PRINT December 1996

Linda Nochlin


L’INFORME: MODE D’EMPLOI” (The formless: a user’s manual), curated by Rosalind Krauss and Yve-Alain Bois at the Centre Georges Pompidou this past summer, was everything a show should be—intelligently organized, beautiful to look at, and original in conception. Challenging the conventional Modernist reading of twentieth-century art, “L’Informe,” and the set of anticategorical “operations” it established—horizontality, pulse, base materialism, and entropy—also inspired me to look at nineteenth-century vanguard art differently. For instance, seeing Piero Manzoni’s Achrome of 1962, a large framed fluff of dirty white polystyrene backed by red velvet, in the context of “base materialism” immediately changed my perception of Degas’ Cotton Market in New Orleans, 1873, created almost a hundred years earlier. What is the relation between Degas’ horizontal bed of inert raw cotton,

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