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WHITHER ART HISTORY?

Author(s): Griselda Pollock


Source: The Art Bulletin, Vol. 96, No. 1 (March 2014), pp. 9-23
Published by: College Art Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43947704
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WHITHER ART HISTORY?

Griselda Pollock

There is an affliction in the liquid modernist consciousness.of finding the new. (Throughout, I shall use the term "Art
It seems we always need to be going somewhere. If we ask, History" to designate the discipline and to distinguish it from
"Whither art history?" there is an assumption that we are its field, the History of Art: a conceptual distinction available
either going somewhere (good) , or not doing so (bad) . Per- in English.) This is not to suggest a defiant complacency, a
haps there is a shadow thought that we have lost our way and refusal to respond to unanticipated historical forces necessar-
must now seek a new direction, or that where we might be ily warranting changes in our practices and thinking meth-
heading is not good for us. Does tradition beckon? Is recon-ods. On the one hand, I am arguing that it will take a long
solidation a retreat from recent challenges? So are we at a time to absorb fully the initiatives that have tried to reshape
standstill or a crossroads? Whatever the case, the question art historical studies in the later twentieth century. To do
itself suggests a formidable pressure to be going somewhere them justice we must challenge the misrepresentations to
and doing something new. which the brute "killing"-of-the-past mentality has given rise
In March 2012, 1 gave a lecture at a conference titled "After because such distortions make invisible what we might call
the New Art History."1 I personally disowned the false category the necessary working through of the event - itself traumatic
"new art history," rejecting tļie idea that whatever was thus in its shock to the system - its contradictions and its continu-
named had anything new about it. Whatever "new art history" ing potentialities as an emancipatory and critical project.4
referred to took its value not from being new but from having On the other hand, we will not come to grasp what has in
been critical, engaged, historically grounded, fueled by the fact occurred if we fail to understand the complex relays
emerging voices of hitherto excluded constituencies, and between any kind of thinking practice and the social and his-
enriched by participation in massively significant reorientations torical conditions that determine it, compliantly or as resis-
of thought and practice in the humanities in general. I also tance. What becomes urgent to think about now, or indeed,
found the compulsion to supersede - to be new in place of the what we may be challenged to resist now, is not internal to
old new, encoded in the term "after" - implicitly deadly.2 That the intellectual formation or discipline of Art History. The
which is cast as "old" can be dismissed as being tired, out-of- issues we confront as art historians arise in the world; art
date, to be replaced. Clearly, the larger context of what leading practices and those practices that are its larger framing, insti-
sociologist Zygmunt Bauman diagnoses as the condition of our tutionalizing and analysis, both register what is happening in
times - liquid modernity - is at work in our field.3 the world and challenge us as scholars and thinkers to dis-
Liquid modernity, according to Bauman 's analysis of our cern the genuinely critical, thoughtful, and not merely
current situation of globalizing capitalism, identifies a com- responsive engagements with the world in their transforma-
pulsive modernization (change) for the sake of moderniza- tion in/into contemporary art. Insulating the problem inside
tion (change). Once, Bauman argues, there was ideology orthe academy or museum world betrays both the simplistic
an ideal behind progress; modernization unsettled a petri-view of art and its discourses as indexical of culture's refract-
fied past in order to install a new order. It had a telos, trans- ing of history and the more complex view of art's serious
forming the old into the modern. Now, it seems, there is no working through of that which bathes it and gives it its mate-
imagined destination. Fashion alone drives the necessity for rials, shocks, and challenges.
constant newness of commodities, bodies, relationships, and If we are told that we must find a new track because we are

intellectual "turns," all that makes anything or any idea obso- now lost in a fog of theoretical confusion and a forest of com-
lete almost at the very moment of its appearance. So beingpeting methodological possibilities, it might be a good time
faithful becomes being outmoded, with an attendant loss of for a dose of intellectual fidelity to the rich settlements of
the possibility of a politics of history. thought and critical practices produced by the exciting devel-
The idea of the new creates what then becomes the old. opments in both art history and art in the last half century.
There are psychological fantasies of Oedipal supersession We might do well to dally longer at any one of the stations
(sons replacing fathers) as well as sociological operations dottedof across the now-complex landscape. Instead of pressur-
generational displacement involved in this mirage of compul- ing us to stay on the move, or to retrench behind the fortress
sive posterity. Paralleling this tendency are the declarations gates of the past that seeks to ignore the challenges of recent
of either the death of feminism, or the supersession of art femi-histories, let's travel in that landscape, although without
nism by postfeminism, or the drowning of the second the wave bad guidebooks that make the past anachronistic and
in the third or fourth waves, all of which share this compul-
provide only limited pathways to selected spots while warning
sory "coming after" and going somewhere long before any off other possible pathways.
visitors
One central problem is the historical gesture with which
serious understanding of the impact, resonance, or signifi-
our discipline was founded. It was, of course, deeply paradox-
cance of any feminist intervention so far has been achieved.
I do not believe I am going anywhere nor do I want Artical.
His-For Art History (the intellectual formation) to emerge,
art
tory or feminism to set off in "novel" directions for the qua art had to discover that it had a history (rather than
sake

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1Q ART BULLETIN MARCH 2014 VOLUME XCVI NUMBER 1

being a timeless problem for philosophical aesthetics or aca- History that track continual progress and posit modernity as
demic standards). Formulating a discipline to study art's spe- an unquestionably progressive destination.
cific historical dimension, with art having a singular During a Clark Art Institute symposium convened by
substance both passing through while being changed over Judith Rodenbeck entitled "Feminism after the Waves" in
time, progressively separated art from history understood inMay 2012, I was introduced by a younger feminist art histo-
its broadest sense and from the broader field of cultural his-
rian, Jaleh Mansoor, to the work of Sylvia Federici, an Italian
tory and humanistic thought in which it had been but one
feminist political theorist, and her book Caliban and the Witch:
sideshow. The discipline of Art History manufactures a spe- Women , the Body and Primitive Accumulation ? As a historian,
Federici traverses historical territory similar to that covered
cific, separate history for art as a formal succession of styles,
shifting iconographies, self-defining movements, periods, by Schade, in order to argue that the violent depropriation
and institutions (for example, training, patronage, display, of women - namely, their forced domestication and the
trade, collection). While invaluable in one sense, the isolat-
exclusion of their labor from the exchange system and the
ing tendency achieved its most extreme form at the moment reconfiguration of their services to adult and child care as
when thinking historically about artistic practices at all natural
was - was foundational to the primitive accumulation on
deemed to be anti-art historical; that field could only be the rise of early capitalism depended. Far from dancing
which
articulated by the qualification as a social history of art. on a pin to work out how Marxism and Feminism might
This
"marry," Federici placed an overt gender war, and thus gen-
suggested the odd possibility that any history might be nonso-
dered exploitation itself, at the basis of the new economic sys-
cial. Working as a feminist scholar in the field, I have encoun-
tered the oddity that my references to social, cultural, temorthat shaped the modern world. Witch burning was part of
historical issues such as sexuality or gender are consideredthe violence with which the new system imposed itself. Ideo-
non-art historical, and instead are labeled sociological -
logically, it enforced a novel definition of womanhood specific
alien in essence, or worse, to the history of art.5 Here to we
a new socioeconomic system.8 This concept of womanhood
encounter one of the problems in the formulation of the could,
sub- however, be represented as "natural" (rather than vio-
ject as the singular "art history" as opposed to my preferredlently imposed) only by posing itself against its opposite, the
neologisms "the histories of art" (1988) or "art's histories"
monstrous resister, the witch. Federici compares the function
of the witch to the fictive Caliban, who has been read in turn
(1996). In what follows, I offer three eccentric points of entry
to this discussion. as a projection of the other in the equally violent rhetoric of
early colonialism. Caliban is read by Federici as struggling, in
A Local Starting Point vain, against the imposed worlding of his world from which
I have just completed a quite extraordinary task. I was he is now alienated and in which he is rendered monstrous by
commissioned to compile a research bibliography on "women the dominant discourse. Federici's study had contemporary
applications. When teaching in Nigeria during the 1990s,
and art history" (already a confusing category - women in the
Federici witnessed the violent remodeling of the Nigerian
history of art, women in the discipline of art history, gender
and art?) and given 8,000 words to do so. As my final text economy by the International Monetary Fund. This effectively
peaked at 38,000 with considerable lacunae resulting fromcombined both the drastic economic transformations and the

ideological reconfigurations of "natural" versus monstrous


my own partial perspective on the full range of this massive
forms of subjectivity that she had discovered in her analyses of
field, a peer reviewer registered irritation at one specific sec-
tion I had added which s/he found "eccentric." The section what happened in Europe during the seventeenth century.
was on feminism and Aby Warburg. I can understand that Both the reminder that the feminist adoption of
this is hardly mainstream Art History. It is also not what is gen- Warburg's model for studying violence, history, and the
erally understood as a key trend in the American picture of image is incompletely recognized and the examples of femi-
feminist art histories. Even so, there have been many femi- nist studies challenging models of progressive modernization
nists in Latin America and Europe who have long engaged by exposing underlying and specifically gendered violence
with Warburg's legacy. The founding text of this trend is by within it serve to introduce one line of my reflections on
the German art historian Sigrid Schade.6 During the later "whither art history." I am not advocating a trip down a femi-
1970s, Schade turned to the Warburg Institute Library in nist forgotten side road in the historical map of the discipline
London as the only location in which she could explore the of Art History. Rather, the confluence of the overlooked fem-
troubling eruption of witch burning, with its attendant visual inist art historical scholarship on Warburg in, for instance,
inscriptions and incitements during the early modern period: the German feminist community of the 1970s, with its con-
How could such brutish, misogynist violence accompany what nections to Federici's recent feminist materialist interven-
historical thought marks as the beginning of the modern tion, taken up by several key younger feminist art historians
period and a Renaissance of humanist culture? Not embed- in the United States poses the question, How could such vio-
ded in any period the modern Western consciousness could lence against women and its significance have become invisi-
consign to otherness and primitivism, this sixteenth- and early ble, unknown, and unthought? How might the reconnection
seventeenth-century assault on women and its vivid cultural with both Schade's Warburgian art history (long before the
refractions had to be confronted as both symptoms of the current attempt to propose as new a turn to Image Art His-,
emerging "modern" and in relation to resurfacing then of tory, or Bildwissenschaft) and Federici's cultural analysis open
deeper conflicts that produced both symbolic and real a perspective on current necessities in the field?
violence. How could one make sense of this paradox? Schade Warburg's eccentric thinking as a self-exiling but still self-
followed Warburg's rejection of the dominant myths of Art conscious member of the Jewish minority in the newly united

