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Rosalind Krauss

(b. 1941)


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David Smith (1906—1965) American sculptor

Clement Greenberg (1909—1994)

Auguste Rodin (1840—1917) French sculptor

Land art

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(1941– )

American art historian and critic. She is one of the founders of October magazine. Trained as an art historian, she did her doctoral research on David Smith and her book on the artist, Terminal Iron Works (1971), remains an outstanding study. Although originally a disciple of Clement Greenberg, she broke radically with his thinking. In 1974 she published an article in Art in America which effectively accused Greenberg of vandalizing Smith's sculptures by removing the paint surface. (In fact these were not finished pieces and the paint was primer.) Passages in Modern Sculpture (1977) argued for a view of modernist sculpture which, by incorporating manifestations such as Land art into a history going back to Rodin, radically opposed the kind of formalist purity espoused by Greenberg. Minimal art was no longer associated with an image of reductive austerity. Instead its perceptual ambiguities and the uncertainties it offered to the spectator were emphasized. Krauss has also made noted contributions to the study of Surrealism, arguing for the centrality of photography in the project and revaluing the role of Georges Bataille as a theorist. His affirmation of the informe has been linked by Krauss to ideas in more recent art, such as the anti-form proposed by Robert Morris as the basis of history of modernist art, which emphasizes the impure, the unclean, and the indeterminate, a radical alternative to the formalism of Greenberg. She has now taken on something of the authority which used to be wielded by her one-time mentor and, with it, some of the resentment. Despite her formidable reputation, there is a humorous element to her activities. In a 1995 film on Robert Morris, entitled The Mind/Body Problem, she appears as a pedantic lecturer, a Krazy Kat to be undermined by the artist's Ignatz Mouse (see Herriman). Her other books include The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths (1985), The Optical Unconscious (1993), and Bachelors (1999). The last is a series of essays on women artists, including Louise Bourgeois and Agnes Martin.

Subjects: Art.


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