Rosalind Krauss and American Philosophical Art Criticism

Shirley Kaneda, Smooth Abrasion, 2000, 76"x 64" oil, pencil on canvvas. Courtesy of Feigen Contemporary, NYC.

Rosalind Krauss and American Philosophical Art Crit icism From Formalism to Beyond Postmodernism David Carrier D) PRAEGER Westport. Connecticut London .

No portion of this book may be reproduced. by any process or technique. without the express written consent of the publisher.Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Carrier. Title N7483. Westport. 3. David. Art criticism—United States—History—20th century. Inc. Copyright © 2002 by David Carrier All rights reserved.18—dc21 2002066344 British Library of Cataloguing in Publication Data is available. paper) 1.praeger.—Criticism and interpretation. Rosalind E. Includes bibliographical references and index. Krauss. p.48-1984). 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 . I. www. ISBN 0-275-97520-7 ( Printed in the United States of America @r The paper used in this book complies with the Permanent Paper Standard issued by the National Information Standards Organization (Z39. cm. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2002066344 ISBN: 0-275-97520-7 First published in 2002 Praeger Publishers. 2. CT 06881 An imprint of Greenwood Publishing Group.K7 C37 2002 701r . 1944Rosalind Krauss and American philosophical art criticism : from formalism to beyond postmodernism / David Carrier. 88 Post Road West. Art Philoshpy.

This book is for Alexander Nehamas .

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'To whose life does it contribute?7' There is absolutely no reason to think that a perspective that is good for one type of person will also be good for another—not to speak of "all others/ 7 Alexander Nehamas The struggle of the spirit is just as brutal as the battle of men. Rimbaud . we must always ask.In evaluating a perspective.

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Antiessentialist Definition of Art Resentment and Its Discontents The Deconstruction of Structuralism The Fate of Philosophical Art Criticism xi 1 17 33 55 71 87 111 123 . Chapter 2. Chapter 5. Chapter 4. Chapter 3. Afterword: Index In the Beginning Was Formalism The Structuralist Adventure The Historicist.Contents Preface Introduction: The Rise of Philosophical Art Criticism Chapter 1.

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telling how and why I came to write this account. I was especially concerned to write about what I saw. is to present and debate her contribution to the philosophical study of visual art. Krauss is a famous critic. As a critic. My aim. Thanks to supportive editors at Artforum. my aim is to tell her story. I read Rosalind Krauss's publications and her journal October. Writing as an analytic philosopher.Preface This book tells the story of Rosalind Krauss's intellectual career. The inspired writing of Joseph Masheck. Art in America. Krauss's books are readily accessible. Like every American critic. Modern Painters. but no one yet has evaluated her achievement. then editor of Artforum. Trained as a philosopher. Kunst Chronik. which is not easy to understand. rather. But I often wondered how to wrrite a history of art from this period. And I reviewed a number of her books. and so I am not concerned with summarizing them. Artlnternational. . The Burlington Magazine. I have published a great deal of art criticism in the past twenty years. initially led me to focus on abstract painting. showing how she deals in very challenging ways with philosophical concerns. This preface is where I briefly explain my background. Arts Magazine. and Tema Celeste. in 1980 I started writing art criticism.1 It took me a long time to see that a study of her career was the best way to describe the development of American artwriting in the era after Abstract Expressionism.

" Is that bad? I wondered how his account was consistent with the much discussed claim that postmodernism makes aesthetic values passe. Standring. elegance—and also. And I thank Bill Berkson.2 When I was visiting lecturer at Princeton University in 1998. and when in the early 1980s we toured Northern Italy together. My main difficulty with the late twentieth century in America is that we neither respect nor admire enough what we used to call "aesthetic values. Gary and Loekie Schwartz. George J. Robert Ryman. Catherine Lee. many years ago. Leonard. his response to a street festival . Nothing I write will meet his standards. I published the proceedings in History and Theory. Shirley Kaneda. Of course I'm an aesthete. The beginning of the Introduction uses his ideas and at the end of the Afterword I offer a tentative answer to his question. but I learned from his fanatical lucidity. Robert Mangold. a subject central to my analysis of Krauss's writings. Saul Ostrow. Garner Tullis. and William Tucker made an unpublished lecture available to me. grace. we must not forget. I report bits and pieces of remembered conversations with Clement Greenberg. and the late Mark Roskill for reading drafts of this manuscript. Otto Karl Werkmeister 's Icons of the Left (1999) gave me the epigraph from Rimbaud. Alexander Nehamas and I discussed perspectivism. Robert Pincus-Witten. and Barbara Westman have discussed art and artwriting with me. opening the back door to the gates of hell.XII Preface Copyright restrictions permit me to quote only three hundred words from each of her books. Peggy and Richard Kuhns. The virtues of life are comparable to the virtues of good writing—style. Sean Scully. Fay. James Elkins. Sylvia Plimack Mangold. sometimes getting it right. Mark Cheetham discussed Kant with me and found a bibliography of writings by and about Krauss. Arthur Danto gave the key to the discussion of Greimas. Whitney Davis described the reception of his controversial essay discussed in chapter 1. Stephen Bann gave suggestions about Rene Girard. connectedness. The 1996 Bielefeld author conference devoted to Arthur Danto helped me understand how the concerns of analytic philosophers and art critics intersect. and so often I paraphrase. Thanks to Julia Perkins and Brian C. Albert Elsen showed me the Rodins at Stanford. Kaneda provided my fontispiece. In an interview with me he said:3 I do believe the features that characterize oneself and one's life are similar to the features of literary works. Timothy J. I'm an unabashed aesthete. Paul Barolsky.

. for publishing two essays on Andy Warhol which contain ideas developed in different ways here.6 Any reader of biographies knows the difficulty of writing about near contemporaries. The Afterword supplements my "Memory & Oblivion in Contemporary American Art: The Lesson of Artforum/' given at the 29th International Conference on the History of Art. at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Lies are like fleas hopping from here to there. and two anonymous readers for Greenwood Press for helpful comments. for she has helped me to argue and write more effectively.5 All my publications should be dedicated to my wife. . Hangzhou. Many artworld people know a great deal about Krauss's life. I thank Roger Conover. Much could be revealed by describing her alliances. In an earlier book.Truth by itself is neutral and has its own dear beauty. Marianne Novy. this study of her ideas is based almost entirely upon her publications. and as 1999 Harvey Buchanan Lecturer in Art History and the Humanities. at the National Academy of Art. editor of Source. which I have used. This book. And I thank Laurie Schneider. written in spring 1999. . I borrow from my lecture on connoisseur ship given at Princeton University. When I circulated the manuscript. after her condition stabilized. Amsterdam. One editor who rejected this book told me that she would publish it were she not a friend of several of the critics I discuss. and enemies. and so she is sure to be the subject of an intellectual biography. whereas several otherwise sympathetic readers of my work were surprised that I thought her writings deserving of close study. sucking the blood of the intellect.8 Here.Preface xiii in Verona was one inspiration for the present Afterword. I am not interested in gossip about her. One publisher felt that I was much too critical. writes: 7 The disturbing thing about false and erroneous statements is that well-meaning scholars tend to repeat each other. 1996. friendships. I critically discussed Charles Baudelaire's art criticism. however.4 Danto's more recent characterization of my writing helped suggest how to present this account. Jonathan Gilmore. I have never . I learned how controversial she is. and published in the proceedings of that conference. In her autobiography. complaining about published accounts of her life. was withheld after Krauss's medical emergency. I write about Krauss's publications. Muriel Spark. in four Swedish Universities. similarly.

" Bomb no. 1993). 5. 7. Pater and the Origins of Modernism. History and Theory Theme Issue 37 (1998). ed. I respectfully argue with her because she makes exciting claims worth debating. The Life of a Style: Beginnings and Endings in the Narrative History of Art (Ithaca: Cornell University Press.XIV Preface met Krauss. High Art: Charles Baudelaire and the Origins of Modernism (University Park: Perm State Press. including my "Reply to James Elkins. she is a marvelous original writer. E. 1996).1 quote from the full original interview. April 2001 NOTES 1. though I once heard her lecture. p 11." in Comparative Criticism: An Annual Journal. 4. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 36. "Talking with Alexander Nehamas. 4 (1978): 510-512. challenges my analysis." Journal of Aesthetic Education 32. The Picasso Papers. See my reviews of Passages in Modern Sculpture. See my "Baudelaire. Burlington Magazine (November 1985): 817. 3. . Danto. Muriel Spark. 65 (Fall 1998): 38. and never dull. 8. 1995): 109-121. Jonathan Gilmore. 17 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. S. 6. Arthur C. "Symposium: On David Carrier's Artwriting. and long ago she generously responded to a minor query. David Carrier." 51-59. Shaffer. The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths.4 (winter 1998): 102-105. Art Journal 57. Curriculum Vitae: Autobiography (Boston: Houghton Mifflin. contributing significantly to the discussion. always inventive. and Richard Kuhns. 4 (winter 1998): 27-59. For me. 2. 2000).

Thomas Nagel Visual art often is accompanied by words. In the 1940s. he argued these painters developed the tradition of French modernism. he influentially championed Jackson Pollock and the other Abstract Expressionists. In the 1960s. Clement Greenberg is the most important American art critic. which in turn works out the essential concerns of the old masters. There was a well-developed market in contemporary art. The w o r d s a c c o m p a n y i n g m o d e r n i s t and postmodernist art have special importance. and historians reconstruct the meaning of work from earlier times. Properly understood. Art critics evaluate contemporary art. . for much of this work is identifiable as art only because it is accompanied by theorizing.INTRODUCTION The Rise of Philosophical Art Criticism We are engaged in a collective enterprise whose results can't always be easily traced. when the importance of Greenberg's view of the 1940s was generally accepted. his analysis of newer art was rejected by most younger critics. almost alone. Some kind of marketplace of arguments and ideas may generate developments of value that wouldn't have been produced just by the greatest thinkers working individually and responding to each other. and so someone had to replace him.

Her style of argument (though not always her taste) has been immensely important. I want to write what Nehamas describes as a book about these books that shows how they fit together.2 Krauss has moved an enormous distance in thirty years. Art historians who now so readily evoke the names of Derrida. Terminal Iron Works. After Greenberg. From the late 1990s perspective. published when she was close to Greenberg. This is what Krauss has done. without visible rival.2 Rosalind Krauss In the 1960s. and (4) the poststructuralist accounts of her recent studies of the semiology of cubism and the 'informal' in modernism and postmodernism. the most influential American critic of her era. some art historians are heavily indebted to her ways of thinking. with pardonable exaggeration. be taken for the history of American criticism in this period. The story of her career can. . how a single figure emerges through them. With her collaborators at October. With only three thousand subscribers. (3) the structuralist antinarrative theorizing presented in the 1980s in The Originality of the Avant-Garde.. after starting as a follower of Greenberg. more recently.. this publication has had great influence. went her own way. Many art critics and. to emerge fully from them. no one has had as much influence on American art critics as Krauss. Rosalind Epstein Krauss was but one of many critics who. how even the most damaging contradictions may have been necessary for that figure or character or author or person . and Lacan owe something to October. Her development has four stages: (1) her early formalist essays from the 1960s and her book on David Smith. (2) the antiformalist narrative history of modernist sculpture developed in the 1970s in Passages in Modern Sculpture. she is. the journal she cofounded.1 [C]an one achieve the perfect unity and freedom that are primarily possessed by perfect literary characters? One way of achieving this perhaps impossible goal might be to write a great number of very good books that exhibit great apparent inconsistencies among them but that can be seen to be deeply continuous with one another when they are read carefully and well. Alexander Nehamas asks. Foucault. How. Krauss defined the dominant style of present-day academic art writing.

Krauss is a philosophical art critic. ultimate beauty. and a host of modern and postmodern artists working in a variety of media. with the facet-planes of their Analytical Cubism.. of Action Painting. A philosophical art critic is both historiographer and aesthetician—the critic's account of what art is often determines how art's history is narrated. as are Erwin Panofsky (and some of his German precursors and contemporaries). Greenberg's analysis of Abstract Expressionism was inspired. Walter Pater. Michael Fried. When immediately accessible art critics such as Frank O'Hara review an exhibition. Some philosophical art critics place philosophical concerns center stage.Introduction 3 I reconstruct Krauss's career. Vasari and Hegel are philosophical art critics. That is to the good. and if Pollock's art was similar in this way. Krauss has written interestingly about David Smith. hers are highly controversial. She appears to be a formidable personality. By contrast. reminds me of what Picasso and Braque arrived at thirty odd years before. . and pristine use of his own passions." his eloquent description is straightforward. so too are John Ruskin. as much of an intellectual as Greenberg.. by contrast. for in the artworld virtue is not its own reward." 3 Analytic Cubism was important. But such indisputably great art writers as Diderot and Baudelaire are not philosophical art critics—nor are most journalists publishing in Artforum or the Burlington Magazine. Ernst Gombrich. . People ignorant of Greenberg's theory could not see this similarity. Their greatness is equal but antithetical. was a different sort of critic. explaining the transitions in her thought. masterful. Greenberg and his successors are much less important. philosophical art critics do serious theorizing. and de Kooning the Delacroix. in part. and evaluating her arguments. In Europe. surrealism. their writing contains no abstract reasoning. classical in its cool. Hegel is of course centrally concerned with such theorizing. . It is possible to write highly distinguished art criticism without being a philosophical art critic. When. by philosophical argumentation. Like most strong interpretations. and Arthur Danto.4 "this is the classical period of Pollock. it also was important. classical in all its comprehensive. Clement Greenberg. Philosophical art critics are special sorts of art writers. Pollock's "illusion of indeterminate but somehow definitely shallow depth . Pollock is the Ingres. O'Hara writes of Number I. Roger Fry. I do not evaluate her tastes in contemporary art—this is a study of her theorizing. O'Hara. This story about the rise of Krauss and philosophical art criticism is a story about the American artworld.

Kant. Nietzsche. Danto. . Philosophical art critics often are criticized for being cavalier about facts. Yet Krauss's interpretation of Serra remains of great interest. The fact that he reduced sculpture to a plaster kernel as a catalyst for his understanding of the world was as interesting as anything going on at that time. his theorizing has been much discussed. Few great philosophers of art are philosophical art critics. he epitomized the image of the working sculptor." 7 That statement gains authority because it appears in a commissioned essay. A philosophical art critic must both be an art critic and be involved with philosophical concerns. K r a u s s offers a c h a l l e n g i n g a c c o u n t of t h e o r e t i c a l a n d historiographic problems of contemporary art. and John Dewey. Because Danto is a philosopher well known among aestheticians and historiographers. Philosophical art critics need to be evaluated by appropriate standards. their concern with art's history is likely to pass by philosophers. the same is true of Schopenhauer. But in fact Serra has said:8 Philip Glass and I . Ruskin and Fry barely qualify as art historians. . . This book aims to change that situation.6 They are more likely to make errors than narrow specialists.4 Rosalind Krauss But Vasari and Greenberg are only marginally concerned with philosophical problems. Along with her only true present-day American rival. Hegel and Pater got historical details wrong. Heidegger. . We were very young. and for us. Judged by present-day standards. but their theories remain interesting. At two in the morning. Pater and Greenberg borrow from philosophy in frankly eclectic ways. Their strictly philosophical interests often puzzle art historians. 5 Krauss's vocabulary is less accessible to most American philosophers. for all of his influence on philosophical art critics. Giacometti would usually come in. is too far removed from art history to be a philosophical art critic. would go to La Coupole every night. Philosophical art critics thus inevitably are odd in-between figures. . Krauss apologizes for introducing Serra's art via discussion of Giacometti: "Giacometti's work has neither any real interest nor any relevance to his own. . Nor need a philosophical art critic be a distinguished philosopher. But that should not be taken as a license for suspending normal scholarly concerns with truth. A philosophical art critic need not be an art historian. and so her achievement as philosopher of art history has attracted less recognition.

in her recent publications she abandons the claim to show the historical structure of modernism and postmodernism. at each stage of her career. What marks the transition. So will scholars who want to know why "postmodernism" became so important in the 1980s. "art made by women needs no special pleading. What motivates transitions at each point is the felt recognition of the inadequacy of her earlier way of thinking. replacing them with the atemporal structures displayed in Greimas's structuralist diagrams. the third stage. The Originality supposes that there is one determinate way of translating the temporal development of visual art into a structure. Presenting a highly selective history of American art criticism since Greenberg. Krauss's development is dialectical. What will interest them. When she recently writes. In Passages she finds an alternative way of describing the development of modernist sculpture.9 Historians who want to understand feminism in art history will look closely at her books. Krauss is of the first generation when academic women played a major role. in her poststructuralist discussions of cubism and surrealist photography she acknowledges and overcomes the problems inherent in a structural account of art's history. writers who usually are very far apart. Finally. Krauss is the first major female philosophical art critic. are less Krauss's errors and confusions than her amazing ingenuity. Her argument gains much in accessibility if presented in the lucid language of analytic philosophy. Krauss rejects narratives altogether in favor of a s t r u c t u r a l i s t account of postmodernism. Finally. for she says much of interest worth arguing about. Krauss's abandonment of narratives is associated with American interest in French-style structuralism. Krauss herself has mostly formulated her claims in the vocabularies of the French structuralist and poststructuralist writers. Krauss is a great subject for the analytic philosopher. Not conspicuously identified with feminism in her publications. I predict." she takes as given this achievement.Introduction 5 A major philosophical art critic summarizes the cultural history of an era. I aim to bridge the gap between aestheticians and working art critics. Then in The Originality. Then in The Originality she rejects narrative histories. she constructed the developmental history of Passages—an alternative to Greenberg's history. is a new way of narrating the history of art. They treat modernism as making explicit the nature of art that was implicit in the old masters. Her formalist writings employ Greenberg's Hegelian historiography. her turn to semiotic analysis . Krauss now recognizes that there are diverse ways of telling her story. Rejecting formalism.

but with a subject from my world—the artworld. Danto argues that11 Krauss7 way to the optical unconscious is through a sort of free association. rather than logical and narrational. I would expect. It took me a long time to see that my subject was Krauss. .6 Rosalind Krauss and the "informal" is her deconstruction of structuralism. moving from Ruskin to Fried to Conrad to Jameson to Mondrian to . . and does not merely appropriate. is Krauss-the-author. so I attempt to provide the best possible analysis of her position. thus. In his sympathetic review of The Optical Unconscious. writing down what is suggested to her by what she has written down. In this book I suspend judgment about the comparative merit of Danto's and Krauss's view of philosophical art history. one might say. Too many Americans who read French theorists applied their ideas in mechanical ways. I wanted to write something like Danto's book Jean-Paul Sartre. when I explain why she changes her mind. My account of Krauss's development differs. Only scholars who don't . For a long time I wanted to write a book combining the sweeping boldness of Fredric Jameson's histories with the conceptual clarity provided by analytic philosophy. or describe her goals. . She uses. I refer only to what can be deduced from her publications. 10 Krauss's development is the product of her active engagements as an art critic. and this book sets her writing in a developmental structure. But just as her career reflects concern to give the most convincing account of art. determinedly mean spirited. What gives authenticity to Krauss's development is her active working through of the problems of art criticism and art history." My reconstruction of her ways of thinking pretends to be more confident than it can honestly be. Krauss's seemingly free associations are governed by a strange but logical argument which I spell out. As I do not know her personally. from her own view of this self-fashioning. Only after the fact can we reconstruct her development in my terms. Krauss has worked hard to move away from a developmental way of thinking about art's history. continental theorizing. adjunctive. But she is consistently original. So the book is inherently allusive and. to. I disagree. . and wrong headed. saying "probably Krauss believed" or "most likely Krauss wanted. It would be tedious to continually qualify my assertions. "My" Krauss. In the Afterword I explain why it is too early to judge the ultimate merits of her claims. Krauss can be silly. .

Why then did Beyond Modern Sculpture have so much less impact than Passages? Burnham. for without her our artworld would be a far different. as in other domains of intellectual life (and in art itself). quite less interesting place. Burnham certainly is concerned with the present. Perhaps it was possible already in 1974 to sense that he would turn back historically in his sculpture. Admiration for deep innovation reflects the demands of the intellectual marketplace. are revealing. and the other early modernist masters described in his book. Of the graduate students who become professors. earth works. Tucker builds no bridge between early modernism and the present. a student must learn the skills of professors. She has a disconcerting habit of borrowing fragments of theories. nor Pater or Roger Fry are original philosophers—they borrow and adapt ideas. writes with great sensitivity. a muddled thinker. but Early Modern Sculpture was irrelevant to the leading new developments of the 1970s—installations. as much as her successes. Krauss's Passages in Modern Sculpture (1977) deserves comparison with such rivals as William Tucker's Early Modern Sculpture (1974) and Jack Burnham's Beyond Modern Sculpture (1968). To become an academic art historian. much more is expected. To see how good Krauss is. But at the highest levels. the greatest recognition and professional esteem go to those capable of deep originality. whose Postmodernism. Neither Diderot. To show skilled mastery of the established methodologies and to extend these familiar approaches to new materials are significant achievements. Unlike Krauss. Krauss appears an unsystematic thinker. only a small minority makes significant innovations. was reading the structuralist literature. In the 1960s and 1970s. moving from his earlier abstractions to art rooted in the tradition of Rodin. various histories of twentieth-century sculpture reflected the concerns of contemporary artists.Introduction 7 take risks always succeed. art critics tend to be bricoleurs. She deserves her fame. Her failures and limitations. Baudelaire. championed the wrong new art. In art history. Degas. Demand for innovation is a natural expectation of a culture where changes in everyday life come quickly. He was fascinated by dreary mechanical sculpture that used . Unlike Jameson. a distinguished sculptor. and minimalism. without regard for questions of internal consistency. A discipline unable to achieve serious innovation would not attract good students or adequate support. and he. like Krauss. Tucker. or the Logic of Late Capitalism is a proper treatise. Unlike their colleagues who study literature. look at some of her would-be competitors.12 Tucker is more visually sensitive than Krauss.

contrasting them to Vincent Van Gogh's A Pair of Boots as described by Martin Heidegger. was the artworld at large. W h a t P i n c u s . ."18 Pincus-Witten's "postminimalism" invoked a very Greenbergian ideal of artistic continuity. offers well-informed accounts of many of the best-known New York artists accompanied by a p l a u s i b l e h i s t o r i c a l p l a n ."15 After Greenberg's taste and theorizing were rejected. Fredric Jameson's "Postmodernism and Consumer Society" is an extremely abstract account whose relevance to working art critics is elusive. but like him wanted to identify the new period style. a collection of essays mostly published in the most important American journal of the era. but also the more recent Photorealism" just in passing. the 1960s "Post-Painterly Abstraction" of Louis. and Olitski stands to Abstract Expressionism. Artforum. Pincus-Witten disagreed with Greenberg's taste.8 Rosalind Krauss electronic apparatus and blinking lights—what he calls Robot and Cyborg Art. By comparison with Pincus-Witten's essays. as presented by Jameson (and Krauss)."13 Neither. one of the best critics of the day and a gifted original writer. What in retrospect appears limited about Pincus-Witten's own art criticism is its very closeness to Greenberg's. Postmodernism. as speaking of "a new kind of superficiality in the most literal sense. Noland. blinked. such work was in fashion: "There was a silliness in a lot of Pop Art and Kinetic Art of this time—art that moved. Post minimalism (1977). for Greenberg. was gaglike. I was not interested in any of that stuff.17 In the longer version appearing in 1984. offers a very subtle account of this moment. Jameson had only a slight interest in art history. .14 When a critical paradigm is exhausted. involves a break with the past. what interpretative approach would replace his? Robert Pincus-Witten. really mattered because he pointed to shifts in style and these recognitions had the effect of even further intensifying such dislocations. "Greenberg . "By the end of the sixties it was clear that formalist abstraction had been challenged by a new set of formal and moral values. In its original published form. made sounds. there are conflicts among new competing methodologies. it turned out. Why then was his way of thinking about history more in- . As Robert Mangold has recently noted." 16 What might reasonably have been expected was that Greenberg's successor would also develop such a stylistic analysis.W i t t e n calls "Postminimalism" stands to minimalism roughly as. Jameson's essay mentions "Andy Warhol and Pop art. Jameson discusses Warhol's Diamond Dust Shoes. But that expectation turned out to be mistaken.

Kenneth Noland. and a feeling for what is truly human and pathetic in one of the exemplary myths (Marilyn Monroe) of our time that I for one find moving. Noland. Krauss . and Larry Poons—Krauss's appreciations of Serra and the other figures she wrote about early on are slight.and nineteenth-century art. Krauss's most serious rival philosophical art critic w a s Michael Fried. However m u c h Fried's professional sense of philosophical issues m a y owe to his friendship with Stanley Cavell. like forgotten nineteenth-century Salon painters. He said that Olitski. n o t F r i e d . and Stella were taking u p the concerns of Abstract Expressionism. Who today believes that? Fried thought that the best new art was developing out of tradition. have fallen so far that they wait to be revived. 21 Noland's ambition to make major art out of color has compelled him to discover structures on which that ambition can rely—structures in which the shape of the support is acknowledged lucidly and explicitly enough to compel conviction." 1 9 O u r artworld has a short attention span.. Unlike his mentor Greenberg. there was a felt need to believe that the most serious new art broke radically with tradition. C o m p a r e d with his elaborate accounts of eighteenth. a sure instinct for vulgarity . Fried did not discover a single artist w h o stood the test of time. but I am not at all sure that even the best of Warhol's work can much outlast the journalism on which it is forced to depend.. Frank Stella. b e c a m e the post-Greenbergian critic. Warhol has a painterly competence. Olitski. and Noland can avoid Schadenfreude? These figures.. Pincus-Witten observes that "Marden's w o r k is spared the dicey shelf life that devaluates most contemporary art. But w h o today reading his awestruck commentaries on Caro. K r a u s s . or one that inevitably engages matters of entertainment. Fried at his best is a formidable critic: 20 At his strongest.Introduction 9 fluential than Pincus-Witten's? In the 1980s. w h o rode so high. Fried makes surprising observations. her historical studies are merely adventurous. When his taste is challenged deeply. A n d yet. be it rooted in the techniques of advertising (as is n o w commonly the case). In his recent essay on Brice Marden's late 1960s-early 1970s paintings. it makes her intellectual culture s e e m a m a t e u r i s h .. Set against his intently admiring commentary on the artists he encountered w h e n he w a s young—Anthony Caro.

but had only a premonition of the greatness of David. And.22 He elaborately distinguished the artists he admired from minimalists such as Carl Andre and pop artists such as Warhol. because they fit into his theory of modernism. and Roger Fry championed Cezanne only after that artist's death. Because Danto has written very extensively about philosophical art criticism. at a much lower level. which now dominates almost all artworld thinking. But a critic is not valued just for his taste. in the 1980s I supported painters and sculptors who have disappeared. In his Salons." he told me when I tried to pin him down. But their differences were only of academic interest when the visual culture has moved on. this division between journalistic art writing and philosophical art criticism is effectively externalized in the division between his few position statements and the body of his criticism. Often his reviews cite philosophical anecdotes. and he worked hard to explain his differences with Greenberg's theory of modernism. Baudelaire wrote his best essay. Representational. as when he de- . the division in his writing between art criticism and theory is striking. it is often claimed. and Roger Fry develops a formalist theory of visual art. not his friend Manet.10 Rosalind Krauss started out as a Greenbergian formalist. Baudelaire sketches a theory of beauty. Krauss embraced postmodernism. You don't need to be a Kant-scholar to understand Fry's accounts of Caravaggio and Cezanne. Ruskin praised Turner when that painter was already old and famous. and tended in conversation to downplay the importance of his philosophical theorizing. Theorizing essays such as "Avant-Garde and Kitsch" and "Abstract. Fried's theorizing is complex and often obscure." about Constantin Guys. Mostly their writings can be understood without appeal to elaborate theorizing. With Greenberg. Diderot now and then turns to philosophy. whom they praised highly? 23 All art critics have their philosophical moments. A great deal of Greenberg's authority comes from his prophetic judgments. and not Fried's preoccupation with maintaining tradition. and So Forth" have only occasional reference to individual artists. but parted from him when she came to believe that the most challenging new art broke radically with tradition. "so what?" He did not believe that his tastes were determined by his theory of modernism. Late in life. "The Painter of Modern Life. and that way of thinking. Diderot passionately admired Greuze.24 Greenberg admired the Abstract Expressionists. So too did Fried and Krauss—where today are Michael Bolus or John Mason. he rejected this view. "So I contradict myself.

"27 A great deal of 1960s art looked simple but was said to be complex. A gifted writer might aspire to write criticism. and conceptual art—art that existed as art only in relation to philosophizing—was a natural subject for philosophical art criticism. Universities might teach such skills—creative writing is taught in many English departments. And so he tends to like a great variety of art. She gives an elaborate analysis of what might appear relatively straightforward abstract paintings. He believes that ours is a posthistorical period. Krauss describes "Olitski's struggle to divest his art of drawing and yet to maintain the flexibility of the surface through the identification of different colors with that surface. his sculp- . Pop. Professional art historians teach students to analyze objects collected in museums. she has noted that "it was a big struggle to say something about Olitski's work that wouldn't just be a repetition of what Michael (Fried) had said about it. The philosophical art critics of Krauss's generation. in no way follow from his theorizing. who mostly were. They sought to make criticism as philosophically serious as art history had been in its German origins. became the object of his painting. . and how he describes art. Journalistic art critics tell what they experience. philosophical art critics hoped to play a similar role. as far as we know. What he likes. his philosophical arguments have only a somewhat distant relationship to his practice. minimalism. Michael Fried has discussed the successive phases of this struggle." 26 She begins using Greenberg's theory of modernism. Recently. an era when everything is possible. many writers wanted to make art criticism an academic subject. In Krauss's era. "Although Rodin had no contact with Husserl's philosophy.25 But as he has indicated. in describing this period. . Would it be possible to also bring art criticism into the university? An art critic has an eye and a literary style.academics. Sometimes Krauss and her fellow philosophical art critics flirt with the claim that their theories have validity because they appear at the same time as the art being interpreted.Introduction 11 scribes Alex Katz's cutouts with reference to a theory of perception that describes the difference between seeing flat shapes "painted to look like barns" and a visually indistinguishable real barn. . Philosophical art criticism involves mastering technical ways of thinking. wanted to elevate their writing above journalism. and closes with reference to Fried. Philosophical art critics are bookish academics. When contemporary art is sold by art dealers to collectors and also to museums. Art history became an academic subject around the turn of the twentieth century.