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WHITHER ART HISTORY? ļļ

"What is language?") with its belated reconfiguration in


nation of Germany, at a point when that specific kind of self-
"structural" anthropology (Claude Lévi-Strauss' s question
critical pariah status (which Hannah Arendt would later iden-
tify with Marcel Proust and Walter Benjamin) made a new being, "What is culture?"). Returned to the linguistic as part
stance as both insider and outsider possible, is not to of be literary studies' revolt against its own romanticism and the
assimilated to the now-expanding industry in Art History reclaiming of Russian formalism's idea of the literariness of
reclaiming Warburg as a new object of idealized research or
the literary text, semiotics came to us, in art historical circles,
as a refound founding figure of another new direction:
however, often more directly through film analysis that
image culture.9 Warburg's work offers an archive worthy adapted
of literary semiotics to cinematic texts.
continuing research into the history of the discipline and itsYet for feminist thought, one of the theorists of literary
semiotics, Julia Kristeva, was crucially important in ways that
alternative pathways. I would like, however, to introduce his
resonate with what I am discerning in Warburg's balancing
primary contribution not as an archive but, intead, focusing
on his psychologically aware historical study of the image,ofas the Real and the Symbolic mediated via what he called the
a thinking machine for confronting contemporary Art His- image. Resisting trends in semiotics toward a kind of authori-
tory.10 It is important to grasp that Warburg did not foundtarian formalism (the laws of signification), Kristeva alerted
the method of iconography in opposition to Heinrich us to a potential fascism inherent in any formalism, notably,
Wölfflin's formal method. The politics of both art historical
when the system was understood only as rules that foresaw no
space for resistance and no resources for change. Kristeva
thinkers were infinitely more complex than this oppositional
caricature we have inherited.11 For Warburg, the image was turned
a to psychoanalysis to reintroduce into the system of
complex form, not a content alone. It was a figurationmeaning
of production identified by semiotic approaches to
language the "speaking subject," a psychoanalytically con-
memory of what had once been originally gesturally per-
formed by the body and was then formalized and iconically ceived, split subject. This subject's formation is never, how-
remembered, its gestures and hence its affects transmissibleever, complete. This subject, therefore, is perpetually "on
trial." Its internal other and perpetual contestant is an
via the iconization, becoming available for travel across cul-
tures. The image is both a temporal and spatial translationunconscious.
in It also carries the affecting traces of the forma-
a psychically charged memory form in which figuration plays tive psychocorporality of the infant state, still recalcitrant in
the face of the signifier and the law by which the subject
multiple roles. Rooting the origins of art in ritual perfor-
mance and mimicry, as well as being sensitive to symbolicmust be necessarily constituted in order to speak and be
sexed. Kristeva argues that because both the drives and the
transformation of imagined and fantasized affects, Warburg
understood art as a mediation - he named its achievements a preconscious are in excess of the law, they offer a resource
Zwischenraum - between what we might now name the Real for of
changing meaning and shifting subjectivity in its endless
physical and psychological intensities in the face of human "process" (the French word procès evokes both a trial and a
process).
frailty in the struggle for life in nature and in society and the Psychoanalytic theorizations of subjectivity and its
Symbolic.12 Warburg understands the symbolic as the cultur- interfaces with both language and the psychocorporeal pro-
ally fashioned space whose iconic remembering might hyster- duced Kristeva's specific notion of "the semiotic." Kristeva's
use of the term "semiotic" refers at once to the prelinguistic
ically revive and let loose destructive affects. It might equally,
however, transform them into resolutions that temper predispositions
such of what later become language - rhythm,
affective intensities into thoughts. Thought is valuable,assonance,
but echolalia - and to the outer edge of the symbolic
not when abstracted. Warburg thus defines the specificrealm
ele- of language itself, a liminal zone whose semiporous
boundaries remain in touch with, though not reduced to,
ments of the image or types of image whose history he charts
the traces of a corporeal, emergent, prelinguistic semiotic
a Pathosformel, a formulation of pathos, of passion, of suffer-
ing, or in our terms, affective intensity, that breaks through
the which language can constantly be renovated and
bounds of language and inhabits the body as its site and sometimes
its revolutionized. This double concept of the semi-
expressive alphabet. The term "formula" usefully includes otic as both preceding the symbolic and dancing at its edges
the idea of form, which reminds us that pathos is a formalallows Kristeva to identify art, music, dance, and poetry as
moments of the extralinguistic semiotic touching and shift-
operation, not a content that can be detached from its for-
ing the realm of meaning, activating the unconscious and
mulation. "Formula" also invokes that which can be repeated.
even earlier traces of the formative semiotic phase of becom-
Thus, the Pathosformel functions aesthetically, subcognitively,
ing-subjectivity. While we can see "semiotic" elements in art
perhaps, as a /omulation of intensity that registers specific
ranges of human affects, from the violent and the ecstaticin its
to gestures, pace, surfaces, and affects (akin to Rosalind
Krauss's appropriation of Walter Benjamin's optical uncon-
the depressive and the static. The Pathosformel stores such
intensities but also enables a potential passage into a scious
subli- to plot out the informe in modern art) , what do we do
mating symbolic. with its image (which can be as abstract as much as
Resisting both banal romanticism (does art move me?)figurative)?13
and
impersonal formalization (art as a rule-determined teļos), ImageI is neither depiction nor iconography. It might bet-
have embraced different resources for moving beyond ter this be understood as configuration. For instance, abstract art
double bind. Semiotics was one such resource during the an effect that, even if it remains at the very edges of
produces
1970s and 1980s for breaking open the oppositions form/ figurality, the viewer experiences as an image - not of any-
content, idea/ affect. Semiotics was at first the product thing
of the specific but with a kind of structure through which it
can be remembered. I define that kind of image as both a
intersection of an early twentieth-century linguistic modern-
ism (Ferdinand de Saussure 's modernist question being, holding together of visual events (it is not just a chaos of

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12 ART BULLETIN MARCH 2014 VOLUME XCVI NUMBER 1

stuff) and a holding before the viewer of an arrangement by cultures according to their specific time-scales and histories.
which we experience simultaneously the tug toward the pre- In the West, for instance, each feminist moment has been
linguistic semiotic (rhythm, pulse, and so on) and the often shaped by the different priorities and possibilities of the era
fragile or elusive sense of becoming symbolic (forming, hold- of actualization, be that the contestation of crude misogyny
ing, saying). In this way, Kristeva overcomes the opposition (Christine de Pizan), the struggle for virtue (Mary Wölls tone-
of form (empty) versus content (explicit representation) by craft), the right to political citizenship (suffrage movement),
not detaching image from the semiotic processes and the dia- the rights to free labor and human dignity as well as a gen-
lectic óf semiotic and symbolic. dered identity (the antislavery movement), the right to revolt
In my sustained project to create "feminist interventions in (suffragette movement) , the rights to work and to education
art's histories," I have been working through the dialectic of (early twentieth century), the rights to one's own body, sex-
subjectivities and their inscriptions in the field of vision and ualities, and safety from violence and degradation (later
the image. In so doing, I have sought to balance Kristevan twentieth century). Worldwide feminist contestations con-
theory with the historical questions of my own discipline, front the intersections of different patriarchies and histories
whose focus falls on materially produced but affecting and in their varied temporalities, increasingly in dialogue with
"speaking" outcomes that we misname as visual images. They each other as modernization opens new pathways for change
are as tangible as they are visible, as physically manufactured as well as importing new risks. Equality (always incomplete
as they are able virtually to generate affects and thoughts, and relative to existing states of selective inequalities) is one
while any field of vision is mediated by tangibility and materi- minor if necessary precondition for feminism; it is not femi-
ality. In this effort, I have found my reading of Warburg's nism's destination. The most recent feminist movements
minoritarian/pariah modeling of a history of art as a historical worldwide in the later twentieth century are but another epi-
psychology of the image uriexpectedly hospitable to the cur- sode (and not a second wave that obliterates all that pre
rent stage of my project. ceded and is thus shortsightedly named the first wave) that
Over forty years I have been engaged in a long-term think- had, however, a specific and novel dimension: a sustained
ing project that has not proceeded through typical art histori- and expanding cultural dimension that also included the
cal forms of artists, periods, movements, or even themes. first profound engagement between feminism and visual art
Instead, I can now see clearly that I have had to create con- This conjunction furthermore transformed art by the interro
cepts that enable my thinking through the problematics posed gation and the creativity that arose from within feminism tha
by gender, class, sexuality, representation, and difference. was itself modified by the novelty of its cultural, intellectual,
Some of these concepts have been linguistic and address the and aesthetic turns. More actualizations of feminism's virtual-

language in which we think about art of the past, such as "old ity are to come. In turn they will be different, depending on
mistresses," the term first coined by Ann Gabhart and Eliza- the current configuration of both possibilities and resistance.
beth Broun for their founding feminist exhibition at the Wal- The world that feminist artists, thinkers, and art historians
ters Art Gallery in 1972, pointing to gender ideologies already face now is radically different from that of the 1970s. It is
encoded in our gender-exclusive terms for the artist. Others enlarged and scarred by radically diverse events such as the
touch on problematics, such as "vision and difference," while end of Communism in Europe and the inception of new
yet others propose formulations: "reference, deference and phases of globalization after 1989, the rise of terror and
difference" as the strategic and dynamic driver of avant- 9/11, the Arab Spring and its anxious and still uncertain
gardes.14 Some propose axes for nonessentialist, postcolonial aftermaths, continuing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and
comprehension of both the singularity and the historical and their legacies, world economic crisis, emerging economies.
geopolitical belonging of each artist: generations and geographies. Change is not necessarily improvement, although there have
More propose methodologies for practice: differencing the canon been undeniable elements of genuine progress in limited
using feminist desire.15 My current working concept is "the vir- and privileged spheres.
tual feminist museum," first presented in 2007 and having its Warburg's model of concurrent encounters between mate-
second major installation in 2013.16 rial, iconic traces of the various cultural moments' struggles
The qualifier virtual relates to feminism, not to the with, renewals by, or regressions exhibited by resurgences of
museum. Not cybernetic, the virtuality of feminism is philo- the structuring tensions of humanity's vulnerabilities vis-à-vis
sophical. As Henri Bergson taught us, the virtual is an unex- the world on which it depends for life and the others
hausted and as yet unrealized potentiality that may be with which it cohabits that world enables a kind of feminist

actualized variously at different times and places without thinking about the time-space formulations and their result-
exhausting that which is still to come: virtuality. Far from ing pathos-formulations that specifically touch on sexual dif-
being over, dead, done with, feminism, I propose, should be ference and, hence, on life making and its humanized
understood as becoming in this sense. Indeed, I suggest that continuation, on alterity and formations of differentiated
any radicality is not merely becoming-woman - as argued in subjectivities and sexualities.17 While Warburg's intervention
Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari 's formulation for postphal- in emergent Renaissance studies involved his making clear
locentric culture - but becoming-feminist in the spirit of the how odd it was that pagan antiquity had "returned" to ani-
long-term meaning of feminism as a continuous work for mate Christian culture and to initiate its long journey of
democracy, social justice, and the safe and dignified coexis- modernization through borrowing energizing Pathosformeln
tence of a plural and diverse humanity. Aspects of the from a pagan world, the virtual feminist museum notes that
immense virtuality of feminism-still-to-come have been actual- the modern era is marked by revolution and catastrophe.
ized since the medieval period in the West and in world The latter has mandated not the revival of classical formulas

