure to distinguish beauty in
drawn attention to the absence of Dada and          general (including that of nature) from the
Surrealism from this narrative. This raises a       historical and cultural complexity of artistic
key question in Greenberg’s interpretation:         value. Whether this is fair to Kant is highly
does Greenberg reject movements like                controversial.
Surrealism because the terms of his theory             Nonetheless, the range and diversity of
oblige him to reject them (for blurring the         critical response that Greenberg’s work
boundaries between media), or because he            has elicited demonstrates the significance
judges them to be bad art by dint of taste          of his work, as the leading theorization of
alone? If the former, modernist theory is           modernism in art, for later postmodernism.
shown to be prescriptive: it has to rule out        Indeed the question that postmodern art
certain kinds of art a priori. If the latter,       theory is only now addressing is the extent
this raises a question as to the status of          to which its own claims are an inverted
Greenberg’s narrative: how can a narrative          modernism. While postmodern theory
founded on a series of value judgments              devalues what Greenberg valued, and values
determining what it admits be historical or         what he devalued, it remains – for this reason
descriptive in any straightforward sense?           – part of Greenberg’s legacy. If this is correct,
While it might describe Greenberg’s taste,          then much postmodern art theory may be
can it really be said to chronicle (modern)         hostage to the conceptual framework it
art?                                                has most vociferously contested – namely
   THIERRY DE DUVE has shown how the                Greenberg’s.
belief in the ‘objectivity’ of his own taste
underwriting this narrative violates the                                     DIARMUID COSTELLO
CLEMENT GREENBERG                                                                                        78




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                           Danto, A. C., After the End of Art: Contemporary
                                                           Art and the Pale of History, New Jersey:
                                                           Princeton University Press, 1997.
 Primary literature                                     de Duve, T., Clement Greenberg Between the Lines,
 Greenberg, C., The Collected Essays and Criticism         Paris: Dis Voir, 1996.
    (vols I–IV), ed. John O’Brian, Chicago:             de Duve, T., Kant after Duchamp, Cambridge: MIT
    University of Chicago Press, 1986/1993.                Press, 1996.
 Greenberg, C., Homemade Esthetics: Observations        Frascina, F. (ed.), Pollock and After: The Critical
    on Art and Taste, New York: Oxford University          Debate, London: Routledge, 1985/2000
    Press, 1999.                                           (includes papers by Greenberg, T. J. Clark,
 Greenberg, C., Late Writings, ed. Robert C.               Thomas Crow, Michael Fried, Serge Guilbaut,
    Morgan, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota           Fred Orton and Griselda Pollock, among
    Press, 2003.                                           others).
                                                        Fried, M., Art and Objecthood, Chicago: Chicago
                                                           University Press, 1998.
 Secondary literature
                                                        Jones, C. A., Eyesight Alone: Clement Greenberg’s
 Bois, Y.-A. and Krauss, R., Formless: A User’s            Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the
    Guide, Zone Books, Cambridge: MIT Press,               Senses, Chicago: Chicago University Press,
    1996.                                                  2005.
 Costello, D., ‘Greenberg’s Kant and the Fate           Krauss, R., The Optical Unconscious, October
    of Aesthetics in Contemporary Art Theory’,             Books, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1993.
    Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 65,   Kuspit, D., Clement Greenberg: Art Critic,
    no. 2 (Spring 2007).                                   Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1979.




ROSALIND KRAUSS
(1940–)
Rosalind Krauss’s substantial and varied                her early articulation of a postmodernist
body of writing is characterized by a rigorous          reading of twentieth-century art. Combining
consideration of form linked to an ongoing              breathtaking scope with a combative stance
interrogation of theoretical method. With               that oscillates between refreshing and
particular attention to sculpture, and later            alarming, she has deployed her theoretical
photography, she countered a modernist                  arsenal to take apart assumptions about
approach centered around painting with                  originality and authenticity, and the
79                                                                             ROSALIND KRAUSS


application of these categories to the             experience of its opposite: simultaneity
construction of the artist’s oeuvre. She has       always containing an implicit experience of
also made significant contributions as an           sequence’; this is relevant to her expanded
editor, curator, teacher and translator.           definition of the medium of sculpture,
   Krauss began her career in the circle of        ‘located at the juncture between stillness
CLEMENT GREENBERG, a connection that               and motion, time arrested and time passing’
she, like MICHAEL FRIED, established while         (PMS, p. 5). Key points of reference include
pursuing graduate work at Harvard. The             both Ludwig Wittgenstein’s emphasis on
most obvious fruit of this association was her     meaning as inseparable from the lived use of
dissertation on David Smith, completed in          language and MAURICE MERLEAU-PONTY’s
1969 and published in 1971. Starting in 1966       insistence on the primacy of unfolding
she also joined Fried as a regular writer for      perception over a-priori abstractions.
Artforum, publishing reviews and then longer       Repetition, already hinted at by Auguste
articles in which one can trace her move           Rodin’s recycling of key figures, becomes
away from Greenberg’s critical method and          explicit in the serial logic of Donald Judd’s
approved list of artists. The more dramatic        progressions and many other works read
statement of their break appeared, however,        by Krauss according to an experience of
in a 1974 Art in America article, ‘Changing the    exteriority, an understanding of meaning
Work of David Smith’, in which she outlined        found not in reference to a private self, but
a series of decisions after Smith’s death to       in the ‘sum of our visible gestures’ (PMS, p.
transform sculptures that he had left primed       270). The precipitating force is suggested
but without their final coats of paint, either by   by the book’s second illustration, ROBERT
stripping the primer or by leaving the works       SMITHSON’s Spiral Jetty, which, along with
outside, prey to forces of nature that would       the work of Richard Serra, compelled
gradually achieve the same end. In making          Krauss to articulate a definition of sculpture
the decision to strip the works, Greenberg         that could account for the impact of their
brought the sculptures into line with his          work.
aesthetic preference for surfaces free from           The reading of earlier work against
applied colour; and in revealing his decision      insights gained from the experience of
to do so, Krauss demonstrated the degree           minimalist and post-minimalist work in
to which his power as a critic had declined        Passages in Modern Sculpture is an example
in the face of the rise of the very artistic       of a tendency that runs through Krauss’s
practices to which Krauss had turned her           criticism: the recognition of a shift, often tied
attention.                                         to a particular historical moment, forces a
   Krauss’s 1977 Passages in Modern                reconsideration of the critical tools brought
Sculpture [PMS] opens with the example of          to its assessment; yet once recognized, she
Gotthold Lessing’s treatise on the Laocoön,        looks for evidence of the same approach
also a starting point for Greenberg’s early        across a broad chronological spectrum. This
statements about the purity or uniqueness          dynamic is fully apparent in a number of the
of medium. Krauss, however, uses Laocoön           essays published in the late 1970s and early
to argue for the inseparability of space and       1980s, and brought together in The Originality
time in the experience of modern sculpture.        of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths.
Her theoretical allegiance at this point was       The essay ‘Grids’, for example, describes
twofold – phenomenology and structural             a particular kind of flatness that resists
linguistics – in both of which, she claims,        narrative by suggesting the spatial logic of
‘meaning is understood to depend on the way        structuralist readings of myth. ‘Notes on
that any form of being contains the latent         the Index’ opens by citing various practices
ROSALIND KRAUSS                                                                               80


of the 1970s as a motivation for deploying        to publish speculative or theoretical
the linguistic category of the shifter, and the   arguments not sustained elsewhere.
idea of the index, but quickly turns to Marcel       Key aspects of this political agenda have
Duchamp. And there is GEORGES BATAILLE’s          been an insistent attention to the discipline
concept of the informe, and Krauss’s related      of art history and criticism itself, including
emphasis on the horizontal, that appears          the various ways in which a rhetoric of
in ‘No More Play’ and continues to orient         authenticity is embedded in market forces,
much subsequent work. On the other hand,          and a focus on the institutional structures
part of the enduring power of ‘Sculpture          of the art world. A rift with Douglas Crimp
in the Expanded Field’ is the specificity of       in the late 1980s, however, indicated
her application of a structuralist diagram        Krauss’s resistance to another emergent
adapted from A. J. Greimas to an array of         area of criticism centered around issues of
earthworks and related phenomena that             identity. Here an undercurrent of Greenberg
takes off from sculpture (not-landscape           reappears. While Krauss does not make
and not-architecture) to include marked           judgments of quality the primary goal of the
sites (landscape and not-landscape)               critic, a sense of threat to formal complexity
and site-constructions (landscape and             is registered by her resistance, in turn, to
architecture). Understood in relation to this     ‘identity politics’, and the analysis of art
diagram, modernist autonomy is not so             as part of a broader visual culture. Even
much contested as undermined, as its logic        when Krauss published a book comprised
occupies one point in a range of possibilities,   entirely of essays on women artists, she
and this array in turn opens up comparisons       simultaneously suggested her aversion to
to the site-embedded nature of earlier            such framing through the title Bachelors
monument traditions.                              (drawn from a work by Sherrie Levine that
   Although elements of structuralism             recontextualized forms from the bachelor
persist, Krauss’s articulation of                 section of Duchamp’s Large Glass).
postmodernism during this period is                  Krauss’s reach as a critic has also been
increasingly linked to French theoretical         extended by her work as a curator, with
discourse, including deconstruction, which        several important publications linked to
also came to characterize the journal October     major exhibitions. L’Amour Fou, co-organized
that Krauss and Annette Michelson joined          and written with Jane Livingston, reoriented
forces to found in 1976. The decision was         the study of Surrealism by insisting on the
precipitated by conflicts about Artforum’s         centrality of photography to a movement
editorial direction, as well as a notorious       previously framed around painting and
advertisement by Lynda Benglis, nude with         sculpture. In 1994 she and Thomas Krens
a dildo, in the November 1974 issue (seen by      organized Robert Morris: The Mind/Body
many as a rejoinder to ROBERT MORRIS’s            Problem for the Guggenheim Museum,
macho display in a poster for his 1974            New York, entering into disputes about
exhibition at the Castelli and Sonnabend          the significance of his work so entrenched
Galleries). Taking its name from a Sergei         that the catalogue already contains David
Eisenstein film in which revolutionary             Antin’s rebuttal to a condemnation of
politics were presented through an equally        Morris’s stylistic inconsistency that Roberta
radical aesthetic, and carrying on its cover      Smith would revive in her New York Times
the heading ‘Art / Theory / Criticism /           review of the show. Krauss’s contribution to
Politics’, October announced a programme          the catalogue also used Bataille’s critical
for criticism that would use the format of a      dictionary as a model open to unexpected
quarterly, not beholden to gallery advertising,   juxtapositions – thereby continuing the
81                                                                           ROSALIND KRAUSS


refusal of transparency most pronounced           attention to art’s ‘post-medium condition’
in The Optical Unconscious, which is marked       is clearly a post-conceptual return, yet
by the interplay between a dizzying array         it also reprises her early interest in the
of examples and the interruption of a more        play between stillness and movement,
anecdotal ‘counter-text’ in italics. Yet this     now identified as the medium for James
extension of her interest in form into an         Coleman’s slide projections. While it is
increasingly evident engagement with the          impossible to reduce Krauss’s substantial
shape of the argument itself, combined            body of work to a single perspective, there
with the sheer number of references to            are, as this example suggests, a number of
sometimes disparate theoretical models, can       interrelated concerns.
work against the clarity that distinguished          One, evident in her engagement with
her early essays.                                 postmodernism and the culture of the copy,
   The ongoing importance of Bataille, and        reads backwards to encompass the role of
particularly the informe, or ‘formless’, as       repetition in the work of Rodin or Ingres,
a counterpoint to modernist formalism,            or the related issue of pastiche that runs
is central to her collaboration with Yves-        through The Picasso Papers, and forwards
Alain Bois on L’Informe: Mode d’emploi at         into photographic work of the 1980s. Then
the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris in           there is the ongoing consideration of spatial
1996. There they take Bataille’s formless         implications, found in the phenomenological
as an interpretative frame not just for work      reading of minimalism or earthworks, but
of the 1920s and 1930s (where it operates         also evident in an attention to orientation that
counter to André Breton), but also for a          appears in her consideration of Duchamp’s
rereading that cuts across twentieth-century      Fountain, rotated to its back on a pedestal,
art through four associations with the            Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings, removed
informe – horizontality, base materialism,        from the floor to the wall, or the horizontality
pulse and entropy – that are opposed              of Cindy Sherman’s body within many of her
to a modernist emphasis on verticality,           most provocative photographs. Or there is
visuality, instantaneity and sublimation. The     the continuation of her early engagement
application of an idea generated in response      with time in the idea of the pulse and other
to circumstances of the 1930s to work of the      interruptions to a modernist emphasis on
1980s and 1990s need not be considered            pure visuality. Finally, the reiteration of
arbitrary, however, since by that time Bataille   these interpretative models in Art Since
had been the subject of a major critical          1990, produced in collaboration with October
revival spearheaded by critics associated with    colleagues HAL FOSTER, Yves-Alain Bois and
October.                                          BENJAMIN H. D. BUCHLOH, demonstrates
   In several essays of the late 1990s,           the degree to which Krauss has stamped her
including ‘A Voyage on the North Sea’, Krauss     imprint on the interpretation of twentieth-
returns to her early contest with Greenberg       century art.
in a re-examination of medium despite the
dissolution of modernist categories. This                                     MARTHA BUSKIRK
ROSALIND KRAUSS                                                                                         82




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                         Krauss, R. (with Bois, Yves-Alain), Formless:
                                                         A User’s Guide, New York: Zone Books,
                                                         Cambridge: MIT Press, 1997.
 Primary literature                                   Krauss, R., The Picasso Papers, New York: Farrar,
 Krauss, R., Terminal Iron Works: The Sculpture of       Straus & Giroux, 1998.
    David Smith, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1971.          Krauss, R., ‘A Voyage on the North Sea’: Art in the
 Krauss, R., Passages in Modern Sculpture,               Age of the Post-Medium Condition, London:
    Cambridge: MIT Press, 1977.                          Thames & Hudson, 1999.
 Krauss, R., The Originality of the Avant-Garde and   Krauss, R. (with Foster, Hal, Bois, Yves-Alain
    Other Modernist Myths, Cambridge: MIT Press,         and Buchloh, Benjamin H. D.), Art Since 1900:
    1985.                                                Modernism, Antimodernism, Postmodernism,
 Krauss, R. (with Livingston, Jane), L’Amour Fou:        London: Thames & Hudson, 2004.
    Photography & Surrealism, Washington, D.C.:
    Corcoran Gallery of Art, New York: Abbeville
                                                      Secondary literature
    Press, 1985.
 Krauss, R., The Optical Unconscious, Cambridge:      Newman, A., Challenging Art: Artforum, 1962–
    MIT Press, 1993.                                     1974, New York: Soho Press, 2000.
 Krauss, R. (with Krens, Thomas), Robert              Carrier, D., Rosalind Krauss and American
    Morris: The Mind/Body Problem, New York:             Philosophical Art Criticism, Westport: Praeger,
    Guggenheim Museum Foundation, 1994.                  2002.




W. J. T. MITCHELL (1942–)
W. J. T. Mitchell teaches English and art                In Blake’s Composite Art (1978), an
history at the University of Chicago, where           expansion of his Johns Hopkins doctoral
since 1978 he has also been the editor of             dissertation in English, Mitchell analyzed
Critical Inquiry, one of the leading journals of      the interaction of words and images in the
interdisciplinary research in the humanities          illuminated books of the English poet and
and social sciences. Through a substantial            painter. This specific problem led him to the
body of work, Mitchell has emerged as one             more general themes of Iconology (hereafter,
of the foremost scholars of the interplay             Ic; 1986). In using the term iconology, Mitchell
between language and vision in literature,            did not intend to resort to its familiar art
art and media. In particular, his ideas have          historical connotation as the interpretation
had a profound impact on the way we think             of the meaning of works of art in their
about the visual arts and about the visual            cultural context. Instead, he transformed
in general, playing a crucial role in creating        iconology into a reflection on the answers of
a new (and at times hotly debated) field of            a wide variety of authors to two fundamental
study: visual culture (or ‘visual studies’).          questions: ‘i) What is an image? ii) What is the
83                                                                               W. J. T. MITCHELL


difference between images and words?’ (Ic,          representational objects in which images
p. 1). Mitchell examined ancient optics, Plato,     appear’ – Picture Theory (hereafter PT; 1994,
Aristotle, Hume, Locke and Wittgenstein, and        p. 4), his most influential book to date. For
focused on Goodman, Gombrich, Lessing,              Mitchell, this shift to pictures was a way to
Burke and Marx. As a result, he put forward         address what he called the ‘pictorial turn’
the following three related claims.                 in contemporary public culture and critical
                                                    theory – the anxiously and ‘widely shared
(i)   It is impossible to provide a true and
                                                    notion that visual images have replaced
      universally valid definition of the image
                                                    words as the dominant mode of expression in
      based on its ‘essential difference’ from
                                                    our time’ (WDPW, p. 5).
      words (Ic, p. 49). The arguments and
                                                       Mitchell contests the commonplace
      oppositions typically used to try to do
                                                    assumption that in the contemporary age
      so (nature vs. convention; space vs.
                                                    everything is visual. For him, the pictorial
      time; eye vs. ear) can easily be reversed,
                                                    turn is ‘a postlinguistic, postsemiotic
      and the characteristics claimed to be
                                                    rediscovery of the picture as a complex
      exclusive to images can be shown to be
                                                    interplay between visuality, apparatus,
      pertinent also to words.
                                                    institutions, discourse, bodies and
(ii) A true and universally valid theory of
                                                    figurality’ (PT, p. 16). Importantly relying on
      the essential difference between images
                                                    Wittgenstein and FOUCAULT (especially as
      and words is impossible because each
                                                    interpreted by DELEUZE), Mitchell claims
      theory of images is ultimately based on
                                                    that pictures are and have always been
      systems of beliefs and ‘conceptions of
                                                    involved in an ‘inextricable weaving together’
      social, cultural, and political value’ (Ic,
                                                    and ‘imbrication’ with language (PT, p. 83).
      p. 2) – ideologies – that are historically
                                                    The implications of this claim are far-
      specific. Thus, the task of the iconologist
                                                    reaching and can be defined as follows:
      is both to critique the analytic rigour of
      those theories, and to understand the         (i)   ‘there are no “purely” visual or verbal
      manifold ‘values’ that ‘terms like nature           arts’ (PT, p. 5): ‘all arts are “composite
      and convention, space and time, the                 arts” (both text and image)’ (PT, pp.
      visual and the aural’ ‘enforce and screen           94–95; cf. this in opposition to CLEMENT
      off’ in each given context (Ic, p. 154).            GREENBERG and MICHAEL FRIED);
(iii) Not only are the analytic terms of the-       (ii) ‘all media are mixed media, combining
      ories of images always value-laden, but             different codes, discursive conventions,
      the idea of ‘the image’ itself mobilizes            channels, sensory and cognitive modes’
      deeply felt emotions, which make it a               (PT, p. 95).
      very peculiar scientific object, seemingly     (iii) Because ‘the interaction of pictures and
      impossible to treat with scholarly                  texts is constitutive of representation
      detachment. Thus, iconology ‘turned                 as such . . . all representations are
      out to be, not just the science of icons,           heterogeneous’ (PT, p. 5).
      but the political psychology of icons, the
      study of iconophobia, iconophilia, and           By means of these claims, Mitchell
      the struggle between iconoclasm and           intended to make possible two key tasks:
      idolatry’ (Ic, p. 3; What Do Pictures Want?
                                                    (a) to conceive the relation between pictures
      [WDPW] will develop this perspective).
                                                        and language not as binary, but as
  After studying theories of the image as               dynamic and dialectical, and therefore
such, Mitchell turned to the analysis of a          (b) to analyze how, and in the name of what
wide-ranging set of pictures – ‘the concrete,           values, in different historical contexts
W. J. T. MITCHELL                                                                               84


    and conditions, pictures and language          problems. In 1995, Mitchell was invited to
    peacefully co-operate (for instance            present his perspective in Art Bulletin, the
    illustrated newspapers and cartoon             voice of tradition in the English-speaking
    pages); how they seem to ignore each           art history academic community, published
    other (the photographic essays of the          by the College Art Association of America,
    photographer Walker Evans and the              which in 1996 also awarded Picture Theory
    writer James Agee); or how they fight           the prestigious Morey Prize for ‘an especially
    and want to repress each other and yet         distinguished book in the history of art’.
    always require and give life to each other        Second, in 1996 in a special issue
    (such as abstract painting’s rejection         (no. 77) of October, the journal of radical
    of discourse and yet its dependence on         postmodernism, reacted with much more
    theory for being viewed and understood,        alarm to visual culture. For Krauss, scholars
    ever since the writings of the early           of visual culture, because they do not focus
    abstractionists up to the criticism            on the concrete aesthetic specificity of
    of Greenberg, Fried and ROSALIND               artworks, must rely on a ‘non-materialist’
    KRAUSS).                                       conception of the image as ‘disembodied’
                                                   (October 77, p. 96); and such a conception
   Mitchell formulated his claims not only         is ultimately shaped by the kind of images
with regard to the masterpieces of the history     produced with ever growing pervasiveness
of art, but extended them from Velázquez           by the ‘electronic media’ that ‘are now
to MAD magazine cartoons, from Malevich            reorganizing vast segments of the global
to Spike Lee, from ROBERT MORRIS to                economy’ (ibid., p. 84). For HAL FOSTER,
CNN news. This was not because Mitchell            visual culture’s concentration on these
wanted to level the distinction between art        mass-mediated images is a ‘commodity-
and non-art, but because the questions             image fetishism’ (ibid., p. 117) that obscures
he asked about the nature of pictures              the degree to which they are ‘fundamental’
and of their relationship to language cut          ‘to capitalist spectacle’ (ibid., p. 107). Thus,
across traditional disciplinary divisions          for October, visual culture ‘is helping . . .
and ‘strategies of containment’, in order to       to produce subjects for the next stage of
address ‘the need for a global critique of         globalized capital’ (ibid., p. 25).
visual culture’ (PT, p. 16) – a ‘visual culture’      On his part, in the same issue of October,
that includes both artistic and ‘vernacular’       Mitchell pursued a question that would
pictures.                                          become his latest book: What Do Pictures
   This expansion of the area and problems         Want? (2005). Mitchell meant to shift attention
to investigate in the realm of the visual has      from the interpretation of the meaning,
deeply affected other scholars. In fact, Picture   artistic value or ideology of pictures to how
Theory and Mitchell’s subsequent work have         human beings attribute agency, subjectivity
been decisive in establishing ‘visual culture’     and even life to both immaterial images and
as a field of enquiry in its own right, which by    their materializations in concrete pictures
now has a recognizable institutional profile        (artistic and non-artistic), and how, therefore,
with publications, journals and university         images and pictures are the source and
programmes across the world. Art history           target of love and desire, but also fear and
responded in different ways to Mitchell’s          hatred. Three main points emerge from the
work.                                              book.
   First, some quarters quickly welcomed              First, Mitchell does not look down
Mitchell and his challenge to think about          on responses to images and pictures
art within a broader field of objects and           that transform them into subjects to be
85                                                                                       W. J. T. MITCHELL


worshipped (idolatry), hated and destroyed               in the world as pictures’; the medium of
(iconoclasm), obsessed over (fetishism) or               painting, for instance, is thus ‘not just the
out of which social bonds can be created                 canvas and the paint . . . but the stretcher
(totemism). Instead, Mitchell makes these                and the studio, the gallery, the museum,
responses the core of his historical and                 the collector, and the dealer-critic system’
theoretical reflections, and turns them into              (WDPW, p. 198).
the key analytical tools to approach the ‘lives             Finally, the notion of the visual as a ‘social
and loves of images’, showing – through                  field’ (WDPW, p. 47) is central for Mitchell,
examples that range from the biblical Golden             who claims that one of the most important
Calf to abstract art up to the cloned sheep              contributions of the study of ‘visual culture’
Dolly – that these reactions have been with              is not only the understanding of ‘the social
us since time immemorial, but are still very             construction of the visual field’, but of ‘the
much alive, albeit in sometimes disguised                visual construction of the social field’ (WDPW,
and sophisticated forms. (For Mitchell,                  p. 345). ‘Looking’, Mitchell insists with Lacan
who discusses among others Greenberg,                    and Sartre, is first and foremost looking at
Fried, Krauss and Foster, modernist and                  others and being looked at by others. This
postmodernist reactions to art and mass                  intersubjective looking, which is also fraught
media incorporate the gamut of idolatry,                 with intense positive and negative affects,
iconoclasm, fetishism and totemism.)                     is constitutive of individual and then social
   Second, in exploring the conditions that              identity (and to some extent, of human
enable the life of images and pictures,                  nature). This is why for Mitchell it is essential
Mitchell attributes a crucial role to their              to explore our more specialized looking at
medium, which he proposes to conceive in                 images and pictures as encounters with other
an expanded field as ‘habitat or ecosystem’.              subjects rather than just with objects, and to
By so doing, he questions ‘the received                  ask What Do Pictures Want?
idea that a medium has something called                     The first reactions to these claims (Holly,
“specificity”’ (cf. Greenberg, Fried and                  Mirzoeff, Bryson) clearly indicate that
Krauss). For Mitchell, ‘the medium is more               Mitchell’s work will continue to be a major
than the material . . . more than simply                 force to reckon with for those who study the
the image plus the support’: the medium                  visual arts and visual culture.
includes ‘the entire range of practices that
make it possible for images to be embodied                                              RICCARDO MARCHI



 BIBLIOGRAPHY
                                                         Mitchell, W. J. T., Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal
                                                            and Visual Representation, Chicago: University
 Primary literature
                                                            of Chicago Press, 1994.
 Mitchell, W. J. T., Blake’s Composite Art: A Study      Mitchell, W. J. T., ‘Interdisciplinarity and Visual
    of the Illuminated Poetry, Princeton: Princeton         Culture’, The Art Bulletin vol. 77 no. 4
    University Press, 1978.                                 (December 1995), pp. 540–44.
 Mitchell, W. J. T., Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology,   Mitchell, W. J. T., The Last Dinosaur Book: The
    Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986.             Life and Times of a Cultural Icon, Chicago:
 Mitchell, W. J. T., Landscape and Power, Chicago:          University of Chicago Press, 1998.
    University of Chicago Press, 1994/2002 (a            Mitchell, W. J. T., What Do Pictures Want? The
    collection of essays edited by Mitchell; two by         Lives and Loves of Images, Chicago: University
    himself).                                               of Chicago Press, 2005.
W. J. T. MITCHELL                                                                                        86




 Secondary literature                                    Institute, 2002 (Mitchell, Pollock, Stephen
                                                         Melville, Foster, David Carrier).
 In parentheses, the authors of key essays            Mirzoeff, N., The Visual Culture Reader, London:
     appearing in these volumes:                         Routledge, 1998/2002.
 Bryson, N., ‘Their So-Called Life’, Artforum 44      October 77 (Summer 1996) (nineteen responses
     (November 2005), pp. 27–28.                         to a ‘Questionnaire on Visual Culture’;
 Dikovitskaya, M., Visual Culture: The Study of the      Mitchell, Krauss, Foster).
     Visual After the Cultural Turn, Cambridge: MIT   ‘Responses to Mieke Bal’s “Visual Essentialism
     Press, 2005.                                        and the Object of Visual Culture”’, Journal
 Holly, M. A. and Moxey, K. (eds), Art History,          of Visual Culture 2 (Aug 2003), pp. 229–68
     Aesthetics, Visual Studies, Williamstown,           (Mitchell, Norman Bryson, Elkins, Michael
     Mass.: Sterling and Francine Clark Art              Ann Holly, Pollock and Bal.)




LINDA NOCHLIN (1931–)
Linda Nochlin was one of the main                     political and philosophical commitment
protagonists of American feminist art                 which can utilize a number of specific
history and theory in the late 1960s. She has         strategies of interpretation, whether these
since become one of the most influential               are drawn from Marxist theories of ideology,
art historians of the late twentieth century.         structural linguistics, psychoanalysis or
Nochlin, born in Brooklyn, New York, in               more traditional art historical methods of
1931, began her career as a graduate                  pictorial and iconographic analysis. Broadly,
student in the late 1950s at the Institute of         however, Nochlin can be identified with the
Fine Arts, New York University (her current           social history of art, despite her criticism
institution); her first research project was the       of this academic tradition for consistently
political significance of Gustave Courbet’s            prioritizing the historical over the visual (‘The
mid-nineteenth-century realist aesthetic.             Politics of Vision’, 1989).
It was in 1969 while teaching at Vassar                  In 1971, Nochlin published the essay for
College (previously a women’s university)             which she is most well known: ‘Why Have
that Nochlin became a committed feminist              There Been No Great Women Artists?’ Her
and instigated the discipline’s first course in        basic thesis laid the foundations for an
feminist art history, for which she gleaned           emerging feminist critique of art history
methodological tools from more established            that has maintained a lasting impact on
feminist critiques in the disciplines of              the discipline. Since the polemical essay
literature, sociology, psychology and history.        of 1971 Nochlin’s writings have functioned
She has remained committed to ‘questioning            as an accessible barometer of discursive
the possibility of a single methodology’              developments in the field of feminist theory,
(‘Memoirs of an Ad Hoc Art Historian’, 1999),         not least when compared to the writings of
arguing that feminist art history is a general        British art historian GRISELDA POLLOCK,
87                                                                                LINDA NOCHLIN


her principal respondent. Nochlin’s feminism         the social conditions of contemporary
was formed in the political context of the           experience. In a discursive context still
US equal-rights movement, according to               dominated by the modernist aesthetics
which, women constituted the oppressed               and formalist orthodoxy identified with
half of a binary seeking equality under the          CLEMENT GREENBERG, Nochlin argued for
existing system of liberal democracy. She has        both the political significance of art objects
described her project as ‘thinking art history       (their formal properties in particular) and
Otherly’ (‘The Politics of Vision’, 1989). Critics   a pictorial mode that included experience
of Nochlin have claimed that without a more          rather than abstracting it. Ultimately, for
systematic (i.e. Marxist) model for political        Nochlin, realism signalled democracy: the
change, the discipline of art history and the        representation of the under-represented.
position of women more generally can only be            In the same year Nochlin produced her
reformed, not transformed.                           most significant contribution to the history
   Nochlin’s interrelated research areas             of art history (text ii). ‘Why Have There Been
may be categorized as follows: (i) realism           No Great Women Artists?’ was an insistent
as an aesthetic category; (ii) nineteenth-           question demanding a methodologically
century art; (iii) women’s artistic practice;        credible feminist response. For Nochlin,
(iv) the female body in visual representation;       there had been no great women artists
(v) the representation of ethnic identity.           and all attempts to claim otherwise would
Principally an essayist, her major work has          fail by ultimately reinforcing the dominant
been published in a series of collections            perception of women’s inferiority. In the con-
(Women, Art and Power, 1988; The Politics            temporary climate of emergent feminist art
of Vision, 1989; Representing Women, 1999)           history this seemed like a terrible betrayal.
demonstrating the development of her                 Contemporary feminism was committed
ideas on the politics of representation over         either to (i) reintroducing forgotten women
four decades. A number of these interests            artists to the Western canon or (ii) claiming
originated in Nochlin’s influential writings          a different kind of greatness for women.
of 1971–72: (i) Realism, 1971; (ii) ‘Why Have        (Nochlin enacted a reversal of her position
There Been No Great Women Artists?’,                 on (i) when in 1976 she co-produced an
1971; (iii) ‘Eroticism and Female Imagery in         exhibition and book cataloguing the biography
Nineteenth-Century Art’, 1972.                       and work of ‘Women Artists: 1550–1950’.)
   Though aimed at a general reader,                    Nochlin answered her own question by
Realism (text i) was a historical analysis           locating in social repression the historical
of the dominant mid-nineteenth-century               causes of women’s lack: institutional
pictorial idiom that demonstrated Nochlin’s          discriminations, cultural prejudices and
philosophical engagement with the nature of          psychological formations. Nochlin’s call to
mimetic representation, informed by Roman            substitute mythic constructions of artistic
Jakobson’s structural linguistics. Balancing         creation for sociological analysis linked her
its claims to objective empiricism with              work to that of contemporaries ROLAND
reference to pictorial conventions, including        BARTHES, MICHEL FOUCAULT and PIERRE
metonymic devices (chains of contiguous              BOURDIEU. Nochlin insisted that ‘the woman
meaning generated by the smallest pictorial          question’ must not remain on the academic
detail – Jakobson had identified metonymy             margins; it must become paradigmatic
as typical of all realist literature), Nochlin       for disciplinary change: ‘a catalyst, a
championed realism (particularly Courbet’s           potent intellectual instrument, probing the
‘materialist’ and ‘democratic’ realism), for         most basic and “natural” assumptions of
its commitment, if not ability, to represent         all intellectual inquiry’. As a result, she
LINDA NOCHLIN                                                                                  88


predicted, the position of women artists and      commodification and exchange of women’s
art history would be transformed.                 bodies in Parisian society. Nochlin has
   Nochlin’s 1972 essay (text iii) focused on     extended her concern for the sexual politics
erotic representations of the female body.        of representation to the politics of ethnicity,
She argued for (i) the social as opposed          arguing that there is no transparent
to personal basis of erotic fantasy; (ii)         relationship between the subject position
connections to be made between the                of the artist and the representation of
representation of women as sexual objects         ethnic identity – anti-Semitic artists do not
in artistic and ‘popular’ imagery; and (iii)      necessarily produce anti-Semitic images
consideration of the dominant audience            (‘Degas and the Dreyfus Affair’, 1989; The
for sexually explicit images: ‘the very term      Jew in the Text, 1995). In her most ambitious
“erotic art” is understood to imply the           essay to date, Nochlin returned to the subject
specification “erotic-for-men”’. (The last         of her original research, Gustave Courbet
claim was certainly reductive, but more           (‘Courbet’s Real Allegory’, 1988). Nochlin
nuanced theories of ‘the gaze’ as developed       structured this essay as a binary opposition.
by feminist film theorists including Laura         ‘As an art historian’ she argued for the radical
Mulvey had yet to be formulated.) The             significance of Courbet’s art in the political
female body’s sexual objectification for a         climate of the Second Empire (1852–70) and
male viewer was not, according to Nochlin,        ‘as a feminist’ informed by psychoanalytical
the result of a male conspiracy; it was a         theory she critiqued her ‘art-historical’
reflection ‘in the realm of art of woman’s         subject position by arguing against Courbet’s
lack of her own erotic territory’. Notoriously,   phallocentric approach to the representation
Nochlin illustrated this claim by juxtaposing a   of the female body.
photograph she herself had made of a semi-           As might be expected, many of Nochlin’s
naked man holding a tray of bananas close         critics have been unsympathetic to feminist
to his exposed genitals with a nineteenth-        politics. Others, including T. J. CLARK
century photograph of a semi-naked woman          and MICHAEL FRIED have implicitly or
holding a tray of apples (thereby reversing       explicitly detected an overly simplistic
the conventional association in popular and       identification of political radicalism with
artistic imagery of breasts with fruit). Again    pictorial avant-gardism in Nochlin’s work
Nochlin made a bold prediction that feminism      on Courbet. Criticism has also come from
would produce an imminent change in the           within the field of feminist art history. In
nature of erotic imagery: ‘the growing power      1974, Marxist-feminist Lise Vogel critiqued
of woman in the politics of both sex and art      the photographic reversal Nochlin enacted
is bound to revolutionize the realm of erotic     in 1972 (text iii), arguing that substituting
representation’.                                  women’s sexual exploitation for that of
   In the many essays published since             men’s ultimately maintained the system of
the polemical writings of the early 1970s,        ‘alienated and objectified sexual relations’
Nochlin has developed a large body of work        (‘Fine Arts and Feminism’, p. 21). In 1977,
analyzing the sexual politics of nineteenth-      Nochlin’s most consistent respondent,
century art. In ‘Lost and Found’ (1978)           Griselda Pollock, claimed that the value of
Nochlin analyzed the pictorial means by           this reversal was precisely its failure, since
which sexual ideologies were constructed in       ‘there is a basic asymmetry, inscribed into
Victorian paintings. Conversely, in ‘Manet’s      the language of visual representation which
Masked Ball at the Opera’ (1983) she claimed      such reversals serve to expose’ (‘What’s
that Manet used pictorial synecdoche              Wrong with “Images of Women”’, p. 137).
(or body fragments) to deconstruct the            Both were, in effect, criticizing the binary
89                                                                                   LINDA NOCHLIN


opposition model of gender relations to which       bourgeois’ feminism had lead her to reinforce
Nochlin subscribed.                                 both the criterion of artistic value and ‘the
   In Old Mistresses (1981) Pollock and co-         patriarchal definition of man as the norm
author Roszika Parker took up the issues            of humanity, woman as the disadvantaged
of Nochlin’s 1971 polemic (text ii). They           other’ (‘Vision, Voice and Power’, p. 50).
argued that had the institutional and other         Clearly, the different political roots and
historical restraints that Nochlin proposed         interests of US and British feminism were
been effective then there would have                seen to be implicated in Nochlin’s and
been no women artists. The implication              Pollock’s different approaches to the issue of
being that Nochlin had inadvertently                women artists.
reproduced modernist art history’s refusal to          The feminist critique Nochlin helped to
acknowledge the existence of women artists.         instigate has not only functioned as a catalyst
Ultimately, Parker and Pollock argued that          for broader disciplinary change, but has also
the category of negative femininity functioned      placed feminist issues at the centre of the
to constitute the discourse of art history itself   discipline (despite the general decline in
and therefore a ‘total deconstruction of the        political activism among Western feminists).
discipline is needed in order to arrive at a real   It remains, however, a matter of debate and
understanding of the history of women and           political philosophy whether one considers
art’ (Old Mistresses, p. 48). This would entail     the disciplinary practices of art and art
the dismantling, not reformation, of ‘the           history to have been simply reformed or more
ideological structures of which discrimination      radically transformed as a result of Linda
is but a symptom’. In 1982 Pollock                  Nochlin’s contribution.
reconfirmed the Marxist-feminist basis of
her critique, claiming that Nochlin’s ‘liberal                                   FRANCESCA BERRY



 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                       Secondary literature
                                                    Clark, T. J., Image of the People: Gustave Courbet
 Primary literature                                    and the 1848 Revolution, London: Thames &
                                                       Hudson, 1973.
 Nochlin, L., Realism, New York: Penguin Books,
                                                    D’Souza, A., Self and History: A Tribute to Linda
   1971.
                                                       Nochlin, London: Thames & Hudson, 2000.
 Nochlin, L., Women, Art and Power, New York:
                                                    Fried, M., Courbet’s Realism, Chicago: University
   Harper & Row, 1988 (includes ‘Eroticism and
                                                       of Chicago Press, 1990.
   Female Imagery in Nineteenth-Century Art’;
                                                    Parker, R. and Pollock, G., Old Mistresses:
   ‘Lost and Found’; ‘Why Have There Been No
                                                       Women, Art and Ideology, London:
   Great Women Artists?’).
                                                       HarperCollins, 1981.
 Nochlin, L., The Politics of Vision: Essays on
                                                    Pollock, G., ‘What’s Wrong with “Images of
   Nineteenth-Century Art and Society, New York:
                                                       Women”’, (1977) in eds R. Parker and G.
   Harper & Row, 1989 (includes ‘Degas and the
                                                       Pollock, Framing Feminism: Art and the
   Dreyfus Affair’; ‘Manet’s Masked Ball at the
                                                       Women’s Movement 1970–1985, London:
   Opera’).
                                                       Pandora Press, 1987.
 Nochlin, L., and Garb, T. (eds), The Jew in
                                                    Pollock, G., Vision and Difference: Feminism,
   the Text: Modernity and the Construction
                                                       Femininity and the Histories of Art, London:
   of Identity, London: Thames & Hudson,
                                                       Routledge, 1988 (includes ‘Vision, Voice and
   1995.
                                                       Power: Feminist Art Histories and Marxism’,
 Nochlin, L., Representing Women, London:
                                                       1982).
   Thames & Hudson, 1999 (includes ‘Courbet’s
                                                    Vogel, L., ‘Fine Arts and Feminism: The
   Real Allegory’).
                                                       Awakening Consciousness’, Feminist Studies
                                                       vol. 2, no. 1 (1974).
GRISELDA POLLOCK                                                                               90




GRISELDA POLLOCK
(1949–)
After studying modern history at Oxford           of art generate cultural meanings and help
University in the late 1960s, Griselda            produce and reproduce social relations. As
Pollock took up the study of art history at       Professor of Social and Critical Histories
the Courtauld Institute, London. Faced with       of Art at the University of Leeds, Pollock
what she saw at the time as the intellectual      continues to bring together (i) a consideration
poverty of ‘institutionally dominant’ art         of the historical and social conditions at
history, and motivated particularly by            the time the art was being made or viewed,
feminist objections to many of the discipline’s   and (ii) an examination of the way individual
assumptions, Pollock set about examining          subjects conceive of themselves, and relate
the silences and prejudices embedded within       to society and the cultural products around
art historical research and debate. Since 1977    them.
she has produced a number of influential              Fervently contradicting T. J. Clark’s
feminist rereadings of canonical modernist        assertion in 1974 – that feminist enquiry
artists and their marginalized female peers.      is merely a fashionable supplement to art
She is also known for her theoretical volumes     historical analysis – Pollock has always
and collaborative work with Roszika Parker        insisted that it is of central importance to any
and Fred Orton, and critical accounts of          critical understanding of both art and culture.
contemporary female artists and thinkers,         While acknowledging the value of Marxism’s
such as MARY KELLY, Eva Hesse and JULIA           central tenet – that society is structured by
KRISTEVA.                                         relations of material inequality – Pollock
   Pollock was galvanized by the ‘social’         contends that it is equally structured by
art history of T. J. CLARK in 1973. She also      sexual inequality and gender divisions,
pursued other theoretical trajectories outside    considerations which are often neglected
the discipline, both within the politically       by Marxist analysis (Vision and Difference
engaged debates of the women’s movement           [VaD], 1988). There is therefore an urgent
(Pollock and Parker were founder members          need for forms of contestation that can
of the London Women’s Art History Collective      expose all of society’s notions of ‘naturalness’
in 1972), and the radical theoretical discourse   as socially constructed. Pollock argues for
emerging within film studies (indeed Pollock       a combination of (i) new feminist analyses
went on to join Mary Kelly on the editorial       of sexuality, kinship and gender identity,
board of Screen in 1980). Screen magazine         with (ii) the rigour and historical materialism
pioneered the reception of then current           of established Marxist approaches. Pollock
French structural Marxism, psychoanalysis         has always been concerned with the interface
and semiotics. Within these analytical            between ethics, aesthetics and politics.
frameworks Pollock was able to displace the       Lately she has begun to advocate for the
focus on painterly styles and artistic genius     power of ‘transdisciplinary’ encounters
found in much academic art history, and           to generate productive ‘exchange and
instead began to interrogate the way works        confrontation’ between different intellectual
91                                                                           GRISELDA POLLOCK


approaches, and thus avoid narrow, academic           Parker and Pollock are emphatic in
insularity.                                        resisting a purely reflectionist argument
   In response to the question ‘Why have           (one that reads cultural production as
there been no great women artists?’, LINDA         entirely constrained by, and therefore wholly
NOCHLIN argued in 1971 that because                reflective of, the dominant ideological
women have been compromised by various             character of the era). In Vision and Difference,
social and educational restrictions over the       Pollock praises MICHEL FOUCAULT’s notion
centuries, their work inevitably has less claim    of ‘discourse formation’, which identifies how
to ‘greatness’. Meanwhile Germaine Greer           the range of statements or representations
in her 1979 book The Obstacle Race insisted        relating to a particular subject builds up into
that women suffer debilitating psychological       a field of knowledge (VaD, p. 15). This field is
conflicts from living as a ‘castrated’ version      unstable and ever evolving. It has limits and
of the dominant male in a patriarchal              blind spots; ideology is operating, but there is
society. But in their focus on the obstacles       scope for play and resistance. Thus, cultural
to professional recognition, neither writer        producers should not be seen as merely
sufficiently calls into question the parameters     representatives for their class or gender. As
within which the canon is constructed – ‘the       Pollock observes, ‘artists work in but also on
rules of the game’ as Roszika Parker puts it.      ideology’.
Pollock’s first book with Roszika Parker, Old          Appraising contemporary feminist art
Mistresses: Women, Art and Ideology (1981),        practice in their anthology Framing Feminism
observes that although women have been             ([FF] 1987) Pollock and Parker identify a
consistently involved in producing art, and        move from ‘practical strategies to strategic
contemporaneous critics have commented             practices’. In her preface to the exhibition
on their work as professionals in their field,      Sense and Sensibility in Feminist Art Practice
most twentieth-century art history fails to        (1982) Pollock champions Mary Kelly, Susan
record this fact. Women artists have been          Hiller and others who have found ways of
‘written out’ of E. H. Gombrich’s famous Story     working that do not simply enumerate the
of Art (1950), for example.                        symptoms of oppression, but rather seek to
   In asking why it has been apparently            expose the ‘structural determinations’ that
necessary to denigrate female artists and          allow such oppression to operate. In other
disqualify them as candidates for canonical        words she applauds feminist artists who,
greatness, the authors conclude that the           following Bertolt Brecht, employ distanciation
discipline of art history is itself tied to        strategies ‘to break the spell of illusion’
‘bourgeois ideology’. In the history of art,       and insist upon making the audience
as in bourgeois society as a whole, the            ‘both critical and aware of the social and
superiority of ‘masculine’ qualities (intellect,   the real’ (FF, p. 247). Pictorial strategies
power, inventive genius and so on) is              like collage and montage (collating and
perpetuated in binary opposition to particular     juxtaposing disparate elements, often of
constructions of femininity (instinct,             found material) and what she terms ‘scripto-
compassion, craft skill and so on). Forms of       visual’ installation (interrelated presentations
aesthetic appreciation do not take account of      of text and image within a continuous
specific historical circumstances and socially      exhibition space) are amenable to the ‘play
determined subject positions, but rather posit     of contradictions’ (FF, p. 247). Rather than
a timeless, universal and supposedly natural       presenting a single-perspective picture,
set of criteria. These criteria do not simply      they map a process (such as collating
‘reflect’ bourgeois ideology, but actively work     newspaper cuttings, or taking serial
to keep it in place.                               photographs).
GRISELDA POLLOCK                                                                                 92


   In highlighting the processes of making,       the reader is compelled to think about her
such strategies reflect on how meaning is          own ‘structural positionality’ and subjectivity
constructed; and by including conflicting          as a reader, in relation to the work and the
viewpoints in one work, they also consider        artist’s ‘positionality’ as producer (LBF, p. 17).
how meaning is constructed in the world.          The new thoughts and statements that arise
Such strategies tend to confound the              within these discursive spaces change the
apparent self-sufficient ‘wholeness’ of any        shape of the discourse as a whole.
single term – instead, terms are shown to be         For Pollock, it is the labour and pleasure
defined in relation to others in a signifying      of thinking through these works that gives
chain (‘woman’, for instance, is defined           them value. ‘Textualities do refer to many
in contrast to ‘man’, or as equivalent to         sites, many systems, and draw upon diverse
‘mother’).                                        drives and pleasures, scopic as well as
   In advocating scripto-visual practices with    invocatory, spatial as well as tactile. At once
such vigour, Pollock attracted criticism in       cinematic, sculptural, graphic, visual, the
the 1980s from Katy Deepwell, for effectively     point is the invitation to decipherment, the
de-legitimizing other art forms, like painting,   invocation to reading as a complex social
as viable arenas for feminist artists.            subjectivity within yet always transgressing
Pollock responded by pointing out that it         the limits of power’ (LBF, p. 19). The
was precisely the modernist claim for the         activities of assembling one’s own meanings
singularity and distinction between artistic      and deciphering intertextual references
media that feminism had tried to overthrow;       yield particular pleasures (related to the
it was necessary, however, to formulate a         fascination for puzzles and patterns that
feminist theory of painting that would uncover    seems to appear in most cultures). Pollock
the ways in which semiotic meanings were          deploys decipherment as a rival aesthetic
inscribed in colours, shapes and gestures.        sensibility to the ‘mere aesthetic evaluation’
In her most recent book, Looking Back to          adhered to by CLEMENT GREENBERG.
the Future ([LBF] 2001), Pollock insists          Unravelling and reconstituting multiple
that her focus on scripto-visual practices        references gives rise to what she calls an
does not amount to a blanket endorsement          ‘aesthetic dimension of knowing’. Strikingly,
of all instances of them, nor is it a ‘value      this aesthetic dimension is perceptual and
judgement’. It is rather a ‘tactical manoeuvre’   conceptual at the same time – it is not
that allows her to track the ‘creation of         the pure vision of Greenberg, but nor is it
feminism as a structurally altering signifying    confined to linguistics.
space’ (LBF, p. 17).                                 Peggy Phelan, in her introduction to the
   The notion of signifying space comes from      anthology Art and Feminism, recalls the
Julia Kristeva, and is crucial for Pollock.       disdain within the second wave of 1980s
Works that might produce a ‘structurally          feminism towards the ‘essentialism’ of
altering signifying space’ are ‘texts’ in which   some 1970s work: they felt that its uncritical
a variety of cultural quotations ‘blend and       adoption of a notion of ‘womanhood’ betrayed
clash’ (here she cites ROLAND BARTHES’            an insufficient level of theoretical awareness.
characterization of the text after the ‘death     In particular, she recalls Pollock and Parker’s
of the author’). Each reader activates, and       anxiety about artworks that depicted or
makes sense of, these ‘multiple textualities’     incorporated female bodies on the grounds
for herself. Texts that invite the reader to      that they might be co-opted by a patriarchal
consider the implications of the context in       culture that sought to identify women with
which the text is being presented also create     their biology. While acknowledging the
a signifying space. Pollock suggests that         political naivety of much of this work, Phelan
93                                                                             GRISELDA POLLOCK


nevertheless speculates that Pollock’s kind           Pollock has been indefatigable in urging
of theorization might have been (and may still     art historians to think politically and
be) inadequate in dealing with art that tries      analytically about every assumption within
to make direct connections between visual          their discipline. If she has neglected aesthetic
images and the experience of embodiment,           considerations in the past (as Peter Fuller
precisely because such work is resistant           and Anne Wagner have complained), it has
to (or at least incompatible with) language.       been, she says, in order to address urgent
Perhaps Pollock is now addressing this             political issues. Even as her interest in the
issue of the limits of language, in her focus      area of aesthetics grows, she speaks of
on the incantatory repetitive pleasures of         the need to maintain an ethical position
decipherment, which derive, at least in part,      in deference to the practical needs of
from a primal curiosity in visual pattern. The     female artists – somehow balancing
‘aesthetic dimension of knowing’ is not the        the contradictory roles of ‘advocacy and
same as knowledge per se – the experience          perspective, appreciation and analysis,
is visceral, the knowledge is always               partisanship and explanation’ (LBF, p. 14).
incomplete and one revels in the continual
striving towards understanding.                                                   KIRSTIE SKINNER