The linguist makes predictions about what sentences are grammatical. Theorists explain the speaker's competence. Maybe the art of Marcel Duchamp. And so it is not paradoxical that the linguist might understand that practice in terms unknown to that speaker. We must make up for it through reading and inference. simultaneity proves nothing. Agnes Martin. Some Renaissance art has exceedingly complicated iconography—usually such artists had humanist advisors. Interpretation invokes describing art in terms known not to the artist—need this be paradoxical? The Beatles could not read music. Analogously. but the plain outcome of the undeniable fact that we no longer enjoy the advantages of Renaissance conversation. must learn more about Renaissance arguments than the painter needed to know.12 Rosalind Krauss tures manifest a notion of the self which that philosophy had begun to explore. as has been claimed. But here another analogy with different implications is also worth considering. But because Rodin did not know Husserl or Picasso and Braque read Saussure. the artists I knew were mostly reading such continental philosophers as Deleuze and Foucault."28 Does the simultaneous development of cubism and Saussure's linguistic theory explain why Krauss's semiotic analysis is especially relevant to cubist paintings? 29 If an artist reads contemporary theorists. or Cindy Sherman is complex when described by philosophical art critics only because such writers are too bookish. but only a musicologist can explain why they were innovative composers. . but not why it is correct. But could art from the critic's own era be understood only using highly complex theorizing? Most contemporary artists are not intellectuals. and Saussure to the cubists because theorist and artist share a period style. 30 Krauss might make a weaker claim: Husserl is relevant to Rodin. Hockey players need not study physics. . a self-contradiction. And so today31 an iconographer trying to reconstruct the lost argument of a Renaissance painting . the reconstruction of a native speaker's grammar might invoke theoretical distinctions he knew not. Mere temporal and geographic proximity does not mean that a well-known theorist influences artists. A native speaker knows correct speech. This belief deserves to be questioned. When in the 1980s Danto became a famous critic. Few painters took an interest in Danto's Analytic Philosophy of History or his Analytic Philosophy of Action. then simultaneity has explanatory value. and this is not. En- .

Clement Greenberg. p. 195. 1999). p. Rosalind E. is difficult to imagine. 1994). 1961). History of Structuralism. trans. Volume 1. Review. Bachelors (Cambridge: MIT Press. 50. 262. The Optical Unconscious. versations with Barbaralee Diamonstein (New York: Rizzoli. Alexander Nehamas. Mass. Given the obvious plausibility of the commonsense description. In the Afterword I say more about the relationship of philosophical art criticism to philosophy. such an account seems superfluous. it may be hard to conceive of a description of an artwork that. 260 n. A commonsense account appears in the sports reporting. not in a vocabulary comprehensible to the artist. The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths (Cambridge: MIT Press. p. History and Theory. Quoted in Barbaralee Diamonstein. Ibid. the review of The Picasso Papers by Marilyn McCully. 1985). p. Theme Issue 37 (1998) devoted to Danto. 1945-1966 and Volume 2. and London: Harvard University Press. Inside the Art World: Con- p. 227. Nietzsche: Life as Literature (Cambridge. Analogously. 11. 1985). 10. explaining the game in the vocabulary of physics. . Arthur C. The body of this book. A scientific account. Yve-Alain Bois has explained his problems with the word "poststructuralism" in his Painting as Model (Cambridge: MIT Press. Frank O'Hara. 2. 5. Art Chronicles 1954-1966 (New York: George Braziller. answers these questions. Krauss. 30. Art and Culture (Boston: Beacon. 1967-Present. 1975). The Rising Sign. 7. 6.1999): 18-24. 1997). 8. The Sign Sets. New York Review of Books 46. an exposition of Krauss's development. p. Danto.Introduction 13 visage two ways of describing hockey: a scientific account and an intuitive analysis a p p e a l i n g to the p l a y e r s ' i n t e n t i o n s . 9. 6 (April 8. 3. 1990). would offer a genuinely revealing explanation of that work. for example. And so perhaps philosophical art criticism is problematic. See also Francois Dosse. p. Krauss. 195. 4. See. p. 218. Rosalind E. Artforum 31 (summer 1993): 98. Deborah Glassman (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. NOTES 1. 7.

See my "William Tucker at Storm King Art Center. 1983). Hal Foster (Port Townsend. 10 [July 1978]: 4-5). p.138 (December 1996): 828. See my "Robert Mangold.3 (1991): 368-381. ed. Michael Fried. Robert Pincus-Witten. 17. Fried's revelatory art history writing is another story. When Burnham reviewed Passages (New Art Examiner 5. Encounters & Reflections: Art in the Historical Present (New York: Farrar. 24. 19. 1990). "Jules Olitski. Ibid. Postminimalism (New York: Out of London Press. "The Hero and the Housemaid. John Mason is discussed in Krauss's "John Mason and Post-Modernist Sculpture: New Experiences. 9. 1991). Disfiguration. 15." Burlington Magazine." Art in America 67. Fredric Jameson. WA: Bay Press. Arthur C. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. p. See my reviews: Absorption and Theatricality. Art and Objecthood. 47. 16. Realism.. Fredric Jameson. . (1964). History and Theory. 288. he. 20. University of Pennsylvania. p. 23. Art and Culture gives a misleading picture of his concerns. Art and Objecthood: Essays and Reviews (Chicago: University of Chicago Press." in Brice Marden: Classic Paintings (New York: C&M Arts. 111. 3 (May-June 1979): 120-127. 2 (June 1997): 334-337. 18. Michael Bolus is the subject of an essay in Fried. 21. Robert Pincus-Witten. Art Bulletin 79. 1998). Straus. Gray window wall. Art Monthly (September 1981): 35-36. Postmodernism: Or.4 (1989): 398. 25. 193-196. "Rogue Equations. Courbet's Realism." Arts (December 1988): 88. 26. In Greenburg's collected writings. 14.14 Rosalind Krauss 12. 139. p. p. New Words. Manet's Modernism. in turn. and Flayden Gallery. and his unpublished Fuller Lecture. pp. found Krauss's analysis all too traditional. NC: Duke University Press. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.p. p. 1968). 11. "Postmodernism and Consumer Society. Writing. n. 14. Giroux. Robert Pincus-Witten. the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Durham. 22. 1977). 30. Entries (Maximalism) (New York: Out of London Press." 13. 1983). Danto. 1999). p. 31." in The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Cidture. nearly all essays are exercises in applied criticism." in Jules Olitski: Recent Paintings (Institute for Contemporary Art. 1125.

50. Pagan Mysteries in The Renaissance (New York: Norton. 29. 2000). 299-300. William Weaver (New York: Columbia University Press. 15. 30. 1998). Lynn Zelevansky (New York: Museum of Modern Art. 223. p.. Krauss. "The Motivation of the Sign. first. trans. ed.. p. 28.. 1977). Passages in Modern Sculpture (New York: Viking Press. Serendipities: Language & Lunacy." in Picasso and Braque: A Symposium. 31. whether there are detectable literal or conceptual analogies between my work and theirs and. Umberto Eco. Rosalind E. problem would be to establish. 1992). 28. second. the . somebody asked whether my writings have been influenced by Dewey or Merleru-Ponty. italics added. p. . Edgar Wind. Amy Newman. p.. Krauss. Rosalind E.Introduction 15 27. Her interviews vividly describe the struggles among Greenberg's successors. whether I had the physical possibility of reading the books of these authors. If. Challenging Art: Artforum 1962-1974 (New York: Soho Press. pp. 1968).

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"1 The same is true of successful artwriting. offering itself as a mirror. we need to know why his arguments are found persuasive. and so needs to be summarized only briefly. All that advanced artists could expect by way of support was patrons—Abstract Expressionism marked .CHAPTER 1 In the Beginning Was Formalism The most important consideration when it comes to investing in art is a long-term outlook. Art Market Guide A major philosophical art critic changes how his contemporaries look at visual art.S. To understand such an artwriter. Art criticism is a mixture of observation and fantasy. Which artists are the innovators? Which artists influenced their peers? Which artists produce work that is visually seductive with intellectually challenging content? Richard Polsky. Greenberg argued that in the capitalism of his day.2 In the 1930s. The Abstract Expressionists only became great when they turned away from politics. expressing the interior of a cultural period. Clement Greenberg's highly personal synthesis of formalism and T. You need to ask questions. many American artists made protest art. Eliot's view of culture and Marxist historiography persuaded his contemporaries of the greatness of the Abstract Expressionists. art's development was relatively isolated from changes in the larger society. Art externalizes "a way of viewing the world. Greenberg's achievement has been much discussed.

which is unpopular. A Marxist critic might have been expected to identify revolutionary art. Many 1960s critics thought that only esoteric theorizing could provide a proper guide to contemporary art. Krauss also rejected Greenberg. Greenberg separated popular and serious art. usually termed "formalist/' that flourished in the '60s was of a piece with the time's American art. Peter Schjeldahl takes a similar viewr:4 The American art criticism. Greenberg's accounts of the relationship between art and money. but she takes his claims more seriously. Dave Hickey writes. Greenberg thus links art. He sought to balance the concerns of connoisseurs and philosophical art critics. and morality. almost everyone felt the need for a more flexible account of the rela- . politics. He was.. He implies that a good connoisseur should be able to see Pollock's excellence and offers a theory linking Abstract Expressionism to tradition. 3 an art critic from the postwar era whose practice and preferences were totally discredited and defunct by the time I entered the art world in 1967. part of a rhetorical onslaught. In some future classless society. With the development of pop art and interest in political protest art. determined by historic openings. Greenberg argued that the best new painting canceled and preserved the accomplishments of early modernism. laying siege to Greenberg's gutted and abandoned citadel for the past thirty years. Art advanced in a country where political revolution was not a serious option. Some critics dismiss Greenberg entirely. and of the link between art and morality contain tensions resolved by critics of the next generation. parasitic upon the elite culture. more authentically.18 Rosalind Krauss the triumph of art for art's sake. Greenberg distinguishes between the popular literary and visual art and demanding advanced modernist culture. of philosophical art criticism. Academic critics [have been]. a generational power play. borrow7 from difficult art to make undemanding work. the masses may have the leisure needed to appreciate fine art. argued another. argued that radically original painting built upon. without breaking with. tradition. following the politically conservative Eliot. But the criticism often argued one thing while the art. But for now. As a Marxist. Popular art forms. but Greenberg.. there is large gap between the audiences for popular and high art.

or the American conceptual art and earth art of the 1960s are art. connoisseurs provide good guidance. Greenberg claimed that the Abstract Expressionists grew out of modernist tradition. Evaluation of paintings and sculptures also calls for experts. And so when the culture changed. In the 1960s. Many recent critics of Greenberg. his theorizing became obsolete. or Abstract Expressionist paintings guide novice collectors. efficiency. and safety and repair records. philosophic art critics are required. Traditional critics were connoisseurs. His way of thinking both reflected and transformed the situation of art. taking images from comic strips into high art. In fact. But when new. "What is the good of criticism?" Baudelaire's famous question always arises in that peculiar marketplace of ideas that constitutes the artworld. Rauschenberg's 1950s monochromes. In a market economy. he helped create a market for their art. consumers need guides to identify aesthetically valuable work. Gifted with an eye. People buying a microwave read Consumer Reports. Greenberg's formalism was based upon a Marxist historiography that the critics of Krauss's generation challenged. experts in Ming dynasty scrolls. Only someone with a theory can explain why Duchamp's ready mades. establishing a two-way relationship between kitsch and museum painting. which evaluates appliances in straightforward empirical ways. Pop art borrowed from popular culture. So long as an artistic tradition is essentially stable. Krauss and her colleagues argued that the best contemporary artists broke with tradition. Greenberg and his artists turned into members of the establishment. Like many young would-be revolutionaries. What functions are served by commentary on contemporary art? When a great deal of art is made. baroque drawings. aesthetic value quickly translates into economic value.In the Beginning Was Formalism 19 tion between mass culture and contemporary art. the Abstract Expressionists became successful and much admired. philosophers especially. he offered a critical practice well adapted to his artworld. write as if he had developed a purely intellectual argument whose premises might be critiqued. and so the role of Greenberg's criticism was critically examined. untraditional criteria of evaluation are demanded. His Marxism had unexpected consequences—such is the cunning of history. Identifying these painters as heir to the old master tradition. citing comparative prices. or how such exotic-looking artifacts should be judged. good at detecting forgeries. .

whom no one any longer takes seriously. I don't believe in the creative function of the artist. it becomes expensive. Once a painting is thought very good. art criticism played a major role. and occasionally sold art.20 Rosalind Krauss To understand why Rosalind Krauss's arguments were highly successful. Duchamp offers a matter of fact observation: "Fundamentally. glamour. economic value is defined by art critics. when New York became a boomtown. In rejecting that claim and supporting the Abstract Expressionists. but the businessman does certain things also. were good at making money. he established the economic value of Pollocks. generously supported by his patrons. A philosopher's arguments can perhaps be reconstructed ahistorically. It's his job to do certain things. There may be no intrinsic quality difference between the famous paintings of Morris Louis and those of a somewhat similar facile decorative artist. Greenberg linked radical artistic originality with economic value. as much as Picasso and Matisse. Louis's works are very valuable. According to the reductive account. in China as much as in Europe and America. According to the purist account. Krauss notes. we need to describe her culture and artworld. In the 1960s. and Jenkins's are not. 6 Giotto and Titian. "the consolidation of the stylistic hegemony of the New York School converted a provincial Bohemia into a Boomtown. Paul Jenkins. a centre of self-confident aesthetic energy on which there was lavished money. she adds. as exercises in pure reason. aesthetic value is inevitably equated with exchange value. A generation earlier. He's a man like any other. The relationship between art and money is difficult to describe tactfully. Alfred Stieglitz said that Georgia O'Keefe and other artists he favored were major figures. A skilled capitalist entrepreneur. In a market economy. When Greenberg argued that Pollock was a great painter. attention. Duchamp lived cheaply. European art has almost always been associated with capitalist entrepreneurs."7 But in our American artworld. such a lifestyle was difficult to sustain. Art critics determine what art is valuable. the successful painter knows how to innovate. it is hard to hold to this viewpoint. Too often writers who moralize offer reductive accounts. because Louis attracted prestigious champions and Jenkins did not. there is no relation be- . In the 1960s. Consider two extreme views of the relationship between art criticism and the sales of art." 5 In this process. but a philosophical art critic's claims must be evaluated in historical and political context.

whose experience of old master art is very rich. Richard Wollheim. or the Paris. artworks are accompa- . it is easy to be more skeptical about the critical consensus. But unlike antiques or automobiles. Those of us involved with the New York artworld may be surprised at Wollheim's judgments. it is to natural to be skeptical about critics' claims. there is almost no painter or sculptor. or the Florence. Neither account is entirely satisfactory. and praises Pollock. we feel comfortable making judgments of comparative quality. confident claims about aesthetic value seem problematic. Louise Bourgeois. If judgments about art involve esoteric theorizing. The scene is too overcrowded with figures who tried to get into the history without contributing to the art. He attracted such champions because his art was good." admires Hans Hofmann and David Smith. But on the whole. New York also will suffer this fate. Raphael is generally superior to Peruguino. Nicolas Poussin is usually better than Sebastien Bourdon.In the Beginning Was Formalism 21 tween economic value and art criticism. Jasper Johns is highly valued because he is one of the great artists of his generation—and not because Leo Steinberg and other important writers championed his art. Richard Diebenkorn. . We can see the best art. . But we too know how difficult it is to be confident in evaluating near contemporaries. of the second half of the twentieth century. But when we get to the present. Johns. Like antique dealers and used car salespeople. photographer or installation artist whose reputation is entirely secure.8 I do not believe that history will treat New York as the Venice. when art criticism played a lesser role. Once we recognize how much pressure the market in contemporary art produces. he is skeptical about the claims of American critics. speaks of "the genius of de Kooning and Rothko. Fairfield Porter. The reductive account attributes to critics the power to determine aesthetic and so economic value. When we get to Krauss's generation. Looking at art of earlier eras. Joseph Cornell. there is grade inflation. . the purist analysis asserts that critics have no influence on judgments of economic value. and Wayne Thiebold. In the art market. Eighteenth-century Florence had painters who were admired then but who no longer attract attention. art dealers sell objects whose value is determined by consensus about their rarity and resale value.

But the art audience is not. Like some Americans of Krauss's era. which seeks to analyze critically the ruling elite.22 Rosalind Krauss nied by theorizing. October's "October" is the Eisenstein movie. architecture. The Russian avant-garde artists who supported the 1917 October revolution were destroyed by Stalin. most spectators have surprisingly little knowledge of what they are seeing. comparing them with their precursors. analytic project of . In 1976 the editors of October wrote:10 We have named this journal in celebration of that moment in our century when revolutionary practice. and gave this idea a novel twist—art should call attention to social injustices. Marxist philosophical art critics agreed. the Russian artists of 1917 wanted to make politically effective art. was the most significant artistically revolutionary art. Moralists believed that good art might make the viewer a better person. sophisticated. But work done in Paris. despite the efforts of art educators. the editors claimed:12 We have no desire to perpetuate the mythology of the revolution. similarly. not the Bolshevik revolution. In the museum. Popular culture is highly accessible.11 October identifies its political interests with its title. Everyone at a P i t t s b u r g h Pirates game k n o w s the rules of baseball—and most spectators evaluate the players. literature. almost everyone has informed opinions. film required and generated their own Octobers. For the artists of that time and place. on the whole.9 Traditional art mostly was made for an elite. Contemporary art is collected in depth by American museums. this distinction is a little subtle. painting. Few people ask. Many collectors and museums support a large market in contemporary art. But because that movie depicts the Bolshevik revolution. In 1987. You don't need to study academic film theory to judge Hollywood movies. by contrast. "Why are there three bases?" or "How many swings does that man at home plate get?" At the movies or pop concerts. and not Russian avant-garde. and famous senior figures receive numerous full-scale retrospectives. theoretical inquiry and artistic innovation were joined in a manner exemplary and unicjue. Midcareer artists have museum exhibitions. Modernist mass culture makes possible political protest art. In 1917. Rather we wished to claim that the unfinished. the connection between revolutionary art and politics was relatively loose. as also in the 1960s and 1970s.

.17 Because . . in the work of Rauschenberg and Johns. Like Greenberg. as Krauss says. As Thomas Crow." it should not afford to withdraw from the commercial artworld. "It is Eisenstein's most basic assumption. "entirely original. she—while hesitating for the most part to publicly a d o p t partisan positions—has supported left-wing ways of thinking. esthetic content is tied to the function of the community . a n d art a n d morality. " t h a t . . w h o publishes in October." in early Abstract Expression. . has observed. " Throughout Krauss's career.15 October will be plain of aspect. h a s b e e n i m p o r t a n t . . there w a s "an attempt to renounce this function. ." 13 Krauss argues that although "for certain works of m o d e r n a r t . . its illustrations determined by considerations of textual quality These decisions follow from a fundamental choice as to the primacy of text and the writer's freedom of discourse. October can Rauschenberg was.In the Beginning Was Formalism 23 constructivism . she observes. . Like its political opposite. . was required for a consideration of the aesthetic practices of our own time. and surrealism that have been Krauss's central concerns in recent years." 14 Rauschenberg. employs quite banal things and images. . all art . . ." This political w a y of thinking is exemplified in the format of October." she has written. Color illustrations are expensive. Hilton Kramer's The New Criterion. but an overly critical journal would lose its commercial sup- porters. it can be too easy to speak of the visual without speaking to it. 1 6 what is lost in that approach is the opportunity for the text and visual reproduction to function on anything like equal terms. they are about the act of delectation and possession and nothing more. It is not constructivism. semiotics. October's format allows the journal to present more intellectual debate than Artforum. The artwork might thus "challenge its fate of being absorbed as a commodity only. . and so art journals using them are d e p e n d e n t on advertisers. O n the cover of October appear the words: " A r t / T h e o r y / C r i t i c i s m / P o l i t i c s . which has no illustrations. large-scale illustration provided by a magazine like Artforum. is fundamentally ideological. but cubism. Artforum occasionally has hostile reviews. analyzing critically links between art a n d money. in the absence of the assertive.

Maybe children who grow seeing gay or leftist images are less likely to be homophobic conservatives than they would be otherwise. At least. The art market. when. His view of duty changed. early experience of homoerotic images "contribute to the formation of a homoerotic subject. But someone might look rather to the group of women at the right mourning the brother who died. he acts differently. or how they might be resolved. "holds that subjects—human individuals with personal. A man might identify with Brutus and learn to serve the state. Even so. and at least partial consciousness of specific orientations toward the world of objects and other subjects—are constructed in relation to works of art. In the 1970s. Today that expectation looks much less promising." But the belief that adults are changed in any serious way by "attending a Salon. Never before having seen how dramatic such conflicts are. it was possible to expect that art in some future socialist society would escape comodification. he becomes a different person. but that adults change because they see a picture is highly unlikely."19 This view may be plausible. ethnic. and other identities." Whitney Davis writes. a variety of responses to David's art are imaginable. that man comes to care more about the interests of France than his family. well-defined social roles. This viewer might then draw a rather different lesson—he might see the picture as showing the problems of masculine morality and the wicked absurdity of political judgments that take too little account of the intrinsic value of individuals. Informed by the painting.™ That narrative of a historically distant Roman conflict between public duty and family loyalty becomes by 1789 a picture about the present. Imagine a French aristocrat who in 1785 sees Jacques-Louis David's Oath of the Horatii. like other capitalist markets. How plausible is the belief that politically critical art might improve the viewer? "Recent art history. rewards inventiveness. Once our character is formed.24 Rosalind Krauss be unexpected that his art and Johns's—and not the work of their less original contemporaries—became extremely valuable. Revolutions sometimes inspire political art. massive changes in erotic preferences or political ideals require correspond- . David's The Lictors Returning to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons (1789) shows the brooding father below the body of his son—another lesson in virtue. he allows. whatever the cost to his family. for example. this is what believers in political art would like to imagine. reading an illustrated magazine or going to a museum" is implausible.

how city life depends also on cooperation. Published in a catalog of the Museum of Modern Art. this ideal is very far from being always achieved. or television shows. minorities. The prob- . then why do they show7 Serra? When viewing Serra's Tilted Arc. movies.23 Everyone knows that contemporary works by famous artists are expensive commodities and that the very rich rule our museums. neither children nor adult authority figures. and other bigots are generally felt to be abnormal. of course. But in our culture homosexuality is discussed on television. When people are permitted to speak publicly in racist ways. Serra's work does nothing other than present us with the truth of our social condition. and reception. we learn that "insofar as our society is fundamentally constructed upon the principle of egotism. then the mistaken impression is given that such ways of thinking are acceptable. if not (when they hold extreme view's) "crazy. would momentary exposure to such art change their political beliefs? Most Americans think it important that children not grow up with homophobic. And we believe that no one.. the institutional supports of its circulation. The Buddha. even if they wished."22 Few New Yorkers are unaware of the importance of egoism or.In the Beginning Was Formalism 25 ingly dramatic causes. a very sheltered child. these claims are self-contradictory. the needs of each individual coming into conflict with those of all other individuals. No one could remain very sheltered. We believe that nasty images of gay people. changed because he saw aging and death. Championing Richard Serra. Racists. Few visitors to the recent Whitney Biennales object to the political art on display there. New York. or sexist remarks should be unchallenged.20 Even if they did. the power relations represented by these institutions. what Crimp does not take up. who makes homophobic. But that it is a norm is significant. racist. sexists.. The art they see when adults mostly does not. for that influences how people speak and think in private. its mode of production. or sexist books. In practice. or women deform children's ways of thinking. racist. Douglas Crimp argues that21 it is not in the interests of the institutions of art and the forces they serve to produce knowledge of radical practices even for their specialized audience. Such practices attempted to reveal the material conditions of the work of art. If it is not in the interest of museums to promote such awareness. Crimp claims." The culture people grow up with affects their moral views..

He seeks to be a radical critic of the museum. Attempting to preserve Tilted Arc. Krauss's account could be used in a populist way. that Tilted Arc is "the product of an entrenched. and the National Gallery. the National Endowment for the Arts. deserves this recognition. Like almost all serious contemporary visual art. magnificently. Unlike some pub- . more specifically what it means for vision to be invested with a purpose. Richard Serra appealed to legal reasoning. Of course this does not satisfy him. observes." is essentially true. "In the beauty of its doing this. defending it in prose the public finds incomprehensible. art schools. and universities" where he lectured. but they don't deal with the obvious fact that this sculpture was unpopular. and the Getty Grant Program for support. As Crow notes. had his suit been successful. self-interested minority culture brutally indifferent to the needs of the average individual. Serra's is esoteric. but the function of his writing is to promote Serra. You only need read Krauss's public statement in support of Serra to realize how little of a populist she is:26 The kind of vector Tilted Arc explores is that of vision.. Setting down a large expensive sculpture. this sculpture is constantly mapping a kind of projectile of the gaze that starts at one end of Federal Plaza and.24 His government. Krauss says. Why indeed should he be satisfied when often even relatively privileged gay people are often badly treated? Crimp's well-deserved success puts him in an impossible position. It is too late when in her last sentence." And yet.26 Rosalind Krauss lems inherent in Crimp's role as radical critic are apparent in the acknowledgments to his excellent book On the Museum's Ruins. has an obligation to respect his rights. was to ask for trouble. Fie thanks the "many museums. Serra's supporter. like the embodiment of the concept of visual perspective. As Crow. an important critic." 25 Crimp and Crow observe how the hearings against Tilted Arc were manipulated by Serra's enemies. she speaks as if to a seminar. "the trap that he created for himself was that. he argued. . maps the path across the plaza that spectator will take. Tilted Arc would have become a permanent monument to the virtues of the American judicial system— its survival would have entailed an implicit contradiction of his intellectual premises. Tilted Arc establishes itself as a great work of art. The conservative view that Crow presents. Crimp. not commissioned in open competition..

. he is at the very same time projecting an imaginary space which. When in the late 1960s Krauss was publishing in Artforum. it might have become popular. . more advanced level of capital.. Had Tilted Arc's defenders better explained the work. that was oriented to the wall in terms of its continuity and its resistance to being bounded.. In Le Corbusier's cubist paintings. if it is shaped somehow by the structural features of that same nightmare. This argument too is questionable. or compensation for. She uses Greenberg's concept of "all-over" or decentralized composition. and Frank Stella. I am deeply grateful to . w r ho . C o m p a r e d with the activist critics of October. . Serra's essentially democratic work is accessible to anyone with eyes to see. as a friend. she argued. a n d most of the other figures Krauss has championed are very m u c h of their time.In the Beginning Was Formalism 27 lie figurative sculpture. "My knowledge of modernist painting and sculpture." she wrote in 1971." 2 8 Soon enough she w o u l d speak differently. works to produce the possibility for its receiver fictively to occupy the territory of what will be a next. Michael Fried wrote commentaries on Kenneth Noland. The rhythmic momentum of mural-art or wall-decoration naturally resists centralization and the relationships between perimeter and centre that constitute the easel picture. Greenberg. a certain nightmare induced by industrialization or comodification. it is irremediably space viewed from a distance. and is therefore eternally resigned to frontality. Clement Greenberg and Michael Fried. . 27 While the artist might be creating a Utopian alternative to. Krauss has a nuanced view of the possibilities of political art. Jules Olitski. but in her early criticism. the surrealist photographers. for- malism remained very powerful. and discussions with. "pictorial space is that which cannot be entered or circulated through. Krauss discussed David Smith. helped the present work come into being." 30 . Is the good critical artist ahead of his time? Serra. Greenberg w a s very influential. . "was developed largely through the critical essays of. Robert Motherwell. which only those knowledgeable about iconography can understand. 29 [Morris] Louis embedded the release of color within a surface that was mural-like.. and Jackson Pollock's drawings. .

Krauss also s u p p o r t e d them: 31 Because Pollock's line never registers objects which one imagines one could touch but rather creates a space available only to vision." 3 4 Greenberg did not m u c h admire Johns. "convey an extraordinary sense of the a u t o n o m y of the visual. Krauss's experience at Artforum "with John Coplans and Robert Pincus-Witten" then dramatically changed her interests. The color cannot inform or make sensible the literal place of the picture. the color field painters were identified by Greenberg as the natural heirs to the Abstract Expressionists. In Smith's sculpture. Krauss makes distinctions of detail between her claims and those of Greenberg a n d Fried. ." 3 5 Fie alludes to Heinrich Wolfflin's distinction between linear sixteenth-century art. but here Krauss remains u n d e r the spell of modernist ways of thinking. Krauss's break with Greenberg involved a very public dispute about the David Smith estate. "the surface makes the work visually accessible. 33 Jasper Johns's mid-1970s paintings. while defeating the desire for possession by touch. . Looking back. and baroque painterly representation that "has its roots only in the eye a n d appeals only to the eye . The a u t o n o m y of the voice is the ironist's last source of value. In a 1968 catalog essay. just as the child ceases to take hold of things in order to 'grasp' them." 3 6 Wolfflin distinguished two forms of representation. This is precisely what color in Olitski's art can. In the 1960s. and does. Krauss and Fried identify different w a y s in which painters open u p abstract illusionistic space." 3 2 But already in Terminal Iron Works different concerns emerge—surrealism and totems. do. so mankind has ceased to test the picture for its tactile values. where w h a t w e see depicted is w h a t w e can also imagine touching. Terminal Iron Works appears an uneasy synthesis. Pollock was the first to usher the viewer into what has been called an optical space. Krauss wrote. It is no accident that they argued about . Soon Krauss too w o u l d be a m o n g those critics. similarly. [Jules] Olitski's art makes it possible to see how different the kind of opticality achieved by Pollock was from that achieved by Newman. A more developed art has learned to surrender itself to mere appearance. while accepting the basic formalist framework.28 Rosalind Krauss Terminal Iron Works begins discussing recent attacks on formalism. Fried spoke of "the difficulty of conceiving of a space to which eyesight gives access b u t which somehow denies even the possibility of literal penetration of it by the beholder.