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WHITHER ART HISTORY? 13

of Western antiquity but their abandonment in the face category


of called the "contemporary" and be discussing appro-
the horror of what happened in the real. The vision of a hab-
priate art historical methodologies? Is that not still more of the
itable world (landscape) and the human body as idealized Barrian attempt to contain inside a comfortingly knowable
locus of a projected humanity (the nude, perhaps) created model the dramatic and sometimes even dangerous relations
by the Greeks and perfected by Raphael and company in six- between the historical, our imaginaries, and many varied sites,
teenth-century Italian art, then becoming the model for aca-
including art, of critical thinking or response to the urgencies
demic art education, was shattered beyond repair in the face
of human living and dying in our time?
of what was done in the lands of Europe and elsewhere andWarburg condemned the art historical trends he witnessed
to human bodies in atrocities perpetrated by totalitarian around him as "aestheticizing art history," which he consid-
states and the genocidal regimes of the mid-twentieth cen- ered irresponsible and deluding. If we allow Art History
tury. Among serious and thinking artists we can detectto a remain isolated inside its own fences, absorbed in its
sense of the necessity for the invention of new formulationsabstracted history of art, it ceases to be a historical discipline
at all. It neither reads the past historically nor reads for the
for suffering and affective intensity adequate to the unprece-
dented events that have horrifically shaped our world. Let historical in the art of its present. It offers a false screen (ing
me spell out this claim again: the classical imaginary, so often
off) of history by setting up an autonomous history - a history
and politically variously revived by the West, could be said of
to art alone, in which historically determining conditions are
have been violently shattered in what happened to theframed and tamed as background or acknowledged vaguely
human body in the West and now elsewhere during the as context. For Warburg, what was necessary to think about
racialized genocides such as the Holocaust or Rwanda and art was not "art history" but everything the discipline was in
during the totalitarian experiments of the concentrationaryhis time seeking to set apart. Warburg's multifaceted and
throughout the twentieth century.18 This possibility has interdisciplinary library materially and symbolically instates
the intellectual traveling between fields of knowledge and
implications for how we think and write histories of art since
1945. representation that might be necessary to make any sense of
Warburg proposed a different concept of time - not direc- this deeply complex mnemonic, affective, and symbolic oper-
tional, developmental, and historicist but bending, recurring,ation he called the image. It is worth noting that Warburg
repetitive, and, above all, traumatic. Warburg thought thedid not loosen the image entirely from the subject of its crea-
nascent discipline of Art History failed because it was plotting tion. His is not an art history without artists, but it is not an
out the histories of art without returns or that which resurfa- art history of artists.
ces and recharges, that is, without Nachleben : this difficult Ger-Institutionalized Art History began as a university disci-
man term has been translated as "survival" or "persistence."plineI in the German-language universities of Europe, whence
prefer "afterlife," which catches the vividness of the living and
it was exported to the rest of the world during the nineteenth
and early twentieth century (with the odd exception of Brit-
the relation to Freudian thought, to Nachträglichkeit , a concept
that Jean Laplanche translates as "Afterwardness."19 I would ain, which only belatedly joined in during the twentieth cen-
argue that Art History fails because, in the face of twentieth- tury).21 From its inception, we know that the geopolitical
ideologies of nationalism shaped the manner in which the
century history, it continues to plot out a history of art without
rupture and catastrophe. field was being defined, even while a transnational axis of
"the European" was constructed by appropriating selective
It was once enough to complain, following Meyer Schapiro's
critical reading of Alfred Barr' s exhibition Cubism and Abstract
sites in the ancient world as the foundations and recurring
Art (Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1936), that Barr had forerunners of the Western. As Robert Nelson has shown

through tracking PhD classifications in the United States


created a "story of art" by substituting chronology for history,
academy, we still work in the basic frameworks of national
floating art's incessant flow above a formal grid of abstracted,
cultures, within which fall subsections of periods, schools,
hence empty time.20 Writing his critique in 1937, Schapiro had
movements, masters, and oeuvres.22 As a scholar well aware
not yet integrated the implications of World War I, the Russian
Revolution of 1917, the stock market crash of 1929 in reshap-of the dangerous place allocated to the outsider or minority
in homogenizing nationalist ideology, Warburg contested
ing art's projects. Obviously, he was as yet not witness to what
historicism and nationalism by tracking the promiscuous
was done during World War II, specifically, the massive experi-
ment in industrial genocide of two - the Jewish and Roma migration
- of images across a temporal-spatial planetarity (a
term I shall explain below) long before such concepts
communities of Europe. Taking on board Theodor Adorno's
renaming of the post-1945 era as "Nach Auschwitz" ( nach
became part of contemporary critical vocabularies.
meaning both "after" and "toward"), I consider it necessary
now to orient art historical studies toward that which we come
Looking Sideways: Reading for the Planetary
In Death of a Discipline , the feminist postcolonial literary
after , which is defined by Adorno and others as the terrifyingly
novel condition of life and death on this planet. The shocksscholar Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak considered the crisis in
multiply, from living under the postwar threat of nuclear both "Area Studies" and Comparative Literature in the Amer-
destruction in a world held nervously in a permanent Cold
ican academy.23 Area Studies had enlarged the geopolitical
War, to post-1989 political realignments, the shattering event
reach of interdisciplinary research concerning various coun-
of 9/11, prolonged wars on several fronts in the first decadetries
of and regions of interest to the United States in the post-
war/Cold WTar era. Comparative Literature had served to
the twenty-first century, long-unresolved conflicts, a new crash
expand into European languages the literary imagination of
of 2007 . . . and on and on. If art has radically changed its forms
American students, if less obviously motivated by political
and grounds, should we be struggling to make a new temporal

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14 ART BULLETIN MARCH 2014 VOLUME XCVI NUMBER 1

expedience but still valuably so in terms of fostering postwar system. Yet we do not want to retreat from the geocultural
world relations. Nevertheless, out of these not necessarily expansion of our imaginations and the futures fostered in
humanistic but rather politico-ideologically motivated foun- the postcolonial and international feminist projects, since
dations emerged the critical spaces in which innovative both created transverse and differentiated collectivities. So
literary studies shaped by feminist, queer, postcolonial theo- Spivak proposes a virtual counterconcept to the global, which
retical initiatives have flourished. What now - asked Spivak in she names the planetary.
2000, before even 9/11 as a new historical benchmark -
when the drivers that generated the space of possibility I propose the planet to overwrite the globe. Globalization
within Area Studies/ Comparative Literature no longer have is the imposition of the same system everywhere. In the
relevance? Are these projects tainted by their political condi- gridwork of electronic capital, we achieve that abstract
tions of emergence or to be preserved for some of their now- ball covered in latitudes and longitudes, cut by virtual
valued critical effects and recast to meet new exigencies? lines, once the equator and the tropics, etc., and newly
Spivak's complex exploration of the vicissitudes of her drawn by the requirements of Geographical Information
overlapping fields concludes with two points relevant to this Systems

It allows us to think that we can aim to


inquiry into the current dilemmas within our disciplinary
area. That area seems to be consolidating around its tradi-
Spivak then proposes the planet as a
tional procedures. I detect a certain reconsolidation of the
opens onto a different way of being and
old ways or, rather, signs of a deep blocking of the recent
innovations by an obduracy that can weaken any critique The planet is a species of alterity, b
through prolonged indifference and a real failure to accept system: yet we inhabit it, on loan. It is
that its arguments need be digested and incorporated. At to a neat contrast to the globe. I canno
the same time it is, paradoxically, constantly searching for on the other hand." When I invoke the
some novelty. This trend, I suggest, serves also to keep the effort required to figure the (im)
marginal the really critical innovations of the later twentieth underived intuition.25
century in our expanded field by suggesting that they
are now outmoded, even before they have been fully taken Not given or imagined, the planetary, lik
in. So, who needs to know about the difficult, challenging arta becoming based on the work we do bot
histories anymore if they are superseded? Whither Art dominion of globalization and in fid
History? dreams and desires for deep and real soc
One of the novelties at the moment is "World Art" or wide human dignity.
"World Art Studies," and another, not a novelty but aFinally,
mad arising from what Spivak defi
asand
dash, is the wholesale shift in doctoral studies, curating, humans intending toward one ano
thinking. Instead of imagining the gl
art writing to "the contemporary" and curatorial studies/
dominated by market thinking, rend
practice. What is art history if it is becoming the companion
of the endlessly and proliferatingly synchronous? Howearth
is the instruments of use, Spivak define
to its others - drawn to itself, in fact.
past of art becoming merely an archive of referents against
which the constantly novel and emerging might be other legiti- may arise from notions such as m
mated? What kinds of art and historical consciousness does bonds), belonging to a nation (national
a religion (being the children of this or
the liquid modernity of this "new" new Art History promise,
or perhaps evacuate? Of what are the globalizing and the the earth or nature as the source of bond
contemporary symptoms? Is this the Hegelian telos of the proven
his- as divisive as they have served t
toricist and developmental tendencies that has not ended,andas exclusionary. Spivak poses the pla
displaces all of these without equally fal
Hegel forecast, in art yielding to philosophy but in art suc-
cumbing to market-led curation with its value-legitimizing universalism, empty concepts, often secr
scholarly texts, both of whose underlying engines are as leged
eco- groups behind their facade. For Sp
planetary involves a specific kind of wor
nomic as ever and reflect the increasing influence of art deal-
ers and collectors? In the case of education as a distinctive
Why has there been such a widespread turn to the contem- encountering the other through litera
Spivak privileges reading as a fundament
porary? What is causing it? What has sustained it? How do we
simple?
read it as symptomatic of a larger historical shift to liquid
modernity and a local art'historical reorientation to its own Crucially, while displacing the imagined sources of our
economic unconscious? What happens to Art History whenbonding it with or interest in others, planetary thought stops in
its tracks the kind of centrism (androcentrism, Eurocentrism,
effectively abandons any kind of historical framing or critical
work of memory? What relation exists between "historical" Christian-centrism, and so on) that postcolonial critics
Art History and Contemporary Art History? repeatedly detect in what remain colonial gestures of expan-
Spivak argued that wre now confront globalization, sion by practiced by the First and Second Worlders. Alterity, the
which she means the unfettered economic sway of transna- otherness we seek in order to know ourselves better, is not
derived from those centered in privileged locations.
tional capitalism without borders and thus subject to few
local political checks and balances such as were possible
Planetary thinking disowns many of the models for thinking
the world and its others. That strange phrase means that we
within the earlier national phase of this economic-political

