Norman Bryson

  • W. J. T. Mitchell

    For W. J. T. Mitchell, inquiry into picture making has been sidetracked by the wrong questions. In art history the dominant question has been, What do pictures mean? That is: What overt or hidden messages do they convey, what set of values do they promote or denigrate? Mitchell doesn’t think this approach is wrong exactly, but the emphasis on the picture as something that requires interpretation––a visual “text” there to be read or decoded––tends to block our understanding of the ways that pictures are more than just structures of information or ideas. Pictures also work affectively: They


    I COULDN’T FIGURE OUT how to edit Mark’s work down to just a few pages. Even at this point it seems so vast & ongoing. So in order to tell this story I decided to show you some of the pictures he took of me while we were boyfriends in. Boston, “Brilliant move, darling.” I can hear him snarl. “A story about me, featuring only pictures of you, taken ten years ago.” Not that I think. I look so great. We were both strung out, skinny little fags hoping to make it big between getting drunk, shoplifting at Goodwill and listening to Connie Francis records. Actually the money was always Mark. Even in,


    MOTHER (JUDITH II), 1991, is the second in a series of images by Yasumasa Morimura based on the biblical story of Judith and Holofernes. In the first, Mother (Judith I), the figures are portrayed à la Cranach; Morimura appears as both Judith and her decapitated victim. In Mother (Judith II), the Cranach-based image is revisualized across the style of Arcimboldo, with all the portrait elements replaced by inanimate objects: Holofernes turns into a still life with potato head, his neck a slab of beefsteak, while Judith develops a mask of symmetrical pale-green cabbage leaves. It’s a brilliantly