37 Because there is a tendency to reject Greenberg's claims out of hand. Looking back. is not the best way to understand Caro's achievement. the issues were more complex than either side indicated. NOTES 1. Arthur C. See my Artwriting (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press. . it would have been more honest to separate herself from him over some matter of principle (of which there were plenty)—and not over this point of detail. When Greenberg had that paint removed. 1981). Danto. But when personal relationships fail. Greenberg did not remove final paint applied by the sculptor. But insofar as the primer supplied no guide to the final intended color. Judging just by the published information.In the Beginning Was Formalism 29 economic issues. . Krauss made Greenberg the target: "Caro seems to me an example of an artist who has been rather badly derailed by paying close attention to the terminology used by admiring critics to forward his work. for critics of Krauss's generation had become very suspicious of Greenberg's role in the art market. remains a vexed one. 2. The Transfiguration of the Commonplace: A Philosophy of Art (Cambridge. this point is worth spelling out."42 Greenberg's positivism. Krauss writes. I don't think he has ever used applied color with real success. After the End of Art: Contemporary . it was possible to understand his action in two ways. This argument about David Smith became the basis for settling long simmering disputes. "I feel that there are no justifiable grounds for altering the work of an artist after his ."40 Might the unfinished works painted only with primer have been destroyed? When Smith's became valuable. death. people generally behave in irrational ways. p. (So far as I know. Greenberg removed paint that Smith applied. . In a review. this was unlikely. .38) Greenberg claimed that "the question of color in Smith's art. In her next book. Smith left some sculptures with only primer. Krauss needed a pretext to rebel against a mentor whose era was passed. and Arthur C. Smith did not choose the color of these sculptures. 1987). "Smith was willing to conceded that the color he applied to the surfaces of his earlier work was largely arbitrary and almost never really successful. she says. that paint was not an essential to Smith's artwork."41 But this is not exactly the situation. Danto. she developed an alternative to Greenberg's theorizing. MA: Harvard University Press. 208."39 And Krauss wrote.

see Krzysztof Pomian. Douglas Crimp. eds." in Eva Hesse: Sculpture (London: Whitechapel Art Gallery. 1977). Art and the Pale of History (Princeton. 22. 2 (fall 1987): 143-155. 1994). 1976-1986 (Cambridge. Rosalind E. 6. Thomas Crow. 3 (1997): 241-245. 16. Word & Image 4. "Eva Hesse. . Hans Haacke. On the history of the art market. 10. M. 1996). VA: National Art Education Association. p." in Danto and His Critics. Wilson. The editors. n. 1997). Columns & Catalogues (Great Barrington." October 1 (1976): 3. Dave Hickey. Elizabeth Wiles-Portier (Cambridge: Polity Press. 16. 1991). Krauss." October: The First Decade. trans. NJ: Princeton University Press. CA: Art Issues Press. 1500-1800. Pierre Cabanne. 14. 1986-1993 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 37. p. 11. 1997). p. See my "Teaching the New Art History. trans. 65-92. ed. Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe. "About OCTOBER.p. Wilson (Reston. See my "Art Criticism and the Death of Marxism. P. Mark Rollins (Oxford: Blackwell. Air Guitar: Essays on Art & Democracy (Los Angeles. 1993). 9. a founding editor. 1971). 7. See Stephen Bann's review (October: The First Decade and Brian Wallis." Leonardo. pp. Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp. 88. 1979). 15. B." in The History of Art Education: Proceedings from the Second Perm State Conference. MA: MIT Press. 111. 9. 3-4 [July-December 1988]: 746-748) and Noel Carroll. 12. p. "Rauschenberg and the Materialized Image. Richard Wollheim. Ron Padgett (New York: Viking.. "about OCTOBER. 361 n. p. Stankiewicz. D. 30. Annette Michelson. "Illusions of Postmodernism. "Introduction. Collectors and Curiosities: Paris and Venice. 1995). Ambury. MA: Figures. and Joan Copjec. 5." Artforum (December 1974): 38. CT: Yale University Press.30 Rosalind Krauss yond Piety: Critical Essays on the Visual Arts. 4. and M. 8." Raritan 7. p. "Danto's Gallery of Indiscernables. ed. Passages in Modern Sculpture (New York: Viking Press. p. 237.A. discussed this occasion in his Be- 13. Modern Art in the Common Culture (New Haven. ix. 3. 1990). Soucy." October 1 (1976): 5. 1987).

1991). Crow. 1985). 26. Clara Weyergraf-Serra and Martha Buskirk (Cambridge. Rosalind E. 33. Modern Art. Painters and Public Life in EighteenthCentury Paris (New Haven. 24. p. and Leo Castelli. and my "Was David a Revolutionary before the Revolution?: Recent Political Readings of Oath of the Horatii and The Lictors Returning to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons/' forthcoming in an anthology on David edited by Dorothy Johnson. See my "New York. pp. 27. Terminal Iron Works: The Sculpture of David Smith (Cambridge. MA: MIT Press. 82. and Hayden Gallery. "Jules Olitski. 28. Even a small circulation publication requires patrons. 25. Krauss." Artlnternational. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 9 (winter 1989): 36-41. 29." October 2 (summer 1976): 98. The summer 1996 October acknowledges "generous support" from Marian Goodman (Gerhard Richter's American dealer). exhibition catalog (Auckland: 1971). Krauss.p. Rosalind E. "Jasper Johns: The Functions of Irony. ed. ed." in Jules Olitski: Recent Paintings (Institute for Contemporary Art. Krauss. "Introduction. Ibid. 149-150. 89. Laura Rosenstock (New York: Museum of Modern Art. Crow. n. "The Subject in the Scene of Representation. Richard Serra. p. 32.In the Beginning Was Formalism 31 17. See Thomas E.. p. Krauss. 53. "Leger. and Purism." Burlington Magazine (June 1995): 409-410. An earlier version of this argument appears in my "Art Criticism and Its Beguiling Fictions." The Destruction of Tilted Arc. 30. The Destruction of Tilted Arc: Documents. 22. Terminal Iron Works. Roy Lichtenstein." Art Bulletin 71." October 54 (fall 1990): 11. Whitney Davis." Morris Louis. 23. artists (and dealers of artists) championed by October. p. Passages in Modern Sculpture. Claes Oldenburg. 4 (December 1994): 570. University of Pennsylvania. 34.p. CT: Yale University Press. . Le Corbusier. 20. vi. 19. in Richard Serra/Sculpture. 42. 18. MA: MIT Press. "(Statement)." Artforum (April 1972): 52. 1986). 1971). 1968). n. Whitney Biennial. "The Cultural Logic of the Late Capitalist Museum. 21. 31. Krauss. In Rosalind E. vii.

D. See my Principles of Art History Writing (University Park. 21. Volume 4. 1993). Joseph W. Krauss. 39. n. p. 21. In a footnote she quotes Smith: "I've only made two sculptures in tune properly between color and shape. p. Letters. Three American Painters (Cambridge. 1965). 24-25. 170. 192. 1991). pp. 40.d). with reply. MA: Fogg Art Museum. If the painted sculptures also were set out of doors. The Collected Essays and Criticism. PA: Penn State Press. Henderson. Modernism with a Vengeance. p. Hottinger (New York: Dover. Terminal Iron Works. Some of Smith's sculptures were left outside in winter—a photograph in Terminal Iron Works shows snow piled on Cube Totem.32 Rosalind Krauss 35. 37. 36. Principles of Art History: The Problem of the Development of Style in Later Art. "How Paradigmatic Is Anthony Caro. Art in America (March-April 1978): 136. 42. . 1957-1969. Heinrich Wolfflin. ed. 38. trans. John O'Brian (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Clement Greenberg. p. that would suggest that their paint was relatively unimportant to Smith." 41. M." Art in America (September-October 1975): 83.

. His lecture "Other Criteria.. . and his way of thinking soon was generally accepted... Within the semiotic square. Francois Dosse The key figure in the revolt against Greenberg was Leo Steinberg.CHAPTER 2 The Structuralist Adventure The semiotic square usually imposed an initial structure on a narrative . continuity. and Warhol. for he provided the best argument against formalism and linked that argument to the best artists corning after Abstract Expressionism. the empirical world and the referent could be kept at bay. anything could be put in the four corners of the square without any verification whatsoever. Greenberg argues that the history of modernist painting is inaugurated by Manet's preserving-anci-breaking-with old master tradi- . Art is ."2 The relationship of artwork and spectator had changed. "announced the advent of 'post-modernism/" 1 Krauss is a follower of Steinberg—she often acknowledges his influence."3 Steinberg disagreed. "Nothing could be further from the authentic art of our time than the idea of a rupture of continuity. Greenberg said. Lichtenstein. and unthinkable without it. "the all-purpose picture plane underlying this post-Modernist painting has made the course of art once again non-linear and unpredictable.. Steinberg asserts. Speaking of Rauschenberg." Krauss rightly wrote in 1988.

" 5 Does a marxist concern with negation give a just image of the achievements of m o d e r n i s m ? Krauss's emphasis on n e g a t i v i t y in m o d e r n i s t s c u l p t u r e signals her revolt a g a i n s t Greenberg. .. then the artists championed by Greenberg were too tra- ditional to be significant. Fried insisted that high modernist abstraction was not fundamentally concerned with negation. Krauss's Rodin negates w h a t came earlier. argues that Roclin both does something n e w and builds u p o n tradition: 6 Rodin was the first sculptor who actually tried to catch up with painting. His sculptures fail to present a visual narrative. Krauss says that the history of modernist sculpture beginning with Rodin involves a decisive break with tradition. . Tim Clark has asserted. Because of its actual disjunction from the body that lies behind it. the mask functions i n . he remained closer to Greenberg. was fulfilled in itself and in the revival of monolithic sculpture that it initiated. 1931] as a denial of the classical principle which holds that the surface of a form is the external effect of an underlying cause. . He was a great artist. by contrast. ." he " p r o d u c e d an art intensely hostile to rationalism. "that the practices of m o d e r n i s m in the arts are fundamentally practices of negation. his individual figures are not expressive. Krauss's characterization of Rodin's achievement is essentially negative. and Michael Fried has denied. His art . 7 Duchamp's strategy has been to present a work {Fountain) which is irreducible under formal analysis. the o u t w a r d appearance of the b o d y to its inner structure. In failing "to relate . [Picasso Head of a Woman. Passages characterizes m a n y very different sculptures in these negative terms. What assertion of Greenberg is being denied by Krauss? If Krauss a n d Steinberg were right.34 Rosalind Krauss tion. When. dissolving stone forms into light and air in search of effects analogous to those of impressionist painting. Passages in Modern Sculpture argues that m o d e r n i s m began with Rodin. by contrast. but he destroyed his tradition. By not presenting a narrative and not showing the b o d y ' s structure. . wrhich is detached from his own personal feelings. . . Greenberg." 4 Rodin's figure groupings d o not present narratives.

" 8 Like Rodin's figurative sculpture. so a sculpture displays an expressive surface. answers this question. Richard Serra's One-Ton Prop (House of Cards). A traditional sculpture is like a person. a piece of iron follows a gesture. simultaneously rejects the innerness of its space and the privacy of the self for which that space was a model." 9 Rodin's figures m a y look like Michelangelo's. In Greenberg's theory of modernist painting. Krauss says that Mark di Suvero creates three-dimensional versions of Abstract Expressionist paintings. but it also applies to abstract art. 1966] a natural opacity. something is preserved. . together they form a naturalistic and anthropomorphic image.. The Originality of the Avant-Garde. the minimalism of Serra and Carl Andre. As Gombrich's The Story of Art describes paintings by Giotto. W h e n w e get to her near contemporaries. Lever. for Krauss w h a t matters is how these meanings are expressed. idealized m e d i u m to a temporal and material one—that h a d begun with Rodin is fully achieved. and not whether art is figurative or abstract. identifying Smithson as finishing a project b e g u n by Rodin. As a person's inner states are expressed outwardly by their body. Masaccio. This analogy is easiest to grasp w h e n sculpture depicts h u m a n bodies.The Structuralist Adventure 35 The idea that they were not fabricated by the artist but were made instead for some other use within society at large—constructing buildings—gives to those elements [Carl Andre. w h a t could come next? Only her next book. Similarly. "A beam thrusts. Because she thus achieves narrative closure. and very unlike Smithson's Spiral jetty. but if Krauss's account can be accepted. in negating the internality of the abstract-expressionist picture. so Krauss identifies these very different looking sculptures in the same way: like a Rodin. "the transformation of sculpture—from a static.. Even in this radical negation. The subject of this art is the b o d y and our experience of it. w h a t is essential is h o w the m e d i u m is used. Johns's Target or Ale Cans. against sculpture as a metaphor for a body divided into inside and outside. and Manet as illusionistic. the video art of Bruce N a u m a n .. they are not meaningful because they are not representing the body. these different looking artworks by Rodin and Smithson seem similar.. and the earthworks of Robert Smithson all turn away from o u t w a r d expression of what is inward to concern with surfaces. continues the protest .

In order to name this historical rupture.. and associates it with different artists. Steinberg's Rodin is quite different from Krauss's. in Wittgenstein's later philosophy. but his concerns are different. a public.13 Artists who "insisted on making work that would refuse the uniqueness."11 She gives a different date for the break than Steinberg. but more crucially to painting. Krauss calls Steinberg's 1963 essay "Rodin" a decisive influence. Meaning of art ." as. Some artists Krauss discusses—Johns..36 Rosalind Krauss Krauss's modernist tradition in sculpture starts earlier than Steinberg's postmodernism. Rauschenberg. "Rodin" neither discusses the modernist sculptors discussed in Passages. which defines some of their differences. and inaccessibility of experience" employed Wittgenstein's argument against a private language. "the Minimalists looked sometimes to architecture. rather than a private space." she argued. In the most interesting modernist sculpture. linguistic meanings are given not by internal experiences but publicly by behavior. nor links Rodin to the postmodernists of "Other Criteria. Krauss identifies continuity from Rodin through to the advanced art of the 1970s. it does not." Steinberg focuses on painting and Krauss discusses sculpture. Where Steinberg finds a serious historical break in the 1960s. narrative structures are literary artifacts.. one must have recourse to another term. dedicated chiefly to conventional communal goals. The Originality (1985) says that a group of sculptors working around 1968 to 1970 "had entered a situation the logical conditions of which can no longer be described as modernist."12 Perhaps Rodin's ultimate significance for our time is simply that he turned the direction of sculpture around. meaning is "seen as arising from . "Since sculpture itself offered few models. Under one description. The one already in use in other areas of criticism is postmodernism. as narratologists argue. . Nineteenth-century sculpture was. Krauss argues. under another. privacy. apart from a brief mention of Brancusi. Warhol—appear also in "Other Criteria. postmodernism starts in the 1960s. but does not explain why they think about history differently." 10 If. describes the break differently. Steinberg's Rodin is a brilliantly innovative employer of tradition. . Rodin restored to imvard experience what had been for at least a century a branch of public relations. structures of texts and not the world. then writers can legitimately describe art's history differently.. There seems no reason not to use it.

" The sculptural language Krauss describes became the dominant language of the modern artworld. understanding the content of sculpture is essential. do her new arguments develop continuously out of the old ones. it became apparent that any mere tampering with Greenberg's account was insufficiently radical to command attention. as when. Language combines words into sentences. Native speakers make and understand statements. When an original thinker changes her ways of thinking dramatically. Soon Krauss will take up this problem. did Krauss turn to structuralist theorizing? Passages offers an alternative to Greenberg's account of modernism. and Robert Smithson. Focused on sculpture. A linguist. Krauss explains the history of this art form from Rodin to Serra. for example. figures very different from David Smith. not painting. as the sculptor combines physical elements into the artwork. the sculptor associated closely by Greenberg with Abstract Expressionism. Leo Steinberg called for new criteria. according to Passages." That the sculptures of Anthony Caro are constructed of assembled autonomous elements makes this comparison tempting. they make statements. The history from Rodin to Smithson is the story of the development of artworks that do not express outwardly an inner structure. hence the subtitle of the last chapter of Passages—"a new syntax for sculpture. but usually only sculptors make sculptures. by contrast. This analogy between linguistic and sculptural meaning cannot go very far. unlike Art and Culture her book does not use a formalist narrative. can analyze the present uses of language without examining its history. Krauss would need to imagine a meaningful language that most people understand but cannot speak. and so do not present a narrative. To make her analogy plausible. for the best new art had broken with the past. or does she need to break with her past? How. Modernist sculptures are meaningful because like sentences. presents a very different view of art's temporal development. Richard Serra. after rejecting the developmental narrative of Passages in Modern Sculpture. Richard Serra made House of Cards by balancing four 500-pound plates of lead against each another. The Originality oftheAvant-Garde. Giving a major place to . in contact only at their upper corners. Passages dealt sympathetically with Mel Bochner.The Structuralist Adventure 37 is given in public ways in "what might be called cultural space. The linguist and the scholar of modernist sculpture have different goals. By the 1970s. translating diachronic analysis into atemporal terms to present the historical development of sculpture in a diagram. Her next major book.

both the past and the problem are felt to reside outside it. only hints at historical analysis. originated in a dispute with another senior figure. Here. Krauss describes Gates of Hell without mentioning Elsen. so the title essay of her second full book. did not discuss this issue." Philip Fisher notes. But although Passages presented a postformalist analysis. Both disputes concern art and commerce. What would it mean to speak of a structure in modernist art? Levi-Strauss."14 Krauss breaks with this conservatism.38 Rosalind Krauss Smith. as no more than a variant of development of a familiar range of facts without only certain differences is a profoundly conservative habit. at least provisionally. the Rodin scholar Albert Elsen. Fler Smith is different from Greenberg's. The Originality of the Avant-Garde. In Passages. "we domesticate novelty. and access to them can only be achieved by a long chain of explanation which characteristically takes the form of narrative. Rather. Krauss described him in postformalist terms. And so a major creative effort was required to identify ways of applying their ways of thinking to visual art. and to some earlier. The next step came when Krauss developed a nonnarrative way of thinking about art history. "In sequence making. Initially Rodin . her book. Just as Krauss's first deeply individual creative work was provoked by her break with Greenbergian formalism. focused on contemporary art and its early modernist precedents.16 Neither Levi-Strauss nor the other well-known figures associated with structuralism were centrally concerned with visual art. in retrospect that account seems close to Greenberg's. In the 1960s there was much interest in structuralism among literary critics. Krauss does not say much about premodern art. untranslated German literature. she anticipated structuralist ways of thinking. primarily interested in cultures outside of history. and some tentative attempts to apply it to visual art. Like Art and Culture.17 The Originality of the Avant-Garde developed a highly original way of applying structuralist theorizing to contemporary art. The choice to see the new fact. In 1966 Sheldon Nodelman drew attention to the writings of Claude Levi-Strauss. When Frank Stella worked in series. in ways that only became clear later. she suggested in 197V5 the image no longer contains the terms of its past—understood as the terms of the problem to which it is seen to be a response.

no intentions—about how many copies should be made. This work. in 1904. he found her account of Rodin unsympathetic. by Elsen and other experts asks: Is Gates of Hell finished? Is the bronze in exhibition. he supervised his more important castings."19 Krauss sets Rodin into a history of modernist sculpture very different from Elsen's. but "in its final version the Gates of Hell resists all attempts to be read as a coherent narrative. Elsen objected to her attempt to "make Rodin a founding formalist and the Gates of Hell into a formalist exercise of 'opacity' and self-referral. Were the unfinished Smiths or the posthumous cast of Gates of Hell not genuine. complex questions are generated by practical concerns. an original Rodin?21 Rodin had a plaster cast made in 1900. Gates of Hell was cast only a decade after his death. Generally he left the making bronzes of his sculptures to assistants. but could not be set in its site. as in the argument about Greenberg's removal of primer from unfinished David Smiths."22 Copies of Rodins are a sensitive issue. Rodin did not permit assistants to conceive and execute a sculpture. working with a trusted assistant. but it contains many individual sculptures such as The Thinker. Here. and died in 1917. Rodin often thought of his art as unfinished. as originally planned. not surprisingly. and so. 20 The 1981 Rodin catalog for the National Gallery. During his lifetime. Washington. He gave to the French nation rights to reproduce his art. was owned by the French government. Rodin left to the state a plaster version of an enor- . which could be positioned differently. Elsen plausibly called Gates of Hell "completebut not finished. acting in his name. he had no explicit thoughts—that is." 23 But the sculptures were very valuable. which took possession after his death. an inspector reported that Rodin expected to make further changes." Krauss suggests. and decisions were made by committee about the permitted number of authentic casts. "one course of action would have been to withdraw that small body of work from the market. cast in 1978. for bad replicas were one cavise of the long posthumous eclipse of his reputation. If the problematic Smiths are "only one per cent of the estate's holdings at the time of Smith's death. Relinquishing rights of copying Gates of Hell. Because the sculpture was paid for. very expensive to cast. did not change the sculpture.The Structuralist Adventure 39 made a traditional sculpture. they would have no economic value. Rodin had no incentive to make changes. Many of his sculptures were intended to be copied. Usually there is an intimate relation between a person's intentions and their actions. so that was unlikely to happen. Gates of Hell does not look obviously unfinished." 18 In his review.

she elsewhere has said. Part one. which frequently changes focus. of center.27 Style. Many 1960s artists sought to undermine or move outside the market system. in effect. Accepting. after his reputation was long in eclipse.25 Krauss's critique of Elsen builds upon that concern." is followed by part two. "The absolute stasis of the grid." 30 Krauss describes a structuralist model for describing contemporary art." 26 She uses this example to motivate discussion of authenticity and originality. Krauss wants to open up discussion. but—more importantly—its hostility to narrative. a fundamentally nonhistorical way of thinking. But when. "Toward Postmodernism." 28 She does not suggest that Gates of Hell be discarded. most of Elsen's legal and historical arguments. for what is at stake are the aesthetic rights of style based on a culture of originals. to Jane Austen's accounts of picturesque landscapes. Teachers of logic will recognize that Krauss's Greimas structuralist diagrams derive from the "Square of Opposition. is "a category born of idealism . he again became famous. She found in Elsen's exhibition the pretext for moving her own argument forward. his cast permits making very completelooking artworks.29 This virtuoso performance. whether Rodin thought Gates of Hell definitively finished. "We do not care if the copyright papers are all in order. even if the means employed are oddly arbitrary. its lack of hierarchy. that cast would have been discarded. The Originality of the Avant-Garde moves beyond modernism. The result was brilliant. to grids in modernist painting. important sculpture. the four statements:32 A E I O All republics are ungrateful No republics are ungrateful Some republics are ungrateful Some republics are not ungrateful . museums feel pressure to made them presentable for exhibition. Had he been forgotten. and to Roland Barthes on realism and Sherrie Levine's playful undermining of traditional ideals of artistic originality. Krauss links Rodin to Walter Benjamin's much discussed essay on art in the age of mechanical reproduction. When valuable paintings are damaged. has little to say about Rodin. of inflection emphasizes not only its anti-referential character. Gates of Hell was cast.24 Similarly.40 Rosalind Krauss mous. . . "Modernist Myths." 31 For example." Gates of Hell provides the staging point for questions taken up by Rodin's postmodernist successors.

When. which is obscured by the unwieldiness of ordinary language." he would show the structures of the world. and so nothing can be inferred from the diagram. to quote Fredric Jameson's sympathetic commentary. when Krauss explains Giacometti's sculpture with the diagram figure ground grid gestalt she is only juxtaposing in one of many possible ways those four concepts. the opposite of culture. From this juxtaposition of names. . my Greimas diagram of modernism: Formalism (Greenberg) Antistructuralist Antiformalism (Arthur Danto) Antistructuralism (Michael Fried) Structuralist Antiformalism (Krauss) . nor energy its contrary. There are no logical relationships here. With ingenuity.The Structuralist Adventure 41 define the chart: A I E O The relations between propositions permits determining truth values of assertions.33 If E is true. Consider. . there is no legitimate way to infer logical relationships. any four words can be set in such a diagram. Similarly. for example. and so on. As used by Greimas or literary critics such diagrams have at most a metaphorical significance.34 The "Square of Opposition" displays "the logical structure . A is false. not propositions. Jameson merely diagrams his interpretation of the French novel's development. suggestive though it may be. Greimas seeks "to articulate any apparently static free-standing concept or term into that binary opposition which it structurally presupposes and which forms the very basis for its intelligibility." 35 But when Jameson writes36 Ancien Regime Culture Energy Bourgeoisie then the bourgeoisie is not the opposite of the Ancien Regime.

. . using that text in a different way from singling out another key to reading and therefore of reducing it to different oppositional values. but nothing prevents another reader. Greimas's device does not. As Umberto Eco notes. The Square of Opposition has explanatory power—from the truth value of one proposition. Krauss t h o u g h t that the vocabulary of art history could be translated into structuralist terms. clearness and the seventeenth-century m o d e s of depiction is a . Krauss refers to the well-known categories of Wolfflin's Principles of Art History. replaced by an impersonal structure. he undoubtedly brings to light the oppositions which can be found in the text at the level of a certain working hypothesis. Greimas diagrams uncover the structure of texts. Structuralism aspired to be a science. apart from appeal to authorial intention. Picasso and Wolfflin at roughly the same time d o for the practice a n d theory of the visual arts w h a t Saussure does for language. Danto is not a formalist. But it also suggests false claims—for example. or the world itself as it is represented in such texts. 3 8 when Greimas elaborates a system of oppositions of meaning in order to explain the narrative structures . plane/recession. a story is interpreted. . that of the others follows. 3 9 Picasso's m o d e r n i s m a n d Heinrich Wolfflin's art history 4 0 both convert diachrony into synchrony Both take successions of raw historical phenomena and transform them into formal systems—in fact. . W h a t attracted a r t w o r l d readers to Krauss's Greimas d i a g r a m s w a s their pseudotechnicality. The author has disappeared. the meaning of any choice being equally (and simultaneously) a function of what is not chosen. Meaning does not arise from the positivity of a simple existent (color for example) but rather from a system of differences (color and not line). . In Jameson's account of Balzac's Ea Vieille Fille or Joseph Conrad's Eord Jim. closed and open form. Fried's ideas are different than Greenberg's. multiplicity/unity. that these are the only four possible views of modernism. She thinks his history of the transition from the sixteenth. the same formal system.42 Rosalind Krauss It " m a k e s " some true statements: Krauss is opposed to Greenberg. which seem to be oppositional: linear/painterly. 3 7 Greimas diagrams translate temporal narratives into spatial relationships.

But when we read the comparison the other way round and contrast the Raphael with the Caravaggio we are on more dangerous ground. too. and with the greatest variety in attitude. ." 4 1 Krauss believes that his "art history without n a m e s " is a semiotic account in which the "meaning (of Raphael's) The School of Athens as Classical style is possible only in relation to its not being Baroque. but that does not determine the variation in its appearance: speech itself changes as well as g r a m m a r and syntax. . 4 5 it is legitimate and illuminating to compare the Caravaggio with the Raphael. Raphael is obviously following in Michelangelo's footsteps . We imply that Raphael. . for. The group of the geometers is a solution to a formal problem which few have ever attempted—five figures directed towards a single point. . pure in outline. But his fullest account of The School of Athens is a formal analysis setting the painting in historical context: 43 Here. Wolfflin believes w e see painterly a n d linear paintings as illusionistic representations. deliberately rejected the methods of Caravaggio. Wolfflin uses linguistic metaphors: "in the course of time. Caravaggio knew Raphael's work. after all. in oppositional terms: 4 6 Wolfflin's Principles of Art History presents his categories as binary . Suppose Italy had been conquered by the Muslims in 1550. K r a u s s t h i n k s each element has m e a n i n g only in structuralist... so there had been no baroque. . art manifests very various contents. Still it might be illuminating to anachronistically contrast the Raphael and Caravaggio paintings in Wolfflin's way. that is." 4 2 oppositions. clearly developed in space. He cannot have rejected what he never knew. Insofar as the historian's goal is to describe Raphael's art as he himself understood it. It therefore is not true that Raphael's classical style in defined only in relation to the baroque. .The Structuralist Adventure 43 structuralist analysis.. 4 4 Ernst Gombrich argues that Wolfflin's procedure is inherently flawed. Looking at two Madonnas. But doing that would not justify Krauss's claim that Wolfflin is implicitly developing a semiotic art history. Still this description of Raphael's painting w o u l d m a k e sense. Gombrich is correct.

F G - + + + - + characterizes all paintings. 48 O n the narrower view. say that each of their authors "invokes a semiotic notion of representation . the quality of being F a n d G. which includes studies of old masters as well as accounts of p o p u l a r culture. The editors of a recent wide-ranging anthology Visual Culture."49 The goal is to avoid appeal to intentions. or does not possess. Because she motivates her account by contrasting cubist pictures with other more traditional figurative images. Without reference to French philosophy. . I m a g i n e that p a i n t i n g s are characterized b y qualities. developed by Krauss.The inscription of these f's is not so much the mark by which we infer the presence of the violin in space as it is the writing of an absent spatiality onto the surface of the image.. A n d more qualities could be . only some representations such as cubist pictures are semiotic.. defining the work of art as a semiotic representation. Every painting possesses. Krauss is interested in "an art history that has accepted the degree to which signs and social structures exceed the grasp of the individual. an art history that is seeking to understand the forms of d e p e n d e n c y between the artist and the systems of representation that function as his or her already elaborated context. the general semiotic theory is inconsistent with her analysis. in his 1964 essay "The Artworld" Arthur Danto developed a structuralist analysis." That w h a t he calls the style matrix. a frequently employed sign for depth is the different sizes of the two f-shaped sound holes of a violin. There are two w a y s of presenting semiotic theories of visual art. .44 Rosalind Krauss In Picasso's collage. Her goals are thus quite different from Wolfflin's. . . . Her analysis of the various techniques of representation employed within a single picture does not d e p e n d on broader claims about the plausibility of semiotic theories of representation. G "is repres e n t a t i o n a l " a n d F "is expressionist. that is as a system of signs" 4 7 All visual representation is semiotic.