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WHITHER ART HISTORY? 15

are neither thinking about them nor conceptualizing them: was Art History as a fully independent
"them" becoming an other to the "we" who make them an speakers whom we still respect as the fou
object of thought. We think the issue. Thinking is a process,like Warburg and Wölfflin, studied t
thinking otherness, thinking the world, thinking sexual dif- philology, were beginning to encount
ference, means encountering the challenge of that which early psychology, and were not afraid of
already includes us and from which we cannot abstract our- ous forms of emerging science. This in
selves as "thinkers about ..." As a concept that we cannot fullynot correspond to our twentieth-centur
master, planetary thinking is, therefore, a transgression offor the profound level at which those sc
our typical conceptual models, and of the mastery encoded
resources for thinking clearly surpass
in such models. Planetary thinking involves reading for the collected by the mere tasters in the sup
words, voices, images, inscriptions of those other planetary graduate intellectual grazing.
subjects with an openness and self-fragilization - a concept I The second point I want to make wit
learned from Bracha Ettinger that might enable us to sense understands the implications of her own
this differencing configuration of our relations with our ies - as touching on the major issues of
others via the mediation of the aesthetic practices we value.26human life on this planet. This is not
Having listed the names of alterity - names for the transcen- ism. It is attuned to the altered conditio
dental figurations of what we think of as the origins of this the making versus the globalizing - of h
gift that intends us toward the other: mother, nation, god, altered both historically and theoretical
nature - Spivak writes: planetary as a counterforce to the arr
graphic mapping and then reading o
Planet-thought opens up to embrace an inexhaustible tax- translation" or the placatory gestures of
onomy of such names
the face of new student constituencies that reflect the effects

of globalization,
tary subjects rather than global agents, planetary Spivak creatures
invokes Sigmund Freud to ask, "Is
rather than global entities, alterity remains
this to render our homeunderived
uncanny?"29 The home in question is
from us; it is not our dialectical negation,
the planet as itit contains
might us through
have been made as our work as cul-
much as it flings us away. And thus tural
toanalysts.
think Spivak' s reference
of it, to Freud reminds us that the
is already
German word
to transgress, for, in spite of our forays into for what
uncanny we is unheimlich
meta-, the undoing of the
phorize differently, as outer and inner
notion ofspace,
the homely:what is above
the heimlich. In his essay "The Uncanny,"
and beyond our reach is not continuous with statement
his most enigmatic us as it is the
about notsources of the aesthetic
indeed specifically discontinuous. WeFreud
affect, must argued persistently
that the chilling - uncanny - effects of
educate ourselves in this mind-set.27finding something unexpectedly "homely" - affecting - signal
the return of a repressed trace of the first dwelling, the moth-
Planetary thought is a mind-set to which we
er's body or, must
rather, move
the birth canal.our-
Spivak leaps from Freud's
selves by a practice she names as "reading." Reading
heavily linguistic preamble respects
and then overtly corporeal
the figurality of language that becomes the tospace
referencing for
argue that the poiesis
purpose of ,planetary work is not
for a making or a becoming of meaning to make that
us feel atarrives
home but to through
unsetde any mastering of the
our work with its figurations, poetics, movements,
world, and to make andand before alterity.
us fragile before affect
struggles for articulation. We have borrowed "reading" from
literature so that we now read films or read
In our images.
attempt to track Iplanetarity
translate as making our home
the rhetorical, hence figurai, aspects of literary
unhdmlich language
or uncanny, we willinto
construct an allegory of
both visual semiotic and frankly formal analysis
reading ofdiscursive
whereby the all aspects
system shifts from vagina
of what Ettinger frames as artworking to planet as (using a ofFreudian
a signifier the uncanny, by way of nation-
economy of "work" as labor and transformation
alist colonialism and rather than This is in keeping
post-coloniality.
as finished product: the work of art).28
with my method: gender as a general critical instrument
I cannot pretend to grasp immediately ratherall thanthe implications
something to be factored in in special
so
of Spivak's argument, enriched as it is with such deep involve-
cases.

ment with philosophical and literary systems so much larger


than my own, often only Euro-American,
If once the imaginative
thought ofworld a body as first home ge
offered through both Art History and that its accompanies
limited histories any returnof of the repres
confrontation
art. I am quoting it because the effort of understanding with the planethow as the condition
from which
such a thinker is working away at issues we have
that touch uswandered
all in and to which w
the arts and humanities is preciselyreturn
what I not alsoalways
have generate a certain uncanniness
felt
was necessary for me to pursue my ment,
own studieswhich is,in in producing
fact, one of the key affects
differencing histories of art. ArtMight that be also
History inwhy
ourwe value
time the aesthetic
has not as
come to suffer from its intellectual that which we must map,
isolation, explain, know,its
defining and master but
through
specificity against rather than in real which we mightwith
conversation learn another
other mode of living
modes of thinking. on this planet with the otherness of other times as well as the
Perhaps we would do well to recallotherness
the much of others to us in the present?
broader intel-
lectual conditions under which the nineteenth-century
Spivak also thinks with gender as at initia-
once a real, effective
tors of art historical scholarship were
axis oftrained before
differential and there
asymmetrical power relations and as a

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ļg ART BULLETIN MARCH 2014 VOLUME XCVI NUMBER 1

symbolic organization of hierarchical thought, images, andrather, her explanation of what is left to us in the humanities
fantasies. What would happen if we took feminist thoughtas teachers concerns a practice of reading and of teaching read-
seriously, therefore, rather than imagining "gender" to being. Instead of a satellite view of a globe from afar beamed
that "thing" that gendered people, that is, women, uncom-across space by telecommunications, we need to be close
fortably go on about, and that might just be acknowledgeddown with the loci of aesthetic inscriptions and the attempts
with a passing nod toward political correctness? We would at voicing lived experiences in the spaces of the commons of
grasp the figurative power of gender as a thinking resource the planetary. Demonstrating what this means in her own
that exceeds its own particular issue to become a critical field by a series of close readings of texts from different geo-
instrument for undoing hierarchy and encountering alterity. cultural spaces and their literatures, each in their own lan-
In other words, if, instead of anxiously thinking of alterity as guage, read necessarily, however, with translation (not in
a former home or origin - the maternal body, mother, translation as a substitution), Spivak clarifies that something
nation, earth, and all figures that lodge us in beginnings,must happen in this encounter she calls reading that is not a
hence risking fundamentalisms - we took the planet - the search for either identity (of the writer/ artist) or identifica-
intending toward one another of cohabitants of a shared but tion (with the writer/ artist) . "What I am attempting is to
only loaned "world" - as the constitutive alterity of our workforce a reading. I would like to see if the text could possibly
as thinkers and scholars or creators, what would be the effects sustain the turning of identitarian monuments into docu-
on our practices as scholars and teachers working in that rad-ments for reconstellation."32 Here is the echo of Benjamin's
ical field of art as making, thinking, representing, transform-constellation. How often is the art historical purpose to place
ing? What would be the strategies we would evolve to practice a work, to establish its identity in relation to an author, a
such planetary thinking in writing and the classroom? How place, a movement, a style, a chronology, a culture, a national
could the study of art's histories facilitate planetary thinking spirit? Linking it to the lessons of Kristeva for whom litera-
and resist the homogenizing implications of globalization as ture is a working away and transgressing of authority and bor-
a fake erasure of nationalist and hierarchical thinking deeply ders, discussed above, the idea of reading renders an image
embedded in the conventions of Art History and its or a text a space for reconstellation of relations of the plane-
machinery? tary community, not interpretation of a reified object of
Let me come back to Art History, which can be defined as a culture.

geopolitical thinking system. Founded in the nineteenth cen- While attuned to thinking resources that do not reconfirm
tury, an era that witnessed the formation of nationalisms, the the procedures that define the discipline's dominative carto-
discipline served to enshrine that model of separating art graphic expansionism, Spivak's gesture of engagement to dis-
into national cultures while also supplying fantasies of dis- avow domination is close reading. Deceptively simple,
crete sources in culture, language, religion, and art forms for reading, nonetheless, assumes a difference in and a produc-
the nations' cultural narratives of their origins. The national tivity for the text, a resistance to mastery, that can be shown
is reflected in the layouts of our museums, the categories of to be at work by the kind of reading practice that seeks
our books, the shape of our curricula, where the art of the "persistently and repeatedly [to] undermine and [to] undo
world is divided, regionally in the prenational eras and by the definitive tendency of the dominant to appropriate the
national school in the modern eras. Is one of the effects of emergent. It must not let itself be constituted by the
this mode of thinking to leave without a legitimated demands
space inof liberal multi-culturalism alone."33 The process of
art's histories the transversal cultural groups such as reading
womentexts for their figures of difference requires training,
or cultural or sexual minorities? in the classroom, a being together in time and space and
Disciplinary Art History enshrines a politically cartographic
with the teacher. Can one to learn to read this way through
imagination. The double gesture of imagining a WorldMass ArtOpen On-Line Courses? I do not think so. Spivak insists
History and moving to the globalized contemporary failsthat to teaching, and, therefore, learning, is intimate, with the
deconstruct that legacy. How to begin to think in "planetary"
text and with the momentary community of reading between
peers and generations.
rather than in global terms: the former being grounded, con-
I have always sensed that much of what is done in the his-
nective, and differentiating, and the latter being abstracting,
homogenizing, and indifferent? Again the legacies of femi- tory of art classroom is a kind of disciplining of thinking
nist thought peek through. Teresa de Laure tis identifiesabout
the art. The discipline requires that the students learn the
phallocentric system not as producing sexual difference
defining habits not only of the discipline's distinctive proce-
despite appearing to produce masculine and femininedures
as a for the study of art but also of 'its mode of narrating a
complementary pair, but as enacting "sexual indifference"
story of art. This disciplining is more urgent the larger the
artits
in which there is in effect only one sex, the masculine and historical constituency or its potential influence. Consis-
other, an empty space of the not-masculine named the tency and even uniformity of message safeguard the passing
feminine. Phallocentric sexual difference does not imagine on of cultural capital for the next generation or across social
constituencies. The museums perform a similar function,
alterity; it represses its possibility in establishing the hege-
mony of one sex (mirrored and supported by its emptied but architecturally and curatorially, telling their publics
non-other).31 again and again the same story through selection, layout,
How can we share the planet while allowing it to be and text panel. The same story is the politically right (not the
uncanny, that is, a source of anxiety that may be important
politically correct!) story. A few novel touches may season the
for resisting the mastering of our own sense of fragility byold story, such as a methods class that mentions feminist,
cre-
ating abstracted models? Spivak's recommendation or,
queer, or postcolonial perspectives, but only as potential