 BIBLIOGRAPHY
 Primary literature                                Secondary literature
 Pollock, G. and Parker, R., Old Mistresses:       Harris, J., The New Art History: A Critical
    Women, Art and Ideology, London and Henley:       Introduction, London and New York:
    Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981.                     Routledge, 2001.
 Pollock, G., Vision and Difference: Femininity,   Phelan, P., Art and Feminism, London: Phaidon,
    Feminism, and Histories of Art, London:           2003.
    Routledge, 1988/2003.                          Pollock, G. and Parker, R. (eds), Framing
 Pollock, G., Differencing the Canon: Feminist        Feminism: Art & the Women’s Movement 1970–
    Desire and the Writing of Art’s Histories,        85, London and New York: Pandora, 1987.
    London: Routledge, 1999.                       Pollock, G. and Orton, F. (eds), Avant-Gardes and
 Pollock, G., Looking Back to the Future: Essays      Partisans Reviewed, Manchester: Manchester
    on Art, Life and Death, Amsterdam: G+B Arts       University Press, 1996.
    International, 2001.
Philosophy
 of Art and
Aesthetics
INTRODUCTION
‘The philosophy of art’ and ‘aesthetics’ both consider questions of a general nature, that is,
questions that are taken to generalize to all instances of a given phenomenon, problem or
kind: all artworks, say, or all representations, or all beings (namely human beings) endowed
with a given set of faculties and so on. Questions such as: What is the value of art? Is there
something that all works of art, and only works of art, have in common? Does art reflect
broader social transformations? Does it make a ‘truth-claim’? Is a relation to historical
precursors an essential feature of all works of art? Is art primarily an affective or cognitive
domain of experience, or both? Does something come to be classed as a work of art in virtue
of having some set of distinctive features or function, or in virtue of certain institutional or
other procedural conditions applying? What is the relation between valuing works of art, and
other domains of value?
   Though the philosophy of art and aesthetics share a good deal of common ground, in terms
of the level of generality at which they pose these questions – they are not concerned, unlike
art history and theory, for example, with the historical precedents of a particular work or body
of art – they do tend to have somewhat different starting points, and this dictates the kinds
of question they ask and, on occasion, the kinds of solution to which these give arise. The
philosophy of art, not surprisingly, begins with philosophical questions about art, its ontology,
definition, function, value and so on. Aesthetics, by contrast, begins from philosophical
questions about our experience of art, questions about the structure of aesthetic judgment, the
role of imagination in interpretation and so on.
   These different starting points, namely whether a philosopher starts from an analysis
of the object of experience (the work), or with the experience of the work (hence with the
subject), often reflect different kinds of underlying motivation or interest. An aesthetician,
or an aesthetic theory, for example, might be concerned with art as a privileged domain of
human experience more generally, and hence about the relation between aesthetic and other
forms and objects of experience invested with value by human beings. A philosophy of art, by
contrast, is more likely to be driven by an interest in a particular class of object, and what is
distinctive or valuable about such objects. But in so far as they are concerned with a similar
set of problems, albeit approached from different starting points, it is not surprising that these
questions significantly overlap. Kant and Hegel offer a striking instance of this difference that
is foundational for the discipline in its modern forms.
   A further broad difference of approach in evidence here is that between ‘analytic’ and
‘continental’ philosophy and philosophers. Whereas the former tend to be concerned
thematically with particular problems and the range of solutions that have been proposed to
those problems, the latter tend to be concerned with particular philosophers and their relation
to particular traditions of enquiry. Similarly, where conceptual questions are often prioritized
by the former, requiring an analytic approach, questions of inheritance and interpretation are
often prioritized by the latter, requiring a more historical, textual approach. That said, these
PHILOSOPHY OF ART AND AESTHETICS                                                              98


are generalizations, and as such not without exception. Moreover, such differences really do
not begin to capture the range of approaches represented here. For even within these broad
differences, the philosophers gathered here come from markedly different traditions and
intellectual formations.
   They include: several generations of critical theorists (Adorno, Wellmer and Bernstein),
who share a desire to bring together philosophical analysis and empirical social critique, and
a conception of art as a microcosm of, and repository for, wider social forces and tensions;
phenomenological theories of art, such as Merleau-Ponty’s, which relate the experience of
art to the broader spatio-temporal conditions of embodied subjectivity and being in the world;
and what might be broadly called ‘post-phenomenological’ tradition, including Deleuze and
Lyotard, for whom art is fundamentally understood as a kind of ‘shock to thought’, an occasion
for, or event of, intense feeling or sensation that disrupts existing conceptual categories.
The latter is something these philosophers share with Derrida, in so far as deconstruction
attempts to ‘undo’ or problematize habitual categories of philosophical thought, and their
claims to systematicity.
   On the other side of the analytic/continental philosophical divide the approaches are
similarly diverse. They include the institutional and anti-aesthetic theories of Dickie, Danto
and Carroll, who are all concerned, albeit in different ways, with the definition of art, that
is, with the kind of conditions in virtue of which something is categorized as a work of art.
Similarly, all give an answer that does not rely on artworks’ ‘manifest’ properties: Danto in
terms of ‘enfranchising theories’, indexed to the increasing self-understanding of art over
time; Dickie in terms of ‘candicacy for appreciation’ by members of the art world; and Carroll
in terms of ‘historical narratives’ in virtue of which something may be identified (rather than
defined) as art. Like Carroll in this respect, Wollheim eschews the search for necessary and
sufficient definitions of art, and is best known for his rich and substantive account of painting
as art that, unusually for an analytic philosopher, brings psychoanalytic insights to bear on
questions of artistic creation. As with Cavell, the resulting theory makes intention central
to the understanding of art. Though unlike Wollheim, Cavell’s aesthetic theory is forged by
bringing Wittgensteinian insights into the nature of criteria and conventions into conjunction
with his own, distinctive, conception of scepticism, and experience of modernism in art.
   As such, the range of approaches exemplified by these thinkers is exceptionally broad. And
all of them have impacted, beyond the confines of academic philosophy, not only on artistic
practice but also, to varying degrees, on its theories and history, and broader cultural debates.
99                                                                            THEODOR ADORNO




THEODOR ADORNO
(1903–1969)
Theodor Adorno was a member of the                and autonomy, while others are original
Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt        contributions to materialist aesthetics. I
(aka the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory)     will focus on the latter, and in particular
and, like Max Horkheimer and most other           on Adorno’s idea of the ‘truth content of
members, was forced to flee Nazi Germany           art’ because, given the conceptual web that
in 1934 because of his Jewish heritage.           Adorno creates around it, clarification of
After four years in Oxford, Adorno settled in     this will also illuminate the structure of his
the United States during the Second World         aesthetic theory.
War, returning to Frankfurt in 1949, and             Adorno believed that art reflects the truth
becoming the director of the Institute in 1958.   of society, understood in social-economic-
He is mostly known in the English-speaking        political-technological terms, and he calls
world for Dialectic of Enlightenment (with        such materialist reflection (or mimesis, aka
Horkheimer, 1944), Philosophy of Modern           imitation) the truth content of art. If society
Music (1973), Minima Moralia (1974), Negative     is failing (e.g. if its laws are unjust), art will
Dialectics (1973) and Aesthetic Theory (1994).    reflect that failure; if society is progressing,
    Adorno was born at a major turning            art will reflect that too. A third possibility is
point in modern society and art, when two         the ‘culture industry’ (e.g. Hollywood films)
world wars and numerous revolutions in            that produces art that collaborates with the
art were soon to erupt. His writings on art       untruth of society while denying art any truth
are efforts to understand it in its social-       content (other than such collaboration). Since
historical context. Because the complexity of     Adorno’s assessment of modern industrial
this context is mirrored in Adorno’s writing      societies, whether democratic or not, was
style, he is a philosopher who is probably        not positive (see Dialectic of Enlightenment),
quoted more often than read. Fortunately,         he generally focused on art that embodies
he also wrote critical essays (mostly on          this negative assessment. In doing so, he
music and literature) that, in contrast to his    demonstrated how truth content works in
philosophical texts, are quite accessible (see    very subtle ways. For example in Adorno’s
‘The Essay as Form’ in Notes to Literature,       interpretation of Samuel Beckett, to whom
vol. I). So Adorno readers are advised to         Aesthetic Theory was (to be) dedicated, the
read his essays before the theoretical texts.     focus is on the literary form of his work
If followed, this advice will allow readers       rather than any message it might contain.
to appreciate that Adorno’s mixture of            The work seemingly defies meaning not
theoretical-critical writings makes him           because Beckett embraces meaninglessness,
especially promising for a philosophical-         as some existentialists have argued, but
critical engagement with contemporary art.        because modern society has undermined
    Adorno’s aesthetic theory has a number        the traditional structures of meaning
of key concepts. Some are materialist             without providing any alternatives. The
interpretations of classic aesthetic concepts     truth content of Beckett’s work reflects this
such as mimesis, beauty, semblance                social as well as literary fact (see ‘Trying to
THEODOR ADORNO                                                                                     100


Understand Endgame’ in Notes to Literature,         of art’s truth content (see ‘Commitment’ in
vol. I).                                            Notes to Literature, vol. II). Similarly, all other
    Adorno’s notion of art’s truth content          aesthetic concepts, as well as more concrete
has implications for art’s autonomy (i.e.           questions about art (e.g. which forms are
independence from religion, politics,               appropriate today), are to be addressed
metaphysics), often thought to be a defining         relative to the larger question of how art
mark of modern art; for art that reflects            can best realize its truth content and thus
society cannot be fully autonomous from             its capacity for critique. So, clearly, ‘truth
it. So art is both determined by society            content’ is the heart of Adorno’s aesthetics.
(i.e. artistic forms are shaped by social              It is also important here to clarify a general
developments), yet sufficiently autonomous           issue underlying all Adorno’s writings
from it to take on a critical function. This        on art, namely the relationship between
is a precarious balancing act and one that          contemporary art and philosophy. He is well
Adorno traced and sustained in his writings,        known for claiming at the start of Aesthetic
particularly those on individual artists (Berg,     Theory that nothing concerning art is self-
Beethoven, Mahler, Wagner).                         evident anymore, not even its right to exist
    The notion of truth content also helps to       today. While some Adorno readers, myself
clarify Adorno’s account of the ‘semblance’         included, might emphasize the scepticism
character of art (i.e. art as illusion). Art does   about art embodied in this claim, in this
present illusions, but they are illusions with      context I would also like to emphasize its
truth content because they reflect not only          historical specificity. For example Adorno
what society is not, but also what it could and     claimed that lyric poetry after Auschwitz
should be. Here, art’s truth content becomes        is difficult, if not impossible, but he did not
utopian and, at the same time, art’s capacity       declare the end of lyric poetry, only its social
for critique emerges because society is             condition today. To make this point salient
held accountable, through art, for not being        for contemporary art, think of the difficulty
what it could and should be. Adorno’s idea          that artists face in responding to the recent
of beauty in art can be seen in this light. For     terrorist attacks or natural disasters around
when truth content becomes the central              the world. More generally, Adorno believed
concept in aesthetics, art is said to reflect the    that modern society makes it increasingly
semblance of beauty, that is, beauty lost or        difficult to realize or gauge the truth content
as it might someday be restored in society. As      of art. Since truth content constitutes art,
such, artistic beauty is modelled on natural        uncertainty at this level raises deep doubts
beauty, with history mediating between              about art’s possibility today. Despite Adorno’s
them; according to Adorno, natural beauty is        doubts, however, he was determined that
‘suspended history’, a lost possibility.            art continue; for art not only reflects the
    Artistic and natural beauty are linked          truth about society but is also the refuge for
because both reflect historical possibilities        society’s future possibilities. In principle, this
that are imperative for us to pursue. Even          utopian dimension offsets scepticism about
Adorno’s controversial preference for high          art.
modernist art over popular or low art is               Adorno’s scepticism was extended to
understandable in this light, because ‘low’ art     aesthetics as well, where there is also an
is defined, in effect, by its inability to realize   underlying utopian moment. Scepticism
art’s truth content (cf. GREENBERG). In turn,       arises in aesthetics because art is the realm
the relationship between aesthetics and             of particular things that resist concepts (the
politics is naturally a central issue for Adorno    ‘non-conceptual’), whereas philosophy is
because of the social-political dimension           dependent on universal concepts in trying
101                                                                          THEODOR ADORNO


to understand art. This does not seem like         express their self-understanding in artistic
a happy match, yet Adorno cautions us not          terms, and they often do that very well. But
to doubt aesthetics simply because of its          self-understanding, in art or anywhere, just is
dependence on concepts. But he also warns          a philosophical endeavour.
that this dependence not be turned into a             Some critics of Adorno may still worry
virtue that grants aesthetics any priority         that his doubt about art’s possibility
over art because of its ability to label art       perpetuates the traditional efforts by
with the concept of ‘non-conceptuality’. As        philosophers to control art and its effects,
Adorno points out, the very notion of the          which is as old as Plato’s Republic. Evidence
non-conceptual is an artefact of philosophy,       for this worry, critics believe, is Adorno’s
so any mention of it points back to a limitation   concept of art’s truth content because it
of philosophy (i.e. the limited reach of its       is typically in relation to truth that art is
concepts).                                         deemed deficient. This worry can be allayed,
   Then what are philosophers to do, if            however, if we remember the earlier point
contemporary art is beyond the reach of            that any limitation philosophy faces in
universal concepts yet philosophy cannot           trying to understand art is a limitation of
understand art without using them? Adorno          philosophy, not of art. Moreover, Adorno
advises that philosophers appreciate that          draws something positive from this limitation
artworks will remain partly beyond the             by offering it as a guide to aestheticians.
concepts used to understand them, but this         For example it would be an illusion for
does not mean that aesthetic concepts are          philosophers to expect to capture art in an
to be avoided as we attempt to understand          essentialist definition, i.e. in necessary and
these works. This is a complicated                 sufficient conditions (as DANTO seeks to do).
relationship indeed: art is ‘immediate’ in         So essentialism in aesthetics should give
so far as it is beyond the grasp of universal      way to a historical-materialist account of
concepts, and philosophy can neither grasp         art. Adorno uses the notion of truth content
art in its immediacy nor fully understand          to provide an objective basis for this account
art using its concepts. At the same time, art      and, at the same time, to distinguish his
resists philosophy’s efforts to get beyond art’s   approach from the institutional theory of art
immediacy by identifying its truth content, as     (cf. DICKIE). Even if this notion has traces of
Adorno does. Such identification unavoidably        idealism incompatible with materialism, the
involves concepts, so art resists its own truth    materialist approach displays its capacity for
content as a way to reassert its immediacy.        critique by detecting those traces.
   This strange dance is art interpretation           Adorno offers promising philosophical
informed by philosophy and, if this sounds         insights into contemporary art and, through
shaky, Adorno’s own essays on music                them, the society that makes art and
and literature are models demonstrating            aesthetics possible, while restricting their
that it can be performed well. If it is still      potential. As we resist these restrictions,
hard not to see this dance as simply a             Adorno provides philosophical tools for
flatfooted approach to art only proving that        understanding our resistance and giving
philosophers just can’t dance, note that art is    us hope we will succeed. He is famous for
no less drawn to philosophy than philosophy        insisting on hope but also infamous for
is to art. Though I leave it to artists to         refusing to give hope any content. This hope/
describe this draw, I am confident of its           denial dialectic is a hallmark of Adorno’s
presence because philosophical reflection           legacy but equally of modern society – and,
on art is an extension of artists’ efforts to      he would add, of contemporary art.
achieve self-understanding (cf. Section I of
this volume). True, artists want to achieve and                                  MICHAEL KELLY
THEODOR ADORNO                                                                                       102




 BIBLIOGRAPHY
 Primary literature                                   Secondary literature
 Adorno, T. W., Negative Dialectics, trans. E. B.     Bernstein, J. M., The Fate of Art: Aesthetic
   Ashton, New York: Continuum, 1973.                    Alienation from Kant to Derrida and Adorno,
 Adorno, T. W., Minima Moralia: Reflections from          Cambridge: Polity, 1992.
   Damaged Life, trans. E. F. N. Jephcott, London:    Huhn, T. (ed.), Cambridge Companion to Adorno,
   Verso, 1974.                                          New York: Cambridge University Press,
 Adorno, T. W., Kierkegaard: Construction of             2004.
   the Aesthetic, trans. Robert Hullot-Kentor,        Jay, M., Adorno, Cambridge: Harvard University
   Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press,              Press, 1984.
   1989.                                              Kelly, M., Iconoclasm in Aesthetics, New York:
 Adorno, T. W., Notes to Literature: Volume I & II,      Cambridge University Press, 2003.
   trans. Shierry Weber Nicholsen, New York:          Menke, C., The Sovereignty of Art: Aesthetic
   Columbia, 1991/92.                                    Negativity in Adorno and Derrida, Cambridge:
 Adorno, T. W., Aesthetic Theory, trans. Robert          MIT Press, 1998.
   Hullot-Kentor, Minneapolis: Minnesota              Wellmer, A., The Persistence of Modernity: Essays
   University Press, 1994.                               on Aesthetics, Ethics, and Postmodernism,
 Adorno, T. W., The Culture Industry: Selected           Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991.
   Essays on Mass Culture, New York: Routledge,       Wiggershaus, R., The Frankfurt School: Its
   2001.                                                 History, Theory, and Political Significance,
 Adorno, T. W., Essays on Music, trans. Richard          trans. Michael Robertson, Cambridge: MIT
   Leppert, ed., and Susan H. Gillespie, Berkeley:       Press, 1994.
   California University Press, 2002.                 Zuidervaart, L., Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory: The
 Adorno, T. W. and Horkheimer, M., Dialectic             Redemption of Illusion, Cambridge: MIT Press,
   of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments,            1991.
   Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002.




J. M. BERNSTEIN (1947–)
J. M. Bernstein is a philosopher and critic in        he played a crucial role in establishing its
the Adornian tradition. In 1975, having been          reputation as a stronghold of continental
a student of the influential Kant scholar              philosophy in Britain. In his period at the
W. H. Walsh, he obtained his Ph.D. from               University of Essex, which lasted until 1997,
the University of Edinburgh for a thesis on           Bernstein published a number of influential
Kant’s epistemology. He went on to become a           books, including The Philosophy of the Novel:
lecturer and later professor in the philosophy        Lukács, Marxism and the Dialectic Form (1984),
department at the University of Essex, where          The Fate of Art: Aesthetic Alienation from Kant
103                                                                           J. M. BERNSTEIN


to Derrida and Adorno (1992) and Recovering      order to create what Bernstein characterizes
Ethical Life: Jürgen Habermas and the Future     as a Hegelian Marxism.) Drawing on Hegel,
of Critical Theory (1995). In 1988–91, he was    Bernstein (following Lukács) adopts an
an editor of the Bulletin of the Hegel Society   emphasis on social totality (the historically
of Great Britain, and the many conferences he    constituted world as a whole) as the
organized and participated in allowed him to     reference point of social analysis, as well
confront his growing theoretical edifice with     as an ambition to decipher the dialectical
an increasing number of interlocutors.           meaning of cultural objects. Drawing on Marx
   In 1998, Bernstein took up a position         (and again Lukács), Bernstein argues that
as professor of philosophy at Vanderbilt         capitalist modernity must be accounted for
University, and since 2001 he has been a         in terms of reification, where reification is
professor in the Graduate Faculty at the         associated with alienation, rationalization,
New School for Social Research in New            atomization and the deactivation of the
York. During this period, his aesthetic          subject. Capitalism is a social formation
interest has primarily been focused on           whose dominant forms of representation
modern visual art, in particular the nature      are exchange value and the commodity form
and implication of abstract expressionist        understood as a socially structuring force
painting and its subsequent impact on            that externalizes the subject from the object,
the American and European art scene. In          explaining the rise of a cold, socially isolated
2001, Bernstein published a major study of       and calculative lifestyle.
THEODOR ADORNO’s ethical and practical              Bernstein is adamant that pre-modern
philosophy, Disenchantment and Ethics. He        social arrangements were made possible
has also produced a number of important          and indeed constituted by participation in
essays, collected in Against Voluptuous          communal practices. Whereas pre-modern
Bodies: Late Modernism and the Idea of           life was predicated on the existence of a
Painting (2006), on painting and modernism       seamless web uniting identities and the
that have established him as a leading critic    social structure as a whole, modernity
and philosopher of art in the USA. Much of       suffers from a radical split between subject
the work of the last decade has contained        and object, identity and social structure,
sharp criticisms of both Habermas and            and individual aspiration to happiness and
Derrida, as well as of post-structuralist and    the law. The novel, and the dialectic of
postmodernist thought in general. In bringing    form which it historically unfolds, is the
radical epistemological, ethical and political   most sophisticated means there is to both
claims to bear on his account of aesthetic       represent the world of rationalized modernity
experience, he has successfully inherited the    and to anticipate its overcoming. The novel
legacy of Adorno’s modernism.                    is Kantian, Bernstein writes, in that it
   Bernstein’s early work in aesthetics deals    ‘attempts to write the world as it is in terms
with literature rather than visual art. In his   of how it ought to be’ (The Philosophy of the
dense but rewarding study of Lukács’ theory      Novel, p. xviii). By progressively divesting
of the novel, The Philosophy of the Novel        itself of the means whereby pre-modern
(1984), he offers an account of the literary     narratives (most notably the epic) achieved
artwork, which set the stage for much of his     temporal coherence and form, the modernist
later theorizing. In particular, the study of    novel is self-reflective to the point of
Lukács reveals the Hegelian and especially       embodying an uncompromising ironical
Marxist roots of Bernstein’s thinking. (After    stance. From a relatively autonomous
all, Lukács’ theory of the novel blends          standpoint it becomes a vehicle of radical,
Hegelian motives into his reading of Marx in     totalizing critique.
J. M. BERNSTEIN                                                                                104


   The Philosophy of the Novel is Bernstein’s      formal rationality, philosophical and aesthetic
most overtly Marxist work. It makes                experience confronts the spectator with
constant reference to categories such as ‘the      the promise of some form of expressive
proletariat’ and ‘class praxis’, and inscribes     reconciliation with the otherwise dominated
the novel in a revolutionary scheme. In his        other. Art, and especially expressionist
next work in aesthetics, The Fate of Art, he       painting, thus partakes in a larger political
appears to have downplayed or perhaps              and metaphysical project aimed at criticizing
even abandoned Lukács’ theory of class             modernity from within. Divorced from science
consciousness and programme for urgent             and morality and without any well-defined
social change. Drawing instead on the social,      claim to determinate objectivity, advanced art
historical and aesthetic views of Adorno, The      represents the otherwise excommunicated
Fate of Art offers a genealogy of philosophical    claims of nature, particularity and ultimately
aesthetics that ranges from Kant to                human (corporeal) happiness.
Heidegger, DERRIDA and Adorno himself. Its            Based on his reading of Adorno’s
central claim is that aesthetic modernism          aesthetics, Bernstein constructs an
represents the only fully adequate ethical         elaborate dialectic in order to defend this
and political response to the triumph of           claim. Despite their separation from the
rationalized, disenchanted modernity. What         world of universality, utility and determinate
aesthetic modernism, starting with Kant’s          objectivity, the experienced ‘concreteness’ of
account of reflective judgment and ending           advanced artworks remains illusory – mere
with Adorno’s theory of aesthetic truth, aims      ‘semblance’ (or appearance) – just art.
at is to defend and express the claims of          However, in rebelling, as Beckett’s novels or
sensuous particularity in a world dominated        Pollock’s paintings do, against this status,
by the demands of universality, subsumption,       they shed their beauty and adopt abstraction
procedure and instrumentality. In addition to      and dissonance as their constitutive
interpreting and defending Adorno, the book        principles of form. Remaining illusory, they
provides strong readings and criticisms of         nevertheless – in their resolute abstraction
Heidegger and Derrida. Whereas Heidegger’s         and subsequent fragmentation – anticipate
influential philosophy largely ignored the          a reconfigured relation between universality
essential difference between traditional           and particularity, form and content, concept
and modernist art, Derrida drives aesthetic        and intuition. In their dark moments of
experience out of the historical and into an       formal self-divestiture such works contain
ethically irresponsible encounter with the         a residue of sensuous material meaning
sublime.                                           that acts both as a stand-in for the social
   In his two subsequent books, Recovering         reality of the sign (thus compensating for the
Ethical Life and Disenchantment and Ethics,        lost social ‘we’) and as an anticipation of a
Bernstein brings an Adornian social analysis       restored materiality in general.
to bear on problems of ethical and political          In his engagement with T. J. CLARK’s
theory. Attacking what he calls ‘moral             Farewell to an Idea (1999), a theorist with
centralism’, according to which some central       whom his work bears many affinities,
term such as ‘good’ or ‘right’ has a meaning       Bernstein elaborates on this claim by
prior to and independently of more specific         contesting Clark’s idea that modernism failed
terms like ‘cruel’ or ‘vicious’, his ambition is   historically. If modernism failed, Bernstein
to locate an ethical demand in the experience      argues, then it was not because the hope of
of vulnerable bodies and objects.                  enlightened modernity, namely socialism,
   Bernstein’s approach to art is in line with     was not redeemed, but because modernism’s
his ethics. Operating as an antithesis of          failure suggested the failure of culture itself.
105                                                                             J. M. BERNSTEIN


Indeed, modernism’s failure is paradoxically      Adorno’s expressionism? If the former,
what is most alive about it. According to         aesthetic modernism becomes too restrictive
Clark, by adopting the aesthetics of vulgarity,   for its own good; it rules out a priori the
abstract expressionism provided the self-         most advanced contemporary art practices
reflexive, self-denying finale to the history of    on which its critical spirit was meant to have
modernism. By contrast, Bernstein argues          rested. If the latter, the result may either
that abstract expressionists like Pollock and     be highly original but contentious (as in
de Kooning continue to help make sense            Bernstein’s account of Cindy Sherman as a
of ourselves as wholly natural creatures          ‘tragic modernist’ in his essay ‘The Horror
inhabiting a material world.                      of Non-Identity: Cindy Sherman’s Tragic
   In a similar vein, Bernstein also              Modernism’ in the recent Against Voluptuous
establishes a conception of medium and            Bodies) or simply the unfortunate clash
medium-specificity that is explicitly critical     between a general philosophical agenda and
of CLEMENT GREENBERG’s formalism.                 the irreducible heterogeneity of culture.
Whereas Greenberg saw the medium in                  A more scholarly question is whether
terms of painting’s own desire to purify          Bernstein, despite his sophisticated and
and refine itself, Bernstein considers it as       inspiring readings, interprets Adorno ad-
a plenipotentiary for nature as a source          equately. It could be objected that Bernstein’s
of meaning in an otherwise rationalized           tendency to develop idealized, positive
modernity. In Chaim Soutine, an artist            accounts of such categories as pre-modern
Greenberg viewed as having failed to live up      social life or nature sits uneasily with Adorno’s
to the stern demands of artistic modernism,       stern demands for a negative dialectic. Where-
Bernstein thus sees repressed nature, that        as Adorno tries to avoid appealing to immedi-
aspect of nature that has proved resistant        acy, seeking instead to develop concepts by
to cultural forming, returning and being          practices of determinate negation, Bernstein
salvaged as painting.                             seems to commit himself to a number of
   One objection that can be levelled at          affirmative anthropological and aesthetic
Bernstein’s more recent work is that by           claims. It remains an open question whether
ascribing to art a specific metaphysical           he can do so and still subscribe to Adorno’s
responsibility that it somehow needs              doctrine of a negative totality.
to negotiate and express, it may fail to             Both philosophically and in terms of its
appreciate other norms (formal or otherwise)      specific claims about art, Bernstein’s work
or sources of value that do not conform to        is a powerful rejoinder to postmodern art
the demands of the metaphysics. Bernstein         theory. By drawing on intellectual resources
typically focuses on abstract expressionism       from Hegel and Romanticism to Marx, Lukács
and offers powerful interpretations that          and especially Adorno, Bernstein offers a
seem to contain both formalist and anti-          strong case for the abiding importance of
formalist (materialist) elements. Yet what        modernism – in both its metaphysical, ethical
about subsequent developments such as             and political register. Although it remains
conceptualist and neo-avant-garde art             to be seen whether modernist values will
practices? In most cases they seem to             reappear more widely in contemporary
reject the value of expression completely.        art theory, such work brings a welcome
Does Bernstein dismiss such practices for         exception to the abstract negation (or mere
failing to live up to the demands of aesthetic    inversion) with which they have often been
modernism, or does he try to redescribe           rejected.
them in terms that can be linked, whether
directly or by way of negation, to his and                                      ESPEN HAMMER
J. M. BERNSTEIN                                                                                    106




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                        Bernstein, J. M., ‘The Death of Sensuous
                                                        Particulars: Adorno and Abstract
                                                        Expressionism’, Radical Philosophy 76 (March–
 Primary literature                                     April 1996), pp. 7–16.
 Bernstein, J. M., The Philosophy of the Novel:      Bernstein, J. M., ‘“The Dead Speaking of Stones
    Lukács, Marxism and the Dialectics of Form,         and Stars”: Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory’, in
    Brighton: Harvester Press/Minneapolis:              ed. Fred Rush, The Cambridge Companion to
    University of Minnesota Press, 1984.                Critical Theory, Cambridge and New York:
 Bernstein, J. M., The Fate of Art: Aesthetic           Cambridge University Press, 2004.
    Alienation from Kant to Derrida and Adorno,      Bernstein, J. M., Against Voluptuous Bodies: Late
    Oxford: Polity Press/University Park, Pa.:          Modernism and the Idea of Painting, Stanford:
    Penn State Press, 1992.                             Stanford University Press, 2006.
 Bernstein, J. M., Recovering Ethical Life: Jürgen
    Habermas and the Future of Critical Theory,
    London: Routledge, 1995.
                                                     Secondary literature
 Bernstein, J. M., Adorno: Disenchantment and
    Ethics, Cambridge and New York: Cambridge        Hammer, E., ‘Romanticism Revisited’, Inquiry 40
    University Press, 2001.                            (1997), pp. 225–42.




NOËL CARROLL (1947–)
Noël Carroll belongs to a generation of              a transmedia category comprising film, video,
American philosophers, schooled in the               television, moving computer-generated
analytic tradition, who cultivated the revival       technology, that is, all mass-produced
of interest in the philosophy of art after the       moving images.
ground-breaking work of Nelson Goodman,                 Carroll stirred up controversy within
RICHARD WOLLHEIM and ARTHUR DANTO.                   film studies with two early polemical
Carroll’s work addresses a variety of                books, Philosophical Problems of Classical
mainstream topics within the philosophy of           Film Theory (1988) and Mystifying Movies:
art, including the problem of definition, the         Fads and Fallacies in Contemporary Film
relation of art to morality, the problem of          Theory (1988) in which he staged a two-tier
authorial intention and the relation of art to       attack against the essentialism of earlier
the emotions. Turning to less conventional           theoretical writings on film and against
topics, Carroll has put forth ‘a philosophy of       more recent Marxist, psychoanalytic and
horror’ and ‘a philosophy of mass art’. The          semiological, Lacanian and Althusserian
main focus of his work, however, has been on         approaches respectively. Carroll’s critique
film, or, more accurately, on ‘moving images’,        of the essentialism of classical film theory
107                                                                              NOËL CARROLL


in Philosophical Problems of Classical Film       argues instead that ‘it is the use we find of
Theory marks the beginning of his long-           the medium that determines what aspect
standing critique of the idea of the specificity   of the medium deserves our attention. The
of the medium. His original targets were the      medium is open to our purposes; the medium
theories of Rudolf Arnheim, André Bazin and       does not use us to its own agenda’ (TMI,
Victor Perkins, which sought to establish         p. 13).
the status of cinema as an art by analyzing          Building further on a hostile review
and safeguarding the true nature of film as a      of Stephen Heath’s Questions of Cinema,
medium.                                           published in October (which prompted an
   The assumption of medium-specificity is         equally hostile reply by Heath, leading
evident, for example, in Bazin’s thesis that      to the Heath/Carroll debate), Mystifying
‘the realism of the cinema follows directly       Movies is a relentless attack on what
from its photographic nature’ (What is            Carroll calls ‘Grand Theory’, i.e. semiotic,
Cinema?, p. 108), in Arnheim’s condemnation       psychoanalytic and Marxist theories in the
of sound because it contravenes the true          Lacanian and Althusserian tradition (as
essence of cinema and, more generally, in         applied predominantly by Christian Metz,
the very idea of the ‘cinematic’. Carroll’s       Jean-Louis Baudry and Stephen Heath).
aim was to dismantle the philosophical            Carroll mobilized the resources of analytical
foundations of these theories. Specifically,       thinking in order to expose weak analogies,
he rejects the idea that the determination of     ambiguous concepts, and generally fallacious
the nature of the medium imposes stylistic        patterns of reasoning in these highly
directives or specifies a range of desirable       influential writings (one such example being
aesthetic effects. In other words he wishes       his analysis of Baudry’s ‘apparatus theory’
to undermine the idea of a transition from        as a piece of inductive reasoning relying on
medium to style, and, further, the idea of        invalid analogies). Arguing that there is no
the transformation of technological media         empirical evidence to support psychoanalytic
into art forms on the basis of their technical    theories and ideas, such as Lacan’s ‘mirror
characteristics. A further consequence of         stage’, and that psychoanalysis is of no
this line of argument is that no evaluative       relevance when adequate rational explanation
criteria can be established on the basis of       is available, he defended the thesis that
an investigation of the alleged nature of the     we should rely instead on the rational
medium.                                           explanations provided by cognitive psychology
   Carroll has extended his critique to           in order to understand the powerful effects of
further theories, such as Kracauer’s, and         movies on their spectators.
by extension to CLEMENT GREENBERG’s                  The claim that contemporary film theory
main thesis in ‘Modernist Painting’ (1960),       has been ‘nothing short of an intellectual
and went as far as to declare that the notion     disaster’ as well as the specifics of his
of the medium is of no theoretical use            polemics met with great animosity (Mystifying
whatsoever (‘Theorizing the Moving Image’         Movies, p. 108). Carroll’s logical analyses were
in Theorizing the Moving Image [TMI], 1996)       seen as bizarre attempts to take theories
or that we should simply forget the medium        that relied on an entirely metaphorical use
(‘Forget the Medium!’ in Engaging the             of terms literally, and Carroll was accused of
Moving Image, 2003). In philosophical terms,      being a diehard empiricist and a ‘positivist’
Carroll rejects the claim that artistic media     (the latter used, as is often the case in art
should be regarded as ‘natural kinds’ with        historical debates, as a term of abuse in a
predetermined essences that can be captured       way that does not correspond to its original
by necessary and sufficient conditions, and        philosophical usage). More interesting is the
NOËL CARROLL                                                                                    108


objection that the mode of analytic critique,       (i.e. exhibited) properties of artworks, as
adopted by Carroll, proceeds in a peculiarly        well as his scepticism towards the aesthetic,
ahistorical manner, and is not capable of           is evident in Carroll’s approach. Carroll
appreciating the significance of these texts         proposes that identification should be seen as
within the highly politicized cultural context      a cultural practice located within an evolving
that generated them. However, this valuable         tradition, and argues that the starting point
insight was effectively lost in the highly          for such an approach should rest on the
polemical atmosphere of the debate and as a         historical conjecture that the history of
result its significance was missed.                  the philosophy of art has been driven by
   Carroll proceeded to develop a framework         the developments of the avant-garde, and
for film theory relying on the idea of small-        more particularly by works that give rise to
scale or ‘piecemeal’ theorizing. He defined          the question ‘but is it art?’ Accordingly, an
this as a mode of theorizing that is attentive      ‘identifying narrative’ establishes the art
to the various devices, modes, genres,              status of a work by linking a disputed work
techniques and mechanisms of film, without           to antecedently acknowledged art by way
referring them back to some conception of           of narrating a satisfactory account of how
the essence of cinema, or to an overarching,        this work emerges intelligibly from previous
unified theory, and argued that many of these        artistic practices.
piecemeal theories are cognitivist theories.           Overall, the theory of identifying
Such a cognitivist approach was applied to          narratives avoids the difficulties of Dickie’s
horror fictions in The Philosophy of Horror, or      institutional theory, while retaining many of
Paradoxes of the Heart (1990).                      the advantages. It is a ‘procedural’ rather
   The anti-essentialist orientation of Carroll’s   than ‘functional’ theory, that is, it relies on
thinking is also evident in his philosophy of       procedures of establishing the art status of
art. Even though Carroll concedes that the          works, rather than defining art in terms of
search for necessary and sufficient conditions       the distinctive experience it provides. Finally,
has heuristic value as a method in helping          the theory provides a satisfactory account of
us understand the richness of our concept of        how art status is conferred on disputed works
art (Philosophy of Art, p. 10), he has argued       by offering an adequate criterion (i.e. the
that we should seek an alternative to the           existence of an intelligible narrative link to
definitional approach. In a series of papers         earlier artworks).
(collected in Beyond Aesthetics, Part II), he          This conception of the identification of
put forth a theory of art historical narratives,    art as relying on narration is closely linked
which are meant to provide a means of               to Carroll’s notion of interpretation as
identifying, rather than defining, art. In this      conversation. In the theory of interpretation,
respect, the theory recaptures the neo-             Carroll espouses a position he describes
Wittgensteinian insight that even though a          as ‘modest actual intentionalism’ (Beyond
definition of art is not possible, we may still      Aesthetics, pp. 197–213). As opposed to
possess ways of identifying art. However,           ‘extreme intentionalism’, which regards
it diverts from this line of thinking by not        meaning as fully determined by actual
relying on the idea of ‘family resemblances’,       intentions, modest intentionalism merely
that is, mere patterns of similarity, as the        claims that authorial or artistic intentions
basis for such identification.                       are relevant to interpretation. The idea is
   The influence of GEORGE DICKIE, and               that artistic intentions constrain the range
in particular his recommendation that any           of possible interpretations of the work. The
definitional attempt should rely on ‘relational’     correct interpretation should thus be seen
(i.e. non-exhibited) rather than ‘manifest’         as the one compatible with (rather than
109                                                                                     NOËL CARROLL


fully determined by) artistic intentions and           of view as non-philosophical on the grounds
supported by the work.                                 that it effectively makes the philosophy of
   ‘Actual intentionalism’ is open to attack           art collapse into art history and reduces
from two fronts. First, from the point of view         the philosophical question ‘what is art?’
of ‘anti-intentionalism’, which can follow             to mere description. The theory, however,
two further lines of thinking. Hence, it can           retains its philosophical character in
be argued, on epistemological grounds,                 providing a philosophical explanation of
that intentions are irretrievable, or, on              the identifying role of narratives. It could
interpretative grounds, that attempts to               also be claimed, contrary to this criticism,
locate intentions divert attention from the            that the distinctive advantage of Carroll’s
most relevant features of works of art, or             theory of identifying narratives lies,
impose undesirable constraints on the                  precisely, in endorsing art history and
richness of possible interpretations. Second,          promoting a model of philosophical
from the point of view of ‘hypothetical                theorizing informed by artistic and critical
intentionalism’. This approach takes the               practices. What comes across as a broad
epistemological argument into account,                 recommendation in this area has been fully
and proceeds to argue that interpretation              implemented by Carroll in his philosophy of
should not be regarded as being constrained            film.
by actual intentions but rather by the ‘ideal             The transition to the era following
reader’s’ (well-warranted) hypotheses as               Danto’s grand speculative venture has
to what the artist intended. Hypothetical              been described as that from the age of the
intentionalists (such as Jerrold Levinson)             hedgehog, who knows one big thing, to the
challenge the continuity Carroll’s theory              age of the fox, who knows a lot of little things
postulates between the interpretation of art           (Kivy, ‘Foreword’ to Beyond Aesthetics). This
and ordinary interpretative practices (such            is an apt way of describing Carroll’s preferred
as conversation) and point to the distinctive          mode of theorizing on a small-scale and in a
character and aims of the former.                      substantive manner.
   The theory of identifying narratives has
been criticized from a rigidly analytic point                                KATERINA REED-TSOCHA




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                          Carroll, N., Interpreting the Moving Image,
                                                          Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
 Primary literature                                       1998.
                                                       Carroll, N., A Philosophy of Mass Art, Oxford:
 Carroll, N., Mystifying Movies: Fads and Fallacies       Clarendon Press, 1998.
    in Contemporary Film Theory, New York:             Carroll, N., Philosophy of Art: A Contemporary
    Columbia University Press, 1988.                      Introduction, London and New York:
 Carroll, N., Philosophical Problems of Classical         Routledge, 1999.
    Film Theory, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton            Carroll, N., Beyond Aesthetics: Philosophical
    University Press, 1988.                               Essays, Cambridge: Cambridge University
 Carroll, N., The Philosophy of Horror, or Paradoxes      Press, 2001.
    of the Heart, New York: Routledge, 1990.           Carroll, N., Engaging the Moving Image, New
 Carroll, N., Theorizing The Moving Image,                Haven and London: Yale University Press,
    Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,                2003.
    1996.
NOËL CARROLL                                                                                            110




 Secondary literature                                  On the Heath/Carroll debate:
 Arnheim, R., Film as Art, Berkeley: University of     Heath, S., Questions of Cinema, Bloomington:
    California Press, 1975.                               Indiana University Press, 1981.
 Bazin, A., What is Cinema?, trans. H. Gray,           Carroll, N., ‘Address to the Heathen’, October 23
    Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967.       (Winter 1982).
 Levinson, J., ‘Intention and Interpretation in        Heath, S., ‘Le Pere Nöel’, October 26 (Autumn
    Literature’, in Pleasures in Aesthetics, Ithaca:      1983).
    Cornell University Press, 1996.                    Carroll, N., ‘A Reply to Heath’, October 27 (Winter
                                                          1983).




