Centre Pompidou

The strange objects assembled by the exhibition “L’empreinte” (the imprint, imprinting) compelled me to think creatively, so I silently thanked organizer Georges Didi-Huberman and cocurator Didier Semin for the occasion. But “L’empreinte” often failed to coordinate the materials on view with the concepts elaborated in the accompanying catalogue. From room to room (with nearly 300 items), I thought repeatedly, Why include this object?

Much more coherent than the exhibition is Didi-Huberman’s catalogue essay. It attaches theory to his twentieth-century oddities and provides some history as well to his overarching theme of “resemblance by contact”—from fossils and archeological remains, to the shroud of Turin and death masks, to Auguste Rodin’s casts of body parts and Marcel Duchamp’s Female Fig Leaf, 1950–51. This last serves as an emblem for the entire show, which investigates the direct

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