Rosalind Krauss and American Philosophical Art Criticism

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

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

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

This book is for Alexander Nehamas .

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we must always ask. Rimbaud . '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.In evaluating a perspective.

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Chapter 5. Chapter 3. Chapter 2. Afterword: Index In the Beginning Was Formalism The Structuralist Adventure The Historicist. 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 .Contents Preface Introduction: The Rise of Philosophical Art Criticism Chapter 1. Chapter 4.

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

Whitney Davis described the reception of his controversial essay discussed in chapter 1. James Elkins. but I learned from his fanatical lucidity. elegance—and also. sometimes getting it right. The virtues of life are comparable to the virtues of good writing—style. Sylvia Plimack Mangold. a subject central to my analysis of Krauss's writings. Robert Mangold. Mark Cheetham discussed Kant with me and found a bibliography of writings by and about Krauss. Albert Elsen showed me the Rodins at Stanford. Shirley Kaneda. Of course I'm an aesthete. George J. I report bits and pieces of remembered conversations with Clement Greenberg. Leonard. and so often I paraphrase. Alexander Nehamas and I discussed perspectivism. And I thank Bill Berkson. Timothy J. Arthur Danto gave the key to the discussion of Greimas." Is that bad? I wondered how his account was consistent with the much discussed claim that postmodernism makes aesthetic values passe. 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. grace. Robert Ryman. Fay. Nothing I write will meet his standards. and William Tucker made an unpublished lecture available to me. Standring. opening the back door to the gates of hell. Garner Tullis. connectedness. Robert Pincus-Witten.2 When I was visiting lecturer at Princeton University in 1998. I published the proceedings in History and Theory. Stephen Bann gave suggestions about Rene Girard. Kaneda provided my fontispiece. and when in the early 1980s we toured Northern Italy together. and the late Mark Roskill for reading drafts of this manuscript. I'm an unabashed aesthete. Saul Ostrow. Catherine Lee. 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. Thanks to Julia Perkins and Brian C. Paul Barolsky. The 1996 Bielefeld author conference devoted to Arthur Danto helped me understand how the concerns of analytic philosophers and art critics intersect.XII Preface Copyright restrictions permit me to quote only three hundred words from each of her books. many years ago. and Barbara Westman have discussed art and artwriting with me. we must not forget. Peggy and Richard Kuhns. Gary and Loekie Schwartz. The beginning of the Introduction uses his ideas and at the end of the Afterword I offer a tentative answer to his question. Otto Karl Werkmeister 's Icons of the Left (1999) gave me the epigraph from Rimbaud. his response to a street festival . Sean Scully.

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

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

and so someone had to replace him. 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. Clement Greenberg is the most important American art critic. Thomas Nagel Visual art often is accompanied by words. 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.INTRODUCTION The Rise of Philosophical Art Criticism We are engaged in a collective enterprise whose results can't always be easily traced. Art critics evaluate contemporary art. almost alone. his analysis of newer art was rejected by most younger critics. . he argued these painters developed the tradition of French modernism. for much of this work is identifiable as art only because it is accompanied by theorizing. In the 1960s. Properly understood. In the 1940s. he influentially championed Jackson Pollock and the other Abstract Expressionists. when the importance of Greenberg's view of the 1940s was generally accepted. There was a well-developed market in contemporary art. which in turn works out the essential concerns of the old masters. and historians reconstruct the meaning of work from earlier times.

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

by philosophical argumentation." his eloquent description is straightforward. Michael Fried. and if Pollock's art was similar in this way. People ignorant of Greenberg's theory could not see this similarity." 3 Analytic Cubism was important.. . In Europe.Introduction 3 I reconstruct Krauss's career. Vasari and Hegel are philosophical art critics. as much of an intellectual as Greenberg. and a host of modern and postmodern artists working in a variety of media. Roger Fry. Walter Pater. classical in its cool. By contrast. as are Erwin Panofsky (and some of his German precursors and contemporaries). philosophical art critics do serious theorizing. She appears to be a formidable personality. Clement Greenberg. classical in all its comprehensive.. for in the artworld virtue is not its own reward. Hegel is of course centrally concerned with such theorizing. and evaluating her arguments. Krauss has written interestingly about David Smith. Greenberg's analysis of Abstract Expressionism was inspired. hers are highly controversial. reminds me of what Picasso and Braque arrived at thirty odd years before. Krauss is a philosophical art critic. Ernst Gombrich. . That is to the good. Like most strong interpretations. it also was important. surrealism. masterful. When. O'Hara writes of Number I. O'Hara. This story about the rise of Krauss and philosophical art criticism is a story about the American artworld. and pristine use of his own passions. Some philosophical art critics place philosophical concerns center stage. . explaining the transitions in her thought. It is possible to write highly distinguished art criticism without being a philosophical art critic. Greenberg and his successors are much less important. When immediately accessible art critics such as Frank O'Hara review an exhibition. by contrast. I do not evaluate her tastes in contemporary art—this is a study of her theorizing.4 "this is the classical period of Pollock. in part. with the facet-planes of their Analytical Cubism. their writing contains no abstract reasoning. so too are John Ruskin. and de Kooning the Delacroix. Pollock is the Ingres. and Arthur Danto. Pollock's "illusion of indeterminate but somehow definitely shallow depth . of Action Painting. Their greatness is equal but antithetical. ultimate beauty. Philosophical art critics are special sorts of art writers. was a different sort of critic. 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. 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.

