Books. (Best of 2002)

Artforum International, December 2002 | Go to article overview

Books. (Best of 2002)


Linda Nochlin

Yve-Alain Bois

Christopher S. Wood

David Reed

Anne M. Wagner

Michael Warner

Tacita Dean

John Rajchman

Carlos Basualdo

Linda Nochlin

Two books very different in approach and subject matter stand out this year: Richard Meyer's Outlaw Representation: Censorship and Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century American Art (Oxford University Press) and Georges Didi-Huberman's L'Image survivante: Histoire de l'art et temps des fantomes selon Aby Warburg (Editions de Minuit). Meyer deftly combines a close reading of individual works and intelligent social and political synthesis. Outlaw Representation not only sheds light on such important figures as Paul Cadmus, Andy Warhol, and Robert Mapplethorpe but demonstrates the remarkable role that censorship--whether governmental, unofficial, or self-imposed--has played in shaping those careers and the formal language of the art concerned. Meyer also understands the term homosexual as a complex and ever changing one, not a simple label. Didi-Huberman's book, at first glance a forbidding scholarly tome, is anything but. Not that it doesn't involve an impressive amount of research, but the ideas and interpretatio n are what really count here: the author's idiosyncratic, brilliantly illuminating approach to the work of an equally challenging precursor, Aby Warburg. It is a great read, and one hopes it will be expertly translated as soon as possible.

Yve-Alain Bois

This year the book I most enjoyed reading--and am still savoring, because it's to be tasted in little sips, like a great wine--is Ed Ruscha's Leave Any Information at the Signal (MIT Press), a collection of the artist's writings and interviews. With the book's cleverly understated physical appearance-it looks like it belongs in the "do-it-yourself home repair" genre--and its huh? title, to use a favorite Ruscha phrase, you are immediately plunged into the artist's peculiar sense of humor, a unique blend of laconic pessimism and down-to-earth humility. In many ways he occupies a position today similar to that of Duchamp a half century ago (and like the old fox he constantly denies being the moralist that he is). One of my favorite pearls in the book is the quip, "Look, I'm just another member of the food chain." Another gem is Ruscha's 1972. dream of the "Information Man" telling the artist about the fate of his books once they have left the warehouse ("only 171 are placed face up with nothing covering them .. . seven have been used as swatters to kill small insects such as flies and mosquitoes," etc.): "Wouldn't it be nice," Ruscha asks, "to know these things?" Throughout, Ruscha gently mocks as a vainglorious illusion the idea that art might play a political role. The only thing he wants to do, he writes, is induce a bit of "head-scratching." In the context of the lamentable spectacle offered today by our politicians, this ploy might be the best antidote.

Christopher S. Wood

Published in French exactly thirty years ago, Hubert Damisch's A Theory of/Cloud/: Toward a History of Painting (Stanford University Press) is something like a theoretical handbook, spare and elegant, to the European painting system established in the Renaissance and dismantled in the twentieth century. Damisch shows how the pictograph "cloud," at the moment of its appearance in the works of Mantegna and Carreggio, came to designate everything that the new painting system failed to grasp or failed to acknowledge: mystical experience, the aleatory, the infinite, the void, formless form. The cloud also pointed to the concealed mechanisms--connotation, "seeing-in," theatrical engineering--that made pictorial representation possible in the first place. The book has been read by too few American art historians. But here it is, finally, in Janet Lloyd's translation, none too soon but also, I hope, not too late. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Books. (Best of 2002)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.