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November 23rd, 2016
Fig. 2. Wassily Kandinsky, Red Spot II (1921)
Oil on canvas
131 x 181 cm
Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich
Kandinsky: Tactical, Operational, Strategic
By (Trinity University)

Imagine two surfaces: one, a flat stretch of canvas secured to a physical support; the other, a picture plane. What’s the difference? The canvas is an actual piece of fabric upon which a painter will apply physical material with brushes, rags, and trowels to render an image, whether abstract or representational. The picture plane is an immaterial and intangible screen of pictorial projection. The image that sustains the virtual reality of the depiction is neither identical to nor reducible to the pigment and canvas that literally constitute its configuration.

May 8th, 2014
The Meaning of Pain
By (Emory University)

For admirers of the work of Walter Benjamin, a translation of Paul Scheerbart’s Lesabéndio: An Asteroid Novel is a major event. Benjamin’s interest in Scheerbart spans the whole of his career, from Gershom Scholem’s gifting him the book at his wedding to an essay on Scheerbart written near the end of his life. Most significantly, Benjamin intended to write an extensive essay on the book that was meant as a fulfillment of the claims set out in “The Destructive Character” and was to be provocatively entitled “The True Politician.” As the Benjamin literature grows, so does Scheerbart’s reputation.

June 26th, 2013
Ai Weiwei, Fairytale
Neoliberal Art History
By (Emory University)

Putting aside the one-dimensional account of artworks as “reifications”—“mediums lead to objects, and thus reification”—it would take only a moment’s reflection to see that the distribution of wealth in the “era of art,” at precisely the moment Joselit’s “reframing, capturing, reiterating, and documenting” paradigm first emerged (a set of procedures exemplified for him by the work of Sherrie Levine) was also the moment at which the US economy began its most aggressive turn away from equality.

January 20th, 2013
What Do We Mean by Autonomy?
By (Emory University)

A review of Lisa Siraganian, Modernism’s Other Work: The Art Object’s Political Life. Oxford University Press, 2012.

July 1st, 2012
We are all proletarians
By (Emory University)

The battle that Marx fought against “milieu theory” was against the idea that culture determined consciousness. His great achievement was to see that economics was not a matter of culture but of exploitation. Which is to say Adorno’s emphasis on domination and difference (how bourgeois culture shapes being), rather than exploitation and the proletariat, is pre-Marxist in orientation.

March 18th, 2012
Fig. 1  Pablo Picasso, The Kiss (Musée Picasso, Paris; 1925)
Picasso and the Vital Order
By (Texas Tech University)

We see two figures, entwined. What appears to be a woman, at left—tall and hulking, her right, striped pant leg forcefully set down—puts her arms around a smaller figure at right, probably a man, who responds with a kiss. Perhaps the kiss is joyous, enough to have the man raise what looks like his left foot, a kick in ecstasy. But something else is apparent.

March 18th, 2012
The Aesthetic Politics of Affect
By (Emory University)

Affects are, Berlant insists, “radically private, and pretty uncoded,” and like the fetishized commodity, they make their dazzling appearance with the labor behind them obscured. These private experiences are in fact beyond analysis—an affect, after all, “is just a fact.”

June 12th, 2011
On Catherine Malabou’s What Should We Do with Our Brain?
By (Johns Hopkins University)

It thus seems as if the very problem which is at the center of the mind/brain debate, namely, the nature of intentionality, is now being offered as the solution: the claim is that intentional agency just is the biological process that can produce the desired-for “gaps” or differences that characterize freedom.

June 12th, 2011
The Labyrinth of Interpretation: On Cathy Gere’s Knossos and The Prophets of Modernism
By (Yeshiva University)

At the center of Picasso’s Guernica, a woman’s arm thrusts an illuminated candle over a screaming horse in the direction of a bull’s head. Long recognized as a mirror-reversal of the artist’s Minotauromachy etching of two years earlier, this compositional arrangement and its mythological reference at a certain point came to structure interpretations of this […]

January 25th, 2011
Madame Cézanne
Mysterious Exchange: On Susan Sidlauskas’s Cézanne’s Other: The Portraits of Hortense
By (Emory University)

Paul Cézanne famously observed to Joachim Gasquet that “The landscape thinks itself in me and I am its consciousness.” “Nature is on the inside,” Cézanne further reflected. He clearly felt landscape painters before him were insufficiently responsive to—too detached from—the natural world and he hoped to break down the barriers that separated observer from the […]

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