Nietzsche.6 They are more likely to make errors than narrow specialists. 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. is too far removed from art history to be a philosophical art critic. A philosophical art critic need not be an art historian. Philosophical art critics thus inevitably are odd in-between figures. for all of his influence on philosophical art critics. and so her achievement as philosopher of art history has attracted less recognition." 7 That statement gains authority because it appears in a commissioned essay. their concern with art's history is likely to pass by philosophers. would go to La Coupole every night. But that should not be taken as a license for suspending normal scholarly concerns with truth. . Danto. Pater and Greenberg borrow from philosophy in frankly eclectic ways. but their theories remain interesting. Philosophical art critics often are criticized for being cavalier about facts. We were very young. 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. At two in the morning. the same is true of Schopenhauer. Their strictly philosophical interests often puzzle art historians. . Heidegger. . . 5 Krauss's vocabulary is less accessible to most American philosophers. Because Danto is a philosopher well known among aestheticians and historiographers. . A philosophical art critic must both be an art critic and be involved with philosophical concerns. Few great philosophers of art are philosophical art critics. Yet Krauss's interpretation of Serra remains of great interest. his theorizing has been much discussed. Giacometti would usually come in. 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. Philosophical art critics need to be evaluated by appropriate standards. Kant. and for us.4 Rosalind Krauss But Vasari and Greenberg are only marginally concerned with philosophical problems. he epitomized the image of the working sculptor. 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. Judged by present-day standards. and John Dewey. Along with her only true present-day American rival. Hegel and Pater got historical details wrong. Nor need a philosophical art critic be a distinguished philosopher.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The philosophical art critics of Krauss's generation. wanted to elevate their writing above journalism. and closes with reference to Fried. many writers wanted to make art criticism an academic subject. . and conceptual art—art that existed as art only in relation to philosophizing—was a natural subject for philosophical art criticism. an era when everything is possible. Philosophical art criticism involves mastering technical ways of thinking. in describing this period.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. Pop. "Although Rodin had no contact with Husserl's philosophy. his philosophical arguments have only a somewhat distant relationship to his practice. 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. Universities might teach such skills—creative writing is taught in many English departments. philosophical art critics hoped to play a similar role. and how he describes art.25 But as he has indicated. They sought to make criticism as philosophically serious as art history had been in its German origins. . What he likes. She gives an elaborate analysis of what might appear relatively straightforward abstract paintings. 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. In Krauss's era. Professional art historians teach students to analyze objects collected in museums. .academics. A gifted writer might aspire to write criticism. Philosophical art critics are bookish academics. in no way follow from his theorizing. When contemporary art is sold by art dealers to collectors and also to museums."27 A great deal of 1960s art looked simple but was said to be complex. Recently. as far as we know. minimalism. He believes that ours is a posthistorical period. became the object of his painting. 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. who mostly were. Michael Fried has discussed the successive phases of this struggle. And so he tends to like a great variety of art. his sculp- . Journalistic art critics tell what they experience. Would it be possible to also bring art criticism into the university? An art critic has an eye and a literary style. Art history became an academic subject around the turn of the twentieth century." 26 She begins using Greenberg's theory of modernism.

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

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

24. In Greenburg's collected writings. 30. "Jules Olitski. n." Art in America 67. 11. Michael Bolus is the subject of an essay in Fried. p. 17.p. 1991). and his unpublished Fuller Lecture. pp. 1990). 14. Straus. NC: Duke University Press. "Postmodernism and Consumer Society. WA: Bay Press. Fredric Jameson. p. Writing. p. 18. Robert Pincus-Witten. p." 13. Manet's Modernism. Art and Objecthood. Robert Pincus-Witten." Burlington Magazine. p. Disfiguration. 3 (May-June 1979): 120-127. "The Hero and the Housemaid. Entries (Maximalism) (New York: Out of London Press. in turn. 26. University of Pennsylvania. 1125. and Flayden Gallery. Fried's revelatory art history writing is another story. (1964). 1977). 1998). Hal Foster (Port Townsend. Courbet's Realism. 22. nearly all essays are exercises in applied criticism. 1999). Postmodernism: Or. p. 1983). found Krauss's analysis all too traditional. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Danto. 111. Art Bulletin 79. 2 (June 1997): 334-337. See my reviews: Absorption and Theatricality. See my "Robert Mangold. Arthur C. When Burnham reviewed Passages (New Art Examiner 5. Ibid. 10 [July 1978]: 4-5). 14. he. Realism. the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Durham. 23. 25. "Rogue Equations..4 (1989): 398. Postminimalism (New York: Out of London Press." Arts (December 1988): 88. p. 9. 31. ed. See my "William Tucker at Storm King Art Center. . Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. 1983). History and Theory. John Mason is discussed in Krauss's "John Mason and Post-Modernist Sculpture: New Experiences. Art Monthly (September 1981): 35-36. 21. Giroux. 20. Encounters & Reflections: Art in the Historical Present (New York: Farrar. New Words. 288.14 Rosalind Krauss 12. 139. Michael Fried. 19.3 (1991): 368-381. 15. Art and Objecthood: Essays and Reviews (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1968).138 (December 1996): 828." in The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Cidture. Robert Pincus-Witten. 16. 47." in Brice Marden: Classic Paintings (New York: C&M Arts." in Jules Olitski: Recent Paintings (Institute for Contemporary Art. 193-196. Fredric Jameson. Art and Culture gives a misleading picture of his concerns. Gray window wall.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

maps the path across the plaza that spectator will take. Serra's supporter.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. defending it in prose the public finds incomprehensible. Krauss says. more specifically what it means for vision to be invested with a purpose.. Of course this does not satisfy him. Crimp. Tilted Arc establishes itself as a great work of art. deserves this recognition." And yet. It is too late when in her last sentence. Fie thanks the "many museums. but the function of his writing is to promote Serra. Richard Serra appealed to legal reasoning. Krauss's account could be used in a populist way. but they don't deal with the obvious fact that this sculpture was unpopular. Like almost all serious contemporary visual art. he argued. like the embodiment of the concept of visual perspective. 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. and universities" where he lectured. As Crow. observes. Attempting to preserve Tilted Arc. not commissioned in open competition. Setting down a large expensive sculpture. 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. The conservative view that Crow presents." is essentially true. she speaks as if to a seminar. art schools. has an obligation to respect his rights. Unlike some pub- . this sculpture is constantly mapping a kind of projectile of the gaze that starts at one end of Federal Plaza and. "the trap that he created for himself was that. and the Getty Grant Program for support. that Tilted Arc is "the product of an entrenched. As Crow notes." 25 Crimp and Crow observe how the hearings against Tilted Arc were manipulated by Serra's enemies. was to ask for trouble. "In the beauty of its doing this. He seeks to be a radical critic of the museum. an important critic. had his suit been successful. magnificently. .. Serra's is esoteric. 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.24 His government. self-interested minority culture brutally indifferent to the needs of the average individual. the National Endowment for the Arts. and the National Gallery.

