Rosalind Krauss

  • “Picasso: Guitars 1912–1914”

    Picasso: Guitars 1912–1914

    MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, NEW YORK

    February 13–June 6

    Curated by Anne Umland



    OF ALL THE AMAZING FEATS of William Rubin’s curatorial career at MoMA—his exhibitions, his acquisitions, his global associations—the one of which he was proudest was his ability to persuade Picasso to part with Guitar, 1914, the earliest of the artist’s sheet-metal-constructed sculptures, which Picasso gave as a gift to the museum along with what was then understood to be its maquette, the cardboard Guitar from 1912. The guitars presage the revolution in sculptural practice that would

  • Peter Sacks

    Collage seems consigned to barely more than miniature. Its size would be a function of the width of newspaper columns, of the decorative patterns of wallpaper, of bus tickets and candy wrappers. Only Guernica broke with this scale of bits and scraps. It achieved mural dimensions by resorting to imitation: “newsprint” scattered over large planes through broken lines of black. Disdaining imitation, Peter Sacks achieves triptychs nearly fifteen feet wide by typing texts onto long rolls of linens of various kinds—winding sheets, shrouds, strips of prison shirts.

    These textual scrolls overlie a mixture

  • THE BEST BOOKS OF 2009

    Every year Artforum invites a spectrum of scholars, critics, and writers to reflect on the year’s outstanding titles.

    RACHEL KUSHNER

    Once upon a time in Paris, there was a short-lived meeting place in the form of a journal called Tiqqun, which, in two volumes, published anonymous philosophical writings that combined resonances of Agamben, Benjamin, Foucault, Heidegger, and Schmitt. Then there was no more Tiqqun, or Tiqqun went on hiatus. Its dissolution, according to rumors, had something to do with 9/11 and disagreements over the way to proceed in its wake. Sometime after this, an anonymous video,

  • THE BEST BOOKS OF 2008

    15 SCHOLARS, CRITICS, WRITERS, AND ARTISTS CHOOSE THE YEAR’S OUTSTANDING TITLES.

    MICHAEL HARDT

    The financial crisis of fall 2008 is one symptom of a transition in the nature and form of global order. The most important question this transition raises is what new possibilities it is opening up; but before asking that, one has to understand also what the transition is closing down. Two of the best books I have read in the past year, Giovanni Arrighi’s Adam Smith in Beijing: Lineages of the Twenty-First Century (Verso) and Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (Picador),

  • “Invisible Colors”

    IN HIS SHORT ESSAY “The Storyteller,” written in 1936, Walter Benjamin reflects on the impoverishment of soldiers returning from World War I, observing that they have “grown silent—not richer, but poorer in communicable experience.” At the root of this impoverishment, he says, is Chokerlebnis: the reduction of experience to naked information, wherein media (“every glance at a newspaper”) has the power to shock. Today we might quickly grasp Benjamin’s meaning by recalling, for example, the Vietnam War image of the young man with a pistol to his head, which reduced our experience of that conflict

  • Rosalind Krauss

    THERE SEEMS TO BE an absolute divide between academics and curators, the former engaging with language, the latter with objects. William Rubin would thus have seemed an unlikely candidate for the post of chief curator of painting and sculpture when the Museum of Modern Art was hiring for the position in 1966. But Rubin, a professor at Sarah Lawrence College at the time, had a masterly way with objects. His personal collection already boasted several masterpieces of Abstract Expressionism, including works by Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, and Ad Reinhardt, as well as the sculpture many consider

  • The best books of 2000

    Linda Nochlin

    Molly Nesbit’s Their Common Sense (Black Dog Press) isn’t exactly an art book—it’s not exactly a book even, in the usual sense. But in the unusual sense, Nesbit’s tome is a marvelous document, swinging briskly between the teaching of mechanical drawing in French schools and the arcanery of Duchamp & Co. It begins in very big print with Antonin Proust’s proposal that all French schoolchildren learn to draw and ends with a memorable still from Pabst’s Joyless Streets. In between? Children’s drawings (not the cute, creative ones, but disciplined, drafting lesson productions), some

  • Dark Glasses and Bifocals

    Stanley Cavell, The World Viewed, Reflections on the Ontology of Film (New York: The Viking Press, 1971), 174 pages, softbound.

    Stephen Koch, Star-Gazer, Andy Warhol’s World and His Films (New York: Praeger Publishers, Inc.), 155 pages, 51 black-and-white illustrations, hardbound.

    HOLDING IN CHECK THE ADAGE about books and their covers, I find myself fascinated by the very look of the two works lying before me. The cover of the one called The World Viewed is white with very thin, very decorous lettering. A handdrawn eye, with half its pupil black-and-white and the other half prismatically colored,

  • Rauschenberg and the Materialized Image

    HER REACTION SEVERAL YEARS AGO to the essay by Leo Steinberg had been, “Well, I know he may be right in several respects . . . but Rauschenberg?!” In her question, italics included, was the unspoken comparison between the course of Steinberg’s argument and the kind of misdirected zeal that led Baudelaire to present, as the exemplar of a painter who could capture the “heroism of modern life,” Constantin Guys. For Steinberg had been addressing what he saw as a radical change in the esthetic premises of contemporary art, a change that he called a “shift from nature to culture.” Focusing on the kind

  • Painting Becomes Cyclorama

    IN HER WHITNEY MUSEUM exhibition Joan Mitchell has included a small, rather simple painting called Plage. Two separate canvases, each about 75 inches square, are butted together side by side and bound by a single frame. On the left-hand canvas are five swathes of painting, each a different color, applied by the flat pressure of a broad brush: three filling the top half with vertical slats of dark green, blue, and pale lavender; the other two aligning themselves horizontally along the bottom edge. On the right panel, the paint marks ice the lower half of the field with thick encrustations—the

  • Robert Mangold: An Interview

    RECENTLY I’VE BEEN THINKING ABOUT the content of abstract art, which is a subject people tend to shy away from. It may be too soon in our .discussion even to bring it up, but your early work is often described as having to do with the content implied by an industrial vocabulary. For example, Lucy Lippard read it that way in 1965. At that time that seemed an attractive way to characterize it because of so much else that was going on, namely Minimalist sculpture and certain Minimal painting, which was clearly evocative of industrial processes, industrial shapes, industrial ways of forming. And so

  • Sense and Sensibility, Reflection on Post ’60s Sculpture

    Memories.

