The Cult of Krauss

You know you’ve reached the acme of academic rocksuperstardom (and also that we really do live in a postmodern culture which is officially done with ‘authenticity’ and ‘originality’) the day people begin producing historical reenactments your conference talks, as performance art. “The Motivation of The Sign,” was first presented at a 1989 symposium at the Museum of Modern Art, in New York, which we see “pastiched” (Fredric Jameson‘s term) below. Such ironic restagings of critical battles in the arts had previously been explored in the work of painter Mark Tansey. But here high theory has finally become melodrama, and Krauss is queen!

Picasso/Braque 1989 – A Theory Installation
Presented by The Jackson Pollock Bar
Directed by Christian Matthiessen


An installed video projection of “Picasso/Braque 1989” appeared at Gallery 400, 1 May 2009—4 July 2009. Installation set constructed by The Project for the New American Century. The text is derived entirely from phrases spoken by the historical figures in question. However, the phrases are derived from many different sources. The conversation below never took place.

Four actors are seated at a panel discussion (from Left to Right): Edward Fry, Yve-Alain Bois, Rosalind Krauss, Leo Steinberg. They are later joined by the voice of Kirk Varnedoe.

Krauss [raising hands in exasperated gesture]: Well, Leo, they can’t just enter the work by walking in. We need a model for how they get instituted within the aesthetic structure. In other words, we can read all of the newspaper clippings in Picasso and Braque’s collages but does that tell us anything whatsoever about them as aesthetic constructions? I think it doesn’t. The newspaper is enormously important, and I want to deal with its importance in relation to the structure of the aesthetic object, the work of art. You can’t just dump meaning onto the work.



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