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

Looking back. "convey an extraordinary sense of the a u t o n o m y of the visual. just as the child ceases to take hold of things in order to 'grasp' them. In a 1968 catalog essay. similarly. The a u t o n o m y of the voice is the ironist's last source of value. The color cannot inform or make sensible the literal place of the picture. [Jules] Olitski's art makes it possible to see how different the kind of opticality achieved by Pollock was from that achieved by Newman. Krauss's experience at Artforum "with John Coplans and Robert Pincus-Witten" then dramatically changed her interests. 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. . but here Krauss remains u n d e r the spell of modernist ways of thinking. In Smith's sculpture. while accepting the basic formalist framework. 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. Krauss's break with Greenberg involved a very public dispute about the David Smith estate. A more developed art has learned to surrender itself to mere appearance. 33 Jasper Johns's mid-1970s paintings. Terminal Iron Works appears an uneasy synthesis. In the 1960s. Krauss wrote. while defeating the desire for possession by touch. Soon Krauss too w o u l d be a m o n g those critics." 3 4 Greenberg did not m u c h admire Johns. . Krauss makes distinctions of detail between her claims and those of Greenberg a n d Fried.28 Rosalind Krauss Terminal Iron Works begins discussing recent attacks on formalism." 3 2 But already in Terminal Iron Works different concerns emerge—surrealism and totems. Pollock was the first to usher the viewer into what has been called an optical space. the color field painters were identified by Greenberg as the natural heirs to the Abstract Expressionists. so mankind has ceased to test the picture for its tactile values. "the surface makes the work visually accessible. and baroque painterly representation that "has its roots only in the eye a n d appeals only to the eye . where w h a t w e see depicted is w h a t w e can also imagine touching. and does. This is precisely what color in Olitski's art can. Krauss and Fried identify different w a y s in which painters open u p abstract illusionistic space. It is no accident that they argued about . do." 3 6 Wolfflin distinguished two forms of representation." 3 5 Fie alludes to Heinrich Wolfflin's distinction between linear sixteenth-century art.

But when personal relationships fail. Judging just by the published information. This argument about David Smith became the basis for settling long simmering disputes. . Greenberg did not remove final paint applied by the sculptor.37 Because there is a tendency to reject Greenberg's claims out of hand. . 2. "I feel that there are no justifiable grounds for altering the work of an artist after his .38) Greenberg claimed that "the question of color in Smith's art. remains a vexed one. NOTES 1. Danto. In her next book. Greenberg removed paint that Smith applied."39 And Krauss wrote. for critics of Krauss's generation had become very suspicious of Greenberg's role in the art market. In a review. MA: Harvard University Press. Looking back. 208. and Arthur C. Krauss writes. the issues were more complex than either side indicated. people generally behave in irrational ways. 1987). See my Artwriting (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press. Smith left some sculptures with only primer. Danto. it was possible to understand his action in two ways. p. (So far as I know. But insofar as the primer supplied no guide to the final intended color. she says. After the End of Art: Contemporary . Smith did not choose the color of these sculptures. 1981). Krauss needed a pretext to rebel against a mentor whose era was passed. 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. "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. . Arthur C. When Greenberg had that paint removed. that paint was not an essential to Smith's artwork. this point is worth spelling out. she developed an alternative to Greenberg's theorizing."40 Might the unfinished works painted only with primer have been destroyed? When Smith's became valuable. death. is not the best way to understand Caro's achievement. 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."42 Greenberg's positivism. I don't think he has ever used applied color with real success."41 But this is not exactly the situation. . The Transfiguration of the Commonplace: A Philosophy of Art (Cambridge. this was unlikely.In the Beginning Was Formalism 29 economic issues.

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

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

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

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

but he destroyed his tradition. Krauss's characterization of Rodin's achievement is essentially negative.. dissolving stone forms into light and air in search of effects analogous to those of impressionist painting. By not presenting a narrative and not showing the b o d y ' s structure. wrhich is detached from his own personal feelings.34 Rosalind Krauss tion. [Picasso Head of a Woman. by contrast. by contrast. ." 4 Rodin's figure groupings d o not present narratives. Passages in Modern Sculpture argues that m o d e r n i s m began with Rodin. then the artists championed by Greenberg were too tra- ditional to be significant. he remained closer to Greenberg. 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. Greenberg. . . His sculptures fail to present a visual narrative. . his individual figures are not expressive. the mask functions i n . His art . Passages characterizes m a n y very different sculptures in these negative terms. Krauss says that the history of modernist sculpture beginning with Rodin involves a decisive break with tradition. 1931] as a denial of the classical principle which holds that the surface of a form is the external effect of an underlying cause. Tim Clark has asserted. Krauss's Rodin negates w h a t came earlier. 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 . Fried insisted that high modernist abstraction was not fundamentally concerned with negation. and Michael Fried has denied." he " p r o d u c e d an art intensely hostile to rationalism. was fulfilled in itself and in the revival of monolithic sculpture that it initiated. "that the practices of m o d e r n i s m in the arts are fundamentally practices of negation. . Because of its actual disjunction from the body that lies behind it." 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. When. He was a great artist. . What assertion of Greenberg is being denied by Krauss? If Krauss a n d Steinberg were right.

