TABLE OF CONTENTS

HEADS IT’S FORM, TAILS IT’S NOT CONTENT

One of the characteristics of myths is that they seem to promise rules of order but never deliver them.

Jack Burnham
1

PASSIONATELY ADHERED-TO SYSTEMS of belief pass through cultures like epidemics of disease. The great formalist critical tradition of the postwar period, embodied in the works of Clement Greenberg. Michael Fried, Sheldon Nodelman, and others, still has the art body in the last shivers of its fever. In their practice, these critics opened the artwork to profound phenomenological analyses. But their concern with surface, figure, and color eventually coagulated into a repressive ideology that could allow no real theoretical discussion of the inspired practice, which seemed as given as life itself. It is time to reconsider certain basic questions that, from a formalist viewpoint, have long been regarded as closed.

It has rightly been said that theory. if not received at the door

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