Juxtaposing works with radically different styles. 5 3 (1) x is F at t-1 (2) H happens to x at t-2 (3) x is G at t-3 . a timeless comparison of styles is irrelevant. Can Krauss use a structuralist account to explain the history of postmodernism? Could ahistorical analysis explain the origin of n e w art forms? When an historian seeks to explain w h y at a certain m o m e n t the development of some n e w art form is significant. . Structuralism cannot explain change. place or circumstances of their use. - Every other painting in existence becomes non-H.The Structuralist Adventure 45 added. the chart reads: 50 F + + + G + + H + ." But the trouble with the style matrix. or as quite outside of time. is that it is essentially ahistorical. presenting its rules without reference to the time. - + . he has explained recently. If some n e w painting comes to have the quality H. and the entire community of paintings is enriched— It is this retroactive enrichment of the entities in the artworld that makes it possible to discuss Raphael and De Kooning together. or Lichtenstein and Michelangelo. it treats "all works of art as contemporaries. he came to think. is it not the mode of analysis most inimical to understanding historical process? What explains change is a narrative. 52 Insofar as logic proceeds formally." 5 1 Danto makes the same point as Gombrich. in the sense that each artwork had the same n u m b e r of stylistic qualities as any other. Danto had. - 4. "a kind of political vision that all works of art were equal.


Rosalind Krauss

"(1), (2), and (3) simply has already the structure of a story. It has a beginning (1), a middle (2), and an end." Greimas diagrams diagram change, and so can be transformed into a narrative sentence like "(1), (2), and (3)." But the diagram cannot bypass the need for historical explanation. An historical process can be presented atemporally, but doing that is self-defeating if the aim is to explain change. Were this the entire story, then Krauss's structuralist analysis would fail. But there is more to her argument. 54 The expanded field of postmodernism occurs at a specific moment in the recent history of art. It is a historical event with a determinate structure— This is obviously a different approach to thinking about the history of form from that of historicist criticism's constructions of elaborate genealogical trees. It presupposes... the possibility of looking at historical process from the point of view of logical structure. Krauss gives a structural analysis of postmodernist sculpture and explains why that structure developed in the 1960s and 1970s. The ahistorical part of her account is supplemented by historical analysis. When Greenberg connected cubism to Abstract Expressionism, as when Passages linked Rodin to minimalism, these histories link together different artworks without much regard for artists' intentions. Such genealogies are like slide show narratives. Cubism is shown to lead to Pollock or Rodin to Richard Serra. What made such stories problematic is recognizing that it is possible to construct such a genealogy for any artist. Greenberg thought that Abstract Expressionism led on to Morris Louis. You might, rather, write a genealogy in which Picasso led to Picabia led to David Salle. Histories are not value neutral. If Salle is Pollock's heir, then his paintings also should be valuable. The same objection could be made to Krauss's prestructuralist theorizing. If Richard Serra is Rodin's successor, then his sculptures should also be valuable. That way of establishing artistic value is problematic. Pollock's paintings look very different from cubist works, but in Greenberg's historical narrative they deal with essentially the same concerns. Rejecting that way of thinking, Krauss argued that postmodernism breaks with modernism. The Originality rejects the explanatory techniques of traditional art history. The belief in art as self-expression, which lies behind biographical explanations; the belief in the unique artwork; the belief that an artist develops in a continuous way: Krauss critiques these ideas. Postmodernism is es-

The Structuralist Adventure


sentially unlike earlier art. The Greimas diagram, which shows the structures of postmodernism, must be supplemented by an historical account explaining why those structures developed at a particular temporal moment. Krauss's structuralist diagram differs, then, from Danto's style matrix. Because Danto believes that the history of art ended with Warhol, he can diagram all of the possibilities. Krauss does not believe that art's history has ended. Her Greimas diagram identifies the range of artworks possible at one time, but in the future, other forms of art are possible.55 Do Greimas diagrams avoid the arbitrariness of genealogies? Jameson thinks that the structures are not arbitrary.56 We never really confront a text immediately, in all its freshness as a thing-in-itself. Rather, texts come before us as the always-already read; we apprehend them through sedimented layers of previous interpretations, or—if the text is brand-new—through the sedimented readings habits and categories developed by those inherited interpretive traditions. As a reader brings to a text experience of other books, so we see visual art influenced by art we know already. That much is common sense. Jameson's more interesting claim is that he provides the best possible account of the meaning of a text. Analogously, Krauss claims that she provides the best possible structural analysis. Behind Jameson's Kantian vocabulary is an appeal to psychoanalytic models. Freud presented unconscious thoughts—Jameson's and Krauss's goal is to identify the unconscious of a text or artwork as it really is. If the Greimas diagram only shows one person's associations to the artwork, then how significant could it be? Jameson's argument that his is the best of all possible interpretations will convince only those who accept his highly personal Marxist adaptation of Christian textual exegesis. A text cannot be scrutinized all at once, and so can be understood only by bringing outside knowledge to bear. The visual artwork is seen essentially all at once—totally accessible to the eye. Greenberg laid particular stress on this purely optical nature of modernism. And so, for Krauss to claim that we can understand what we view only by knowing what is visually repressed is surprising. An artist can repress a thought. What, by analogy, would it mean to speak of something visible as repressed? Here we return to the role of intentions in the structuralist analysis. One often defended traditional view is that interpretation must


Rosalind Krauss

appeal to the artist's intention. If w e override his o w n view of his goals, failing to take his intentions seriously, then, so Richard Wollheim argues, our analysis will be arbitrary. 5 7 In certain quarters, where the view is taken that criticism is at liberty to project on to a work of art whatever it wishes, or whatever it finds original or suggestive or provocative, and in this liberty lies the vitality of art, it is insufficiently appreciated that, in taking this view, critics, or friends of criticism, cut off the branch on which they sit. For the view in effect cancels the status of art and relegates art to the status of nature. This is wrong. 5 8 The artist intentionally makes an artifact, b u t often is not in the best position to describe the artwork. 5 9 That a visual artifact w a s m a d e intentionally does not imply that its maker can provide the best verbal description. A critic might legitimately describe the picture in terms u n k n o w n to the artist. Krauss tends to be skeptical of appeals to intentions: "Since Pollock's statements can be s h o w n to have been the result of a kind of ventriloquy practiced by his various m e n t o r s . . . . they give us no reliable sense of his o w n intentions." 6 0 Danto says something similar about Warhol: "It is difficult to pretend that Warhol's intention w a s to clear the u n d e r b r u s h and m a k e room for a finally adequate theory of art. In some ways it is p e r h a p s inscrutable w h a t his intentions ever were." 6 1 Warhol intended to celebrate popular culture—but he did not think of himself as a philosopher of art. Greenberg also argues that appeal to intentions cannot explain art's development: 6 2 The paradox in the evolution of French painting from Courbet to Cezanne is howr it was brought to the verge of abstract in and by its very effort to transcribe visual experience with ever greater fidelity. The logic of the Impressionist readjustment... had to work itself out regardless of the volition of individuals. In Greenberg's Hegelian narrative, the logic of art's history w o r k e d itself out regardless of w h a t individuals desired. Krauss rejects this historiography, b u t accepts Greenberg's view of the irrelevance of intentions. Philosophical art critics, w h e t h e r they write genealogies or construct structural diagrams, u n d e r p l a y the importance of intentions. H o w then can their interpretations be evaluated? The danger, as m u c h for Krauss's structuralist analysis in The Originality as for her

John O'Brian (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Ibid. "I find the phrase 'Steinberg's followers. Francis Frascina (London: Harper & Row. In an earlier account. the critic can get the artwork "right. 4. p. p. 1986). p. Clement Greenberg. 93. is that the analysis be merely arbitrary. Volume 2. "The Philosophical Brothel") October 44 (spring 1988): 5. But once we place works of art in a genealogy. 3. p. Clark. 1957-1969. 1994]. 8.J. When interpretation appeals to intentions.. p. pp. p. 65. "How Modernism Works: A Response to T. To defend the structural account of The Originality she needed to present an ahistorical definition of art. Passages in Modern Sculpture (New York: Viking Press. 6." October 88 (spring 1999): 89 n.The Structuralist Adventure 49 historical narrative of Passages. Arrogant Purpose." Pollock and After: The Critical Debate. This argument is the subject of the next chapter. The Collected Essays and Criticism. Krauss. 80. 5. or set them in a structure. See also Rosalind E. 250. 7. Vol- . 9. Greenberg. John O'Brian (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Krauss. 316. "Perpetual Inventory. Passages in Modern Sculpture. 178). ed." his account matching what the artist intended. Other Criteria: Confrontations with TwentiethCentury Art (New York: Oxford University Press. ume 4. Leo Steinberg. ed. "Editorial Note" (introducing Leo Steinberg. Clement Greenberg. Rosalind E. 1985). 24. The second quotation comes from the revised version of the essay." in response to Clark's essay "Clement Greenberg's Theory of Art. 1972). 91. "In your essay. Michael Fried. quoting Donald Judd. I identify the dominant critics of the post-Greenberg generation as his followers (The Aesthete in the City: The Philosophy and Practice of American Abstract Painting in the 1980s [LIniversity Park: Pennsylvania State University Press:. 259. The Collected Essays and Criticism. p. This Steinberg denied. 1993). 254. Volume 4. The Collected Essays. 137. 269." he wrote. pp.' As my trusty assistant—typing this letter as I dictate—blurted out: 'Who the hell are they?'" 2. ed. 1977). 6. 58. NOTES 1. who is to say that other histories or structures are not possible? This worry about arbitrariness led Krauss to reject the historical analysis developed in Passages. Krauss. Modernism with a Vengeance. 1945-1949.

21. 9. Philip Fisher. MD: Museum of Art. 20. Jacques Ehrmann (1966. pp. Left in bright natural lighting. See Elsen's catalog essay. Albert Elsen. "Clogged Passages" (Review of Passages). 106. 16. I summarize Elsen's "Are the Gates Complete?" Rodin Rediscovered. ed. 1991)." Artforum (May 1972): 42. 262. 14. ed. MA: MIT Press. 22. X: Pictorial Space and the Question of Documentary. 15. Henderson. p. 1996). Rothko executed a major commission for Harvard University. 270. anonymous (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Making and Effacing Art: Modern American Art in a Culture of Museums (New York: Oxford University Press. for her. reprint. 1985). The Optical Unconscious (Cambridge. Rosalind E. 15. Elsen (Washington. Letters. p. Terminal Iron Works: The Sculpture of David Smith (Cambridge. MA: MIT Press. p. 23. Sheldon Nodelman. 283..50 Rosalind Krauss 9. The Savage Mind. He was opposed to Sartre's Marxist historiography. CA: Stanford University Press. The title of an exhibition catalog by Elsen. Pioneers of Modern Sculpture (London: Hayward Gallery. 1981). DC: National Gallery of Art. Ibid. 287. 1993). that way of identifying modernist subjects begs the question. "Problems of Criticism. Krauss. 16. Rosalind E. 393. The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths (Cambridge. 1973. Krauss. Krauss. Passages in Modern Sculpture. Albert E. Art in America (March-April 1978): 136. 1970). The Partial Figure in Modern Sculpture: From Rodin to 1969 (Baltimore. Her account of David Smith mentions Elsen's account. NY: Doubleday & Company. see Claude Levi-Strauss. "Structural Analysis in Art and Anthropology. 10. 73-75. 19. 4 (April 1978): 140. these paintings are no longer . ch. 24. 11. That is the subtitle of chapter 8 of his The Gates of Hell by Auguste Rodin (Stanford. 269. p." in Structuralism. 259. with reply. p. Rosalind E. "Richard Serra: Sculpture Redrawn. Garden City. Artnews 74. 12. 1985). Passages in Modern Sculpture. Rosalind E. 1971). 18. 1969) points to his differences with Krauss. MA: MIT Press. much modern sculpture fragments the body. Krauss. p." Artforum (November 1971): 69. 17. Joseph W. 13. pp. trans. Krauss. For him. 29 n. Krauss.

She describes that mistake as "journalistically. NJ: Princeton University Press. 1994). Fredric Jameson. Krauss. Krauss. 158. p. 25. p.Writing before Elsen's exhibition opened. Originality of the Avant-Garde. 36. p. Paul J.-J. An Introduction to Eogic. "A Conversation with Hans Haacke. 37. 35. 27. and Alan Velie (Lincoln: University of Nebraska. 1983). 19-27. On Meaning: Selected Writings in Semiotic Theory. Cohen and Nagel. and the Interpretation of Works of Art (Mount Holyoke. Fredric Jameson.The Structuralist Adventure 51 exhibited. That film was never made. Daniele McDowell. 164. 29-34. she described in the present tense seeing a movie about the making of Gates of Hell. exhibition catalog (Florence: Littauer & Littauer. 70. 32. Greimas." October 30 (fall 1984): 47.. "Introduction." Museu dei Musei. p. 1972). p. see her "Originality as Repetition. Analysis. 167. The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Art (Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Ibid. 1987). 31. Arthur C. for their present colors provide little indication of the artist's intentions. trans. Danto pointed this out to me—I never have taught logic. Cohen and Ernest Nagel.. an error" and suggests that imagining the film is a legitimate "part of the staging of The Gates as a theoretical entity at the beginning of a general inquiry on originality within the conceptual frame of modernism" 28. 29. 157." in Altered States. 1981). Ibid. Ronald Schleifer. 33. 66. I discuss Benjamin's argument in my "Le opere d'arte false nell'era della riproduzione meccanica." October 37 (summer 1986): 35-40. An Introduction to Eogic and Scientific Method (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. p. Perron and Frank H. The Prison-House of Eanguage: A Critical Account of Structuralism and Russian Formalism (Princeton. 26. p. 52. trans. Structural Semantics: An Attempt at a Method. Krauss notes that these questions about copies are raised already by old master art. 30. Originality of the Avant-Garde. Conservation. Collins (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. pp. Morris R. See also Ronald Schleifer. and Algirdas Julien Greimas. pp. 181. Consider another Greimas diagram: . 1934). MA: Mount Holyoke College Art Museum. 1988)." A. 34. See my "Restoration as Interpretation: A Philosopher's Viewpoint.

Principles of Art History: The Problem of the Dover. "Only Project" (Review of Richard Wollheim." Philosophical Writings ofPeirce.2 (1991): 174-208. and Keith Moxey (Hanover. p. 39.D. In this section of Classical Art.d. This account builds upon my "Art History. 41. Fleinrich Wolfflin. ed." 93. The New Republic. Krauss. 1966). "Re-Presenting Picasso. 44. 1952). E. Krauss. 95. Heinrich Wolfflin." Art in America (December 1980): 93. "Semiotics and Art History. M. Liz's dog. 49. Wolfflin does not refer to the baroque. 46. ed. 47. but not in such a way that classical painting is meaningful only in relation to what came before. 83. 38. Rosalind E. 42. ch. p. "Introduction. Liz our daughter. Hottinger (New York: This diagram of my family shows the alliances and conflicts of my wife Marianne. 1976). He does. Gombrich argues that for Wolfflin the High Renaissance always is the hidden norm. Painting as an Art). but their view is quite different from that presented in his "Logic as Semiotic: The Theory of Signs. Justus Buchler (New York: Dover. Umberto Eco. Norman Bryson. A Theory of Semiotics (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 1994). 1955). Michael Ann Holly. 129-141. "Re-Presenting Picasso." in Visual Culture: Images and Interpretations. how different our family life would be! 38. Gombrich." p. p. This is the view of Mieke Bal and Norman Bryson.). They refer to Pierce. 94. Krauss. "Re-Presenting Picasso. 220. Classical Art: An Introduction to the Italian Renaissance. 7. 43. place classical art in relation to the quattrocento. ed. NH: University Press of New England. 1996).52 Rosalind Krauss male/middle aged (David Carrier) female/young (Liz Carrier) male/young (Brigston) female/middle aged (Marianne Novy) Development of Style in Eater Art. and Brigston. 40.1988. Peter and Linda Murray (London: Phaidon. 48. xviii. pp." in Contemporary Critical Terms in Art History. trans." Art Bulletin 72. If we had a cat. 90. n. p. 45. September 12 and 19.H. trans. Norm and Form: Studies in the art of the Renaissance (London: Phaidon. p. at the beginning of the book. Robert Nelson and Richard Shiff (Chicago: LJniversity of Chicago Press. .

"The Artworld. 1964): 583. Craig Owens. 278." reprinted in his Beyond Recognition: Representation. 51. Some art historians focus on describing continuity. 322. 9.1 (1993): 299-312." in Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. 1993). Arthur C. Danto. 62. ed. vol." Journal of Philosophy 61. and Culture. 52.The Structuralist Adventure 53 50. 51. p. 164. p. and Jane Weinstock (Berkeley: University of California Press. 1992). In Wolfflin's account. Krauss. p. p. 7. 171. NJ: Princeton University Press. The Interpretation of Cubism (Philadelphia: Art Alliance Press and London: Associated University Presses. 1961). See my "Why Art History Has a History. Jameson. 1997). 60. Gombrich argues. p. Power. 58. 290. . When the classical illusionistic art of antiquity is replaced by Christian pre-Romanesque painting. 1985). 4. Lynne Tillman. 236. p. Richard Wollheim. Scott Bryson. Originality of the Avant-Garde. p. 59. 1985) gives a different account. 55. p. 19 (October 15." Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. 57. 61. Krauss's history is essentially discontinuous. 53. Narration and Knowledge (New York: Columbia University Press. Michael Kelly (New York: Oxford University Press. art changes entirely. old master painting leads to modernism. Art and Culture (Boston: Beacon. 1998). Arthur C. the Renaissance leads to the baroque. My Poussins Paintings: A Study in Art-Historical Methodology (University Park: Penn State Press. Danto. But it is also possible to find precedents for her concern with discontinuity. The Political Unconscious. 4. Krauss. p. 54. Danto. Barbara Kruger. After the End of Art: Contemporary Art and the Pale of History (Princeton. in Greenberg's history. ed. Clement Greenberg. Arthur C. "Aesthetics of Andy Warhol. The Mind and Its Depths (Cambridge. Originality of the Avant-Garde. 56. MA: Harvard University Press. 1993) argues for this claim. Mark Roskill. "Analysis Logical and Ideological.

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Giotto made sacred images." 2 Giotto. Morris Louis painted abstractions. De Duve's account of Duchamp reveals some of the philosophical problems of such an investigation. Clement Greenberg's account of modernism is the natural starting point." 1 This is what Krauss did in her structuralist phase. Thierry de Duve tells how he proposed to Michel Foucault "that the time had come for artistic modernity to be looked at archaeologically. Only under Greenberg's . and Morris Louis made different looking objects.. but takes place within a Homeric battlefield. Courbet.. Antiessentialist Definition of Art Interpretation is not an isolated act. Courbet produced resolutely materialist landscapes. "the painter's first task had been to hollow out an illusion of three-dimensional space on a flat surface. but they all were engaged in the same activity. Modernism has rendered this stage shallower and shallower until now its backdrop has become the same as its curtain. . .CHAPTER 3 The Historicist. [0]nly another." Greenberg writes. as for Krauss. Fredric Jameson In the "Acknowledgments" to his Kant after Duchamp. "From Giotto to Courbet. on which a list of interpretative options are either openly or implicitly in conflict. . For de Duve. the way he (Foucault) had looked at the global episteme of the classical age. stronger interpretation can overthrow and practically refute an interpretation already in place. .

came to . To adopt this as the description of their activity. Alternative accounts. Frank Stella's well-developed genealogy for abstraction. as much as the analysis developed a little later by me and David Reed. are possible. it may be that it helps us to humanize the intricate and ugly shapes with which industrial civilization surrounds us. as fictions. There are diverse ways of organizing such narratives because art historians describe nominal essences—not painting as it really is. which he says defines the novelty of postmodernism. Here we return to Steinberg's argument that postmodernism breaks with tradition. Courbet. There are only artists. critical as he is of Hegel. Nominalists do not believe in real essences. pleas for the importance of tradition were doomed. Gombrich believes that painters making very different looking works share a common goal. Greenberg and Gombrich tell a story gathering together objects of interest. Greenberg's and Gombrich's different stories need not come into conflict. goes on to tell the story of art as the history of progress in naturalism. Insisting on continuity is a conservative political impulse. is also part of a continuous development. but from the art writers themselves. 3 The new is made comfortable by being made familiar. Like Greenberg.5 If this game [of Pollock] has a function in our society. independent of their intentions. Nor is it a fact that Gombrich's painters all make illusionistic representations. painting has an unchanging essence. as true to the facts. is an Hegelian procedure.56 Rosalind Krauss description is it true that they all are doing the same thing. "There really is no such thing as Art. The shift in orientation. since it is seen as having gradually evolved from the forms of the past. and the modernists hollow out an illusionistic space. It is not a fact that Giotto. But focusing on continuity prevents understanding what happens. The structures of these accounts come not from the nature of things. Beneath its apparent changes. For Gombrich there is no abstract art. Historicism works on the new and different to diminish newness and mitigate difference." 4 But Gombrich. We should treat all such histories. Gombrich's as much as Greenberg's. Once belief in the arbitrariness of such narratives became generally accepted. We even learn to see twisted wires or complex machinery as the product of human action. Narrating the history of art.

" but possess the same structure. then a y o u n g scholar. his work spaces in Paris and the country. Antiessentialist Definition 57 seem old hat. the life of these forms is dependent upon constant renewal. .The Historicist. like art itself. Talk of e s s e n c e s is g e n e r a l l y rejected by t h e F r e n c h fig- ures—Deleuze. in the w a y that a person.. are universal. for nothing is ever carried back and forth. so that they ended with an entirely new ship. Argo is an object with no other cause than its name. But Krauss's point can be m a d e in neutral terms. . to erect a monument to Theseus and to put his ship upon the monument. Surely some people would say that the ship put together from discarded planks was the right one to raise up there. or the masterpiece. Barthes describes 8 the ship Argo . . is the same person through all these changes. each piece of which the Argonauts gradually replaced. . . is the same person w h o when y o u n g was a formalist. first an infant in the mirror stage. G o m b r i c h ' s story of art m a k e s similar a s s u m p t i o n s . Derrida. Barthes's two studies have the same structure because the objects in them are arranged exactly the same ways. . Analytic philosophers call Barthes's example the raft of Theseus. Painting changes radically over time but always remains painting. . Greenberg's method conceives the field of art as at once timeless and in constant flux. The Argo remains the same ship because it continues to serve the same function. Structuralists rejected belief in fixed essences lying unchanging behind the flux of appearances. transhistorical forms. Foucault—discussed in October. with no other identity than its form. and finally a professor emerita. 9 Suppose it were decided . without having to alter either its name or its form. . .. 6 Krauss identifies the Hegelian structure of Art and Culture. which have "no c o m m o n object. Krauss.7 Profoundly historicist. . or painting or sculpture. And dispute might break out about this matter between priests who favoured the working ship and antiquarians who preferred the reconstruction. certain things. not unlike that of the living organism. The . the author of The Optical Unconscious. Persons are living organisms. And then he considers a second similar case.

But she. the limits are given their contour in conjunction with the process by which the imagination turns round on itself in order to capture its—as well as the world's—own image. . like Greenberg. the history of painting might be different. The physical space has dramatically changed. Indeed. His account of art's essence differs from hers.58 Rosalind Krauss present Louvre is the same museum where the eighteenth-century Salons were held. one might instead seek to historicize essence by producing a narrative of the shifting depths over time of the need for one or more basic conventions within a pictorial or sculptural tradition. Painting changed dramatically from Giotto to Morris Louis. . Were that the case. and how to judge it. And in advance of this the limits are unknown. Greenberg is not just claiming that in his historical narrative the art of Giotto can be connected with modernism. In film. "Sculpture in the Expanded Field" argues that new sorts of artifacts do not share any essential qualities defining them as sculpture with the older art. to offer legitimate alternatives to her narrative. it is not possible. how then can we know that these new kinds of things are sculptures? And what criteria should we use in evaluating them? To know what is art. Because he does not know Soviet film of the 1920s and Ameri- . Krauss says. but there is continuity in its development. so does it make sense to assert (or deny) that such historically distant artists practice the same activity? Is Greenberg only saying that in his account the old master art of Giotto and Courbet leads to modernism? This solution to the ontological problem leaves out his most significant claim. Greenberg thinks painting has a real essence: modernism painting is the same art as Giotto practiced.11 a modernist sensibility pushes a medium to its limits. Krauss denies that. creating an image of itself in them. is an essentialist. we must know the appropriate conventions. she implies. When no appeal to precedent is possible. Stanley Cavell bases discussion on too narrow a range of examples. then he could allow that in another narrative. Fried suggested an historicist view of art's essence:10 Rather than give up all thought of "essence" in connection with painting or sculpture .

Instead of treating them as breaking with the past. and Alex Hay—are the sculptors of that era who matter. The test of time shows that Krauss made better critical judgments than Burnham. James Seawright.The Historicist. Carl Andre. various successors were proposed. not Burnham. and not a priori theorizing. In the 1950s. so asking how the artists saw themselves cannot solve this problem. These abstruse questions are more likely to concern writers in The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism than critics working for Artforum. When in the early 1960s the moment of Abstract Expressionism passed." 12 In fact. pop art and minimalism proved to be the most significant new art. As we have seen. made the right quality judgments. Antiessentialist Definition 59 can experimental cinema. When someone makes an error in identifying art. Robert Breer. Does sculpture have a real. and Smithson differently than Krauss does. or merely asserting that under one description we find such a break? This question about sculpture's essence of sculpture is internally connected with our query about the historical break. Jack Burnham gives a very different view of the 1960s than does Krauss. Cavell cannot identify the nature of that medium. When the postmodernist asserts that the modernist tradition has ended. It would be possible to describe Serra. Andre. is it a fact about the world that sculptures are a distinct sort of thing. as elsewhere when Krauss takes up philosophical positions. Richard Serra. can determine what defining conventions are most plausible. Judging from the perspective of the 1990s. what kind of mistake have they made? 13 . Krauss does not allow appeal to intentions. But here. there is payoff for the working critic. and Robert Smithson—and not the figures Burnham cites. that is. Only experience. Krauss. But that Krauss picked the best artists does not entirely resolve our philosophical questions. there is more than one way to describe novel art. many conventions defining art are possible. is he identifying a fact about history. Clement Greenberg argued for what he called "Post Painterly Abstraction. or only a nominal essence? That is. others thought that French-style Abstract painting was the strongest new art. some American critics bet on realism. To identify the essence of art requires picking out the best art. At any time. they might be seen as extending tradition. What defines a break in tradition is making new kinds of sculptures. or has Krauss merely identified one possible way of describing sculpture? Earlier we asked a related question.

14 A pile of hemp of the sort Robert Morris exhibits now and again turned up in Antwerp in the seventeenth century when it could certainly have existed as a pile of hemp but almost certainly could not have existed as an artwork. these two cases differ. are capable of establishing his work's nontrivial identity as painting leaves wide open . (Before their paintings existed. those conventions will turn out to be. His mistake w a s generalizing from too n a r r o w a range of examples. 1 6 The art of Pissarro a n d N e w m a n is not the source of novel forms of aesthetic experience. . b u t it w a s not yet visible. W h e n there are competing accounts of those conventions. errors in identifying the nature of art involve failure to recognize conventions. trees. the artwork might have existed. . no contemporary of Rembrandt could have imagined Warhol's Brillo Box. Rembrandt could not have seen the pile of h e m p as a work of art. or a curtain in these ways. That a computer could play chess w a s discovered only w h e n it w a s possible to envisage h o w such an a p p a r a t u s might be constructed. Equally well. If nominalists be correct. " A n d r e w Forge presents a series of examples—the eighteenth-century reducing glasses m a k i n g the English countryside look like a Claude landscape. a Barnett N e w m a n e s q u e stripe on a w i n d o w curtain. a Pissarro-like tree seen from the top of a London bus. simply because the concept of art had not then evolved in such a way as to be able to accommodate it as an instance. In the seventeenth century. the question of what. But there existed in R e m b r a n d t ' s time objects like Brillo Box. N o mere mechanism is capable of thinking.60 Rosalind Krauss The modernist painter seeks to discover not the irreducible essence of all painting but rather those conventions which. should he prove successful. these experiences were p e r h a p s harder to identify.) We can take an aesthetic attitude toward any- . But in one way. Alan Turing's classical essay " C o m p u t i n g Machinery a n d Intelligence" (1950) w a s inspired by his work building computers. at a particular moment in the history of the art. 15 Forge d r a w s attention to the interplay between viewing art in the gallery a n d looking outside in the world. n o one could have imagined our computers. Someone w h o h a d never heard of these artists could still see a landscape. In 1650. w h o s e analysis should be accepted? Descartes argued that thought is an act of spiritual substances. In his essay " A r t / N a t u r e .

By contrast. he is not concerned with providing such an account. Danto is concerned with the timeless nature of art. Indeed. an historicist. they said nothing about the nature of art. defined by the practice of the artworld. What does it matter whether this recent discovery reveals what-art-always-has-been or. Krauss's analysis is akin to the institutional theory of art. She does not accept Danto's argument that art's history has ended. is (1) an artifact (2) a set of the aspects of which has had conferred upon it the status of candidate for appreciation by some person or persons acting on behalf of a certain social institution (the artworld). . some influential philosophers argued that art is defined by the artworld community. Antiessentialist Definition 61 thing—when eighteenth-century aestheticians made this claim. he discusses that issue.18 If there are no necessary and sufficient conditions defining art. because Danto thinks of art's nature as essentially timeless. Danto does not deny that it is possible to offer an historical explanation of why Warhol took up popular culture. But as a philosopher of art history. The protest art Crimp admires might continue to develop so long as there were injustices to call attention to. argues that the nature of art has changed over time. Inspired by a misreading of Danto. They did not anticipate Duchamp's ready mades and Warhol's Brillo Box.. Krauss draws attention to one important difference between herself and Danto. such things are artworks. For Krauss too there is no reason that the essence of art might not continue to change in the future. Unlike Danto. Some critics associated with October have made similar-seeming claims. she explains why that change has occurred. how do we know what new kinds of things are sculptures? We need conventions.The Historicist. rather.17 Thinking that the nature of art has changed. and articulated by critics. Krauss. Crimp does not argue for a philosophical thesis. Douglas Crimp's influential essay "The End of Painting" (1981) responded critically to some fashionable painters of the 1970s. Danto is not an historicist. Now objects such as Brillo Box can be artworks. Neither Danto nor Krauss accept Forge's argument. then19 A work of art. George Dickie says. only shows that the nature of art has changed? In any event. Danto argues that Brillo Box and other similar objects made in the 1960s reveal the essence of art. Here we get to a very controversial point: Danto's claim that the history of art has ended.. If we abandon essentialism.