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

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

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

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

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

The Originality of the Avant-Garde moves beyond modernism. Had he been forgotten. Accepting. he again became famous. Krauss wants to open up discussion. to Jane Austen's accounts of picturesque landscapes. even if the means employed are oddly arbitrary. she elsewhere has said. When valuable paintings are damaged. after his reputation was long in eclipse. The result was brilliant. whether Rodin thought Gates of Hell definitively finished. in effect." 30 Krauss describes a structuralist model for describing contemporary art.29 This virtuoso performance. . to grids in modernist painting. but—more importantly—its hostility to narrative. of inflection emphasizes not only its anti-referential character." 26 She uses this example to motivate discussion of authenticity and originality. "Modernist Myths.24 Similarly. which frequently changes focus." is followed by part two. "We do not care if the copyright papers are all in order. "The absolute stasis of the grid. most of Elsen's legal and historical arguments. 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 . for what is at stake are the aesthetic rights of style based on a culture of originals. a fundamentally nonhistorical way of thinking." 31 For example." Gates of Hell provides the staging point for questions taken up by Rodin's postmodernist successors. But when. important sculpture. Teachers of logic will recognize that Krauss's Greimas structuralist diagrams derive from the "Square of Opposition. has little to say about Rodin. "Toward Postmodernism. that cast would have been discarded. . his cast permits making very completelooking artworks.27 Style. of center. is "a category born of idealism . She found in Elsen's exhibition the pretext for moving her own argument forward. and to Roland Barthes on realism and Sherrie Levine's playful undermining of traditional ideals of artistic originality. museums feel pressure to made them presentable for exhibition. Krauss links Rodin to Walter Benjamin's much discussed essay on art in the age of mechanical reproduction." 28 She does not suggest that Gates of Hell be discarded. Gates of Hell was cast. Many 1960s artists sought to undermine or move outside the market system. Part one.40 Rosalind Krauss mous.25 Krauss's critique of Elsen builds upon that concern. its lack of hierarchy.

" he would show the structures of the world. which is obscured by the unwieldiness of ordinary language. my Greimas diagram of modernism: Formalism (Greenberg) Antistructuralist Antiformalism (Arthur Danto) Antistructuralism (Michael Fried) Structuralist Antiformalism (Krauss) . .The Structuralist Adventure 41 define the chart: A I E O The relations between propositions permits determining truth values of assertions. 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. and so on. There are no logical relationships here. any four words can be set in such a diagram. for example. nor energy its contrary. Similarly. 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. not propositions. suggestive though it may be. A is false. the opposite of culture.34 The "Square of Opposition" displays "the logical structure . From this juxtaposition of names." 35 But when Jameson writes36 Ancien Regime Culture Energy Bourgeoisie then the bourgeoisie is not the opposite of the Ancien Regime. there is no legitimate way to infer logical relationships. As used by Greimas or literary critics such diagrams have at most a metaphorical significance. and so nothing can be inferred from the diagram. . to quote Fredric Jameson's sympathetic commentary. When.33 If E is true. With ingenuity. Consider. Jameson merely diagrams his interpretation of the French novel's development.

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

We imply that Raphael. 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. . that is. Still this description of Raphael's painting w o u l d m a k e sense. Looking at two Madonnas. . for. so there had been no 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. But when we read the comparison the other way round and contrast the Raphael with the Caravaggio we are on more dangerous ground. art manifests very various contents. . clearly developed in space. The group of the geometers is a solution to a formal problem which few have ever attempted—five figures directed towards a single point. Still it might be illuminating to anachronistically contrast the Raphael and Caravaggio paintings in Wolfflin's way. . and with the greatest variety in attitude. 4 5 it is legitimate and illuminating to compare the Caravaggio with the Raphael. too. Suppose Italy had been conquered by the Muslims in 1550. Gombrich is correct. . 4 4 Ernst Gombrich argues that Wolfflin's procedure is inherently flawed.. It therefore is not true that Raphael's classical style in defined only in relation to the baroque." 4 2 oppositions.. after all.The Structuralist Adventure 43 structuralist analysis. Insofar as the historian's goal is to describe Raphael's art as he himself understood it. Wolfflin uses linguistic metaphors: "in the course of time. Wolfflin believes w e see painterly a n d linear paintings as illusionistic representations. deliberately rejected the methods of Caravaggio. Caravaggio knew Raphael's work. He cannot have rejected what he never knew. pure in outline. Raphael is obviously following in Michelangelo's footsteps .. . in oppositional terms: 4 6 Wolfflin's Principles of Art History presents his categories as binary . But his fullest account of The School of Athens is a formal analysis setting the painting in historical context: 43 Here." 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 doing that would not justify Krauss's claim that Wolfflin is implicitly developing a semiotic art history.

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

" But the trouble with the style matrix. in the sense that each artwork had the same n u m b e r of stylistic qualities as any other. Danto had. or Lichtenstein and Michelangelo. - 4. Juxtaposing works with radically different styles. he has explained recently. presenting its rules without reference to the time. - Every other painting in existence becomes non-H. 52 Insofar as logic proceeds formally. 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. he came to think. or as quite outside of time. "a kind of political vision that all works of art were equal.The Structuralist Adventure 45 added. 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. it treats "all works of art as contemporaries. - + . is it not the mode of analysis most inimical to understanding historical process? What explains change is a narrative. place or circumstances of their use." 5 1 Danto makes the same point as Gombrich. 5 3 (1) x is F at t-1 (2) H happens to x at t-2 (3) x is G at t-3 . the chart reads: 50 F + + + G + + H + . a timeless comparison of styles is irrelevant. If some n e w painting comes to have the quality H. . Structuralism cannot explain change. is that it is essentially ahistorical.


