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Synopsis: The Optical Unconscious is a pointed protest against the official story of modernism and against the critical tradition that attempted to define modern art according to certain sacred commandments and self-fulfilling truths. The account of modernism presented here challenges the vaunted principle of "vision itself." And it is a very different story than we have ever read, not only because its insurgent plot and characters rise from below the calm surface of the known and law-like field of modernist painting, but because the voice is unlike anything we have heard before. Just as the artists of the optical unconscious assaulted the idea of autonomy and visual mastery, Rosalind Krauss abandons the historian's voice of objective detachment and forges a new style of writing in this book: art history that insinuates diary and art theory, and that has the gait and tone of fiction.
The Optical Unconscious will be deeply vexing to modernism's standard-bearers, and to readers who have accepted the foundational principles on which their aesthetic is based. Krauss also gives us the story that Alfred Barr, Meyer Shapiro, and Clement Greenberg repressed, the story of a small, disparate group of artists who defied modernism's most cherished self-descriptions, giving rise to an unruly, disruptive force that persistently haunted the field of modernism from the 1920s to the 1950s and continues to disrupt it today.
In order to understand why modernism had to repress the optical unconscious, Krauss eavesdrops on Roger Fry in the salons of Bloomsbury, and spies on the toddler John Ruskin as he amuses himself with the patterns of a rug; we find her in the living room of Clement Greenberg as he complains about "smart Jewish girls with their typewriters" in the 1960s, and in colloquy with Michael Fried about Frank Stella's love of baseball. Along the way, there are also narrative encounters with Freud, Jacques Lacan, Georges Bataille, Roger Caillois, Gilles Deleuze, and Jean-François Lyotard.
To embody this optical unconscious, Krauss turns to the pages of Max Ernst's collage novels, to Marcel Duchamp's hypnotic Rotoreliefs, to Eva Hesse's luminous sculptures, and to Cy Twombly's, Andy Warhol's, and Robert Morris's scandalous decoding of Jackson Pollock's drip pictures as "Anti-Form." These artists introduced a new set of values into the field of twentieth-century art, offering ready-made images of obsessional fantasy in place of modernism's intentionality and unexamined compulsions.
Rosalind Krauss is Professor of Art History at Columbia University and an editor of the journal October.
About the Author: Rosalind E. Krauss, University Professor at Columbia University and an editor and cofounder of October magazine, is the author of The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths (1985), The Optical Unconscious (1993), The Picasso Papers (1999), and Bachelors (1999), all published by the MIT Press, and coauthor (with Yve-Alain Bois) of Formless: A User's Guide (Zone Books, 1997).
Book Condition: New
Book Description The MIT Press. Hardcover. Condition: GOOD. Spine creases, wear to binding and pages from reading. May contain limited notes, underlining or highlighting that does affect the text. Possible ex library copy, thatâ€™ll have the markings and stickers associated from the library. Accessories such as CD, codes, toys, may not be included. Seller Inventory # 2867615444
Book Description The MIT Press. Hardcover. Condition: Good. 026211173X 1993. Purple cloth covered spine with red spine titles; mild edge wear; book is curved and does not lay flat; jacket has edge wear; 8vo, 7 3/4" - 9 3/4" Tall; illustrations in black and white; Interior clean and unmarked; 353 pages. Seller Inventory # SKU1107320
Book Description The MIT Press, Cambridge, 1994. Paperback. Condition: Near Fine. Second printing. Second printing, 1994. Softcover, 353 pp., illustrated, clean unmarked text, Near Fine copy, light rubbing to the tips of the covers. Seller Inventory # s00021359
Book Description The MIT Press, 1993. Condition: Good. A+ Customer service! Satisfaction Guaranteed! Book is in Used-Good condition. Pages and cover are clean and intact. Used items may not include supplementary materials such as CDs or access codes. May show signs of minor shelf wear and contain limited notes and highlighting. Seller Inventory # 026211173X-2-4
Book Description Cambridge: MIT Press, 1993. Hardcover. Condition: Near Fine. Dust Jacket Condition: very good +. First edition. 7 x 9 in. Gray paper boards. Condition is NEAR FINE ; like new on all points, unmarked. DJ is VERY GOOD+ ; not price-clipped, like nearly new. Art. Stax. 0.0. Seller Inventory # 12410
Book Description The MIT Press, 1993. Hardcover. Condition: Used: Good. Seller Inventory # SONG026211173X
Book Description The MIT Press, 1993. Hard Cover. Condition: Very Good. Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good. First American Edition. Very good condition. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Seller Inventory # 108269
Book Description MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1994. Hardcover. Near Fine in Near Fine+ dj; One corner pages are damp wrinkled. Seller Inventory # 12898
Book Description October MIT Press, Cambridge, 1993. Couverture rigide. Condition: Très bon. br. couv. rig. toile jaq. sple. ill. coul. 18,5x23,5cm. 1060gr. 353pp. ill. n&b. très bon état. Seller Inventory # 004925
Book Description The MIT Press, 1993. Hardcover with dustjacket, 354 pages; very good condition; clean and crisp; no internal marks. Seller Inventory # ThKrTh35