PRINT May 1985


AMONG THE LOOSE COLLECTION of essays, notes, comments, and fragments that William Carlos Williams entitled The Embodiment of Knowledge one finds “The Beginnings of an American Education (Chapter 2. The Address Toward Collegiate Study. The New in Art.),” in which the poet remarks about an art student’s “difficulty in knowing.”1 Whatever the student has learned about what has been done in the past will, according to Williams, amount only to “that which is . . . of no use to him, in fact nothing less than a barrier which he must surmount if ever he is to do anything that can be called serious work.” Throughout his life Williams guarded against an imposition of the past on the present: “There is an antagonism between the ages,” he wrote elsewhere; “Each age wishes to enslave the others. Each wishes to succeed.” To Williams the ballast of the past proves especially fatal in art, “the category

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and receive the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the May 1985 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

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