STANLEY CAVELL (1926–)
Stanley Cavell was born in Atlanta, Georgia.           began during their time at Harvard in the
After receiving an AB in music from the                1960s), partly through his own work on music
University of California, Berkeley, he                 and cinema (particularly Hollywood cinema
abandoned plans to study composition in                of the 1930s and 1940s), he conceives of art
New York, and instead acquired a Ph.D. in              and artistic media, and hence reconceives
philosophy from Harvard. After teaching                artistic modernism, in ways that deserve far
at Berkeley for six years, he returned to              more critical appreciation than they have yet
Harvard to take up the Walter. M. Cabot                received.
Chair of Aesthetics and the General Theory                Cavell’s philosophy is informed by the
of Value, from which he retired in 1997. He            writings of Austin and Wittgenstein. These
has written extensively on film, literature             (misleadingly labelled) ‘ordinary language
and painting; on politics, ethics and                  philosophers’ regarded the logic or grammar
religion; on psychoanalysis; on American               of speech as a means of revealing the
transcendentalism and pragmatism;                      essence of whatever that speech might
and on a range of significant European                  be about, suggesting that we can come to
thinkers, including Kierkegaard, Nietzsche,            understand what it is for something to be a
Heidegger, DERRIDA, Levinas and Lacan.                 particular kind of thing by recounting what
One of his most significant contributions               we do and do not say (what it does and does
in aesthetics has been to the debates                  not make sense to say) about that kind of
surrounding modernism. Partly through his              thing. These grammatical conditions or
early exchanges with MICHAEL FRIED (which              limits (Cavell calls them criteria) tell us what
111                                                                                STANLEY CAVELL


counts in a double sense: they specify that          investigation grounds his claim that an art
without which something wouldn’t count               object is one in which people take a certain
as an instance of a certain kind; and those          kind of interest, investing them with a value
specifications are themselves expressions             which we otherwise reserve only for other
of our interests in the things we encounter,         people. Artworks mean something to us,
revealing what matters or counts to us about         not just in the way statements do, but in the
them. Criteria are thus as much articulations        way people do – we speak of them in terms
of value as of identity.                             of love and affection, or scorn and outrage;
    Cavellian criteria are neither merely            and they are felt as made by someone – we
conventional (as if rearrangeable by                 use such categories as personal style,
individual or collective fiat, like the Highway       feeling, dishonesty, authority, inventiveness,
Code), nor essentially a priori or timeless (as      profundity and meretriciousness in speaking
if reflecting eternal verities utterly beyond         of them. In particular, the category of
alteration). Rather, embedded as they are in         intention is as inescapable in speaking of
particular cultural expressions of the human         works of art as in speaking of what human
form of life, criteria participate in the flexible    beings say and do, although in specific ways
inflexibilities of that life. They are as resistant   (the work of art doesn’t express specific
(and as open) to change as are the broader           intentions, but rather celebrates the fact that
patterns of human behaviour, reaction and            human beings can intend their lives at all,
response into which they fit – as fixed (and as        that their actions are capable of coherence
optional) as our routes of feeling and interest,     and effectiveness).
our modes of response, our sense of what is             Cavell takes the concept of a medium to
significant and what is not, of what is similar       be indispensable in differentiating kinds
to what else and so on.                              of artwork, and in understanding specific
    If agreements in natural reactions do            instances of those kinds; but it must be
change over time, as our sense of what               seen as referring not simply to a physical
is natural to us as humans, or as this               material but to a material-in-certain-
group of humans here and now, shifts, so             characteristic-applications, and hence as
will our mutual attunement in criteria;              having a necessarily dual sense. Sound,
and since, even at any given moment,                 for example, is not the medium of music
nothing guarantees or underwrites those              in the absence of the art of composing and
agreements, we must always be prepared for           playing music. Musical works of art are
any claim we make to mutuality in speech to          not the result of applications of a medium
be rebuffed. In other words for Cavell (unlike       that is defined by its independently given
many other Wittgensteinian philosophers),            possibilities; for it is only through the artist’s
grammatical investigations investigate the           successful production of something we are
necessities of a particular historical period        prepared to call a musical work of art that the
(however extended that period may be);               artistic possibilities of that physical material
and they are explorations of the extent to           are discovered, maintained and explored.
which we do agree, in our criteria and so            Such possibilities of sound, without which it
in our forms of life, not a way of assuming          would not count as an artistic medium, are
that we must so agree, or of enforcing such          themselves media of music – ways in which
agreement.                                           various sources of sound have been applied
    This picture of criteria as allowing             to create specific artistic achievements, e.g.
evaluative, historically specific revelations         in plainsong, the fugue, the aria, sonata form.
of essence informs Cavell’s basic conception         They are the strains of convention through
of the domain of art. For a grammatical              which composers have been able to create,
STANLEY CAVELL                                                                                   112


performers to practice and audiences to            thereby discovers new possibilities of that
acknowledge specific works of art.                  generic medium, and hence of the medium of
   Cavell’s account of cinema involves a           film. Once again, however, nothing can count
parallel dual deployment of the concept of         as a discovery of either kind unless we are
a medium in relation to that of its material       prepared to count the specific object before
basis. He begins by analyzing the material         us as a work of art; everything comes down to
basis of film (in terms of photography in its       specific acts of critical judgment.
relation to reality); he then characterizes the        For Cavell, modernist art is art which is
medium of film as a succession of automatic         nothing but a critical study of its own inherited
world projections, and identifies various           conventions, of its media and its medium;
film media – that is, the character types and       the modernist artist is unable simply to take
genres whose particular applications in good       for granted his or her capacity to engender
movies disclose the artistic potential of these    genuinely valuable work. What, if anything, is
media in this medium.                              to count as a contribution to his tradition of
   Many critics reject Cavell’s characterization   artistic endeavour (say painting) is unclear;
of photographs as presentations of nothing         what is at stake in each painting is whether
less than reality; but it is worth emphasizing     or not it is a painting at all, and hence what,
that his claim is not that a photograph of         if anything, is to count as painting as such.
Greta Garbo just is, or is indistinguishable       Such work, being condemned to take the
from, Garbo herself – it is that such a            conditions of its own possibility as its primary
photograph is of Garbo herself and not some        concern, becomes a kind of grammatical
surrogate or likeness of her. Others (such as      investigation. Here, the question of whether a
NOËL CARROLL) have claimed that Cavell’s           work of art is good – that is, whether it merits
work is just another argument from medium-         comparison with great work of the recent and
specificity – an attempt to read off an art         distant past – and the question of whether
form’s generic and specific possibilities from      it is a work of art at all converge; to be work
the independently given properties of its          that counts and to count as a work are one
medium. But this misrepresents both aspects        and the same.
of Cavell’s concept of a ‘medium’. First, the          Consequently, Cavell significantly revises
terms of Cavell’s specification of the medium       CLEMENT GREENBERG’s influential
of film are not read off from merely material       characterization of the modernist project in
properties of photography, but accrue their        painting (in ways convergent with Michael
highly idiosyncratic sense from his critical       Fried’s work). Greenberg argued that
interpretations of specific films and specific        modernist paintings identified the timeless
achievements of film. And the same is true          essence of painting as such; and this
of his characterizations of the various media      essentially cognitive achievement was seen
of film. He does not analyze the genres of          as distinct from the further task (also taken
remarriage comedy and the melodrama                on by these artists) of establishing what
of the unknown woman by first specifying            constituted good painting as such. For Cavell
the features necessary and sufficient for           (and Fried), however, since these works could
membership, and then testing individual            only establish anything about painting as
candidate films against that specification.          such if they elicited conviction in their quality,
Rather, each member is seen as mounting a          the two tasks were essentially inseparable;
critical study of the conventions hitherto seen    and what was thereby established was an
as definitive of that genre (say by establishing    identification of those conventions that, at
that the absence of one such convention            that given historical moment, were alone
can be compensated for in certain ways); it        capable of establishing the work’s identity as
113                                                                               STANLEY CAVELL


painting. Such identification could not ensure       in the idea of artistic greatness, or artistic
that another work invoking those conventions        value, altogether. Cavell has, consequently,
would automatically elicit conviction; neither      been accused of building a dislike of
could it show that other works acknowledging        postmodernism into his definition of art,
other conventions would fail to do so, now          as opposed to clarifying what is at stake in
or in the future. In short, the modernist           the future development of any art once it
artist’s grammatical investigation of essence       attains the modernist condition. Certainly,
is essentially historicized, with each work         recounting the grammar of art, or of an
standing or falling on its own terms, in its        artistic medium, cannot guarantee the
own time; and the fate of every such work           continuation of an interest in past artistic
ultimately depends on its capacity to elicit        achievement. It can only remind us of what
acknowledgement as a work – that is, as             is lost by its loss: the continued human
the discovery of a possibility of the medium        inhabitation of a realm in which objects can
– from its audience.                                be made that mean something to us the way
   For Cavell’s modernist, the past is an           people do, and that celebrate the sheer fact
undismissable problem. The history of               of the human capacity to make meaning in
his art sets the terms for his own creative         the face of indifferent nature and determined
investigation of his medium and media;              society. It remains far from obvious that
and to reject those terms altogether would          issuing such a reminder is no more than the
mean entirely losing interest in whether            defensive gesture of a humanist left behind
one’s work matters in the ways (or in ways          by history.
intelligibly related to the ways) the great work
of the past matters to us – losing interest                                    STEPHEN MULHALL




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                       Secondary literature
                                                    Beardsley, M. and Margolis, J., ‘Comments
 Primary literature
                                                       on Cavell’, in eds Capitan and Merrill, Art,
 Cavell, S., ‘Aesthetic Problems Of Modern             Mind and Religion, Pittsburgh: University of
    Philosophy’, ‘Music Discomposed’ and ‘A            Pittsburgh Press, 1967.
    Matter of Meaning It’, in Must We Mean What     Carroll, N., Theorizing the Moving Image,
    We Say?, Cambridge: Cambridge University           Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
    Press, 1969.                                       1996.
 Cavell, S., The World Viewed: Reflections on        Fried, Michael, Art and Objecthood, Chicago:
    the Ontology of Film (expanded edition),           University of Chicago Press, 1998.
    Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1979.      Rothman, W. and Keane, M., Reading Cavell’s The
 Cavell, S., Pursuits of Happiness: The Hollywood      World Viewed: A Philosophical Perspective on
    Comedy of Remarriage, Cambridge: Harvard           Film, Detroit: Wayne State University Press,
    University Press, 1981.                            2000.
ARTHUR C. DANTO                                                                                114




ARTHUR C. DANTO (1924–)
Arthur Danto made his reputation as                 were developed: cubism led to surrealism
a philosopher in the 1960s and early                and on to abstract expressionism, and
1970s publishing books on Nietzsche,                then there was earth art, minimalism, and
historiography, the theory of action, and           video and so on. Many critics and some
epistemology. In 1964 he wrote a short              aestheticians concluded that art had no
essay on the philosophy of art called ‘The          essence. Defining art, they argued, depends
Artworld’, which was inspired by a visit to an      upon conventions, and since many novel
exhibition of Andy Warhol’s sculpture where         forms of art have been developed, why should
Danto realized that a new definition of art          this process not continue? The World Wide
was needed: he had to explain why Brillo            Web makes possible forms of art unimagined
Box (1964), a sculpture that looks very much        even by Warhol. Danto was never tempted by
like the banal brillo box found in grocery          this argument. As an essentialist, he believes
stores, was art. ‘The Artworld’ discussed pop       that art has a non-conventional nature.
art and interpretation, and a structuralist            In 1995 Danto presented the Mellon
theory of art history, all of which were further    Lectures at the National Gallery, Washington
developed in 1981 in The Transfiguration of the      (After the End of Art [AEA]), where he
Commonplace.                                        discussed Hegel’s claim that the history of
   In the opening essay of The Transfiguration       art has ‘ended’. In his late 1820s lectures,
of the Commonplace Danto asks us to                 Hegel claimed that art, come to full self-
imagine a sequence of visually identical            consciousness, was being superseded by
red surfaces: this comprised a painting             philosophy; art’s history, arguably, had
showing the Egyptians who pursued the               effectively ended. Admitting that Hegel had
Israelites drowning in the Red Sea; a Moscow        dated this ending too early, Danto claims
landscape called ‘Red Square’; Red Table            that Warhol’s art achieved just that self-
Cloth, a still life by a follower of Matisse; and   consciousness. He lays out an explicit
an unpainted canvas primed in red. According        definition. ‘To be a work of art is to be (i)
to Danto, these visually indistinguishable          about something, and (ii) embody its meaning’
red surfaces have very different meanings.          (AEA, p. 195). A work of art is something that
They demonstrate that interpreting art              ‘refers’. It can be a representation, like an
requires knowing more than meets the eye.           old master painting, or an artefact linked to
After contrasting works of art and mere             theorizing, like an abstract painting or Brillo
physical objects, Danto develops theories of        Box. Many things that are not works of art
interpretation, representation and the nature       are about something: books on aesthetics
of metaphor.                                        or art history, for example, are about art but
   Danto’s definition of art was inspired by         are not themselves works of art. The second
Warhol’s exhibition. A century earlier, when        part of the definition introduces Danto’s
art was figurative, it would have been hard          Hegelian claim. Art critics tell us in so many
to imagine this analysis taking place. But          words what Brillo Box means. Warhol’s
Danto’s argument can be developed in purely         sculpture presents that meaning in a more
abstract terms using thought experiments.           direct way, by embodying it. Danto’s definition
In the twentieth century, many new art forms        explains why we need to interpret art. To
115                                                                        ARTHUR C. DANTO


know what meaning a work of art embodies        than Warhol’s; Scully’s paintings are very
commentators need to articulate it.             different from those of his acknowledged
   The Mellon Lectures join Danto’s             precursors, Mondrian and Rothko. In our
earlier philosophy of art to a discussion of    post-historical era, any and everything is
historiography. Since his Analytic Philosophy   possible. Hegel argued that not only art
of History (1965) had already discussed         history, but also history as such had come
Hegel, this stage in his development was        to an end. Recently Hegel’s thesis about the
well prepared. Traditionally art historians     end of history has been defended by Francis
have constructed large-scale narratives;        Fukuyama. Fukuyama in his famous book The
Ernst Gombrich told the story of art from       End of History and the Last Man (1992) argues
Cimabue through to Constable and argued         that the demise of Communism and fascism
that abstract expressionism had a late place    makes liberal democracy the only viable form
in this tradition; CLEMENT GREENBERG            of government. Danto does not make this
showed how old master illusionism was           claim. And Marxists like Frederic Jameson
followed by the modernist tradition in          linked the novel forms of art to broader social
which the art of Manet and his successors       changes; Danto does not. For him, the end of
leads to cubism, and later on to Pollock.       art’s history does not tell us anything about
But in the 1980s many American critics          broader historical developments. Danto is not
and art historians rejected such master         apolitical, but he does not find these ways of
narratives. Some critics said that art’s        describing the relationship between art and
history was exhausted; others claimed that      politics productive.
mass art or new media like video made              The Abuse of Beauty (2003) supplements
traditional art obsolete; some claimed that     this argument. In the 1990s American critics
artists should stop making paintings and        discussed the disappearance of beauty.
sculptures. The buzzword ‘postmodernism’        Certainly Brillo Box is not beautiful. Good
was used to describe this situation. Danto      art need not be beautiful, but the pleasures
offered something different, a philosophical    provided by beauty are essential to everyday
argument. The history of art ended because      life. In The Abuse of Beauty, Danto links the
Warhol finally got the question of art’s         pleasure of art with what might be called
nature into ‘the correct philosophical form’,   the politics of everyday life in new ways. His
thereby enabling Danto to discover that the     philosophy of art always has been tied to
nature of art inheres in what distinguishes     broader social concerns, and to understand
two indistinguishable objects or events,        Brillo Box we need to know something about
only one of which is a work of art. After       American culture in the 1960s, and about how
Warhol revealed art’s essence, no further       a gay man like Warhol viewed his society.
development was possible. Once the nature          Danto’s aesthetic is part of a broader
of art had been discovered, the history of      philosophical system, which was developed
art had ended. Henceforth we live in a post-    in his early books on action, epistemology
historical era.                                 and historiography, and then summarized in
   Danto’s thesis has been much discussed       Connections to the World (1997). Descartes’
and often misunderstood. He was not saying      philosophy provides the basic structure
that no interesting new art was being made.     for Danto’s. Like Descartes, Danto is
He admired Sherrie Levine, Robert Mangold,      interested in how we know and act upon
Robert Mapplethorpe, Mark Tansey, Cindy         the world. When I see my computer, a
Sherman, Saul Steinberg and Sean Scully;        mental representation is created; thanks
these artists indeed do something ‘new’.        to some brain activity, I view that machine,
Mapplethorpe’s erotic images go further         and when I write, I act upon the world. My
ARTHUR C. DANTO                                                                              116


wish to act causes my fingers to move. Such        trustworthy. An analogous claim can be made
simple cases of knowing and acting are the        about the distinction between Brillo Box and
necessary basis of the elaborate ways in          the mere physical brillo box. Since they look
which our historians and scientists reveal        exactly the same, only a theory of art can
the true causal order of the world. Our           explain why Warhol’s Brillo Box is a work of
representations are mental states, and so we      art. If you could subtract away these theories,
can always ask whether they are truthful. We      then all that would remain of Brillo Box is the
test a representation by examining its ability    brillo box. In the grocery store, brillo box is
to match reality.                                 just an object, but in the museum Brillo Box is
   Like Descartes, Danto is a dualist.            a work of art, in virtue of such a theory.
Descartes believed that there were physical          A few years after The Transfiguration
and spiritual things, which were connected in     appeared, Danto also started writing art
perception and action. Danto says that there      criticism for The Nation. In the 1980s much of
are representations and what they represent,      the most prestigious American criticism was
the world, but he makes no commitment             devoted to theorizing. As ROLAND BARTHES,
to spiritual substances like Cartesian            JACQUES DERRIDA and MICHEL FOUCAULT
souls. Most likely, he has suggested, our         were translated into English, many critics
mental representations are material brain         were inspired to develop highly theorized
states. What defines philosophy, Danto             accounts of contemporary art. These writers
argues, is this concern with the relationship     did not impress Danto. His own criticism, he
between the world and its representations.        has always emphasized, comes out of direct
Scientists and historians describe the facts;     experience of art, not art theory. In that way,
philosophers explain how it is possible for       he has more in common with Denis Diderot
us to have knowledge of the facts. Art too        and Charles Baudelaire than with the many
fits into this system. Like our mental states      art writers fashionable in the 1980s who were
that provide us with knowledge, works of          associated with ROSALIND KRAUSS and her
art are both mere things within the world         highly influential journal October.
and representations of the world. Brillo Box         For this reason, someone could accept
seems to be a mere physical object like the       Danto’s philosophical system yet offer very
brillo box, but is actually something more.       different critical judgments. A philosophy
Thanks to the theory of art it embodies, Brillo   of art must be general. Danto’s critical
Box is a work of art.                             judgments gain no authority from his
   According to Danto, all philosophical          philosophy of art. As a pluralist, he believes
problems involve indiscernibles. If two things    that immensely diverse forms of great art
appear visually indiscernible but are actually    are possible right now. The philosophy of art
very different, we need a philosophical theory    and art criticism have essentially different
to tell them apart. When Descartes asked          concerns. Art criticism is a form of rhetoric,
whether perception was truthful, he studied       in which the critic works to get viewers to see
dreams. I seem to see my computer. But            things his way. Philosophy has a different,
suppose that I am asleep, dreaming that I         deeper concern, describing the world as it
am writing, then my mental representation         really is.
would not be truthful. Only epistemology can
show that our mental representations are                                        DAVID CARRIER
117                                                                                   GILLES DELEUZE




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                         Auxier, Randall E. (ed.), The Philosophy of Arthur
                                                         C. Danto, Chicago/La Salle: Open Court
 Primary literature                                      Publishing, forthcoming.

 Danto, A. C., ‘The Artworld’, The Journal of
    Philosophy 61 (15 October 1964), pp. 571–84.
 Danto, A. C., Analytical Philosophy of History,
                                                      Secondary literature
    Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
    1965.                                             Carrier, D. (ed.), ‘Danto and His Critics: Art
 Danto, A. C., The Transfiguration of the                 History, History and After the End of
    Commonplace: A Philosophy of Art, Cambridge:         Art’, History and Theory, Theme Issue 37
    Harvard University Press, 1981.                      (December 1998).
 Danto, A. C., After the End of Art: Contemporary     Carrier, D., Rosalind Krauss and American
    Art and the Pale of History, Princeton:              Philosophical Art Criticism: from Formalism
    Princeton University Press, 1997.                    to beyond Postmodernism, Westport, Conn.
 Danto, A. C., Connections to the World: The Basic       and London: Greenwood/Praeger,
    Concepts of Philosophy, Berkeley, Los Angeles        2002.
    and London: University of California Press,       Danto, A. C., Gilmore, J., Horowitz, G., and Rush,
    1997.                                                F. ‘Symposium: Arthur Danto, The Abuse of
 Danto, A. C., The Abuse of Beauty: Aesthetics and       Beauty’, Inquiry, Vol. 48, No. 2 (April 2005).
    the Concept of Art, Chicago and La Salle, Ill.:   Haapala, A., Levinson, J., and Rantala, V. (eds)
    Open Court, 2003.                                    The End of Art and Beyond: Essays After Danto,
 Danto, A. C., Unnatural Wonders: Essays from the        New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1995.
    Gap Between Art and Life, New York: Farrar,       Hegel, G. W. F., Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art,
    Straus & Giroux, 2005                                trans. T. M. Knox, Oxford: Clarendon Press,
 An autobiographical memoir devoted to his               1975.
    work is forthcoming in the ‘Library of Living     Rollins, M. (ed.), Danto and His Critics, Oxford:
    Philosophers’ series:                                Blackwell, 1993.




GILLES DELEUZE
(1925–1995)
The philosophical work of Gilles Deleuze              and techniques utilized by the artist. His
attempts to equate philosophy and its                 early work consisted of bold and original
creation of concepts with modes of vital              studies of historical philosophical figures
expression and creativity in art. His work on         such as Hume, Bergson and Spinoza. In 1968
art is marked by an explicit suspension of            he published his first work of independent
critical judgment in order to attend to the           philosophy, Difference and Repetition, which
full implications of the different materials          marked him out as a thinker of significance
GILLES DELEUZE                                                                                    118


and formed the substantial philosophical             discourse capable of conveying pre-individual
basis for all his subsequent work. This              impersonal forces, energies, fluxes, flows
was followed by, among others, The Logic             and sensations that actual socio-historical
of Sense (1969), Francis Bacon: The Logic of         situations occlude, reify and domesticate
Sensation (1981), two volumes on cinema: The         into rational orders, conceptual systems
Movement-Image (1983) and The Time Image             and clichéd patterns of representation and
(1985); The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque            intelligibility.
(1988) and Essays Critical and Clinical (1993).         For Deleuze the dynamic movement of
He collaborated with the psychoanalyst Félix         ontogenesis (the movement from ‘virtual’ to
Guattari on a number of highly influential            ‘actual’) always takes place by a process of
works, including Anti-Oedipus (1972), A              differentiation, and thought must attempt to
Thousand Plateaus (1980) and What is                 pursue these divergent paths; rather than
Philosophy? (1991).                                  following a natural line of development from
   Deleuze constructs a materialist                  the ‘virtual’ to the ‘actual’, thought must be
philosophy by conceptually explicating the           effectively ‘counter-natural’, it must creatively
real material forces of life. Here ontology          pursue the virtual by travelling backwards
(the theory of ‘being’ or the ‘real’) becomes        from the ‘actual’ (Deleuze terms this
a study of the subterranean processes of             movement ‘counter-effectuation’). In order
individuation, that is, the invisible processes      to genuinely think the virtual, thought must
responsible for actualized phenomena within          dissemble the ‘actual’ and return to a point
space and time. Deleuze seeks to go beyond           where there are no longer any pre-existing
traditional ontology’s attempt to think ‘being’      co-ordinates or points of reference. It is this
via notions of fixed essences or substrates           effort towards counter-effectuation that
and develop a more dynamic account of                entails such an intimate relationship between
‘being’ as a process of becoming.                    philosophy and the non-philosophical.
   For Deleuze, individuated ‘beings’ result            All of Deleuze’s philosophical work (often
from becoming and always contain more than           in conjunction with Guattari) is marked by
their seemingly fixed forms would suggest,            a fundamental affinity with the arts. For
and it is precisely this ‘excess’ which needs to     Deleuze the ‘art of philosophy’ as the creation
be thought. His more dynamic ontology thus           of concepts only emerges in the face of a vital
concentrates upon thinking the very genesis          encounter with something ‘outside’ thought;
of actualized ‘being’ in space and time, and is      thought is always moved from without, as a
best described as a theory of ‘onto-genesis’.        result of some shock or encounter. Deleuze
Thus philosophy must attempt to transfigure           repeatedly calls upon an encounter with art
itself from a concern with the fixed                  as a means for guiding philosophical thought
phenomenal realm (the ‘actual’) to the realm         out of the habitual ‘images of thought’
of pre-phenomenal forces of becoming that            under which philosophy often labours. It is
operate as the condition of all individuated         no longer feasible to posit reason, common
things (the ‘virtual’). The ‘virtual’ is Deleuze’s   sense and pre-existing powers of recognition
concept for the embryonic multiplicity of pre-       at the origin of a philosophical construction of
phenomenal forces coiled inside the realm of         concepts. Rather, contemporary philosophy
individuated and actual ‘being’. His creative        must creatively construct its concepts
ontology of becoming ceaselessly strives to          ‘outside’ its own conceptual field, from
go beyond mere surface fixities associated            within science, the visual arts, literature and
with the ‘actual’ (for example the existing          cinema. Philosophy must actively engage
conditions of current culture and society)           with and emulate non-philosophical realms
in the effort to assemble a conceptual               in order to begin constructing its activity of
119                                                                              GILLES DELEUZE


thought upon the ground of ‘something that          of art in order to engage in an act of ‘co-
does not think’ philosophically, to relate          creation’ with the ‘autopoietic’ forces of the
itself to an unthinkable and imperceptible          ‘virtual’. Through these materials are created
exteriority. This exteriority, Deleuze argues,      what Deleuze and Guattari term consistent
‘calls forth forces in thought which are not        ‘beings of sensation’ (or ‘haecceities’) that
the forces of recognition, today or tomorrow,       are independent of any specific perception,
but the powers of a completely other model,         affection and sentiments associated with the
from an unrecognised and unrecognisable             human. Works of art are independent ‘beings
terra incognito’ (Difference and Repetition, p.     of sensation’ capable of providing an affective
172). Hence, the creative activity of philosophy    encounter through what they term ‘percepts’
necessarily rests upon it being intertwined         and ‘affects’ (pure ‘beings of sensation’
and co-implicated with the ‘autopoiesis’ (the       that are extracted from the perceptions and
creatively autonomous movement of self-             affections of everyday corporeal experience).
positing) of the non-philosophical realms.          Artists express pure forms of perception and
   Deleuze privileges the specifically               sensation (‘percepts’ and ‘affects’) that are
‘autopoietic’ forces and rhythms present            independent of the pre-existing conceptual
in works of art, that is, the intrinsic self-       identity of any given thing. These have the
ordering and creative self-positing associated      affect of destabilizing us, drawing us out
with the different materials utilized by artists    of and beyond ourselves by expressing (or
– paint, stone, cinematic movement and time         bringing to expression) a world of potential
image, and language. Thus, the matter of            movements and new varieties of possibilities
an artwork is never simply a homogeneous            that associate our actual existence with
substance that passively receives                   something different or external to it.
preconceived forms, but is an emergent                 For Deleuze it is a matter of concentrating
autopoietic line of divergent becoming. He          upon the way in which an artist uses a
argues that all forms of art seek to invent         specific material – how his or her materials
or create the means for harnessing and              become inherently expressive of sensation
rendering visible the ‘virtual’ intensities of      rather than merely a vehicle for a pre-
life through negotiation with the ‘autopoietic’     existing idea of a specific sensation. It is here
traits of material. Indeed, the creative activity   that the genuinely ‘self-ordering’ (autopoietic)
of art is capable of reaching and harnessing        virtual potentials of matter operating as the
the virtual movement of differentiation             condition of individuation can be ‘thought’ and
and becoming, the chaotic plane of ‘virtual         developed aesthetically. Individuated forms
multiplicity’ folded imperceptibly within the       become something suggested by the different
actual. Art becomes creatively vital through        materials; sensible varieties of possibility
its immersion within the ‘autopoietic’ realm        emerge from the virtual potentials of matter.
of virtual forces and intensities; this is a        Artists thus surrender to matter, follow its
realm without concepts or individuated              virtual singularities and, by attending to these
forms, capable of dissolving all settled            virtual traits, allow material to speak to their
organic forms into pre-individual zones of          ‘instinct’.
intensive forces where one can no longer               While Deleuze has written on many
differentiate human from animal, vegetable          different art forms, including literature,
and mineral.                                        cinema and architecture, one of his most
   Artists are engaged in ‘creating’ the plastic    significant texts is a work on the visual
methods and techniques for handling the             arts, Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation.
‘autopoiesis’ associated with the different         Here the specificity of Bacon’s paintings
materials involved in the multiple practice         is utilized to develop a number of new
GILLES DELEUZE                                                                                120


concepts, allowing him to move away from           techniques Bacon develops for handling
a standard representational view of painting       the autopoietic traits of paint – techniques
towards an understanding of painting               developed for productively utilizing ‘virtual’
capable of presenting intensive forces and         traits immanent within paint as a means for
affects. Deleuze seeks to explicate the fact       creative fabulation and figuration. Bacon’s
that for many painters paint has its own           work ultimately exemplifies a radically
specific ‘logic’, or indeed multiple logics,        material form of expression with its own
its own meanings, its own expressions              specific ‘sense’ and ‘logic’; colour and line
and its own ‘analogical’ language. In The          schemas in Bacon’s work are thus elevated to
Logic of Sensation he develops a bold and          the state of a pre-representational analogical
original understanding of how Bacon’s              language capable of conveying and bearing
work constitutes an ‘analogical’ language          the sensation of virtual becoming. Deleuze
in and of paint, a specifically painterly ‘logic    concludes that it is through the elaboration
of sensation’ that emerges instinctively           of a pure painterly logic of sensation that
from an intimate negotiation with the              painters like Bacon are able to liberate
autopoietic material traits of paint. Bacon’s      themselves from the figurative co-ordinates
abstract figural work is conceived as               of conventional representations and thereby
being paradigmatically concerned with the          release the multiple possibilities of invention
expressive materiality of paint, and conveying     according to an uncoded analogical language.
intense beings of sensation. His paintings, by        What Deleuze’s study of Francis Bacon
circumventing narrative relations, are able to     exemplifies is his insistence, evident within
concentrate on expressing impersonal sub-          all his philosophical work on art, on how
representational ‘matters of fact’, and explore    philosophers must become increasingly
the possibilities of what can be achieved          attentive to artists’ pre-conceptual and
through the virtual traits of the materiality of   pre-verbal understandings of the material
paint.                                             with which they create. Philosophers need to
   Deleuze’s understanding of Bacon’s              listen more closely to how artists negotiate
paintings rests upon seeing them as                with the autopoietic aspects of the different
conveying a very special type of violence, a       materials they use in order that lessons for
violence not of the represented spectacle of       philosophy and its own efforts towards a
horror but of sensations linked to a unique        ceaseless creative activity of ‘thinking the
encounter with virtual forces. It is, Deleuze      virtual’ in concepts can be genuinely learnt.
insists, a specific violence associated with           In recent years there have been a number
the vital autonomy of colour and line. As he       of contemporary critics of Deleuze’s
writes in Difference and Repetition, it is only    philosophy, including Žižek and Badiou.
through a certain abandonment of figuration         However, it is Jacques Rancière’s work
and representation ‘that we find the lived          that has paid the most consistent critical
reality of a sub-representational domain’.         attention to Deleuze’s aesthetics. In a recent
Bacon’s paintings should thus be understood        work, The Politics of Aesthetics, he argues
as rhythmic experiments in painting sub-           that Deleuze’s aesthetics serves to occlude
representational sensations of virtual             questions regarding the different ways in
becoming. Throughout the study Deleuze             which aesthetics is ‘politicized’, i.e. how the
analyzes in detail Bacon’s specific handling        visible and the invisible, the audible and the
of the conflicts between chaos and order,           inaudible, the sayable and the unsayable
chance and control, and his negotiation with       come to be politically circumscribed.
the realm of the ‘unthought’ in the act of
painting. He concentrates upon the specific                                   DARREN AMBROSE
121                                                                                  JACQUES DERRIDA




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                          With Félix Guattari:
                                                       A Thousand Plateaus, London: Continuum, 1988.
 Primary literature                                    What is Philosophy?, London: Verso, 1994.
                                                       Anti-Oedipus, London: Continuum, 2005.
 Deleuze, G., Cinema 1: The Movement-Image,
    London: Continuum, 1989.
 Deleuze, G., Cinema 2: The Time-Image, London:        Secondary literature
    Continuum, 1989.                                   Ansell-Pearson, K., Germinal Life: The Difference
 Deleuze, G., The Logic of Sense, London:                 and Repetition of Deleuze, London: Routledge,
    Continuum, 1990.                                      1999.
 Deleuze, G., The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque,       Bogue, R., Deleuze on Music, Painting and the Arts,
    London: Continuum, 1993.                              London: Routledge, 2003.
 Deleuze, G., Difference and Repetition, London:       Colebrook, C., Gilles Deleuze, London: Routledge,
    Continuum, 1994.                                      2002.
 Deleuze, G., Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation,   Rajchman, J., The Deleuze Connections,
    London: Continuum, 2003.                              Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000.
                                                       Rancière, J., The Politics of Aesthetics, London:
                                                          Continuum, 2004.




JACQUES DERRIDA
(1930–2004)
Jacques Derrida was born in Algiers, in the            over the other, such as the signified over the
then French colony of Algeria, in 1930. He             (merely empirical, merely material) signifier,
moved to Paris in 1950, studying and later             and the voice over (merely supplemental,
teaching at the École Normale Supérieure.              merely graphic) writing. This hierarchization
In the latter half of his life he was director         is symptomatic, argues Derrida (closely
of studies at the École des Hautes Études              following Heidegger), of a general and
en Sciences Sociales, Paris, and visiting              metaphysical valuing of presence: that
professor at a number of US universities.              which is, be it the world that can be seen, a
He helped found Groupe de Recherches sur               consciousness that can be reflected upon or a
L’Enseignment Philosophique (GREPH) and                self identical to itself, in the present moment
the Collège international de philosophie               of an actual ‘here and now’ or ‘living present’
(CIPh), Paris.                                         (the term is Husserl’s); while that which is
   The primary concern of Derrida’s formative          opposed to presence, absence, is deemed to
writings is to draw out the binary oppositions         be derived and secondary and contingent.
structuring philosophical texts, and show                  Derrida then proceeds to do two things:
how the history of philosophy has tended               (i) reveal how in fact the subordinate term
to accord one of the binary terms priority             is necessary for the maintenance of the
JACQUES DERRIDA                                                                                   122


dominant one, to the extent that in principle       in reincorporating aesthetic creation ever
it is always possible to reverse them; (ii)         more firmly into an economy of imitation
problematize not simply the hierarchy but           and repetition; ‘Parergon’ does so by taking
the very oppositionality of the two terms,          those aspects conventionally considered to
the border between them, the ways in                be ornamental, which Kant names parerga
which what is ‘inside’ either term is claimed       (such as the frame, drapery of statues, or
to be essential, necessary or natural, by           the columns of temples) and, by reinscribing
‘reinscribing’ them back into the texts in          them, demonstrates how Kant finds it
question minus the hierarchy of one over the        difficult to assign them a stable place without
other. The former could not be carried out          importing a logical frame from elsewhere
without the space created by the latter. The        in the system. Derrida shows how parerga
aim is to undo binarisms, decompose them            supplement a ‘lack’ internally constitutive
and de-sediment their historical privilege          of the works they frame such that they
and external hegemony, not from a position          cannot be said to be either inside or outside.
‘outside’ the text, as if deconstruction were       ‘Restitutions’ focuses on how both Heidegger
an operation performed authoritatively ‘on’         and Schapiro ascribe features or properties
it, but by showing how texts deconstruct            to a painting by van Gogh for which there
themselves; and not as a negative operation         is no internal evidence guaranteeing the
but as a way of freeing texts up, ‘multiplying      identification or the claims of verisimilitude.
the differences’ and allowing for the               All these essays are concerned one way or
possibility of readings no longer governed by       another with the frame, with the distinction
the value or presupposition of presence.            inside/outside and what sustains or
    It is not difficult then to see why the notion   reinforces that distinction, and the ways
of ‘the frame’ might interest Derrida. But          in which what is claimed or conventionally
it was not until the mid-1970s that Derrida         thought to be outside might in fact be
sought to demonstrate how deconstruction            functioning formatively, to figure or maintain
could be performed on canonical texts in            the inside.
the philosophy of art, and how art objects               The essays on Adami and Titus-Carmel, as
could themselves be deconstructive of               well the late essay on the artist Atlan, bring
philosophical and historical discourses             to the fore the ‘traits’ of artworks, such as
on art. This took the form of two papers            the line and the brushstroke, which might
engaging with Kant’s critical project,              equally disaffirm as affirm the truth of the
‘Economimesis’ and ‘Parergon’, and two              concepts around which discourses on art
catalogue essays on artists contemporary            organize themselves. And playing on a term
with Derrida: Adami and Titus-Carmel.               invoked by Artaud – the ‘subjectile’– allows
Together with ‘Restitutions’, Derrida’s             Derrida to show how the material support of
response to Heidegger’s ‘The Origin of the          a work of art, for instance the paper or the
Work of Art’ (and Meyer Schapiro’s critique         canvas, at the same time withdraws from
of it), the last three papers appear in The         it and becomes invisible. This questioning
Truth in Painting (1978), Derrida’s major           of medium-specificity is further pursued in
contribution to the study of art.                   two texts on the moving image, featuring
    The two essays on Kant question the             pieces in which Derrida appears, a video
coherence of a system which tries to locate         by Gary Hill and a film by Ken McMullen
a separate domain called the ‘aesthetic’:           respectively: ‘the specificity of a “new art” . . .
‘Economimesis’ does this by showing                 is not in a relation of irreducible dependence
how, in his attempt to free the productive          . . . and especially of synchrony with the
imagination from nature, Kant succeeds only         emergence of a technical generality or a
123                                                                          JACQUES DERRIDA


new “support”’ (‘Videor’, p. 178); ‘When the      to what some perceive to be a problem with
very first perception of an image is linked        Derrida’s writing on art: its privileging of
to a structure of reproduction, then we are       the discursive over the non-discursive or
dealing with the realm of phantoms . . .’         the visual. It may be, as Derrida himself
(‘Ghost Dance’, p. 61).                           suggests, ‘that a certain general theoretical
   Perhaps all of Derrida’s writing on art        formalization of the deconstructive possibility
can be characterized by the attempt to show       has more affinity with discourse (than with
how on the one hand discourses on art tend        the non-discursive, non-verbal, spatial,
to desire, claim or assume authority over         or visual)’ (‘The Spatial Arts’, p. 14) – an
the ‘mute’ work of visual art, and thereby        important admission. But if visual art resists
subordinate the visual to the discursive; and     deconstruction it is not immune from it. And
on the other show how ostensibly ‘mute’           besides, the ‘formalization’ of deconstruction
works are authoritative, indeed authoritarian,    is something philosophers and writers on
in their very silence – that is, how works        the discursive arts themselves might wish
of art are already saying something all           to resist. One explanation for Derrida’s
the more powerful for their silence, an           reticence, if we can call it that, is suggested
authoritarianism from which discourses on         by Geoff Bennington as a suspicion of a
art, discourses no less concrete and material     moment of sensory or perceptual presence:
than the object talked about, might seek to       ‘I suspect that what we say about having a
liberate themselves. Interpretations of art       feeling for art presupposes the very things
for Derrida are always situated between and       that Derrida is busily undoing in one way or
tensed by these two poles: ‘Thus there are        another’ (Deconstruction: Omnibus Volume,
two interpretations – one is always between       p. 77), something Bennington contrasts with
the two, whether it is a question of sculpture,   JEAN-FRANÇOIS LYOTARD’s insistence on
architecture, or painting’ (‘The Spatial Arts’,   just that.
p. 13). It is precisely this indeterminacy and        But there is a more critical interpretation,
heterogeneity at the site of interpretation       one which would hold Derrida to account
which is exploited by philosophers of art         for a classical privileging of philosophy over
interested, unlike Derrida, in retrieving the     art practice. One such charge is made by
ontological status of artworks – witness          Michael Kelly, who argues that Memoirs of the
Andrew Benjamin’s notion of ‘anoriginal           Blind (1990), the catalogue accompanying an
difference’, where the art object is not the      exhibition at the Louvre curated by Derrida,
origin of the interpretation, but nor is there    inscribes a philosophical interest, in this
anything prior to it, hence anoriginal, an        case Derrida’s disinterest in looking at art,
origin that is not original.                      into what is in fact an aesthetic theory held
   All works of art for Derrida are always        by Derrida (Iconoclasm in Aesthetics, p. 110).
already ‘textualized’ in his expanded             This fits Derrida into a history of iconoclasm.
sense, one which is not purely discursive         Moreover, for Derrida to begin his enquiry
or linguistic or literary not least because       with what drawing is not, its blindness
it carries with it a spatiality which we          and powerlessness, which Kelly reads as
might more conventionally associate with          drawing’s failure, is to begin with philosophy
the visual arts. And art, for Derrida, has        rather than with art practice. A related
always been complicit with its philosophical      criticism is made by PIERRE BOURDIEU, for
determination, in the sense that it has           whom Derrida, because he ‘never withdraws
borrowed from philosophy the means with           from the philosophical game’, ‘cannot truly
which to define, explicate, legitimize and         tell the truth about the Kantian philosophy
historicize its practices. But this brings us     of art and, more generally, about philosophy
JACQUES DERRIDA                                                                                           124


itself, which his own discourse has helped              (for instance a ‘university to come’ in
to produce’ (Distinction, p. 495). According to         which a ‘new humanities’ would welcome
Bourdieu, Derrida never deconstructs himself            the transformative effects of the practical
as a philosopher, thus Derrida’s work can be            aspects of art making), the emphasis was
viewed as an exemplary form of philosophical            always on literature and the performative
denial.                                                 force of the linguistic speech act. Derrida has
   Deconstruction has attempted to narrow               little to say about aesthetic education and
the gap between theory and practice from                those facets of it which may be productive
the side of practice – to realign writing with          of a positive difference to the teaching of
the visual arts and broaden its conception              humanities subjects. But there is still much
by encompassing technics, the audio-                    work to be done in drawing out the full
visual and the compositional (see, for                  implications of Derrida’s texts on visual art
example, Greg Ulmer’s notion of ‘applied                for philosophy, and of his thinking for visual
grammatology’). When Derrida spoke, as he               art.
did throughout his career, of the need for
new sorts of knowledge and communication                               JONATHAN LAHEY DRONSFIELD



 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                           Brunette, P. and Wills, D., ‘The Spatial Arts:
                                                           An Interview with Jacques Derrida’, trans.
 Primary literature                                        Laure Volpe, in eds Brunette and Wills,
                                                           Deconstruction & the Visual Arts: Art, Media,
 Derrida, J., ‘Economimesis’, (1975) trans. Richard        Architecture, Cambridge: Cambridge
   Klein, Diacritics 11 (1981), pp. 3–25.                  University Press, 1994, pp. 9–32.
 Derrida, J., The Truth in Painting, (1978) trans.      Payne, A. and Lewis, M., ‘The Ghost Dance: An
   Geoff Bennington and Ian McLeod, Chicago:               Interview with Jacques Derrida’, trans. Jean-
   University of Chicago Press, 1987.                      Luc Svoboda, Public 1 (1987), pp. 60–73.
 Derrida, J. (with Plissart, Marie-Françoise), Right
   of Inspection, (1985) trans. David Wills, New
   York: Monacelli Press, 1998.                         Secondary literature
 Derrida, J. (with Thévenin, Paule), The Secret         Benjamin, A., Art, Mimesis, and the Avant-Garde:
   Art of Antonin Artaud, (1986) trans. Mary Ann           Aspects of a Philosophy of Difference, London:
   Caws, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1998.                       Routledge, 1991.
 Derrida, J., Memoirs of the Blind: The Self-Portrait   Bourdieu, P., Distinction: A Social Critique of the
   and Other Ruins, (1990) trans. Pascale-Anne             Judgement of Taste, (1979) trans. R. Nice,
   Brault and Michael Naas, Chicago: University            Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984.
   of Chicago Press, 1993.                              Brunette, P. and Wills, D. (eds), Deconstruction
 Derrida, J., ‘Videor’, in eds David Bellour and           & the Visual Arts: Art, Media, Architecture,
   van Assche, Passages de L’Image, Barcelona:             Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
   Fundacio Caiza de Pensions, 1990, pp. 174–9.            1994.
 Derrida, J., Atlan Grand Format: De la couleur à la    Kelly, M., Iconoclasm in Aesthetics, Cambridge:
   lettre, Paris: Gallimard, 2001.                         Cambridge University Press, 2003.
                                                        Papadakis, A., Cooke, Catherine and Benjamin,
 Interviews
                                                           Andrew (eds), Deconstruction: Omnibus
 ‘Deconstructing Vision: Jacques Derrida in                Volume, London: Academy Editions, 1989.
    discussion with Terry Smith’, in eds Patton         Ulmer, G., Applied Grammatology: Post(e)
    and Smith, Jacques Derrida: Deconstruction             Pedagogy from Jacques Derrida to Joseph
    Engaged: The Sydney Seminars, Sydney: Power            Beuys, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University
    Publications, 2001, pp. 14–53.                         Press, 1985.
125                                                                              GEORGE DICKIE




GEORGE DICKIE (1926–)
Born in Palmetto, Florida, George Dickie          his latest attempt to defend the theory,
received his Ph.D. in philosophy from UCLA        articulated in the 2001 book Art and Value,
in 1959 and from 1967 to 1995 was Professor       will manage to silence them.
of Philosophy at the University of Illinois,          Dickie’s most important early work
Chicago, where he is currently Professor          consisted in a series of attacks on
Emeritus. Dickie has been one of the most         contemporary aesthetic theories. Such
prominent aestheticians of the past forty         theories aimed to demarcate and define
years, having since the 1960s made a number       the concept of the ‘aesthetic’, and hence to
of significant contributions to important          identify the nature of aesthetic appreciation
topics in philosophical aesthetics. He was        and the perception of aesthetic qualities
accordingly appointed vice-president, and         by appeal to a special type of experience
subsequently president of the American            or attitude that is distinguishable from
Society for Aesthetics in 1991–92 and             other types of experiences or attitudes.
1993–94 respectively. His voluminous output       The aesthetic attitude was typically held to
is represented by a number of monographs,         depend on a special psychological state,
the highly influential, co-edited Aesthetics: A    such as ‘disinterestedness’, which involved
Critical Anthology (1977), and a large range      the lack or suppression of ulterior purposes
of articles, including current work, dealing      or ‘interests’ when regarding an object
among other things with the following             aesthetically. In his classic paper ‘The Myth of
subjects: the definition of art, the evaluation    the Aesthetic Attitude’ (1964) Dickie argued,
of art, the role of intention and the nature of   however, that special aesthetic states of mind
critical principles. Dickie has also written      are a myth and that ‘disinterested’ refers
extensively on eighteenth-century aesthetic       merely to the (lack of) ulterior interests with
theories, but his most important and              which someone may regard an object. There
influential work consists in his objections        is, he insisted, only one way of attending to
to contemporary aesthetic theories, and the       an object, although this may be subject to
development in a number of versions of his        varying degrees of distraction. In light of this,
well-known institutional theory of art.           cases of supposedly interested attention are
   These last contributions to philosophical      really more accurately described simply as
aesthetics and art theory marked a turning        cases of inattention.
point in contemporary debates, making                 Hence, Dickie argued, the notion of a
Dickie a seminal figure in the field. At the        disinterested attitude simply collapses into
same time, however, criticism of Dickie’s         that of undistracted attention to something,
institutional theory has been fierce and           about which there is nothing peculiarly
persistent since its first inception, and its      aesthetic. In a long-running debate with
influence has been further shaken by the           Monroe Beardsley, Dickie took a similarly dim
emergence over the intervening years of           view of the notion of aesthetic experience,
a number of powerful rival theories of art.       arguing that the criteria cited as demarcating
Meanwhile, Dickie’s attempts to answer his        it, such as ‘wholeness’, ‘unity’, ‘coherence’,
critics have so far met with rather limited       can be properly attributed only to objects,
success, and it is too early to discern whether   particularly artworks. To hold otherwise,
GEORGE DICKIE                                                                                          126


he maintained, is simply to confuse the            Dickie’s formulation of the institutional theory
experience of the properties of objects with       of art went as follows:
the properties of the experience itself (Art and
the Aesthetic [AA], 1974).                               A work of art in the classificatory sense is (1)
                                                         an artefact (2) a set of the aspects of which
   These arguments are symptomatic of
                                                         has had conferred upon it the status of
Dickie’s antipathy to psychologizing in
                                                         candidate for appreciation by some person
aesthetics; that is, they are born out of,               or persons acting on behalf of a certain
and depend partly upon, his view that we                 social institution (the artworld). (AA, p. 34)
should not indulge in introspection, but turn
to objects and their properties in order to            This definition (i) provides jointly necessary
examine and explain the ‘aesthetic’. They also     and sufficient conditions for something to be
entail a rejection of aesthetic theories of art,   art; (ii) is intended to cover all the arts; and
namely the idea that artworks can be defined        (iii) is classificatory rather than evaluative.
in terms of their aesthetic function, such as      Part of Dickie’s intention was to explain
to cause aesthetic experiences.                    the art status of avant-garde art, such as
   Throughout the 1950s and 1960s traditional      Duchamp’s Fountain, which was physically
projects of essential definition – the search       indistinguishable from ordinary non-art
for the jointly necessary and sufficient            objects. Artworks could be anything so long
conditions of art – appeared to have been          as their status was conferred in the right way,
undermined by the neo-Wittgensteinian              by those with the appropriate authority vis-
arguments of philosophers such as Morris           à-vis the right institutional context, the art
Weitz. Taking their cue from the manifold,         world. It is important to realize, however, that
problematic developments of avant-garde            the status conferred is not that of ‘artwork’
modern art, they held that (i) art cannot          but ‘candidate for appreciation’. Although
be defined because it is an open concept            admitting that the notion of the art world
lacking any essence, and (ii) art can be           is vague, consisting of a ‘loosely organised,
identified instead through the notion of            but nevertheless related, set of persons . . .
‘family resemblance’. While agreeing               [in fact] every person who sees himself as a
that traditional essential definitions of art       member of the artworld’, Dickie maintained
failed, however, Dickie objected that this         that the ‘bundle of systems’ of which it is
scepticism was also misplaced because              constituted nonetheless amounts to a social
(a) the family resemblance method could            institution (AA, pp. 33–35).
not plausibly be used to identify art, since           After a decade of intense criticism, Dickie
everything resembles everything else to            reformulated the institutional theory (The
some extent, and (b) an essential definition        Art Circle [AC], 1984), providing the new
need not, contra Weitz, preclude originality       definition: A work of art is an artefact of a
and creativity in art (AA). Following an idea of   kind created to be presented to an art world
Mandelbaum’s, Dickie argued that traditional       public. This is supported by four further
essential definitions failed because they           propositions:
were concerned only with the ‘exhibited’
or perceptual properties of objects, rather        (i)  An artist is a person who participates
than with their non-exhibited relational                with understanding in making a work of
properties. Instead, drawing on ARTHUR                  art.
DANTO’s concept of ‘the artworld’ (1964),          (ii) A public is a set of persons whose
he urged that we must look to the complex               members are prepared in some degree
social and cultural network in which artworks           to understand an object that is presented
are embedded to understand their essence.               to them.
127                                                                              GEORGE DICKIE


(iii) The art world is the totality of all art     whole project. These centre on the circularity
      world systems.                               and emptiness which are claimed to afflict
(iv) An art world system is a framework for        both versions of the institutional theory.
      the presentation of a work by an artist to      As noted originally by Walton, the conferral
      an art world public                          of status as candidate for appreciation occurs
(reprinted in Art and Value, p. 28)                in many settings outside the art world. The
                                                   question thus arises as to how Dickie’s
   Abandoning talk of institutions and the         definition distinguishes these conferrals from
formal sounding ‘conferral of status’, Dickie      art-making ones, the only answer to which
stresses that art can exist only ‘in a cultural    seems to be, by referring to the art world and
matrix, as the product of someone fulfilling a      its practices. But without explaining further
cultural role’ (AC, p. 55).                        what it is about these that marks them off
   Despite various criticisms of specific           from other status-conferring practices,
points, many of Dickie’s original and cogent       in other words in offering no independent
objections to aesthetic theories have              account of the art world, Dickie’s definition
remained persuasive even if they have not          becomes circular because art and the art
succeeded in ridding aesthetics altogether         world are part of the definiens. And an exactly
of the use of notions such as the aesthetic        parallel problem of circularity arises for the
attitude and aesthetic experience. As              revised version in which no independent way
Beardsley pointed out, for example, without        of distinguishing art world systems from
some notion of aesthetic experience, it is         other systems of presentation and production
difficult to account for the distinctive nature     is given.
of the appreciation of art (The Aesthetic Point       Dickie (AC) has admitted this circularity
of View, 1982). This, in fact, also amounts to a   but strenuously denies that it is vicious,
criticism of the institutional theory, in which    that is, that it undermines the validity of
the notion of appreciation on which Dickie         his definition. Rather, he asserts that it
relies – ‘in experiencing the qualities of a       accurately reflects the ‘inflected’ nature of
thing one finds them worthy or valuable’ – is       art, namely the necessary interdependency
clearly not specific enough to differentiate art    on one another of a set of practices in which
from other objects (AA).                           the central concepts of ‘art’, ‘art world’,
   Indeed, almost every term of Dickie’s           ‘artist’ cannot be understood independently
original formulation of the theory has been        of one another.
subjected to analysis and questioning,                This stance has, however, met with a great
and strong objections have been mounted            deal of scepticism, leading to arguments
in particular to the analogy with formal           that Dickie’s theory is essentially empty,
institutions (NOËL CARROLL, ‘Beyond                and hence not really a definition at all, for it
Aesthetics’), and with respect to the              does not tell us anything about art qua art.
possibility, apparently denied by the              RICHARD WOLLHEIM thus pointed out in
institutional theory, that someone could           respect of the original version that it says
make art that was never exhibited or offered       nothing about the sorts of reasons required
as a candidate for appreciation with reference     for conferring the relevant status, leaving the
to the art world (see Beardsley, 1982 and          basis on which decisions are made entirely
Davies, 1991). Yet even if the institutional       opaque. In respect of the revised version,
theory can be tightened up to counter these        Carroll similarly argues that although ‘art’ is
particular problems, as Dickie has indeed          mentioned throughout, the overall framework
attempted, the most trenchant criticisms           could be filled in with the names of other
have been seen by many to undermine the            complex communicative practices, ‘such as
GEORGE DICKIE                                                                                           128


philosophy’. At best, he argues, Dickie has            previous two decades. Moreover, Dickie’s
formulated the necessary features of such              emphasis on the social, contextual nature
practices in general, but he has not told us           of art helped to initiate an important shift
anything at all about art.                             in philosophical thinking on the topic that
   Despite these many criticisms and                   has remained as deeply influential as his
problems, and although drawing on some                 objections to aesthetic theories. Added to
of the ideas of contemporary thinkers, in              his ongoing engagement with contemporary
particular Danto, it is fair to say that Dickie’s      debates on various issues in aesthetics,
initial formulation of the institutional               Dickie’s work remains an important point of
theory almost single-handedly rescued the              reference for discussions about the nature
intellectual respectability of the philosophical       and value of art.
project of defining art from the scepticism
that had undermined this project in the                                             CAIN SAMUEL TODD




