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Farewell to an Idea

Episodes from a History of Modernism

T.J . Clark
In this ir1ll'nSl" farrl'<1c hing,;mu poignant h""k -a honk
that lip thl' wurk "fa lifetime-the ,Ut historian
T.]. Cbrk rncrilcs thl." historr of modern ;1rt. Wi t h th., fall
"fthl' lkriin Wall, h., explains.
<II pres.'1lI thaI thC' projC<:1 calk-d sociali sm has
com!.' f(J an .'nd, roughl y at till" same mnlUCIll '"
11;"1\'1." modemisill ,md sCKialism dil'd
tngcth.'r? And diJrhclwonfthcm J cpcnJollc:lI: h nThcr
fnr lif,'-fortheirsl'mcof rhc fmurc, their wish w lin." in
a full y mawrial \\'orl d? Not fhnchingfrnm moderni sm's
dangers ,UlJ hl ind spots, but passional"1}, ,Ifl K h,'d 10 the
11l0\'Cllll' 11I 'S wildness, Cl ark pnscs thcSl' funJaml'nr;11
lI m"lions to th., cul ture and pnli ri<:s ufthe P,I,t rwo
Clark argues in F<lr(,II'('1I In ,III I.{"", an
eSHl'nll' answer to an estreme cun.li rinn - rh., on.' :\lax
\'\'dx'r sU1lluwd up in the phrase Mthe diwllCh;mtmcnt of
rhe worl d. M Clark focuses on in,t aIKC'S of maximum
srrc", ar whk h thl' mOHl11cnt rCI'ca1rd ir, true IMrur.,. Hi,
hook l",gins wi th j;\(ljues l.nuis David, pa intingar th.
height of till' Terror in 1793, thl'n leaps forward to
l'i ss<1rro a hundr.'rJ )'l'ars larer, , rruggling 10 r klu r.' ' fiFO
YO/III}: /'/', '$,1111 \'(10 111 ('11 in a wa y that 'lgr.'cd wi th his
;111;m:hi, t poli rics. Next rhe Juthnr ru rn<; in sLII.'I'e>si"n 10
Cb,annc\ paint ings of rhe Gr,mdrs liui}:II('lIsrs JnJ rh"l r
coinddclKl' in time (and mayoe infl'ntinn ) wir h Frcud's
i;ulIIching nf psychoanalysis; to the crucial Yl'ars of
l'ic;lsso'sCuhisl11;and lO avant'gardearrin It ussiaaft,'r
rhl' nol,hcvik RCI'olUlion. Cl Jrk concludes wirh a rcadi ng
of I'ollock\ rr;lgic \'crsion of ah,traction and propmes a
nl'W scI Ilfrl'rl11s to dcscrihe;l\amg.lrdc;lrt-pnhJps in
itsfin'll nmwring- in;\cwYork aft,;r 194,S,Shifting
bl'tween hroad,spccu lar iH hi srnrraIlJl'ivid Jl'srripli on
o( , pl'cifie' works, Cl.lrk not nl1ly t ran,figure, our U';ual
ullde'rst;1I1J ingofmodnn;lrt, he also l;l UllChl'<; a ncw , .'t
nfprnpos;1 ls ahout modernity itse' lf.
Copyr igh, t) ' 999 byT.J. CI .. k
All r.,...,rve<!
Thi,l>ooI< nuv ""' ix-roproducr<i In wnolc Or in p.r<.
in .ny form liley""d ,h><copYlngpcrmine<! by
St.."Tion. ' 07. "d lOS of ,hr U.s.C".opyrigh' u w
and rxcrp' bv rov;' w,,, for 'he
wi,hou, ",,i,,<n permi .. i<>n irom,hrpuhli.h."
Prinredi nSing.poro
LibroryofCO<1gn: .. c..,aloginginPublication Data
CIJrk. T.J ..
' 0 3n ide. : <pi",><Ies from a history of modrmi.m I T. J.
p. em.
1", lud .. biblioguph;"al ",fr",occ. . ndindrx

I . Mod<rni,m lru' ( I. Tit le
N6490.C)8 ' 999
Acat.k>su< rordfor,hi,book i, ... iI.blr from
Thr Briti'h library
NOT., Dilf'k."l1.ion of illu .. ""ion ... , givt'n in