62 Rosalind Krauss When he adds. . then cannot a group be mistaken? One person may fail to obey convention. . "Is this art?" I replied that many Western artists present similar examples. The next morning.21 The kind of gesture was much repeated in the 1960s. what happens when someone claims that a novel object is an artwork? I lectured on Danto's theories at the National Academy of Art. Smithson's earthworks. "this artworld consists of a bundle of systems. . If one person can be wrong about what is art. as when a forgetful American drives on the right in England. "this is art" and makes that claim everyone else may find puzzling. Suppose an artist says. for the convention is defined by collective behavior. Krauss did not respond to Dickie's analysis. put them on a paper. Such additions might in time de." then he supports Krauss's way of thinking. . on a very humid summer evening. Because eighteenth-century aestheticians . But everyone cannot fail to obey the convention. Asserting that something is an artwork is interesting only when I can convince other people. So far as I know. or minor. He responds to Duchamp's ready mades. and 1960s and 1970s art." perhaps links this action to surrealist tradition. Greenberg writes:22 The 18th century saw the "sublime" as transcending the difference between the aesthetically good and the aesthetically bad. which was not much discussed by art critics. artistically banal. Ed Ruscha threw a typewriter from a speeding car. and the conventions defining art change with the times. And this is why the new versions of the "sublime" offered by "novelty" art in its latest phase. carrying within itself the seeds of its own destruction. "it was too directly bound to its own anguish to be anything other than a cry of negation.20 If art has no essence. and asked. They thought that this was a good question. But this is precisely why the "sublime" become aesthetically. But this merely displaces the problem. to the extent that they do "transcend" aesthetic valuation. and that traditional Chinese art also uses chance procedures such as ink throwing. His report. In Royal Road Test (1967). I asked the students if an empty packing box could be an artwork.No limit can be placed on the number of systems that can be brought under the generic conception of art. remain banal and trivial instead of simply unsuccessful. Chinese students grasped quickly the conventions of Western art. A student killed mosquitoes. . Hangzhou. velop into full-blown systems.

Because aesthetic judgments are intuitive. what can we make of Rodin? Judged by the standards that make Rodin great. the wrhole uninhabited universe. Greenberg's argument is empirical. Kant's a priori argument is that objectivity in aesthetic judgments is possible. a sequence of enlargements of the extension of "art" could take us arbitrarily far away from our present concept of art. The claim "this is a great painting" cannot be supported by reason- .The Historicist. it is unnecessary and. What are the boundaries of what labor is mixed with? If a private astronaut clears a place on Mars. Here the argument threatens to become circular. agreements with Kant give no reason to support his claims. But because Greenberg does not depend on the details of Kantian theorizing about mental activity. John Locke claimed that someone gains property rights in previously unowned objects by mixing his labor with them. to some degree impossible. Greenberg would derive support from him. That means that we must be prepared to be surprised. Royal Road Test probably is bad art. As Robert Nozich notes. but we cannot identify good art until we establish standards.23 this gives rise to many questions. to say much by way of justification. but yet they possess objective validity. To identify the proper standards of evaluation. or just a particular plot? If art has no essence. so a great deal of labor is needed to reconstruct his views. in fundamental ways. This argument is not open to Krauss. We judge art intuitively and spontaneously. Judgments of taste.25 Even had Kant known the art of his day. here there is nothing new. when he disagrees. Judged by the standards of Bernini. Political philosophers have considered relevantly similar problems. When he agrees with Kant. Antiessentialist Definition 63 had said that we can take an aesthetic attitude toward anything. Greenberg claims that he understands taste better than Kant. are not based upon rules. he argues.24 But his analysis deviates. She holds that new kinds of art require new kinds of criteria of judgment. Kant's texts are intricate. To parody Nozich's questions: Could anything whatsoever be art? Might everything be art? Greenberg developed his account of aesthetic judgment under the spell of Kant. we need to know what good art is. that experience would hardly have prepared him to anticipate the dilemmas of our late-modernist museum-based culture. has he mixed his labor with (so that he comes to own) the whole planet. from Kant's.

Actually. As for Rembrandt's Night Watch—it "doesn't come off.looked. We focus on aesthetic qualities of art. I.27 We find. That claim is plausible. W h e n w e judge living artists. then w h e n w e get to contemporary art. Greenberg is not interested in mere empirical agreement. or why it fails in spite of having this and that. w e infer that the artwork possesses the property of excellence. I think he was an infinitely better painter than he was a sculptor. .. From sufficient long-term agreement. t h o u g h t that long-term agreement defined taste. there is no h o p e for . . Following Greenberg. Aesthetic value has nothing to d o with morality. There the brute fact of the esthetic judgment is. if not the greatest sculptor in Post-Medieval Western tradition . that will show my taste to have been objective. Art as art is an end in itself." If consensus about such famous. Intuitive judgments converge. Greenberg says. historically distant figures has not yet been achieved. 2 9 I was brought up to think of Michelangelo as one of the greatest. or political significance. H e claims that agreement in aesthetic j u d g m e n t s shows something about the nature of art. in spite of lacking this or that. and this agreement justifies calling taste objective. I mean the people who try hardest. .. is to treat art as a means to an end. and there's no thinking or arguing around or past it. 28 My taste became objective—it will become objective—long after I die. 2 6 It's no use asking why a work of art succeeds in spite of this and that fault. So.64 Rosalind Krauss ing. not u p o n its autobiographical. and the more I looked. the less I liked Michelangelo as sculptor. in succeeding time agree with me. let's say. for it is not a rule-bound judgment. . To confuse the two. significant consensus in the long run. as marxists typically do. if some of my judgments survive. and posterity goes back to the works of art I like and goes back to the works of art I don't like and agrees with me—and when I say posterity. But Greenberg makes eccentric j u d g m e n t s about old masters. but the test of time might make detached j u d g m e n t s possible. . there it is. I w r o t e as if he. w e cannot yet achieve objectivity. if they. following a familiar tradition. and I looked. historical. b u t a response to an object seen here and now.

Greenberg appeals to future consensus." Perhaps Guernica is too close to the present to be judged objectively. allowing that there is disagreement about individual paintings. are about individual artworks. how can I not expect everyone to agree with my judgment? In fact. but "I challenge anyone to look at that picture and see it as satisfactory. commercial interests are engaged. denying that they are significant artists. or the unhappy experience of being unexpectedly disappointed? But what follows? Greenberg wants to argue that his intuitive judgments are not merely arbitrary. then long-term agreement does not amount to much. I reacted in an utterly obtuse way. but that all of his often highly personal judgments are objective."30 He thinks that that judgment is as certain as his claim that Pollock is a great artist. He is committed to claiming. Aesthetic judgments are intuitive. and unpredictable. Rauschenberg. making the rounds of the galleries and museums. often friends do not agree with me. In declaring that such recent figures as Johns. Someone trying to be conciliatory might say that Rembrandt and Picasso are great artists. spontaneous. Who. and Warhol are great artists. not just that there should be general agreement about tastes. he claims. "There is no question in my mind but that Goya's Third of May is better than anything Pollock could paint. Poussin scholars have well-established ideas about how to evaluate his paintings. what standards are relevant? David Sylvester describes his initial response to Abstract Expressionism:31 When exposed to the first rate examples shown at the 1950 Venice Biennale. has not had the pleasurable experience of being surprised. But when. When critics agree with Greenberg. Greenberg concludes that he is right and they are wrong. proudly exhibiting that . Antiessentialist Definition 65 agreement. When critics disagree with him. That desire is understandable. Passionately admiring a painting. described in a broad way. But that is not Greenberg's position. But if Michelangelo's sculptures and Night Watch have been so badly misjudged. But when we judge new kinds of art forms. Aesthetic judgments. Agreement proves nothing.The Historicist. I find his analysis convincing and valuable. Connoisseurs agree (within limits) about quality judgments. When Greenberg describes judging of art. Greenberg says. he fakes that agreement as evidence for objectivity of taste. he writes a promissory note which is impossible to cash. Most people think Picasso's Guernica great.

We have progressed by abolishing feudalism and slavery. That patriarchy has survived the test of time only shows that a bad system may last. he said that I was not looking very carefully. Greenberg told me that I. Olitski. When aristocrats were no longer treated differently than other citizens.66 Rosalind Krauss blindness in a patronising notice. Manet. Once Krauss allows that critical standards change. Because these standards are fixed." It is easy to see why people found Greenberg arrogantly annoying. and so also should be abolished. As a coat is a good coat if it lasts. But how is consensus established? Krauss thinks her judgments correct. After consensus is established. but knowable intuitively. Mill argues that patriarchy is. who is to determine if her judgments are correct? Appeal to historical precedent cannot demonstrate that her standards are correct. aims to be persuasive. But of course her opponents think the same. analogously. women given the vote. . or a political system good if it survives conflicts. But I was. He did not claim that he knew more than me because he was more experienced at judging art. similar. then old standards were abandoned. in morally relevant ways. Believing that art had an essence. A critic. Greenberg said he could intuit the value of original artworks. when slaves were freed. In a gallery I plan the review which in two months will be in print. I was incapable because I was blinded by an old fashioned anti-Americanism. and those once called "cripples" reclassified in more sympathetic ways.32 Mill dismissed such an argument for patriarchy. The . and still I disagreed with him Greenberg believed that there were standards of taste. . this test of time is useless. a critic may thus see the errors of his earlier judgments. A political analogy is helpful. When in conversation I posed this problem. . His way of thinking allowed no legitimate room for disagreement. but all art could be judged by the same standards. like Alfred Barr and everyone else who disagreed with him. Greenberg saw that early Jasper Johns was minor and Jules Olitski great. Moral revolutionaries such as John Stuart Mill in his The Subjection of Woman persuaded people that the existing standards were inconsistent.. Some aestheticians appeal to the test of time. For the art critic. as different as their paintings appeared. and that those who disagree with her are wrong. was "blind as a bat. it was impossible to doubt judgments of taste. Olitski's paintings looked very different from early modernist and old master work. impossible to articulate in words. and Giotto were pursuing the same goals. so an artwork is good if it survives the test of time.

is based upon Brillo Box. Thus mechanical reproduction has come to change." 3 3 But w h a t are these limits? Rodin w o u l d have difficulty recognizing sculpture "in the expanded field " of Richard Long and Joel Shapiro. the conditions of the work of art: to relocate the status of the original. Krauss is an antiessentialist. The reason that some thing is an artwork is that m a n y people believe it to be an artwork. two 1960s and 1970s figures discussed by Krauss. an artwork physically identical with the mere brillo box in the grocery. Danto's argument. to alter the conception of agency we attach to the idea of the author.The Historicist. Since the history of art has ended. "The field provides both for an expanded but finite set of related positions for a given artist to occupy and explore. historically. which leads to theorizing about the end of art history. this historiography does not determine h o w to critically judge particular artworks. The conventions defining sculpture could change again in equally dramatic ways. The g r o u n d s for excellence of art of our era are determined by convention. seeking to persuade many people that her view is correct. Walter Benjamin claimed that 34 art has no essence apart from the specific circumstances of its making. the necessary and sufficient conditions for being an artwork can be given. Danto is an essentialist. Krauss cannot adopt this way of thinking. But for him. Suppose that critics' claims have no other g r o u n d than the consensus.e n t r e n c h e d s t a n d a r d s . and for an organization of work that is not dictated by the conditions of a particular medium. Not all things are possible—not any thing could be a sculpture. The art of 2050 could be as unlike our art as 1970s art is unlike seventeenth-century sculpture. This view of art writing as a form of rhetoric has problems of its own. P e r h a p s sociological analysis explains h o w the n a t u r e of art changes. The art critic is a rhetorician. The working critic must look at each kind of art on its o w n merits. Antiessentialist Definition 67 consensus achieved in fifty years will d e p e n d in part on the cumulative effect of m a n y published judgments like mine. H o w does the critic persuade us? Greenberg argues that original-looking kinds of work can be classified a c c o r d i n g to w e l l . to blur the boundaries of where the work begins and everything else ends. and so on. Warhol and the other p o p artists intended 3 5 . As an antiessentialist.

1961). The Optical Unconscious. Krauss. The conventions determining what is art. 4. The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths (Cambridge. MA: Harvard University Press. Thierry de Duve.H. The Optical Unconscious (Cambridge. the carved and gilded frame. MA: MIT Press. 2. Kant after Duchamp (Cambridge. That is the task of Krauss's next book. 1961). 3. 'Eclecticism' and Community. 1980). 267. Greenberg provided the most important analysis for his era. the appropriate conventions are found by a negation of Greenberg's analysis. Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation (Princeton. NJ: Princeton University Press. with commercial logos or panels from comic strips or advertisements from newspapers and magazines. 136. Rosalind E. 1993). Sameness and Substance (Oxford: Basil Blackwell. The Story of Art. NOTES 1. Richard Howard (New York: Hill and Wang. Clement Greenberg. 1996). the romanticized myth of the artist. p. with especially its decor and the affected styles of its personnel. p. Gombrich. 1. Warhol's whole body of art might thus be associated with Danto's argument about the end of art's history. 6. 8. the boundaries between high and low art. trans. 1977). 277. p. if not to obliterate. p. are determined by historical precedent. 1986). Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes. xiii. Frank Stella." Arts (January 1991): 44-49. . my essay with David Reed was "Tradition. David Wiggins. 46. 15. 1995). Working Space (Cambridge. 93. distinctions assumed and reinforced by the institutions of the art world—the gallery. E.68 Rosalind Krauss to blur. p. 5. (London: Phaidon. What remains unachieved is a justification of these conventions. challenging. The Originality described the conventions of postmodernism. E. p. and so for the next era. MA: MIT Press. Krauss's starting point. 1985). Art and Culture (Boston: Beacon. 9. MA: MIT Press. Krauss. 7. 16th ed.FI. Gombrich. p. p. the collection. Baroque Art and Abstract Painting. and so also how art is to be judged. In Rosalind E.

The Historicist, Antiessentialist Definition


10. Michael Fried, Art and Objecthood: Essays and Reviews (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), p. 33. He got this idea from Wittgenstein's writings, 11. Rosalind E. Krauss, "Dark Glasses and Bifocals, A Book Review," Artforum (May 1974): 61. 12. Clement Greenberg, The Collected Essays and Criticism, Volume 4, Modernism with a Vengeance, 1957-1969, ed. John O'Brian (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), pp. 192-197. 13. Michael Fried, "How Modernism Works: A Response to T.J. Clark," Pollock and After: The Critical Debate, ed. Francis Frascina (London: Harper & Row, 1985), p. 71. 14. Arthur C. Danto, The Transfiguration of the Commonplace: A Philosophy of Art (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981), p. 45. 15. Philosophy and the Arts: Royal Institute of Philosophy Lectures 6 1971-72 (London: Macmillan, 1973), ch. 13. 16. Forge's last example, men installing boxes that look like Judd's minimalist sculptures, is a little different. Such objects were not seen in city streets before the industrial revolution. This minor point does not undercut the general force of Forge's analysis. 17. See her "Post-History on Parade," New Republic, May 25, 1987, pp. 27-30. 18. The problems with this view are discussed by Richard Wollheim, Art and Its Objects, 2d ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), first supplementary essay, pp. 157-66. 19. George Dickie, Art and the Aesthetic: An Institutional Analysis (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1974), pp. 34, 33. 20. See my reviews: George Dickie, Art and the Aesthetic in Journal of Philosophy, 62, 22 (1975): 823-825; George Dickie, Evaluating Art in Arts, (October 1990): 126. 21. In Lucy Lippard, Six Years . . . (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), p. 22. 22. Clement Greenberg, Avant-garde Attitudes. New Art in the Sixties (Sydney: Power Institute of Fine Arts, 1969), p. 12. 23. Robert Nozich, Anarchy, State, and Utopia (New York: Basic Books, 1974), p. 174. 24. See Clement Greenberg, Homemade Esthetics: Observations on Art and Taste (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999). 25. See, for example, John H. Zammito, The Genesis of Kant's Critique of Judgment (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992). 26. Greenberg, Homemade Esthetics, p. 67.


Rosalind Krauss

27. This is not to say that aesthetic values take precedent over moral values. Greenberg says that human beings matter more than art. 28. Greenberg, Homemade Esthetics, p. 109. 29. Ibid., pp. 112,91. 30. Ibid., p. 150. 31. David Sylvester, About Modern Art: Critical Essays 1948-96 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1996), p. 20. 32. This argument is developed with great ingenuity in Anthony Savile, The Test of Time: An Essay in Philosophical Aesthetics (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982). My critical review (Journal of Philosophy, 81, 4 (1984): 226-230) does not do justice to the intricacy of his argument. 33. Krauss, Originality of the Avant-Garde, pp. 288-289. 34. "Post-History on Parade" (Review of Arthur C. Danto, The State of the Art; The Transfiguration of the Commonplace and The Philosophical Disenfranchisement of Art), New Republic, May 25,1987, p. 28. A clear presentation of Benjamin's argument, as read by Krauss, appears in her "Alfred Stieglitz's 'Equivalents,'" Arts Magazine 54, 6 (February 1980): 134-137. 35. Arthur C. Danto, "Aesthetics of Andy Warhol," in Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, vol. 4, ed. Michael Kelly (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 43.


Resentment and Its Discontents

It is the mark of fantasies that we return, obsessively and repetitively, to the same images and the same scenarios, over and over again. We do not for the most part live our fantasies out, and so they never evolve. Arthur C. Danto

In rejecting Greenberg's historicist theory of art, Krauss did not leave formalism behind. On the contrary, the more she tries to separate herself from him, the closer she comes, in some ways, to his ways of thought. "Krauss's reinterpretation of the history of Modernism ... in many respects... repeats the form of Greenberg's judgments, while trying to invert their meaning." 1 Krauss's sense of selfhood involves absolute closeness to her allies and violent distancing from foes.2 Her extreme way of thinking is well suited to the art critic, who must distinguish the few major artists from their many contemporaries. An artwork is either major or it is worthless. This is an all-or-nothing way of thinking. When still a formalist, Krauss introduced her account of David Smith by criticizing various recent denunciations of formalism. "While this study was taking form, a rash of attacks on the critical procedures of formal analysis broke out." 3 Soon she too rejected formalism. Through all the drastic changes in her theorizing, she has not changed her personal style. Recently introducing her account of Jasper Johns, Krauss talks about

one of which (the one that describes one's own position) is good. Art critics create values.' a nonself. This inversion of the value-positing eye—this need to direct one's view outward instead of back to oneself—is of the essence of ressentiment: in order to exist. . . Nietzsche's 6 polarization of terms. These two w a y s of getting the business of knowledge production done intersect and interlock. Few important intellectuals are as economical. .' an 'other. slave morality always first needs a hostile external world.72 Rosalind Krauss her frustration with Robert H u g h e s ' s review: "I m u s t have read it on an airplane since that's the only occasion I ever h a d to see Time m a g azine. Making art a n d writing criticism involves rivalry with one's master. P e r h a p s this h o p e is overoptimistic. almost universal practices. We m a y like to imagine that deeply innovative scholars a n d artists build u p o n the achievements of their p r e c u r s o r s in u n e n v i o u s w a y s . Harold Bloom's account of rivalry and poetry is famous. external stimuli in order to act at all—its action is fundamentally reaction. and in this struggle. that of deeds. "Academic life is about learning a n d continuity as well as about controversy and dispute. and Richard Wollheim and N o r m a n Bryson have described rivalry in painting. while the other (the one used for someone else's) is bad. it needs. I remember m y indignation. . "begins by saying no to an 'outside. and the role that this polarization into a system of binaries plays in the very constitution of a self—this ethical scheme is what Nietzsche's genealogies alerted us to. "Slave ethics/' he said. Nietzsche describes Krauss's procedures: 7 The slave revolt in morality begins when ressentiment itself becomes creative and gives birth to values: the ressentiment of nature that are denied the true reaction." We m a k e a sharp distinction between good art and bad art admired by uncritical viewers. The Optical Unconscious psychologizes the structural analysis of The Originality of the Avant-Garde. the weight of tradition is heavy. disagreement provides the natural starting point for her o w n positive discussion." 4 W h a t art critic is not frustrated by disagreements with peers? But for Krauss. physiologically speaking." 5 I admire Krauss's capacity to use creatively w h a t might otherwise seem an inevitable h u m a n limitation. But no one else has pressed these concerns so far in art criticism as Krauss. and that no is its creative act. Forming alliances and struggling against enemies are c o m m o n .

shows Pollock pissing to make paintings. were meant to be displayed on walls."12 But the biography of Warhol by Bob Colacello. . Pollock's drip paintings. Desire. Girard is prolific.'" he told me.) The claim she makes about Warhol's view of Pollock depends only on Oxidation Paintings. which also responds to the horizontally of Pollock's paintings. who builds his aesthetic around Brillo Box. bury the erotics of aggressive rivalry that was potential in the original. the very erotics that had probably attracted Warhol in the first place.11 Warhol's Oxidation Paintings "leaving behind the sense of violence that Pollock's traces had carried . does not say that. Krauss focuses on only one Warhol." luded to the practices of "the sexual fast crowd His specialty was sensing 13 Warhol's concern with Pollock seems marginal—he envied Matisse.8 He complains that Krauss. associated both with much re- . He didn't have any special concern with Pollock's art. . Krauss's source. and the Queen of England because they were famous. though if yon brought it up. and much commentary discusses Pollock's aggression and regression. "the culminating drama of the whole book (and in a sense. he would pretend he didn't know what you were talking about. "'It's a parody offackson Pollock. and the Novel. 14 Rejecting such crude autobiographical interpretation. . does not focus on religion and anthropology. (In Formless she cites a second Warhol. .10 The Optical Unconscious cites Girard to explain the envious relationship of Warhol to Pollock. from a 1990s perspective. without exploring the nuances of Girard's claims. Dance Diagram. playing on this tradition. 1962. Deceit.9 Here then. Pollock is involved in the informal. unlike Girard. but because his concerns are rather different from Krauss's and he—so far as I know—does not discuss visual art. refers to only one early book. but with a way of thinking about rivalry which is relevant even to someone who." These Warhol paintings althe times as they happened. painted on the floor. Picasso. Andy liked his work to have art-historical references. Krauss is not concerned with the details of Girard's development. Like Danto. . Warhol rejected the "macho" style of Abstract Expressionism. Krauss is interested in how.Resentment and Its Discontents 73 As Stephen Bann observes. making use of Rene Girard's ideas in The Optical Unconscious. its precondition) is the attempt to settle scores with" (Greenberg). I am not sure what to make of this fact. I analyze Krauss's ways of thinking. A David Levine cartoon.

He has de- . "Ha. sparkling with obedient complicity. She rejected him very much in his style. How then could anyone involved with contemporary art not wrant to meet him? But because he tended. in also admiring that painter. and so the temptation for the younger critic to pay him back must have been irresistible. Pollock's link with surrealism. flabby and slack. She thus connects Pollock to our present and draws attention to what Greenberg denied. Krauss too is dismissive of artists and critics. Girard is extremely relevant to another figure in The Optical Unconscious. . proud. she thinks: "His face is .74 Rosalind Krauss cent art and with surrealism. Krauss was thus copying Greenberg. so everyone says (and this also was my experience). . But if Girard's account of mimetic rivalry has only very limited application to Warhol's relation to Pollock. one of whom has just presented her views in an attention-grabbing article about art he detests. Who could not identify with Krauss in this stressful situation? Greenberg was aggressively nasty. Greenberg was the critic of his day. "Spare me smart Jewish girls with their typewriters. is her capacity to use her resentment creatively. she became major but owed a great debt to her enemy. . condescending. ha. Krauss has described herself as involved in "[shameful] complicity in Greenberg's misogynistic dismissal of those others who hadn't made it when the sides got chosen." I reply. Greenberg admired Pollock.15 We have been talking about critics. She too is arrogant. Watching a film of Greenberg. that is." 17 The Optical Unconscious attempts to upstage his theory of modernism. . I am held by the arrogance of the mouth. but in dismissing those artists or critics "who hadn't made it" Greenberg was only describing what happens in the artworld. and so deserves praise. she would have been minor. it is unsurprising that she settled scores. . to be difficult and adversarial. Krauss herself. inevitably he inspired resentful rejection. Had Krauss remained deferential. What then is strikingly original about Krauss." he laments. so it was impossible to develop a revisionist historiography without challenging him. although time has pinched it sadistically and reddened it. By imitating Greenberg. ha. Greenberg was the grand theorist of the previous generation."161 see his misogyny. Krauss also admired Greenberg. and when she (like many of his admirers) had a falling out with him.

Giving a lecture at Harvard.. are fascinated by its cost. Like totems. We are dealing with an altogether different order of things. has qualities to attend to which its untransfigured counterpart lacks.Resentment and Its Discontents 75 scribed the exactly moment when she broke with him. which often is concerned with negating-and-preserving aesthetic distance. and 1 turned to the class and said.. desirability. and we're going to start with this again on Monday. . artworks are surrounded by prohibitions. just another physical thing. who cannot respond to contemporary art. . Nothing can grow beneath a great tree. in wars or riots they often are plundered or destroyed. A totem. The fetish. contempt. . But is it really possible to disassociate our aesthetic interest in art from awareness of economics? A major artwork is a totem. is "an object of irrational fascination.. Krauss said18 I was working with a model. That totems are often otherwise banal or disgusting objects makes them a model for contemporary art. In describing Greenberg's arrogance." 21 Philistines. the communion bread and wine are just bread and wine. which stands in a peculiar relation to the whole clan. . summer 1970. on occasion."20 Rationally speaking. somewhat similarly. about cubism. Krauss did not take up his remark about their shared Jewishness. . is "an animal (whether edible and harmless or dangerous and feared) and more rarely a plant or a natural phenomenon (such as rain or water). They are set in special places. a territory alien to Greenberg. I remember. but also precious and so untouchable. something whose power. Fried too broke with Greenberg—"for reasons I only partly understand. nor did she focus on his sexism. but in this "transfiguration of the commonplace" for the believer they become Christ's body and blood. based on ideas from Greenberg's essay "Collage. Michael Fried responded in a quite different ways to Greenberg. or significance a person passionately overvalues. Freud explains."19 That he chose not to distance himself from Greenberg is one reason Fried is a less important critic than Krauss. even thought that same person may well know intellectually that such feelings are unjustifiably excessive. . turning back to art history. But in what Danto calls the transfiguration of the commonplace. treated with awe or. "22 The fetishistic quality of art in present-day society marks . and a minimalist sculpture is just shaped metal. our relations gradually become impossible. "a work of art. It was a Friday. Rationally speaking. a representational painting is just pigment on canvas. "everything I said to you in the last twenty minutes is a total lie. and I looked around and I saw this huge amount of space in the painting." .

Greenberg claimed..76 Rosalind Krauss the survival of the totem's role in tribal culture. of course. "it then becomes necessary for . a network of prohibitions and observances . Ruskin's religious views lead Krauss to Fried's early essays.. annihilate his freedom and often render the very life. Krauss didn't know that Frank Stella thought Ted Williams the greatest living American because he could see the stitches on a fast pitch. may seem an odd figure to put down in opening discussion of Greenberg. linking sexual attractiveness and money. In the 1940s. and a silly story told by Fried.. modern thinkers assume that this law is. to defend themselves against this evil enemy. it has its origins in the reality of human relationships. mere illusion.. Greenberg was the sacrificial victim who had to be symbolically killed if art was to advance.25 A king of this sort lives hedged in by a ceremonious etiquette. and art. the law of retribution itself is very real. In consequence.. 23 Fetishes. arguing that24 because of their large-scale and sophisticated organization. and has always been. but have only exchanged it for oppression from without.. religion. today almost everyone agrees. they are relieved of pressure from within. modern Western societies have appeared largely immune to violence's law of retribution. these observances. Michael's team. not a formalist. are tantalizing subjects for postmodern philosophical art critics. Girard discusses Freud's To- tem and Taboo. a burden and sorrow to him. Greenberg was just a man whose writings entitled him to respect. fort. few other critics agreed. Far from adding to his com. was a great painter. " 26 As The Political Unconscious concludes with Krauss's description of being put down by one critic.. by trammeling his every act. and links religious uses of the totem with art museums. "Little John Ruskin" was easy "to laugh at" because he "did not even know how to frame a coherent argument. After the totem is killed. the survivors . . Freud describes the ambivalent feelings harbored toward totem figures: reverence but resentment. major players in the '60s formulation of modernism.. Pollock." 27 Ruskin.. Rationally speaking." 28 But Krauss has seen through the problems of this team with the aid of the . with a different narrative structure. . of inducting me onto the team. Fried told her the story "by way. affection but also hatred. Greenberg's team. Greenberg's success gave him power. but his contemporaries treated him like a totem. so it begins with a similar scene. Frank's team.