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                          Secondary literature
                                                       Beardsley, M., The Aesthetic Point of View, eds
 Primary literature                                       Wreen and Callen, Ithaca: Cornell University
                                                          Press 1982.
 Dickie, G., ‘The Myth of the Aesthetic Attitude’,
                                                       Carroll, N., Beyond Aesthetics: Philosophical
    American Philosophical Quarterly (1964).
                                                          Essays, Cambridge: Cambridge University
 Dickie, G., Art and the Aesthetic: An Institutional
                                                          Press, 2001.
    Analysis, London: Cornell University Press,
                                                       Danto, A., ‘The Artworld’, Journal of Philosophy 61
    1974.
                                                          (October 1964), pp. 571–84.
 Dickie, G., The Art Circle: A Theory of Art, New
                                                       Davies, S., Definitions of Art, Ithaca: Cornell
    York: Havens, 1984.
                                                          University Press, 1991.
 Dickie, G., Evaluating Art, Philadelphia: Temple
                                                       Walton, K., ‘Review of Art and the Aesthetic: An
    University Press, 1988.
                                                          Institutional Analysis’, The Philosophical Review
 Dickie, G., Art and Value, Oxford: Blackwell,
                                                          (1977).
    2001.
                                                       Wollheim, R., Art and its Objects, Cambridge:
                                                          Cambridge University Press, 1980.
129                                                                 JEAN-FRANÇOIS LYOTARD




JEAN-FRANÇOIS
LYOTARD (1924–1998)
Jean-François Lyotard was born in Versailles,     This quality comes out strongly in Lyotard’s
France; he died in Paris on April 21, 1998. His   works on individual artists, notably his books
earliest works were a critical introduction to    on Jacques Monory (The Assassination of
phenomenology (Phenomenology, 1954) and           Experience by Painting – Monory, 1998) and
a series of articles on the Algerian war for      Marcel Duchamp (Duchamp’s TRANS/formers,
independence and struggle for revolution in       1990). An introduction to this attempt to
the socialist journal Socialisme ou barbarie      combine different areas and practices can
(1955–63). These articles reflected his years      be found in Lyotard’s best-known book, The
teaching in a lycée in Constantine (Algeria)      Postmodern Condition (1984).
from 1950 to 1952. From the 1960s up to               The term ‘postmodern’ for Lyotard does
the 1990s, Lyotard taught in Paris at the         not mean an artistic epoch (postmodernity)
University of Nanterre and at the Collège         or specific works (postmodern art). Instead,
international de philosophie, of which he         the postmodern is a function of artworks
was a founder member. Whilst at Nanterre,         when they trigger feelings that lead to a
Lyotard was strongly involved in the political    fragmentation of the narratives that surround
events of May 1968; he remained politically       them. For example a work of art can cause a
engaged throughout his career and this            feeling of shock associated with a newfound
activity is important in understanding his        disbelief in established ways of categorizing
work on art. Lyotard taught at universities       and explaining the importance of art. This
worldwide, most notably in the United States      happens with the ‘avant-garde’ – a key
at Emory and the University of California,        concept for Lyotard, for the avant-garde
Irvine. He was a leading international intel-     redefines what art means and how it is done.
lectual from the publication of The Post-         The art then becomes political, in the sense
modern Condition (1979) through to his death.     that well-recognized values are challenged.
   A useful way of understanding Lyotard’s        It is also social and cultural, in the sense
work on art and artists can be found in his       that long-standing and pervasive ways of
friend GILLES DELEUZE’s concept of the            explaining social existence and cultural
assemblage: a combination of different            value lose their power. The postmodern is
machines that come together and function          therefore a process that goes from large-
to change themselves and their context            scale accounts or narratives, through a
– perhaps fleetingly. Lyotard’s work is not        troubling feeling and artwork, and towards
on art, but with art; he constructs art-          a new fragmented state. This latter state
philosophy-politics assemblages that are          also includes the artwork in an insecure
designed to make points and transform             but creative moment: the work is a demand
arguments across all three subjects. At           for a response, but with no established rule
the same time, these assemblages are              for determining that response. This unity
designed to function aesthetically, rather        of work and response is an important facet
than comment on external aesthetic objects.       of Lyotard’s work. We do not have a clear
JEAN-FRANÇOIS LYOTARD                                                                            130


division of the work and its reception – we           The concept of the figural is expanded to
have a complex interaction of the work, how it     include broader economic and structural
is made, how it is received, and how all three     meanings in Libidinal Economy and the
alter wider contexts.                              important essay ‘Painting as a Libidinal
    The combination of feeling with a form of      Set-up’ in Des dispostifs pulsionnels (1973
discourse or narrative and with a material         – translated in The Lyotard Reader and
experience triggered by the artwork is             Guide). Here, art is defined as any colourful
a constant through Lyotard’s work. At              mark accompanied by a ‘libidinal event’,
different stages of his career he explained        such as a desire or an affect. These events
it through original concepts or through a          occur in structures, such as a form of
transformation of established ones. The            discourse or economic exchange, that
main ideas correspond to the main periods          channel and exploit them. Lyotard is
of his output; these can be linked to his three    interested in the way these intense events
main books: Discours, figure (French 1971),         are hidden or dissimulated within language
Libidinal Economy (French 1974) and The            and economic structures, because they
Differend (French 1982). Respectively, the         present an opportunity for art to disrupt and
new concepts are the ‘figural’, the ‘libidinal      resist a settled order or system by releasing
disposition’ and the ‘sublime’. It is perhaps      that intensity into different structures.
too early to say, given that there is still much   There are many heterogeneous structures
critical work to be done on Lyotard’s last         making different claims on our desires and
works, but a further concept of matter in          channelling them in different directions.
relation to time may have to be added too,         Artworks are ‘libidinal dispositions’ that
in particular given the beauty and artistic        reveal the limits of those structures and
significance of Lyotard’s late output, notably      introduce novel and intense libidinal events,
Soundproof Room: Malraux’s Anti-aesthetics         breaking structures apart, taking them to
(French 1998) and the collection Misère de la      the limit and inviting them to change. They
philosophie (2000).                                therefore have a revolutionary aspect, but
    The ‘figural’ is that element in artworks       only transiently and always in a way resistant
that defies representation and identification;       to political formalism, for example, in the
instead, it appears through feelings as they       shape of an ideological Marxism on the left or
disrupt discourse in terms of its order, values    an orthodox market-based liberalism on the
and reference. For example, a work may             right.
introduce elements that are significant, but           From his early socialist essays onwards,
which cannot be accounted for in terms of our      Lyotard retained a strong connection to Marx,
current understanding of relations in space        but without being able, after the early 1960s,
and time, nor in terms of our current ways of      to subscribe fully to Marxist analyses. The
judging the relative and connected values of       libidinal event is political, since it resists and
things. In Discours, figure, Lyotard speaks of      disrupts fixed and established structures
drawn lines that express human flesh or the         and their exploitation of desire, but it is not
spaces we inhabit but that do not conform          political in offering a new programme or set
to geometric standards or expectations. Art        of goals. Instead, artists and others should
can bring together conflicting geometries           seek to be ‘good conductors of intensity’
yet it still remains significant, in the sense      – to invite new intensities passively and
of making us feel new truths about flesh and        with no promises as to good outcomes.
other referents. Art is not only capable of        This passivity and related idea of the
putting language into question, but with it,       unconscious channelling of desires owes
reality too.                                       much to Freud, though like Lyotard’s relation
131                                                                   JEAN-FRANÇOIS LYOTARD


to Marx, this is not a full subscription to       set into a specific course of action or forms
Freudian psychoanalysis. This ‘drift away’        of words (here Lyotard shares Barnett’s
from Marx and Freud, but closeness to their       interest in Judaism, which he sets alongside
fundamental insights and instincts, situates      other positions such as a pagan love of
Lyotard squarely within views of art that         paradox). This development of the sublime in
criticize its tendency to become just another     art away from representation (in landscape
part of the market, or a support for cultural     for instance) and towards a spare material
and social tradition. These factors are           abstraction leads Lyotard to describe and
inevitable, according to Lyotard, and yet to be   defend minimal ‘limit experiences’ in art
resisted through creative experimentation.        where matter is not allowed to rest within a
   In the lead-up to The Differend, Lyotard       particular form of knowledge and perception.
turned away from the wide set of desires          Instead, matter, as captured in the arts
and structures covered in his early work in       (writing, painting and cinema), is a revivifying
order to focus on a more specific affect, the      transformer of our expectations, experience
feeling that signals irresolvable conflicts,       and creative capacities.
and on a more specific and paradoxical                There are at least two strains of criticism
aesthetic problem: how to present that which      that have been drawn up against Lyotard’s
cannot be represented? This new turn was          work with art. First, politically, it is resolutely
influenced by an original reading of Kant’s        anti-traditional. It can therefore be accused
aesthetics (Lessons on the Analytic of the        of a lack of responsibility and of advocating
Sublime, 1991). For Lyotard, the feeling of       artworks that break with historical values at
the sublime combines pleasure and pain,           the expense of all possible norms (his love for
attraction and repulsion, horror and delight.     the works of DANIEL BUREN could be a sign
This combination means that the feeling           of this, were we to view Buren’s architectural
draws us towards the possibility of action        and sculptural works as betrayals of classical
and knowledge through representation, while       art and architecture). A possible response
also halting any such action and making us        could be that value independent of result
aware of the limitations of representation.       and effect is irrelevant to Lyotard’s work.
In his collection The Inhuman (1988), Lyotard     He is interested in what a work does; this
explains this combination in terms of events      may involve breaks with the past, but not
that leave us in a questioning state – ‘Is        necessarily; it must involve the emergence
it happening?’ – rather than with a set of        of new values in the form of new intense
facts, a grasped thing or a plan of action. He    experiences and desires. Second, Lyotard
expands on this through a commentary on           can be accused of writing an abstract theory
Barnett Newman’s sublime paintings, and           about art, rather than working in a more
their resistance to set references and figures,    detailed and empirical art history. Answers to
despite close association with religious and      this accusation are easier, since close work
ethical motifs.                                   on his books and articles shows that Lyotard
   Newman’s paintings are sublime because         does not write theory, but combines very
they resist representation of a referent – an     deep knowledge with a creative interaction
object, landscape or figure, for example           and transformation. His legacy is therefore
– yet they also oblige us to reflect upon their    not only in terms of the better-known
sense, on the significance of the impossibility    ‘theories’ but also in the detailed creative
of representation and of shared meaning.          styles he brought to art and philosophy. This
For Lyotard, this obligation forces us to bear    rich resource remains to be fully studied and
witness to that which cannot be represented,      developed.
to an injustice for which there are no current
words or an ethical command that cannot be                                       JAMES WILLIAMS
JEAN-FRANÇOIS LYOTARD                                                                                    132




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                         Lyotard, J.-F., Lessons on the Analytic of the
                                                         Sublime, trans. E. Rottenberg, Stanford:
                                                         Stanford University Press, 1994.
 Primary literature                                   Lyotard, J.-F., The Assassination of Experience by
 Lyotard, J.-F., The Postmodern Condition: A Report      Painting – Monory, trans. R. Bowlby, London:
    on Knowledge, trans. G. Bennington and               Black Dog, 1998.
    B. Massumi, Manchester: Manchester                Lyotard, J.-F., Soundproof Room: Malraux’s Anti-
    University Press, 1984.                              aesthetics, trans. R. Harvey, Stanford: Stanford
 Lyotard, J.-F., The Differend: Phrases in Dispute,      University Press, 2001.
    trans. G. Van Den Abbeele, Manchester:            Lyotard, J.-F., Crome, K. and Williams, J. (eds),
    Manchester University Press, 1988.                   The Lyotard Reader and Guide, Edinburgh:
 Lyotard, J.-F., Duchamp’s TRANS/formers, Venice,        Edinburgh University Press, 2005 (with partial
    Calif.: Lapis Press, 1990.                           translation of Discours, figure).
 Lyotard, J.-F., The Inhuman: Reflections on
    Time, trans. G. Bennington and R. Bowlby,
                                                      Secondary literature
    Cambridge: Polity Press, 1991.
 Lyotard, J.-F., Libidinal Economy, trans. I.         Malpas, S., Jean-François Lyotard, London:
    Hamilton-Grant, London: Athlone Press, 1993.         Routledge, 2002.
 Lyotard, J.-F., Political Writings, trans. and eds   Sim, S., Lyotard and the Inhuman, Melbourne:
    B. Readings and K. P. Geiman, London:                Totem, 2001.
    University College London Press, 1993.            Williams, J., Lyotard: Towards a Postmodern
 Lyotard, J.-F., Toward the Postmodern, eds R.           Philosophy, Cambridge: Polity, 1998.
    Harvey and M. S. Roberts, N.J.: Humanities        Williams, J., Lyotard and the Political, London:
    Press, 1993.                                         Routledge, 2000.




MAURICE MERLEAU-
PONTY (1908–1961)
Merleau-Ponty was one of the leading                  and Kantian understandings of the subject
philosophers in the flourishing of French              in the phenomenological writing of the
intellectual life immediately after the Second        German philosophers Edmund Husserl
World War. Closely allied with Jean-Paul              and Martin Heidegger. Merleau-Ponty’s
Sartre at the start of his career, like Sartre        critique of Cartesian or rationalist models
he was inspired by the recasting of Cartesian         of consciousness and perception had a
133                                                                 MAURICE MERLEAU-PONTY


significant impact on critical writing on the       official Communism. While he distanced
visual arts in the English-speaking world in       himself from his earlier Marxist political
the 1960s.                                         commitments, and broke with Sartre over
   Merleau-Ponty’s theory of the                   what he saw as Sartre’s increasing ultra-
interconnectedness of bodily and mental            leftism, he was no anti-Marxist apostate,
processes in any apprehension of things            and continued to see Marx as a key social
provided a clear alternative to traditional        and political thinker. With his appointment
models of perception posited on a clear            to the Chair of Philosophy at the Collège de
separation between viewing subject and             France in 1952, he secured a position as a
viewed object. As such, it fed into reactions      leading figure of the French philosophical
against purely optical understandings of a         establishment. Just before his early death
viewer’s interaction with a work of art of the     in 1961, he was working on The Visible and
kind championed by modernist critics such          the Invisible, the incomplete manuscript of
as CLEMENT GREENBERG. His most widely              which was published posthumously in 1964
read publication was his The Phenomenology         (English 1968). Here he critiqued the residual
of Perception (1945; English 1962). He wrote       reliance on models of consciousness in his
several important essays on the visual arts,       earlier studies of perception, and engaged
the most widely read of which was ‘Cézanne’s       in a more radical undoing of philosophical
doubt‘ (1948; English 1964; in The Merleau-        understandings of subjectivity and subject/
Ponty Aesthetics Reader, hereafter MPAR).          object relations that was heavily influenced
These, however, proved less influential for         by Heidegger, and which anticipated later
critics and artists than his philosophical         post-structuralist concerns.
writings, partly because his analysis focused         What precisely was it in Merleau-Ponty’s
on a few canonical masters of modern               thinking that proved so suggestive for critical
painting such as Cézanne and Matisse rather        writing on art? His recasting of traditional
than more contemporary work.                       understandings of perception came to
   Merleau-Ponty made his reputation with          notice just at the time when art historians
the book The Structure of Behaviour in 1942        and critics were becoming less exclusively
(English translation 1965) where he initiated      focused on the artist’s creative act and were
his lifelong enquiry into the grounding of         turning their attention to viewer response.
thinking and consciousness in the self’s           This was the moment when Gombrich
bodily interactions with and perceptions of        initiated a study of ‘the beholder’s share’
the material world. He collaborated with           in his widely read Art and Illusion (1960).
Sartre on the editing of Sartre’s journal          Artists were experimenting with practices
Les Temps Modernes, possibly the leading           that invited much more active participation
intellectual journal of cultural and political     on the part of the viewer. However, even in
commentary in France in the post-war               his most fully developed discussion of visual
period. At this point he became known, not         art, in the essay ‘Eye and Mind’ (1960; English
just for his philosophical writings but also for   1964; in MPAR), Merleau-Ponty himself never
his Marxist political analysis.                    sought to analyze the distinctive nature of
   In Humanism and Terror: Essays on the           the encounter between a viewer and work.
Communist Problem (1947), he controversially       For the most part he simply assumed that
sought to arrive at some understanding of the      the viewer was able to enter into the
deformed revolutionary logic of Stalin’s show      perception of and encounter with things
trials. In the early 1950s, the Korean War         depicted in a work through a process of
prompted him, like a number of intellectuals       empathetic identification with the artist.
on the left, to become deeply critical of          More fruitful for speculation on the
MAURICE MERLEAU-PONTY                                                                          134


phenomenology of viewing a work of art were        envisioned as such by way of inference from
his more general, but at the same time very        purely visual clues. Rather, an immediate
vivid and concretely articulated, discussions      feeling of tactile qualities is there in the
of visual perception.                              very process of seeing it. By contrast, the
   His materialist phenomenology, if taken         viewing invoked in formal analysis, from
seriously as a basis for understanding what        Wölfflin’s categories of seeing to Greenberg’s
happens when we are looking at works               opticality, was imagined as operating in the
of art, shifted attention from the artwork         first instance in isolation from other sense
itself to the phenomenon constituted in the        perceptions and other kinds of interactions
viewer’s encounter with it. Simultaneously         with things. Merleau-Ponty’s ideas provided a
subjective and objective, such a phenomenon        suggestive theoretical tool, both for critiquing
could not simply be envisaged as a response        such models and their emphasis on pure
occurring in the viewer’s mind. Viewing            visuality, and for envisioning other more
became situated viewing, not a disembodied         hybrid understandings of what takes place
apprehension of things seen at a distance          when a viewer encounters a work of art.
and set out before the mind’s eye. Jean-Paul          Another central theme in Merleau-Ponty,
Sartre, in his essay on Giacometti’s sculpture,    as in earlier phenomenological writings such
‘The Search for the Absolute’ (1948), brought      as Husserl’s, was his foregrounding of the
these ideas more directly to bear on the           temporality and the projective dynamic of
discussion of visual art than Merleau-Ponty        perception. He represented seeing not as a
did himself. At the same time, Merleau-            process of looking at a series of static, quasi-
Ponty’s idea that viewing should be conceived      photographic images implanted on the retina,
as a process taking place in some larger           but as a constantly changing apprehension
environment, in which both viewer and thing        of things unfolding in time, shaped by our
viewed were situated, was clearly suggestive       bodily movements. For him, what we see
for new understandings of three-dimensional        is anchored both in what we have just seen
art as ‘installation’ and ‘site’ rather than       and what we are about to see. This feature
autonomous sculpture.                              of Merleau-Ponty’s discussion of perception
   Merleau-Ponty’s understanding of                has affinities with the ‘ecological’ theories
situatedness was very unlike Sartre’s              being developed at the time by psychologists
existentialist one in which consciousness          such as J. J. Gibson. Perhaps the most
confronted an inert materiality. For him, a        suggestive feature of Merleau-Ponty’s
viewer’s apprehensions were in their very          dynamic understanding of visual perception
essence bodily as much as mental, and              is the emphasis placed on how our viewing of
brought into play a sense of the kinesthetic       the world is bound up with our bodily, motor
and tactile as well as purely visual               interactions with it. This imbrication of acting
interactions between one’s body and the            in seeing may help to explain why Merleau-
world which one inhabited. His point was           Ponty became important for later writing
that seeing was never purely optical – seeing      about performance-based art.
something involved one’s being aware of its           Writers on art whose thinking has been
placing in relation to one’s own body and          shaped by Merleau-Ponty’s materialist
how one might move around and interact             emphasis on the bodily grounding of our
with it if one came close to it. One does not      apprehensions of the world divide roughly
just look out at a landscape, for example,         into two camps. On the one hand there are
but is constantly projecting what it might be      those such as David Sylvester and MICHAEL
like to inhabit it. Equally, an object that one    FRIED whose ideas have clear affinities
sees as having strongly tactile qualities is not   with Merleau-Ponty’s own reflections on
135                                                                 MAURICE MERLEAU-PONTY


the visual arts. Their analyses focus on a        functioned as a way of thinking about the
viewer’s physical responses to the figure          primordial levels of interaction with the world
or environment that is perceived as being         that formed the basis for any conceptual,
represented in a work of art, often operating     linguistically articulated apprehensions.
with an empathetic model whereby the                 Two features of his more recent writing
viewer projects a sense of his or her own         though should give us pause before we see
body onto a motif or scenario. On the other       him as a champion of the pre-linguistic. His
hand there are those such as ROSALIND             later publications, including Signs (1960)
KRAUSS (Passages in Modern Sculpture, 1977)       and The Visible and the Invisible, engage
and ROBERT MORRIS (‘Notes on Sculpture’           in a sustained exploration of language
Parts 1 and 2, 1966) who focus, not on the        and utterance, drawing (like the French
body image presented by a work, but on the        structuralists and semioticians that
ever shifting interaction between work and        are often, wrongly, seen as operating in
viewer that mobilizes a viewer’s internal         outright opposition to his phenomenological
sense of his or her own body. The divide          approach) on Saussure. He stops short
between these divergent uses of Merleau-          of a categorical distinction between the
Ponty’s phenomenology came to a head in           linguistic and the non-linguistic because he
debates about minimalism in the later 1960s       is aware, not just that as language-using
and the 1970s, with Fried critiquing what         beings we can never project ourselves back
he saw as the minimalists’ privileging of an      into a pre-linguistic world, but also that
open-ended process of encounter that in           any genealogy of language needs to posit a
his view lacked a stabilizing focus on some       pre-linguistic interaction with and response
powerfully configured art object, and writers      to things that will lay the basis for linguistic
such as Morris and Krauss seeing this as          utterance. There is also his incisive critique
precisely what made minimalism such a             of André Malraux’s celebration of the ‘voices
significant new development in contemporary        of silence’ supposedly emanating from the
art.                                              objects gathered in the ‘imaginary museum’
   The phenomenological approach enjoyed          (‘Indirect Language and the Voices of Silence’,
its heyday in the 1960s when the focus on         1952; in MPAR): ‘painting seen in its entirety
immediate, bodily responses was envisaged         presents itself . . . as an aborted effort to say
as a way of escaping traditional, ideologically   something that always remains to be said’.
hidebound framings of the artwork as a               Implicit in Merleau-Ponty’s understanding
privileged kind of object. However, once          of the blurred boundary between a linguistic
contemporary art took a conceptual turn, it       and conceptual articulation of things on the
began to fall into disfavour. Those resistant     one hand and a non-linguistic and bodily
to dominant understandings of art became          interaction with them on the other is the
critical of the idea that an artwork operated     potentially productive idea that a work of
at a purely bodily, perceptual level, and         visual art might be conceived as a quasi-
instead advocated work that would critically      utterance. His assumption, widely shared
engage the viewer’s mind. Criticism of the        at the time, that an aesthetic response to
assumption that the essence of art lay in non-    art was incompatible with a cognitive one,
conceptual, pre-linguistic interactions with      blinded him to the fully hybrid nature of what
things could in many ways apply to Merleau-       happens in our encounter with a work.
Ponty’s own writing on art, particularly his
late essay, ‘Eye and Mind’. For him, art                                             ALEX POTTS
MAURICE MERLEAU-PONTY                                                                                136




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                         Krauss, R., ‘Richard Serra, A Translation’, in
                                                         The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other
                                                         Modernist Myths, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1985,
 Primary literature                                      pp. 261–64.
                                                      Potts, A., ‘Art Works, Utterances and Things’, in
 Merleau-Ponty. M., The Phenomenology of                 eds D. Arnold and M. Iversen, Art and Thought,
   Perception, London: Routledge, 1962.                  Oxford: Blackwell, 2003, pp. 91–110.
 Smith, M. B. (ed.), The Merleau-Ponty Aesthetics     Potts, A., ‘The Phenomenological Turn’, in
   Reader: Philosophy and Painting, Evanston:            The Sculptural Imagination, New Haven and
   Northwestern University Press, 1993.                  London: Yale University Press, 2001, pp.
                                                         207–34.
                                                      Prendeville, B., ‘Merleau-Ponty, Realism and
 Secondary literature
                                                         Painting: Psychological Space and the Space
 Fried, M., Art and Objecthood: Essays and Reviews,      of Exchange’, Art History (September 1999),
    Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1998.             pp. 364–68.




ALBRECHT WELLMER
(1933–)
Albrecht Wellmer is a German philosopher,             Adorno with having done a twofold injustice
who undertook his doctorate at Frankfurt              to art. According to them, Adorno, with too
am Main, and has held positions at the                great a naivety, conceived of art wholly in
University of Toronto, the New School for             terms of social critique and thus denied art
Social Research in New York, the University           its own particular logic. And second, going
of Konstanz and the Free University of Berlin.        beyond such a position and ultimately in
   From the outset, that is, from the beginning       contradiction to it, Adorno declared art to
of the 1980s, Wellmer’s philosophy of art has         be the site of any possible social critique.
circled around the question of how THEODOR            Adorno was able to do this, in the view of
ADORNO’s aesthetic theory can be developed            these critics, only because he made art into
further. Following the great popularity Adorno        an absolute and utopian, indeed a (negative-)
and the Frankfurt School enjoyed around               theological yardstick of critique.
1968, there emerged in the early 1970s a                 These two critical observations constituted
severe settling of accounts with Adorno’s             the starting point of the first phase of
philosophy of art. The essays of Bubner               Wellmer’s philosophy of art: his intellectual
and those authored jointly by Baumeister              project can be described in terms of three
and Kuhlenkampf, for example, charged                 distinct phases. His first goal was to show
137                                                                         ALBRECHT WELLMER


that the critical relationship of art to society   Habermas, as well as upon Pragmatism.
postulated by Adorno did not exclude the           According to these theories, human reason
autonomy of art. He began with a critique          is indeed in a position to put forward a local
of Adorno’s metaphysics of art, resulting in       critique of itself, and, further, this restriction
the monograph The Persistence of Modernity         to its own particular location is also an
(German 1985; English 1991) and the essays         advantage: reason can never place itself
‘Metaphysics at the Moment of its Fall’            entirely in question.
and ‘Adorno, Modernity, and the Sublime’.             Wellmer’s extended defence of a modernity
Wellmer views Adorno’s rendering of art into       enlightened as to its own nature involves
an absolute as the result of his critique of       a more modest conception of art than, for
reason, expressed most radically in Dialectic      instance, Adorno’s. Under the conditions of
of Enlightenment (first published in 1944           a modernity that knows its own limitations
and co-authored with Max Horkheimer).              and potentials, one can accept, in Wellmer’s
This critique of reason made Adorno, much          view, only a theory of art in which art is to
like Nietzsche, into a postmodern thinker          be assessed solely according to its own
avant la lettre. According to Wellmer, what        standards. By contrast, Adorno had made
Adorno shares with Nietzsche (and with             the logic of art into the standard for all
BATAILLE, and with representatives of              thought and action, and precisely in so doing
postmodernism such as JEAN-FRANÇOIS                he denied the specificity of art’s norms as
LYOTARD, JACQUES DERRIDA and MICHEL                opposed to other norms (for instance those
FOUCAULT) is a radical critique of reason, in      of the truth of judgments, or the morality of
which reason is taken to be identitarian and       actions).
totalizing, i.e. excluding everything that does       Wellmer calls attention to the fact that
not conform to the rigid rules of rationality.     Adorno, like many philosophers before him,
As Adorno himself already well knew, this led      speaks in a highly ambiguous manner about
to a serious self-contradiction: who could still   the truth of art and thus consistently confuses
presume to say anything at all about reason,       two things: (i) the aesthetic success of the
and with what form of reason, if reason itself     artwork as an artwork (according to aesthetic
can only ever speak a totalitarian untruth?        norms and purely artistic criteria), and (ii) the
   In order not to fall victim to cynicism         extra-aesthetic truth of works of art (such as
and relativism, Adorno seeks and finds a            an artwork’s potency in influencing society,
way out in art: Autonomous modernist art           or the statements, contents, references
distinguishes itself so radically from all         that play a role within an artwork yet which
other social practices that it must therefore      always constitute only part of the work of art).
be understood as a critique of that which          Wellmer calls the separation of these two
is presented as the sole possible reality.         dimensions of artistic truth the product of his
Against this line of thought, Wellmer shows        ‘stereoscopic reading’ of Adorno. By this he
that Adorno’s radical critique of reason is        means that these two dimensions of artistic
internally contradictory, and this entails         truth can certainly be found in Adorno, but
exceedingly problematic consequences               that Adorno did not realize that here two
for his theory of art. Wellmer in fact turns       different things are at issue.
against all interpretations of postmodernity          In the second phase of Wellmer’s
that encompass a radical critique of reason.       philosophical development (for instance in
In order to show that reason has not arrived       ‘Das musikalische Kunstwerk’, [The Musical
at a dead end where it no longer possesses         Work of Art] and ‘Sprache – (Neue) Musik
absolute standards, Wellmer calls upon the         – Kommunikation’ [Language – (new) Music
philosophies of language of Wittgenstein and       – Communication]) he constructed a theory
ALBRECHT WELLMER                                                                                 138


of the autonomous logic of art. Drawing              Wahrheit, Welterschließung’ [Art, Truth,
upon Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory (1970) and            World-disclosure] 1991) has argued that the
Martin Heidegger’s essay ‘The Origin of              articulation of ‘ways of seeing’ is indeed at
the Work of Art’ (1935/6), he claims that            issue in works of art. Yet Seel insists that
specifically aesthetic experience consists            genuine aesthetic validity has nothing to
in the continual dissolution, by virtue of           do with the question of whether or not the
the materiality of its semantic elements, of         way of seeing that is opened up in aesthetic
whatever is semantically comprehensible in           experience is an acceptable one. In other
an artwork. In other words whatever the work         words, in aesthetic experience the opening
of art appears to say, it also crosses out at        up of a specific and potentially critical world
the very same time. Here Wellmer speaks              is not of substantial importance. Any opening
of a dialectic of semanticization and de-            of a world would fulfil the semanticizing task
semanticization. With this, art seems to have        of aesthetic experience, which is basically
become a game with this or that content,             the experience of an oscillation between
a process in which the dynamic between               semanticization and its opposite. To the
semanticization and de-semanticization is            extent that oscillation is all that counts, the
more important than whatever it is that is de-       opening of a world (not to speak of a critically
semanticized or semanticized. This means             specific world) plays only a functional and
that art risks losing its critical force, for the    indeed a subordinate role in aesthetic
mere difference between aesthetic and non-           experience. If Seel is right, the very issue of
aesthetic experiences does not necessarily           the world being opened up by an artwork in
imply a critique of non-aesthetic experiences.       an appropriate, productive, true way is just
Relationships where the elements related are         superfluous. And the question of whether an
different can just as easily be relationships of     artwork’s world is related in a critical fashion
indifference as of critique or of affirmation.        to already existing worlds is not, from the
   During the 1980s Wellmer had already              point of view of aesthetics, of the slightest
claimed, yet without really demonstrating it,        concern. Thus it seems simply impossible
that the critical aspect of artworks resides in      for there to be a critical relationship between
their power of world-disclosure – their ability      aesthetic experiences and those of any other
to change our attitudes, ways of seeing and          kind.
practices. It is only recently, in his third phase      In his most recent texts, Wellmer has set
of development (such as in ‘On Music and             himself the goal of identifying the extent to
Language’; ‘Über Negativität und Autonomie           which a critical relationship to the world,
der Kunst’ [On Negativity and Autonomy in            the opening up of worlds that serve to
Art]), that he has attempted this, and does so       critique the existing one, must necessarily be
in an examination of Adorno’s favourite art          attributed to all art. He provides an answer
– music. Once again, Wellmer’s conception of         in terms of music, the art form that appears
art’s post-metaphysical autonomy confronts           to stand at the furthest remove from the
Adorno’s claim that art has a role to play as a      semantic dimension. In order to account
critique of society.                                 for the linguistic dimension of music, he
   Wellmer’s most recent texts must be               calls upon the insight that all the arts lay
understood as an attempt to redeem                   special emphasis upon some particular
Adorno’s claim by means of new arguments,            dimensions of everyday language, which is
despite the criticism that has been raised           constituted in a fundamentally synaesthetic
against it. Against Wellmer, and with                manner (encompassing graphic qualities,
reference to Wellmer’s stereoscopic reading          sonority, gesture, semantic elements, etc.).
of Adorno, Martin Seel (e.g. in ‘Kunst,              They do so, however, without ever entirely
139                                                                           ALBRECHT WELLMER


eclipsing other dimensions of experience             determined. Here Wellmer seems to assume
not emphasized. Music may be purely sound,           that the de-semanticizing subversion of the
but this does not entail that its relationship       worlds opened up in aesthetic experience,
to the world is suspended. For relationships         a subversion which is of constitutive
to the world are also inherent in the sonority       importance for the latter (a point developed
of everyday language, as one may easily              in the second phase of his work), does not
realize if one considers the various forms of        mean that world-disclosure by means of
expressivity of sounds and noises. In this line      art is impossible. He holds that the mere
of thinking Wellmer also examines so-called          fact that it is one and the same person
‘pop’ culture art forms and analyzes the             who has experience of worlds disclosed
degrees of difference between the respective         in art and who, alongside this experience,
relationships that serious and popular music         is immersed in other relationships to the
have to the world. Thus, in popular music a          world (of a moral, political, strategic, etc.
much larger role is played by, for instance,         kind) buttresses the assertion that art
the physical, which may eventuate in dance or        possesses the potential for (social) critique.
by the staging of the performance.                   In other words: once different worlds exist
   The extent to which the alternative worlds        for someone, the relationships in which they
made possible by artworks refer only to              stand are necessarily those of critique and
possibilities unknown, or on the contrary            not of mere indifference.
are necessarily related in a critical way to
worlds that presently exist, still remains to be                           RUTH M. SONDEREGGER



 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                          Klein and G. Peters, Adorno im Widerstreit: Zur
                                                       Präsenz seines Denkens, Freiburg and Munich:
 Primary literature                                    Verlag Karl Alber, 2004, pp. 289–323.
                                                     Wellmer, A., ‘Über Negativität und Autonomie
 Wellmer, A., Zur Dialektik von Moderne und            der Kunst: Die Aktualität von Adornos Ästhetik
   Postmoderne, Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp               und blinde Flecken seiner Musikphilosophie’,
   Verlag,1985 (translated in part under the           in ed. Axel Honneth, Dialektik der Freiheit,
   title The Persistence of Modernity: Essays          Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 2005,
   on Aesthetics, Ethics, and Postmodernism,           pp. 237–78.
   Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991).
 Wellmer, A., Endspiele: Die Unversöhnliche
   Moderne, Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp Verlag,
                                                     Secondary literature
   1993 (Endgames: The Irreconcilable Nature of
   Modernity: Essays and Lectures, Cambridge:        Baumeister, T. and Kuhlenkampf, J.,
   MIT Press, 1998).                                    ‘Geschichtsphilosophie und philosophische
 Wellmer, A., ‘Das musikalische Kunstwerk’, in          Ästhetik: Zu Adornos “Ästhetischer Theorie”’,
   eds A. Kern and R. Sonderegger, Falsche              Neue Hefte für Philosophie vol. 5 (1973),
   Gegensätze: Zeitgenössische Positionen zur           pp. 74–104.
   Ästhetik, Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp Verlag,        Bubner, R., ‘Über einige Bedingungen
   2002, pp. 133–75.                                    ästhetischer Erfahrung’, Neue Hefte für
 Wellmer, A., ‘On Music and Language’, in Identity      Philosophie vol. 5 (1973), pp. 38–73.
   and Difference: Essays on Music, Language, and    Seel, M., ‘Kunst, Wahrheit, Welterschließung’,
   Time, Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2004,         in ed. Franz Koppe, Perspektiven der
   pp. 71–131.                                          Kunstphilosophie: Texte und Diskussionen,
 Wellmer, A., ‘Sprache – (Neue) Musik                   Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1991,
   – Kommunikation’, in eds W. Ette, G. Figal, R.       pp. 36–80.
RICHARD WOLLHEIM                                                                                140




RICHARD WOLLHEIM
(1923–2003)
Richard Wollheim was born in London. His            egg’ rather than ‘making tea’ if their actions
father was a theatrical impresario who              are performed with the overarching intention
worked with, among others, Diaghilev. He            that an egg be boiled rather than tea be
attended Westminster School, and, after             made. This is true even if there are events
service in the Second World War, went to            that each of these activities has in common
Balliol College, Oxford, where he achieved          (such as boiling water).
first-class degrees in first history and then            From this beginning, Wollheim goes
philosophy. He was given a lectureship at           on to criticize what he takes to be the
UCL by A. J. Ayer, where he became Grote            dominant theory of modern art (a version
Professor of Mind and Logic in 1963. There          of Greenbergian modernism, although
he remained until 1982 when he moved to             Wollheim does not call it that): ‘a theory
America, only returning to London shortly           that emphasises the material character
before his death in 2003.                           of art, a theory according to which a work
   Wollheim had an unusual (and unusually           is importantly or significantly, and not just
wide) range of interests for a British              peripherally, a physical object’ (OAM, p. 118).
philosopher in the second half of the               Wollheim makes three telling points against
twentieth century, including aesthetics, art        this.
and psychoanalysis. He published a novel               First, he denies the contrast drawn
and a memoir. It was said that he would             between modern art and the old masters:
talk to anyone, and was a popular guest             the latter never regarded the properties of
whether at dinner with leading members of           the support as accidental or contingent facts
the establishment or in his spare time in the       about art. Second, ‘in talking of a surface, the
Colony Room in London’s Soho. A concern             theory is irreducibly or ineliminably referring
with socialism, humanism and culture                to the surface of a painting’ (OAM, p. 121).
pervades his work.                                  Painters produce objects under the concept
   Wollheim was not one for facile                  art, and thus produce surfaces under the
generalizations – he was a systematic and           description ‘surface of a painting’. On its own
rigorous thinker. There is a line of thought        the instruction ‘make us aware of the surface’
that runs through his work that captures            means as much, says Wollheim, as ‘make
several of his important contributions to the       it average-sized’. The third point follows: it
debate about art. In his 1970 paper, ‘The           is the use of the surface not the fact of the
Work of Art as Object’, published in Studio         surface that is relevant, and this ‘attributes
International, he argues that art is produced       to modern art a complexity of concern that
under the concept ‘art’. ‘An activity cannot        it cannot renounce’ (OAM, p. 125). If this
be engaged in, except inadvertently, unless         argument is correct, which it surely is, the
the agent possesses the concept of that             theory does not mark a distinction between
activity’ (On Art and the Mind [OAM], p. 113). It   modern and pre-modern painting: all
is correct to describe someone as ‘boiling an       paintings are concerned with the surface of
141                                                                         RICHARD WOLLHEIM


paintings – the modern artist inherits all that    argument as to why the semiotic view is
this meant to the pre-modern artist.               inadequate: it cannot cope with ‘transfer’.
   What, then, did Wollheim take to be ‘the        It is a fact that any theory of pictorial
complexity of concern’ entailed by a surface       representation should explain, that, provided
being the surface of a painting? The surface       we are familiar with pictures, being able
of a painting is one of which we have a            to recognize a dog is sufficient to be able
distinctive kind of visual experience. When        to recognize a pictorial representation of a
faced with a differentiated surface, we can        dog. The semiotic view cannot explain this,
see objects ‘in’ it: we can see Wagnerian          as it cannot explain why knowing the visual
conductors in clouds, or figures in frosted         appearance of an object would enable us to
glass. This capacity is ‘biologically grounded’;   recognize a symbol for that object.
all functioning human beings possess it from           The content of a picture is not exhausted
a young age. The characteristic of ‘seeing in’     by what can be seen in it. In addition, we
is twofoldness: we are simultaneously aware        have a capacity to see a picture expressing,
of the surface (‘the configurational aspect’),      for example, melancholy – or some other
and of something else ‘in’ the surface (‘the       fine-grained state that eludes capture in
recognitional aspect’). These are two aspects      language. Wollheim’s account of expression
of a single experience. What it is to produce      is grounded in a psychoanalytic mechanism
a surface as the surface of a painting is to       of projection – of externalizing our emotions.
manipulate the paint in such a way that the        Starting at this thought Wollheim argues to a
spectators are able to see something in            conclusion that some parts of the world can
the surface. What it is correct to see in the      be experienced as being ‘of a piece’ with our
surface is, according to Wollheim, for what is     emotions. What an artist tries to do is to give
seen to match the intentions of the painter.       his or her painting a look which a spectator
   A number of things follow from this, of         would see as of a piece with the emotion
which I will pick out two. First, Wollheim         that was causing the artist to paint as he
denies any great significance to the                did. Wollheim also discusses further ways
distinction between ‘representational’ and         in which a picture accrues content: through
‘abstract’ paintings. In both cases, we are        the internal spectator, through textuality
required to see depth in the surfaces – it         and borrowing, and through metaphor. In all
is only that in the first case what we see in       cases Wollheim’s explanations go through the
there are the objects such as figures and           psychology of the artist, that is what the artist
furniture, and in the second, generally,           intends the spectator to experience in looking
coloured surfaces or volumes which are not         at the picture.
figures and furniture. Reserving the term               Wollheim’s criticism of Greenbergian
‘representational’ for those surfaces in which     modernism seems to have been well
we can see depth, it follows that most if          received. His account of pictorial
not all paintings are representational. The        representation, however, has attracted more
distinction is that some representational          criticism. There are three possible objects
paintings are figurative and others non-            of experience in play: (i) the configurational
figurative. Second, encountering a painting         aspect, (ii) the recognitional aspect and (iii)
is a visual matter. Thus Wollheim opposes          the experience we would have were we to
the semiotic view – the theory that claims         see what we see in the surface face to face.
a picture represents what it does in virtue        Criticism has focused on the nature of (ii), on
of belonging to a symbol system. Instead,          the nature of the relation between (i) and (ii),
what a picture represents is what it is correct    and on the nature of the relation between (ii)
to see in it. Wollheim has an independent          and (iii).
RICHARD WOLLHEIM                                                                               142


    In the 1992 Festschrift for Wollheim           held this view, least of all Wollheim, who
(Psychoanalysis, Mind and Art [PMA]) Malcolm       states, repeatedly, that it is only through what
Budd and Kendall Walton have argued that           can be seen when the picture is looked at that
Wollheim provides no account of (ii) – what        the picture carries meaning. However, if the
it is to see a milkmaid in a picture. Walton,      competent spectator can get what they need
in particular, has attempted to supplement         from looking at the picture, why the need for
Wollheim’s account with his own – grounded         a reference to intention?
in the imagination. In addition, Budd has             Wollheim has a negative and a positive
argued that Wollheim’s failure to give an          answer to this. The negative is the failure of
account of the relation between (ii) and (iii)     alternative strategies (indeed, it is unclear
is a weakness: ‘the recognitional aspect           that the strategy of scrutinizing the surface
cannot properly derive the only description        of the painting without regard to intentions
it can be given from an experience with an         – either actual or hypothetical – is coherent.
incomparable phenomenology’ (PMA, p.               What would one be looking for?). The
271). Something needs to be said about the         positive argument is to remind us, first, that
relationship between seeing a milkmaid in a        painting is an intentional activity and the
picture and seeing a milkmaid face to face, in     standard pattern of explanation which aims
order for the former to be described in terms      at understanding for all such activities is
that describe the latter.                          to see them in the light of those intentions.
    Finally, Robert Hopkins has attempted to       Furthermore, Wollheim makes good use of
supplement Wollheim’s account by providing         his intentionalism.
his own account of the relation between               First, intention allows in some matters
(i) and (ii): we experience the former as          that pertain to a work that are of critical
resembling the latter in what Hopkins calls        interest, which are not manifest in the work.
‘outline shape’. Wollheim was aware of, and        For example one cannot understand Gibb’s
rejected, these criticisms. He maintained          façade to St Martin-in-the-Fields in London
that his account did not need the proffered        unless one understands it as the solution to
help. Anyone familiar with paintings would         the problem of how to combine a portico with
know the experience to which he was                the English demand for a west tower. Second,
referring, and philosophical supplementation       we are able to incorporate psychoanalytic
either introduces elements which properly          hypotheses about what certain matters
belong to some causal, psychological               meant to an artist, and what he or she
story about how we came to have the                intended to show. Third, it enables Wollheim
experience of seeing in, or is not true to the     to distinguish between a painting displaying
phenomenology.                                     a content, and a painting having that content
    A further element of Wollheim’s theory that    as part of its meaning. For the latter to be
has attracted criticism is his ‘intentionalism’.   the case, the paintings have to show that
The claim that the standard of correctness         meaning to have gone through the intentions
for criticism is given by the actual intentions    of the artist.
of the artist appears to suffer from an               Wollheim did not participate in many of
insuperable objection: in the circumstances        the debates that characterized post-1960s
in which a competent spectator experiences         aesthetics. For example he rejected the
the painting as meaning p, and the actual          presuppositions that grounded the debates
intentions of the painter were that it did         concerning the putative problems raised
not mean p, the former is a better guide to        by two visually indiscernible objects one of
the meaning of the picture than the latter.        which was art and the other not. His writing
However, it is unclear that anyone has ever        was broader than my focus on his analytic
143                                                                               RICHARD WOLLHEIM


theories would suggest: four of the six                needed to be a spectator of his or her own
chapters his later book, Painting as an Art            work; by being such they could manipulate
(1987), are discussions of works of art rather         the work so that the competent spectator
than of theory. He also wrote many pieces of           would see what he or she was intended
criticism for art magazines. There are some            to see. This presupposes ‘a universal
true generalizations about his work (the               human nature’ – the common ground that
route to understanding and appreciation of             underpinned Wollheim’s commitment to both
art is through experience); however, it is the         painting and socialism.
detail of the argument in which its true worth
is found. He believed strongly that the artist                                     DEREK MATRAVERS




 BIBLIOGRAPHY
 Primary literature                                    Secondary literature
 Wollheim, R., On Art and the Mind, London: Allen      Hopkins, J. and Savile, A. (eds), Psychoanalysis,
   Lane, 1973.                                            Mind and Art: Perspectives on Richard
 Wollheim, R., Art and Its Objects (second edition),      Wollheim, Oxford: Blackwell, 1992.
   Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,              Hopkins, R., Picture, Image and Experience,
   1980.                                                  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
 Wollheim, R., Painting as an Art, London: Thames         1998.
   & Hudson, 1987.                                     Van Gerwen, R. (ed.), Richard Wollheim on the Art
 Wollheim, R., The Mind and Its Depths,                   of Painting, Cambridge: Cambridge University
   Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993.             Press, 2001.
    Theory
        and
Philosophy
 of Culture
INTRODUCTION
Culture as a subject of analysis tends to resist academic specialization, because it involves
such a broad reach of subject matter: from language, to images of representation, the use
of public and private space, to the codification and governance of the body, the construction
of gender and disciplinary control of sexuality and so on. It is only fitting, then, that this
section includes a far greater diversity of subject matter than that of other sections, from
the communication and organizational systems through which art is produced (Luhmann,
Bourdieu, Foucault) to the deep cultural content of the human psyche (Butler, Klein, Kristeva).
The subject of psychoanalysis may seem a long way from ‘culture’ as such, but as the entries
on Butler, Klein and Kristeva indicate, the processes that create a self-conscious subject
involve deeply embedded cultural patterns of moral norms, gender relations and family life.
   The very concept of culture, as in the case of psychoanalysis, has become intrinsic to most
academic fields. The expression ‘the cultural turn’ has come to describe the way traditional
academic disciplines have been forced, to varying degrees, to acknowledge that their attempts
to construct an independent body of knowledge are not independent of the dynamics of
culture. Especially when, as Georges Bataille reminds us, ‘culture’ involves broad historical
traditions and protocols, values, ethics, morals and beliefs (often of religious origin), the
uses of language, creative expression and even a relation to the environment. Traditionally,
however, culture has been conceived as the moral and philosophical orientation of a society,
securing some form of collective participation, allegiance and identity. As such, it is taken to
be distinct from, or independent to, the social, legal, political and economic constraints that
govern society in general. Such ‘idealist’ conceptions of culture tend to be accompanied by
the belief that art is completely ‘autonomous’ from social systems and patterns of economic
activity.
   In this section we find thinkers, like Foucault and Bourdieu, who do not make a categorical
distinction between the cultural and the social, and would say that cultural values, beliefs and
practices are social in origin. For both these thinkers, culture is not a realm of free creative
thinking and activity, but involves regimes of power and control. Where they differ is that
Bourdieu continues the Marxist concern with the way culture articulates class and privilege,
whereas Foucault deliberately jettisons Marx’s legacy, and formulates a new concept of
society based on ‘discourse’. Nonetheless, Foucault or Bourdieu agree that art and culture do
have a form of ‘autonomy’ in that, as Luhmann would say, they operate according to their own
systems of thought.
   An attentiveness to language, and the way in which language mediates knowledge and
knowledge mediates power, characterizes the work of most of the thinkers here. Barthes
demonstrated how even a basic conception of the function of language (as sign systems) can
provide a framework for the analysis of cultural products (from magazines to sporting events)
and the ‘myths’ that make them meaningful. ‘Myths’ (drawing on Marxist notions of ‘ideology’)
was the term Barthes used for the sign systems through which we explain the world around
THEORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF CULTURE                                                             148


us, in so far as what is historical and constructed comes to be regarded as natural and self-
evident. However, Barthes, like Foucault, moved away from Marxist thinking, and consequently
the ‘politics’ of his work after 1960 (as with that of many of his peers) becomes much more
complicated and less doctrinaire.
   Benjamin is a good early example of a thinker who worked out an explicit political
standpoint as part of his broader investigation into culture. All the thinkers in this section in
one way or another (save Melanie Klein) felt compelled to construct a political dimension to
their thought. Benjamin uses Marxist concepts like ‘bourgeois’ or ‘class’ but draws upon a
range of philosophical insights to explain the way changing economics and technology effect
the very perception and experience individual people have in viewing the world they live in.
Jameson has similarly attempted to extend Marxist categories into a deeper understanding
of literature and artistic expression, emphasizing, like Benjamin, the ‘cognitive’ function of
culture (how art and cultural activity is a means of thinking about and ‘processing’ complex
socio-economic changes that are difficult to think in terms of ordinary language).
   For Jameson, culture articulates the conditions of contemporary sensibility (or perception
and experience), and analyzing cultural forms tells us a lot more about the implications of
our socio-economic systems than does analyzing society or economics directly. Baudrillard
takes the study of culture one step further and asserts that culture has become the means
through which social and economic forces reproduce and extend their power. The cultural
activity of image making or visual representation has become hegemonic for Baudrillard – the
primary means through which society and economics operate. From factual information (‘the
news’ and its media imagery) to product branding (markets structured by consumer desire),
the aesthetics of the image reveals the central dynamic to social existence. For Baudrillard,
as for all the thinkers in this section, art and culture is where political, social and economic
conditions of our existence emerge at their most perceptible.
149                                                                         ROLAND BARTHES




