Rosalind Krauss and American Philosophical Art Criticism: From Formalism to beyond Postmodernism

By David Carrier | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
Resentment and Its
Discontents

It is the mark of fantasies that we return, obsessively and repetitively, to
the same images and the same scenarios, over and over again. We do
not for the most part live our fantasies out, and so they never evolve.

Arthur C. Danto

In rejecting Greenberg's historicist theory of art, Krauss did not leave formalism behind. On the contrary, the more she tries to separate herself from him, the closer she comes, in some ways, to his ways of thought. [Krauss's reinterpretation of the history of Modernism … in many respects… repeats the form of Greenberg's judgments, while trying to invert their meaning.]1 Krauss's sense of selfhood involves absolute closeness to her allies and violent distancing from foes.2 Her extreme way of thinking is well suited to the art critic, who must distinguish the few major artists from their many contemporaries. An artwork is either major or it is worthless. This is an all-or-nothing way of thinking. When still a formalist, Krauss introduced her account of David Smith by criticizing various recent denunciations of formalism. [While this study was taking form, a rash of attacks on the critical procedures of formal analysis broke out.]3 Soon she too rejected formalism. Through all the drastic changes in her theorizing, she has not changed her personal style. Recently introducing her account of Jasper Johns, Krauss talks about

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