Interpretation is not an isolated act, but takes place within a Homeric
battlefield, on which a list of interpretative options are either openly or
implicitly in conflict. … nly another, stronger interpretation can
overthrow and practically refute an interpretation already in place.
In the [Acknowledgments] to his Kant after Duchamp, Thierry de Duve tells how he proposed to Michel Foucault [that the time had come for artistic modernity to be looked at archaeologically, the way he (Foucault) had looked at the global episteme of the classical age.]1 This is what Krauss did in her structuralist phase. De Duve's account of Duchamp reveals some of the philosophical problems of such an investigation. For de Duve, as for Krauss, Clement Greenberg's account of modernism is the natural starting point. [From Giotto to Courbet,] Greenberg writes, [the painter's first task had been to hollow out an illusion of three-dimensional space on a flat surface.… Modernism has rendered this stage shallower and shallower until now its backdrop has become the same as its curtain.]2 Giotto, Courbet, and Morris Louis made different looking objects, but they all were engaged in the same activity. Giotto made sacred images; Courbet produced resolutely materialist landscapes; Morris Louis painted abstractions. Only under Greenberg's