ROLAND BARTHES
(1915–1980)
Barthes is one of the most influential            also includes an afterword, ‘Myth Today’,
disseminators of both structuralist and          which articulates his concept of semiological
post-structuralist theories. He held research    analysis. Barthes describes a myth as
appointments with the Centre National de         structured by interdependent layers of signs
la Recherche Scientifique (1952–59), served       and meanings. He defines key terms that will
as director of studies at l’École Pratique des   remain in his lexicon throughout his writing
Hautes Études (1960–76) and was awarded          career: sign – the culturally constructed
the prestigious Chair of Literary Semiology      entity of signifier and signified, which appear
at the Collège de France (1976–80). Barthes      as one but exist only in relation to one
drew his semiotics initially from the modern     another; signifier – the perceptual image of
linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure             the sign; signified – the idea expressed by
(1857–1913) and then from the structural         the signifier. These essays are motivated
anthropology of Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908–).     by Barthes’ desire to debunk the apparent
Barthes’ impact, however, derives from his       naturalness promulgated in mass culture
application of semiotics to a wide array of      between object and meaning: ‘I resented
media, including advertising, sporting events,   seeing Nature and History confused at every
fashion, theatre, photography, film, art and      turn, and I wanted to track down, in the
literature. Semiotics posits communication       decorative display of what-goes-without-
and representation as complex systems of         saying, the ideological abuse which, in my
signs and symbols. Barthes pays particular       view, is hidden there’ (M, p. 11).
attention to the arbitrary nature of language       There is a clear critique here of political
and its constructs, privileging at times         and social convention – a Marxist attitude
the linguistic sign over all other forms of      towards consumption, power and ideology.
expression. In his post-structuralist phase,     One representative piece concerns the
which emerged in the late 1960s and became       exhibition, The Family of Man, the masterwork
fully apparent in his 1970 publication, The      of Edward Steichen’s tenure as director of the
Empire of Signs, Barthes reconsiders the         Department of Photography at the Museum
power and unique qualities of the visual.        of Modern Art, New York. Rather than
While never abandoning his love affair           trumpet the long-awaited appreciation of the
with words, Barthes offers insightful            art of photography, to which the exhibition
commentaries on photography and film, in          and its curator appear to testify, Barthes
particular, as well as the image in general.     takes issue with the exhibition’s morality
   In the 1950s Barthes wrote a series of        and sentimentality, challenging Steichen’s
monthly essays on topics suggested by            suppression of individuality (the subjects
current events, a selection of which makes       of the photographs) in order to promote
up the 1972 English translation, Mythologies     ‘the alibi of a “wisdom” and a “lyricism”
([M] 1957). Not only did this book introduce     which only makes the gestures of man look
Barthes widely in England and America, it        eternal the better to defuse them’ (M, p. 102).
ROLAND BARTHES                                                                               150


It is ironic, however, that by the time the       by means of the photographic still, as the
English-language translation of Mythologies       filmic. Through Eisenstein’s work Barthes
was published, Barthes’ ideas and essays          argues the possibility of a depth to film
had moved significantly past his work of           art and lays groundwork for film theory:
the 1950s. A delay occurs in both academia        ‘film is not to be simply seen and heard but
and art criticism in England and the United       scrutinized and closely listened to, studied by
States: the dissemination of Barthes’             eye and ear alike’ (RF, p. 62).
structuralism in the 1970s falls more than a         In ‘The Photographic Message’ Barthes
decade behind its currency in France, while       first articulates that the photograph is
a post-structuralist text such as The Empire      a message without code, a notion at the
of Signs appears in English translation twelve    heart of his longer treatise on photography.
years after its debut in France.                  Perhaps the most radical and troublesome
    The Responsibility of Forms ([RF] French      concept for photographers and theorists
1982; English 1991) begins with three             alike, the idea of a photograph as a message
of Barthes’ most famous articles on               without code appears not only to marginalize
photography, film and the image, and               the photographer as artist but also to ignore
includes a consideration of whether painting      photographic technique. In the early 1960s
is a language, as well as analyses of artists     Barthes appears content to place ‘the human
Erté, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, André Masson,          interventions in the photograph (framing,
Cy Twombly and Bernard Réquichot. ‘The            range, light, focus, speed, etc.)’ (RF, p. 33)
Photographic Message’ and ‘The Rhetoric           at the level of connotation. He also argues
of the Image’ reflect Barthes’ focus in the        in ‘The Rhetoric of the Image’ that ‘cinema
1960s on the structure of communication.          is not an animated photograph’ (RF, p. 34), a
Each essay, therefore, discusses the layers       fact that explains how film history does not
of code embedded in the visual sign. Barthes      offer a radical break from the previous arts of
identifies three messages of the image:            fiction. The new register to be found in these
the ‘linguistic’ concerns words within or         1970s’ essays in The Responsibility of Forms
accompanying an image; the ‘denoted’ refers       is that of desire and the body, which together
to the resemblance between an object and its      create an idiosyncratic path of enquiry that
representation; and the ‘connoted’ considers      may appear systematic – given Barthes’
all the qualities of composition that create      nomenclature – but that, in fact, strives
symbolic meaning. Barthes’ post-structural        to acknowledge and express that which
turn can be found in his 1970 essay on some       systematic thought excludes.
photographic stills from the films of Sergei          Among the influences that move Barthes
Eisenstein: he posits a third meaning (distinct   beyond his structural analysis of the 1950s
from the informational and the symbolic           and 1960s is his association with Tel Quel,
levels of communication, which are obvious),      the French avant-garde literary review
which he labels the ‘obtuse meaning’. The         published from 1960 to 1982. Tel Quel served
obtuse meaning defies description because          as a forum for cultural and intellectual
it copies nothing; it sits apart from the         debate in the 1960s and 1970s and became
film’s exposition (its story) and its narrative    the locus for the shift from structuralist to
message. Barthes locates the third meaning        post-structuralist thought (cf. KRISTEVA,
only by means of the stills, since the tyranny    DERRIDA).
of film projection does not allow him to linger       The last work published in Barthes’
and thereby to isolate the obtuse meaning         lifetime, Camera Lucida ([CL] French 1980;
within Eisenstein’s art. Barthes refers to this   English 1981), is a commissioned book on
surplus meaning, which becomes apparent           photography. Eagerly anticipated by the
151                                                                              ROLAND BARTHES


photographic community, the seemingly                  flash which sometimes crosses this field
slight volume remains one of Barthes’                  and which I called the punctum, I now know
most controversial yet compelling texts.               that there exists another punctum (another
More often than not it is this work that is            ‘stigmatum’) than the ‘detail.’ This new
                                                       punctum, which is no longer of form but of
cited in the art world, particularly by those
                                                       intensity, is Time, the lacerating emphasis
discussing either the art or the theory of
                                                       of the noeme (‘that-has-been’), its pure
photography. The conundrum of Camera                   representation. (CL, pp. 95–96)
Lucida rests with the apparent simplicity of
the prose (a fragmentary style comprising
                                                         The literary and art communities tend
short narratives that may or may not flow
                                                    to interpret Camera Lucida differently and
into one another, as well as a two-part text
                                                    either admire or disdain it in distinct ways.
in which a new methodological direction is
                                                    For the former much of the critique centres
pursued in Part II, requiring a reconsideration
                                                    on the book as an elegy for his recently
of what has come before). Barthes argues
                                                    deceased mother, with Diana Knight arguing
that the essence of the photographic medium
                                                    as early as 1994 that the Winter Garden
is reference: he cannot deny that the subject
                                                    photograph referenced in Part II – the one
or objects in a photograph (unless it is a trick
                                                    of Barthes’ mother and her brother, ages
photograph) existed at some past moment
                                                    five and seven respectively – does not really
in time before the camera. The quality of
                                                    exist but is instead imaginary. Margaret Olin
‘having-been-there’ (introduced in 1960
                                                    concurs with Knight’s assertion by comparing
in ‘The Photographic Message’) becomes
                                                    the composition of the described (but not
‘that-has-been’ in Camera Lucida and is
                                                    published) Winter Garden photograph with
one of Barthes’ principal assertions about
                                                    the one family photograph reproduced in
the medium. In addition, Barthes refuses to
                                                    Camera Lucida. In 2005 MICHAEL FRIED and
consider ‘Photography-according-to-the-
                                                    JAMES ELKINS debate Camera Lucida in
Photographer’, thereby giving the impression
                                                    Critical Inquiry: Fried invokes Barthes’ notion
that he fails to appreciate the art and craft of
                                                    of the punctum to continue his long-standing
the photographer.
                                                    discussion of the ‘anti-theatrical tradition’,
    Most cited of all, however, are the
                                                    while Elkins argues against the use of such
neologisms introduced: studium and punctum.
                                                    an episodic, personal text for theorizing
The former refers to the potential of a
                                                    photography.
photograph to appeal to Barthes’ interest in
                                                         Barthes’ post-structural writing embraces
history and culture – how one dressed in the
                                                    paradox and refuses to limit itself to the
past, for example; the latter is first linked to
                                                    logical, let alone the absolute. Tzvetan
a detail in a photograph that ‘pricks’ Barthes,
                                                    Todorov best articulates his friend’s
touching a pathos within him that may or may
                                                    sensibility and outlook: ‘Barthes never
not reflect another viewer’s response. Part
                                                    wanted to assume the discourse of the Father
II, however, declares that the photographic
                                                    . . . He did not seek to impose truth on others,
punctum is not simply a detail but is, in fact,
                                                    not even himself’ (in Knight, Critical Essays).
time – a concept consistent with Barthes’
                                                    As a cultural theorist of the second-half of
commentary on photography since the 1950s.
                                                    the twentieth century, Barthes provides entry
   At the time (at the beginning of this book:      to two intellectual movements: structuralism
   already far away) when I was inquiring into      and post-structuralism. Because post-
   my attachment to certain photographs, I          structuralism can be seen as an argument
   thought I could distinguish a field of cultural   against structuralism, a summary of
   interest (the studium) from that unexpected      Barthes’ theories can appear contradictory.
ROLAND BARTHES                                                                                           152


Barthes, however, always moves beyond any              by Jacques Derrida but also by his readings
systematic thought that gains ascendancy               of and associations with other intellectuals
and threatens to dominate enquiry.                     of the 1960s and 1970s, such as Jacques
   The cultural debunking of the 1950s,                Lacan and Julia Kristeva. Barthes’ ability in
which leads to his embrace of semiotics, is            Camera Lucida to blend a theoretical essay
necessary for the time but problematic by              on photography with a memoir continues to
the late 1960s, when semiotics is at risk of           entice readers. At the same time, the text
becoming an intellectual tyranny. Yet it is            has been cherry-picked by theoreticians and
this initial structural exploration that affords       practitioners in disciplines from literature to
the insights and deepening of perspective              photography to theory, engendering ongoing
of his post-structural writings. He allows             interpretative debates.
his thoughts to evolve not only from the
philosophical questioning of structuralism                                          NANCY SHAWCROSS




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                          Secondary literature
                                                       Elkins, J., ‘Critical Response: What Do We Want
 Primary literature                                       Photography To Be? A Response to Michael
                                                          Fried’, Critical Inquiry vol. 31, no. 4 (2005),
 Barthes, R., Camera Lucida, trans. Richard
                                                          pp. 938–56.
    Howard, New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux,
                                                       Fried, M., ‘Barthes’s Punctum’, Critical Inquiry vol.
    1982.
                                                          31, no. 3 (Spring 2005), pp. 539–74.
 Barthes, R., Mythologies, ed. and trans. Annette
                                                       Knight, D. (ed.), Critical Essays on Roland Barthes,
    Lavers, New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux,
                                                          New York: G. K. Hall, 2000.
    1972.
                                                       Olin, M., ‘Touching Photographs: Roland
 Barthes, R., The Responsibility of Forms, trans.
                                                          Barthes’s “Mistaken” Identification’,
    Richard Howard, Berkeley: University of
                                                          Representations (Fall 2002), pp. 99–118.
    California Press, 1991.
                                                       Rabaté, J.-M. (ed.), Writing the Image after
 Barthes, R., Oeuvres complètes (vols I–V), ed. Eric
                                                          Roland Barthes, Philadelphia: University of
    Marty, Paris: Seuil, 2002.
                                                          Pennsylvania Press, 1997.
                                                       Shawcross, N. M., Roland Barthes on Photography,
                                                          Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1997.
153                                                                         GEORGES BATAILLE




GEORGES BATAILLE
(1897–1961)
Barely recognized during his lifetime, and        appreciation not simply of personal tragedy
virtually absent from Anglo-Saxon discourse       but also of the tragic fate of humanity itself.
at the time of his death, Georges Bataille           Also of crucial importance to him was the
has come in recent years to be recognized         study of gift exchange made by the sociologist
as a major critical theorist of the twentieth     Marcel Mauss, whose lectures Bataille
century whose influence on today’s art             attended in the late 1920s. From Mauss’s
– both on its theory and practice – has been      study of gift exchange in such practices as
incalculable. Bataille had a wide range as a      the potlatch ceremony of the peoples of
writer, incorporating philosophy, sociology,      north-western Canada, Bataille was able
anthropology, religion, literature, political     to derive support for his own theory of the
economy as well as art. He also wrote a           interplay between taboo and transgression,
series of now celebrated ‘pornographic’           and its centrality to the development of the
novels which, during his lifetime, were           human sensibility and to social organization.
consigned to clandestinity.                       Equally decisive for the establishment of his
   Largely self-taught, apart from a period       social theory were the famous lectures of
of study with the Russian philosopher Leon        Alexandre Kojève on ‘the master and slave
Chestov, who inspired in him an interest in       dialectic’ in Hegel, which provided stimulation
Nietzsche and Dostoyevsky, Bataille belonged      for his understanding of the dynamic of
to a turbulent generation and was, as he said     human relations.
himself, ‘born to literary life in the tumult        Bataille’s thinking about art was also
of surrealism’ (Literature and Evil, p. 1). His   informed by his location within the ambit of
precise relation with Surrealism remains          Surrealism, and by his personal relations
controversial, but there is no doubting the       with practising artists. He had a particularly
pivotal role that this encounter played in the    close relationship with André Masson,
development of his sensibility. Like most of      especially during the 1930s, and also had
the first-generation Surrealists, Bataille was     close ties with Max Ernst, Hans Bellmer and
profoundly marked by the trauma of the First      Jean Fautrier. His writings on art represent
World War and the crisis of consciousness         a small but not insignificant part of his
to which it gave rise among European              oeuvre. However, their value lies less in any
intellectuals. In Bataille’s case this social     contribution they might make to art history
and cultural trauma was also associated with      than in the extent to which they enable us to
personal childhood traumas that arose from        understand Bataille’s more general theories,
his relationship with his blind and syphilitic    from which his real relevance for debates
father who died in 1915, abandoned and            in art emerges. For him art had no value in
alone, in the bombardment of Rheims. The          isolation; it assumed importance only as
spell of anguish this event cast over Bataille    part of a universal history. The art that most
never appears to have left him. Its mark is to    interested him was in fact prehistoric cave
be found throughout his work as tormented         art, which he was privileged to inspect at
GEORGES BATAILLE                                                                              154


first-hand in the caves of Lascaux during          being born we are torn from the continuity of
the early 1950s. His study of the Lascaux         existence.
paintings, which gave rise to a monograph             For Bataille everything follows from this
published in 1955 and to a series of essays       primary recognition. It causes us to try to
(recently collected in a volume published         erect barriers against our vulnerability
in English, The Cradle of Humanity), was          in order to give ourselves the illusion of
also at the root of his most important work,      permanence. We build to protect ourselves
Eroticism, published in 1957. This in turn        from the elements and to plan for the future.
would give rise to the exploration of eroticism   Most especially, we work to establish a sense
in art in his final work, The Tears of Eros,       of security in an unstable world, and work
published in 1961, the year of his death. He      thus provides the basis for culture and the
also published a book-length study of the         development of social structures. Through
work of Manet (1955).                             our efforts, we strive to give form and
    A profoundly anti-humanist thinker,           meaning to an incomprehensible situation.
Bataille was nevertheless imbued with an              Even in our striving, however, we are
Enlightenment spirit of enquiry. In fact he       unsatisfied. We are constantly pulled back to
appears to have been less concerned to            death, so that even as we construct we are
oppose Enlightenment than to extract from         consumed with a will to destroy. This must
it its humanism and its idealism, while           be contained if stability is to be maintained,
restoring a dark core to it, one that no          hence human communities are led to
amount of ‘illumination’ would ever be able       proscribe certain behaviour and actions.
to penetrate; in this respect his thinking has    Such prohibitions, however, ultimately
often been compared with that of Pascal.          serve to intensify the feelings they sought to
Certainly Bataille was motivated by a will        expel, and so they give rise to the desire for
to dethrone reason from its pedestal as the       transgression, to a will to tear apart the very
primary human characteristic. The Cartesian       restrictions we have placed on ourselves.
cogito was based upon a deception: thought            Bataille saw the foundation of art as lying
did not ennoble us; in many ways it degrades.     in this transgressive impulse. It was what he
Most especially, it did not differentiate us      perceived in the art he saw in the Lascaux
from other animals and the idea that it did       caves, which he viewed not principally
was a primary human falsehood. Bataille           as a form of sympathetic magic by which
did nevertheless believe that humans are          success in the hunt might be assured, but
fundamentally different from other animals.       as responding to what he called ‘inner
    This differentiation was to be found not      experience’: a sense of awe at the magnitude
in elevation but in something more brutal         and ‘impossibility’ of our existence in the
and elemental; it was the recognition and         world. It is his theory of transgression that
consciousness of death, something that            has tended to be the main attraction of
was placed in evidence by eroticism, which        Bataille’s work for contemporary artists.
fundamentally differed from animal sexuality      This attraction, however, often turns on a
in not being principally directed towards         fundamental misunderstanding, because
the propagation of the species. In eroticism,     Bataille did not celebrate transgression as a
humans experience jouissance, which is not        liberation or release from constricting social
precisely enjoyment, but rather enjoyment         ties. Quite the contrary, in fact, he considered
imbued with anguish. In eroticism we              it to be fundamentally conservative; it did not
experience at once the plenitude of being         deny but strengthened and completed the
and the terror of death. It makes us aware        initial taboo, which founds social rules and
of our limited natures, of the fact that in       regulates collective behaviour.
155                                                                         GEORGES BATAILLE


   What really mattered for Bataille was          relation of the artwork to the heart of the
not transgression but communication and           human sensibility.
what he termed ‘sovereignty’. It is true that         Bataille also deserves mention for his part
this is more likely to be encountered in          in the editing of one of the most remarkable
transgression than in taboo, since the latter     art journals of the twentieth century. We
is bound to work and is thus inherently and       do not know the precise role he had in the
irrevocably servile. Nevertheless, genuine        production of Documents, fifteen issues of
communication, which is what sovereignty is,      which were published during 1929 and 1930
lies beyond the opposition between taboo and      under the patronage of Georges Wildenstein.
transgression. It is a sacred element that is     Bataille was its ‘Secretary General’, but what
fundamentally unknowable and unsayable,           precisely this meant is unclear and his actual
and as such it was characterized by Bataille      role is subject to debate. It seems likely
as ‘the impossible’. It is that which lacerates   that Carl Einstein, Georges-Henri Rivière,
our being and momentarily tears us from our       Robert Desnos and Michel Leiris also had
restricted existence as sentient individuals,     a significant input into the orientation and
causing us to recognize our insufficiency. For     direction of the journal. Yet it is difficult
Bataille this sense was experienced most          not to see Bataille’s contribution as central
forcibly in the sacrificial rituals of ancient     to establishing the organizing principles
society. In modern society its possibilities      that characterized the journal, in which
were severely diminished. It was most likely      art was placed in direct confrontation with
to be encountered in eroticism, since there is    ethnography and archaeology in such a way
in the carnality of the sexual act something      as to bring their preliminary classifications
rending and elemental. If art and poetry also     into question. In it, he published his first
offered intimations of it, it was only to the     articles in which his later preoccupations
extent that their expression contained an         would assume a preliminary form in
alertness to the presence of death and decay.     explorations of ‘base matter’ which provide
   Misunderstandings of the nature of             the basis upon which he could assert that
Bataille’s work (or perhaps more accurately       the origins of the work of art lie not in an
its transformation into art historical terms      aspiration towards elevation but in the dark
alien to Bataille’s own way of thinking) were     heart of our sensibility. The centrality of
encapsulated by an exhibition at the Centre       Documents to current debates surrounding
Georges Pompidou that took place in 1996,         art was highlighted by an exhibition devoted
curated by ROSALIND KRAUSS and Yves-              to it at the Hayward Gallery in London in
Alain Bois, entitled Informe, mode d’emploie      2006.
(Formless: a user’s guide). Here Bataille’s           Bataille’s oeuvre, provocative and extreme
anti-classificatory sorties were turned into a     as it often is, reminds us that art is an
kind of anti-modernist aesthetic comprising       elemental activity whose expression responds
artworks that refused the constrictions of        to fundamental needs within human beings.
form. What seems to have escaped Krauss           It is not a pastime to be engaged in as a
and Bois is that, for Bataille, arguments for     diversion from more pressing concerns and
or against modernism were beside the point.       if it is to be genuinely appreciated it must
As he made clear in his study of Manet, the       be approached in a full-blooded way. Its
movement of modern art merely reflects the         expression and its appreciation are not for
social/political movement of modern society.      the faint-hearted.
The true significance of art must be sought
outside of the history of art in the direct                             MICHAEL RICHARDSON
GEORGES BATAILLE                                                                                          156




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                         Bataille, G., The Cradle of Humanity, trans.
                                                         Michelle and Stuart Kendall, New York: Zone
                                                         Books, 2005.
 Primary literature
 Bataille G., Manet, trans. Austryn Wainhouse
                                                      Secondary literature
    and James Emmons, Geneva: Skira/London:
    Macmillan, 1955.                                  Ades, D. and Baker, S. (eds), Undercover
 Bataille, G., Prehistoric Painting: Lascaux or          Surrealism: Georges Bataille and Documents,
    the Birth of Art, trans. Austryn Wainhouse,          London: Hayward Gallery/Cambridge: MIT
    Geneva: Skira/London: Macmillan, 1955.               Press, 2006.
 Bataille, G., Literature and Evil, trans. Alastair   Botting, F. and Wilson, S., Bataille, New York:
    Hamilton, London: Calder and Boyars, 1973.           Palgrave, 2001.
 Bataille, G., Eroticism, trans. Mary Dalwood,        Champagne, R. A., Georges Bataille, New York:
    London: Calder & Boyars, 1962; San                   Twayne, 1998.
    Francisco: City Lights, 1986; London: Marion      Hegarty, P., Georges Bataille, Cultural Theorist,
    Boyars, 1987.                                        London: Sage Publications, 2000.
 Bataille, G., Visions of Excess: Selected Writings   Krauss, R. and Bois, Y.-A., Formless: A User’s
    1927–1939, trans. Allan Stoekl, Manchester:          Guide, New York: Zone Books, 1997.
    Manchester University Press, 1985.                Richardson, M., Georges Bataille, London:
 Bataille, G., The Tears of Eros, trans. John            Routledge, 1994.
    Connor, San Francisco: City Lights, 1989.         Surya, M., Georges Bataille, an Intellectual
 Bataille, G., The Absence of Myth, trans. Michael       Biography, trans. Krzysztof Fijalkowski and
    Richardson, London: Verso, 1994.                     Michael Richardson, London: Verso, 2002.




JEAN BAUDRILLARD
(1929–)
Jean Baudrillard did not have a conventional          analysis, and to illustrate his theoretical
career as an academic. He embarked on                 sociology and philosophy. Baudrillard’s
university teaching in the 1960s after some           method of analysis was initially highly formal,
years teaching German in provincial schools           concerned mainly with semiotic codes and
and by building a reputation as a major               decisively influenced by WALTER BENJAMIN
translator of the works of Peter Weiss into           and Marshall McLuhan, subsequently
French. Joining the circles around ROLAND             becoming more influenced by the
BARTHES, his prolific output began with                anthropological tradition from Marcel Mauss
structuralist studies of consumer objects and         to GEORGES BATAILLE.
systems. Indeed Baudrillard has privileged               For Baudrillard, Western art from the
art – and literature – as a key domain of             Renaissance has represented the real world
157                                                                          JEAN BAUDRILLARD


through a number of ‘orders of simulacra’.         empty space. What is significant is that this
His central analyses chart the decline of          framed ‘nothing’ would nonetheless have
classic bourgeois (or ‘modern’) art in the         a signature, that of the artist. Primitive
age of mechanization and virtualization. The       art never had a signature. Such art not
value of authenticity and autonomy continues       only played an important role as ritual, it
to haunt these orders of reproduction as           formed part of a symbolic world. It did not
they increasingly become driven by the             represent an external reality, but functioned
various art markets: when capitalism               in a culture of ‘symbolic exchange’. The
shifts into industrialism and art no longer        world of the anonymous artist (or group
remains the preserve of elite groups               of artists) partakes of a world that already
attached to a transcendental or autonomous         exists, a world that is created by the gods.
conception of the aesthetic, art begins to         Since there is no ‘authentic’ art, there can
collude with the design of commodities             be no fakes. Everything changes with the
(e.g. the Bauhaus). Once the commodity             emergence of the individual artist and the
itself becomes aestheticized – its exchange        signature style. At first, the artist remained
value is no longer dependent on function,          a craftsman or master craftsman, and the
or use-value – it becomes an object in an          work of art ‘represented’ an outside reality.
‘object system’. The increasing dominance          With reference to MICHEL FOUCAULT’s
of the Logo (the brand label) means not only       famous analysis of Velázquez’s Las Meninas
the appearance of a new type of capitalism         (1656), Baudrillard suggests that with this
– consumer capitalism – but also the               appearance of the named artist (and the
integration of an aesthetic order and the          signature) the relation of the painting to the
process of commodification. Such a shift has        world is altered. He observes that since the
consequences for the mode of consumption           Renaissance there have been four different
of all forms of art.                               and successive ‘orders of simulacra’. Each
   Baudrillard’s terminology changed in            of these can be analyzed by means of the
the 1990s, from that of orders of simulacra        theory of the sign (signifier/signified/real
and simulation to that of forms of illusion        referent) as opposed to the symbol (there is
and disillusion. Primitive cultures are            no element of the real outside the symbol).
always born of ‘seduction’ and ‘fundamental           In this historical process, art is increasingly
illusion’, a ‘vital illusion of appearances’,      rationalized with techniques of capturing
before all representation and interpretation       real perspective and its double, trompe
and aesthetics can come into existence.            l’oeil. Paintings depicted mythic or religious
The realm of modern aesthetics involves a          subjects as established by tradition or
new attempt to banish this world of radical        sacred texts, so at this stage of semiotic
illusion by mastery of radical disillusion. The    relation there is reference to a referent in
emphasis in modern culture shifts away from        the ‘symbolic’. Baudrillard conceives this
absence towards presence, above all to the         order of representation as the first order of
presence of ‘reality’. Ironically, in the long     simulacra: the representation separates the
term this collapses the distinction between        real world and the order of representations.
sign and reality into technical simulation and     From now on the masterwork can be copied;
‘virtual reality’. The real is both produced and   the original craft style of the artist can be
also disappears – and with it the doubled-         faked. This is radical in the sense that the
up forms of imaginative simulacra that             ‘real’ is given a very specific meaning and
accompanied the real–illusion couple.              significance. The philosophical category of
   What interests Baudrillard is the way in        ‘the real’ makes its appearance at the birth
which the logic of the modern art aesthetic        of modernity, and art has a privileged but
could lead to the exhibition of a framed           ambiguous role in this process.
JEAN BAUDRILLARD                                                                               158


   The internal dynamic of modernity – today      art is drawn closer to a project of reproducing
experienced through the pervasiveness             the real, either on the surface or abstractly.
of the mass media – transforms our                As the real becomes progressively a product
relationship to the world, a world that can       of promotion, art also becomes promotional.
no longer be experienced independently            Art renounces its symbolic function
of its representation. ‘The real’ becomes         altogether and destroys the possibility of
a problematic term. Baudrillard uses the          illusion (always based on an absence not
term ‘hyperreal’ to analyze this transition.      superabundance of dimensions). Technically,
At the same time the boundary between             it also becomes fascinated by reproducibility
the aesthetic realm and other value realms        and serial reproduction. Fused together
breaks down in a process Baudrillard calls        this leads to the art of Andy Warhol, whom
‘transaestheticization’. Baudrillard analyzes     Baudrillard regards as an ambivalent figure,
this as a shift from commodity to ‘sign-          both able to push the limits of the modern
exchange’ (the shift from commodity to an         aesthetic and yet remains trapped in projects
object no longer acquired primarily for its       that reproduce themselves.
use). Consumer society is a society that             The ambivalence of modern art is centred
consumes images, and is saturated with the        on the fact that it wants both to maintain
aestheticized tautologies of advertising and      a mastery of autonomous aesthetics while
the fashion cycle. This society is no longer      at the same time master the symbolic
based on production, but on representation        manipulation of modern disillusion with the
and seduction. Identity is determined not         world. This later operation is contradictory
by function in production, but by style and       since it involves a rejection of any vital
mode of consumption, and this third order         primary illusion in favour of a fundamental
of simulacra is no longer based on a clear        assertion of the primacy of reality and
distinction between representation and the        realization and its genres and sub-types
real world. The world is swallowed by its own     – surreality, hyperreality, virtual reality,
image.                                            etc. Baudrillard reads early Warhol as
   Baudrillard has developed a response to        marking the moment when a new order
this condition which now governs his own          of simulacral art eliminated the old unity
work: ‘fatal theory’. Originally a Marxist,       of representation (real and its image) and
Baudrillard’s works increasingly follow           became an unconditional simulacrum,
Nietzsche and Baudelaire; and the dominant        producing a new ‘transaesthetic illusion’.
problems of Western societies are no longer       When later Warhol repeated this theme in
those of economic exploitation and scarcity       1986 he fell back into an ‘inauthentic form’
of resources, but ones characterized by the       of simulation. Baudrillard seems, then, to
production of anomalies, viruses, saturation      have a meta-aesthetic which condemns on
and obesity. Modern autonomous art, no            aesthetic grounds certain kinds of art. A
matter how critical, is incapable of forming      further example is his clear rejection of New
a coherent response to a world driven by          York ‘simulationists’ (Peter Halley, Haim
these new exponential logics, fatal strategies,   Steinbach, Meyer Vaisman, Ashley Bickerton,
extreme events and spirals, which arise           et al.), and art exhibitions of plasticized,
against the background indifference of mass       vitrified, frozen excrement, or garbage that
culture. The responses to this condition in art   do not produce an irruptive moment of
that Baudrillard identifies (and rejects) are      clarification, but simply a form of aesthetic
two radicalizations, the first towards reality,    disillusion. The current situation of art is a
the second towards replication.                   state of radical indifference, a ‘metalanguage
   Failing to hold a critical distance, and to    of banality’ (‘Objects, Images, and the Poss-
work within a reduced number of dimensions,       ibilities of Aesthetic Illusion’ [OIPAI], p. 10).
159                                                                               JEAN BAUDRILLARD


     Through the 1990s Baudrillard worked             Oublier Baudrillard, pp. 45–56). Others have
at outlining a theory of a fourth order               questioned the adequacy of his aesthetic
of simulacra, or, more accurately,                    theory and categories as being either
simulation. Beyond the code and system of             outmoded or too general to be of use in close
reproducibility there is now emerging an              analysis (Critical Vices, pp. 119–43). Others
order of radical uncertainty in which the             have seen his ideas as ambiguous, imprecise
relation of context and event is changing.            and shifting, a character which may explain
In this order, dominated by extreme events,           why he himself has complained that he has
the event creates its own context. This is            often been misunderstood.
Baudrillard’s concept of singularity defined              His reply to these criticisms is to argue that
as that which cannot be exchanged. There              he has attempted to provide a new kind of
are two kinds of such events. One is anodyne:         cultural theory of the major shifts in modern
an extreme painting ‘could be characterised           culture (fatal theory) and has illustrated
as a simplified form of impossible exchange            these shifts above all with reference to the
. . . and the best discourse about such a             key moments of modern art, risking the
painting would be a discourse where there is          possibility of being misunderstood. His
nothing to say, which would be equivalent of a        position has remained tantalizing: he plays on
painting where there is nothing to see’ (OIPAI,       the one hand with a conception of seduction,
p. 9). The other event attains a symbolic             challenge, symbolic power, only in the end
power because its force is such that it cannot        to chart the way in which modern artists by
be absorbed into any cultural system.                 and large have been unable to master them;
     One important criticism of Baudrillard’s         while on the other hand he argues that in
work has been that although his writings on           the world of simulacra and virtual reality
art are voluminous, his actual engagement             very few artists have been able to live at the
with specific artists and specific works is             edge of the technological revolutions with an
limited. Some critics have questioned the             equivalent and appropriate response.
adequacy of his knowledge over the range
and detail of modern art in particular (Sans                                                 MIKE GANE



 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                         Baudrillard, J., The Conspiracy of Art, ed.
 Primary literature                                     S. Lotringer, New York: Semiotexte, 2005.

 Baudrillard, J., For A Critique of the Political
                                                      Secondary literature
   Economy of the Sign (Pour Une Critique de
   L’Economie du Signe, 1972), trans. Charles         Gane, M., Jean Baudrillard: In Radical Uncertainty,
   Levin, St Louis: Telos Press, 1981.                   London: Pluto, 2000.
 Baudrillard, J., Symbolic Exchange and Death         Gane, M. (ed.), Jean Baudrillard: Masters of Social
   (L’ Echange Symbolique et la Mort, 1976), trans.      Theory (4 vols), London: Sage, 2000.
   Iain Hamilton Grant, London: Sage, 1993.           Kroker, A. and Cook, D. (eds), The Postmodern
 Baudrillard, J., The Transparency of Evil (La           Scene, London: Macmillan, 1988.
   Transparence du Mal, 1990), translated by          Majastre, J.-O. (ed.), Sans Oublier Baudrillard,
   James Benedict, London: Verso, 1993.                  Brussels: La Lettre Volee, 1996.
 Baudrillard, J., ‘Objects, Images, and the           Stearns, W. and Chaloupka, W. (eds), Jean
   Possibilities of Aesthetic Illusion’, in ed.          Baudrillard: The Disappearance of Art and
   N. Zurbrugg, Jean Baudrillard, Art and Artefact,      Politics, London: Macmillan, 1992.
   London: Sage, 1997.                                Zurbrugg, N., Critical Vices: The Myths of
 Baudrillard, J., The Uncollected Baudrillard, ed.       Postmodern Theory, Amsterdam: G+B Arts
   G. Genosko, London: Sage, 2001.                       International, 2000.
WALTER BENJAMIN                                                                               160




WALTER BENJAMIN
(1892–1940)
Walter Benjamin was born to wealthy Jewish            In touch with virtually every philosophical,
parents in Berlin in 1892 and committed            theoretical and aesthetic discourse of his
suicide on the flight from Nazism on the            time from Henri Bergson, Georg Simmel,
Spanish–French border in Port Bou in 1940.         Freud, Carl Schmitt and Martin Heidegger
After his doctoral thesis, The Concept of Art      to L’Art Pour L’Art, Art Nouveau, Surrealism,
Criticism in German Romanticism (1920),            Futurism, New Objectivity and the Bauhaus,
Benjamin failed to secure a professorship          Benjamin’s thought is self-consciously
in philosophy with his book The Origin of the      heterogeneous and anti-systematic. Crossing
German Tragic Drama (1928), a philosophical        the boundaries between philosophy, theology,
treatise on the historicity of aesthetic           sociology, psychology and literature,
concepts and a critique of Neo-Kantianism.         Benjamin’s concepts (aura, artwork,
Subsequently, Benjamin became one of the           experience, history, etc.) are purposefully
most influential German cultural critics in the     unstable and ambiguous, implying a critique
1920s, he translated Proust and Baudelaire         of thinking in scientific and systematic
and was one of the first to recognize the           philosophical categories. Both Horkheimer’s
importance of Kafka. His essay ‘The Task of        and Adorno’s later critique of the totalitarian
the Translator’ (1923) is one of the foundation    potential of Enlightenment philosophy and
texts of translation theory, and his essays        science and their critique of the concept of
on ‘Goethe’s Elective Affinities’ (1924–25)         culture can be traced back to Benjamin.
and on Baudelaire (especially ‘On Some                While the early Benjamin conceives of
Motifs in Baudelaire’, 1939), introduced new       the artwork as a medium of truth that can
critical concepts and methods to literary          be experienced but not conceptualized,
studies.                                           under the influence of Georg Lukács’ History
   From the mid-1920s Benjamin underwent           and Class Consciousness (1926) Benjamin
a ‘Copernican turn’, towards Marxism,              locates both the artwork, and the aesthetic
combining strands from Jewish mysticism            concepts through which society describes
with Marx and Freud to forge an idiosyncratic      its experience, in their historical context.
materialist philosophy of history and culture.     Following the example of Siegfried Kracauer,
Through his friendship with THEODOR                the most influential critic of Weimar
ADORNO he became associated with the               Germany, Benjamin turns away from abstract
Frankfurt School, and his influence on              academic thought towards the philosophical
Adorno’s thought cannot be underestimated.         understanding of the phenomena of
His association with the playwright Bertolt        contemporary mass culture and technology,
Brecht also left a deep trace in his later work,   exploring the connection between aesthetic
especially ‘The Work of Art in the Age of its      forms, historical development, politics
Mechanical Reproducibility’ (1935–36), ‘The        and consciousness. Together with Adorno,
Author as Producer’ (1934) and the ‘Theses         Benjamin developed an ‘immanent’ method
on the Philosophy of History’ (1939–40).           of criticism, which, rather than imposing
161                                                                          WALTER BENJAMIN


outside criteria and concepts, begins with        technological mass production correspond
the presuppositions of the work itself and        new forms of aesthetic production
extrapolates an entire historical epoch out       (photography, film) as well as new forms of
of its internal contradictions. While vulgar      apperception and reception. While artworks
Marxism regards cultural artefacts as             are traditionally consumed in isolated
external to the principal conflict of Capitalist   contemplation, film reception is collective
property relations, Benjamin reads artefacts      and distracted. The reception adequate for
as the expression of the inherent social,         bourgeois artworks is thus at odds with the
political and intellectual contradictions of      experience of modernity itself, the decentring
their epoch.                                      of the bourgeois subject. Benjamin conceives
   Benjamin’s most influential essay, ‘The         of (silent) film with its shock-like montage
Work of Art in the Age of its Mechanical          aesthetics as a training ground for a new
Reproducibility’ is an attempt to theorize        form of urban subjectivity, no longer based
what happens to art when it becomes               on the centred subject. Second, Benjamin
mechanically reproducible. Benjamin’s             recognizes that in modernity all experience
central argument is that philosophical            of reality and thus all subject positions
concepts as well as subjective experiences        are increasingly mediated by technology.
are historical, and that their truth changes      This outdates the descriptive categories of
with the historical situation. For Benjamin,      bourgeois aesthetics, which depend on an
the industrialization of society in the           idea of subjective authenticity, presupposing
nineteenth century effects a restructuring        a subject immediate to itself. Consequently,
of human experience: the process of               Benjamin dispenses with categories central
technicization and alienation in modernity        to Kantian aesthetics and their reception
progressively erodes the principles on            in Germany such as aesthetic autonomy,
which the bourgeois experience of selfhood        ‘creativity and genius, eternal value and
is based, i.e. contemplation, inwardness          mystery’.
and solitude. For Benjamin, the essential            For Benjamin, the technical reproducibility
experience of modernity consists in the           of artworks undermines the authority of
destruction of bourgeois subjectivity in          the original. The technically reproduced
the continuous shock of urbanized space.          artwork destroys what Benjamin refers to
Benjamin follows Marx’s theory of alienation      as the aura of the work, its unique presence
here, namely that the worker at the machine       in time and space. The aura is not only tied
is turned into a mere thing due to the division   to the authenticity of the work but also to
of labour and the lack of control he has          the origin of art in myth and cultic fetish. In
over the production process. This, Benjamin       Benjamin’s example, a medieval painting
argues, is paralleled in the situation of the     used in religious practice is not primarily a
passer-by in accelerated urban spaces. Being      work of art but a cultic object. It only acquires
subject to constant shocks, the experience        the status of artwork at a later stage in a
of neither can be categorized in terms of         society that venerates artists, and develops a
autonomous subjectivity in control of its         market for originals. Nonetheless, the cultic
destiny. As a consequence, the aesthetic          aspect of the fetish survives in the artwork
categories with which the bourgeois subject       in changed form. As in Adorno’s aesthetic
describes its experience (authenticity,           theory, for Benjamin the history of aesthetics
creativity and beauty) become outdated and        retains aspects of cultic practice. Bourgeois
have to be rethought.                             aesthetics is essentially the transformation of
   The consequences for art and aesthetics        religious into aesthetic experience under the
are twofold. First, to the new forms of           cult of beauty.
WALTER BENJAMIN                                                                                  162


   While technological reproductions of              ground for new forms of perception which
artworks (postcards of paintings, sculptures,        could be harnessed for political ends. The
cathedrals, etc.) destroy their aura from            attempt to turn film into ‘culture’ ultimately
within through proliferation, works intended         results in the domestication of film’s
for mass reproduction (film, photography)             revolutionary potential in the cult of star (cf.
have no aura from the outset. The ‘withering         Adorno on the ‘Culture Industry’).
of the aura’ thus corresponds to the                    The incompatibility of aesthetic categories
destruction of the depth of subjective               of the bourgeois age with mass-produced
experience in modernity. For Benjamin,               aesthetic products causes him to drop the
the mass-produced and mass-reproduced                term ‘work of art’ altogether. Benjamin’s
work ‘emancipates the work of art from its           ‘Artwork’ essay is thus not a defence of
parasitical dependence on ritual’; and art’s         popular culture against high culture’s
cultic value is increasingly replaced by its         attempts to discredit it, but an attempt to
exhibition value. Mass-produced artworks             reveal the structural properties of film as
are works produced for exhibition and                aesthetic correspondence to the technological
mass reception, not private ownership. This          development of society. Like the essays on
precludes the idea of aesthetic autonomy and         Goethe and Baudelaire, the ‘Artwork’ essay
the concept of the artist as genius-creator          is an example of what Jürgen Habermas
that had governed bourgeois aesthetics               calls redemptive critique; it attempts to
since Kant’s Critique of Judgement (1790),           salvage the revolutionary powers of film
and leaves the artist to rethink his or her          and its base origin in fairground shows from
relationship to society, and its structures of       its increasing elevation into a narrative of
power.                                               ‘culture’.
   Benjamin dismisses the concept of                    Benjamin’s late thought increasingly
aesthetic autonomy as an ideological self-           turns into a critique of forms and modes
deception veiling the relationship between           of representation and their implicit
art and power. Relatedly, Benjamin argues            politics, particularly naturalist forms of
that the concepts of culture and tradition           representation. On the level of production
are tied to a continuing history of oppression       and reception, notions of ‘immediacy’ and
and private property. In Benjamin’s view, the        ‘authenticity’ are aesthetically and politically
process by which cultural goods become part          naive and dangerous, especially since
of a tradition is inextricably linked to a history   German fascism exploited the personality
of oppression in which these goods provide           cult of conservative aesthetics with respect to
a legitimizing narrative for the ruling class.       Hitler as the ‘genius-leader’. While Benjamin
Cultural tradition is thus essentially two-          jettisons the cultic aspect of the artwork,
faced, a repository of historical experience         he stresses its property as a medium of
and a document of barbarism. Benjamin’s              knowledge, albeit with a changed function.
most influential literary essays, ‘Goethe’s           For Benjamin, the end of bourgeois aesthetic
Elective Affinities’ and ‘On Some Motifs in           autonomy results in a re-evaluation of
Baudelaire’ are essentially attempts to              aesthetic practice as social and political
wrest the work of these poets away from an           and a rediscovery of the didactic value of
inclusion into conservative aesthetics and its       art. His favoured example is Bertolt Brecht.
personality cult of the artist as heroic creator,    Brecht’s dialectic theatre is not only a
prophet and leader. Similarly, for Benjamin,         critique of representation: it self-critically
the 1920s debates that seek to establish film         de-auratizes itself as ‘art’ by exposing its
as ‘art’ against a conservative aesthetic elite      assembled nature. As collaborative work of
misrecognize film’s potential as a training           an increasingly preliminary nature Brecht’s
163                                                                               WALTER BENJAMIN


plays subvert the categories of ‘work’ and          undialectical, and the autonomous work of
‘artist-creator’ altogether.                        art was in as much need of dialectic defence
   The strongest critique of Benjamin’s             as the base cinematic floor show.
theses came from Adorno. Adorno applauded              Over the last fifty years, Benjamin has
both Benjamin’s critique of bourgeois               emerged as one of the most influential
aesthetics as grounded in myth and his              thinkers of the twentieth century. His
redemption of the ‘kitsch’ film against              influence can be traced not only in the
the ‘quality’ film. However, he criticized           disciplines of literary and cultural studies
Benjamin’s rejection of the autonomous              (FREDRIC JAMESON, Terry Eagleton), media
work of art in favour of a politicized concept      theory (Friedrich Kittler, Vilem Flusser),
of art along Brechtian terms. Arguing               translation theory, philosophy (Giorgio
against Benjamin’s identification of aura            Agamben), historiography (Hayden White),
with the autonomous artwork, he pointed             aesthetic and social theory (Theodor W.
out that modernist artists such as Kafka            Adorno) but also in the fields of aesthetic
and Schönberg produce autonomous, non-              practice: in German, American and Italian
auratic works, as a result of their insight into    literature (W. G. Sebald, Richard Powers,
the historical development of both society          Gianni Celati), photography (Luigi Ghirri) and
and their aesthetic material. In Adorno’s           architecture (Daniel Libeskind).
view, Benjamin’s opposition of autonomous,
reactionary vs. political, progressive art was                                      HELMUT SCHMITZ




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                       Secondary literature
                                                    Buck-Morss, S., The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter
 Primary literature                                     Benjamin and the Arcades Project, Cambridge:
                                                        MIT Press, 1989.
 Benjamin, W., Selected Writings (vols. 1–4),
                                                    Ferris, D. S. (ed.), The Cambridge Companion
   eds Howard Eiland and Michael Jennings,
                                                        to Walter Benjamin, Cambridge: Cambridge
   Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1996–2003.
                                                        University Press, 2004.
 Benjamin, W., Understanding Brecht, trans. Anna
                                                    Leslie, E., Overpowering Conformism, London:
   Bostock, London: Verso, 1998.
                                                        Pluto, 2000.
 Benjamin, W., The Arcades Project, trans. Howard
                                                    Gilloch, G., Myth and Metropolis: Walter Benjamin
   Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin, Cambridge,
                                                        and the City, Cambridge: Polity, 1996.
   Mass. and London: Belknap Press, 1999.
                                                    Nägele, R., Theater, Theory, Speculation: Walter
                                                        Benjamin and the Scenes of Modernity,
                                                        Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press,
                                                        1991.
                                                    Osborne, P. (ed.), Walter Benjamin: Critical
                                                        Evaluations in Cultural Theory (3 vols), London:
                                                        Routledge, 2005.
PIERRE BOURDIEU                                                                             164