Krauss is not a Marxist. and Lacan thinks of the whole scene as a kind of trap. . In a looser sense. Motivated by still intense resentment. The Optical Unconscious. 29 My gaze finds its answer in the person I see. But Krauss is not outside this system. imagining h o w w e appear in their eyes. memories) which are bound to an instinct. an operation whereby the subject attempts to repeal. As he contends that the repressed political forces decisively influencing a text are not present in the text. I see and I can see that I am seen. "By showing m e the system whole. and so this line of argument is not open to her. . Here she comes back to Ruskin. images. . so that I can see its effect in her eyes. In fact she continues to borrow from and learn from him. whose The Political Unconscious suggested her title. it showed m e m y o w n outsideness to it. Were Krauss truly outside of Greenberg's world. . so each time I see I also see myself being seen. Vision becomes a kind of cat's cradle of crossing line of sight. to that of Fredric Jameson. so she claims that the influences on an artwork are not visible within it." . she rejects Greenberg's ideas about purely optical art. Krauss has transferred her allegiance to another team. for Jameson's Marxist account of the levels of meaning is based u p o n scripture-exegesis. speaking of Greenberg as repressing surrealism does not strictlv follow psychoanalytic w a y s of thinking. he still cared very m u c h about his former lover. But it also gave m e a w a y of picturing w h a t it h a d been like to be inside" w h e n she w a s friends with Fried and Greenberg. . she would be indifferent to him. or to confine to the unconscious.Resentment and Its Discontents 77 Greimas diagrams.*> Repression Strictly speaking. representations (thoughts. He finds the Greimas diagram so important because it shows the uniquely best interpretation. the term "repression" is sometimes used by Freud in a way which approximates it to "defense. When Proust's Swann pretended to be indifferent to Odette. . We think of ourselves as seen by others. As Krauss's critics have noted.

his rules. standing to her criticism as Pollock does to Greenberg's. Krauss argues. died tragically young reinforces this analogy. this way of talking is useful. moved from painting to sculpture when she "bridled at Albers's limitations. though outwardly obedient to a difficult male mentor." 32 Identifying with Hesse." Eve Hesse. Taking account of the content of these Pollocks would have destroyed the formalist narrative. Josef Albers. Greenberg disliked surrealism. Hesse is Krauss's Pollock. the favorite pupil of the famous teacher. In treating Pollock as directly continuing the cubist tradition when it was visually obvious that Pollock's early 1940s paintings borrowed from surrealism. Greenberg defended his theorizing against an obvious threat. But insofar as formalism is a collective creation.31 The Surrealist image provides painting with new anecdotes to illustrate. but of itself it does not charge painting with a new subject matter. also had a "desire for instruction. Marginalizing surrealism was his way of defending formalism. And yet. A person represses and has defenses. Immediately after describing her response to his remark about "smart Jewish girls with typewriters. the logic of this identification is different than Krauss recognizes." Hesse's sculptures are misunderstood. Krauss uses Hesse's art to support her anti-Greenbergian reading of Pollock. it has promoted the rehabilitation of academic art under a new literary disguise. What Greenberg repressed now has been made explicit. On the contrary. only to sap it from its very center: yet one more avatar of the optical unconscious. when praised for moving Pollock's concern with the informal into a three-dimensional space. To say that a theory represses or has defenses is a backhanded way of describing a theorist." Krauss jumps to the story of another Jewish woman who. That Hesse.78 Rosalind Krauss Defense change liable to threaten the integrity and stability of the bio-psychological individual. like Pollock. She wants Group of operations aimed at the reduction and elimination of any . just as current events supply new topics to the political cartoonist. his dicta. In fact "Hesse's process elaborates the space of painting with its modernist laws. Formalism repressed the importance of surrealism. with Greenberg building on the ideas of Roger Fry and other precursors.

not only was mistaken about Pollock. In fact. but because she died at the beginning of her career. she claims. On the cover of The Optical Unconscious is Raoul Ubac's Portrait in The lesson is Lacanian. has left repressed some crucial aspects about her relationship with Greenberg. in turn. Hesse was a great artist. closer to the authentic Pollock than Greenberg. But this is not the whole story. eyes obscured. Krauss criticizes Greenberg. his friend. none of us escape missing something. but she cannot look back at us. permitting us to see ourselves as we really are. Greenberg. whose portrait appears on some of her books. Picasso. 1938. in being simultaneously "seen. she cannot legitimately be compared with Pollock. her achievement is parasitic upon his. In her more recent work. The reactive character of The Optical Unconscious raises questions about how to understand Krauss's claim that she reveals what Greenberg and the other champions of optical art—Ruskin and Fry—repressed. but it is not Krauss's diary. Someone might think this a photograph of Krauss. In this self-perpetuating paranoid scenario. Her book is in a diary format. Krauss. Hesse stands to Pollock as does Krauss to Greenberg: The implication of that analogy is that Krauss also is relatively minor. she has trumped Greenberg. part of her hair. In Passages in Modern Sculpture. Krauss understands Pollock better than Greenberg did." is entered as "picture" onto the mirror's surface. but that is mistaken. a Mirror. Hesse has but a modest place. Krauss claims to make explicit what these three men left hidden. not Pollock but a still greater figure. In an earlier book Krauss described this photograph: 33 Her eyes. we know more about her appearance than she does. And she better understands how Hesse used Pollock's achievement. but he also got Picasso wrong. could be. her forehead. But Krauss. Krauss has recognized the limitations of the power of this identification with Hesse. Coming after Greenberg. When I. She uses this literary technique . I also have blind spots that my critics can identify. Art criticism has an unconscious. discussing an artist inaccessible to him. in turn. obscured as though by shadow. We may believe that mirrors merely reflect. Seeing the woman. but leaves more to be said. unable to see herself. discuss Krauss. for something always remains unsaid. are in fact corroded and dispersed through the very agency of reflection— This subject who sees is a subject who.Resentment and Its Discontents 79 to use Hesse to bring her. We see her. Perhaps this shows that any attempt to make conscious all that has been hidden is doomed.

and thus between the inside and the outside of the text." Krauss refuses to allow that because two of her essays "were originally commissioned by a commercial gallery" and one by the Museum of Modern Art. Art in America editors. he turned on Krauss. But when the great art writer is one's senior contemporary and former friend. servants of the art market. it ought to be possible to both admire greatly Greenberg and to acknowledge that he had not told the entire story. In the catalog for his 1998 Pollock retrospective.. Are we yet to see the day that mama gets kissed off too? I expect so. for no one knows them personally. Kirk Varnedoe criticizes Krauss and Bois:38 . Rationally speaking. This may seem a strange complaint coming from a man who worked for a commercial publication. he claims. . Early on. . The Optical Unconscious gives a very accurate description of Krauss's role. Admiring Baudelaire and Fry is compatible with recognizing their limits."35 Craig Owens had published in October but then in a critical review of The Originality published in Art in America. Krauss's account of Warhol's relation to Pollock is obviously problematic. But compared with Krauss.80 Rosalind Krauss much as the surrealists used photography. she in turn found herself on the other side of a Girardian dispute.36 Her methodology is inconsistent. in collaboration with her coeditors. as a way to break "down the difference between . but most senior artwriters still have personal feelings about Greenberg. because it does not convincingly analyze the myths she claims to unmask. then the situation is different. This was predictable."34 When Krauss became famous enough to have followers. quite forswore papa (Clement Greenberg). . have relatively little freedom. Failing to "acknowledge the work of those contemporary artists who have in fact engaged in a functional analysis of the institutional frame. The familiar situation in which younger would-be radicals accuse their elders of selling out is the inevitable result of success of people who. and the MIT Press—and so can afford to be noncommercial. author and reader . No one today responds so directly to Baudelaire or Fry. a former friend wrote: "Krauss .37 October has patrons—artists. she was influenced by these institutions. galleries. . defining themselves by struggle against the establishment. who can. where he was a senior editor. become part of that establishment. dished daddy.. control what appears in October.

it comes to look more desirable. In the larger American culture. can we see how strange was his role. Objectively speaking. Looking at a valuable painting I own. As the selfsame painting. "her combative stance has constantly represented to me a rock to which I could return at moments when my strength was threatening to fail. "Almost everyone thinks that Robert Ryman is a great painter.Resentment and Its Discontents 81 making this artist the father of down-and-dirty "abjection" in contemporary art scants the lush prettiness and glamour that can characterize the poured paintings.39 When Greenberg praised Pollock highly. how odd those judgments must have seemed. and touts the antiorder aspects of scattering and expulsion in the drip method at the expense of equally salient intimations of controlled sensuality In rewriting Greenberg's history. what distinguishes Leonardo de Caprio from other handsome young actors? But few of us remain objective in such a situation. I understand something about how Pollock's art looked to Greenberg in the 1940s. with Pollock leading to Cindy Sherman and Mike Kelly—and not. becomes very valuable." Perhaps only now. everyone in some group—desires. Krauss and Bois look at the past to write a history of the present. Groups. Watching objects change in value before your eyes is instructive for the art critic. People from outside the artworld. for his writing plays a role in such transfigurations.40 What makes a fashionable brand of clothing or young actor desirable? What is desired is what "everyone"—that is. once affordable by an associate professor. for philosophers of art hardly have any view of him and the larger public does not know his name. when Greenberg's era is ended. while art which loses all exchange value looks forlorn. not intellectual debate. Knowing that it is valuable. be they teenagers or art critics. I am aware of how other people see it differently. to Kenneth Noland and Morris Louis—Krauss and Bois make Pollock relevant to the present. Their revisionist analysis is compatible with the historically oriented account of Varnedoe.41 No doubt this is how debate in the artworld appears to him. are held together by shared desires. calling him "the most important new painter since Miro" (1947). Pollock's paintings can both be glamorous and involved with "antiorder. the postman . It is hard to remember that once he was just another young pretty face." he describes civil war. "one of the major painters of our time" (1949). everyone in the New York-based artworld. When Yve-Alain Bois says of Krauss." that is. the artworld is a small place. as with Greenberg's Pollock.

or the politics of phallologocentrism.. we need to sketch the fourth stage of Krauss's career. however human all too human their sponsors. 4 (spring 1994): 159. . The philosophers' goal is abstract and impersonal.42 Russell's theory of types or Goodman's new riddle of induction or Quine's concerns about the inscrutability of reference do not in any plausible ways reflect patterns of paternalist oppression. Stephen Bann. and critics with matters of appearance. That a few connoisseurs recognize this painting is enough to transform how I see it. but they produce purely abstract argumentation. But when he was very powerful. when it "works" I cannot get out of my mind the sense that what it depicts is somehow real. I know that a representation is just an inert object. It is the art critic's aim is to convince others to see art in their way. NOTES 1. and when I am moved by a Christian martyrdom. When I see the eyes of the figure portrayed following me. Philosophers are concerned with reality. Certainly there have been colorful personalities in our discipline. Rationally speaking. By the time even the most urgent of human concerns finds its way into philosophy. Krauss's argument implies. it was hard to see him in this rational way. "Greenberg's Team" (review of The Optical Unconscious). The art critic must wrestle with precursors. But first. then I respond to images as if what they merely depict were real. . it has been transformed into terms philosophy knows how to deal with. but fallible. and so.82 Rosalind Krauss or the plumber. Rivalries enter into how and why philosophers argue. Mimetic rivalry is a central issue for the critic. Raritan 13. and yet. but not the philosopher. but not into the arguments themselves. cannot be objective. when I am aroused by the erotic scene. Here we return to totemism. do not make these discriminations. Greenberg is just another writer—unusually smart and original. In the Afterword. I take up the implications of this contrast between philosophy and art criticism.. Philosophers think it possible to argue about even partisan political matters in impersonal ways.

7. but because it is so different from Krauss's approach. except for Rosalind. Krauss. Krauss.) 3. Kirk Varnedoe. 1988). 1987). Whole in Two. for example. p. MA: Cambridge University Press. 2 (1990): 95-102. 14. 55. WA: Bay Press. "Theories of Art after Minimalism and Pop. 1990). pp. Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Close Up (New York: HarperCollins. Culture: Number One. p. 1971)." in Violence and Truth: On the Work of Rene Girard. 309. says in an interview^. Bob Colacello. Bann. When Yve-Alain Bois. Hollingdale (New York: Vintage. "Matisse and Picasso: A Gentle Rivalry. 11. Rosalind E. "The Founding Murder in the Philosophy of Nietzsche. MA: MIT Press. Mieke Bal. ed. The very sympathetic exposition by Paisley Livingston (Models of Desire: Rene Girard and the Psychology of Mimesis [Baltimore. 277. p. Jackson Pollock (New York: Museum of Modern Art. The True Vine: On Visual Representation and the Western Tradition (Cambridge. Friedrich Nietzsche. 13. CA: Stanford University Press. pp. Rosalind E. "Split Decisions: Jasper Johns in Retrospective. Critical Texts. Walter Kaufmann and R. 1989). J. 227-246. 1998). On the Genealogy of Morals. 1993). 63. 9. Hal Foster (Seattle. 341. p. 6. 4. p. trans. 7. 12. comparisons are difficult. See Stephen Bann. 1992]) emphasizes the thin empirical evidence for his theorizing."p. Rene Girard. Terminal Iron Works: The Sculpture of David Smith (Cambridge. 8. no doubt joking." in Dia Art Foundation: Discussions in Contemporary." Artforum (September 1996): 78. 10. Rosalind E. See. MA: MIT Press. trans. 1. Paul Dumouchel (Stanford. Bann's account of visual art owes an important acknowledged debt to Girard. MD: Johns Hopkins. "Semiotic Elements in Academic Practices. Rosalind E. The Optical Unconscious (Cambridge. 36-37. ed. 342. The Optical Unconscious." Critical Inquiry 22 (spring 1996): 581. "Greenberg's Team. CA: Stanford University Press. Krauss. (Linda Nochlin talks with Yve-Alain Bois. and my review.Resentment and Its Discontents 83 2. pp. See Rene Girard. 15. Stephen Bann and Michael Metteer (Stanford." Artforum [February 1999]: 115. Krauss. 5. 1987). . 149. Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World. (Laughter)/' he identifies himself as her perfect ally. Krauss. 1989). "Picasso is the fastest eye in the West.

26. pp. p. Norton. CA: Harcourt. 230. xvii. In Amy Newman. Challenging Art: Artforum 1962-1974 (New York: Soho Press. Rosalind E. Danto. Totem and Taboo. Ibid.103. "We Lost It at the Movies. 390-391. 20. p. 20." Art Bulletin 76. . p. The Collected Essays and Criticism. p..W. trans. Totem and Taboo. 1972). and Alan Tyson (London: Hogarth Press and Institute of Psycho-Analysis. 99. p. Optical Unconscious. 313. 1986). 1958). 1981). Krauss. Alix Strachey. Krauss with Jane Livingston. tinguished from a fetish. "Fetish.84 Rosalind Krauss 16. Freud. James Elkins. Krauss. 18." 24. Bachelors (Cambridge. p. 1998). VAmour fou: Photography & Surrealism (New York: Abbeville Press. John O' Brian (Chicago: University of Chicago. 1999). 1. Ibid. 7. 22. trans. Brace & Company. Art and Objecthood: Essays and Reviews (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Rosalind E. Clement Greenberg." in Critical Terms for Art History. Perceptions and Judgments. ed. trans. 27. p. 1985). 243. 44. pp. MA: MIT Press. Nelson and Richard Shiff (Chicago: University of Chicago. The Optical Unconscious. 63. 33. Sigmund Freud. Krauss. 309. pp. 30. The Language of Psycho-Analysis. 31. 2. p. 28. Laplanche and J.. 1996). Pontalis. 292. 17. Donald Nicholson-Smith (New York: W. Totem and Taboo and Other Works: The Standard Edition. 320. James Strachey with Anna Freud. 2000). ed. 23. Robert S. 1973). The Transfiguration of the Commonplace: A Philosophy of Art (Cambridge. 21. 197. 78. p. William Pietz. Krauss says that Greenberg's hawkish views about Vietnam played a role in their break. p. Vol- 34. 103. MD: Johns Hopkins. a totem is never an isolated individual. but always a set of objects. Krauss. The Object Stares Back: On the Nature of Seeing (San Diego. Violence and the Sacred. p. 29. 1996). p. 15. p. p.-B. quotes Frazer to say "as dis- 25. Michael Fried. p. Rosalind E. Freud. 260. Optical Unconscious. ume I. 32. Patrick Gregory (Baltimore. Rene Girard. Volume XIII. 4 (December 1994): 579. J. Krauss. 1939-1944. 19. MA: Harvard University Press. Arthur C. 70.

" reprinted in his Beyond Recognition: Representation. are more vulnerable than I. MA: MIT Press. 1990). xiii. pp. And Then Turn Away?' An Essay on James Coleman. p. p." Arts 53. 286. ed. 1992). Power. 1986). 37. 155. ed. Painting as Model (Cambridge. and Jane Weinstock (Berkeley: University of California Press. 42.Resentment and Its Discontents 85 35. 36. Scott Bryson. 270-271. Robert Pincus-Witten. "Letters to the Editor. 1945-1949. pp. 33-35. 41." October 81 [summer 1997]: 32. 1997). Craig Owens. Vol- ume 2. Connections to the World: The Basic Concepts of Philosophy (Berkeley: University of California Press. June 29. 55. Varnedoe. Clement Greenberg. . they don't have a journal open to themselves to which to turn. "Analysis Logical and Ideological. The Collected Essays and Criticism. I think. Danto. p. As Krauss has noted: "Younger writers. Yve-Alain Bois. 40. See my review of Florence Rubenfeld.) 38. . xxx. . John O'Brian (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Arthur C. 3 (November 1980): 28. 39. Barbara Kruger. Clement Greenberg: A Life in The Nation. Jackson Pollock.1998. pp. Arrogant Purpose. and Culture. Lynne Tillman." ("' .

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she developed an account of "the formless. The best way to understand Krauss's recent development is to look back to Michael Fried's influential conception of theatricality. what lacks structure by definition. These two essentially opposed approaches together provide a poststructuralist account of modernism. Sigmund Freud The Originality of the Avant-Garde presented a postformalist art history. It worked originally in the service of impulses which are for the most part extinct to-day. are thus as far as possible from the informal. structured like a language." "For Bataille. But as we have seen. informe was the category that would allow all categories to be unthought. And among them we may suspect the presence of many magical purposes. and. in her recent writings the structuralist theory is replaced by two quite distinct interpretative approaches. that is. there were problems with Krauss's claim that Greimas diagrams translate the historical development of art into a visual structure. Thus." 1 Cubist pictures. She has a semiotic theory of cubism. with Yve-Alain Bois. "Art and Objecthood" (1967) argues that the most basic division within 1960s art is between that superior painting and sculpture that .CHAPTER 5 The Deconstruction of Structuralism There can be no doubt that art did not begin as art for art's sake. without any attempt to synthesize them.

or Carl Andre's metal plates on the floor. Pollock or Morris Louis. That my viewpoint contains implied horizons. as much as a Poussin. Poussin merely shows his world. left or right. for when I stand in the Roman campagna. rejects her analysis. an array of boxes by Donald Judd.. makes the world a world. an investment in the global idea of modernist opticality as any critic or historian before her. she has attempted an exposition in terms of Sausserian linguistics. therefore in that painting all that exists is what the artist shows. he argues. "is not Greenberg's or my writings on modernist painting and sculpture so much as modernism itself. the artist controls what we see. Her real target. The traditional artist aims to compose his work. a theatrical sculptor does less than a traditional artist. He thus offers a false freedom—his sculptures are more like ordinary objects than traditional artworks. As it makes no sense to ask what happens to the characters in a novel after their story is told. Like theater. Krauss says." 4 An old master painting shows the world from one point of view.5 Nothing is hidden in a Poussin landscape. control everything in a composition. rejecting that ideal. It starts with a quotation from Jonathan Edwards. depends on our spatial relationship to these objects. A depicted landscape thus differs from a real scene. In composing the picture. he correctly notes. In Passages. potential views not yet visible. Contrast the theatricality of Duchamp's ready mades and 1960s minimalism. How we see Fountain. "Art and Objecthood" begins and ends with frank evocation of religious ideas. forward or back. that "she has as least as great. "we should try to unpack the notion of theatricality. minimalism introduces a temporal dimension into our visual experience. I know that each step.. Fried's deeply obscure analysis has been much discussed.3 Fried. Moving to the side or standing back.88 Rosalind Krauss defeats theatricality and the lesser art that embraces it. Abandoning control to the viewer. whose own recent exposition is none too clear. trees and lake—in the same relative positions." This means. will reveal things at present still hidden. For it is too dense and too confusing. we see the same depicted scene—the same people."2 More recently. speculating about how God might re-create the world at every moment and concludes by calling "attention to the utter pervasiveness—the virtual universality—of the sensibility or mode of being . the minimalist leaves open to the viewer to determine how to relate the elements of a sculpture.

"6 When Fried distinguishes art that achieves presentness from that literal work "corrupted or perverted by theater. but not its back. [David] Smith could force the viewer to recognize that the sculpture spread before him was unlike other objects. If there is no God. We are all literalists most or all of our lives. Krauss's rejection of Fried's way of thinking takes very seriously the link between theology and modernism. We have complete access all at once to the entire artwork. If we reject that way of thinking. presence is impossible to achieve.. we mere mortals see his world in perspective. For Descartes. an artwork has an unconscious in the same way as a person.. of course. Fried imagines that an artwork . they have asked us to grasp the work of art with the kind of immediacy with which we experience our own inner states. we see the painting's surface. the traditional artist creates a world. As Krauss characterized this way of thinking in 1971 "modernist paintings have insisted on the singleness-of-aspect of painting itself. Like God. to the complete physical object. Presentness is grace. but only in relation to alternatives in the Greimas diagram. The stages of Krauss's argument as she moves away from belief in presence can be rationally reconstructed. Dismantling that tradition. nothing of aesthetic interest remains hidden. Krauss thinks that formalism repressed the fact that some part of an artwork remains unconscious." he makes a theological distinction. though not. God sees the world as it really is. can be known all at once. an idea in the mind is conscious. Structuralism implies that an artwork cannot be understood in isolation. 7 By making sculpture that would be perceived in terms of extended and interconnected surfaces. Because it is impossible to make everything explicit. then what remains of this quasi-theology? Fried's ideal presentness requires that everything can be made explicit. which thus is as totally accessible as a modernist painting. Greenberg implied that modernist art achieves presence. To force the work to appear entirely open and visible from a fixed point of view is to provoke the illusion that a sculptural object.The Deconstruction of Structuralism 89 that I have characterized as corrupted or perverted by theater. All that matters is manifest. the theatrical minimalist makes a mere arrangement of things. Face to face with a Caro sculpture or Olitski painting. If there be no God. then maybe Fried's ideal of presence is also impossible. another object in the world."8 Nothing stands between us and our pain.

The choices made by Caro are understandable only by knowing what alternatives were possible. Analogously. cannot achieve all-at-onceness. it must be set in relation to the history of art. nothing need be repressed— everything can be made visible. To understand a Caro. for example. does the same. For the structuralist. A hint of how to proceed was provided by the problems with the Greimas diagram that we have discussed. Many champions of abstraction were dismayed when in the 1950s de Kooning and Pollock made figurative images. as for Fried looking at a Caro. Krauss asserts that we understand Robert Morris's minimalist sculptures only by seeing their place in the Greimas diagram. figurative art. The relevant struc- . Moralizing about the superiority of abstract painting is wrong headed. as much as the minimalists. The Greimas diagram translated temporal development into spatial structure. meaningful only in relation to the system. Each individual artwork is effectively a fragment. Greenberg's genealogies set the apparently self-sufficient modernist artwork in historical context. in fact the diagram merely offers one interpretation of the evidence. undercutting the autonomy of the visual artwork. is not a landscape and not architecture—options defining the context of 1960s postmodern sculpture. Once we abandon Greenberg's teleological account of historical development in favor of the Greimas diagram. we grasp all at once the structure of art. The Greimas diagram translates the possibilities into pictorial form. For us.90 Rosalind Krauss can be entirely present all at once. 1965. As a structuralist. Krauss still was committed to an essentially visual way of thinking. In ways she has not entirely made explicit. Greenberg understands abstract painting as the product of an historical development in which the pictorial space was gradually flattened. He fails to recognize that Caro. presentness is grace. 9 That system is grasped visually. Krauss suggests a different way of thinking about this issue. Looking at the Greimas diagram. Krauss moved beyond this theory. Krauss rejects this procedure. for it seemed as if the most advanced abstractionists had suddenly become reactionaries. like the politicians in the era of feminism who rejected the equal rights amendment. and Fried. Pretending to be the logical structure of the range of possible artworks. Rejecting Greenberg's optical way of thinking. Robert Morris's Untitled (Mirrored Boxes). notwithstanding his disagreements with Greenberg. then abstraction is meaningful only in relation to what it negates. Jameson argues that we can properly understand what is in the text only by looking at the larger political context. So.

it would be distinguished and separated from everything else the surface contained."10 Krauss agrees that cubist collage is extremely important.The Deconstruction of Structuralism 91 ture cannot be laid out once and for all. printed materials in cubist pictures "declare as well as to deny the actual surface.11 Greenberg thus connected Pollock's "trickles and spatters. It can't just enter the work by walking . Abandoning structuralism. Krauss claims that the papier colle should be understood semiotically. various interpretations were possible. For Greenberg. with . no longer can one history accommodate cubism and Abstract Expressionism. Once the Greimas diagram is abandoned.13 The discussion of cubism in Krauss's "The Motivation of the Sign" is further developed in The Picasso Papers. the surface. No longer are cubism and Pollock linked so intimately. Perhaps the words from newspapers signal Picasso's political sympathies. she offers an alternative interpretation of Pollock in The Optical Unconscious.14 Once historians of cubism considered the meaning of the word s in the papier colles. Krauss deconstructs this historical analysis. physical flatness— could be indicated explicitly enough in certain places.. . We can deconstruct that structure in more than one fashion. . If the actuality of the surface—its real." In this formal analysis." Only when understood formally can cubism appear the starting point for Abstract Expressionism.. In his essay "Collage" (1959). for multiple structures are possible. but her analysis is different. the words in the papier colle are irrelevant.12 The unified structuralist analysis offered in The Originality is given up. "The only place left for a three-dimensional illusion is in front of. upon." Greenberg describes these collages in Marxist language stripped of its original political sense: the illusion of depth and relief became abstracted from specific three-dimensional entities and was rendered largely as the illusion of depth and relief as such: as a disembodied attribute and expropriated property detached from everything not itself. for what matters is only that words make the flattened picture illusionistic. Clement Greenberg argues that "collage was a major turning point in the evolution of Cubism. Analytic Cubism. and therefore a major turning point in the whole evolution of modernist art in this century. There is no hard and fast line between relevant and irrelevant interpretative materials. maybe they reveal his erotic concerns. "One needs a model for how politics enters the work.

If semiology refuses the copy notion of representation (the sign as a copy of a prior model or referent). 16 As a modernist artist. verbal or iconic— that constructs the representation. I make an assertion. for pictures have no w a y of representing absence. can engage in this playacting. Picasso felt obliged to insist on the viewer's recognition that he was confronting an artificial object. Krauss gave a formalist account of Picasso's cubist art. b u t as linguistic signs. constructing it simultaneously. for Picasso is not speaking. When a writer incorporates various voices." 1 7 This phrase could almost come from Greenberg. it's because of a conviction that it is the signifying medium itself—language. A visual artist. In Lolita. N o w she offers an antiformalist political reading. Physical things are either present or not. as meaningful. "the very flatness which banishes all three-dimensionality from the field of the image declares the total presence of the two-dimensional shape to vision. Therefore a sense of the flat and opaque plane was made to qualify every other experience the painting might offer. w e read them as w o r d s of speakers without attributing them to the author. b u t Krauss uses this observation to very different effect. H o w could a painter show w h a t is not present? But a sign m a y refer to what is absent. the sign. What is represented is presented as an illusion. We read collage elements not just as visual forms.18 What matters is not the particular w o r d s used. In Picasso's Violin. b u t on other occasions I utter words without myself asserting them. Both the meaning of w o r d s and their visual appearance are relevant in cubism. 1 9 The Russian formalists offered a different approach. Violin refers to d e p t h without letting us see illusionistic depth." 15 In 1971. as m u c h as a novelist.92 Rosalind Krauss in. 20 . H u m b e r t H u m b e r t is not Vladimir Nabokov. The fallacy of earlier Picasso commentary w a s to treat his art as essentially autobiographical. The novel uses H u m b e r t H u m b e r t ' s voice. as w h e n cubist collage signaled the absence of d e p t h "through s u m m o n i n g it as a meaning— a signified— that would be inscribed on the pictorial surface. 1912." The papier colle displays presence-and-absence. distanced from Nakobov's. Sometimes when I speak. of course. as in a traditional painting.

The Deconstruction of Structuralism


Greenberg made a radical separation between high art and kitsch. Krauss rejects that opposition— her Picasso draws on popular culture of the newspaper by employing these materials in high art. This procedure was employed also in The Optical Unconscious. The various voices, which need not all be Krauss's, provide multiple perspectives on the narrative.21 I would write as though through the first-person account of many other characters, actual historical characters, whose narratives I would, by the mere fact of bringing them into the orbit of my own subjectively developed voice, suspend somewhere between history and fiction. Krauss's semiotic analysis of Picasso's cubism, concerned with that very special case, does not extend even to contemporary paintings by Braque and Matisse. Many contemporary art historians are attracted by semiotic theories of representation. Norman Bryson, for example, argues that there is no difference in kind between the abstractions of Pollock and figurative paintings. 22 But there are obvious problems with what Bryson takes to be Krauss's position: ''all representation, including what Lessing would have regarded as lifelike, is grounded in the arbitrary" 23 To understand realism, Bryson argues, is to ask how an image "creates the effect of lifelikeness—what has been called 'the effect of the real.'" Gombrich says that Constable's Wivenhoe Park resembles Wivenhoe Park because the painter intended to make a naturalistic representation. According to Bryson, Constable learned to manipulate the codes of convention. Gombrich argues that Wivenhoe Park looks like Wivenhoe Park because it does, to some degree, look like what it depicts. Bryson rejects that claim. Bryson links the semiotic theory presented by Nelson Goodman and Roland Barthes to leftist politics.24 But Richard Wollheim, a socialist, rejects the semiotic theory; and Goodman had no sympathy with the left-wing views of early Barthes. If there be any connection between leftist politics and semiotic theories of representation, Wollheim and Goodman fail to see this. In insisting that the relation between representation and reality is arbitrary, the semiotic theory can be u n d e r s t o o d as a p r o d u c t of, and n a t u r a l ally of "late-capitalism." Barthes draws examples from advertising. But that it is arbitrary that chic clothes be seen as glamorous does not demonstrate that representation in visual art is purely conventional.


