TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT May 1999

books

T.J. Clark

ANYONE LOOKING FOR A SYSTEMATIC ACCOUNT of modernism in T.J. Clark's new book, Farewell to an Idea, will be disappointed. Clark, whose foundational work in the social history of art has furnished some of the strongest readings of cultural modernity to date, does not fail at producing such a comprehensive theory—it is simply not his objective. Like a good postmodernist (which he is not), Clark knows that overarching systems are impossible, although this knowledge, one feels, is uncomfortable for him. Systems, after all, are what modernism seemed to promise. Wouldn't we all want to believe in the possibility of remaking the world perceptually with the gorgeous toolbox of modernist abstraction? Don't we all (at least on some level) want to produce a diagram like Alfred Barr's unutterably poignant flowchart of modernism—poignant because, like Borges's map, its complexity can only reproduce

Sign-in to keep reading

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

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

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

Order the PRINT EDITION of the May 1999 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

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