    Every scenario and every mise-en-scène have always been constructed by or on memories. One must chance that—start from affection and new sounds.

    ––Jean-Luc Godard

    I AM THINKING OF THE terms “post-Minimalism” and “dematerialization”—of how they have become entrenched within the lexicon of contemporary criticism. I am thinking of the extreme disjunction between the strategic value of those terms and their capacity to signify. For, while I understand the politics of their usage, their meaning eludes me insofar as it attaches itself to the art they label.

    Operationally, “post-Minimalism”

  • Max Ernst: Speculations Provoked by an Exhibition

    IN THE SEMIDARK WAS a man with a trombone. His hand worked the slide in tandem to his mouth and cheeks. Taped sound flowed from the other room where people were gathered, in concert. But in the anteroom where we stood, the man kept repeating his metallic gestures. As we watched the perfect isolation of his solo, one of us supplied the inevitable label, and the word “surreal” attached itself to the mute obscurity of his act.

    “Surrealism” astonishes with its ease of application—like plastic paint. We affix the word to pieces of behavior or to the chance coupling of images. And we do so almost

  • Paul Sharits: Stop Time

    Cries and Whispers is an instance, more interesting as a pure movie, as a piece of Hitchcock gone gothic, than it is as a proposition about the pain and solitude of human life. Except of course that there is no such thing as a pure movie.

    ––Michael Wood, “Seeing Bergman,” The New York Review of Books, March 8, 1973

    IF THE NOTION OF PURITY IS USED as part of the grammar of essences, how would one go about isolating the pure film, the film as such? Where would one look to discover film itself? Would one turn to the physical supports of the image: to the celluloid strip with its fragile emulsion,

  • A View of Modernism

    ONE DAY WHILE THE SHOW, “Three American Painters” was hanging at the Fogg Museum at Harvard, Michael Fried and I were standing in one of the galleries. To our right was a copper painting by Frank Stella, its surface burnished by the light which flooded the room. A Harvard student who had entered the gallery approached us. With his left arm raised and his finger pointing to the Stella, he confronted Michael Fried. “What’s so good about that?” he demanded. Fried looked back at him. “Look,” he said slowly, “there are days when Stella goes to the Metropolitan Museum. And he sits for hours looking

  • Richard Serra: Sculpture Redrawn

    IN 1920 LEV KULESHOV SCREENED a series of now famous “experiments” for his film class in Moscow: experiments which isolated and revealed the cut as the magical interstice in which the mysteries of cinematic illusion were somehow contained. To Pudovkin, and to Kuleshov’s other students, what these experiments disclosed was that the cut was an index of difference or separateness within a prevailing matrix of sameness. For the mere juncture between two strips of celluloid was enough to convince that the White House stood solid and indestructible in the heart of Moscow, or that filmed details of

  • Léger, Le Corbusier, and Purism

    The obsession of expressing all emotion in plastic writing, a kind of aggravated malady, or a kind of aggravated state of grace.

    —Le Corbusier

    DEVIATION, DEVOLUTION, DECLINE, DETENTE have in common, in their shared prefix, a sense of turning away from or tuning down, of a high aspiration no longer prized, a level of resolution no longer striven for, of some kind of relaxation of contraction of the body which shortens its reach. Those are the terms of description that get applied to the Cubism of the 1920s, to the late Cubism of Picasso, Gris, and Léger, to the late arrival of the Purist credo of

  • Stella’s New Work and the Problem of Series

    ALTHOUGH FRANK STELLA’S NEW PAINTINGS are drawn from a series he is even now in the process of executing—13 shapes with three versions of each shape—the works themselves are deeply marked by questions about the viability of the very notion of painting in series. For, first of all, the new pictures are composed of an interlace of exceedingly irregular geometries which do not seem to be the functions of a master idea or generatrix, as were, say, the integers in the Protractor Series; so that there is in this set of paintings neither the systemic relationship between external shapes that one felt

  • Problems of Criticism X: Pictorial Space and the Question of Documentary

    FROM THE VERY BEGINNING, a tone of expansive confidence infused modernist analysis, so that the ear could detect immediately the distance between this new esthetic theory and the old. For, at the heart of earlier esthetic argument, a note of worried imperative had always sounded—as though anxiety about trust were the price to pay for being the child of a broken philosophical home.

    The different tone of modernism seemed to be a consequence of inhabiting a house of critical discourse built upon a rock of hard, irrefutable fact. And that fact had to do with the nature of pictorial space. Whether

  • Cubism in Los Angeles

    NOT LONG AGO I WAS involved in a discussion of Marx’s essay on “The Civil War in France” in which one of the participants expressed his dissatisfaction with Marx’s account—given Marxist theory. Because in the light of a Marxist economic analysis there is no reason on the face of it why those events (the war of 1870) should have given rise to that outcome (the Paris Commune). This sense, that between a theory which is supposed to account for the structure of a given occurrence, and the actual constellation of detail which makes up that occurrence, there lies a disturbing opacity, nags at any