Donald Kuspit

  • LOOKING UP AT JEFF WALL’S MODERN “APPASSIONAMENTO”

    It is not difficult to observe that ecstatic phenomena proliferate in proportion to the technicization of society. They play an important role in modern society, but not the role usually assigned them. They function not as causes but as effects.

    —Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society

    JEFF WALL'S WRITING ABOUT HIS imagery is obsessed with technique. For example, in the catalogue for the 1979 exhibition of his work in the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (Canada), he develops at length what amounts to an ideology of fluorescent lighting. What begins as an empirical description of a method of

  • THE NEW (?) EXPRESSIONISM: ART AS DAMAGED GOODS

    The feeling of happiness produced by indulgence of a wild, untamed craving is incomparably more intense than is the satisfying of a curbed desire.

    —Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents

    The Grandfather Principle

    THIS SO-CALLED “NEW” EXPRESSIONISM currently being heralded by old media trumpets is a false Expressionism. Hilton Kramer has written in the New York Times (July 12, 1981) that “it signals a shift in the life of the culture—in the whole complex of ideas, emotions and dispositions that at any given moment governs our outlook on art and experience,” and that like “every genuine

  • Francis Bacon: The Authority of Flesh

    I. INTRODUCTION: THE PROBLEM OF REALISM

    And the way I try to bring appearance about makes one question all the time what appearance is at all. The longer you work, the more the mystery deepens of what appearance is, or how can what is called appearance be made in another medium. And it needs a sort of moment of magic to coagulate color and form so that it gets the equivalent of appearance, the appearance that you see at any moment, because so-called appearance is only riveted for one moment as that appearance. In a second you may blink your eyes or turn your head slightly, and you look again and

  • Malevich’s Quest for Unconditioned Creativity, Part I

    I. PRINCIPAL PHASES (1910–20)

    These are: (1) colorism; (2) depiction of the eternal peasant; (3) estheticism; (4) simple Suprematism; (5) constructive Suprematism; (6) monumental Suprematism; and (7) depiction of the cross form. Simple Suprematism might also be called axiomatic Suprematism, in the sense that in it Malevich first presents the terms of his Suprematist statement, or more precisely, argument, viz., the geometrical figure and neutral field, presented in a conflict which initially takes the tame, dialectical form of juxtaposition. The Suprematist conflict between figure and field