PRINT February 1990


I shall soon be quite dead at last in spite of all. . . . Yes, I shall be natural at last, I shall suffer more, then less, without drawing any conclusions, I shall pay less heed to myself, I shall be neither hot nor cold any more, I shall be tepid, I shall die tepid, without enthusiasm. I shall not watch myself die, that would spoil everything.

—Samuel Beckett, Malone Dies, 1955

Consideration for the dead, who no longer need it, is dearer to us than the truth, and certainly, for most of us, is dearer also than consideration for the living.

––Sigmund Freud, “Reflections upon War and Death,” 1915

MODERN ART IS FUELED BY a sense of death, unconsciously permeated with it. John Ruskin thought death was the muse of great art,1 and by that standard Modern art as a whole is a great art, as great as the traditional art that consciously and overtly reflected on mortality. But the traditional and

to keep reading

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

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW and save up to 65% off the newsstand price for full online access to this issue and our archive.

Order the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

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