PIERRE BOURDIEU
(1930–2002)
Pierre Bourdieu, one of the most influential      In The Logic of Practice (1980) he argued
twentieth-century social scientists, acquired    that these problems could be overcome by
an intellectual stature that for some matched    means of (i) a dialectical approach, which
that of Sartre. He came from the Béarn in        incorporated the partial insights of both
south-eastern France and studied philosophy      perspectives; (ii) a relational theory, which
at the École Normale Supérieure in the           rescued sociology from futile debates about
1950s. After military service in Algeria he      whether the individual was more or less real
switched from philosophy to the social           than society, and (iii) a reflexive practice,
sciences, first to anthropology and then to       which rendered visible the bias of the situated
sociology (later maintaining the philosophical   observer.
and ethnographic dimensions of social               Art was intimately associated with
investigation). Following spells at the          Bourdieu’s sociological imagination. First,
University of Paris (where he worked under       art illuminated the problem of agency and
Raymond Aron) and at Lille University, he        structure at a point where sociology was
obtained a post at l’École Pratique des Hautes   conventionally thought to reach the limits of
Études in 1964. In 1981, he was appointed        its explanatory power. Second, it expressed
to the Chair in Sociology at the Collège de      his intuitive grasp of the symbolic aspects
France.                                          of social change and the historical nature of
   By the time of his death he had gained        economic logic. The worlds of bohemian art
a formidable reputation across a wide            and the Algerian peasant provided examples
spectrum of subjects including anthropology,     of exchange which negate bourgeois
art history, cultural studies, education,        economic rationality. They were, Bourdieu
linguistics, literary studies, museum studies,   argued, rooted in a collective denial which
philosophy and sociology. His books include      euphemizes power so that, for example,
two major contributions to the sociology         domination is concealed in the alchemy of
of art: Distinction (first published in 1979)     family giving or in the ‘quasi-magical’ potency
and The Rules of Art (first published in          of the artist’s signature or in the donations
1992). His legacy also includes one of the       of corporate patronage. Third, his analyses
most sophisticated sociological attempts to      of the gestation of autonomous art worlds
transcend the limitations of subjectivism,       were integral to his more general perspective
which he encountered as post-war Sartrean        on modernity and the contemporary role of
phenomenology, and objectivism, which            intellectuals.
was exemplified by the structuralism of              By the 1970s Bourdieu was internationally
Lévi-Strauss and Althusser. For Bourdieu,        known for his work on educational inequality.
phenomenological sociology reduced society       In a series of books he argued that, contrary
to discrete encounters between individuals,      to meritocratic rhetoric, privilege was
whilst structuralism deleted the human           transmitted through the medium of schooling
agency that generated ‘social structures’.       and that (i) school pedagogy was based on a
165                                                                           PIERRE BOURDIEU


dominant and arbitrary definition of cultural      of Art, pp. 167–68). In The Love of Art (1991)
worth; (ii) scholastic success presupposed        the universal claims of the art museum
cultural assets, or ‘cultural capital’, whose     were found to be interwoven with cultural
possession was concentrated in the middle         inequalities which the museum implicitly
and upper classes; and (iii) working-class        endorsed. Thus, social classes, which are
aspirations might be explained in part by         unequally endowed with the resources
reference to agency, i.e. to a habitus that       necessary to impose their vision of the
was adjusted to a situation of inequality and     world, are caught up in relations of mutual
which reconciled the disadvantaged to their       misrecognition in which subordinate classes
situation.                                        internalize the voices of the powerful.
   These ideas about social class and             With the publication of The State Nobility
the transmission of cultural assets were          (1989), it became clear that Bourdieu was
also developed in relation to art. Surveys,       extending Norbert Elias’s theory of the
including museum visitor research conducted       state and violence by arguing that schools,
with colleagues in the 1960s, formed the          universities and museums contribute to the
basis for books about the consumption             state’s monopoly over the means of symbolic
of culture. The concept of habitus, which         violence.
he knew from Mauss, was the theoretical              In the 1960s Bourdieu argued that
linchpin. Habitus, a mental habit or a set        photographic meaning was governed by
of durable dispositions, acquired through         norms of what was photographable for a
socialization, was (pace Merleau-Ponty) an        given social class, and which expressed
embodied frame of reference which oriented        its sense of its objective situation vis-à-vis
people towards the priorities of the world        other classes (Photography: A Middle Brow
in which they were situated. Thus, social         Art). Later, in Distinction, which became a
structure was incorporated by individuals         celebrated ethnography of French lifestyles,
as their ‘second nature’; habitus was a           he drew on the legacies of Marx, Weber and
generative principle of improvisation which       Durkheim to argue that cultural consumption
specified creation as a condition of social        tends ‘to fulfil a social function of legitimating
reproduction. Informed also by his reading of     differences’ (Distinction, p. 7). The principles
art historian Erwin Panofsky on scholasticism     of classification, which inform judgments
and medieval cathedral builders, the              of taste, are themselves objects of struggle
concept offered a way beyond the received         between groups who are enmeshed in
wisdom that society is merely art’s ‘context’.    struggles for power and privilege, and who
Sociology’s object of enquiry was, therefore,     seek to impose their vision of the universe
‘the creative project as a meeting point          and its divisions on each other. Bourdieu
and adjustment between determinism and            maintained that aesthetic distinctions (such
a determination’; that is, the influence of        as that between high and low art) are not
external social forces on art was exerted         innocent. The pure or disinterested gaze,
through the medium of the determinations of       sanctioned as the legitimate taste of a
the artistic field and the habitus of the artist   Kantian aesthetic, presupposes a habitus
(‘Intellectual Field and Creative Project’, p.    which is rooted in a refusal of popular culture
185).                                             – a relationship of symbolic power which is
   Bourdieu also argued that museums              misrecognized as innate taste. His model
are, like schools and universities, sites         of contemporary society was one in which
of symbolic violence – they impose an             groups, who occupy determinate positions
arbitrary definition of cultural worth with        in relation to necessity and who possess
the complicity of the dominated (The Rules        different ratios of cultural and economic
PIERRE BOURDIEU                                                                               166


capital, struggle to augment their assets.         heteronomous power is mediated by the logic
It also specified that a feature of modernity       of art. The field of power was an emergent
was the growing weight of cultural capital         property of social changes that divided the
within the social order. For Bourdieu, modern      labour of domination and which was in turn
societies have an irreducibly symbolic             shaped by struggles for and over the priority
dimension: they are, in part, spaces of            of different assets, for example economic and
semiotic struggle in which the winners are         cultural capital.
those who convert their tastes into cultural           The artist exists in and through the
capital.                                           medium of a historical field of struggle for
   In challenging romantic ideology Bourdieu       the monopoly of the power to define art; it
did not banish the artist to the realm of          is the field that authorizes her. Field theory
fiction: ‘[t]he task of bringing authors and        made it possible for Bourdieu to think
their environments back to life could be that      sociologically about the difference that
of the sociologist’ (The Rules of Art, p. xvi).    a great artist makes to art. Flaubert, for
He argued that (i) the belief in the artist-as-    example, had produced himself as a new kind
creator entails a collective suppression of the    of writer through the medium of the cultural
commercial labour of exhibiting and trading        field: ‘we try to discover what he had to do
in art; (ii) the subject of creation is the field   and wanted to do in a world that was not yet
of art, that is, the configuration of dealers,      transformed by what he in fact did, which is
critics, artists and others which consecrates      to say, the world to which we refer him by
the artist and from which she derives social       treating him as a “precursor”’ (The Field of
honour or symbolic capital; and that (iii) the     Cultural Production, p. 205).
field of art is a space of struggle for symbolic        In his work on Manet, Bourdieu traced
power.                                             the socio-genesis of ‘the pure gaze’ and its
   In the 1990s Bourdieu’s ideas about             habitus. Modernism had entailed a symbolic
fields and art were developed in The Field          revolution, a collective transformation of the
of Cultural Production (1993) and The Rules        categories of perception and of the field of
of Art. He argued that, with modernization,        art; it had spawned artists whose habitus was
human faculties which had been incarnate in        at odds with the logic of bourgeois calculation
institutions or people were distributed and        (i.e. of commercially successful art). Theirs
impersonalized. Societies were transformed         was an inverted world in which commercial
into networks of fields or ‘games’:                 ‘losers’ took the prizes; they were artists
economics, politics, science, sport, art, etc.     whose habitus committed them to new
were each ordered according to specific rules       rules and who suspended the immediate
and forms of capital, so that players tacitly      gratification of renown, which might impede
invest their being in the game, while they         their struggles for consecrated reputations
pursue strategies for winning (which are           among their peers.
emergent properties of a practical mastery of          During the 1990s three things became
the logic of a game that they may lose or win).    evident features of Bourdieu’s thinking: (i)
   Field theory, which owed much to                he tempered the relativism of Distinction
Weber, was a non-teleological perspective          with new arguments about universal value;
that parted company with the theory that           (ii) he expressed a growing concern for
modernization conformed to a master logic          the autonomy of art and artists in late
of social change. Thus the field of art refracts    twentieth-century capitalist society; and (iii)
the political and economic forces of what          he contributed, as a public intellectual, to
Bourdieu called the field of power; the more        debates on politics, poverty, suffering and
autonomous is the former, the more that            globalization.
167                                                                                 PIERRE BOURDIEU


   Bourdieu’s oeuvre, which has spawned                French and now too dated, lack universal
a literature on the subject of cultural                application. This, he countered, was to
capital and value is at the intersection               commit the substantialist error that only
of two twentieth-century disciplinary                  those things which are directly apprehended
developments: the cultural turn of sociology           are real. Thus statistics about consumer
and the theoretical turn of the humanities.            preferences or educational achievements
He has been judged by some scholars,                   were visible expressions of hidden ‘relation-
for example Richard Jenkins, to be a                   ships between groups maintaining different,
sophisticated determinist, and criticized              and even antagonistic relationships to
by others, for example Bridget Fowler,                 culture’ (Distinction, p. 12). Such data realized
for misunderstanding popular art, and                  the possibilities secreted by fields and whose
for treating working-class culture as an               hidden principles Bourdieu sought to expose.
analytical foil to formalism. It has been
claimed that his theory and data, being too                                               GORDON FYFE




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                          Bourdieu, P. and Darbel, Alain (with Schnapper,
                                                         D.), The Love of Art: European Art Museums and
                                                         their Public, Cambridge: Polity, 1991.
 Primary literature                                    Bourdieu, P., The Field of Cultural Production,
 Bourdieu, P., ‘Intellectual Field and Creative          Cambridge: Polity, 1993.
   Project’, in ed. Michael F. D. Young, Knowledge     Bourdieu, P., The Rules of Art, Cambridge: Polity,
   and Control, London: Collier Macmillan, 1971.         1996.
 Bourdieu, P., Distinction: A Social Critique of the
   Judgement of Taste, London: Routledge &
                                                       Secondary literature
   Kegan Paul, 1984.
 Bourdieu, P., The Logic of Practice, Cambridge:       Armstrong, I., The Radical Aesthetic, Oxford:
   Polity, 1990.                                          Blackwell, 2000.
 Bourdieu, P. (with Boltanski, L., Castel, R.,         Fowler, B., Pierre Bourdieu and Cultural Theory,
   Chamboredon. J.-C. and Schnapper, D.),                 London: Sage, 1997.
   Photography: A Middle Brow Art, Cambridge:          Jenkins, R., Pierre Bourdieu, London: Routledge,
   Polity, 1990.                                          1992.
JUDITH BUTLER                                                                                168




JUDITH BUTLER (1956–)
Judith Butler is an American philosopher,        new attention to divergences between sexual
best known as a prominent exponent of            identity and sexual practice, to improvised
what came to be called ‘queer theory’ in         forms of kinship and networks of care, and
the 1990s. Trained as a philosopher at Yale      to the socio-sexual organization of space.
and Heidelberg, she wrote her dissertation       Militant AIDS activists sought radical political
on Hegel’s reception in twentieth-century        change that embraced issues of gender, race
France (published as her first book, Subjects     and class as well as sexual orientation, and
of Desire). In her best-known work, Gender       often used innovative interventionist tactics
Trouble (1990), and its follow-up, Bodies That   drawn from street theatre and performance
Matter (1993), Butler draws upon feminist        art. The term ‘queer’, originally a term of
theory and psychoanalysis as well as the         injury, was (like ‘Black’ before it) consciously
broader traditions of Western philosophy.        appropriated to represent an anti-identity
Her work in the early 1990s had enormous         politics, anti-essentialist, in-your-face
resonance with artists, in particular those      rebellion against social norms, often
working at the intersection of performance       embracing bisexuality, transgender, non-
and photography to make their own type of        monogamy, drag and SM.
gender trouble, whether in ironic, subtle           In Gender Trouble, Butler challenges
or flamboyantly theatrical ways. (Cindy           feminist theory from within, elaborating her
Sherman, Lyle Ashton Harris, Catherine Opie,     arguments in dialogue with such French
Yasumasa Morimura and Deborah Bright are         feminists as Luce Irigaray, Monique Wittig
but a few examples.) Most recently, Butler       and JULIA KRISTEVA. Following MICHEL
has addressed issues of contemporary             FOUCAULT, she argues that systems of
relevance in politics and law, including such    power produce the subjects they address.
issues as same-sex marriage, affirmative          Feminism, she suggests, by making
action, anti-discrimination legislation,         political claims on behalf of subjects it calls
internal debates within the left and the new     ‘women’, participates in the production of
formations of state power and violence of the    those subjects, projecting a fictional unitary
post-9/11 political landscape in the United      identity to which subjects are understood to
States. As of 2005 Butler is Maxine Elliot       conform. Butler’s work, along with that of
Professor in the Departments of Rhetoric and     Teresa de Lauretis and others, challenged
Comparative Literature at the University of      French feminist thinking informed by
California, Berkeley, where she has taught       psychoanalysis that insisted on the centrality
since the early 1990s.                           of sexual difference. Butler also contests the
   Queer theory emerged in the era of            separation of sex and gender – common in
AIDS, in the 1980s and 1990s, in tandem          feminist writing since Simone de Beauvoir
with political mobilization. It provided         – in which sex refers to biological fact and
a theoretical language for activists and         gender to superimposed social convention.
academics examining the intertwining             For Butler, both sex and gender are a matter
of sexuality and cultural production. The        of social and linguistic performance.
AIDS crisis revealed cracks in the image of         The notion of the performative is
‘normal’ heterosexuality, and also brought       partly derived from philosopher J. L.
169                                                                            JUDITH BUTLER


Austin’s speech act theory (and JACQUES           unremarkable or defiant, acts of gender
DERRIDA’s reading thereof). In language,          performance take shape within norms
the performative is a statement that brings       applied by force, and sometimes collide with
a state of affairs into being, as in ‘I now       them violently.
pronounce you man and wife’. For sex to              Such violence is apparent in Bodies That
be performatively produced means that             Matter in the essay ‘Gender Is Burning’, an
there is no pre-existing essence of male or       analysis of Jennie Livingston’s documentary
female that precedes language. Rather, it is      about drag queen culture in Harlem, Paris is
reiterated through daily corporeal acts, which    Burning (1991). The figure of the drag queen,
Butler calls stylized. These consist of such      according to Butler, allegorizes gender;
bodily ‘inscriptions’ as posture and gesture      s/he is not a bad imitation of an ‘original’
– the imperative to sit, walk or compose          (i.e. femininity), but rather demonstrates
one’s face in a certain way – along with more     the constructedness of that original, indeed
obvious forms of gendered adornment. Even         of the concept of an original itself. Thus,
the existence of something we call biological     ‘women’ can be said to perform ‘femininity’
sex is the product of discourse, which,           in much the same way as a drag queen does.
in establishing norms, always produces            While in the film drag produces possibilities
exclusions. (One very concrete example            of subversion (the quality of realness which
that appears in Butler’s work is the forcible     is at the same time the height of artifice) it
sex assignment of intersex infants, babies        can also represent a (dangerous) desire to be
either chromosomally or physically ‘between’      merely ordinary: all Venus Xtravaganza wants
sexes.)                                           is to be a ‘normal’ woman, but for being too
   At the conclusion of Gender Trouble, Butler    ‘real’ at femininity, she is murdered. The
identifies parody as a direction for subversive    exclusions produced by gender norms, Butler
action. Drawing on Joan Rivière’s ‘feminine       argues, do not simply render sex intelligible,
masquerade’ and Luce Irigaray’s notion of         they define certain lives as unlived and
‘mimicry’ (exaggerated performances of            unliveable, creating ‘zones of abjection’ in
gender norms), and on Esther Newton’s             which certain subjects cannot be recognized
Mother Camp (1972), a study of drag queens,       as subjects.
Butler argues that practices of drag and             The drag queen is also one of several
gender impersonation can challenge gender         figures through which Butler develops,
norms. Once Gender Trouble became a huge          throughout Gender Trouble and Bodies That
success, however, Butler was forced to clarify    Matter, a theory of gender as melancholic.
her position. Some of the book’s popularity       This notion is based on her reading of
derived from a voluntarist misreading of the      Freud’s essay on ‘Mourning and Melancholia’
notion of gender as performative: an idea         (1917). Melancholia, a prolonged state of
that one can freely change one’s gender by        sadness or depression, arises from the
choosing to perform it differently. As Butler     incorporation of a lost person or object
put it in her preface to Bodies That Matter       through a failure to mourn: incorporation
she did not mean that one can simply wake         means that the melancholic takes on
up one morning and decide to put on (as           the qualities of the lost but unmourned
an outfit) a different gender that day. In         person or object. While mourning has a
Bodies That Matter, while she seeks to open       beginning and an end, melancholia, in not
possibilities of political resistance, she also   acknowledging and instead incorporating
emphasizes that the acts by which gender          the loss, is interminable. The stereotype of
is performed and thereby produced are not         the melancholic drag queen, Butler notes,
simply a matter of free choice. Whether           highlights the melancholia of the process
JUDITH BUTLER                                                                                 170


of assuming (taking on) gender: gender            Fears: Against the Cultural Turn’ (1998),
itself, she argues, is produced through a         argued for more empirical and materially
refusal or a failure to mourn the loss of the     based research in gay and lesbian studies
possibility of loving a person of the same        to counterbalance Butler and other queer
gender. Incorporation projects the lost love      theorists; he suggests the ‘cultural turn’ is
object onto the body: a woman becomes a           also a visual turn, which he views as a sign of
woman by incorporating and manifesting,           commodification.
in the style of her own body, an unmourned,          Despite Edwards’s association of Butler’s
unacknowledged (potential) female love            work with a visual turn, at first blush it might
object. In the essay ‘The Lesbian Phallus         seem more linguistically oriented. Her work
and the Morphological Imaginary’ (Bodies          has influenced literature, theatre and film
That Matter), Butler reads Freud against          studies, but also art history and theory. In
the grain to suggest that the phallus as          Antigone’s Claim (2000), once again opposing
symbol originates (like melancholia) in an        Lacan, who viewed Antigone as a figure of
experience of physical pain and absence; this     beauty, Butler suggests Antigone poses a
runs counter to the psychoanalytic notion of      perverse challenge to kinship and the state
castration as a supervening threat. From this     and the enforced relations between the two.
reading Butler derives a notion of the phallus    Butler thus pursues notions of alternative
as mobile, phantasmatic and creatively            kinship structures first addressed in ‘Gender
produced – hence alterable and available for      is Burning’, in which her attention to possible
appropriation.                                    alternatives to normative kinship structures
   Butler’s difficult argumentation has            brings to light the daily improvisatory
produced its discontents. Some apparent           creativity required to form and maintain
objections to Butler’s work, it should be said,   bonds in non-traditional family/social
have not been addressed to the work itself        structures. In ‘Bracha’s Eurydice’ (2004), an
but to the widespread influence of voluntarist     essay on the Eurydice series of artist and
(mis)readings of her work in the early 1990s.     psychoanalyst Bracha Lichtenberg Ettinger,
But objections have also come from those          she considers the ‘scene’ of early childhood
who find Butler’s writing style obscurantist       as one of fragmentation and loss and the
and those who argue for a more fact-based,        transmission of unarticulated trauma
sociological approach to queer (or more           and desire (cf. GRISELDA POLLOCK). One
specifically gay and lesbian) issues. In her       might expect that Butler would not accept
essay ‘The Professor of Parody’, Martha           Ettinger’s use of principles like the ‘feminine’
Nussbaum charged Butler with writing in           and the ‘matrixial’ (matrix=womb), yet she
a difficult and allusive style for an initiated    approvingly reads them as a radical challenge
audience and of putting style over substance.     to and displacement of the Lacanian phallus
Her primary claim was that Butler reduces         (translated into the field of vision as ‘the
resistance to a relatively ineffectual ‘parody’   gaze’). Ettinger’s drawings, for Butler,
of gender norms – that Butler praises             suggest vision as loss, not surveillance,
parodic resistance for its own sake without       dispossession rather than mastery.
prescribing ethical norms and without                An essay in 1984 on Diane Arbus for
leaving room for legal remedies for harm. To      Artforum likewise suggests non-dominant
some, like Nussbaum, Butler’s Foucauldian         ways of looking: among Arbus’s photographs,
approach can be used to undermine any             Butler emphasizes human figures that
political claims, no matter what their            present a sealed surface to the camera, and
goals, thereby evacuating the possibility of      others that make themselves available to a
resistant agency. Tim Edwards, in ‘Queer          kind of playful intimacy. Butler’s work has
171                                                                                    JUDITH BUTLER


been theoretically important to recent work            differently, whether the making of art might
on performance art and abject art (as in the           itself be a way of performing gender and/or
exhibition Abject Art: Repulsion and Desire in         identity and how images themselves might be
American Art at the Whitney Museum, 1993).             said to perform.
Other questions Butler’s work raises for the
field of art include whether artists do gender                                        REBECCA ZORACH




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                          Secondary literature
                                                       Abject Art: Repulsion and Desire in American Art,
 Primary literature
                                                          New York: Whitney Museum of American Art
 Butler, J., Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections      (exh. cat.), 1993.
    in Twentieth-Century France, New York:             Edwards, T., ‘Queer Fears: Against the Cultural
    Columbia University Press, 1987.                      Turn’, Sexualities vol. 1, no. 4 (1998), pp.
 Butler, J., Gender Trouble: Feminism and the             471–84.
    Subversion of Identity, New York: Routledge,       Jones, A., Body Art/Performing the Subject,
    1990.                                                 London: Routledge, 1998.
 Butler, J., ‘The Body You Want’, interview with Liz   Jones, A. and Stephenson, Andrew (eds),
    Kotz, Artforum (November 1992).                       Performing the Body/Performing the Text,
 Butler, J., Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive        London: Routledge, 1999..
    Limits of ‘Sex’, New York: Routledge, 1993.        Meyer, R., Outlaw Representation: Censorship and
 Butler, J., Antigone’s Claim: Kinship Between Life       Homosexuality in Twentieth Century American
    and Death, New York: Columbia University              Art, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
    Press, 2000.                                       Nussbaum, M., ‘The Professor of Parody’, The
 Butler, J., ‘Bracha’s Eurydice’, in Theory, Culture      New Republic (February 1999).
    and Society vol. 21, no. 1 (2004), pp. 95–100.     Ricco, J. P., The Logic of the Lure, Chicago:
 Butler, J., ‘Surface Tensions’, Artforum (February       University of Chicago Press, 2002.
    2004).                                             Sheriff, M., The Exceptional Woman: Elisabeth
 The Judith Butler Reader, ed. Sarah Salih, Oxford:       Vigee-Lebrun and the Cultural Politics of Art,
    Blackwell, 2004.                                      Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.
MICHEL FOUCAULT                                                                              172




MICHEL FOUCAULT
(1926–1984)
The work of Michel Foucault, which crosses         of a new form of knowledge (OT, p. 310). In
disciplinary boundaries between philosophy,        Velázquez’s painting, the painter himself
history and cultural theory, is often cited in     appears from behind the canvas, brush
relation to a number of seemingly loosely          in hand, to contemplate his models; but
connected themes. These include: the               Foucault also discerns a spectator (observing
‘death of the author’, and the subordination       the scene from a doorway) and an image
of authorial intention to a concept of             of the models, reflected in a mirror behind
discursive practice; madness as a cultural         the painter. Every element of representation
construction; practices of surveillance,           might thus seem to be displayed here:
especially as embodied in architectural or         the painter, the means of representation
technical interventions in the visual field; the    (canvas and brush), a spectator and the
body as a target of institutional practices of     figures represented. But despite its apparent
discipline; confession and other techniques        exhaustiveness, a crucial dimension would
deployed in pursuit of the truth or ‘care’         seem, to modern eyes, to be elided from this
of the self. But there is a common thread          tableau of representation: we do not see the
that links these themes: Foucault’s central        painter in the act of painting or a spectator
concern with the ways in which fields of            looking at the picture; nor are the models
knowledge are ordered and constituted,             seen posing for the artist, but only as a
both with regard to historically specific           peripheral reflected image.
relations between objects and subjects                This points to the paradox of the painting,
of knowledge considered in themselves              as summed up by Hubert Dreyfus and
and (particularly in Discipline and Punish,        Paul Rabinow in Michel Foucault: Beyond
translated into English 1977, and The History      Structuralism and Hermeneutics ([MF]
of Sexuality, Volume I: Introduction, translated   1982): it disperses all the elements of
into English 1978) as actualizations of            representation in order to display them,
relationships of power.                            according to the order of classical knowledge,
   Readers of Foucault have often remarked         as set on an organized table, but nowhere
on his tendency to imagine these problems in       portrays representation as an activity. It
spatial or visual terms, as in his discussion of   thus dramatizes the ‘impossibility’, within
Velázquez’s Las Meninas (1656) in The Order of     the classical episteme, of ‘representing
Things ([OT] translated into English 1970). For    the act of representing’. Man, as ‘a unified
Foucault, this painting figures the discursive      and unifying subject who posits these
and visual practices that ordered the              representations and who makes them objects
elements of knowledge in the classical age         for himself’, has no place on the table of
(what Foucault calls the classical episteme),      classical knowledge (MF, p. 25). It is only
before the modern notion of man, as at once        with the passage from the classical to the
‘sovereign subject’ and ‘difficult object’ of       modern episteme, Foucault insists, that
knowledge, became the governing figure              man will emerge as ‘a primary reality with
173                                                                          MICHEL FOUCAULT


his own density’, as at once the object of             But the Panopticon also foregrounds
the ‘human sciences’ and the subject of ‘all       the tendency of modern power to be de-
possible knowledge’ (OT, p. 310). The effect of    individualized in its exercise, even as it
Foucault’s commentary is to make us see the        individualizes those it subjects: ‘power has
absence of modernity’s concept of man from         its principle not so much in a person as in
Las Meninas, without suggesting that there is      a certain concerted distribution of bodies,
anything lacking in Velázquez’s portrayal of       surfaces, lights, gazes; in an arrangement
classical representation. He does this partly      whose internal mechanisms produce the
in order to make visible the governing order       relation in which individuals are caught up’
of classical knowledge, which had no need of       (DP, p. 202). In this ‘machine for dissociating
that concept of man; but it is also to show us     the see/being-seen dyad’, there is no need
that man, the organizing figure of the modern       for the application of external force, or even
episteme and perennial target of Foucault’s        for continuous surveillance (DP, p. 202).
critiques, is ‘a recent invention’ (OT, p. 386),   It is enough for the occupant of the cell
which itself might soon ‘be erased, like a face    to know that he or she may be observed
drawn in sand at the edge of the sea’ (OT,         at any time for the inmate to be obliged
p. 387).                                           to act as if a monitor were present, and
   No figure has been more crucial in the           consequently to regulate his or her own
reception of Foucault’s work than the              comportment according to the tasks and
Panopticon in Discipline and Punish (DP),          behaviours demanded by the institution. The
where the emergence of man as an object            panoptic machine thus induces the inmate to
of knowledge is linked to the development          ‘[assume] responsibility for the constraints
of new forms of power. Foucault argues that        of power’, as both subject and object of
Jeremy Bentham’s architectural design              surveillance and correction (DP, p. 202).
– an annular building, divided into cells,         This assures that effects of power can be
surrounding a central tower from which each        produced without the need for power to show
cell is visible, but in which the observer’s       itself as such and makes it possible for those
presence or absence is concealed – provides        effects to be extended into the self-regulation
the ‘architectural figure’ (DP, p. 200) of a        of the minutiae of individual existence in
form of power which both made possible new         a way that purely external threats and
strategies for governing the vast populations      prohibitions could not.
of industrial modernity and gave rise to new           The Panopticon combines two aspects
methods for knowing the individual, as the         of power crucial for Foucault’s analysis of
object of the emerging ‘human sciences’.           modernity – the close relationship of power
By making the occupants of the cells visible       to knowledge (reinforced by his use of the
and immediately recognizable as discrete           term ‘power-knowledge’ in his late works)
individuals, panoptic space enables their          on the one hand, and, on the other the
distribution according to analytic categories      tendency of power to become invisible and
or ranks (as when students are distributed         incorporeal, as the subject ‘becomes the
according to their aptitude, or criminals          principle of his own subjection’ (DP, p. 203).
according to their character) and facilitates      In its dense interweaving of these elements
individualized training or correction. As a        the Panopticon thus appears with stunning
site of knowledge, the Panopticon is thus ‘a       ‘imaginary intensity’ as ‘a figure of political
privileged place for experiments on men,           technology’ (DP, p. 205).
and for analysing with complete certainty the          It may be that the power of this figure has
transformations that may be obtained from          blinded some readers to the complexity of
them’ (DP, p. 204).                                Foucault’s work, leading them to portray
MICHEL FOUCAULT                                                                               174


it as offering a dangerously totalizing and        different sites and populations. In The
undifferentiated vision of power-knowledge,        History of Sexuality, for example, Foucault
in which all possible resistance or critical       shows how sexuality, as a field of power-
thought has been contained in advance.             knowledge, assumes different forms as it
Yet power is not totalizing in Foucault, any       extends its reach beyond the bourgeoisie to
more than knowledge is monolithic or               invest the working classes. Finally, even the
undifferentiated. It is not a global plan or       most unitary and hierarchical discourses
set of obligations and prohibitions imposed        exist alongside discontinuous, local or
in a unitary fashion from above by those in        marginal forms of knowledge that ‘allow us
power on ‘those who “do not have it”’: it is       to rediscover the ruptural effects of conflict
instead a contested relation in which power        and struggle that the order imposed by
‘invests’ the dominated and ‘is transmitted        functionalist or systematising thought is
by them and through them’, but, by that very       designed to mask’ (‘Two Lectures’, 1976, p.
fact, gives rise to ‘innumerable points of         82). Invoking such ‘illegitimate knowledges’
confrontation, focuses of instability’ as the      (ibid., p. 83) as they appear in the historical
dominated themselves, ‘in their struggle           archive, as well as in the present, Foucault
against’ power, ‘resist the grip it has on them’   speaks of ‘an insurrection of subjugated
(DP, p. 27). Indeed, power’s solicitation of the   knowledges’ (ibid., p. 81), in which resistance
dominated to enact their own subjection is         to the dominant returns within the domain of
inseparable from the risk that the effects of      knowledge itself.
power will be displaced or transformed from           The interrogation of the relationship of
below.                                             power and resistance to forms of knowledge
   If power is omnipresent in Foucault,            remains central to appropriations of
it also discovers everywhere within and            Foucault’s work in the theory and practice
alongside the sites in which it is exercised       of visual culture. In the domain of art theory
the possibility of resistance, struggle and        and criticism, such interrogations have
inversion. Similarly, while it is through their    sometimes concerned the ways in which
integration into practices of knowledge that       specific practices of visibility, whether in
the shifting ‘processes and struggles’ (DP,        art, science or mass culture, become focal
p. 28) composing power relations take on           points of power and resistance. For example
form and regularity, as GILLES DELEUZE             Jonathan Crary’s Techniques of the Observer
argues in Foucault (translated into English        (1990) explores the ways in which the subject
1988), knowledge cannot be described as a          of vision becomes visible as such in the
monolithic representation of dominant truths.      practices of science and visual culture in
This is in part because the same regime of         the nineteenth century, and how attempts
knowledge is composed of heterogeneous             to impose normative forms of vision upon
practices, as Deleuze underscores in               the observer relate to broader strategies of
discussing the ‘non-relation’ of ‘statements’      power in its regulation and normalization of
and ‘visibilities’ as forms of knowledge in        subjects in that period. Another example is
Foucault (pp. 61–66).                              Gary Shapiro’s Archaeologies of Vision (2003),
   In the prison, for example, the inmate          which, invoking Foucault’s aborted work on
is made visible in panoptic space even as          Manet as a counterweight to Discipline and
his ‘soul’ is judged by a legal discourse on       Punish, argues that Manet explores strategies
delinquency: but the two forms of knowledge        of viewing antithetical to the ordering of
have different genealogies, practices and          vision in the panoptic universe.
effects. Nor does a form of power-knowledge           But, in a broader sense, these questions
remain identical as it moves between               have been taken up by artists in recent years,
175                                                                               FREDRIC JAMESON


as in the ‘mock’ museum installations of             a politics to come (‘The History of Sexuality’,
Fred Wilson, and the Critical Art Ensemble’s         1977 interview, p. 193). The interventions
performative interventions in the discourses         of such artists, who have contributed in
and practices of biotechnology. Such artists         a different idiom to the insurrection of
– as they both appropriate and contest the           subjugated knowledges invoked by Foucault,
dominant forms in which we are obliged to            might find a philosophical counterpart in his
speak or make visible our truths as subjects         project: ‘One “fictions” history on the basis
and objects of scientific, institutional or           of a political reality that makes it true, one
popular knowledge –‘induce’ (as Foucault             “fictions” a politics not yet in existence on the
said, alluding to his own writing) ‘effects          basis of a historical truth’ (p. 193).
of truth’ that are no longer those of the
dominant powers, but are perhaps those of                                             SCOTT DURHAM



 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                        Secondary literature

 Primary literature
                                                     Crary, J., Techniques of the Observer: On Vision
 Foucault, M., The Order of Things: An Archaeology      and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century,
    of the Human Sciences, New York: Vintage,           Cambridge: MIT Press, 1990.
    1973.                                            Deleuze, G., Foucault, trans. Sèan Hand,
 Foucault, M., Discipline and Punish: The Birth of      Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,
    the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan, New York:         1988.
    Pantheon, 1977.                                  Dreyfus, H. L. and Rabinow, P., Michel Foucault:
 Foucault, M., The History of Sexuality, Volume I:      Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics
    Introduction, trans. Robert Hurley, New York:       (second edition), Chicago: University of
    Vintage, 1980.                                      Chicago Press, 1983.
 Citations of Foucault’s lectures and interviews     Shapiro, G., Archaeologies of Vision: Foucault
    refer to: Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews      and Nietzsche on Seeing and Saying, Chicago
    and Other Writings 1972–1977, ed. Colin             and London: University of Chicago Press,
    Gordon, New York: Pantheon, 1980.                   2003.




FREDRIC JAMESON
(1934–)
Jameson’s analysis of the visual arts,               theory in The Geopolitical Aesthetic (1992)
including video, film and architecture in             and his commentary on architecture in The
Postmodernism (1991), contributions to film           Seeds of Time (1994) must be understood in
FREDRIC JAMESON                                                                              176


the context of his extensive work in cultural     that would be ‘free from the myth of structure
theory and literary theory; his first major        itself’, which might reconcile the ‘apparently
studies were surveys of Marxist, Russian          incommensurable demands of synchronic
formalist and structuralist accounts of           analysis and historical awareness, of
literature, Marxism and Form (1971) and           structure and self-consciousness, language
The Prison-House of Language (1972). In           and history’ (PHL, p. 216).
the former, Jameson reviews the work of              Jameson’s work achieved additional
Georg Lukács, THEODOR ADORNO, WALTER              exposure in England with the publication
BENJAMIN and other Marxist theorists, and         of Aesthetics and Politics ([AP] 1977), a
asks how the form of a literary work can be       collection of letters and articles of the 1930s
related to the history of class conflict. This     by Georg Lukács, Theodor Adorno, Walter
task calls for a kind of criticism which will     Benjamin, Bertolt Brecht and Ernst Bloch
avoid the potential reductiveness of sweeping     on the topic of modernism in literature and
ideology critique as well as the ideological      art. The collection includes an afterword
blindness of pure formalism. This would be        by Jameson which argues that the conflict
‘a kind of Marxist philology or systematic        between realism and modernism extends
investigation of the inner, social forms          from the seventeenth-century querelle des
of art in general’ which would extend the         anciens et des modernes to the present day,
established methods of ‘local’ literary studies   and seeks to bracket the debate of 1930s
‘to the point where, intersecting either with     Marxism as one which, although relevant
the realities of class or those of commodity      forty years on, should be viewed as belonging
production, they find themselves once              to a different period. Jameson claims that
more regrounded in concrete social history’       ‘the fundamental difference between our
(Marxism and Form, p. 396).                       own situation and that of the thirties is
   Jameson will repeatedly in his work            the emergence in full-blown and definitive
assert ‘the priority of history’; his approach    form of that ultimate transformation of late
consists of a constant sifting of theoretical     monopoly capitalism variously known as the
models which might produce a theoretically        société de consommation or as post-industrial
satisfactory literary and cultural criticism.     society’ (AP, p. 208).
The principal turn which this process will           Jameson asserts that the Cold War and
take is to graft onto the Hegelian Marxism        the acceleration of consumerism have
of Marxism and Form the linguistic methods        established new aesthetic demands quite
of formalism and structuralism, surveyed          different from the circumstances of the
in The Prison-House of Language (PHL). In         1930s, so much so that while we might
this latter work, Jameson presents and            endorse the defence of the politics of
analyzes the linguistics of Ferdinand de          modernism made by Adorno and Brecht
Saussure, the formalism of Victor Skhkolvsky,     as being valid for that period, we should
the structuralism of Claude Lévi-Strauss,         acknowledge that, by the 1970s, ‘modernism
ROLAND BARTHES and A. J. Greimas. He              and its accompanying techniques of
identifies inherent problems with formalist/       estrangement have become the dominant
structuralist models, which project a             style whereby the consumer is reconciled
synchronic object (as if language could be        with capitalism’ (AP, p. 211) and that by
frozen in an instant of time for the purposes     now a return to realism is called for. The
of formal analysis) while history and             firm distinction which Jameson asserts
consciousness are by their nature diachronic      to exist between the 1930s and the 1970s
(temporal and mutable). This work closes          both prepares the way for his later work on
with a call for a structuralist hermeneutics      postmodernism, and is also symptomatic of
177                                                                          FREDRIC JAMESON


his dissatisfaction with the parameters of        narrative schemata as objective structures
European Hegelian Marxist debate.                 invested and reinvested with shifting
   Arguably, the discontinuity between            ideological and libidinal contents. Jameson
Germany in the 1930s and the United               makes use of A. J. Greimas’s ‘semiotic
States in the 1970s is more socio-cultural        rectangle’, a diagrammatic presentation
than epochal. Indeed, in much of his work,        of binary value oppositions as invested in
Jameson addresses his readers as a                characters who become bearers of complex
universal ‘we’ in a manner which seems to         ideological loads. The aim is to create a
gloss over differences of context. At a British   formal, schematic way of understanding
conference, the philosopher and Adorno            the manner in which objective social
specialist Gillian Rose argued that Jameson’s     conflicts are mediated within the artwork
call for a new, self-renewing aesthetics is       as differences between characters, and as
misconceived since he ignores Adorno’s            such it reflects Jameson’s constant aim of
detailed account of the contradictions of         combining structuralism and Marxism. Fables
modernism. Marxist theorists outside the          of Aggression is an impressive realization of
United States have frequently criticized          the type of critical praxis that Jameson had
the periodization of modernism and                been calling for, and provides a model for
postmodernism on which many of Jameson’s          the interpretation of films in The Geopolitical
arguments depend.                                 Aesthetic (1992) as ‘conspiratorial texts’,
   Although less noted than other of his          symbolically actualizing objective and
works, Fables of Aggression ([FA] 1979) is of     ideological conflict.
significance as Jameson’s most sustained              The Political Unconscious ([PU] 1981)
single literary study. The subject of the         continues to explore the possibilities of
study is the modernist writer and artist,         the literary essay in accounts of Gissing,
Wyndham Lewis. Lewis was a key figure              Balzac and Conrad, and continues to ‘argue
in the reception of post-Impressionist and        the priority of the political interpretation of
Futurist art and art theory in England,           literary texts . . . as the absolute horizon of
though Jameson concentrates mainly on             all reading and all interpretation’ (PU, p. 17).
his fiction, in which Lewis attempted to           The mutual formal mediation of history and
create a verbal style analogous to that of his    language continues as the main theme of the
painting. Lewis’s writing, Jameson claims,        theoretical sections of the text. The ‘political
has retained its modernism because it has         unconscious’ which criticism aims to identify
remained relatively unknown and not been          is the product of social and ideological
assimilated by decades of critical activity.      contradiction and also, in a new emphasis,
Jameson’s approach combines stylistic             of the Utopian impulse to transcend the
and narrative analysis, psychoanalysis            closure of the present. So now, ‘a Marxist
and ideology critique. The objective is to        negative hermeneutic, a Marxist practice
locate the ‘political unconscious’ of Lewis’s     of ideological analysis proper, must in the
oeuvre. This will involve a ‘methodological       practical work of reading and interpretation
eclecticism’ which ‘is unavoidable, since         be exercised simultaneously with a Marxist
the discontinuities projected by these            positive hermeneutic, or a decipherment of
various disciplines or methods themselves         the Utopian impulses of these still ideological
correspond to objective discontinuities in        and cultural texts’ (PU, p. 296). The notion
their object’ (FA, p. 6).                         of ‘political unconscious’ becomes extended
   Lewis’s work is analyzed in terms of the       in The Geopolitical Aesthetic (GA) to the
‘libidinal apparatus’ of his work, a form of      ‘geopolitical unconscious’, where it is argued
literary psychoanalysis which identifies           that recent cinematic texts can be read as
FREDRIC JAMESON                                                                               178


narratives striving to present the totality        reach’ (PM, p. 71). This process is entwined
of a new world system which has replaced           with the ‘breakdown of the signifying chain’,
the old national boundaries. Far from being        as theoretically evidenced with reference
Utopian, the narratives of these films are          to the presentation of schizophrenia in the
‘fantasy-solutions’ to the ontological anxiety     work of Jacques Lacan, which is found
of postmodernity, which ‘endlessly process         to have its aesthetic correlative in the
images of the unmappable system’ (GA, p. 4).       L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry of Bob Perelman.
   Jameson acquired a new audience with            Postmodern aesthetics is characterized by a
the essay ‘Postmodernism: or, The Cultural         ‘hysterical sublime’ of technological deferral,
Logic of Late Capitalism’ (PM) in New Left         in which signs and representations proliferate
Review (1984). This essay sweepingly groups        but ‘the real’ is permanently unobtainable.
post-war developments in art, poetry, film,            Jameson’s postmodernism essay is the
fiction and architecture under a series of          culmination of his immersion in Marxist
broad theoretical specifications to argue the       and structuralist theory. It is also the
existence of a postmodern period. Influenced        culmination of his critical method which
by Ernest Mandel’s theory of late capitalism       is learned, ruminative, speculative and
and Daniel Bell’s notion of the ‘post-industrial   marked by a tendency to circulate through
society’, Jameson advances the concept of          possible positions in the search for a grand
a postmodern period dating from ‘the end           thesis which will bring together the received
of the 1950s or the early 1960s’. This period      traditions of theory in a culminating moment
signals the end of the ‘hundred-year-old           of aesthetic, social and philosophical
modern movement’, which included ‘abstract         synthesis. His work has been considered
expressionism in painting, existentialism          flawed in terms of its insistence on period
in philosophy, the final forms of representa-       and its tendency to produce universal claims
tion in the novel, the films of the great           from a cosmopolitan American perspective,
auteurs, or the modernist school of poetry’        although such distortion in Jameson’s work
(PM, p. 53).                                       may itself be the product of the unpromising
   What succeeds modernism can only be             climate for Marxist intellectuals in the United
described in terms which are ‘empirical,           States. Jameson’s later work has attempted
chaotic and heterogeneous’ (PM, p. 54).            to extend his remit but also has drawn
Postmodernism is said to collapse the              criticism for its grandiose ethnocentrism.
distinction between high and low culture           His essay on ‘Third World Literature in the
advanced by ‘ideologues of the modern’ from        Era of Multinational Capital’ (1986) was
Leavis to Adorno; even where postmodernism         criticized by Aijaz Ahmad for its simplistic
is discernibly continuous with modernism,          positioning of First and Third World subjects
its meaning is utterly different because           as mutually ‘other’. Reservations about
of its late capitalist context. Expressive         Jameson’s treatment of Adorno were to a
depth is replaced as an ideal by aesthetic         degree ameliorated by Late Marxism (1990).
superficiality in a phenomenon Jameson              In general, Jameson’s theoretical eclecticism
terms ‘the waning of affect’. This is evidenced    and confident postulation of universal
by comparing the art of the modernist              cultural and socio-economic narratives has
Edvard Munch to that of postmodernist              been the source of his influence as well as
Andy Warhol. Historical depth is replaced          the source of critical reservations about his
by nostalgia, pastiche replaces parody, and        work.
an art of surface and loss is substituted
for a history which ‘remains forever out of                                         DAVID AYERS
179                                                                                    MELANIE KLEIN




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                        Jameson, F., ‘Third World Literature in the Era
                                                       of Multinational Capital’, Social Text 15 (1986),
                                                       pp. 65–88.
 Primary literature                                  Jameson, F., Late Marxism; Adorno, or, the
                                                       Persistence of the Dialectic, London and New
 Jameson, F., Marxism and Form: Twentieth-             York: Verso, 1990.
   Century Dialectical Theories of Literature,       Jameson, F., Postmodernism: or, the Cultural
   Princeton: Princeton University Press,              Logic of Late Capitalism, London and New
   1971.                                               York: Verso, 1991.
 Jameson, F., The Prison-House of Language: A        Jameson, F., The Geopolitical Aesthetic: Cinema
   Critical Account of Structuralism and Russian       and Space in the World System, Bloomington
   Formalism, Princeton: Princeton University          and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press/
   Press, 1972.                                        London: BFI, 1992.
 Jameson, F., ‘Reflections in Conclusion’, in         Jameson, F., The Seeds of Time, New York:
   Ernst Bloch et al., Aesthetics and Politics,        Columbia University Press, 1994.
   trans. and ed. Ronald Taylor, London: NLB,
   1977.
                                                     Secondary literature
 Jameson, F., Fables of Aggression: Wyndham
   Lewis, the Modernist as Fascist, Berkeley, Los    Ahmad, A., In Theory: Classes, Nations,
   Angeles and London: University of California        Literatures, London: Verso, 1992.
   Press, 1979.                                      Rose, G., ‘On the Presentation of Adorno in
 Jameson, F., The Political Unconscious: Narrative     Aesthetics and Politics’, in eds Francis Barker
   as a Socially Symbolic Act, Ithaca: Cornell         et al.,1936: The Sociology of Literature. Volume
   University Press, 1981.                             1: The Politics of Modernism. Proceedings of the
 Jameson, F., ‘Postmodernism: or, The Cultural         Essex Conference on the Sociology of Literature
   Logic of Late Capitalism’, New Left Review 146      July 1978, Colchester: University of Essex,
   (1984), pp. 59–92.                                  1979.