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WHITHER ART HISTORY?

supplements, that are thus included only work


to be
of located atArt
art as what theHistory in its various forms perform
margins. notably in the modern period.35 Art is clearly made; but "t
What I am exploring is not the rejection of one set of artist" is not synonymous with the producer. "The artis
disciplining procedures for another that leads to new disci- becomes the mythic locus of invested fantasies of authorsh
plines, such as the breakaway from art history into visual cul- selfhood, intentionality, and the autonomous interiority of
ture, the latter rejecting the foci of art, artist, and historical meaning making. This artist-as-sign is, I suggested, an effe
succession as their objects of study. If the making of art and of writing procedures and discursive conventions that secur
its complex negotiations of its own practices both semioti- the artwork as the product of, and hence the site of inscri
cally and historically remain a chosen focus, how could the tion of, an autonomous, self-creating subject of a particular
Art History classroom be imagined as a locus of learning to kind: the artistic subject who is "set apart" and sacralized b
read? What is being read (this is not necessarily to make this the modes of discursive construction.

verbally based, as we talk now about reading a painting or art- I followed up this initial analysis with a much longer study
work) then ceases to be an object to be inserted into existing of the issues of authorship, because it had become necessary
taxonomies of art historical knowledge (periods, movements, to resist the banalization of Roland Barthes 's idea of the

styles, iconographies, oeuvre, personal intentions, artistic death of the author by explicating his text more closely an
development, genres, and so on); it becomes what we might comparing the function of the author in literary studi
partially come to know otherwise as itself a carrier of alterity where Barthes revealed it actually serves to instate the autho
opening onto the virtuality of the planetary. What kind of ity of the critic/interpreter, to that somewhat different b
knowledge would be produced and what kind of subjects parallel operation of the artist in art historical practice, not
would we become through such readings that make art not bly, in modernist criticism.36 I also worked through th
the support for the narratives we learn to, or are disciplined aggravated issue of the relation between the life and th
to inhabit but the critical space of its own working through/ work, the biographical narrative of the artist and the form
working out as part of this making of the planetary as a fic- procedures of the artwork. These twin poles of Giorgio Vasa
tion we are constantly in process of forging and seeking to and Roger Fry, as it were, remain unresolved and anxiously
share? misunderstood among scholars and students even toda
Vincent van Gogh was again my case study. First, I explore
Idolatry Resists Iconoclasm nonauthorial models that nonetheless allowed us to consider

In 1978, Rozsika Parker and I completed our first collabora- the artist as both an intending producer and a creative agent
tion on the book published eventually in 1981 as Old Mis-participating in, if never determining entirely, the work s/he
tresses: Women, Art and Ideology.34 In reviewing the alreadymade, which was, once made, subject to textual reading. Tex-
quite considerable international scholarly literature on tual reading, in literary theory, means intertextuality, where
"Women Artists," we asked ourselves a specific question: Whymeaning is produced in relation to codes, genres, and refer-
was our project dismissed as ridiculous by our academic ences. The key point is that the process of thus reading a work
supervisor, a distinguished academic and later director of adoes not involve tracing the source of its meaning back to
major modern art museum? If we could only understandthe artist, paradoxically found by conventional criticism in
what made studying women in the history of art appear to the work and then projected out as the work's anterior, and
him both trivial and laughable, we felt we would have been personalized, source. Barthes suggested that in conventional
able to expose not merely old-fashioned prejudice, indiffer- criticism, while the "author/ artist" is the effect of textual
ence, or forgetfulness of women artists but also the structuralanalysis of the work, the critic invents the artist as an imag-
character of an active, we would now say performative, institu-ined space holding and personalizing all of the text's levels
tionalized androcentrism and sexism. What we discovered and meanings all the better to assert the critic's interpreta-
was that the discipline of Art History systemically produces
tion under the guise of its being the artist's own purposes.
an androcentric and exclusivist canon as its (desired) This
effect.
fiction of an author, as Barthes revealed it, occludes a
A selective canon is secured through the already more
gender-
critical reading for the artist as but one level of mean-
freighted terms "art/ artist," whose apparently unmarked
ing in a polyvocal text with many lateral relations to other
neutrality disguises the appropriation and occupation ofother sites, and to history. It thus becomes possible
texts and
these terms by a geopolitically, socially, and ethnically privi-consideration of the specific effects of the artist as
to include
leged masculinity. Feminist analysis of the discipline's forma- classed, and socially or culturally positioned pro-
a gendered,
tions, habits, protocols,' and its own political unconscious
ducer rather than the individualistic source and guarantee of
thecritical
stripped away the cloak of invisibility so as to allow for humanistic meaning floating free from social determina-
reformulations of ways of doing art history and reading art-word referring to both pressures and limits within
tions (the
works and their institutional, critical, and expository sitesthe
which ofproducer inevitably operates socially, culturally,
practice and distribution by many constituencies. Even as I
and aesthetically) .
use this vocabulary, its foreignness to the conventional In terms
1999, 1 revisited the initiating problematic of Art History
of Art History identifies the modes of hegemonic resistance
as discourse that Parker and I had explored in Old Mistresses.
to such a critical exposure embedded in its preferredAfter terms almost thirty years of feminist critique of gender exclu-
which are, in effect, its modes of thinking. sion, the question was no longer, "What is the canon and how
In 1980, I showed how a feminist approach could yield an
is it formed?" or even, "Why is it selective?" Now my questions
analysis of the mythic construction of "Van Gogh." Iwere, identi-
"What keeps the canon in place?" and "What accounts
fied the discursive production of an artistic subject forfor the
its persistence in the face of the massive evidence of

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ļg ART BULLETIN MARCH 2014 VOLUME XCVI NUMBER 1

international creative work and histories by both women and Canon (1999) I reflected on the minimal cultural and psychic
men?" This time my answer took me from Barthes and Michel capital that accrues from working on women artists, so deval-
Foucault to psychoanalysis, the thinking machine that deals ued or valueless within the phallocentric psychic structure
with the nonrational forces that inflect actions, fantasies, and that sustains the phantasmic underpinnings of the canon. I
thought systems. I argued that the canon's tenacity could not proposed, therefore, the neologism "feminist desire," to
be accounted for by a potentially corrigible, gender-ideologi- introduce, politically as well as psychically, a counterdesire
cally-inflected scholarly ignorance. Instead, such tenacity regis- for difference, that I would now, using a concept of aesthetic
tered a dčep psychological investment in, as well as narcissistic sexual difference created by Bracha Ettinger, name fascinance
fantasies about, the artist. The canon is, I argue, part of the before a woman other.39 Feminist desire is not erotic in the
apparatus that produces and preserves the fiction of the crea- homoerotic sense. It is linked to fascinance, , which Ettinger
tive individual that I had identified as the deep discursive effect defines as a yearning on the part of the girl-who-is-not-yet-a-
of Art History's normative procedures represented by the typi- woman to learn what it is to become an adult woman through
cal forms of research and writing: the monograph and the cata- a prolonged moment of gazing - which is not specular, more
logue raisonné. Psychoanalysis enabled me to understand both an opening to learning through watching and absorbing.
the passionate attachment to the artist as core of the project of This yearning must be reciprocated by the hospitality of the
modern art history and the continuing inability to enlarge the other, already mature woman toward the curious girl in a
field of valued creative subjectivities who could be acknowl- manner that is not erotic while still including sexuality as an
edged as artists.37 A different kind of resistance had to be inevitable part of the transmission that assists the girl in her
deconstructed. becoming-woman. This other woman offers the time and
Witness to the production of the early monographs that space for this girl-beneath-the-woman (Ettinger's term for
created Leonardo and Michelangelo, among others, in the the immanent and imminent adult femininity of the femi-
then new forms of academic and connoisseurial art historynine
in subject) to learn about femininity, not as the negated
the later nineteenth century, Freud identified an affectiveother produced by the phallocentric Oedipal complex, but
knot in the preferred form of the monograph. The knot was as what Ettinger formulates as ffam: femme-fatale-autre-mere ,
the overpowering fascination with the biography of the artist.pronounced like the French word femme , meaning "woman."
We - connoisseurs and public alike - are, according Ettinger's to proposition accords with the fragmentary insights
Freud himself had, late in his thinking, about the potentiality
Freud, most interested in the stories of art as stones of artists
for formations of feminine subjectivity and sexuality that
because the "artist" functions in the literature as a figure con-
taining both the early infantile idealization of the father aswere not explicable via his Oedipal model.40 Subsequently,
omnipotent and the substitutive creation and narcissistic pro- theorization of the feminine has tended to be linked only to
jection of a hero who emerges when the father's fallibility the
is pre-Oedipal phase and to the conflicts of the mother/
exposed. This combination of the theological (father ideali-daughter axis. Ettinger introduces the concept of a formative
zation) and the narcissistic (hero idealization) overde ter-encounter for the feminine subject with feminine desirability
mines the investment in the construction of the artist as the located in a site of femininity other than the maternal,
subject of art because the artist is both an ideal mirror forenabling
the us to imagine how culturally, through such psychic
art lover (the narcissistic dimension) and a figure kept at adispositions,
dis- we might invest value and desirability in, for
tance, other, and elevated by genius to sufficient differenceinstance,
to the intellectual and artistic creations of women,
reignite theological worship (the idealizing dimension).38 thus explaining the basis for a differencing psychic nexus
parallel to the idealizing of the masculine father/ hero that I
Following Freud's logic, it becomes apparent why the inte-
gration of diversity into Art History never quite happens.have
For suggested has held an almost all-masculine canon in
no subject does woman-as-artist perform such a combination,place.
women art historians included. For the masculine subject, So long as the phallic logic of subject formation rules as sole
sovereign over our understanding of subjectivity, however
straight or queer, woman is the site of neither theological
nor narcissistic idealization. If we accept for the moment
much we research, write about, and argue for the interesting
Freud's difficult but astute concept of the feminine subject
quality of artists who are women, a deep bedrock of resistance
remains in place in both masculine and phallicly identified
as a subject formed through both the disappointed recoil
into the negation of the feminine-maternal and the envyfeminine
of subjects who may be unable to acknowledge or be
open to such fascinance , and remain unmoved by feminist
the phallic that enables a kind of transgendering identifica-
desire. What we might hope for consciously - evidence shift-
tion with the phallus and aspiration to receive it indirectly
from the father, we can see that there is also, in the phallo-
ing the scholarly world to accept an inclusive vision of the his-
centric imaginary by which she, like he, is formed, nothingtories
ofof art - is unconsciously blocked.
value in that which is coded feminine (narcissistic) /maternalFilm theorist Kaja Silverman offers another reading for the
(idealization). In many cases, women scholars comfortably psychic dispositions that are necessary for fostering feminist
consciousness through her work on Julia Kristeva's revalua-
identify with the dual idealization of the canonical masculine
tion of the maternal-homosexual facet and on Freud's propo-
artist through femininity's remarkable psychological flexibil-
sition of the coexistence of positive and negative (in the
ity generated by the much maligned, but in fact creative,
force of envy. photographic sense) Oedipus complexes. Freud allowed for
This account then further raises the deeper question of
a negative Oedipus complex in which the mother is desired
by the daughter. This facilitates representational support for
how it became possible at all, psychically speaking, for feminist
interest in women artists to have emerged. In Differencing another
the phantasmic scene in which that which is the other

