PRINT February 1988

Carter Ratcliff


CR: Modern culture is by nature a ruin. It’s built up from the fragments created in the various revolutions that produced modern times. So the question is what you do with these fragments. The wholeness that academic history, for example, in its ordinary form, gives to the past is false. The wholeness that you get from a museum—from the way it’s laid out, even if there are big gaps in the collection—is false. There are many ways to pretend wholeness, but it seems to me that most of them are false, except for those put together to be experienced as filled with inadequacies. For example, Manet worked with the fragments of pre-Modern methods of creating a picture. He mastered those methods, but he understood them as somehow empty and broken apart, no longer alive. He put those fragments together in his pictures in a way that acknowledged the fact that they

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