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

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

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

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

"Re-Presenting Picasso. "Introduction. but not in such a way that classical painting is meaningful only in relation to what came before. Fleinrich Wolfflin. He does. Norman Bryson. 47." in Visual Culture: Images and Interpretations. n. 49. place classical art in relation to the quattrocento. 1952). .D. p. ch. 41. and Keith Moxey (Hanover. how different our family life would be! 38. p. p.2 (1991): 174-208. E. 220. 45. 1996)." p. Classical Art: An Introduction to the Italian Renaissance. 39." 93. ed. Gombrich argues that for Wolfflin the High Renaissance always is the hidden norm. p. September 12 and 19. "Only Project" (Review of Richard Wollheim.d. Heinrich Wolfflin. p.H. "Re-Presenting Picasso. A Theory of Semiotics (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 90. 7. Krauss. and Brigston. 44. 95. pp. Umberto Eco. 38. This account builds upon my "Art History. 129-141. 1955). Liz our daughter. They refer to Pierce. If we had a cat. 1994). Rosalind E. 83.1988." Philosophical Writings ofPeirce. Wolfflin does not refer to the baroque. 43. 94.). NH: University Press of New England.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. 1966). 42. 40. ed. 48. Norm and Form: Studies in the art of the Renaissance (London: Phaidon. Hottinger (New York: This diagram of my family shows the alliances and conflicts of my wife Marianne. Justus Buchler (New York: Dover. 1976). 46. This is the view of Mieke Bal and Norman Bryson. trans." in Contemporary Critical Terms in Art History. Peter and Linda Murray (London: Phaidon." Art in America (December 1980): 93. Krauss. trans. Liz's dog. xviii. "Semiotics and Art History. The New Republic. Krauss. Robert Nelson and Richard Shiff (Chicago: LJniversity of Chicago Press. M. "Re-Presenting Picasso. Michael Ann Holly. Gombrich. In this section of Classical Art. at the beginning of the book. Principles of Art History: The Problem of the Dover. but their view is quite different from that presented in his "Logic as Semiotic: The Theory of Signs. Painting as an Art). ed." Art Bulletin 72.

51. Danto. In Wolfflin's account. 171. 7. Richard Wollheim. But it is also possible to find precedents for her concern with discontinuity. 1993) argues for this claim. 164. "The Artworld. p. vol. 1993). 1997). p. p. 53. Mark Roskill. 4. ed. p. The Interpretation of Cubism (Philadelphia: Art Alliance Press and London: Associated University Presses. "Analysis Logical and Ideological. and Culture. MA: Harvard University Press." reprinted in his Beyond Recognition: Representation. 1985). Art and Culture (Boston: Beacon. and Jane Weinstock (Berkeley: University of California Press. 322. 58. 55.The Structuralist Adventure 53 50. Originality of the Avant-Garde. 51. Michael Kelly (New York: Oxford University Press. 19 (October 15. Krauss. 9. the Renaissance leads to the baroque. 1985) gives a different account. Arthur C. p. p. The Political Unconscious. 1961). Barbara Kruger. old master painting leads to modernism. 59. Narration and Knowledge (New York: Columbia University Press. . Danto. 290. p." Journal of Philosophy 61. ed. Krauss's history is essentially discontinuous. 60. Scott Bryson. See my "Why Art History Has a History. Gombrich argues. Arthur C. After the End of Art: Contemporary Art and the Pale of History (Princeton. Some art historians focus on describing continuity. Jameson. 236." Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. Lynne Tillman. 54.1 (1993): 299-312. art changes entirely." in Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. 1998). Clement Greenberg. p. 278. When the classical illusionistic art of antiquity is replaced by Christian pre-Romanesque painting. 1992). 61. NJ: Princeton University Press. Danto. 52. 57. The Mind and Its Depths (Cambridge. Craig Owens. My Poussins Paintings: A Study in Art-Historical Methodology (University Park: Penn State Press. p. 1964): 583. Originality of the Avant-Garde. 56. Power. Arthur C. "Aesthetics of Andy Warhol. 62. 4. in Greenberg's history. Krauss.

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

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

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

58 Rosalind Krauss present Louvre is the same museum where the eighteenth-century Salons were held. 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. then he could allow that in another narrative. we must know the appropriate conventions. Indeed. And in advance of this the limits are unknown. In film. 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. When no appeal to precedent is possible. it is not possible. the history of painting might be different.11 a modernist sensibility pushes a medium to its limits. Greenberg thinks painting has a real essence: modernism painting is the same art as Giotto practiced. but there is continuity in its development. Painting changed dramatically from Giotto to Morris Louis. she implies. Were that the case. Krauss says. Stanley Cavell bases discussion on too narrow a range of examples. to offer legitimate alternatives to her narrative. creating an image of itself in them. . and how to judge it. Fried suggested an historicist view of art's essence:10 Rather than give up all thought of "essence" in connection with painting or sculpture . "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. 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. Krauss denies that. . His account of art's essence differs from hers. The physical space has dramatically changed. is an essentialist. But she. Greenberg is not just claiming that in his historical narrative the art of Giotto can be connected with modernism. Because he does not know Soviet film of the 1920s and Ameri- . like Greenberg. 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.