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WHITHER ART HISTORY? ļg

woman - the m/Other and the Mother - acquires desirability institutionalization of an indicative and provisional narrative
for what they have done, thought, and made.41 Both Silver- as the only narrative of feminism and the history of art, the
man and Ettinger, in different formulations, remind us thatstory of waves, or of two generations - and of American ver-
to change the psychic economy of our disciplines, we must sus British art historical tendencies, culturalist/essentialist ver-
want to know differently: that is, phallocentric models of
sus theoretical/poststructuralist/postmodernist oppositions -
remains the "truth" that most students now receive and hence
desire and psychological formations can inhibit the desire
for knowledge of what has been rendered by them undesir- confuse with a much more interesting and infinitely more
able as the figure of identification and idealization. complex history that bears very litde relation to these recur-
Feminism can be understood as a rewriting of desire, under- ring tropes of generations, waves, and theoretical oppositions.
pinned by fascinance. When I listen to papers given at the Annual Conference of
Furthermore, when, as Spivak suggests, we use gender as a the College Art Association or meet with prospective gradu-
thinking machine, we can also see that gender as symbolic ate students from all over who wish to study feminist art his-
orchestrator of asymmetrical difference and valuation colo- tory and theory, I encounter such profound distortions
nizes all manner of relations of difference - class, ethnic, presented as unquestionable historical truths that I can only
colonial, geopolitical, and so on - rendering only one figure once again turn to my psychoanalytic resources to explain
the icon of desirably narcissistic identification and theologi- this unconsciously repeated symptom. Not quite a murder-
cal worship. Because of the damage done by dominative ous impulse, reducing the complexity, intellectual brilliance,
orders of class, race, colonialism, homophobia, and more, and ethical beauty of a vast world landscape of feminist crea-
self-defense against the disabling hegemony of white mascu- tivity in, and feminist thought about, art to reductive, opposi-
linity, leads othered, wounded masculinities to invest in phal- tional categories effectively kills thinking with it.
lic identification. They themselves find it hard to The British sociologist Claire Hemmings studied the trends
accommodate to being one with other undesirable and in the writing of the history of feminist theory in the social sci-
unidealizable artist-subjects, such as women. ences, published as Why Stońes Matter : The Political Grammar of
What has come of all this exploration into the discursiveFeminist Theory.42 Hemmings discerned three recurring narra-
formation and psychic investments that shape the larger or tives - progress, loss, return - at work across the current his-
deeper structures of art historical thinking? I would answer: toricization of feminist scholarship. Each narrative dealt with
very little. I see very little real impact of such feminist writingthe positions and trajectories of the field since the 1970s in
across the discipline. Undoubtedly, there is some, respectful ways that reflected differences in the politics and investments
at best, superficial at worst, acknowledgment of the feministin moments that were seen as progressive (from simple cultur-
project. Personal respect for the scholars who have forwardedalism to theoretically sophisticated posts true turalism), oblitera-
it is also evident, but often without deeper engagement withtive (genuine activism to arcane theoreticism) , or measured
the continuous unfolding of each intellectual project or the return (through integration of aspects of what the other two
overall project of feminist thinking itself. Feminism is morenarratives represented as either progress or loss). In Art His-
often confined to an author name rather than being grasped tory, too, we generally write histories of recent trends through
as many different sets of ideas that need to be worked our differencing affiliations. The progress narrative welcomes
through, digested, and even integrated in all scholarship.the critical turns toward theorizing difference and social, femi-
The mul tisi ted and internally agonistic feminist critique's nist, queer, and postcolonial studies. The loss narrative decries
demand on the hegemonic practices of Art History radically such theoreticist interference in a unifying activist orientation
to take on board the analytic interpretations of the neurotic and a focus on women's agency. The reconcilers would fudge
knots and the political unconscious of the discipline has the real agonism of the historical irruption of change, mixing
been ignored or, I would even suggest, repressed. As I surveyand matching.
the current field, I do not see evidence of the discipline Since the later 1980s feminists have produced such histori-
allowing itself to be changed in any way that has renderedcizations, some as review articles in, for instance, this journal
normal such a critical reading of its disciplinary formation. (Thalia Gouma Peterson and Patricia Mathews, 1987), others
Labeling it as "feminist," and by this naming, setting it asideby means of exhibitions (such as WACK! Art and the Feminist
while appearing to acknowledge its presence, refuses theRevolution or Global Feminisms , 2007) .43 These nongeographic
feminist transformation of the practice of Art History to thecartographies - namely, attempts at making sense of a com-
point at which gender and sexual difference would becomeplex field of actions, many singular while sharing a common
part and parcel of our thinking operations rather than a spe-inspiration of the women's movement and expanding femi-
cial case, an addition, something with which those "feminists" nist thinking - seek to impose grids of meaning by date, by
occupy themselves. place, by category, by thematics. Yet no artist makes art in
Put in simple terms, the idolatry (of the artist) deep withinorder to belong within such grids, to be like anyone else even
Art History has resisted and repressed the critical iconoclasmif there are implicit conversations laterally and historically
of feminist and other interventions. Worse, I have recently that foster the making of art. Something gets lost in the
begun to notice how pathetically inadequate what is pre-gridding up. The factors that enable sustaining conversations
sented or taught as the "feminist" intervention in art or thebetween creative singularities, artists, are indeed to be found,
history of art has been. Both androcentric and feminist art but in nondeterminate ways, in social, material, economic,
histories are creating for feminism what I can only name a historical, and cultural conditions better teased out in close
bad memory. Despite the energetic attempts of many femi- reading and case study.44 So what would happen if we did
nist scholars from left and right to shift the academic not create categories such as feminism, feminist art, or even

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20 ART bulletin march 2014 VOLUME xcvi number 1

conferences, journals, conversations, and teaching. We were


feminist art history, but considered the problematics that cer-
tain artists or art historians consider significant to work on
trying, book by book, article by article, conference by confer-
and with, or if we tried to track the informing and enabling ence, reading group by reading group, to work out massively
difficult issues with considerable implications for the nature
debates and then read the specific works (artistic or analytic)
of our studies. Alliances and constellations formed and
that have been created for what they were doing ; for the effects
they had strategically in the spaces and places in which theyreshaped, fed by many sources that each generated ca
reading and subsequent debate. What might in retros
intervened, rather than endlessly seeking to fit them in as the
icons of a named artist or group that reductively illustrate have been all swept up into narratives of either progress
the imposed art historical grid and categorization? loss were experienced by the participants as constantly c
Let me give one example. A student who approached me lenging new possibilities opening up long-term projects.
because she had become interested in the "conflicts between own experience of the reading groups, the debates, the s
Marxism and Feminism in the early 1970s" recently magazines
inter- that circulated them, and the encounter
viewed me. She had a T. J. Clark-Pollock bun fight in mind,
artists often leading the field in such debates and in crit
awareness
that is to say, that the thinking of different art historians, their of the trends and stakes in both art and the world
has informed my own art historical understanding of the
conversations, shared concerns, and differentiating argument
had been iconized as two author names set in rank "-ismic"
necessity for careful reading of the conditions under which
any practices emerged and my own deep resistance to the
opposition. To begin with, these terms marxism and feminism
are not helpful for grasping what was happening in Art His-
-ism mentality as a mode of making sense of either artistic or
tory in Britain in the 1970s. Feminism was not an -ism thinking
yet. I practices. Armed with the -ism, the student merely
was active in the women's movement , which is how we under-
sees what confirms that designation and misses the work
stood our moment in about 1970 to 1980. The movement in involved or the problematic being worked through , perhaps
Britain had little use for artists and certainly none for artbadly.
his- Instead of entirely returning to the historiographical
project of trying to understand historical events without
torians. Art was hardly relevant to this intensely political strug-
knowing
gle rewriting every aspect of everyday life. But as I was then in what happened next, we need to suspend the habit
the process of becoming an art historian, the feminist ques-
of retrospective gridding, even while we use every tool in the
bag
tion of gender in art and art history presented itself to me forof historical research methods and reading skills to think
investigation in my "everyday" workplace: the academy. Itabout
was what artworks and art practices in their extended con-
ditions do.
obvious to ask: Were/are there women artists? But what would
it mean to discover them, and then, further, to make sense Some
of argue that this phrasing should always be in the pres-
ent tense. I agree that art is always doing - working in the
how and why their traces had been erased so recently while
also finding ways to write about them without making thempresent. This is the paradox. When, for instance, is Vermeer?
The works, we know, were physically made in a situated, tem-
the negative cipher to "the artist"? What would Art History
become if we dared it to think inclusively? porally precise practice in mid-seventeenth-century Delft. Yet
At the same time, dissatisfaction with a reductive formalist
if we understand art in the sense of its continuous performa-
tivity, the work as art happens every time a painting by Ver-
approach, which was not a critically understood formalism,
led me to an impassioned reading of certain books that meer is encountered by a viewer. The historicist tries to bind
appeared as lifelines as I struggled to find a way to be an"Vermeer"
art to the time-space of production and the identity
historian. One of these, written by T.J. Clark, reclaimed ofand
the artist that such historical precision creates. But paint-
ing creates its own time-space that cannot thus be confined,
redefined an already existing, prewar social-historical prac-
tice in Art History that had been displaced by a postwar, although it is interesting, for specifically art historical pur-
depoli ticized formalism. The point about Clark's book poses,
that to ask how its first viewers saw each work and in what
mattered was that it recharged art historical research withconditions such a practice had become possible. The capacity
not to be confined in time is indeed part of what makes
intellectually rich debates about complex relations between
the historical and the formal. Social History of Art was never
painting painting, both historically as an event in Western art
and in its capacity continuously to occur in viewings far
antiform, never purely iconographie, never subject-oriented
removed from the moment and place of emergence.
instead of being formalist. Clark's Social History of Art set
about to inquire how we could understand the modernistThose who would use only a present tense introduce a
negotiations between experience and form, the mediations
semiotic capacity that is part of the work's presence as pres-
performed in art between history and ideology by meansentness.
of At the same time, those of us historically engaged
procedures, materials, and effects. Such questions werewithout
as being historicists also want to wonder about that
other question: What made this artwork possible at that
necessary to forging a historical and. historical-materialist
thinking about gender relations and their /ormulation as theymoment of its emergence, and what might knowing this tell
us even now as we encounter its continuous working, about
were about thinking about racialization and its effects as they
were for Clark to think about class relations and their aes- that otherness of its generative elsewhere in time and space?
thetic inscriptions on both making and responding to History,art. As I suggest, offers neither anteriority for the work nor
various strands opened up with common purposes mere succession
across of cause-effect events. I define it as both sin-

