PRINT September 2010


STYLE IS THE MAN HIMSELF. Today, the Comte de Buffon’s ambiguous maxim is more resonant than ever: We live in a world in which nearly every thing and experience is stylized, designed, tailored, customized. And the notion of style, whether “period style” or received “look,” has of course loomed large in the artistic strategies of the twentieth century, from early collage to post-pastiche. But never has it seemed so potent, so pervasive, or so charged as it does now.

Although style reigned in art histories as disparate as Vasari’s and Riegl’s, it was jettisoned in the 1970s and ’80s as a retrograde and ahistorical paradigm. “Style” was tied to the myth of individual genius, to the mark of the connoisseur; it was identified with the supplementary and the merely decorative. But now those ancillary characteristics are taking center stage. Ironically, the rejection of style by various modernist

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