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

no contemporary of Rembrandt could have imagined Warhol's Brillo Box. those conventions will turn out to be. 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. Equally well. But in one way. 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. " 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. errors in identifying the nature of art involve failure to recognize conventions. these two cases differ. But there existed in R e m b r a n d t ' s time objects like Brillo Box. the artwork might have existed.) We can take an aesthetic attitude toward any- . 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. b u t it w a s not yet visible.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. the question of what. W h e n there are competing accounts of those conventions.60 Rosalind Krauss The modernist painter seeks to discover not the irreducible essence of all painting but rather those conventions which. Someone w h o h a d never heard of these artists could still see a landscape. are capable of establishing his work's nontrivial identity as painting leaves wide open . a Pissarro-like tree seen from the top of a London bus. If nominalists be correct. In 1650. trees. these experiences were p e r h a p s harder to identify. In the seventeenth century. a Barnett N e w m a n e s q u e stripe on a w i n d o w curtain. . Rembrandt could not have seen the pile of h e m p as a work of art. should he prove successful. (Before their paintings existed. 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. n o one could have imagined our computers. In his essay " A r t / N a t u r e . at a particular moment in the history of the art. . His mistake w a s generalizing from too n a r r o w a range of examples. or a curtain in these ways. w h o s e analysis should be accepted? Descartes argued that thought is an act of spiritual substances. N o mere mechanism is capable of thinking. simply because the concept of art had not then evolved in such a way as to be able to accommodate it as an instance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I remember m y indignation. . 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. the weight of tradition is heavy." 4 W h a t art critic is not frustrated by disagreements with peers? But for Krauss. 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 . and in this struggle. The Optical Unconscious psychologizes the structural analysis of The Originality of the Avant-Garde. P e r h a p s this h o p e is overoptimistic. it needs. "Academic life is about learning a n d continuity as well as about controversy and dispute. disagreement provides the natural starting point for her o w n positive discussion. . Forming alliances and struggling against enemies are c o m m o n . Making art a n d writing criticism involves rivalry with one's master.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. . 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. almost universal practices. Harold Bloom's account of rivalry and poetry is famous. "Slave ethics/' he said. and that no is its creative act. 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. while the other (the one used for someone else's) is bad. external stimuli in order to act at all—its action is fundamentally reaction. physiologically speaking." We m a k e a sharp distinction between good art and bad art admired by uncritical viewers. But no one else has pressed these concerns so far in art criticism as Krauss. slave morality always first needs a hostile external world." 5 I admire Krauss's capacity to use creatively w h a t might otherwise seem an inevitable h u m a n limitation. Art critics create values. that of deeds.' a nonself. "begins by saying no to an 'outside. 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. . and Richard Wollheim and N o r m a n Bryson have described rivalry in painting.' an 'other. one of which (the one that describes one's own position) is good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the 1970s. a dream. 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. abortively—to change those basic conditions. too high for my wit. Clark claims that "the question of h o w an artist should res p o n d to revolution remains unsolved. 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. today is merely of historical fascination. Krauss a n d her colleagues aimed to build bridges between the art they admired and political protest. W h e n October w a s founded. she responds in an authentic w a y to the changed art and culture. so important in the era w h e n Krauss broke with Greenberg. 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." 6 2 His question. . in 1865. Could there be any such thing as revolutionary art until the m e a n s existed—briefly. Baudelaire's keenest desire in the revolution of 1848 w a s to shoot his father-in-law. as Clark's recent book on m o d e r n i s m makes clear. incompatible with the basic conditions of artistic production in the nineteenth c e n t u r y . They don't seem to me to have dated. . Tim Clark asked. as h a p p e n e d in the October revolution. Reading Formless." 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. aesthetes often are problematic political activists. N o w they are dated. and Baudelaire's to himself. I prefer to omit. "[H]ow could there be an effective political art? Is not the whole thing a chimera. As Clark notes. But w h o k n o w s w h a t I a m missing? 6 4 . 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.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. quoting instead A d e l p h u s Muelich: 63 This. .

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

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

ed. Susan Sontag. 1969). 26. Georges Bataille. Mark Seem. Straus and Giroux. chap. 33. Lovitt. Willard van Orman Quine. pp. 51. Melanie Klein. 1985). 278-279. 22." Artforum 14." Art Bulletin 76. Hanna Segal. pp. and Donald M. NY: Doubleday Anchor. 35. 1981). 1983)." Art Journal 41. "We Lost It at the Movies. p. summarizes her ideas. 90. 4 (December 1994): 580. "Painting and the Struggle for the Whole Self. 1991)." in Visual Theory: Painting and Interpretation. pp. pp.1 (spring 1981): 33-38. Formless. ed. ed. 32. Formless. New York: Dover. Much of the discussion of "The Motivation" revolves around debate about the extent of Picasso's knowledge of Mallarme's poetry. Lane (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 34. Allan Stoekl. Roger Fry. MA: MIT Press. p.The Deconstruction of Structuralism 107 20. 1979). Bradley. 28. and Keith Moxey (London: HarperCollins. trans. p. MD: Penguin. 38. 97. 156. See Norman Bryson. . in Klein (Glasgow: Fontana Collins. Carl R. 8. Selected Writings. 1968). 21. 1960). Krauss and Bois. p. "The Politics of Arbitrariness. A usefully brief account of semiotics in relation to surrealism appears in Krauss's "Nightwalkers. Norman Bryson. 1. Michael Ann Holly. 27. trans. F. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. 29. Helen Weaver (New York: Farrar. Antonin Artaud. Robert Hurley. reprint. (Baltimore. p. this strategy required more motivation than was provided in The Optical Unconscious. 31.H. 36. Transformations: Critical and Speculative Essays on Art (Garden City. Word & Image: French Painting of the Ancien Regime (Cambridge. 1976).1 (September 1975): 48. 1927-1939. Clarence Irving Lewis. 30. 1956). 31. trans. 24. 66. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. a tangential issue. MA: Cambridge University Press. 57. Andrew Forge. 25. Mind and the World-Order: Outline of a Theory of Knowledge (1929. Krauss and Bois. 23. 4-5. 45. 2d ed. p. 2. Allan Stoekl. Word & Object (Cambridge. and Helen R. p. Richard Wollheim. Leslie (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota. Visions of Excess: Selected Writings. Norman Bryson. Contributions to Psycho-Analysis 1921-1945 (London: Hogarth Press. As she indicates. 1956).