film, photography, and art history, queer, postcolonial, gularity


and (its own time-space) and an enriching alterity (differ-
feminist as well as social historical projects, there wereence
richfrom that of the scholar or viewer) . The configuration
of factors
exchanges as well as serious arguments. It was not a matter of within which a Catholic convert called Johannes
camps and identities, but debates sustained across Vermeer sat to paint day after day in oil on smallish canvases

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WHITHER ART HISTORY? 21

and panels in a small town in the newly formed, predomi- produces a caricature that effectively empties its intellectual
nantly Protestant Dutch mercantile republic, linked through contribution to the discipline's evolving present. Moreover,
trade and travel to other centers of entirely differently config- identifying it with gender, often understood as synonymous
ured artistic production, cultural and political memory, does with women - a gender category that does not really impli-
interest me sufficiently to seek to find a means of holding cate all within and across gendering - ensures that feminist
together what is happening in any painting when I view it thought and practice have become as unloved, undesirable,
and what made it possible for that happening to have become uninteresting, and unexciting as I suggested "women" to be
possible at the moment it was made. in the overall structure of the psychologically androcentric
To the inquiring student studying the tension between and sexist habits of the discipline as a whole.
marxism versus feminism in the 1970s, I responded by draw-
ing a scene of informal, overlapping, yet combative communi-
ties animated by a shared necessity to shift the paradigms we A Moment of Reckoning
had received without betraying the continuing efficacies, con- Far from being in any position to propose new directions or
ditions of existence, or even still unharvested potentials of a to concur that Art History is currently lost or going some-
field, Art History, that impassioned us. We never imagined where else, I have been arguing for a moment of reckoning
that we were conforming to some future movement; we were with where it has been, for its immensely rich history in the
engaged in debates and thinking about art and history. Ironi- last fifty years. Why, I am asking, is the memory of Art History
cally imposing the concept of a movement precisely stops so selective, so faulty, so self-des true tive, so continuously
movement, loses track of the moves, shifts, returns, losses of repressive of some of its most radical, even recent moments?
focus, recovered threads, arguments, accumulating outcomes, What modes of thinking close down or bowdlerize major ele-
long-term fidelities, and so fortjh. I cannot recognize anything ments of its own historiography? I have posed this psychoana-
of my own memories of becoming an art historian engaged lytically, since that is the historical, modernist thinking
with major challenges to the discipline in the reductive, banal, machine for the study of desire, the unconscious, and phan-
stifling grids that are now being passed on to students in the tasy. I have also insisted on the integration of social-historical
surveys and handbooks that furthermore wither and homoge- and feminist, postcolonial and queer art historical reading
nize very distinct intellectual projects under one banner, femi- practices rather than their segregated categorization, some
nism, or make feminism the site of simplified oppositions and still hot, others deadly cold.
antagonisms to other equally impoverished -isms. Perhaps this I think we need to place the problem of any kind of think-
might explain my use of the neologism "thinking machine" ing in relation to the conditions of our immediate history, its
for theoretical and historiographical resources. It signals my material, economic, and political configurations to which we
resistance to confinement by category and my desire to stress are answerable even while they both shape the possibilities
the endless work of thinking itself. and determine blockages for our work as critical intellectuals.
The impulse to make Art History intelligible as a subject The tension between the discipline and the field it invents,
to prospective students and interested readers performs, to charts, and possibly deforms through its historically gener-
my mind, a terrible distortion. Various -isms are invented; ated and politically effecting protocols requires a double per-
individuals become the icons of ideas, not the changing spective that can draw on the otherness of history to make
producers of bodies of evolving thought. Diversity and visible the lineaments of the present and to use the urgencies
debate become tabulated as oppositions or developments, of the present to elucidate new aspects of the otherness of
initiation or supersession. Under the category of feminism, the historical.

radically different intellectual projects by so many creative While writing an impassioned plea for a closer reading and
thinkers and scholars agonistically differentiated across real understanding of, if not digestion of and transformation
class, ethnicity, sexuality, and able-bodiedness, working con- by, our recent intellectual past in the discipline and its vigor-
sistently and evolving over forty to sixty years, are frozen in ous critical debates around difference, I realize that we face
perhaps even more desperate difficulties as the arts and
time, reduced either to concurrent "positions" or to sequen-
ces of Oedipal generations summarized in a few lines. The humanities are brutally marginalized by policies exclusively
student or reader becomes spectator to a kind of intellec- valuing technological and narrowly defined economically
tual bear pit. Art History claims all of us as merely its inci- useful education.45 "Wither Art History!" might be closer to
dents, some considered the backbone, others the sideshows what our governments are effectively saying. In Britain, Art
to be allusively mentioned in typifying categories and the History, an already small and relatively young discipline, is
bunching of names. Those of us identified with the dynamic deeply threatened as a university subject by current govern-
field of "feminism" hence *do not appear under general ment policies that are reducing student numbers, closing
methodological thinkers, or in the sections on the postcolo- down degrees, and leaving brilliant graduate students jobless.
nial, the queer, the social historical, despite the urgency Maybe we, too, will soon be history, but one I hope that
with which, for my part, I consider myself constantly chal- might remain a resource for thinking, if only the history of
lenged to engage with all of these major questions in what- art's histories that Art History allows us to know becomes gen-
ever I do. uinely inclusive and seriously respectful: embracing the chal-
Finally, I think the manner in which feminism is isolated lenge of planetary thinking and its urgent, humanistic
and demoted from being an equal participant in and inflec- defense of reading to learn difference rather than succumb-
ing to globalizing massification managed through reductive
tor of the larger questions of authorship, textuality, sociality,
subjectivity, reading, history, meaning, practice, and so on categorization.

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22 ART bulletin march 2014 VOLUME xcvi number 1