Rosalind Krauss

An honest leftist cannot take as given his or her political goals and then decide what theory of representation to accept, as if theorizing were then free of any constraint except to support the leftist's political sympathies. We must find a true view of representation, and then see what if any are the political consequences. But, as I hinted earlier, there is some question about whether Bryson correctly reconstructs Krauss's view of pictures. This argument against a general semiotic theory of pictures is not a critique of her account of cubism. Krauss's discussion of cubist semiotics has few immediate consequences, at least as she has presented it, for discussion of contemporary art. But the second part of her recent theorizing, the discussion of the formless, has implications for contemporary art. What kind of aesthetic is possible for the formless—what kind of story can be told about the informal? In 1975, Andrew Forge wrote:25 Painting means nothing to me if it does not symbolize vision and the part vision plays in the definition of a stable body seen at a distance, a stable-self-image, and consequently a stable, freestanding view of the outside world. What would it be to give up these beliefs? Uprightness, Krauss suggests, marks what 26 separates the "beholder" from his object, the gap built into the human perceptual relation is what provides a space for all those varieties of vision which separate man from animals: contemplation, wonder, scientific inquiry, disinterestedness, aesthetic pleasure. Here she is taking issue with a long philosophical tradition. In Mind and the World-Order, C.I. Lewis says,27 there are, in our cognitive experience, two elements: the immediate data, such as those of sense, which are presented or given to the mind, and a form, construction, or interpretation, which represents the activity of thought. Recognition of this fact is one of the oldest and most universal of philosophic insights. As he notes, what is required is working out the relationship between the given and the mind's contribution. W.V.O. Quine writes:28

The Deconstruction of Structuralism


Our conceptual firsts are middle-sized, middle-distanced objects.... We cannot strip away the conceptual trappings sentence by sentence and leave a description of the objective world; but we can investigate the world, and man as a part of it, and thus find out what cues he could have of what goes on around him. Subtracting his cues from his world view, we get man's net contribution as the difference. In the background here is Kant's general analysis of experience, which is one source of Formalism. "When we are in the picture gallery," Roger Fry writes,29 we are employing our facilities in a manner so distinct from that in which we employed them on the way there, that it is no exaggeration to say we are doing a quite different thing. On the way there our conscious attention must frequently have been directed to spotting and catching the right bus, or detecting the upright flag of a distant taxicab, or, at least, avoiding collisions on the pavement or recognizing our friends. Fry draws a sharp dividing line between aesthetic responses and everyday life. When, by sharp contrast, Deleuze and Guattari's schizophrenic is30 out for a walk... there is no such things as either man or nature, now, only a process that produces the one within the other and couples the machines together. Producing-machines, desiring-machines everywhere, schizophrenic machines, all of species life: the self and the non-self, outside and inside, no longer have any meaning whatsoever. They do not recognize any distinction between aesthetic and "practical" experience. Insofar as language and so also thought itself involves making distinctions, separating what is here-now from what existed there-then, is this way of talking really coherent? The radical suggestion of Formless is that Greenbergian formalism is not based upon a correct philosophical analysis of experience. Suppose Quine is wrong, and that Deleuze and Guattari are right. "The unconscious . . . is totally unaware of persons as such— from which it follows that part objects are not representations of parental figures: they are parts of desiring machines." 31 Then a quite different analysis of experience would be required. Deleuze and Guattari bor-

. Philosophers d o not think that early childhood development is relevant to epistemology. and with the help of the other people. w h o is quoted by Bois and Krauss—did have a lasting effect. Bradley d r a w s an analogy between her w a y s of thinking and Bradley's: 34 The task that confronts the infant is to escape from. Quine suggests. Is it not in strikingly similar terms that the Monist characterizes the task of metaphysics? Philosophers were bewildered by this discussion. . . Then the mainline philosophical .96 Rosalind Krauss row from Freud's follower. the depressive anxiety that attends the awareness . Melanie Klein. . 32 Deleuze is too far removed from American academic philosophy to have received m u c h helpful commentary. Suppose that early childhood states—as described by Klein. . . and so his book on F. is the ways in which adults perceive the world. robbers or peasants on the one hand and soldiers on the other. whereupon the latter were always represented by himself and his troops. . Maybe it is impossible to understand adult k n o w i n g without taking them into account. A n d so w h a t is most urgently required is making contact between philosophical tradition and the concerns of Formless. Usually it came finally to fights between Indians. or by Jacques Lacan. A n d she tells his dream: where there were no doors to be seen and no ground all around about it. What counts.H. he locks the giant into the moving train and flies away with the key.. Normal perception is by stable selves w h o view other such selves and objects. or at least to modify. Klein describes a disturbed child she analyzed: When.33 Is that experience relevant to understanding adult forms of knowing? Richard Wollheim is a Kleinian. In desperation he may try to split off the injured from the undamaged part of the object. he took to playing. the impulses that he dreads from those which he can control... . to preserve or revive the loved and injured object. simultaneously with making phantasies. . . It was a phantasy of the maternal and paternal bodies as well as the wish for the father At the end of this dream he is able to fly along.. and yet the windows were crowded with people. of his own destructive impulses.. To achieve a permanent lessening of his anxiety. the infant must be seized with the desire to make reparation. .

. . . As soon as I can grasp a form. What lessons m a y w e learn from him? In his essay "Sacrificial Mutilation and the Severed Ear of Vincent Van Gogh. Jane Austen tells them w h a t everyday life is like. 36 The relations between this painter. . But literature offers less sheltered perspectives. generally characterized in mythology as a solar god who tears and rips out his own organs. and Guattari suggest that such extreme disturbances tell us about " n o r m a l " experience. of which the sun is the most dazzling form. 3 8 I am in my mother's room. If they read novels. certainly a vehicle of some kind. mutilation normally intervened in these relations as sacrifice: it would represent the desire to resemble perfectly an ideal term. for fear of losing the whole thought. I was helped. however imperfect. Lacan.. The moment the soul is preparing to organize its wealth. but w o u l d need to look at childhood psychology and at abnormal or pathological adult states. .. appear to be analogous to those that men maintained at one time with their gods . this revelation. Antonin Artaud wrote: 35 My thought abandons me at every level. harmonious adults perceiving the world. balance and wholeness which will model the possibility of subjective stability and will thus serve to prefigure the T " is more precarious than w e normally recognize. I've never have got there alone. its discoveries. There's this man who comes every week. Perhaps in an ambulance.The Deconstruction of Structuralism 97 tradition w o u l d seem overly narrow and extremely complacent.. It's I who live there now." Georges Bataille argues that van Gogh's painting needs to be understood in relation to "primitive" cultures. Deleuze. attacks the mass consisting of word and image.. We could not base epistemology on analysis of organized. and an ideal.. In 1923 and 1924. at that unconscious moment when the thing is on the point of coming forth.. I don't know how I got there. 37 Most philosophers take for granted that extreme states are totally alien to them. I pin it down. a superior and evil will attacks the soul like a poison. The child's "finding in visual space a figure of coherence. and so irrelevant to epistemology.

and when after three or four hours' amusement. frozen and remade into the elegant Gestalt of wholeness. a n d extended. re-pass. b u t mostly their claims can be presented without m u c h reference to gender. N o sign here of Jane Austen. If this w a y of thinking is correct—and her exposition is more than a little obscure—then genders enter into the most basic definition of . is to critique its view of gender. that I cannot find in my heart to enter into them any further. He couldn't object so I lit a Silk Cut. The mind is a kind of theatre. which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity. and am merry with my friends..98 Rosalind Krauss A n d of course m a n y recent writers h a v e built upon. There was fright but I'd daydreamed how I'd be. I play a game of back-gammon. H u m e ' s reasoning is very radical. pass. h e continues: I dine. H u m e (and other philosophers) discusses the passions. I converse. they appear so cold. as for most other major European philosophers before Nietzsche.. One w a y to attack traditional philosophical theorizing. claiming that w e are nothing but a bundle or collection of different perceptions. and are in perpetual flux and movement. David H u m e famously argues that w e possess n o idea of the self. 39 He's cut His throat with the knife. Samuel Beckett's presentation of extreme states. where several perceptions successively make their appearance. involves 4 1 the visual Gestalt of the projected female body being the phallic symptom of the viewer's castration anxiety: simultaneously the proof of sexual difference and the site of its denial. glide away. "The elaboration of fetishism in relation to popular culture.. would thereby be "rephallicized" through the reassuring action of form. He's near chopped off His hand with the meat cleaver. radical skepticism does not disrupt ordinary life. then w h a t knowledge is secure? But.40 For H u m e . m u c h recent feminist analysis has argued." Krauss writes. and strain'd. since the woman's body. I wou'd return to these speculations. and ridiculous. If w e cannot have an idea of the self. and mingle in an infinite variety of postures and situations. A sort of wave of something was going across me.

thus are very important. and so also Greenberg's ways of thinking about history. Her analysis did not depend explicitly on any broader philosophical claims. But Formless gives little constructive argument. Most art historians who use Lacan's ideas speak as if his far-reaching speculations were well-established fact. "It is philosophy of mind Formless rejects. are fundamentally flawed. treating the unified self as an impossibly Utopian ideal. but until this theorizing is linked to everyday ways of thinking. Greenberg's formalism depends on a presented the structuralist analysis. When my daughter Liz was nine months old. if true. but he sets art within a traditional Cartesian way of thinking about philosophy. she offered an alternative to traditional art historical narratives. The literature on Lacan presents elaborate argument about details. and fragmentation. Lack of knowledge of. but traditional psychoanalysis is only good common sense compared with Lacan's commentaries. To develop a serious alternative to traditional philosophical accounts of experience and to show the implications for an account of aesthetic experience would be an enormous task. obsession. for she offers an interesting deep challenge to our commonplace beliefs. Suppose we take skepticism about the unified stable self as seriously as Lacan or Deleuze and Guattari. clearly presented in the language of analytic philosophy. but little discussion of the relationship between this way of thinking and traditional commonsense views. although it borrowed from Foucault. Lacan means that few American philosophers take seriously Krauss's recent work. and used it in a lecture. or ethnicity. class. culture.42 His historiography is Hegelian. arguing that formalist ways of thinking. Krauss's claims. or sympathy with. How men see depends on their awareness of not being women. race. using discussion of the mirror stage as a license to fantasize. it is likely to appear fanciful speculation to anyone unwilling to adopt Lacanian ways of thinking.43 Philosophers have posed many critical questions about Freud's theorizing."45 As Danto goes on to say. Formless makes much more radical claims. Consider the consequences for philosophical art criticism.The Deconstruction of Structuralism 99 selfhood. I took a photograph of her looking at herself in a mirror. That is unfortunate. is highly controversial. Danto's aesthetic theory. It rejects the Kantian aspiration to universality—which is central to Greenberg's formalism—in favor of concern with "division of gender. Formless offers much more dramatic claims. When in The Originality Krauss .44 Much recent art deals with dysfunction.

" 50 Bois and Krauss locate this break earlier. To interpret Kandinsky's paintings. and they find in a very early Walter Benjamin essay precedent for Steinberg's analysis. the literality of photography thus links it with abstract paintings that signify directly what they physically are." Krauss's identification of the structure of 1970s American art. "Notes on the Index" gives a central role to a linguistic concept. . the shift from nature to culture. we need to know the theosophical theology that inspired him. I tend to regard the tile of the picture plane from vertical to horizontal as expressive of the most radical shift in the subject matter of art. so critics need Formless to understand this art. Like "Notes on the Index. Even if their general claims remain unproven. pulse. but now using not his opposition between the Symbolic and the Imaginary. so Formless offers yet another novel vocabulary. How much the visual culture has changed." Paradoxically." it refers to Lacan. but his account of how the subject "is himself fragmented and dispersed. As The Originality replaces the explanatory language of narrative art history with structuralist terms." 49 A central role now is given to the part-objects which constitute the postmodern self. Compare "Notes on the Index. in Pollock's painting and surrealism. Steinberg identifies the shift as moving from the natural window of modernism to the horizontal culture. is the indexical art." 46 Suppose we remain skeptical of Bois's and Krauss's claim to undermine traditional philosophical ways of thinking. and entropy.'" 47 Photography. Bois and Krauss call Formless "a user's manual"—they want that contemporary artists recognize in the book articulation of pressing concerns. Formless is essential for understanding 1990s art. many artists believe in Bois's and Krauss's ways of thinking.100 Rosalind Krauss exactly those factors which set the group apart in the image of itself possessed by its members that theorists now insist must also belong to the concrete self that is shaped by the group. Analogously. . caught up in a system of displacements. its special mode of imaginative confrontation. she argues. . the "shifter"—"that category of linguistic sign which is 'filled with signification' only because it is 'empty. for "it operates to substitute the registration of sheer physical presence for the more highly articulated language of aesthetic conventions. we must learn Buddhist nature philosophy. Leo Steinberg claims that postmodernism changes "the psychic address of the image. to read Chinese paintings. Photography reappears. Bois and . with this account of 1990s art. horizontally. but in a different context.48 The major categories of Formless are base materialism.

Future historians who want to understand the reception of Cindy Sherman and any number of other recent artists who develop out of pop art and surrealism will find Formless of great interest. they are concerned entirely with high art. and all the other rigid materials. Like Greenberg. the armatures that hold up clay. When "Other Criteria" identified the change from a vertical and implied horizontal position with what "happened in painting around 1950—most conspicuously (at least within my experience) in the work of Robert Rauschenberg and Dubuffet. Bois and Krauss would transcend binary oppositions." also republished in Other Criteria. offering very different perspectives on culture after World War I. A function of the well-built/on?/ is thus vertical because it can resist gravity. Formless rewrites Art and Culture using the artworld vocabulary of . she and Bois push this break back to an earlier moment. For my present purposes. What matters most is the agreement that there is a break associated with "horizontality. the former being everything man has fashioned to resist the dispersive force of gravity—including. the stretchers that support canvas. they leave cubism out of this story. says nothing about Pollock's connection with the flatbed. These differences between Steinberg and Bois/Krauss concern points of detail. focused on surrealism. In radically original prose. In The Originality.51 His 1955 review. Bois and Krauss begin their history of modernism with Manet. Giving surrealism a central role. in the field of art." There is a distinction in kind52 between the "well-built" and the unconstructed. Bois and Krauss identify one of our dominant period styles. "Pollock's First Retrospective. the 1990s. Their antidevelopmental narrative is a negation of Greenberg's Hegelian history of modernism." Steinberg implied that Pollock's paintings are essentially verticals. now. what is limited about the book as a contribution to philosophical art history is its fatal closeness to Art and Cidture. Like Greenberg. from marble to bronze. then. Greenberg opposed kitsch to serious high art. Greenberg the Marxist depended on dialectical oppositions. that are deployed. Bataille functions as Bois's and Krauss's anti-Thomas Steams Eliot. is anti-form. Krauss identified this break with postmodernist sculpture of the 1960s and 1970s. what yields to gravity.The Deconstruction of Structuralism 101 Krauss move as far as possible from what we ordinarily identify as culture. Bois and Krauss argue that kitsch is present within modernism. Following Bataille's highly personal conception of materialism.

then I have relatively little to say. by virtue of their metonymic freedom they endlessly exchange meanings and usages. is that in retrospect they appeal too fatally close to Greenberg. they m u r d e r a priest. Bataille's novel The Story of the Eye presents graphic violence. woven of fantasy and representation. Surrealism. and w e set sail t o w a r d s n e w s adventures with a crew of Negroes. b u t w h e n I come to her discussion of Georges Bataille. I agree. N o w the same thing may be said about Krauss herself. or the natural. . or jumping forward to watch the extinction of light in late Rothko. and violence. and egg are closely b o u n d u p with the genital. by virtue of their metaphorical dependence eye. he has little to say. the Englishman purchased a yacht. is fabricated. I admire Krauss almost as m u c h as he admires Sartre. but instead. Bataille was fascinated with eroticism. Having dissolved the natural in which "normalcy" can be grounded. Krauss's account of female n u d e s in surrealism faces similar problems. The limitation of Krauss's unsuccessful rivals. H e provides a w a y to rewrite the history of modernism. W h a t is "the formless" if not the opposite of formalism? At some point even the most sympathetic interpreter reaches his limits. . with Danto: 5 7 . O n e y o u n g w o m a n kills herself. a royalist. or to witness the alignment of the body with the earth in the sculpture of the last two decades. Formless depends on mere negation of Greenberg's claims. at Gibraltar. surrealism was at least potentially open to the dissolving of distinctions that Bataille insisted was the job of the informe. 56 can be said to have explored the possibility of a sexuality that is not grounded in an idea of human nature. beginning in the 1940s with Dubuffet's early materiological explorations. W h e n in his Jean-Paul Sartre Danto comes to The Critique of Dialectical Reason. the characters go to Spain.102 Rosalind Krauss Eliot. joined the Church of English. sun ." 5 4 Barthes writes that "Bataille's eroticism is essentially metonymic . I argued earlier. Unable to imagine h o w these pictures could possibly have such a role. transgression. she says. and "on the fourth day. Bataille provides a way 5 3 to organize and restructure our understanding of more recent practices. rather. " 5 5 His esoteric analysis shows an amazing lack of commonsense feeling for the story.

where she is no longer a natural object. They are interested in h o w such "low" things can m a k e their way into the artworld. Only a formalist could read Sade as a philosopher of language.The Deconstruction of Structuralism 103 In these photographs. . but is also means to combine according to precise rules the specific actions of vice. In that way. women are shown twisted. there is no eroticism unless the crime is "reasoned". The surrealist female n u d e s Krauss presents.) I w o u l d not be tempted to analyze this arousing picture using Krauss's semiotic analysis. N o serious political activist could take this attitude. they are transfigured.. shit. their sexes splayed. spit. One goal of the philosophical art criticism is to critically discuss the relationship between art and morality. Danto's analysis of this transposition of the banal. I found the p h o t o g r a p h of a n u d e stretched out over an African sculpture. stripped.. m u d . To say that by virtue of having been selected as a system of signs. or m a y b e he k n e w her book. When worthless informal things become art. a n d Ed Ruscha's p h o t o g r a p h s of city lots have become precious artifacts displayed in well-guarded m u s e u m s . more aesthetic than commonplace pornography. to a system of articulated language. broken. to reason means to philosophize. a picture similar to one Krauss reproduces. to subject crime. a "language" of crime. Bois's and Krauss's fascination with blood. so as to make from these series and groups of actions a new "language. 58 Krauss takes toward surrealism the attitude Barthes took toward Sade's pornography: 5 9 For Sade. Krauss fails to d o this. bound. Robert Morris's felt. In her recent work. chained. (Perhaps the photographer had studied surrealism. and other formless things marks them as aesthetes. Claes Oldenberg's ray guns. b u t only to observe that Krauss's analysis is hopelessly counterintuitive. is to allow critical intelligence to be swamped by bad theory.. Only a formalist could take Barthes's view of The Story of the Eye or Krauss's perspective on surrealist p h o tography. hooded. Bois and Krauss substantiate. Saying this is not to moralize about pornography. dirt. but do not extend. woman has been lifted out of the plane of sexuality and onto the place of discourse. their concerns converge with Danto's explanation of h o w Warhol's Brillo Box became an artwork." no longer spoken but acted.. Once in a m e n ' s magazine. are not very different.

she responds in an authentic w a y to the changed art and culture. Clark claims that "the question of h o w an artist should res p o n d to revolution remains unsolved. I prefer to omit. as h a p p e n e d in the October revolution. Baudelaire's keenest desire in the revolution of 1848 w a s to shoot his father-in-law. As Clark notes. I momentarily identify with Erwin Panofsky w h e n he refused to interpret the "magnificent nightmares a n d dayd r e a m s " of Jerome Bosch. . as Clark's recent book on m o d e r n i s m makes clear. and Baudelaire's to himself. But w h o k n o w s w h a t I a m missing? 6 4 . Reading Formless. a dream. . "[H]ow could there be an effective political art? Is not the whole thing a chimera. But the total disappearance of c o m m u n i s m in the late 1990s a n d the absolute w o r l d w i d e dominance of capitalism h a v e m a d e such Utopian w a y s of thinking obsolete. it w a s not absurd to h o p e for an alliance between radical avant-garde art a n d leftist political movements. aesthetes often are problematic political activists. W h e n October w a s founded." 6 2 His question." 6 0 A n d Clark added: 6 1 "Yes! Long live the Revolution!" "Still! In spite of everything!" These are Courbet's instructions to the connoisseur. in 1865. abortively—to change those basic conditions. Could there be any such thing as revolutionary art until the m e a n s existed—briefly. quoting instead A d e l p h u s Muelich: 63 This. incompatible with the basic conditions of artistic production in the nineteenth c e n t u r y . . today is merely of historical fascination. too high for my wit. N o w they are dated. Krauss a n d her colleagues aimed to build bridges between the art they admired and political protest. Tim Clark asked. so important in the era w h e n Krauss broke with Greenberg. They don't seem to me to have dated.104 Rosalind Krauss This most recent stage in the development of Krauss's thought is best u n d e r s t o o d allegorically. In the 1970s. W h e n Krauss's recent writings a b a n d o n the political ambitions that inspired her a n d the other Octoberists.

1977). we must always ask.The Deconstruction of Structuralism 105 In evaluating a perspective. pp. Krauss. Were Krauss to present the theorizing of Formless as a fantasy. 1977). Art and Objecthood: Essays and Reviews (Chi- . 1997). 25. 204." in Aesthetics: A Critical Anthology (New York. Passages in Modern Sculpture (New York: Viking Press. a singularly fervid imagination and lung-power quite out of the ordinary. See Krauss's "Using Language to Do Business as Usual. you will either stuff your fingers into your ears or run away. But here. Moreover he is blessed with a strong constitution. 2. I can speak only for myself." In rejecting Krauss's perspective. for the good qualities nature has given him he displays without ostentation."66 I would now ask the same question about Krauss. 5. If you ever run into him and his originality does not hold your interest. See my "American-Type Formalism. 79-94. the perfect characterization of Krauss's style of philosophical art criticism comes in Diderot's Rameaus Nephew when the philosopher describes the nephew: 65 He is a compound of the highest and the lowest. NOTES 1. and the bad ones without shame. The notions of good and evil must be strangely muddled in his head." in Visual Theory: Painting and Interpretation. and my Poussin s Paint- 4. I would have boundless admiration for her bold ingenuity. pp. "To whose life does it contribute?" There is absolutely no reason to think that a perspective that is good for one type of person will also be good for another—not to speak of "all others. my perspective is personal and so no doubt subjective. In my recent book on Baudelaire's art criticism. 58 n. You may find it of passionate interest. I ask to what extent we may learn from him "while admitting that sometimes his ways of thinking are positively repugnant. 3. But I fear that she takes her claims literally. 461-469. Michael Fried. good sense and folly. Formless: A User's Guide (New York: Zone Books. again. and Keith Moxey (London: PlarperCollins. p. Rosalind E. For me. Michael Ann Holly. Norman Bryson. ed. p. 64. p. 1991). Rosalind E. cago: University of Chicago Press. Krauss and Yve-Alain Bois. 1998).

77. pp. MA: Cambridge University Press. See my "Painting as Performance Art: The Case of Picasso. "The Motivation. Fried. MA: Harvard University Press. MA: MIT Press. 1992]. Krauss has noted that "Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler's seminal interpretation of cubism" borrows from "structuralizing art history in Germany" ("1959. 1990). 262. p." in Picasso and Braque: A Symposium. 8. Art and Culture (Boston: Beacon. 33. 218. 1985). MA: MIT Press. Lynn Zelevansky [New York: Museum of Modern Art. Prints from the Norton Simon Museum (Stanford. Krauss and Yve-Alain Bois acknowledge (Krauss. Rosalind E.106 Rosalind Krauss ings: A Study in Art-Historical Methodology (University Park: University of Pennsylvania Press. ed. See Rosalind E. 9. Guggenheim Foundation. The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths (Cambridge. Krauss's semiotic theory was anticipated in her 1972 catalog essay on Joan Miro. 75. 3. 17." in his Painting as Model (Cambridge." p. Terminal Iron Works. Ibid. 1003). p." pp. 8) the essential assistance of an unpublished lecture by Leo Steinberg. 1961). Denis Hollier (Cambridge. 18. pp. p. 10.. 65-97. 19. "The Motivation. Miro was interested "in Medieval Catalan fresco painting. Krauss. Krauss. On Pictures and the Words That Fail Them (Cambridge. p. 262. Krauss and Bois. "The Motivation of the Sign. The Ministry of Fate. Art and Objecthood. where depth is symbolized in the flat rather than absorbed into a system of illusion"—the concern of Picasso in the cubist works Krauss analyzes ("Magnetic Fields: The Structure." 1998). MA: MIT Press. 1993). 168. p. p. "Kahnweiler's Lesson. CA: Stanford University. which refers in passing to Nelson Goodman and Michael Foucault. 16). 7. pp. ed. Terminal Iron Works: The Sculpture of David Smith (Cambridge. 1998). 12. 1971). pp. 14." in Picasso." Joan Miro: Magnetic Fields [New York: Solomon R. A different perspective on Krauss's use of Pollock is found in James Elkins. 15. first given in 1974. Ibid. 72. 1989). 6. "Stella's New Work and the Problem of Series. 283 n.. 13. p. . chap. 16. 282. 37. See also Yve-Alain Bois. 75-96. Clement Greenberg. 263. Krauss. 287. p. 1972]." in A New History of French Literature. 9 January. 11. 302. 30. Krauss and Bois." Artforum (December 1971): 44. Graphic Magician.

1956). Melanie Klein. p. chap. Mark Seem. 8.1 (spring 1981): 33-38. Formless. 2d ed. 38. pp. p. "The Politics of Arbitrariness. Susan Sontag. Krauss and Bois. Krauss and Bois. 90. Norman Bryson. MD: Penguin. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Leslie (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota. Word & Object (Cambridge. 32. New York: Dover. Norman Bryson. 4-5. 26. 31. this strategy required more motivation than was provided in The Optical Unconscious. 1991). 24. p. Andrew Forge. "We Lost It at the Movies. Michael Ann Holly. NY: Doubleday Anchor. Formless. 1956). 22. reprint. trans. p. Robert Hurley." in Visual Theory: Painting and Interpretation. p. 1983). 23. Mind and the World-Order: Outline of a Theory of Knowledge (1929. Bradley. 21. Lovitt. and Helen R. Visions of Excess: Selected Writings. Hanna Segal. See Norman Bryson. and Keith Moxey (London: HarperCollins. . Selected Writings.The Deconstruction of Structuralism 107 20. pp. ed. trans. summarizes her ideas. a tangential issue. Richard Wollheim. 1969).H. 30. 1979). 97." Art Journal 41. ed. Transformations: Critical and Speculative Essays on Art (Garden City. pp. Willard van Orman Quine. 1976). F. 25. MA: MIT Press. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. 1985). Antonin Artaud. 36. Georges Bataille. 156. 4 (December 1994): 580. 45. "Painting and the Struggle for the Whole Self. As she indicates. Allan Stoekl. pp. MA: Cambridge University Press. 51. Lane (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 29. p. 28. A usefully brief account of semiotics in relation to surrealism appears in Krauss's "Nightwalkers. (Baltimore. 1. Contributions to Psycho-Analysis 1921-1945 (London: Hogarth Press. trans. Carl R. 57." Artforum 14. 35. Clarence Irving Lewis. 1960). 1981). Much of the discussion of "The Motivation" revolves around debate about the extent of Picasso's knowledge of Mallarme's poetry. p. 33. Straus and Giroux. 278-279. 27. Helen Weaver (New York: Farrar.1 (September 1975): 48. Word & Image: French Painting of the Ancien Regime (Cambridge. 1927-1939." Art Bulletin 76. Allan Stoekl. 66. 31. in Klein (Glasgow: Fontana Collins. ed. 2. and Donald M. 1968). 34. Roger Fry.