Mary Dalwood (1962. p. 48. 52. her example of such an abstractionist. NJ: Princeton University Press. 1965). Arthur C. 54. 1999).108 Rosalind Krauss 37. Krauss. 49. Alan Warner. Three Novels (Molloy). Krauss. 1982). 263-267. Rosalind E. 44. 269. The Originality of the Avant-Garde. 43. 1995). 84. Danto. reprint. Georges Bataille. Caravaggio's Secrets (Cambridge. The Story of the Eye by Lord Auch. pp. trans. 71-90. 29. Philosophizing Art: Selected Essays (Berkeley: University of California Press. 42. p. 1896). MA: MIT Press. Ibid. Most of the essays in this volume discuss the mirror stage. A fuller sample of Bataille's ideas appears in his Eroticism: Death & Sensuality." October 36 (spring 1986): 154. 137. 102. to deal also with old master art. 51. p. pp. The Optical Unconscious. 1993). 7. Krauss and Bois. New York: Grove. 46. Formless. Bradford Collins (Princeton. trans. 53. See my "Indiscernibles and the Essence of Art: The Hegelian Turn in Arthur Danto's Aesthetic Theory. p. Krauss and Bois. 84. 67. Mirrors are discussed in empirical ways in Jonathan Miller. is republished in 12 Views of Manet's Bar. A Treatise of Human Nature (Oxford: Clarendon Press. Formless. 39. p. MA: MIT Press. Lucio Pozzi. 47. Middlesex: Penguin. 97. 197. pp. Samuel Beckett. Joachim Neugroschel (Harmondsworth. 41. Interpreting Un Bar aux Folies-Bergere" History and Theory. 209. pp. p. p. trans." forthcoming in the Library of Living Philosophers volume devoted to Danto. 1. Patrick Bowles with the author (1955. "Antivision. 3 (1990): 297-320. Formless has some suggestive remarks about Caravaggio. On Reflection (London: National Gallery. became a figurative artist. 252-253. A fuller account appears in Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit. p. Formless. Rosalind E. ed. 1998). 40. Formless. David Hume. The Optical Unconscious (Cambridge. p. Krauss and Bois. 1996). Krauss. What might add to the plausibility of Krauss's recent theorizing is the extension of her account backward historically. 38.89. San . 92. Morvern Callar (New York: Anchor. Krauss and Bois. 1998). Krauss. My "Art History in the Mirror Stage. 45. reprint. 50.

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

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

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

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

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

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

and Parmigianino's paintings were not always seen thus."12 He expresses. writes. the magazine focused on contemporary art in relation to early modernism. Tim Clark's account of Manet very self-consciously projects on late nineteenth-century Paris left-wing social concerns of the 1960s. Like jokes that aren't funny. Much is to be learned by considering interpretations that fail. reflecting on his own experience selling art. admiring Andy Warhol?) Unlike Freedberg. a natural match between a gifted interpreter and the paintings he describes. and be- . How does a style of interpretation catch on and become almost common sense? A great interpreter responds to a shared climate of opinion. Today. the broader field that has come to be called cultural studies. there are no prerequisites for looking at it. no doubt in exaggerated fashion. 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. In its earlier years. A great deal can be learned by studying the changing styles of the most prestigious American commercial journal. Often there seems. Philosophical art criticism has lost much of its prestige. at least in retrospect. and permission of art's mandate. unconvincing interpretations quickly drop out of circulation. the movements of peoples. Rejecting traditional aesthetics. Freedberg's finely polished prose is a natural match to Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror.116 Rosalind Krauss Warhol's. . Art ain't rocket science. Manet's. as editor Jack Bankowsky has defined his program. . It is not necessary to share an artwriter's beliefs to admire his or her interpretations. . defined in part by his writing. through to the late 1970s. the frustrations many people have with such theorizing. Looking at Marilyn Diptych. Krauss is not a literary writer. I forget my problems with Crow's political claims and admire him for offering a highly suggestive approach to a puzzling painting. (Who can imagine him. "Everyone in this culture understands the freedom yond a proclivity to respond and permission to do so. Artforum. the advent of technologies. Perhaps because we tend to focus on very successful interpretations. The critic and former art dealer Dave Hickey. Bostonian-born with a self-consciously artificial English accent. we tend too easily to forget how much skill successful interpretation by description demands. she rejects also that fine writing associated with humanist tradition.

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

abolishing all distinctions between high and low.118 Rosalind Krauss find anticipations of the newer styles of artwriting. Having lost the capacity or desire to think historically. for this practice is not in need of theoretical justification. she anticipated this development. The world is viewed aesthetically without making any distinctions or value judgments. no part of its context can be omitted. This is not a novel form of philosophical art criticism." which to say that in the fullest interpretation of contemporary art. a sense of how to enjoy what Baudelaire identified as the presence of what is here and now. commentators on contemporary art focus intently on the present. in seemingly unenvious ways. Cultural studies is less a theory about visual art than an attitude toward the world. they acknowledged (but did not embrace) the possibility of collapsing distinctions between high art and popular culture. of materials at hand in his culture. He finds "modern life" beautiful because it is totally present—nothing is repressed. "The real Warhol 'trick. That perhaps makes it appropriate that the writer I associate with this way of looking is not an academic.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. . but the editor of Artforum. When she and Bois attacked Greenberg's concept of kitsch.'" 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. Treating the possible artforms as all potentially present. whose ambition is to treat art of all eras as art of the present. is to treat this structure aesthetically. "The Truth is the Whole. Bankowsky's Warhol makes use. She is less radical than her colleagues in cultural studies. [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. here and now. Bankowsky's Warhol is quite different from Krauss's. Does he provide a superior perspective? The Political Unconscious asserts that the artwriter must struggle against her precursors. making present what they repressed. When in her structuralist phase Krauss translated historical narratives into Greimas diagrams. Artforum now is different because Greenberg's conception of a modernist tradition extending back to Manet has become problematic.