Gńselda Pollock is professor of Social and Crìtical Histories of Art


14. Griselda Pollock, Vision and Difference, and idem, Avant-garde Gambits: Gen-
der and the Colour of Art History (London: Thames and Hudson, 1993).
and director of the Centre for Cultural Analysis, Theory and History ,
15. While some readers will recognize these "concepts" as coinciding with
at the University of Leeds. Her most recent publication is After-
titles of books, it is important to stress that these titles mark a conceptual
Affects/After-Images: Trauma and Aesthetic Transformation field rather than a theme and are intended to become concepts with
(2013); The Nameless Artist: Charlotte Salomon's "Leben? which to work, beyond the book in which they are introduced, in creating
a constantly emerging feminist project.
oder Theater?" 1941-42 is forthcoming [School of Fine Art ,
16. Griselda Pollock, Encounters in the Virtual Feminist Museum: Time, Space and
History of Art and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 the Archive (London: Routledge, 2007); and idem, After-Affects / After-images:
9JT, U.K., g.f.s.pollock@leeds.ac.uk]. Trauma and Aesthetic Transformation in the Virtual Feminist Museum
(Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press, 2013).
17. I use "moment" in conscious contradistinction to disciplinary Art Histo-
ry's categorization of time into period and art into movement. Moments
Notes indicate a different concept of temporality deeply derived from the lega-
cies of Walter Benjamin, who was in turn drawn to the kind of cultural
thinking developing around Warburg and his library. Benjamin used
1. Griselda Pollock, "Unexpected Turns: The Aesthetic, the Pathetic and
terms such as "constellation" to think about conjunctions and relations.
the Adversarial in the Longue Durée of Art's Histories," Journal of Art Histo-
His still fragmentary thoughts are assembled in one of his last manu-
riography 7 (December 2012), http://arthistoriography.files.wordpress
scripts, "On the Concept of History" (1940), published as "Theses on the
.com/ 20 1 2/ 1 2/pollock.pdf.
Philosophy of History," in Illuminations, trans. Harry Zohn, ed. Hannah
2. For a profoundly important discussion of the logic of supersession in theArendt (London: Fontana, 1970), 255-66.
formation of a Christian imaginary to displace the coevali ty of Judaism
18. For the distinction between the Holocaust and "the concentrationary,"
and its recurrence in modern theory, including psychoanalysis, see
see Griselda Pollock and Max Silverman, eds., Concentrationary Memories
Kathleen Biddick, The Typological Imaginary: Circumcision, Technology, His-
(London: I. B. Tauris, 2013). See also Griselda Pollock, "From Horrorism
tory (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003).
to Compassion: Refacing Medusan Otherness with Adriana Cavarero and
3. Zygmunt Bauman, Liquid Modernity (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000). Bracha Ettinger," in Visual Politics of Psychoanalysis: Art & the Image in Post-
4. Exploring the political ambiguity of the term "postmodernism," Hal Fos- Traumatic Cultures (London: I. B. Tauris, 2013), 159-98.
ter identified contradictory tendencies. One form of postmodernism 19. wasThe Freudian concept, also variously translated as deferred action, refers
conservative, antimodern, seeing the postmodern as the escape back to the relay between an event that happens but cannot yet be assimilated,
from the modern to tradition in some form. The other tendency was criti- and is therefore traumatic, and a later occurrence that may inherit the
cal postmodernism seeing itself as a reckoning with both the contradic- surcharge of unassimilated affect associated with the earlier trauma. That
tions and betrayals of the modern and a critical exploration of its event, however, comes to exist in this secondary situation, creating the
unfinished business. Hal Foster, "Postmodernism: A Preface," in The Anti-paradox of an originary repetition. Freudian thought thus curves time
Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture (Port Townsend, Wash.: Bay Press, back on itself while conceptually holding two events apart. Thus, it is not
1983), ix-xvi. merely a sense of persistence or survival, but reanimation of still-charged
5. Let me clarify my terms. Art History refers to the institution and disci- event or memory by its reconstellation with a later moment that both
pline that studies a field, the history of art. My feminist and postcolonial needs and inherits this earlier freight of affect. At times this relation can
intervention challenges the hegemony of androcentric and Eurocentric be regressive; at other times it is a renewal. For Warburg, as for Freud, the
Art History by positing a plurality of histories, art's histories, still being analytic question is, in a sense, always "political." On Nachträglichkeit, see
written or being made. Griselda Pollock, Vision and Difference: Feminism, Jean Laplanche, "Notes on Afterwardness," in Essays on Otherness
Femininities and the Histories of Art (1988; classic edition with new preface, (London: Routledge, 1999), 260-65.
London: Routledge, 2003). 20. Meyer Schapiro, "The Nature of Abstract Art," Marxist Quarterly (January-
6. Sigrid Schade, Schadenzauber und die Magie des Körpers: Hexenbilder der March 1937): 77-98, reprinted in Schapiro, Modern Art: Selected Papers
frühen Neuzeit (Worms: Werner, 1983). (New York: George Braziller, 1996), 185-211. On the cover of Alfred
Barr's exhibition catalog Cubism and Abstract Art is a diagrammatic repre-
7. Sylvia Federici, Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accu-
sentation of the origins of modern art in the work of four masters: Paul
mulation (New York: Autonomedia, 2004).
Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Georges Seurat, and Vincent van Gogh. From
8. A major debate in the 1970s was focused by American feminist economist them flow arrows clustering in major movements such as Cubism and
Heidi Hartmann in "The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism: leading ultimately to geometric and nongeometric abstraction via various
Towards a More Progressive Union," Capital and Class 3, no. 2 (1979): 1-33. minor movements. The chart creates a destiny for modern art. It is a bril-
9. Griselda Pollock, "Aby Warburg and 'Thinking Jewish' in Modernity," in liant conceptualization, ordering the chaos of competing coteries and
Thinking Jewish Modernity, ed. Jacques Picard et al. (Basel: University of groupings into a logic that is not without its insight into and relevance to
Basel Press, 2013). one interpretation of the trajectory in art of the early twentieth century.
Social historians of art have repeatedly used this diagrammatic cover as a
10. The concept of a thinking machine is intended to move us on from intel-
kind of shorthand for what they oppose. This shortchanges Barr's
lectual histories of ideas or great thinkers and to treat a practice, or a
achievement historiographically and often fails to pierce the deeper sig-
body of work, as a complex set of resources for thinking through specific
nificance of what is thus occluded and, more important, why evident ele-
problems. The concept is partially indebted to the philosophical inter-
ments of the complexity of modern art and its many participants were
ventions of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, who sought to shift thought
rendered invisible and unintelligible by Barr's schema. Schapiro's coun-
from psychologism and to suggest instead a series of "machines," such as
ternarrative, and his politically acute analysis of abstraction as the out-
desiring machines, the literary machine, to which I am adding a thinking
come of a logic relating to contemporary capitalism, its alienations and its
machine. The stress falls on the assemblage of which any one site or per-
son is an element and focuses on combinations and connections rather imaginative oppositions, did not, in contrast, become as hegemonic as
than discrete entities.
that which, in Barr's model, made social and political foundations of
modernism unimaginable.
11. Evonne Levy, "The Political Project of Wölfflin's Early Formalism," Octo-
ber, no. 139 (Winter 2012): 39-58. 21. For a superb history of the national formations of the discipline in
Europe, see Matthew Rampley et al., Art History and Visual Studies in
12. I am capitalizing Real and Symbolic in the tradition of Jacques Lacan 's Europe: Transnational Discourses and National Frameworks (Leiden: Brill,
vocabulary. The Real is the zone of trauma, in which the protosubject is 2012).
affected without the means to process incoming events, and the Symbolic is
the zone of thought and words. Warburg clearly did not use such concepts,Robert Nelson, "The Map of Art History," Art Bulletin 79, no. 1 (1997):
22.
28-40.
but I feel that in his pressing at the limits of a prepsychoanalytic explora-
tion of subjectivity and the psychological history of die image, his work 23. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Death of a Discipline (New York: Columbia
finds useful clarification in Lacan 's formulations of an unthought affective University Press, 2003). The book is the published form of the Welleck
zone and a zone of affects transformed into thought. The Symbolic capital-Library Lectures in Critical Theory delivered in 2000 at the University of
ized differentiates a zone or register of signification and subjectivity from California, Irvine.
the normal understanding of something being symbolic in semiotic terms.
24. Ibid., 72.
13. Rosalind Krauss, The Optical Unconscious (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press,
25. Ibid.
1994). She is referencing Walter Benjamin, "A Small History of Photo-
graphy," in One Way Street and Other Essays, trans. Edmond Jephcott and26. Bracha Ettinger, "Fragilization and Resistance," in Fragilization and Resis-
Kingsley Storey (London: Verso Books, 1979), 240. tance (Helsinki: Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, 2009), 97-134.

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WHITHER ART HISTORY? 23

27. Spivak, Death of a Discipline, 72-73. 39. Griselda Pollock, Differencing the Canon: Feminist Desire and the Writing of
28. On Ettinger's thesis about art working, see Pollock, After-Affects / After- Art's Histories (London: Roudedge, 1999); and Bracha Ettinger,
"Fascinance and the Girl-to-m/Other Matrixial Feminine Difference," in
images, 1-36.
Psychoanalysis and the Image: Transdisciplinary Perspectives, ed. Griselda Pol-
29. Sigmund Freud, "The Uncanny" ("Das Unheimliche," 1919), in Art and lock (Boston: Blackwell, 2006), 60-93.
Literature, Penguin Freud Library, vol. 14 (Harmondsworth, U.K.: Pen-
guin Books, 1990), 339-76. 40. Sigmund Freud, "Femininity," in New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis
(1933), Penguin Freud Library, vol. 2 (Harmondsworth, U.K.: Penguin
30. Spivak, Death of a Discipline, 74. Books, 1973), 153.
31. Teresa de Lauretis, "Sexual Indifference and Lesbian Representation," 41. Kaja Silverman, "The Fantasy of the Maternal Voice," in The Acoustic Mir-
Theatre Journal AO, no. 2 (1988): 155-77, reprinted in de Lauretis, Figures ror: The Female Voice in Psychoanlaysis and Cinema (Bloomington: Indiana
of Resistance: Essays in Feminist Theory (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, University Press, 1988), 119-24.
2007), 48-71.
42. Claire Hemmings, Why Stories Matter: The Political Grammar of Feminist The-
32. Spivak, Death of a Discipline, 91. ory (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2010). I am grateful to Rachel
33. Ibid., 101. Theobalds for bringing this book to my attention.
34. Rozsika Parker and Griselda Pollock, Old Mistresses : Women, Art and Ideol- 43. Thalia Gouma Peterson and Patricia Mathews, "The Feminist Critique of
ogy (London: Routledge, Kegan Paul, 1981; reprint, London: Pandora Art," Art Bulletin 63, no. 9 (1987): 326-57. For critical responses, see Norma
Books, 1993; London: I. B. Tauris, 2013). Broude and Mary Garrard, "An Exchange on the Feminist Critique of Art
History," Art Bulletin 71, no. 1 (March 1989): 124-27; and Griselda Pollock,
35. Griselda Pollock, "Artists, Mythologies and Media: Genius, Madness and
Art History," Screen 21, no. 3 (1980): 57-96. "Generations and Geographies: The Politics of Theory and the Histories of
Art," Genders, no. 17 (Fall 1993): 97-120, reprinted in Generations and Geog-
36. Griselda Pollock, "Agency and the Avant-Garde: Studies in Authorship by raphies in the Visual Arts: Feminist Readings (London: Roudedge, 1996), 3-21.
Way of Van Gogh," Block 15 (1989): 5-15, reprinted in Fred Orton and Cornelia Buder et al., WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution (Cambridge,
Pollock, Avant-Gardes and Partisans Reviewed (Manchester, U.K.: Manches- Mass.: MIT Press, 2007); and Maura Reilly and Linda Nochlin, Global
ter University Press, 1996), 315-42. Feminisms: New Directions in Contemporary Art (New York: Merrell, 2007) .
37. In certain periods without authorship or even the concept of art as post- 44. As an aside, I was once impressed by Marcia Pointon's project for a first-
eighteenth-century aesthetics formulates it, art history has nonetheless year survey course in Art History at Manchester University focusing on
tended to organize images under projected authorship by inventing centers of artistic production, thus favoring a mode of study that was
Masters of the Good-Enough Manuscript. The example is taken from localized in palimpsestic situations of overlapping time and space, contin-
Frederick (Frigyes) Antal (student of Wölfflin and Max Dvorak), gency, and possibility. Cities or small or even virtual communities linked
"Remarks on the Method of Art History" (1949), in Classicism and Roman- by communication systems become enabling centers for artistic practices
ticism: With Other Studies in Art History (London: Harper and Row, 1973), that give precedence to the event, what happened there and its networks,
175-89. rather than to making what happened exemplary of a larger spatial and
temporal narrative: national history, school, -ism.
38. I drew on the detailed study of Freud's aesthetics by Sarah Kofman, The
Childhood of Art, trans. Winifred Woodhull (New York: Columbia Univer-45. Griselda Pollock, "Saying No! Profligacy versus Austerity, or Metaphor
sity Press, 1988), esp. 1-21. The specific comments on biographers are in against Model in Justifying the Arts and Humanities in the
Sigmund Freud, "Leonardo da Vinci and a Memory of His Childhood," in Contemporary University," European Journal of Popular Cultured, no. 1
Freud, Art and Literature, 223. (2012): 87-104.

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