PRINT May 1978



To the Editor:

I wonder if the Messrs. Dorfman (“Reaffirming Painting: A Critique of Structuralist Criticism,” Artforum, October 1977) ever heard the story of the philosopher Thales who fell down a well while gazing at the starry firmament. Not that star-gazing is an unacceptable occupation but that one ought to tread carefully while doing so—especially artists who play in philosophy’s backyard.

If phenomenologists suggest that we begin our task by facing up to direct experience, then why allow a mountain of rationalist theories to be unloaded between us and the painting? Why is it so difficult for critics to deliver the goods of experience without recourse to shelves of philosophic texts? Even so, would Kant have agreed with Greenberg? Would Saussure and Lévi-Strauss have agreed with Burnham? Would Husserl, Heidegger and Sartre have agreed with the Dorfmans? What we end up with are three

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. Please sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW at the discounted holiday rate of $45 a year—70% off the newsstand price—and receive the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.