MELANIE KLEIN
(1882–1960)
In the 1920s and 1930s, Melanie Klein                controversy in psychoanalysis, Klein
pioneered the psychoanalysis of children,            maintained that early life is lived, and
translating Freud’s talking cure into a new          subjectivity shaped, under the sway of
clinical method, the psychoanalytic play             aggression. For Klein, in contrast to Freud,
technique. In the process, she reoriented            the anxiety of aggression, rather than sexual
psychoanalysis towards the infant and                anxiety, is the pivotal psychic struggle. The
the ‘death drive’. Stimulating an enduring           focus of Freudian psychoanalysis is on the
MELANIE KLEIN                                                                                  180


neuroses arising from repressed sexuality.            Though rivals, Melanie Klein and Anna
Klein concentrates instead on the feelings of      Freud became the dominant voices in a
fragmentation endured prior to repression,         psychoanalytic discourse increasingly shaped
in infancy. Suggesting that early childhood        by women analysts, and in relation to the
amounts to a brush with psychosis, Klein           experiences of mothers and children. Like
contends that the distortions of reality           Klein, Anna Freud (1895–1982) developed
experienced by the premature ego persist           her theories from the study of children’s
throughout life. In times of acute distress, the   play. In contrast to Klein, who offered frank
psychotic trend of infancy is revived and the      interpretations of the violent fantasies
subject instinctively mobilizes extravagant        enacted in children’s games, Anna Freud
defence mechanisms – projection, splitting         recommended friendly instruction as a
and the denial of reality. A self-described        means to support the development of the
follower of Freud, Klein is remembered as a        child’s fragile ego. The crux of the debate was
psychoanalytic dissident.                          Klein’s insistence on the primary role of the
   Melanie Klein began her analytic training       self-destructive ‘death drive’ and aggressive
in 1912 in Budapest with Sándor Ferenczi, a        instincts in the child’s psychic life, and Anna
dynamic and freethinking disciple of Freud.        Freud’s stress on the self-preserving role of
In 1921, Klein moved to Berlin and, with           the ego.
the encouragement of her second analyst               At stake in the Controversial Discussions
and mentor, Karl Abraham, began to work            between 1943 and 1944 was nothing less
with child patients, drawing on Abraham’s          than the intellectual legacy of Sigmund
theories of early infantile experience. Klein      Freud and the future of psychoanalysis. For
was still relatively unknown when, in 1925,        Klein, that future lay at the threshold of
she received an invitation to lecture at the       subjectivity. According to Jacqueline Rose,
Institute of Psychoanalysis in London, where       ‘she saw her task as one of excavation,
her work was received with intense interest,       as the retrieval of something which even
both for its reliance on observational tech-       Freud, she argued, had barely been able to
niques and for her child-centred theories.         approach’ (Why War? [WW?], p. 138). The
   In 1926, after the death of Karl Abraham,       aim of analysis was, she argued, to uncover
Klein settled in Britain. She enjoyed a period     the child’s deepest fears and anxieties
of unbroken creativity, publishing her first        by eliciting a ‘negative transference’ to
book, The Psycho-Analysis of Children, in          the analyst, representing, most often, the
1932, and surrounding herself with a circle        mother. This clinical objective, which Klein
of innovative thinkers, many of them women,        deemed an extension of Freud’s method,
including Joan Rivière, Susan Isaacs and           aroused alarm in some of her critics, notably
Paula Heimann. As well as sharing her              Jacques Lacan, who accused Klein of forcing
commitment to ‘Object Relations’, as Kleinian      interpretations on vulnerable young patients.
theory came to be called, these analysts           Klein, in turn, referred her critics to Freud’s
became vital supporters in her rivalry with        writings, including both his admonition to
Anna Freud, the other leading figure in the         deal honestly with the patient, and the trend
field of child analysis. When, in 1938, the         in his later writings towards the sources
Freuds fled Nazi-occupied Vienna for London,        of psychic negativity. Lacan acknowledged
the stage was set for one of the defining           Klein’s effectiveness as a clinician, even if he
debates in the history of psychoanalysis, a        disputed her techniques, and drew heavily on
series of encounters between Melanie Klein         her theory of infantile subjectivity in mapping
and Anna Freud and their followers known as        the territory of the Imaginary in his own
the Controversial Discussions.                     psychic schema.
181                                                                             MELANIE KLEIN


   Constructing her model of subjectivity         the ego produces aggressive phantasies
around the infant, and so in relation to an       of destruction mobilized against perceived
immediate and fragmented bodily experience,       threats, such as the withholding, or ‘bad’
Klein contends that the subject first relates      breast. The second position, arising from
to its environment as a field of objects (called   the first, and at a later stage of infancy, is
‘part-objects’) to be fused or split, possessed   the depressive position, in which the ego
or destroyed, in phantasy (spelled with a ph      confronts the damage done to internal
to mark the special significance of the term       objects in phantasy. The psychic burden of the
for Klein). Phantasy arises at a pre-linguistic   depressive position is guilt. Finding itself the
stage of experience, in infancy: it is not only   agent of its own internal world’s destruction,
the mind in the act of dreaming but the           the ego overcomes the depressive position
mouth in the act of sucking that phantasizes.     by repairing its good objects in phantasy.
Several writers on twentieth-century art,         It is this trend towards reparation that
including Annette Michelson and myself, have      defined the aesthetic discourse arising from
highlighted parallels between Klein’s theories    Kleinian theory in Britain beginning in 1929,
of the part-object and schizoid phantasies of     when Klein published her first essay on
the body, and the work of artists including       art, ‘Infantile Anxiety Situations Reflected
Marcel Duchamp, Jasper Johns, Eva Hesse           in a Work of Art and the Creative Impulse’.
and Louise Bourgeois. Duchamp’s The Bride         For writers including the artist and critic
Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (1915–       Adrian Stokes, the critic Peter Fuller and
23), for example, incorporating a ‘bachelor       the psychoanalyst Hanna Segal, the impetus
machine’ composed of interconnecting              of artistic creativity in Klein is towards the
parts, or part-objects, can be interpreted as     re-creation of an object world perceived
a monument to autistic self-enclosure and         to be lost – destroyed in phantasy by the
autoerotic sexuality – and as an elaborate        subject. In The Culture of Redemption (1990),
defence against Oedipal law.                      Leo Bersani delivered a passionate critique
   One of Klein’s most significant                 of this ‘reparative trend’ in Klein, arguing
contributions to psychoanalytic theory            that the emphasis on symbolic restitution
was to draw psychosis into the pattern            fostered a false aesthetic morality, blunting
of everyday reality and so to make the            the catastrophes of history by redeeming
schizoid subject more accessible, not only        violent reality in restorative representation.
to psychoanalytic treatment, but also to          JUDITH BUTLER has argued, conversely, that
cultural representation. In Anti-Oedipus:         the Kleinian subject is the victim of its own
Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1972), GILLES       ‘moral sadism’, and can survive the self-
DELEUZE and Félix Guattari credit Melanie         annihilating self-reproach that is the voice
Klein with the discovery of the part-object       of the depressive position only by mobilizing
while insisting that she failed to grasp its      a ‘hatred for its own hatred’ (‘Moral Sadism
significance as a tool of resistance against       and Doubting One’s Own Love: Kleinian
Oedipal law. For Deleuze and Guattari,            Reflections on Melancholia’, Reading Melanie
reality is fragmentation, and the coherent        Klein, p. 183). Far from finding consolation
self a normative fiction used to constrain         in reparative creativity, the Kleinian ego
and control the subject. Klein, despite her       struggles to save its love objects from its own
interest in the psychotic in all of us, remains   drive to destruction.
committed to the aim of psychic integration.          The 1990s witnessed a return to Klein.
   For Klein, the psyche is structured by         The absorption of psychoanalytic criticism
two pivotal positions. The first of these is       in the language-centred theories of Jacques
the ‘paranoid-schizoid’ position, in which        Lacan through the 1970s and 1980s had
MELANIE KLEIN                                                                                              182


been so complete, Mary Jacobus remarked,               of the mother as a figure of contingency,
that returning to Klein, and to theories of            they remark, is in contrast to the fixity of
pre-linguistic subjectivity, seemed ‘to risk a         patriarchal representations, but because
kind of theoretical regression’ (‘“Tea Daddy”:         this figure is exclusively a projection of the
Poor Mrs Klein and the Pencil Shavings’, in            child’s phantasy, Kleinian theory ultimately
Reading Melanie Klein, p. 92). What made this          perpetuates the cultural myth of the
return compelling was Klein’s attention to             mother as the object, never the subject,
the role of psychic negativity. Some writers,          of aggression and desire. Other writers,
notably Jacqueline Rose in Why War?,                   notably the psychoanalyst Roszika Parker
underscored the political import of Klein’s            (cf. GRISELDA POLLOCK), have argued that
theories for probing the origins of violence           Klein’s work can be read more expansively,
and aggression, arguing that the neglect               by, for example, considering its potential
of Klein had given rise to the orthodoxy of            to elaborate maternal ambivalence and
an ‘aestheticized psychoanalysis’ in the               aggression. This is also the position adopted
humanities, and to an excessive investment in          by the artist Louise Bourgeois. A student of
cultural fantasies of ‘transgressive liberation’       child psychoanalysis who once considered
(WW?, pp. 144/143). ‘There is no shortage of           training in the field, Bourgeois has, since the
text-centred studies of pleasure and desire’,          1940s, produced a body of work that explores,
observed Kobena Mercer in 1994, ‘but where             but also expands, the territory of Kleinian
are the analyses of pain and hatred as                 psychoanalysis, by embracing the maternal
everyday structures of feeling too?’ (‘Fear of a       subject of ambivalence and aggression and
Black Penis’, p. 122.)                                 by articulating what Parker calls a maternal
   Still, Klein remains a controversial figure,         depressive position in her art.
perhaps especially for feminism. Her                      For Klein, life is a circle, often a vicious
reorientation of psychoanalysis towards                one. Yet, as Jacqueline Rose observes, ‘the
the mother–infant relation has been seen               value of Klein’s insights resides precisely in
by some as pioneering feminist theory                  their negativity, in their own points of internal
and by others as a reinscription of women              resistance to narratives of resolution’ (WW?,
in the maternal role. In ‘psychoanalytic               p. 223). For the decentred, fragmented
feminism and the search for the “good                  subject of postmodernism, the theories of
enough” mother’, Janice Doane and Devon                Melanie Klein have given fresh significance to
Hodges observe that for Klein the mother               psychoanalysis in art.
is all-important, but exclusively as a
phantasy of the child. Klein’s construction                                              MIGNON NIXON



 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                          Klein, M., The Psychoanalysis of Children, (1932)
                                                          London: Vintage, 1997.
                                                       Klein, M., Love, Guilt and Reparation and Other
 Primary literature                                       Works 1921–1945, London: Vintage, 1998.
 Mitchell, J. (ed.), The Selected Melanie Klein, New   Klein, M., Narrative of a Child Analysis, (1961)
    York: The Free Press, 1986.                           London: Vintage, 1998.
 King, P. and Steiner, R. (eds), The Freud-Klein
    Controversies, 1941–45, London: Tavistock/
                                                       Secondary literature
    Routledge, 1991.
 Klein, M., Envy and Gratitude and Other Works         Bersani, L., The Culture of Redemption,
    1946–1963, (1975) London: Vintage, 1997.              Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990.
183                                                                                    JULIA KRISTEVA



 Doane, J. and Hodges, D., From Klein to Kristeva:    Nixon, M., Fantastic Reality: Louise Bourgeois and
    Psychoanalytic Feminism and the Search for the       a Story of Modern Art, Cambridge: MIT Press/
    ‘Good Enough’ Mother, Ann Arbor: University of       October Books, 2005.
    Michigan Press, 1992.                             Phillips, J. and Stonebridge, L. (eds), Reading
 Kristeva, J., Melanie Klein, trans. Ross Guberman,      Melanie Klein, London: Routledge, 1998.
    New York: Columbia University Press, 2001.        Rose, J., Why War? Psychoanalysis, Politics, and
 Lacan, J., The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book I,        the Return to Melanie Klein, Oxford: Blackwell,
    Freud’s Papers on Technique, 1953–1954, New          1993.
    York: W. W. Norton, 1975.                         Sanchez-Pardo, E., Cultures of the Death Drive:
 Mercer, K., ‘Fear of a Black Penis’, Artforum 32        Melanie Klein and Modernist Melancholia,
    (April 1994), p. 81.                                 Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press,
 Michelson, A., ‘“Where Is My Rupture?” Mass             2003.
    Culture and the Gesamtkunstwerk’, October 56      Segal, H., Dream, Phantasy and Art, London:
    (Spring 1991), pp. 42–63.                            Brunner-Routledge, 1991.




JULIA KRISTEVA (1941–)
Julia Kristeva was born in Bulgaria in 1941           transform meaning and the subject. The view
and moved to Paris in 1966 to do graduate             expressed in this work, that psychoanalysis
studies with Lucien Goldmann and ROLAND               delivers the theory of what literature
BARTHES. Her work criticized the study of             practices, heralds Kristeva’s deepening
language merely as a system of signs and              investigation of Freudian discoveries about
their exchange in communication, viewing              language acquisition. She attended Lacan’s
literature as a signifying practice that returns      seminars of the period but the training
history, social structure and the living body         analysis she completed in 1979 was not in his
to the frozen object ‘language’. This view            school. Her 1980s writings develop her own
brought her in line with the writers of Tel           ‘return to Freud’ supported by knowledge
Quel, a collaborative journal influential in           of different traditions, including the British
France in the late 1960s and early 1970s, to          School of Psychoanalysis. This knowledge
which she contributed theoretical pieces.             influences her thought on art.
The journal published both contemporary                  Kristeva is Professor of Linguistics and
poetry and writings that brought the range            Director of the Institute for the Study of Texts
of theoretical work of the period – from              and Documents at the University of Paris VII.
Marxist analysis to Freudian theory to                She is a practising psychoanalyst in France
deconstruction – into relation with literary          and the author of several novels. She has
writing. In 1974 Kristeva published her               been a regular visiting professor at Columbia
doctorat d’état, Revolution in Poetic Language,       University and given visiting lectures at the
which investigates how signifying practices           New School University. In 2004 Kristeva
JULIA KRISTEVA                                                                                 184


became the first Holberg Laureate for her           exemplarity of the artwork is illuminated by
work at the intersection of language, culture      her psychoanalytic thought. Psychoanalytic
and literature.                                    theory develops from what is revealed in
    Kristeva’s thought on art is usually offered   psychoanalytic experience. With Kristeva, this
through fine-grained analyses of specific            experience is a process similar to that given
works rather than an aesthetic theory, since       in the experience of art and literature. Her
her view is that the significance and value         psychoanalytic thought therefore lays out the
of artworks lies in their being exemplars          general significance of the intertwining of the
of meaning, value and freedom. They have           semiotic and symbolic.
significance neither as universals nor                 On strictly psychoanalytic ground,
as particulars but only in and as specific          Kristeva’s categorial distinction between
instances. Kristeva’s association of art with      the semiotic and symbolic modifies the
the question of freedom recalls the reflection      traditional Freudian centrality of Oedipal
on the aesthetic developed in nineteenth-          destiny, which was preserved in Jacques
century German philosophy. Nonetheless,            Lacan’s conception of the child’s entrance
her own thought on art cannot be dissociated       into language or the symbolic order.
from her psychoanalytic work. Revolution in        In Kristeva’s report and that of others,
Poetic Language proposed that psychoanalysis       contemporary psychoanalysis encounters
can theorize the transformations in meaning        difficulties over selfhood, meaning and
and the subject that art practices. This view      ‘others’ that indicate the prevalence of
contrasts psychoanalysis as theory to art as       narcissistic sufferings rather than an Oedipal
practice and is therefore surpassed in her         struggle with paternal law. Narcissus is
1980s writings, where both psychoanalysis          a more primitive moment of subjectivity.
and art are instantiations of a kind of freedom    Kristeva takes the narcissistic structure of
in so far as they encompass the living body,       subjectivity back to the earliest relationship
the experience of memory and the activity of       of mother and infant. The elements of
questioning.                                       primary narcissism lie in the early life of
    The relationship between psychoanalysis        affects and drives that register and respond
and art in Kristeva turns on her categorial        to the first beginnings of otherness and
distinction between the semiotic and the           separateness. Primary narcissism precedes
symbolic. These are two dimensions of              and lays the ground for language speaking,
meaning and subjectivity that tend, under          which is now understood to be a late stage in
certain conditions, to fall apart. Artworks        a long process of symbol formation. In brief,
achieve their re-engagement or intertwining.       there is in child development a pre-verbal,
Kristeva focuses on the depth, scope and           affective and corporeal contribution to symbol
singularity of this achievement in connection      formation, which is transposed into a non-
with the wider social and symbolic field.           verbal dimension of subjectivity and meaning,
Her readings of artworks imply, on the             for example rhythm or tone. This is Kristeva’s
one hand, that the meaning and value of            semiotic as distinct from strictly symbolic
the work cannot simply be divorced from            functioning. Artworks instantiate both.
it, making the work just a ‘case’ of the              The value of the developmental perspective
meaning or value that it has. That is to say       on the semiotic is that it shows the emergent
the artwork is not a mere particular. On the       subject to be, first, the living body in relation
other hand the work is not a universal either      to the mother’s body. This living body is
since it does not itself constitute a general      not some pre-cultural nature but, rather,
standard or measure for meaning and                a corporeal and affective responsiveness
value. It is exemplary. Kristeva’s take on the     within a surrounding symbolic. The latter
185                                                                              JULIA KRISTEVA


impinges on early infantile life, not in its      crisis that psychoanalysis meets in the clinic:
‘proper’ form as a linguistic sign, but within    Kristeva’s ‘new maladies of the soul’.
the dual relationship of infantile dependence        Kristeva’s view is that to work with forms
where the mother is a being at the threshold      is the most radical way to seize the moments
of nature and culture. The early relationship     of crisis. Art and literature, for her, are the
to the mother is therefore a situation of         adventure of body-and-signs that mediates
exposure to otherness and separateness            the fragmented moments of the social and
together with a corporeal, non-signifying         symbolic field, restoring meaning and value
responsiveness to that exposure. ‘Semiotic’       in connection with others. It is therefore their
capacities are a primitive but complex,           capacity to counter the tendency towards
affective and corporeal mode of separateness      a rigidified symbolic that makes artworks
and connectedness that is required for and        exemplars of meaning, value and freedom.
leads into Lacan’s ‘entrance into language’       In the 1990s Kristeva underlines a kind of
where symbolic capacities, properly               ‘revolt’ that expresses a possibility in life and
speaking, turn up.                                thought of ‘turning back’, the turn and return
   In Kristeva’s view, the semiotic – more        of one’s own memory, and questioning. She
precisely, the corporeal and affective            shows how variations of this revolt appear
variations of responsiveness – is at the origin   in literature. This possibility is increasingly
and then limit of the subject. Narcissus is       presented as a kind of freedom. Her early
a boundary subjectivity that shows up in          twenty-first-century trilogy on Arendt,
moments of crisis. This view rests upon           KLEIN and Colette follows through the same
the claim that the semiotic must carry            question, supplementing her writings on
forward into symbolic life if that life is not    art with biographies that explore lives of
to be intolerably abstract, impersonal or         thinking, healing and writing.
mechanistic, a ‘merely’ linguistic universe          A broad criticism of Kristeva is that she
of communicative exchanges without the            allows the psychoanalytic theory to swamp
experience of meaning and value. The              the art. Her readings of artworks give special
semiotic taken up into symbolic form gains        attention to the subjectivity of the artist and
in complexity and potential and this opens        promote a therapeutic conception of art
up possibilities for meaning and value in         whose sense comes from psychoanalysis.
connection with others. The view Kristeva         This limits the meaning of art to what can be
opposes is that the analysis of the structure     known from the psychoanalytic standpoint. To
of the linguistic sign, alone, will provide       defend Kristeva on this point, psychoanalysis
us with all we can know of the elements           is often viewed not as a fixed theoretical
of meaning, culture and intersubjectivity.        approach but as a dynamic exercise sensitive
That view entails the redundancy in the           to a complex and changing experience of
symbolic order of the living body in relation     subjectivity, language and culture. Second,
to another – what lies at the heart of            attention to the artist’s subjectivity is only
individuation and symbol formation according      reductive if we stand by narrow conceptions
to psychoanalysis. The view she opposes is        of childhood, the past, the lived body,
symptomatic of a wider tendency to affirm          memory, etc. Kristeva’s expansions of this
a merely linguistic universe, undermining         territory enrich the significance of art and
possibilities for separateness and                literature. Third, Kristeva’s thought includes
connections with others. This tendency shows      an attempt to restore a relation in Western
up in particular strength in late modern          cultures to the value and complexity of
societies. Its subjective counterpart is the      healing. As a result, she attributes more to
abandoned Narcissus or the narcissistic           art than is usually done in those cultures,
JULIA KRISTEVA                                                                                           186


even or especially where the therapeutic              in language. Abjection is a fundamental
conception of art dominates her thinking.             dimension of the responsiveness to the
   Kristeva’s growing body of work crosses            surrounding social and symbolic world
the boundaries of current disciplines and             that acts corporeally and affectively rather
writing practices to an almost unprecedented          than within linguistic structures. It appears,
extent. Her influence is fluid and wide-                especially, in cultural conditions in which
ranging. The expansion of the theory of               moral, political or religious ideas are subject
primary narcissism is likely to draw long-            to deformation, which are also those where
standing attention in psychoanalytic circles.         language is in the process of losing its hold
She is one of the major figures in a body of           on the body. Abjection is both a symptom
thought studied in the anglophone world               of and a response to these conditions. The
under the heading of French feminism. Her             influence of these ideas was apparent in the
critical approach to culture – aspects of             fascination with revulsion and bodily ejecta in
which are sometimes compared to THEODOR               practices as diverse as Mike Kelley and Paul
ADORNO on culture industry – has brought              McCarthy’s scatological performances, Cindy
her an audience within and beyond academic            Sherman’s colour photographs of rotting
confines. In recent years Kristeva’s thought           detritus engulfing fragments of human
was also responsible for the interest in              form, Kiki Smith’s flayed figures and Mark
‘abjection’ in 1990s sculpture, installation          Quinn’s self-portraits from frozen body fluids.
and photography. In Kristeva’s theoretical            Kristeva’s impact on the art world probably
writing abjection is the aspect of semiotic           continues to be strongest in the interest that
functioning closest to the anarchic life of the       individual artists are taking in her ideas.
drives and affects, which turns up prior to
and underlies the body ‘proper’ that is upheld                                    SARA BEARDSWORTH




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                         Kristeva, J., Colette, volume 3 of Female Genius:
                                                         Life, Madness, Words – Hannah Arendt, Melanie
                                                         Klein, Colette, New York: Columbia University
 Primary literature                                      Press, 2004.
 Kristeva, J., Powers of Horror: An Essay on
    Abjection, New York: Columbia University
                                                      Secondary literature
    Press, 1982.
 Kristeva, J., Revolution in Poetic Language, New     Beardsworth, S., Julia Kristeva: Psychoanalysis
    York: Columbia University Press, 1984.               and Modernity, New York: SUNY Press, 2004.
 Kristeva, J., Tales of Love, New York: Columbia      Chanter, T. and Ziarek, E. P. (eds), Revolt, Affect,
    University Press, 1987.                              Collectivity: The Unstable Boundaries of
 Kristeva, J., Black Sun: Depression and                 Kristeva’s Polis, New York: SUNY Press,
    Melancholia, New York: Columbia University           2005.
    Press, 1989.                                      Lechte, J., Julia Kristeva, New York: Routledge,
 Kristeva, J., The Sense and Non-Sense of Revolt:        1990.
    The Powers and Limitations of Psychoanalysis I,   Oliver, K., Reading Kristeva: Unraveling the
    New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.           Double-Bind, Bloomington and Indianapolis:
 Kristeva, J., Intimate Revolt: The Powers and           Indiana University Press, 1993.
    Limits of Psychoanalysis II, New York: Columbia   Smith, A.-M., Julia Kristeva: Speaking the
    University Press, 2002.                              Unspeakable, London: Pluto, 1998.
187                                                                          NIKLAS LUHMANN




NIKLAS LUHMANN
(1927–1998)
In German-speaking scholarship Niklas                An important concept in Luhmann’s
Luhmann is widely regarded as among the           analysis is that of distinction. Because
most important and widely read sociologists       social systems are operatively closed they
of the late twentieth century. That this degree   are distinct from one another. Thus, the
of recognition of his theory of social systems    art system operates according to a set of
was not, by the time of his death in 1998,        principles that are distinct from those of
reflected in anglophone studies in general,        the economic or legal system. Each system
and in studies on art in particular, is a         is also distinct from its environment.
situation which is slowly being rectified with     Systems distinguish themselves from their
the ongoing translation of his vast, diverse      environments by virtue of being closed to
and highly sophisticated work. His general        the complexity of their surroundings. The
theory is outlined in Social Systems and          formation of a system involves an ordering,
numerous other books including studies on         via ‘selective relations amongst its elements’,
the systems of law, economics and science.        of the multiple relations of a complex
His main theories on art are outlined in Art as   environment. In short, systems reduce
a Social System in which he expounds an anti-     complexity; and they do so according to the
ontological theory of art. Art is, for Luhmann,   structure which is distinct to that system.
constituted by the system of art, itself a sub-      To explain how the process of distinction
system of society.                                functions Luhmann introduces his radical
   Luhmann’s radical and lasting insight lies     concept of observation. Observation is the
in his development of Systems-Theory as a         process by which distinctions are indicated
methodological tool for sociology. Society,       from a position relative to the system in
Luhmann argues, is comprised of a variety         which it takes place. This is a paradigm
of sub-systems. These are operatively             shift from a more traditional sociological
closed and functionally distinct from one         notion of representation to a concept of
another. Each system operates according           social meaning that is contingent not only on
to its own internal and self-defined rules.        particular systems but also upon the process
These systems include economic, political,        of observation itself. Without observation
legal, scientific, religious and educational       no differentiation would occur. Thus, the
systems; and like these, the art system           economic system observes and differentiates
functions according to an intrinsic set of        the world in terms of economic value while
processes. However, despite the local             the art system differentiates what it observes
differences between these particular systems      in terms of artistic and aesthetic value. The
they nonetheless exhibit what Luhmann             corollary to observation is the important
calls ‘comparable structures’. They are thus      concept of second order observation. This
receptive to the comparative analysis of          is the process by which a system observes
systems-theory.                                   its own actions and blind spots. This is
NIKLAS LUHMANN                                                                               188


a process of self-reflexivity that recalls         others thus reducing the complexity of the
deconstruction in that it is a process by which   world to terms intelligible to the system while
a system observes its own observing. Thus         reinscribing the distinction between itself and
in the process of second order observation,       its environment. Different systems generate
the art system can observe how art itself is      communication according to their particular
constituted by the art system’s processes of      codes of self-reference. For example the
observation and distinction. And, likewise,       science system is ordered by a coding of
systems-theory can observe itself as a            differences between true/false that produce
discursive system that observes the world         meaning by simplifying the complexity and
from a particular perspective.                    contingency of the world to communications
    Systems are able to systematize their         on truth and falsehood; the art system
elements in distinction to the complexity of      facilitates communication about art through
their environments because of their capacity      the sensuous and aesthetic forms of works
for self-organization or autopoiesis. For         of art. For Luhmann, communication
a system to be autopoietic means that its         (and meaning) is the basic constituent of
reproduction and perpetuity is sustained by       society, and therefore the basic concept of
its own internal operations. The autopoietic      sociology. There can be no society without
system is, in Luhmann’s terms, ‘self-             communication. The limits of society are the
referential’ and defines its own elements,         limits of communication. Individuals do not
structure, function and limits. The art system    participate in society unless they engage in
thus not only operates according to its own       communication.
internal functions, but also generates these          Communication provides the opportunity
functions via its own self-referential and        for Luhmann to discuss the uniqueness and
self-organizing activities. This means that       importance of the art system. The art system
although the art system might interact with       produces a special type of communication,
other systems (such as the economic system)       one that mediates between the individual
it ultimately produces meaning on its own         perceptions of consciousness (psychic
terms.                                            systems) and the operations of the social
    The self-organization of systems              system. It does this by being grounded
manifests itself in the emergence of two          in sensuous engagement with material,
further concepts: communication and               perceptual form, while also generating
meaning. Communication is the manifold of         communications which then circulate in the
information, message and understanding.           social system.
Thus a communication is an occurrence,                Perhaps Luhmann’s most radical insight
specific to a particular system, that              into art is his anti-ontological definition.
generates meaning within that system              His definition is independent of particular
from the unity of a message as well as its        genres such as painting or music. Instead
communication and reception. Luhmann              it is a non-media-specific theory of ‘the
dismisses a theory of communication as the        medium of art’ that produces a special type
transmission of information from one agent        of communication. This involves an inversion
to another as ‘too ontological’. Meaning is not   of a traditionally conceived relationship
something handed over like a parcel, rather       between medium and form. The traditional
it is something generated in an observer by       conception of medium constitutes form is
a self-referential process. Communication         replaced by the notion that form constitutes
facilitates the production of meaning by          medium. The example Luhmann gives (in
reducing complexity and contingency. It           ‘The Medium of Art’, 1990) is music. Music is
creates some possibilities while excluding        heard (observed) as music only by those ‘who
189                                                                         NIKLAS LUHMANN


can also hear the uncoupled space in which       FOUCAULT’s questioning of the relationship
the music plays’. In other words ‘whereas we     between discourse and its object. Luhmann’s
normally hear noises as differences to silence   relationship to modernity is haunted by
and are thereby made attentive, music            the spectres of the post-Enlightenment
presupposes this attention and compels it        German philosophical project and includes
to the observation of a second difference        comparisons to Hegel’s attempt to complete
– that between medium and form’. We may          an all encompassing philosophical system
‘observe’ the medium of music, because we        and Habermas’s attempts to re-energize
have paid attention to the sensuous form         the process of enlightenment. His aesthetic
of the music’s manifestation. In this sense,     theory, being based on the sensuous
then, form constitutes medium.                   qualities of art, also reflects the post-Kantian
   The sources for Luhmann’s thought are         tradition of aesthetics, while his arguments
a reflection of the interdisciplinary nature      concerning the autonomy of the art system
of systems-thinking in general and his           recall THEODOR ADORNO’s Aesthetic Theory
own erudition and breadth of learning. As        (1970), albeit without any utopian drive for
sociology, his work shares a concern with        enlightenment.
methodological reflexivity prefigured in              The most sustained critique of Luhmann’s
Weber, Simmel and Durkheim, though his           work came from Habermas, who collaborated
notion of observation makes his position         with Luhmann on a joint seminar at the Max
much more radically self-reflexive. His notion    Planck Institut in the early 1970s (published
of systems-theory synthesizes the sociology      as Theory of Society or Social Technology
of social systems formulated by Talcott          – What is Achieved by Systems Theory?, 1971).
Parsons with the General Systems Theory          Habermas contended that Systems-Theory
of the biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy.         was too reliant on the misapplied biological
His theory of communication draws on the         model and was thus depoliticized. In places
Communication Theory of Claude Shannon           this critique recalls the Habermas/Foucault
and the Cybernetics of Norbert Weiner and        debate in so far as Luhmann is accused
Von Foerster. His theory of distinction is       of prioritizing the social system and its
based on the obscure calculus of George          communication over the psychic system,
Spencer Brown, while theories of emergence       implying a radical anti-humanism that
and autopoiesis come from biologist Gregory      denies individual agency in social systems.
Bateson and the neurobiological studies of       Other criticisms include those levelled
consciousness pioneered by Maturana and          more generally at Luhmann’s radical
Varela.                                          constructivism for denying the existence
   Philosophically, Luhmann’s Systems-           of any concrete social reality, and the
Theory owes a large debt to Husserl whose        reductionism by which the theory attempts
theory of the transcendental ego is replaced     to totalize all social activity under the rubric
by the notion of the observing system to         of ‘the system’. Luhmann could not dismiss
produce a phenomenology of social as well as     such objections; nonetheless his theory
psychic systems. Derrida’s engagement with       represents a highly sophisticated attempt
Husserl also reappears in Luhmann, and he        to negotiate the relationship between his
frequently acknowledges the comparisons          own system and the phenomena that it
between the self-reflexivity of systems-          observes.
theory, especially that of second order             Given the breadth of sources that
observations, and deconstruction. Second         Luhmann exploits, reading his texts can
order observations in particular recall both     often be a breathtaking and vertigo-inducing
Nietzsche’s perspectivism and MICHEL             experience. While always easy to read, he
NIKLAS LUHMANN                                                                                       190


works at a high level of abstraction that             self-reflexive awareness that recalls the end
can often seem obscure. He rarely talks               of art theories of Adorno, Belting, Danto, DE
about specific works of art, preferring                DUVE and Kuspit.
instead a style which recalls Adorno’s                   Luhmann’s lasting interest to art theory
Aesthetic Theory to talk about a concept              lies in his definitions of art and media. They
of art without ever clarifying any of its             are, he argues, contingent upon the systems
specific empirical qualities. His work is thus         of their institutional and discursive situation.
not social history of art a là T. J. CLARK,           This is certainly flexible enough to account for
Arnold Hauser or Antal. Likewise readers              the diverse, self-reflexive practice of art after
looking for a sociological explanation of             modernism. This is art that is, as de Duve
specific art systems in the style of PIERRE            among others has argued, not well served by
BOURDIEU or Becker will be disappointed.              aesthetic and art historical theories that are,
In places the anti-ontological aspects recall         essentially, modernist. Further, his concept
the Institutional Theory of Art attributed            of second order observation provides a model
to ARTHUR DANTO, albeit with different                of discursive self-reflexivity that could be
philosophical co-ordinates. Luhmann also              adopted by aesthetic and historical discourse
locates his theory of art in a historical             to radical and exciting effect.
teleology of an exhausted modernism in
which the system of art has reached a level of                                     FRANCIS HALSALL




 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                         Secondary literature
                                                      Habermas, J., ‘Excursus on Luhmann’s
 Primary literature                                      Appropriation of the Philosophy of the Subject
                                                         through Systems Theory’, in The Philosophical
 Luhmann, N., Essays on Self-Reference, New
                                                         Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures,
   York: Columbia University Press, 1990.
                                                         Cambridge: MIT Press, 1987, pp. 368–85.
 Luhmann, N., ‘A Redescription of “Romantic
                                                      Rasch, W., Niklas Luhmann’s Modernity, Stanford:
   Art”’, Modern Language Notes vol. III, no. 3
                                                         Stanford University Press, 2000.
   (1996), pp. 506ff.
                                                      Rasch, W. and Wolfe, C. (eds), Observing
 Luhmann, N., Art as a Social System, trans. Knodt,
                                                         Complexity: Systems Theory and Postmodernity,
   Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000.
                                                         Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,
 Luhmann, N., Theories of Distinction, ed. Rasch,
                                                         2000.
   Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002.
                                                      Savänen, E., ‘Art as an Auto-poietic Sub-System
                                                         of Modern Society: A Critical Analysis of the
                                                         Concepts of Art and Autopoietic Systems
                                                         in Luhmann’s Late Production’, in Theory,
                                                         Culture and Society vol. 18, no. 1 (Feb. 2001),
                                                         pp. 75–103.
GLOSSARY OF KEY
TERMS
ABJECTION                                           than conceived by using concepts), aesthetics
Theorized by Julia Kristeva, abjection denotes      emerged in the eighteenth century as a
a state of expulsion or aggressive repulsion,       ‘science of perception’ and then broadly a
usually involving something that threatens a        branch of philosophy investigating the arts,
breakdown in meaning or convention, putting         taste, interpretation, beauty and the sublime,
into danger the integrity of the self or the        and aesthetic experience (which might be
social order. The abject elicits a reaction         experience of art, but is also the experience
of repulsion, disgust, aversion or horror;          of nature). As a sphere of value, aesthetics
examples could be corpses, human waste,             tends to be distinguished from other spheres
rotten food. A space of abjection has also          of value, such as morals or ethics, but also
been conceived as a space of social exclusion       from theoretical or objective knowledge of
of marginalized minorities, where micro- or         the world. Distinct from the ‘philosophy of
subcultures emerge in antagonism to the             art’, aesthetics generally retains its Germanic
dominant culture and its modes of sensible          concern with the nature of non-conceptual
expression.                                         experience, whereas Anglo-American
                                                    ‘analytic’ philosophy of art is more concerned
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT                                     with the objective sustainability of aesthetic
For Stanley Cavell, the act of                      claims, language and concepts about
acknowledgement is a mode of                        artworks.
understanding that is ethical in character. It
does not separate the world of knowledge
from the world of people. Scientific rationality
(knowledge as facts, logic, statistical quantity)   ALIENATION
cannot explain what makes the world a world         This term can signify a component in mental
for us. For Cavell, there is no knowledge of        neurosis (such as loss of identity), a condition
the world apart from our claims, agreements         of modern consumer society, or a critical-
and expressions. Acknowledgement is a way           philosophical stance towards the world. In the
of orienting oneself towards others (and thus       critical theory tradition from Marx to Adorno
the world) in a manner that allows them to          this experience had material conditions: by
reveal themselves on their own terms (by            virtue of living and working under unjust
acknowledging the conventions they use              labour conditions (capitalism) I am alienated
and criteria they mobilize in their self-           from the products of my labour (they are
presentation).                                      used for the profit of others), from my own
                                                    potential, from fellow citizens (divided into
AESTHETICS                                          classes) and even from my true needs, as
From the Greek ‘aesthetika’ or perceptible          they are distorted by desires ‘manufactured’
things (things perceived by the senses rather       by consumer culture.
GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS                                                                        192



ALLEGORY                                          in the economy of culture. In the modern
Traditionally, a narrative retelling an           era, art maintained a special value beyond
earlier narrative. Benjamin’s influential          exchange value (price); helping to construct
use of the term, in relation to baroque (and      a value-system (of individuality, autonomy,
earlier Renaissance) art, emphasizes the          self-expression) that became intrinsic to the
fragmentary and fluid nature of allegorical        construction of bourgeois subjectivity (self-
meaning, where signs are never fixed to            identity) and which in turn facilitated social
their referents, and maintain a material          reproduction (their claims on power). Hence,
presence that falls outside of the general        when aura ‘withers’ in the age of mechanical
order of meaning. Craig Owens subsequently        reproduction, it signifies the emergence of a
conceived ‘allegory’ as the postmodern            different social order.
aesthetic, where a ‘doubling’ of texts occurs,
a palimpsest of voices emerges, univocal
or monolithic meanings are subverted, the
                                                  AUTHORSHIP
                                                  Both idealism and romanticism in aesthetics
authority of the author is dissolved and the
                                                  propose that the work of art is a direct
boundaries between the work and its context
                                                  expression of a unique mind and sensibility
eroded.
                                                  (genius), articulating truths unique to
                                                  the artist’s perception and insight, and
APPROPRIATION                                     only partially recoverable with reference
Appropriation is the act of using visual          to biographical analysis of the author’s
imagery from other sources than the               ‘intentions’. Recently, the concepts of
artist’s own: extracting, reproducing,            intention and expression have been
recontextualization, using ‘ready-mades’,         challenged, and theorists such as Barthes
copying, simulation, quotation, parody,           and Foucault have proclaimed the ‘death of
forging. It became prominent in art               the author’, according to which the author is
discourse (particularly that associated           a function rather than an origin – a function
with ‘postmodernism’) on the nature of            of the systems of meaning that determines
authorship, the function of the artist’s          who speaks, what is said, how it is said and
intention, originality and the authority of the   how it is interpreted.
artistic statement. With precedents in Pop
art, and earlier Cubism and Duchamp (even
Manet), growing international IP law and          AUTONOMY
copyright has made the practice perilous.         The notion that art is self-legislating, a
                                                  practice or discourse with its own laws
                                                  or conventions, historical development,
AURA                                              institutions and methods of interpretation,
Coined by Benjamin, ‘aura’ signifies a             is intrinsic to most modernist theories
work of art’s unique ‘presence’ in time           of art and culture; and ‘autonomy’ as an
and space, the way it expresses its history,      idea has appeared in various forms, from
and its embeddedness in tradition. This           ‘disinterested’ contemplation, through ‘art
gets stripped away in reproduction (such          for art’s sake’, to modernist-formalism. Most
as its photographic reproduction) and, it         uses of the term in critical theory relate
has subsequently been claimed, is absent          to Weber’s concept of modernity as the
altogether from new media (film, video,            emergence of professional specializations:
etc.). Art is not just an object, but part of     art became distinct (or excluded) from the
social ritual, reinforcing hierarchies of value   other orders of meaning – from knowledge
193                                                                   GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS


of the world (science) and the moral order        ‘free enterprise’ and the ‘free market’ (‘free’
(ethics/law/religious beliefs). This is both      in this context is synonymous with ‘private’
independence and exclusion, and art               or dominated by the most powerful actors).
proclaims both.                                   Competition is the dynamic force of market
                                                  growth. Contemporary (or ‘late’) capitalism,
                                                  driven by a dual expansion and retraction of
BEING/BECOMING                                    globalized markets and consumer demands,
These terms denote opposing views on the          now predominantly operates through
state of existence (both human nature and         information and technology.
material nature) common since ancient
times. ‘Being’ suggests that life emerges
from a single unified source and exists in         COMMODITY FORM
and through a stable and unified substrate.        A commodity is a material object or a service
‘Becoming’ suggests that life in its totality     for sale, and has two functions – to satisfy a
is in a state of constant flux and conflict;        desire to use or consume, and to serve as a
it does not entail a unified source (like a        vehicle of exchange. Money is the measure
creator being) and indicates that nature itself   of a commodity’s exchange value; it also
is continually evolving (or decaying, or both     indicates its position in any given market
at once). These in turn generate radically        (or circuit of commodities). ‘Commodity
different views on human nature.                  form’ signifies that the object or action of
                                                  the produce has become detached from
                                                  that of the producer, and its value entirely
CANON                                             determined by the market (not by its use-
The artistic canon is the most revered works      value, or cost or place of origin).
of art (‘masterpieces’), which function both
as linchpins in art historical narrative, and
as a standard of quality by which other           CONVENTION
works are judged. There is no one register        Modernist art’s stripping away traditional
of canonical works, but together the register     rules, protocols, methods and techniques
emerges from the mainstream historical            divested art of the authority of the academy,
surveys, catalogues of great exhibitions, and     and this entailed a certain deskilling.
‘political’ machinations of powerful scholars:    However, for many modernists this was
it is political in as much as it exercises a      not a destructive exercise, but a radical
power of legitimization, marginalizing certain    advancement of the historical conventions of
categories, classes of works or most typically    painting or sculpture in a way that maintained
female or non-Western artists, and has often      their relevance vis-à-vis contemporary
involved questionable claims for the universal    society. For Cavell and Fried there is no
validity of its own aesthetic values.             essential characteristic to a ‘painting’ or
                                                  ‘sculpture’; rather the concepts of painting
                                                  and sculpture are constituted by convention
CAPITALISM                                        (those specific practices and techniques that
An economic system based on private               make up the practice of painting or sculpture
property and driven by profit. It is a system      at any given historical moment).
of wage-labour and commodity production
for sale, exchange and profit, rather than for
the needs of the producers or society as a        CRITERIA
collectivity. Its fundamental motive is profit,    Criteria determine what it is for something
and it adheres to economic concepts like          to count as an instance of a given kind
GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS                                                                          194


– what it is for something to fall under a         philosophy’ which aims at self-reflexivity
given concept, and so constitute one of its        – not only must we think, but we must also
instances. The notion of criteria is deployed      know the conditions or criteria by which we
in Cavell’s work, as it developed in dialogue      think. In our own time, the term critical often
with Wittgenstein, as an outgrowth of the          refers to all levels of conceptual thinking,
Kantian project of ‘transcendental’ philosophy     and has been given a sociological application
in its various forms: defining ‘conditions’ for     by ‘critical theory’: to what degree do our
the possibility of something. Criteria are the     concepts, their application and meaning,
conceptual conditions under which we think         relate to power and interests embedded in
any given thing. A criterial investigation seeks   our social context?
to understand what governs the application
of concepts, and to assess their intelligibility
(what can and cannot be said about their           CULTURE INDUSTRY
object).                                           Coined by Adorno and Horkheimer in The
                                                   Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944), culture
                                                   industry signifies the integration of
CRITICAL THEORY                                    ‘culture’ and ‘industry’ (i.e. the integration
Philosophically, a rejection of a value-free       of economic-instrumental rationality and
knowledge (positivism and rationalism)             creative-social activity). Culture does not
and an assertion that knowledge is socially        emerge from the free creative expression
constructed. Originally associated with the        of social agents, but is constructed in
Frankfurt School, it runs back to Kant’s           commodity form by an alliance of the state
critical philosophy, through Marx and up to        and private corporations. It signals the
Nietzsche and Freud, all of whom exercised         complete rationalization of the emancipatory
a ‘hermeneutics of suspicion’: all claims          powers of creativity, where creativity is
to rational thought and truth are taken to         converted into standardized mass-produced
mask operations of power and interest.             products and reduced to basic formulaic
Contemporary critical theory investigates          patterns of taste. This commercialized
how the meaning and authority of one’s             culture engenders intellectual passivity and
communication is an expression of who one is       docility, which themselves are the conditions
(class status; gender) and where one stands        needed for authoritarian politics to reign (cf.
(institutional context; geographic location).      kitsch).
More recent postmodern critical theory has
largely jettisoned the Marxist heritage and
emphasized gender, race and subcultures            DEATH DRIVE
rather than class structures.                      A term that originates with Sigmund Freud,
                                                   the founder of psychoanalysis, the death drive
                                                   (or ‘thanatos’) signifies the darkest instinctive
CRITIQUE/CRITICAL                                  force at the root of human behaviour. It
‘Critical’ means an examination of the             denotes an unconscious, pathological, desire
function of concepts (how we use words), the       for a bodily return to the state of quiescence
legitimacy of the claims we make (the criteria     which preceded birth (a pre-organic,
we use; the values we appeal to), and the          primordial chaos). As such it is opposed to
grounds of our knowledge (our concept of           ‘eros’, the instinct for self-preservation or
truth). Kant’s philosophy, where even reason       life, and appears largely in his later writings
itself (the way we think) must be subject          like Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920). As a
to criticism, initiated a project of ‘critical     theory the ‘death drive’ seeks to explain why,
195                                                                   GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS


contradicting our natural drive for pleasure,     DISCOURSE
there is a compulsive urge to revisit traumatic   Discourse for Foucault includes the assembly
events. This is explained in terms of a desire    of categorizations, ideas, typologies and
to return to the state of homeostasis, calm or    concepts through which communication
non-existence.                                    takes place, and these are produced,
                                                  reproduced and continually change in
                                                  various contexts. Foucault’s ‘archaeology’
DECONSTRUCTION                                    seeks to investigate the matrices of power
Initiated by Jacques Derrida, who denied it
                                                  through which ‘discursive formations’ are
was a method, or critique or analysis. It was
                                                  constructed, and how these formations are
not an operation performed ‘on’ a text, but
                                                  institutionalized as ‘knowledge’. Knowledge
was a means of allowing the text itself to
                                                  acquisition is neither transparent and
reveal its own ‘otherness’ and self-undoing.
                                                  uniform, nor linear and progressive, but full
This otherness is what the text is apart from
                                                  of ruptures and subjugations and constructed
our deeply rooted predisposition to read it
                                                  through regimes and networks of power. All
as a cipher for the thoughts and imagination
                                                  knowledge and social activity is structured
of a single author. We impose this way of
                                                  according to such discursive fields.
reading on the text. Deconstruction asserts
that our belief in the author’s ‘presence’
in the text is metaphysical, and that this        DISENCHANTMENT
‘metaphysics of presence’ predisposes us          Probably derived from Friedrich Schiller’s
to understand the text as a unified, coherent      ‘de-divinization’ of the world, sociologist
and rational statement. Deconstruction,           Max Weber updated it as a theory of
however, reveals internal conflicts in the text    modernity. Modernity was the dissolution of
and shows the univocal voice to be an ideal       traditional values, experiences, customs and
construction.                                     protocols in the work of social rationalization
                                                  (secularization, industrialization,
                                                  commercialization and professionalization)
DIALECTIC                                         according to the mathematical logic of utility
In Hegelian-Marxist terms dialectic took          and efficiency. Unlike the radical appeal to
the form of thesis (proposition), anti-           human freedom intrinsic to Enlightenment
thesis (counter-proposition) and synthesis        thinking, modern instrumental rationality
(resolution). This also became a useful           is destructive of all non-rational models
way to describe the process of history (or        of activity (such as aesthetic experience).
social change) itself, where internal social      ‘Overcoming disenchantment’ has been a
contradictions will finally be resolved in a       recurring theme in critical philosophy since
greater synthesis (for Marx the communist         the romantics.
society). Adorno attempted to salvage
the dialectic after orthodox Marxism: his
‘negative dialectic’ was a relentless critical    EMBODIMENT
opposition refusing any final synthesis – the      In understanding human beings, how they
very notion of synthesis means an expulsion       think and act and experience the world, it is
of that which cannot be assimilated into a        important to understand the interrelationship
coherent whole, and thus the expulsion of the     of body and mind. Ideas of embodiment
possibility of movement, change, difference,      emerged as part of a critique of so-called
dissent and opposition, for Adorno crucial to     ‘Cartesian dualism’ – an understanding of
radical thought.                                  the human subject in terms of a distinct
GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS                                                                          196


mind–body separation. For Descartes the          some universal ethical code, but in a state
mind is immaterial, a realm of thought,          of ‘authenticity’ or truth to oneself, to act on
whereas the body is material, a realm of         one’s self-determined free will (as opposed
natural cause and effect, devoid of cognitive    to ‘bad faith’, or living according to imposed
function. Merleau-Ponty, however, (following     or received norms).
Heidegger) tried to show how our experience,
ideas and understanding of the world take
place in and through our physical acting,
                                                 FORMALISM
interaction and location in the world. Our
                                                 Formalism generally asserts that art’s
bodies are not merely brute biological or
                                                 primary meaning and value is invested in its
material entities, and ‘meaning’ in the world
                                                 ‘form’ as opposed to its ‘content’ (whatever
is not derived wholly from mental stimuli;
                                                 representational, ethical, social or ideological
body and mind are entwined as we are
                                                 values or meanings it may have). How
embedded in the world around us.
                                                 ‘form’ is defined is the crucial issue. For
                                                 Greenberg and Fried, form was not just style,
                                                 technique, composition or pictorial structure,
EPISTEMOLOGY                                     but the way the artwork articulated and
A philosophical examination of the grounds,
                                                 transformed the conventions of its medium.
limits and criteria of knowledge and
                                                 These ‘conventions’ were not identifiable
knowledge claims; it also concerns the
                                                 as properties of an object, or triggers for
cognitive processes by which we acquire
                                                 sensory responses to certain combinations
knowledge (and it can overlap with certain
                                                 of colour and shape; they were visual
kinds of psychology). Recently, ‘anti-
                                                 articulations of the identity of a historical
foundationalism’ has attacked the possibility
                                                 tradition under conditions of contemporary
of any general epistemological principles
                                                 sensibility.
that apply universally. ‘Social epistemology’
investigates the way knowledge and
our acquisition of it is always socially
constructed, through task-driven and             GAZE
institutionalized forms of discourse. Feminist   The gaze for Lacan suggests that objects
epistemology has asserted that gender            determine how we see them, as if they were
determines the acquisition and shape of a        returning our look: in other words what
subject’s knowledge of the world.                and how we see is not a function of our
                                                 voluntaristic will, but of how objects structure
                                                 our gaze – vision is socialized and constituted
EXISTENTIALISM                                   through regimes of power beyond our
A broad movement popularized by Sartre (see      volition. Latterly, ‘the gaze’ has been used
his ‘Letter on Existentialism and Humanism’      to understand how representation directs
of 1947). It attempted to create a philosophy    our interpretation. The ‘male gaze’ is where,
of life, in which the reality of death, the      for example, a female nude ‘situates’ the
value of life, interpersonal relationships,      viewer in a masculine position of viewing (the
consciousness and moral decisions are the        viewing process is structured by male desire).
subject of an individual’s self-exploration.     The ‘objectification’ of women (as object of
Human subjectivity itself is defined in terms     the gaze) is for the purposes of taking (visual)
of irreducible individuality and freedom.        possession, and thus a vehicle of social
The objective was not to find and to live by      control and sexual exploitation.
197                                                                  GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS



GENEALOGY                                        GRAMMATICAL INVESTIGATION
Foucault used this term to denote a form         For Wittgenstein, a way of clearing away
of historical method or analysis following       misunderstandings, vague generalizations,
his earlier ‘archaeological’ method. How         the misuse of words, and what can properly
do ideas or theories emerge and become           be said or not said (particularly with regard to
structural features of our lives, culture or     crucial terms like ‘certainty’ or ‘objectivity’).
society? Nietzsche’s ‘Geneology of Morals’       This investigation is not simply about
(1887) asserted that moral categories such       grammar in the sense of a correct ordering
as good and bad do not emerge from actual        of syntax, but the ordering of language itself
‘essentially’ good and bad actions, but from     (in relation to our actions and intentions).
social and historical processes. Similarly for   There are no fixed ‘regulations’ in language,
Foucault, the terms ‘good and bad’ were not      but there are conventions of intelligibility
timeless and rooted in universal valid moral     and expression firmly embedded in the life
norms, but contingent, subject to arbitrary      of the speaker – in ordinary language. A
and accidental development, the historical       grammatical investigation assesses and
origins of which are often concealed or          evaluates the utterances in the context of
erased. Genealogy uncovers the development       these conventions. Updated in Cavell’s idea of
of our knowledge and its ruling concepts,        ‘recounting criteria’.
where knowledge is always power.