David Hume. New York: Grove. On Reflection (London: National Gallery. A fuller sample of Bataille's ideas appears in his Eroticism: Death & Sensuality. A fuller account appears in Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit. See my "Indiscernibles and the Essence of Art: The Hegelian Turn in Arthur Danto's Aesthetic Theory. Interpreting Un Bar aux Folies-Bergere" History and Theory. 39. Philosophizing Art: Selected Essays (Berkeley: University of California Press. 1965). 48. 45. Three Novels (Molloy). became a figurative artist. 3 (1990): 297-320. p. Danto. her example of such an abstractionist. Bradford Collins (Princeton. The Optical Unconscious. p. San . Krauss. 1995). 46." October 36 (spring 1986): 154. 67. Joachim Neugroschel (Harmondsworth. 50. 1998). reprint. 49. ed. Formless. Samuel Beckett. pp. Alan Warner. Mirrors are discussed in empirical ways in Jonathan Miller. 7. trans. p. 42. "Antivision. 84. Arthur C. 43.89. p. Formless. 252-253. 92. The Story of the Eye by Lord Auch. 1999). reprint. Krauss. 40. pp. 47. 71-90. The Originality of the Avant-Garde. 97. p. Georges Bataille. Formless. 51. p. 1. Rosalind E. p. 1982). Morvern Callar (New York: Anchor. p. 209. MA: MIT Press. 44. 53. is republished in 12 Views of Manet's Bar. NJ: Princeton University Press. Krauss and Bois. trans. pp. 1998). Lucio Pozzi. Middlesex: Penguin. 52. 41. Krauss and Bois. 38. Krauss. The Optical Unconscious (Cambridge. 137. Ibid. 1996). Mary Dalwood (1962. Patrick Bowles with the author (1955. to deal also with old master art. 102." forthcoming in the Library of Living Philosophers volume devoted to Danto. Most of the essays in this volume discuss the mirror stage. 263-267. What might add to the plausibility of Krauss's recent theorizing is the extension of her account backward historically. 197. Rosalind E. My "Art History in the Mirror Stage. MA: MIT Press. 269. 1896). 84. Krauss. Formless. p. Caravaggio's Secrets (Cambridge. Krauss and Bois.108 Rosalind Krauss 37. Formless has some suggestive remarks about Caravaggio. pp. 29. 1993). 54. A Treatise of Human Nature (Oxford: Clarendon Press. Krauss and Bois. trans.

p. 1998). 1998). p. 61. Charles Baudelaire and the Origins of Modernism.'" Arts Magazine 55. pp.The Deconstruction of Structuralism 109 Francisco. 55. 1 (September 1980): 84-86. 1996). p. The Absolute Bourgeois.1 (March-April 1986): 67. She is both an ovoid and a Mobis strip. Arthur C. Yve-Alain Bois. trans. (University Park: Penn State Press. Krauss with Jane Livingston. Barthes. 179. 58. 149. which draws a parallel with collage. all are visible. p. Danto. MA: MIT Press. 62.J. Clark. p. The Art of Living: Socratic Reflections from Plato to Foucault (Berkeley: University of California. High Art. 27. 1993). 357-358. 182. 59.J. Early Netherlandish Painting: Its Origins and . Bataille et moi. 102. Preface. Bois thinks like a formalist in describing Picasso's Nude in a Garden (1934). Image of the People: Gustave Courbet and the 1848 Revolution (London: Thames and Fludson. Compulsive Beauty (Cambridge. LAmour fou: Photography & Surrealism (New York: Abbeville Press. 63. Review of V Amour fou. navel. 1966). 66. This way of looking at photography is anticipated by her earlier discussion. 57. 33-34. "Irving Penn: 'Earthly Bodies. p. 64. p. T. 161. Erwin Panofsky. 1985). "The Metaphor of the Eye. Rosalind E.^ 60. 56. The Print Collector's Newsletter 17. Leonard Tancock (London: Penguin. Clark. 125. and the continuity of her curves appeals to our sense of touch. T." p. 1971). See also Krauss's "Michel. sex. p. Rameaus Nephew and D'Alembert's Dream. 95." October 68 (spring 1994): 3-20. Roland Barthes. 1986). Denis Diderot. 1976). CA: City Lights. A sympathetic reading of Krauss's writings on surrealism appears in Hal Foster. her limbs curled up against her but never hiding anything: breasts. anus. 1973). Richard Miller (New York: Hill and Wang. 1973). Matisse and Picasso (Paris: Flammarion. The Absolute Bourgeois: Artists and Politics in France 1848-1851 (London: Thames and Hudson. 11. 65. Sade/Fourier/Layola. p. trans. Clark. Character (New York: Harper & Row.

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posterity includes him in the primers of Art History. he will have to wait for the verdict of the spectator in order that his declarations take a social value and that. Krauss. Greenberg did this. She (and I) want art criticism to be more than mere journalist reporting. it is time to evaluate her achievement. We want art criticism to make a difference. Marcel Duchamp The artwriter too may shout that he is a genius. his most important successor. Are our hopes justified? .AFTERWORD The Fate of Philosophical Art Criticism The artist may shout from all the rooftops that he is a genius. Krauss's dream (and mine) is that philosophical art criticism be intellectually demanding. the art critic just a servant of the art market. What has she accomplished? A successful philosophical art critic projects an interpretation of his period style. Krauss's nightmare (and mine) is that art criticism be merely promotional writing. finally. should be evaluated by the same standard. Contemporary art should be discussed with the same conviction and intelligence as the old masters. getting his contemporaries to see art through his eyes. but he also needs to wait for the verdict of readers in order that his claims are taken seriously. Now when we have a picture of Krauss's development.

The details of Greenberg's historiography are academic. that institution will change. Most art writers. but if his work is to have any impact. Krauss's new interpretative approaches supersede her earlier ways of thinking because she responds to novel art. looks to be a dead end. is whether her ways of thinking will become popularized. but Krauss aims to be convincing." is obviously counterintuitive. His seemingly unassuming account carries real art historical weight. Are these interpretations true? It is important that none of them depend centrally on demonstrable falsehoods. And her structuralist critique of autobiographical art history. do interpretation by description. then the structuralist analysis in The Originality of the Avant-Garde. it must be popularized.112 Rosalind Krauss A philosophical art critic often presents complex theorizing. The museum expanded by identifying new kinds of art. Berenson compares this image with paintings by Murillo and Velasquez. but everyone could see the importance of his championing of Cezanne. Bernard Berenson says that Caravaggio's Madonna di Loreto "stoops" toward the pilgrims "but seems to feel the burden of the Holy Child's weight as He blesses. and. The leftist political protest art. which was one starting point for October. Some of Krauss's concerns no longer remain of interest. Krauss projects a sequence of interpretations by description. Few of Fry's contemporaries understood the nuances of his account of the aesthetic attitude. yet unanswered. which grew out of her reading of Barthes and Foucault on the "death of the author. in ways Danto's writing may help us understand. 2 In the next three sentences. finally. plausible. for example. for they practice interpretation by description." this is such an interpretation. Art writers are rhetoricians. and suggestive. . Picasso was the most autobiographical of artists. In rejecting formalism and presenting her antiformalist narrative in Passages. deconstructing structuralism in her semiotic account of cubism and Formless. but his way of thinking is associated with the postmodern museum. the man whose life is being so fully documented by John Richardson—who could think his life irrelevant to his art? But these are points of detail. Wittgenstein rejected the analysis of language in his Tractatus in favor of the account of Philosophical Investigations because he identified errors in his early book. The larger question. 1 When. but now when growth ends. but it is easy to grasp his claim that Pollock takes up the modernist tradition. Her concerns thus differ from a philosopher's. Danto's argument that the history of art has ended is esoteric. Michael Baxandall's fifteenth-century humanists as much as critics in Artforum.

facile narrative. But that cannot be said of the "real" barmaid. who stands at the centre. which fails to be persua- . in relation to us? Sydney Freedberg describes a n o t h e r picture w i t h mirror. 4 the girl in the mirror does seem to be part of some . . Against the quasi-official regularity and uniformity of the left panel. but a singular distortion of objective normalcy. His distinction in kind between Warhol's early art which "fosters critical or subversive apprehension of mass culture and the power of the image as commodity. openly displaying the elusive and uninformative trace underneath. Vienna):5 Into this demonstration of illusionistic realism. returning our gaze with such evenness. . . But though the counterfeit is visually exact as a rendering of a thing seen. . are intermingled other motives. 3 lays out a stark and unresolved dialectic of presence and absence. more commercial work. Who is this unfortunate. . . Thomas Crow writes of A n d y Warhol's Marilyn Diptychs (1962).. the right concedes the absence of its subject. of life and death.. and that he has done so with remarkable scientific truth. precisely? Where is he? Where does he stand in relation to her. sets Warhol's individual pictures in an account of stylistic development. then we judge their accounts to be convincing. and suggestive. but as a secondary and unchanging mask added to something far more fugitive. and actually dominating its effect. . . .The left-hand side is a monument." and his later. such seeming lack of emotion or even interest. an extreme complication of a problem in realistic representation. It is true that Francesco has counterfeited a real image on his panel. plausible. It is not a matter of fact that interpretations by description are true or false. If w e see these paintings as Clark and Freedberg describe them. as the basis for this scientific demonstration.Afterword 113 Interpretation by description tells what perspective to take on a painting. In Manet's A Bar at the Folies-Bergere. color and life are restored. . .. the thing seen is not in itself an ordinary image. Tim Clark writes. the Parmigianino Self-Portrait in Convex Mirror (1524. There is a gentleman in the mirror. An interpretation by description. . There is the very fact that he has chosen...

) If the argument of Descartes' Meditations are correct. our "objectivity" be. Sydney."8 An ambitious art critic would not say that. We both believe that we have advanced beyond our ancestors and anticipate that our successors will find plausible ways. Hume. Busy. and Stockholm. then there could not be legitimate disagreements among commentators. as in Pittsburgh. perhaps problematic philosophically. we can use to observe one thing. Because now an anti-Greenbergian vision of postmodernist art has triumphed. will-less. Each perspective provides a viewpoint yielding insights unobtainable from other vantage points. metaphors. the more eyes. or metaphor will be convincing. joke. aimless. then those who perform the act of meditating return to ordinary everyday experience knowing that their prephilosophical beliefs are justified.. Nothing in the writings of Descartes. Nietzsche's perspectivism. Wellington. museums everywhere sought Pollocks and David Smiths. and the more affects we allow to speak about one thing. (The political writings of Locke and Kant affected public life. . an open-ended process. while implying that alternative interpretative points of view are possible.. to interpret the art we describe. different eyes. We cannot know a priori if an interpretation. When Greenberg's ways of thinking became generally accepted. practical men are not likely to take the time for such meditations. today as yet unimagined. But because the goal is to get us to see according to an interpretation. Were it possible to describe the painting as it really is.7 Let us be on guard against the danger old conception fiction that posited a "pure. the more complete will our concept of this thing. Wittgenstein says that the goal of his book "would be achieved if it gave pleasure to one person who read and understood it.114 Rosalind Krauss sive. the painting may convincingly be described in more than one way An artwriter can be both strongly committed to his interpretation and recognize that legitimate alternative points of view are possible. offers one perspective.. or interpretations work. Interpretation by description. is like a joke that isn't funny or a metaphor that is not illuminating. or Wittgenstein directly affects public life. timeless knowing subject. There is only a perspective knowing".6 Only the public response shows which jokes. exhibitions of contemporary art in New York. is a superlatively acute description of art criticism. In the preface to the Tractatus.

that Manet's "girl in the mirror does seem to be part of some. We do not admire Krauss because we think she has shown the arguments of Fry and Greenberg to be false. Philosophical art criticism has different goals. facile narrative". then they are. This is why we value critics. it is possible. George Eliot. that they really were born in London. Knowing that Rembrandt's Stockholm masterpiece The Conspiracy of Claudius tion. Civilis: The Oath (1661-1662) was cut down is essential to interpreta- ."11 It is not self-evidently mistaken to deny any of these claims. but with appearances. sold. But if someone is generally thought to be born in Berlin. but to take her claims at face value is to misunderstand her accomplishment. but a singular distortion of objective normalcy. and those conventions change. If someone is thought attractive or witty. When feminists warn that fashionably thin models encourage teenage anorexia. Styles of humor change with the times. in some degree. Philosophical art critics deal not with reality.) We admire her because she has developed an original novel interpretative strategy. If Descartes' epistemology is false. (In The Optical Unconscious she says she can do that. Oscar Wilde.. and so a different history. Testing the limits of acceptable public speech. and written about. Just as Jane Austen.10 But it is not a matter of fact that Warhol "lays out a stark and unresolved dialectic of presence and absence". it would be instructive to compose counterinterpretations denying them. still. Appearances are defined by consensus. the artwriter describes real objects.9 Art criticism changes how contemporary art is displayed. This is the difference: The novelist constructs a fictional world. Lenny Bruce. Crow or Clark or Freedberg might legitimately be compared with novelists. or Virginia Woolf present fictional worlds—ways of seeing that we find compelling—so too artwriters get us to see art according to their interpretation. Discovery of facts is important. Chris Rock tells jokes which would astonish his precursors—Richard Pryor. for what is funny depends on an implicit social agreement. or that in Paramigianino's picture "the thing seen is not in itself an ordinary image. Indeed. according to their capacity to convince their contemporaries to accept their way of thinking.. and when to stop. With appearances there is no distinction between how things seem to be and how they actually are. the entire history of post-Cartesian philosophy is a sequence of radical rethinkings of his epistemology. the Marx Brothers. The fact may not ever be known. the successful humorist learns how far to go.Afterword 115 are organized differently. it requires revision. they ask that styles of sexual attractiveness change. Indeed.

the advent of technologies. Freedberg's finely polished prose is a natural match to Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. (Who can imagine him. she rejects also that fine writing associated with humanist tradition. a natural match between a gifted interpreter and the paintings he describes. the broader field that has come to be called cultural studies. the movements of peoples. writes. Krauss is not a literary writer. through to the late 1970s. and permission of art's mandate. as editor Jack Bankowsky has defined his program. Rejecting traditional aesthetics. we tend too easily to forget how much skill successful interpretation by description demands. reflecting on his own experience selling art. Tim Clark's account of Manet very self-consciously projects on late nineteenth-century Paris left-wing social concerns of the 1960s. . Art ain't rocket science. Looking at Marilyn Diptych. no doubt in exaggerated fashion. the magazine focused on contemporary art in relation to early modernism. It is not necessary to share an artwriter's beliefs to admire his or her interpretations. Much is to be learned by considering interpretations that fail. . the frustrations many people have with such theorizing. Manet's. Perhaps because we tend to focus on very successful interpretations. "Everyone in this culture understands the freedom yond a proclivity to respond and permission to do so. Artforum. In its earlier years. there are no prerequisites for looking at it. unconvincing interpretations quickly drop out of circulation. Like jokes that aren't funny. How does a style of interpretation catch on and become almost common sense? A great interpreter responds to a shared climate of opinion. Philosophical art criticism has lost much of its prestige. defined in part by his writing. Bostonian-born with a self-consciously artificial English accent. A great deal can be learned by studying the changing styles of the most prestigious American commercial journal. and be- . and Parmigianino's paintings were not always seen thus.116 Rosalind Krauss Warhol's. Today. The critic and former art dealer Dave Hickey. Often there seems. . I forget my problems with Crow's political claims and admire him for offering a highly suggestive approach to a puzzling painting."12 He expresses. admiring Andy Warhol?) Unlike Freedberg. at least in retrospect. Artforum's themes are very different:13 I do not believe that we can maintain a valid relationship to art without attending to the larger realm of visual culture.

this way of thinking was anticipated also by Andre Malraux's "museum without walls.. Formless: A User's Guide does the same. How might we understand this change in Artforum? I do not believe that artwriting has changed just because art itself has changed. landscapes of stone. Artforum now responds to major retrospectives of modernists. expansion in one direction involves contraction in another. media images. that is. but it is harder to .. This willful determination to eliminate boundaries setting high art apart from popular culture comes at a price. Many precedents may be found for most of the most novel-seeming art of the 1990s. And looking further back. Commentary about living artists is concerned with their relation to contemporary culture.. exclusion of historical issues." with artifacts from every culture reproduced in photographs. but otherwise takes little interest in early modernism. .15 Cultural studies owe much to Roland Barthes's essays collected in 1953 in Writing Degree Zero. Faced with any major stylistic change. Eliot.. gazes upon the ... Artforum has changed much more radically than most of the art it describes. gay studies.. with his discussion of English pop culture. The swift move from Raphael's High Renaissance synthesis to Pontormo's mannerism or the rise of cubism calls for explanation. translated into English only in 1967.S. The origin of academic culture studies might be associated with Dick Hebdige's Subculture: The Meaning of Style (1979). less concerned than in the past to identify historically distant precedents. Cultural studies replaces concern with modernist tradition with discussion of advertising. setting it apart from the broader culture. fashion.Afterword 117 As often happens. whose fascination with popular culture was shared by T. delights in fine carriages and proud horses. and the crossover of black youth styles in dress and music into white culture. historians seek to understand that development.. and to Tom Wolfe's oddly prescient essays of that decade. Employing a very different conceptual framework." 16 and is inspired by the poetic possibilities of banal everyday life. In some ways.. multiculturalism. and pop music. marvels at the eternal beauty and the amazing harmony of life in the capital cities . Holistic accounts setting individual artworks within the broader culture have replaced formalism. Andy Warhol is influential because his career can be readily discussed in these terms. to various 1960s intellectuals' love for rock music. 14 Art and Culture treats contemporary high art historically. in Baudelaire's "The Painting of Modern Life" Constantin Guys "watches the river of life flow past him in all its splendour and majesty.

She is less radical than her colleagues in cultural studies. This is not a novel form of philosophical art criticism.118 Rosalind Krauss find anticipations of the newer styles of artwriting.17 It is the attitude of anyone who enjoys being on a crowded street—it is the felt sense that experience of the art in New York galleries is incomplete with turning also to the sounds and visual spectacle outside. abolishing all distinctions between high and low. "The Truth is the Whole. Bankowsky's Warhol is quite different from Krauss's. for this practice is not in need of theoretical justification. . Cultural studies is less a theory about visual art than an attitude toward the world." which to say that in the fullest interpretation of contemporary art. Bankowsky's Warhol makes use. [Our responsibility] is to write into history those parts of his endeavor—all the instruments and strategies of his self-promotional enterprise—that museum culture inevitably obscures. Does he provide a superior perspective? The Political Unconscious asserts that the artwriter must struggle against her precursors. here and now. but the editor of Artforum. He finds "modern life" beautiful because it is totally present—nothing is repressed. Treating the possible artforms as all potentially present. commentators on contemporary art focus intently on the present. When she and Bois attacked Greenberg's concept of kitsch. "The real Warhol 'trick. is to treat this structure aesthetically. Having lost the capacity or desire to think historically. That perhaps makes it appropriate that the writer I associate with this way of looking is not an academic. whose ambition is to treat art of all eras as art of the present. Artforum now is different because Greenberg's conception of a modernist tradition extending back to Manet has become problematic.'" Bankowsky wrote in 198918 was that he (w)as able to maintain under the sign of art a whole sphere of activity that traditionally defied that designation. When in her structuralist phase Krauss translated historical narratives into Greimas diagrams. a sense of how to enjoy what Baudelaire identified as the presence of what is here and now. of materials at hand in his culture. she anticipated this development. no part of its context can be omitted. The world is viewed aesthetically without making any distinctions or value judgments. making present what they repressed. in seemingly unenvious ways. they acknowledged (but did not embrace) the possibility of collapsing distinctions between high art and popular culture.

and mean. But where Nehamas focuses on the unique individuality of each person practicing the art of living." Nehamas the aesthete describes the creation of a self as an act of someone who thus becomes an individual. and Foucault—are centrally involved not in making assertions. "It is remarkable. And that is exactly what Danto's posthistorical Warhol accomplishes." Is it not striking. in a blurb for my book Artwriting. Nietzsche. to speak of beauty in our era of antiaesthetic art? That question remains to be answered by art writers of the future. rather.. that Danto's claim is very plausible. for here the art of living. Danto wrote.Afterword 119 remaining hidden. as much as the gentler and nobler aspects of himself. how that story continues? It is as yet too soon to understand the fate of philosophical art criticism. In 1987. if you want to know who Andy Warhol is. This difference in emphasis perhaps is one identifying feature of posthistorical art. finds a new exemplification. he became part of us . but in "the construction of character. Unlike professional academics. I think. that ancient ideal recently discussed by Alexander Nehamas. Nehamas says. Recently Bankowsky has noted: "One of the side effects of Warhol's superadequacy to our moment is that the mirror he holds up seems to accommodate everything in its proximity.22 Is it possible. by integrating the materials supplied by accident with "others acquired and constructed on the way. Nehamas's philosophers of living—Montaigne. and turned himself into part of that world. This is of course an illusion.20 He turned the world we share into art.."21 We create a self. He makes of himself a work of art—incorporating into that total artwork which is his life the silly. and because we are the images we hold in common with everyone else. but it is the aesthetic illusion upon which Warhol builds. the degree to which Carrier has taken what one would have supposed ephemeral and occasional—the literature of art criticism—and given it a philosophical wreight and an almost epic dimension. still. which modifies—but does not efface—the traditional character of aesthetic experience. frivolous. Will Danto's argument that the ."19 Danto's claim that Warhol was a great philosopher seemed absurd to some critics. look within. a commentary on an earlier era of American art writing. Danto notes the ways in which Warhol gets each of us to see ourselves in his art.

And modern art history. Paul Barolsky writes. Whatever the ultimate judgment on her claims. belongs. despite its efforts to reject the poetical. art history. we do not demand that their claims be evaluated in a literalminded way. In admiring these artwriters. he complains. We appreciate Baudelaire's fantasies about the beauty of representations of the present. No one has moved as quickly. no one else has offered so many challenging arguments. In the study of literary genres. without moralizing about his misanthropy and misogyny. then turn away from artwriting and read philosophy. But here an historical perspective is essential if we are to evaluate her achievement.. However this conflict of interpretations is resolved.120 Rosalind Krauss history of art has ended be judged more convincing than Krauss's historicist account of art's essence? Might Bankowsky's adaptation of cultural studies provide a better perspective than Krauss's recent theorizing? Or perhaps some other. . 23 is far more deeply imaginative than most art historians recognize or are willing to admit. when we take this view of the great art writers of the past. which allowed that critic to engage in elaborate philosophical reveries having little to do with Vernet. And we read attentively Roger Fry's worries about the aesthetic value of Cezanne's nudes—as distracting to a formalist. If truth is what you seek. Why then. as yet unrecognized. but refusing to take them literally. and his love for Delacroix. her develo p m e n t over t h r e e d e c a d e s from f o r m a l i s m to b e y o n d postmodernism is a very remarkable intellectual journey. I am only adopting a consistent attitude toward all creative art writing. as erotic Hindu temple sculpture—without necessarily rejecting his analysis. theorizing may provide the best view of our era. Krauss has posed serious questions demanding reflective response.. Great critics have always been as involved with fantasy as the art they discuss. should we be unwilling to read Rosalind Krauss in an equally charitable way? In admiring her fantasies. to the imaginative tradition of writing about art that descends from Homer and Vasari. it should be categorized under historical fiction. We are fascinated by Diderot's fantasy of walking into Vernet's landscape paintings. That is why Krauss is our greatest philosophical art critic. if unwittingly.

Modern Art in the Common Culture. Freedberg. Pears and B. The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and His Follozuers (New York: Alfred A. Whitney Biennial and Other Shows. 250." journal of Aesthetic Education. 119. See Gary Schwartz. 3. forthcoming. Parmigianino. 11. 3. 7. 319-320. London: Routledge." Artforum (October 1998: 134-135. D. Thomas Crow. 12. between Democracy and Redemption in Contemporary Art. See my High Art: Charles Baudelaire and the Origins of Modernism (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. More Than Cool Reason: A Field Guide to Poetic Metaphor (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 104. "New York. Crow. Knopf. S. 104. p. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. p. 250. "Sydney. 1996). Clark. Middlesex: Penguin.J. 107. 8. "Editor's Letter. Wounds." Arts (February 1992): 69. "Carnegie International. 13. Caravaggio: hlis Incongruity and His Fame (London: Chapman & Hall. 27." Artforum (September 1993): 3. 1985 Carnegie International. Ludwig Wittgenstein. 6. The Painting of Modern Life. 49. p. 1950). His Paintings (Harmondsworth. "The World Over. 1985). 4. Bernard Berenson. Parmigianino: His Works in Painting (Cambridge. trans. Wellington. Moderna Museet. City Gallery.J. Hollingdale (New York: Vintage. pp. Modern Art in the Common Culture (New Flaven: Yale University Press. On the Genealogy of Morals. trans. 1996). Dave Hickey. 53. chap. 53. Clark. Andy Warhol and the Art of Living: What Art Educators Can Learn from the Recent History of American Art Writing.J. 1985). 5. Rembrandt: His Life. MA: Harvard University Press. 1997). 9. p. 10th Biennale. 1989)." Burlington Magazine (October 1996): 714-715. See my reviews: "Pittsburgh. "Stockholm. p. 1953). 1962). Jack Bankowsky.F. 2. pp. Friedrich Nietzsche." Artforum (February 1997): 99." Burlington Magazine (May 1997): 350-352. p." Burlington Magazine (January 1986): 63.F. 4. Walter Kaufmann and R. McGuinness (1921. Freedberg. p.Afterword 121 NOTES 1. 10. 1989). p. reprint. . T. p. See George Lakoff and Mark Turner. Air Guitar: Essays on Art & Democracy (Los Angeles: Art Issues Press. See my "Artforum.

3. 1998). 83. MA: Harvard University Press." Source 17. 20.4. Editor's Note. 1999). CT: Greenwood Press. pp. Alan R. 17. Compare Krauss's "Welcome to the Cultural Revolution. 19." Artibus et historiae 34 (1997): 17. 16. The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays. trans. The Ministry of Fate. 9 January. Jonathan Mayne (London: Phaidon. Artforum (January 1998): 6. 15. chap. "Art History as Fiction. 21. The Art of Living: Socratic Reflections from Plato to Foucault (Berkeley: University of California Press. 1000-1006.122 Rosalind Krauss 14. Arthur C. I discuss this conception of presence in my High Art. 3. 1989). . 22. Alexander Nehamas. Pratt (Westport. See Krauss's "1959. 3 (spring 1997): 30-34. This paragraph draws upon Nehamas's 1999 lecture "'The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters/" 23. Charles Baudelaire. p. and "Warhol and Cindy Sherman. Paul Barolsky." Source 16.1 (fall 1998): 36-40. The Self Portrait in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. 1997). See also my "Andy Warhol's Moving Pictures of Modern Life. Philosophizing Art: Selected Essays (Berkeley: University of California Press. 18. ed. p. 11." in A New History of French Literature. Danto. 210. Denis Hollier (Cambridge." October 77 (summer 1996): 83-96. Jack Bankowsky. p. His review is reprinted in The Critical Response to Andy Warhol. ed. 1964). pp.

90 Clark. Jack.116 Crimp. Sigmund. Charles. 99 Descartes. 89. Andrew. 102-103.102. 61. 87-105 Bryson. 34. 4. 59 Caro. 9-10. 20. philosophical art criticism. Norman." 87-88.120 Benjamin. 57. 60. 6. 28.113.116 Danto. 105. 48 David. 1. 20 Artaud. 61 Crow. 62.116-118 Bankowsky.Index Abstract Expressionism. 118-119 Bann. Stephen. Gilles and Guattari. 118. 67. 97. 37. 38-41 Forge. Whitney.116 Freud. 120 Barthes. 9. Douglas.19. 24 de Duve. Yve-Alain. Paul. 89-90 Fry.115 Dickie. Marcel. 26. 100-101 Berenson. 81. 101-102 Baudelaire. 95. George. 75.120 Duchamp.119. 112 Bois. Bernard. surrealism.103 Bataille. 23. 75.17-18. 93. 25-26. rival of Krauss.120 . 24 Davis. 113. Thomas Steams. Roland. end of art. 10-11. Thierry. Felix. Roger. 75-76 Fried. works: "Art and Objecthood. Arthur: art and transfiguration. 104. Jack. Sydney. 73 Barolsky. 99-100. Antonin. Albert. 94 Freedberg. 76-77. Jacques-Louis. Georges. 55 Deleuze. 117. 101-102 Elsen. Cartesian philosophy.114.113. 95-96. Thomas. Tim. 27. Michael: influenced by Greenberg. 23. 30 Eliot. 44-46. structuralist art history. 93-94 Burnham. 27.12. 97 Artforum. Warhol's intentions. Denis. art's essence. 61-62 Diderot. Anthony. 7-8. Walter. 60. Rene. 3.11. 112. modernism and negation.

47. 73-74. 77.118 Hebridge. Kantian theory of aesthetic judgment. 9 Mill. 27 Mangold. Robert. 22-23. 81. 98 Jameson. 28-29. 5. 66. 2. Andy. formalism. 93. 14 Stella. 37-38. Ernst. 3 Poussin. 35. 78-79. 48. 33-34. 55-56. Peter. modernism. 37-38 Smithson. 28.101. Richard. 38-40 Ruskin. Brice. art after Abstract Expressionism. 101. mimetic rivalry. 100 Levi-Strauss. Frank. 23-24 Rodin. 82. 88 Rauschenberg. Robert. 111. 80-81 Warhol. 56. 21. Hegelian historiography. 74-75. 93. Kirk. 37 Smith. 8. 4. Rene. kitsch. Auguste. 25-27. 58. 8-9. 60. 73. Jackson: Greenberg's analysis. 89-91. 78-79. 91-92. philosophical art criticism. Eve. 73-74. 76. 46. 48. Dave.124 Girard. 114. William 7 Ubac. 63-64 Klein. David. 80. 42-44 Wollheim. Jasper. 38 Nozich. 28. Robert. 18. 102. 47. Immanuel. Ferdinand de. 18. 3 Olitski. 77 Saussure. 93 Greenberg. 35 Steinberg. 61. 89-90. 38 Sylvester. 8 Marden. 33-34. David. 40-42. 28. Jacques. 80 Parmigianino. David. 72. Nicolas. 57. 36-37. 96. 79 Varnedoe. 47. critics. 93 Goodman. 91. 42. influence. Leo. Pablo. 38 Louis. 91. Works: Number 1. 65-66 Tucker. Steinberg's analysis. 61. 57. 90 Nehamas. 67-68. Richard. 9.11. 76 Gombrich. 71. 96 . 49 n. Friedrich. 34. 36. 41. Heinrich. 100-101. 66 Morris. historicism. Nelson. 17-19. 20. 80-81. Jules. 36. 99. 99. 63-65.116 Hume. 37. 9-10. discussed in Krauss's early publications. 1. 76. Sheldon. Raoul.114 Wolfflin. Claude. 20. John Stuart. Alexander. 112 Pincus-Witten. 78-79 Hickey. Frank. Robert. 11-12.113. Fredric. Melanie. 77 Jenkins. Craig.114 Nodelman. 113 Picasso.104 O'Hara. 63 Index October. 96 Lacan. John. 2. Robert.119 Nietzsche. 57. 20 Johns.106 n. Paul. 43. Krauss's analysis. 118-119 Wittgenstein. 62. Dick. 27. 11-12 Schjeldahl. Morris. 112 Greimas diagram. 9. 79. 77. 28 Kant. 59. Robert.27 Owens. 27. 1-3. Clement: Abstract Expressionism. 35. 18 Serra. 117 Hesse. 56. 8-9 Pollock. 48. 46. 67. Ludwig.

The Aesthete in the City: The Philosophy and Practice of American Abstract Painting in the 1980s.About the Author DAVID CARRIER is the Champney Family Professor at Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Institute of Art. and High Art: Charles Baudelaire and the Origins of Modernism. He has written numerous works including Principles ofArt History Writing. .

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