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

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

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

9 January. CT: Greenwood Press." Source 16. Danto. Charles Baudelaire." October 77 (summer 1996): 83-96. This paragraph draws upon Nehamas's 1999 lecture "'The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters/" 23. 1997). Philosophizing Art: Selected Essays (Berkeley: University of California Press. 16. 22. 83. chap. pp. 3. trans. The Ministry of Fate. Editor's Note. 1964). Paul Barolsky. 3. Alexander Nehamas. Pratt (Westport. Artforum (January 1998): 6. 21." Artibus et historiae 34 (1997): 17." Source 17. The Self Portrait in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.4. MA: Harvard University Press. 3 (spring 1997): 30-34. Jack Bankowsky. 210. ed. 18. Compare Krauss's "Welcome to the Cultural Revolution. His review is reprinted in The Critical Response to Andy Warhol. The Art of Living: Socratic Reflections from Plato to Foucault (Berkeley: University of California Press. 11.122 Rosalind Krauss 14. Jonathan Mayne (London: Phaidon. 1998). 15. Denis Hollier (Cambridge." in A New History of French Literature. Alan R. See Krauss's "1959. ed. 1989). 19. 17.1 (fall 1998): 36-40. 1999). p. See also my "Andy Warhol's Moving Pictures of Modern Life. and "Warhol and Cindy Sherman. "Art History as Fiction. p. . The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays. pp. Arthur C. p. 20. 1000-1006. I discuss this conception of presence in my High Art.

102. 101-102 Baudelaire. 87-105 Bryson. Thomas Steams. Whitney. Albert. rival of Krauss. 48 David. 97 Artforum. Walter. modernism and negation. 117. 55 Deleuze. 20. 24 de Duve. 38-41 Forge. 27. Bernard. Norman. 26. Paul.116 Danto.120 Benjamin. Thomas. 95. 75. Anthony. 118.Index Abstract Expressionism. Charles. Georges. 99-100. 67. Arthur: art and transfiguration. 10-11. Cartesian philosophy. 20 Artaud. 59 Caro. Jack. Jacques-Louis. 75-76 Fried.17-18. 28. 60.114. 3. 25-26. 73 Barolsky. 113. 6.120 . philosophical art criticism. surrealism. 95-96. George. 94 Freedberg. 60.11. Felix. Marcel. Rene. 118-119 Bann.113.119. 23. 99 Descartes.113.116-118 Bankowsky. 44-46. 76-77. 61. 1. Warhol's intentions. 37. art's essence. Yve-Alain. structuralist art history. Gilles and Guattari. Denis. 27. Tim. end of art.120 Duchamp.12.19. 23. 4. 112 Bois. Roland. 62. Jack. 93. 24 Davis. Thierry. 101-102 Elsen. 81.116 Crimp. 57.103 Bataille. 100-101 Berenson. 97. Stephen. 90 Clark. Andrew. Sigmund." 87-88. 102-103. Douglas. 75. 61 Crow. 9-10. Roger. 30 Eliot. 93-94 Burnham. 89-90 Fry.115 Dickie. 7-8. 104. 112. 34. 89. 105. Antonin. Sydney. Michael: influenced by Greenberg.116 Freud. 9. 120 Barthes. works: "Art and Objecthood. 61-62 Diderot.

89-90. Craig. Ernst. 56. 2.104 O'Hara. 100-101. Steinberg's analysis. 58. 91. 3 Olitski. 77. Pablo. Kantian theory of aesthetic judgment. 8-9 Pollock.118 Hebridge. 112 Greimas diagram. Nicolas. 118-119 Wittgenstein. 34. 73-74. 38 Nozich. 25-27. 27. 23-24 Rodin. Eve. 96 Lacan. 112 Pincus-Witten. 28. modernism. 35. Robert. Jackson: Greenberg's analysis. Clement: Abstract Expressionism. Ludwig. 90 Nehamas.124 Girard. 98 Jameson. Alexander. 82. 47. 63 Index October. 101. Heinrich. 114. Hegelian historiography. John. 57. 27. 73.116 Hume. 57. Frank. 42-44 Wollheim. 56. 78-79. 48. David. Andy. 38 Sylvester. 40-42. 73-74.114 Nodelman.113. 33-34. 33-34. 79 Varnedoe. 28-29. formalism. 100 Levi-Strauss. 72. 80-81 Warhol. 96 . 48. 93. discussed in Krauss's early publications. 36-37. 76. 78-79 Hickey. Fredric. 9. David. art after Abstract Expressionism. Brice. 76. Sheldon. 46. 61. 79. 5. philosophical art criticism. 91-92. 18. 77. Kirk. 77 Saussure.114 Wolfflin. 55-56. kitsch. 81. 77 Jenkins. William 7 Ubac.27 Owens. 80. 28. 11-12. 60. 57. Robert. 9. 1. 62. Paul. Jasper. Melanie. 59. 38-40 Ruskin. Works: Number 1. 47. 93. 113 Picasso. influence. Raoul. Friedrich. 8-9. 117 Hesse. 80 Parmigianino. 49 n. Robert. Nelson. 36. 42. 1-3. 80-81. Auguste.11. 96. Immanuel. Robert. Morris. 71. 102. 67. Jacques. Dick. Richard. Frank. Richard. 4. 61. 22-23. Claude. 20 Johns. 37-38. 18. 46. critics. 20. 9-10.119 Nietzsche. Rene. 66 Morris. Ferdinand de. 76 Gombrich. Dave. 28 Kant. 89-91. 35. 17-19. 78-79. 66. 18 Serra. 47. 35 Steinberg. Peter. 74-75. 38 Louis. 111. historicism. 93 Greenberg. Jules. 8 Marden. 9 Mill. Robert. 2. 37-38 Smithson. Leo. 37. 63-65. 43. 11-12 Schjeldahl. 27 Mangold. 3 Poussin. 48. 91. 99. 8.101. 37 Smith. 65-66 Tucker. Robert. John Stuart. 21. 99. 67-68. 14 Stella. Krauss's analysis. 20.106 n. David. 36. 41. 93 Goodman. 63-64 Klein. mimetic rivalry. 28. 88 Rauschenberg.

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. . The Aesthete in the City: The Philosophy and Practice of American Abstract Painting in the 1980s. He has written numerous works including Principles ofArt History Writing.

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