                                                 HERMENEUTIC
                                                 Used as a synonym for ‘interpretation’, it is
GENIUS                                           a philosophical tradition (recently, Gadamer
More than just brilliant human intelligence,     and Ricoeur) where texts are read not just as
the genius maintained an innate ability to       authorial statements, but as embodiments
perceive and express truth, usually through      and expressions of a cultural, historical and
developing a unique artistic language. Kant’s    literary ‘world’. They emerge from this world,
conception was most influential and involved      and are themselves acts of interpretation
originality (exemplary works of art and          and expressions of it. We must not, therefore,
technical mastery) and inimitability (genius     impose an alien interpretative schema onto
is unique and cannot be taught). The term        a text in search of meaning, but allow its
has ancient origins and yet endured, along       own interpretative structures and contents
with its spiritual connotations, through the     to unfold, as it reveals its emergence from
modern era. It is now commonly disparaged        collective practices of meaning construction,
as embodying an elitist, male-dominant           law and tradition. This in turn allows us to
system of canonization, perpetuating a           philosophically contemplate the nature of
modern version of the ‘old master’ patriarchy    meaning and truth as they have historically
of art history. However, Merleau-Ponty,          emerged.
Lyotard and Bernstein have shown that
Kant’s original concept involved a radical
vision of human subjectivity, mobilizing         HISTORICISM/POST-HISTORICAL
thought outside of mainstream regimes of         Historicism includes various methods
reason. Criticism of genius usually conflates     of interpreting historical artefacts, and
empirical or sociological questions about the    sometimes identifies the structure of
use of the term with conceptual questions        historical development itself. It generally
about its meaning for philosophers such as       denies that meanings and values can be
Kant.                                            understood independently of their specific
GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS                                                                          198


context in times and places of history,           IDEOLOGY
arguing that the meaning of objects cannot be     For Marxism, ideology ranges from illusory
understood apart from the cultural and social     beliefs or ‘false consciousness’ (Marx,
economy, and matrices of practices in which       Lukács) to a regulating framework of ideas,
they were formed. ‘Post-historical’ signifies      which does not necessarily demand individual
the belief that today we no longer find grand      assent (Althusser, Gramsci). Apart from
narratives of historical development credible.    Marxism the term is still used to identify
                                                  beliefs (like the idea of the ‘free market’) that
                                                  both legitimize power (e.g. of corporations),
HUMANIST/ANTI-HUMANIST/                           and command assent (by suggesting that
POST-HUMANIST                                     a given state of affairs is desirable, or just
A conviction in intrinsic human powers and        inevitable). The ‘end of ideology’ thesis
moral integrity: it has both religious and        concerns the historical collapse of socialism
secular forms. Secular humanism holds that        and communism as credible and competing
humanity (as opposed to a divinity) holds the     ideological alternatives to capitalism.
key to its own redemption; that the truth of
human life resides within human reason (not
in the supernatural or some realm above           IMAGINARY
humanity); and that human life progresses         For Jacques Lacan, the imaginary is a state of
with the increasing implementation of             necessary illusion or misrecognition. Lacan
rational solutions. Anti- and post-humanists      theorized the psyche as a tripartite structure
deny that there is any essential meaning          of ‘real’, ‘imaginary’ and ‘symbolic’. The
to the term ‘human’ other than what we            real is an unspeakable, unconceptualizable
construct in historical, social, ethical and      ground or force within the psyche, always
political contexts; there is no linear progress   present, but always mediated by the
to human history, and reason is deceptive.        imaginary and the symbolic. The imaginary
                                                  is a state through which the young infant
                                                  passes whereby an illusory, integrated,
IDENTITY POLITICS                                 conception of the self is created; the symbolic
Identity in this sense is socially constructed    is the realm of rationality, conceptualization
and expressive of particular self-                and language. Lacan’s primary instance
understandings in relation to specific social      of imaginary misrecognition is that of the
contexts. Since the 1960s, feminist, gay and      ‘mirror-stage’ in which infants encounter an
lesbian, or various ethnic or subcultural         integrated image of themselves, but from
minorities have formed allegiances in             outside themselves; this apprehension of self
search of social recognition and political        creates an imaginary identification with the
representation in the cause of their neglected    mirror image, and this becomes the basis of
rights and aspirations. Arguably a product        the cognitive distinction of self and other.
of the 1960s counterculture, identity politics
flourished with the waning of anti-authorial
postmodernism, and new interest in                INSTITUTIONAL CRITIQUE
multiculturalism and post-colonial theory in      Often taking the form of installation art,
the 1990s. Identity politics also signifies the    conceptual art or direct political activism,
way marginalized groups have articulated          institutional critique took as its subject
specific cultural means of expression,             the process of its own production, display,
politicizing culture as a vehicle for legal       systems of distribution and circulation,
recognition.                                      commodification and sale. Emerging in late
199                                                                     GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS


1960s and early 1970s (with artists such as         of visual culture in their specific context of
Buren, Broodthaers and Haacke) institutional        signification.
critique interrogated the institutions of
art, often by intervening in its conventions
of viewing and display. It responded to the         KITSCH
rise of institutional power of the museum,          ‘Kitsch’ (from the German) entered modernist
markets and dealers, and, subsequently,             art criticism through Greenberg’s 1939
the professionalization of the curator. Its         essay ‘Avant-garde and Kitsch’. Greenberg
subjects were the institutionalized process of      saw kitsch, much as Adorno saw culture
spectatorship, the hierarchical and gendered        industry, as a threat to genuine art in an
nature of the art system, and the relation          age of industrialization. Kitsch, including
between museums and commerce.                       magazines, popular music, movies and
                                                    the like, raided authentic art for whatever
                                                    effects and tropes it could represent in
INSTRUMENTALISM                                     an ‘easier’ predigested form for mass or
This is the notion that beliefs, values,            popular consumption. The need for kitsch
actions are valuable only to the extent to          was a product of mass literacy, urbanization
which they achieve preconceived, separately         and ‘leisure time’. The opposition was
specifiable and measurable ends; and                 symptomatic of cultural crisis, and
concepts and theories are only valuable             engendered two modes of human cognition
to the extent that they can be proved to be         – the former reflective and critical, the latter
true or false. Logic, empirical accounting          determined by standardized and formulaic
and statistical calculation rank highly in the      responses. Avant-garde art challenged
instrumentalist’s means of assessing value          received norms and extended individual
(usually in terms of ‘objectivity’ or efficiency).   powers of perception; kitsch operated
For critical theory, the entire development         on established patterns of consumption,
of Western modernity is inherently                  inducing intellectual docility (and a
instrumentalist, eroding all value (aesthetic,      sublimated fear of individuality and difficulty).
ethical, etc.) outside its imposed norms.

                                                    LEGITIMIZATION
JUDGMENT                                            After Weber, an idea or activity gains
Judgment in aesthetics encompasses                  legitimacy by way of tradition, or the
categorical or descriptive statements such          endorsement of a charismatic individual, or
as ‘this is a work of art’ and evaluative           adoption by an institution (protection under
statements such as ‘this is beautiful’ that         the law could be included here). The term
assess the quality and value of a work of           is related to ‘institutionalization’ whereby
art. Given its classic modern form by Kant,         certain heterodox practices gain acceptance
aesthetic judgment denotes the unique way           and become orthodoxy, doing so through
in which nature and art are judged in the           an identifiable process of introduction,
absence of conceptual determination, for the        reaction, tolerance, acceptance, adoption and
feeling they arouse in a viewer. Kant analyzed      absorption into the functional dimensions
the logic of such judgments, but his central        of social or organizational life. However,
claims (concerning the autonomy and the             even heterodox practices can be tolerated
‘disinterested’ contemplation that beauty in        as part of a legitimation process (e.g. the
nature and art demand) have been largely            political radical avant-garde art celebrated
abandoned in favour of assessing all forms          by otherwise conservative art museums).
GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS                                                                          200


Baudrillard pointed out that such practices        MEDIATION
can be used as an ‘inoculation’ against            The concept of mediation is an
further radicalization.                            epistemological principle, arguably
                                                   traceable to Kant on the categorical
                                                   conditions of knowledge, that holds that
LIBIDINAL                                          there is no direct cognitive apprehension
The libido is a primary psychic force
                                                   of the world: we ‘know’ or understand the
associated with sexuality. As a biological
                                                   world by using an apparatus of concepts or
drive, it has to be directed in some way (and
                                                   representations. Meaning is not simply ‘given’
it is directed in different ways for the various
                                                   but actively produced. Later philosophers
stages of the psychosexual development of
                                                   in the phenomenological tradition tried to
the subject). Libidinal objects are invested
                                                   circumvent such ‘representationalism’ by
with heightened attention and interest (what
                                                   emphasizing the ‘task-driven’, or engaged,
Freud termed ‘cathexis’). Freud regarded all
                                                   nature of cognition, as it emerges from our
mental energy as libidinal at root, though
                                                   intersubjective interaction with the world into
his conception of libido reached far beyond
                                                   which we are already thrown. ‘Mediation’ in
limited sexual desire for another person. It
                                                   communication, media or cultural studies
was used in terms of ‘libidinal impulses’ or
                                                   emphasizes how all our understanding
‘libidinal gratification’, and introduced by
                                                   and communication is already embedded
Freud in his book Three Essays on the Theory
                                                   in semiotic and symbolic systems, cultural
of Sexuality (1905). As a quasi-physics of the
                                                   beliefs and hierarchies of values; and that
body, libido theory remained contentious, but
                                                   all communication is channelled through
has been taken up and reworked in various
                                                   organizational apparatuses.
ways by later theorists such as Lyotard and
Deleuze.


LOGOCENTRISM
The logos signified ‘the word’, or originary        MEDIUM
intelligence, by which the universe is             Medium is often distinguished from
structured. ‘Logocentrism’, as used by             material or matter. The artist’s materials
Derrida, is a continuing need for this             (oil paint, canvas, brush) were not unique in
originary truth and universal structure, with      themselves, only their use, according to the
its appeal to a ‘transcendental signifier’ by       conventions of painting or sculpture as they
nature unrepresentable (whether God, the           were configured at a particular historical
Idea, the Self, Reason, etc). In this vertical     moment. The artist’s medium developed as
universe, hierarchy is the norm, and all key       a complex of evolving materials, technical
terms are organized by this logic, with one        practice and institutional protocol. The
privileged over the other (the immediacy,          concept of a distinct or ‘specific’ medium
self-presence and transparency of speech,          has been attacked from a number of
for example, over the distance, detachment         perspectives: as a legacy of academic
and equivocation of writing). Derrida’s            practice, regulation and protocol; as the
deconstruction reveals that logocentrism           remnant of an outmoded aesthetic theory
is metaphysics that conceals the way such          of artistic autonomy; and in light of the rise
oppositions are interdependent, and in a           of new digital technologies ‘multimedia’
constant play of difference.                       facilities for visual communication.
201                                                                   GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS



MEDIUM-SPECIFICITY                                interrogated itself in an attempt to secure its
Current reference to the term tends to be in      autonomy and unique mode of address. More
the context of modernist theory, particularly     broadly, when taken as a historical term, it
that of Clement Greenberg. For Greenberg          also encompasses the numerous ‘isms’ and
what made a work modernist as opposed to          rapid turnover of individual styles, non-
merely modern was that it sought out the          conventional media and techniques, political
‘unique and irreducible’ (i.e necessary and       engagement and transgression of social
sufficient) properties of its medium, and          protocols that characterized the historical
did so in an attempt to establish what the        avant-garde, particularly in the first half of
minimal conditions were for something to          the twentieth century.
count as a painting, sculpture, etc. On this
view, a work counts as painting, say, in virtue
                                                  MYTH/MYTHOLOGIZATION
of having a set of specifiable properties that
                                                  Used in anthropology, psychoanalysis
all paintings have, and that only paintings
                                                  and in cultural analysis to describe the
have, thereby distinguishing all paintings
                                                  operation and circulation of beliefs, values
from all works of other kinds.
                                                  and communication in society. For Barthes,
                                                  mythologization is the construction of beliefs
                                                  that operate as self-evident or collectively
METAPHYSICS
                                                  endorsed truths; these myths can be simple
Meta-physics literally means the realm
                                                  explanations why the family is structured like
‘above’ physics. As such it signifies the
                                                  it is, what values a nation-state stands for, or
branch of philosophy that considers the
                                                  how boys and girls typically behave. However,
broadest questions on the nature of reality
                                                  the term is used in distinction to ancient
and existence, and which attempts to
                                                  myth, in that it is ideological, masking real
speculate rationally on what lies beyond the
                                                  social relations, presenting coherency where
physical realm we experience (historically
                                                  there is in fact conflict.
related to theology). In modern times,
metaphysics has become as problematic
as religion, hence the recent idea, linked to     NEGATION
philosophers such as Habermas, of ‘post-          Derived from logic, negation is the operation
metaphysical’ thinking. Modern criticisms of      of changing the way a received truth
metaphysics go back at least as far as Kant’s     is understood by revealing its internal
critique of ‘transcendent metaphysics’ in         connection to its opposite. Used in critical
which human reason strains to go beyond the       theory to describe the way in which critical
bounds of what can be known. Metaphysics          interpretation can reveal positive knowledge
has been attacked by much twentieth-              about society, without replicating the patterns
century analytic philosophy in particular for     of meaning or ideology of that society (and
attempting to legitimize the inscrutable and      thus acting in an ‘affirmative’ way that
invisible as an object of rational analysis.      effectively works, shores up or ‘legitimates’
                                                  that society). ‘Negative’ signals the way that
                                                  criticism does not simply reproduce the
MODERNIST/MODERNISM                               object of critique.
Generally taken as the period c. 1860–1960, it
is understood in a narrow and a broad sense.
Understood narrowly, by modernists such as        NEO-AVANT-GARDE
Greenberg, it signified a self-critical approach   Popularized largely by Peter Bürger’s Theory
to the medium, whereby each art form              of the Avant Garde (1984), the term identified
GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS                                                                         202


the radical art movements of the 1960s who        psychoanalytical practice (i.e. the relationship
both revised and extended the strategies of       between analyst and analysand) there
the historical avant-garde (the use of new        developed in the theories of others like Klein
technologies like film and photography;            a central emphasis on the relation between
the subversion of pictorial convention with       the ‘ego’ or subject and ‘objects’ (a person
montage and assemblage; the use of mass-          or some other thing that is perceived to be
cultural imagery and so on). The relation         the vehicle by which the satisfaction of an
between the first and second, or historical        instinctual desire is to be obtained). It pushed
and ‘neo’, avant-garde is still a matter of       psychoanalysis further into the empirical
debate. Positions range from the charge of        world.
impotence and empty repetition (Bürger)
to a redefined resistance to the cultural
industry’s domination of all spaces of cultural   OEDIPAL
representation and activity (Buchloh, Foster)     The ‘Oedipus complex’ (or conflict) was one
that retrospectively confers on the historical    of Freud’s central theories of psychosexual
avant-garde its generative force.                 development, tracing the origin of certain
                                                  neuroses back to childhood experience
                                                  within the family. Using the Greek myth of
OBJECTHOOD                                        Oedipus, who inadvertently kills his father
Michael Fried coined this term as a way of        and marries his mother, Freud unfolds a
characterizing what he thought aesthetically      scenario in which the male child develops a
meretricious and ethically pernicious             rivalry towards the father for the exclusive
about minimalist art. Fried argued that           love of the mother (discharging sexual energy
minimalism confused the characteristic            and encountering prohibition). A fear of
stress of modernist works on their own            ‘castration’ (the consequences of the father’s
materiality for ‘objecthood’ per se. Unlike       prohibition), Oedipal rivalry is resolved
genuine art, minimalism consisted of little       through identification with the father. This
more than art’s phenomenal substrate: there       theory, though immensely influential, has
was neither an expressive nor conventional        been widely criticized for making the male
dimension by virtue of which it distinguished     child’s psychic development the model for the
itself from an everyday world of things. The      development of subjectivity in general.
results, for Fried, were not properly thought
of as art at all, and by being proposed as
such, contributed to the further levelling of     ONTOLOGY
emphatic experience, the ethical equivalent       If epistemology investigates how we know
of confusing persons with mere bodies.            what there is, ontology investigates what
                                                  there is. Historically, it is a branch of
                                                  philosophy that investigates the nature
OBJECT RELATIONS                                  of existence as a whole (or ‘being’), what
A strand of psychoanalytic theory, particularly   kind of entities exist, their fundamental
important in the development of the British       relationships to one another and their modes
psychoanalytic tradition. Klein is arguably a     of existence. The ontology of art as a formal
part of this school of thought, a school that     field of enquiry only properly emerged in the
attempted to avoid either a biology-based or      twentieth century, and considers what kind
purely psychology-based understanding of          of entities artworks are and their modes of
psychic development. Through the increasing       existence. Basic ontological questions in the
importance of ‘transference’ in Freud’s           philosophy of art include how to correctly
203                                                                  GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS


specify the relation between unique and           PHALLUS
multiple arts, whether artworks are mental        The phallus, while literally related to the
or physical, real or ideal objects, and whether   male sexual organ, has a much broader
all and only works of art share any minimal       symbolic function in psychoanalytic theory
set of features or properties in common.          since Lacan. Here it functions as the
                                                  ‘privileged signifier’ or that around which
                                                  differences and relative values are structured
OPTICALITY                                        and assigned. As such it signifies power
Opticality was a term used by Greenberg
                                                  and authority within a symbolic system.
to describe what he saw as modernist
                                                  ‘Phallocentrism’ since Lacan has come
sculpture’s tendency to render matter
                                                  to signify, in broad terms, the primacy of
incorporeal and weightless. It entered
                                                  the male gender in determining ‘human’
widespread critical discourse when Rosalind
                                                  psychosexual development. For Lacan,
Krauss used it to show what was wrong with
                                                  however, ‘the phallus’ signifies something
modernist conceptions of sculpture. For
                                                  more abstract; a privileged position at the
Krauss, Greenberg’s stress on the ‘sheerly
                                                  heart of the symbolic order.
visible’, that is the belief that works of art
may be understood solely in terms of the
sense through which we intuit them, was           PHANTASY/PHANTASMATIC
a form of aesthetic ‘idealism’ because it         In Freudian psychoanalysis, ‘fantasy’ was
glossed over our embodied relation to works       a substitute form of satisfaction, where
of art in space and time. Philosophically, it     instinctual desires that had failed to find
would be more accurate to see this as a form      satisfaction in reality could find illusory
of aesthetic empiricism, however, because         gratification. For Klein, however, ‘phantasy’
it posits the senses as the bedrock of            works alongside reality, and despite being
experience and knowledge of the world.            a mental phenomenon of somatic instincts
                                                  and desires that are unfulfilled can act as
                                                  developmental mechanisms and a defence
PERSPECTIVALISM                                   against instinctual impulses. As they
Perspectivalism is a view on cognition or         are effectively mental representations of
knowledge (associated with Nietzsche) that        biological drives, phantasies are common to
denies the existence of emphatic objectivity,     the subject from birth and are instrumental in
truth or universal validity. It holds that        different ways throughout life. Its significance
claims to universal truth or objectivity          is that it acts as a means for relating to and
mask their status as ‘perspectives’, or that      interpreting objects outside the self.
they are meaning systems constructed
within particular paradigms or according
to particular interests or regimes of power.      PHENOMENOLOGY
Perspectivalism, understood in Nietzsche’s        A philosophical school of thought that
sense, is opposed to the universalizing           opposes all forms of philosophy and science
claims of Western rationality and associated      that advocate a radical division between
with Enlightenment thinkers in particular.        subject and object (from rationalism and
Perspectivalism is common to various more         Cartesian dualism, to scientific naturalism
or less ‘deflationary’ schools of thought,         and positivism). It understands reality
including historicism, relativism, scepticism,    in terms of the structure of experience
pragmatism, post-structuralism and                (or consciousness), which is rooted in a
postmodernism.                                    life, context-bound place and a unified
GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS                                                                           204


experience of an ‘embodied’ subject (who           of philosophical foundations or one mode of
experiences no radical division of mind and        interpretation; the abandonment of ‘master
body). All consciousness for phenomenology         narratives’; and a refusal of an emphatic
is consciousness of, there is no bare              conception of truth.
consciousness, nor is there a world prior to
its being a world for me. Hence the embodied
subject is constituted through a primordial        PRAXIS
connection to the world. Like critical theory      A Marxist term now used widely. Praxis is
in this respect, phenomenology holds that          the unity of theory and practice: it could
scientific modernity has repressed our              mean the way that conceptual activity can be
primordial interconnection with the world and      manifest in political action (political activism
each other, creating chronic alienation.           as political critique in action) or it could
                                                   mean that action itself is a form of reflection,
                                                   and that a theoretically informed action
POLITICIZATION                                     would itself be a reflection on the adequacy
The term can mean both an investment of an         and effectiveness of the theory. In both
activity with political motives or viewpoints      cases theory and practice were dialectically
(like ‘radicalization’) or an act of critique      poised; the point was not, as Marx said, to
that reveals the structures of power within        understand the world, but to change it.
supposedly non-political phenomena (e.g.
the operations of patriarchy, gender and
sexual politics within the institution of          PROJECTION
painting the female nude). The ‘political’ is      Used by Freud and Klein, projection has
defined in broad terms as the exercise of           both a technical psychoanalytic sense and
power, which is intrinsic to all human activity.   an everyday folk psychological sense, and
Thus it is possible to reconceptualize all         the two are related. We say of someone
areas of everyday life in terms of immanent        who accuses us of some emotion (say
operations of power.                               anger) for no apparent reason that they
                                                   are ‘projecting’ their own anger upon us.
                                                   In psychoanalytic theory projection (or
POSTMODERNISM                                      ‘projective identification’) occurs when
Revision, extension, critique or interrogation     a subject imagines his or her emotions,
of modernism or modernity. In art most             fears, anxieties, desires to be the product
commonly an inversion of modernism: if             or characteristic of some agent outside
modernism was abstraction, a return to             themselves. This often happens when,
figuration or narrative was postmodern;             for whatever reason, they are unable to
if modernism held to specific media,                acknowledge their own desires and emotions
multimedia and mixed-media were                    as their own.
postmodern; if modernism was stylistic
development and technical innovation, then
pastiche, quotation and appropriation were         RATIONALIZATION
postmodern; if modernism was the autonomy          Rationalization literally means reorganization
of art, the use of art as a form of social or      according to systematic ideas and operation
political discourse was postmodern, and so         of human reason – which in modernity is
on. ‘Postmodernism’ used as a historical           manifest as instrumental and ‘formal logic’
periodization is defined in broad terms as          or a mathematical calculus that expunges
an ironic view of history; an abandonment of       acknowledgement of anything that cannot
any faith in the progress in history; a denial     be quantified or identified under general
205                                                                     GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS


categories of utility. For Weber modern             SEMIOTICS
society was created out of a separation             Emerging from structuralism, semiotics
of science, morality and art; this creates          (or semiosis) extends its principles from
advanced specialization but at the cost of          language to social activity and cultural
a fragmentation of human consciousness,             communication. We do not live among single
preventing coherent cultural development.           objects and activities that have transparent,
                                                    universal or essential meanings; our lives
REPRESENTATION                                      are ordered by codes and systems of signs
A representation stands (in) ‘for’ something,       which function like a text (or a language).
and therefore can conceal its referent as           Clothes, behaviour, objects, activities all
well as reveal it. Distinct from ‘depiction’,       ‘signify’ meaning and can be ‘interpreted’
the term indicates that identities are              like a text; meaning is always constructed
‘constructed’ and can take many forms: a            within signifying systems and the powers
representation reconstructs the identity of         of signification operate within systems of
something rather than simply reflecting or           symbolic representation (social organization).
expressing that identity. Representation is         Barthes identified different orders of
a social process and has many determining           signification.
factors, and actively attempts to structure the
process of its own reception or interpretation
(as in the case of the ‘male gaze’). The
                                                    SIMULACRUM
                                                    In Simulacra and Simulations (1981),
word has important political connotations
                                                    Baudrillard uses the term ‘simulacrum’
as representation places one in relation
                                                    (plural: simulacra), from the Latin simulare,
to the social sphere, hence the ‘politics of
                                                    ‘to make like, to put on an appearance of’,
representation’.
                                                    registering the proliferation of images in
                                                    advanced capitalist society. According to
SCHIZOID; PARANOID-SCHIZOID                         Baudrillard’s historical thesis that reality is
‘Paranoid schizoid’ is a technical term,            mediated by increasingly attenuated ‘orders
deriving from Melanie Klein, that denotes           of simulacra’, we have moved from a society
a stage of psychic development that is said         that uses representations (of something
to characterize the pre-linguistic infant           real) to a society that lives within a vast
during the first six months of life. It is           topography or image-world: simulations no
‘paranoid’ because it suffers continual fear of     longer have no reference to reality, but have
persecution from those ‘objects’ it attacks in      evolved into a hyperreal system of their own.
phantasy; it is schizoid because the objects        Genuine theory or political praxis are all but
it fears are a product of its own ‘projective       impossible, as we have lost essential co-
splitting’ of complex objects (first and             ordinates informing us of ‘the real’.
foremost the mother, or parts thereof, hence
the use of the term ‘part-object’ to denote
the infant’s relation to the breast) into ideally   SPECTACLE
good and bad objects, the former of which           In The Society of the Spectacle (1967) Guy
is loved and desired, the latter of which is        Debord proclaimed that ‘real life’ had been
feared and detested. Like all Kleinian psychic      recast as its own image through the ubiquity
structures these are not ‘stages’ so much as        of media and consumer imagery. This society
‘states’ that can be reactivated under duress       is a world created for the consumer, not by
or recur later in adult life as personality         them; people do not have their own life or
disorders (e.g. schizophrenia).                     their own experiences, but live life through
GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS                                                                          206


the images and identities assigned them in         creative dimensions of language, its inherent
the world of commodities, from fashion to          instability and the potential of writing for
social stereotypes. A spectacle is something       cultural subversion.
visually engaging, but only apprehended
from a distance: people effectively become
spectators of their own lives.                     SUBJECTIVITY/
                                                   INTERSUBJECTIVITY
                                                   In the absence of a belief in the transcendent
SPLITTING                                          soul or spirit, modern philosophy has
Splitting is a psychoanalytic term for the         been centrally concerned with defining
ego’s tendency to split its ‘objects’ into good    the self or subjectivity: how are human
and bad, rather than acknowledge that it           beings constituted as self-conscious
either has conflicting emotions towards             thinking subjects, capable of intersubjective
one and the same person, or that one and           interaction? Anti-humanism and materialist
the same person (‘object’ in psychoanalytic        critical theory maintains that human
terminology) can exhibit conflicting                subjectivity is not essential or pre-existent
tendencies towards the subject. Unable             (like a soul or spirit) but constructed, and
to deal with such complexity it attributes         therefore contingent on its environment;
these characteristics to different objects. It     second, a conception of the human subject
is the earliest defence the child has against      is key in the operation of ideology. Art and
the torment of anxiety (the internal conflict       critical theory investigate the way art and
between the instincts) and its own aggressive      cultural forms are actively involved in the
tendencies.                                        construction of subjectivity and the way
                                                   representation perpetuates and legitimizes
                                                   certain models of subjectivity in the interests
STRUCTURALISM/POST-                                of certain groups.
STRUCTURALISM
Structuralism was a form of linguistics that
conceived of language as a self-regulating         SUBLIME
system of signs. Signs have no essential           Unlike Burke, Kant’s sublime was not an
meaning in themselves apart from their             emotional reaction to an overwhelming
relation to other signs (their meaning is          physical phenomenon (awe, wonder,
constituted by their difference from each          horror, fear, etc.). Rather, in virtue of the
other, thus language is a dynamic process          overwhelming large or overwhelmingly
of sign interactivity). A sign consists of both    powerful capacity to outstrip our finite
signifier and signified (word and concept)           powers of intuition, while nonetheless
each being transformed over time. A                not outstripping our powers of reason, it
structuralist analysis could be performed          is an experience of supremacy of human
on a synchronic or diachronic register: the        reason over both material and human
former would analyze a sign system as it           nature. Though as ‘finite rational beings’
stood and functioned at a given moment;            we cannot experience the infinitely large,
the latter as it changes historically. Post-       we can nonetheless entertain the idea
structuralism was a critique of structuralism,     of such expanses (the idea of infinity)
emphasizing the dynamism and ‘differential’        in thought. As the source of morality,
quality of signs, and extending its study to all   this supremacy of reason over sensory
forms of culture (cf. semiotics). It is anti-      experience points us in the direction of our
systematic and interested in the anarchic and      moral vocations. Sublimity for Kant was
207                                                                   GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS


primarily an experience of nature, not art,       TRANSCENDENCE
but later Lyotard and others made use of          A term with strong metaphysical or spiritual
Kant’s theory of the sublime to understand        connotations; it typically denotes an ability
avant-garde art as an attempt to ‘present         to rise above or step outside the conditions
the unrepresentable’ (later paradigmatic for      of experience (the opposite of immanence).
postmodernism).                                   It could be an attainment of a spiritual
                                                  realm of consciousness or experience, or
                                                  the positing of a realm or world that is not
SUPERSTRUCTURE                                    observable or is the source or provider of the
Marx and Engels held that society could be        underlying laws of something. Kant famously
understood in terms of two spheres: the base      distinguished, at the outset of his own critical
structure of economic systems (or material        project, between making claims about
production of goods), and the superstructure      what cannot be known (i.e. transcendent
of institutions, ideas and beliefs (including     metaphysics), which oversteps the bounds
art and morality). The superstructure itself      of sense and is therefore to be avoided, and
had two spheres: the mechanisms of social         seeking to deduce the necessary conditions
organization (including government or             of experience (i.e. a properly transcendental
the state), and the beliefs, ideas, religion,     philosophy).
philosophies and conceptions of life held
by people. Ideology results when the latter
is organized by the former (government or
                                                  TRANSFERENCE
                                                  In a psychoanalytic context transference is
state) for the purposes of naturalizing of
                                                  what takes place in the relation between
justifying the shape of the base structure.
                                                  analyst and patient or ‘analysand’, where
According to classic Marxist analysis the
                                                  the latter projects or acts out on the analyst
superstructure is essentially passive, in the
                                                  various unresolved impulses, wishes,
sense that it can reflect but not alter the
                                                  anxieties and frustrations. This is called
base; later critical theorists such as the
                                                  ‘transference’ because such forms of relating
Frankfurt School sought to give art a much
                                                  to others are taken to underlie the patient’s
more active role in relation to underlying
                                                  way of relating to all significant figures in
economic reality.
                                                  their experience, and to derive ultimately
                                                  from their earliest experience of interacting
                                                  with their parents. Such habitual patterns
TECHNOCRACY                                       are then ‘transferred’ onto the analyst. This
A new class of industrial mandarins or a          gives the analyst an insight into the patient’s
new framework of government and                   psychic life. Transference can be good or bad,
organization. All forms of government have        ‘positive’ or ‘negative’, depending on how the
historically been based on an ideology,           patient interacts with the analyst.
philosophy or religion, but technocracy is
based on the ‘objective’ principles of science.
All decisions on all matters of productivity      TRANSGRESSION
and the functional aspects of society are         The ‘transgressive’ could take the form of
made by ‘technocrats’ with specialized            denying established truth, offending social
knowledge based on empirical accounting           pieties, breaking convention or protocol,
procedures. Efficiency, economy and                or erasing instituted boundaries. Its most
functionality are their values and productivity   controversial form is taboo-breaking art, and
their objective.                                  as taboos largely concern birth, copulation,
GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS                                                                     208


bodily waste and death, the body is commonly    As a result the subject is overpowered by
used as an artistic medium, particularly in     the experience, which becomes a threat
performance and other forms of live art.        to integrity or mental stability. Historically
While some transgressive art was deeply         psychoanalytic interest in trauma gathered
politicized (such as feminist art) and so       moment with Freud’s observation of the
unavoidably appealed to codified ethical         effects of the Great War. Since Lacan, trauma
norms, taboo-breaking transgression             has typically been associated with an event
activates a deeper shared sense of horror       or irruption of the real, as that which cannot
or existential aversion that we instinctively   be mentally processed and so threatens to
avoid.                                          unseat the subject. This can be seen, for
                                                example, in Kristeva’s notion of abjection
                                                as that which threatens the integrity of the
                                                subject. More recently, art theorists such as
TRAUMA                                          Foster have used the concept in an attempt to
Psychological trauma is the experience          theorize the compulsive fascination of certain
of an event or occurrence that the subject      kinds of subject matter in art (e.g. Warhol’s
cannot integrate into his or her experience.    car crashes).
CONTRIBUTORS’
BIOGRAPHIES
Darren Ambrose is Lecturer in the                Claire Bishop is Leverhulme Research Fellow
Department of Philosophy, University of          in the Department of Curating Contemporary
Warwick. His publications include ‘30,           Art at the Royal College of Art, London.
000 B.C.: Painting Animality – Deleuze           She is a regular contributor to Artforum
& Prehistoric Painting’, Angelaki (2006),        magazine, and is the author of ‘Antagonism
‘Deleuze and Guattari and Creative               and Relational Aesthetics’, October (2004) and
Pedagogy’, Angelaki (2006); ‘Deleuze,            Installation Art: A Critical History (2005).
Philosophy and the Materiality of Painting’,
Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental       Martha Buskirk is Associate Professor of Art
Philosophy (2006).                               History and Criticism at Montserrat College
                                                 of Art, Beverly, Massachusetts. She is author
David Ayers is Senior Lecturer in English at     of The Contingent Object of Contemporary Art
the University of Kent. He works on literary     (2003) and co-editor with Mignon Nixon of
modernism and critical theory, and his           The Duchamp Effect (1996), and with Clara
publications include Wyndham Lewis and           Weyergraf-Serra of The Destruction of Tilted
Western Man (1992), English Literature of the    Arc: Documents (1990).
1920s (1999), Modernism: A Short Introduction
(2004) and a forthcoming book on literary        David Carrier is Champney Family Professor,
theory.                                          a post divided between Case Western
                                                 Reserve University and the Cleveland
Sara Beardsworth is Assistant Professor in       Institute of Art. A former philosopher who
the Department of Philosophy at Southern         writes art criticism, he has published books
Illinois University. She is author of Julia      on Poussin’s paintings, Baudelaire’s art
Kristeva: Psychoanalysis and Modernity           criticism, the abstract painter Sean Scully
(2004). Her research is in nineteenth- and       and the history of the art museum.
twentieth-century European philosophy, and
she has published articles on psychoanalysis,    Michael Corris is Head of Art and
feminism and Frankfurt School critical           Photography, at the University of Wales,
theory.                                          Newport. His writings on art have appeared
                                                 in Art Monthly, Artforum, Art History, art+text
Francesca Berry is Lecturer in History of        and Mute, and recent publications include
Art at the University of Birmingham and is       Conceptual Art: Theory, Myth and Practice
author of ‘Designing the Reader’s Interior:      (2004), David Diao (2005) and Ad Reinhardt
Subjectivity and the Woman’s Magazine in         (2006).
Early Twentieth-Century France’ in Journal
of Design History (2005). She is researching a   Diarmuid Costello lectures in aesthetics
book on sexual difference and the art of the     in the Department of Philosophy at the
interior.                                        University of Warwick. He has published
CONTRIBUTORS’ BIOGRAPHIES                                                                      210


on various aestheticians and art theorists,        Mike Gane teaches at Loughborough
including Kant, Greenberg, Fried, de Duve,         University and has written extensively on
Danto, Lyotard, Heidegger and Benjamin.            Baudrillard and French thought, including
He is co-editor of After Beauty: Exchanges on      Jean Baudrillard: In Radical Uncertainty
Art and Culture (2007), and is completing a        (2000), and he recently edited French Social
monograph, Aesthetics after Modernism.             Theory (2003), and (with Nicholas Gane) the
                                                   anthologies Roland Barthes (3 vols, 2004) and
Eric de Bruyn teaches art history at               Umberto Eco (3 vols, 2005).
Groningen University and is author of ‘Land
Art in the Mediascape’ in Ready to Shoot           Francis Halsall is Lecturer in Art History at
(2004) and ‘The Expanded Field of Cinema, or       Limerick School of Art and Design. He has
Exercise on the Perimeter of the Square’ in        published on art history, visual culture and
X-Screen: Film Installations and Actions in the    systems theory; he is also co-editor of Re-
1960s and 1970s (2004). He is currently writing    discovering Aesthetics (on the intersections
a book, Media Topologies: Filmic Practices in      between art, art-history and philosophy,
Post-minimalism.                                   forthcoming) and is completing a book on art
                                                   history and systems-theory.
Robert del Principe is a freelance writer living
in New York. He writes about contemporary
                                                   Espen Hammer is Reader in Philosophy
art and the history of philosophy, and is
                                                   at the University of Essex and Professor of
the former Managing Director of the Adrian
                                                   Philosophy at the University of Oslo. Among
Piper Research Archive.
                                                   his publications are Stanley Cavell (2002),
Jonathan Lahey Dronsfield is Reader in              Adorno and the Political (2005). He is currently
Theory and Philosophy of Art, University           working on a project on time and modernity.
of Reading. His research includes the
deconstruction of social space, the resistance     Gregg M. Horowitz is Associate Professor
of art both to autonomism and socially             of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University. His
engaged aesthetics, and two books in               publications include Sustaining Loss: Art
progress: Art Ethics: The Collapse of Aesthetics   and Mournful Life (2001) and, with Arthur
into Ethics, and Problems of Responsibility in     C. Danto and Tom Huhn, The Wake of Art
Contemporary Continental Philosophy.               (1998). He is currently at work on a book on
                                                   psychoanalysis and political authority entitled
Scott Durham is Associate Professor of             The Weak Father.
French at Northwestern University. He is
the author of Phantom Communities: The             Gordon Hughes is Assistant Professor at the
Simulacrum and the Limits of Postmodernism         University of Maine. He is the editor, with Hal
(1998), and the editor of Jean Genet: In the       Foster, of October Files: Richard Serra (2000).
Language of the Enemy (1997).                      His work has appeared in October, Critical
                                                   Matrix and is forthcoming in The Oxford
Gordon Fyfe, Fellow of Keele University,           Art Journal. He is writing a book on Robert
writes on the sociology of art and the             Delaunay, early abstraction and Cubism.
sociology of museums. His publications
include Theorizing Museums (1996), which he        Margaret Iversen is Professor in the
co-edited with Sharon Macdonald, and Art           Department of Art History and Theory,
Power and Modernity (2000). He is a managing       University of Essex. Her publications include
editor of the online journal Museum and            Alois Riegl: Art History and Theory (1993); Mary
Society.                                           Kelly (1997); ‘Readymade, Found Object’, Art
211                                                            CONTRIBUTORS’ BIOGRAPHIES


Journal (2004) and many other essays on art      Derek Matravers lectures in philosophy at the
and psychoanalysis. A book, Beyond Pleasure:     Open University and is a Fellow Commoner at
Freud, Lacan, Barthes, is forthcoming.           Jesus College, Cambridge. He is the author
                                                 of Art and Emotion (1988) and numerous
Michael Kelly is Chair of the philosophy         articles in aesthetics and in ethics, including
department at the University of North            ‘Pictures, Knowledge and Power: The Case
Carolina at Charlotte. He is the author of       of T. J. Clark’ in eds Matthew Kieran and
Iconoclasm in Aesthetics (2003) and editor       Dominic Lopes, Knowing Art (2006).
of the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics (1998). His
current work concerns the relationships          Christine Mehring is Assistant Professor
among art, art history and aesthetics in the     of Art History at Yale University. She is
1960s.                                           the author of Wols Photographs (2002), of
                                                 a forthcoming book on the painter Blinky
                                                 Palermo and of essays published in History
Esther Leslie is a Reader in Political           of Photography, Artforum, Texte zur Kunst and
Aesthetics in the School of English and          Grey Room.
Humanities at Birkbeck, University of
London. She is the author of Synthetic Worlds:   Stephen Melville is Professor of Art History at
Nature, Art and the Chemical Industry (2005),    Ohio State University. His publications include
Hollywood Flatlands: Animation, Critical         Philosophy Beside Itself: On Deconstruction
Theory and the Avant Garde (2002) and Walter     and Modernism (1986), Seams: Art as a
Benjamin: Overpowering Conformism (2000).        Philosophical Context (1996) and (with Philip
                                                 Armstrong and Laura Lisbon) As Painting:
Riccardo Marchi is Assistant Professor at the    Division and Displacement (2000), and he
University of South Florida in Tampa, where      edited The Lure of the Object (Clarke Art
he holds the Stuart S. Golding Endowed Chair     Institute, 2006) among others.
in Modern and Contemporary Art. He has
published on the history of twentieth-century    Stephen Mulhall is Fellow and Tutor
art history, and is working on a book on         in Philosophy at New College, Oxford.
Boccioni, Kandinsky and Robert Delaunay in       His publications include Stanley Cavell:
Berlin between 1912 and 1913.                    Philosophy’s Recounting of the Ordinary
                                                 (1994), Inheritance and Originality (2001), On
                                                 Film (2002) and ‘Crimes and Deeds of Glory:
Melanie Mariño is Assistant Professor
                                                 Michael Fried’s Modernism’, British Journal of
of Contemporary Art at the University of
                                                 Aesthetics (2001).
Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has contributed
to The Last Picture Show (2003) and The Art
                                                 Mignon Nixon is Senior Lecturer at the
of Rachel Whiteread (2004). She is currently a
                                                 Courtauld Institute of Art, University of
fellow at the Center for 21st Century Studies.
                                                 London, and an editor of October. She has
                                                 written extensively on contemporary art,
Stewart Martin is Lecturer in Modern             feminism and psychoanalysis, including
European Philosophy at Middlesex University,     Fantastic Reality: Louise Bourgeois and a Story
and a member of the editorial collective of      of Modern Art (2005).
the journal Radical Philosophy. He has written
numerous essays on philosophy and art, and       Alex Potts is Max Loehr Collegiate Professor
is currently composing a book on the ontology    and Chair of the Department of History
of post-conceptual art called Absolute Art.      of Art at the University of Michigan, Ann
CONTRIBUTORS’ BIOGRAPHIES                                                                   212


Arbor. His publications include Flesh and        Kirstie Skinner is completing her doctoral
the Ideal: Winckelmann and the Origins of Art    research on minimalism and installation
History (1994 and 2000) and The Sculptural       art at Edinburgh College of Art. She has
Imagination: Figurative, Modernist, Minimalist   published ‘The Self as a Screen’, Journal
(2000).                                          for Visual Art Practice (2004), and ‘Camera
                                                 Perspective’, Norwich Gallery Dispatch (2005);
Dominic Rahtz is Lecturer in Art Theory at       ‘Framing consciousness in the 1960s: The
Oxford Brookes University, and works on          Filmic Qualities of Serial Sculpture’, CAA is
American art of the 1960s and 1970s. His         forthcoming.
publications include ‘Literality and Absence
of Self in the Work of Carl Andre’, Oxford Art   Ruth M. Sonderegger is currently Associate
Journal (1994).                                  Professor at the Philosophy Department
                                                 of the University of Amsterdam. Her main
Katerina Reed-Tsocha is Research Fellow at       fields of research are aesthetics and critical
Trinity College, Oxford, and teaches at the      theory and she has published, among others,
Department of the History of Art, University     Für eine Ästhetik des Spiels. Hermeneutik,
of Oxford. She pursues interdisciplinary         Dekonstruktion und der Eigensinn der Kunst
research in art history and philosophy, and      (2000).
has authored Art History: Methods, Theories
and Practice (2007).                             Cain Samuel Todd is Lecturer in Philosophy at
                                                 Lancaster University. His research concerns
Michael Richardson is currently Visiting         the objectivity of aesthetic judgment, the
Professor at Waseda University, Tokyo. He        role of imagination in appreciation, the
is the author of Georges Bataille (1994), The    relationship between cognitive and aesthetic
Experience of Culture (2001) and Surrealism      value, various connections between ethical
and Cinema (2006), and, with Krzysztof           and aesthetic judgment and evaluation, and
Fijalkowski, edited Surrealism against the       fiction and the emotions.
Current (2001).
                                                 Jonathan Vickery is Lecturer and programme
Helmut Schmitz is Senior Lecturer in German      director in the Centre for Cultural Policy
Studies, University of Warwick. His research     Studies, University of Warwick. He has
interests are German Holocaust literature        published on art theory, public art and
and memory discourses, and twentieth-            aesthetics, and is a founding editor of
century German intellectual history. His         Aesthesis: International Journal of Art and
publications include On Their Own Terms:         Aesthetics in Management and Organisational
German Literature and the Legacy of National     Life.
Socialism after Unification (2004).
                                                 John C. Welchman is Professor of Art
Nancy Shawcross teaches at the University of     History in the Visual Arts Department at UC,
Pennsylvania for the English Department and      San Diego. He is the author of major titles
for the Program in Comparative Literature &      including Art After Appropriation: Essays on
Literary Theory. Publications include Roland     Art in the 1990s (2001); he co-authored Mike
Barthes on Photography: The Critical Tradition   Kelley (1999); and he edited Mike Kelley’s Foul
in Perspective (1997) as well as essays on       Perfection: Essays and Criticism (2003), Minor
photography and literature.                      Histories (2004) and Interviews (2005).
213                                                              CONTRIBUTORS’ BIOGRAPHIES


James Williams is Reader in Philosophy             Dominic Willsdon is Leanne and George
at the University of Dundee. His writings          Roberts Curator of Education and Public
include Lyotard and the Political (2000), Gilles   Programs at the San Francisco Museum
Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition (2003),        of Modern Art. He was formerly Curator of
Understanding Poststructuralism (2005) and         Public Events at Tate Modern, London, and a
The Lyotard Reader and Guide, co-edited with       lecturer at the London Consortium and Royal
Keith Crome (2006). He is currently working        College of Art.
on the philosophy of events.
                                                   Rebecca Zorach is Assistant Professor of
Robert Williams is Professor of the History        Art History at the University of Chicago and
of Art and Architecture at the University of       author of Blood, Milk, Ink, Gold: Abundance and
California, Santa Barbara. He is the author        Excess in the French Renaissance (2005). She
of Art, Theory, and Culture in Sixteenth-Century   co-edited Embodied Utopias: Gender, Social
Italy: From Techne to Metatechne (1997)            Change, and the Modern Metropolis (2002) and
and Art Theory: An Historical Introduction         has published articles in Art History, Res,
(2004).                                            Wired Magazine and rhizome.org.

				
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