Paint;ng;n ,he Year l
J Freud's Gizanne
4 Cubism and Colle<;tiv;ry ,<,
j God Is No! Cast Down
6 The Unhappy Consciousne,.
7 In Defense 01 Abu.ac'! Exp, ... ;oni,m
Photograph Cr. dit,
I n I;'" of ",roung 'his book, J was ]""ky (0
Memorial Naflon,,] End" .... mcn. fur l ilt
R(snrch Fdlowd,ip. and " Universit y of D hfu,O''' ' ,.siden!',
on !he Hun'anu;..... I am gratdul for all At"w(' all J
wanl [0 .hank the Un,vcn;ity "fCaliforma, Brrkdty for ... ,.,ppon, in
,he form of ' .... 0 Humanities Rcscarrll Fellowships. and cu, ... mly a Chancdlo,'s
Prof""",,,,,h'p.Tht book c(HJid 11(>1 Mvei>renoonewj,houl them.
Some of ,he book's Chaplers ha"t appeared prrvioll,ly in preliminary form.
Cllaplen; J and) are .t'o'iKd and expanded from my -PJiming in Ihe Year
Two," R<'Presemallon., 47 (Summer '994) and - F",ud', .. nne,- Rep,esm-
lations, 51 (Fall '99')' Chapter 7 'lich bidy dose 10 my "In Ddens.e of
Ab,tract Expre .. ionis ll1 ," OclolNr, 69 (Summer [994). Ch'pler 6 is on
my Pollock's in Gui]baU!, RecOmlrHc/j"t:
Modernism (Camblidge, Ma$l. and London, ''1'10).
a hook tr;.., 10 1"'11 Ihe work and leoehing of ,hr dade.,
3. one does. if i. obviously impossible to Ihank all who hdped along
way. I have acknowlcdgW specIfic dcb<$, Ch3Plcr by chapte., in tloc fOOf-
RIM are o,hu., of a mo..., general and pervasiye kind. 1M group of
colleagues I h:.d at tloc Uniyersuy of Luds - in paniculu Teny AI]"MOn. Fred
Onon, and I'ollock - helped "'ape my ,hinkHlg abour mO(k,nism in
fundarmnfal ways. 1M fnends made th.ough Mon."" Engel \ and l.eo Marx's
...,ading group in DoMon kepi thot booI<', qucsl io .... ahe al a Jiflk,,]1 moment.
Hrre in Ikrkeky. individual. a.oocia,ed wilh b in and Rttort _ espe-
Jim Brook, Chi< Dabby, Jo ... p), Matthew. , Sani)'Qt Mehend.le. Dick
.. v.maner.d, a nd helpcd. in all
OriS of ways. So h""e Jenny and Grei ] Marcu$. r $h,,11 always thankful to
Gui ]baU! for goading me infO wriTing on Pol lock, something I waS
thoroughly afraid of doing. Gai l did much the sam. in the of
El l i"itzky. Pat.i<;" !:Ioye Anna Indych. Petet Kirk VMnedoe. Gabriel
Wei.btrg.andJuli.Wolf .... .
P"rricular l1:adings. comnwnrs, and criTicisms from Goroli"" 1\.s.:Oft. Yve-Abin
1Iois, Benjamin Buo:hloh, Thomas CtOW, Whitney Davis, B"gid Ouheny. Hal
Foster. Franci. F."..:ina, <:ha. ks Kia .. , How".d Lay,
Michael uia. John O'Bnan, Pons, Shaw, L ..... Tlo:kne., Kath.yn
Tl1ma, j ona.han WeinMfi, Chmnlphe. \1:'000:1, .\l3.n,n Young, memben of
R'PreU""'tlllOlIf edlTOfiall>o;ord, remain in my mind a. f.,,,,(ul. '",fn the.e
has e,," nlp'" of Mi<hae! Fried. My (oomol .. tell part of the $lory: time
and again nyu thf yu.s, picTures in
his rea."1ions to what I had " .. I'IY in kel ure or article form, p"shed my
thinking forward and me of what writing aboul painting i, abour. His
opposirion nas be.: n True friendship
and wn'!r""ive-he and Ann Banfield have made Ikrkel.y a o.Uer plac . (l
promise, Mike. to read Andrey ilirly". 51. Petersburg Ont nf these day1.) Donald
Nicholson-SmilhgaV'lhe whole hook a real goingover, of ,he kind I've come
rorrlyon. Hr has been a friend,a ,nuchS!nne. in good timrs and bad - withn u,
him there would not have o.enennugh laughter.nd.ngerin the world.
I want!C> thank those at Yal< Universi ty Pre .. who worked hard ro l urn an
unwirldy manus<"rip, into a hook - Laura Church, Sheila Lee. Sally
Nicholls, and Abby Waldman. Aho,'" ail, I am ro Gillian Malpass, my
Ni tor, whose enThusia.m for the hook really manered, and whose palience and
ene rgydrovr ,he whole process On.
Finall)" the reading, and th. fri.ndship, ,hal alway. wenT deepen -to the
hea" of ,he ma"", - was Anne Wagner' . This hook is hers through and
through; though I know ,h. will want ro shMe i, wi,h Sam, Hannah. and Ruby
Clark. Moderni.m is nul exactly a cherry bur looking ar it in ,his
company-ma)beevendefending i'lo,hiscompany-ha.beenagoodcurefor
modernl if .
Gcbroo:.:henaufdcm Bodeo liegen rings
Portale, Giebeldikher mi,Skulpturen,
Wo IV'en",h und Tier vcrmisch., Cen,aur und Sphinx,
Satyr,Chimii,.., - Fabduitngu,cn
.culpturos,/Wh.rr men and animaisare mixed, cent.ur and
icgcnJ"ypaSl .j
Hcinc, "Fiir dicMouchc"
Fora longtime,writingthisbook,l hada wa)' ofbcginning it in mind.
1 wamcd to imagine modernism unearthed by some fmure archaeologist, in the
form of a handful of left over from a holocaust that had
ullcriy wipt;d om the pi,,,.,' -their hiswry, t!, c family of languages they
belonged 10, all IraCe, of a built environment, I wanted Adnlph Menzel'.
Moltk e' Binoculars (fig. 2) to have survived; and John Heartlicld'. A Neul Man
- Master of a New World (lig. 3); and Picasso's Italian Woman llig. 4); and
Ka,i mir Complex Pre.entiment (Half-figure in Yd/oUl Shirt) (hg . .\).
The questions that followed from the thought-experiment were these. What
forms of life wo"ld f"wre from this muterial? What idea of
the world's availabi lity to knowledge wo"ld they rcxkon the ,'anished image
makers had operated with? What imagining, of pa't and future? Or 01 part and
whole? Would it be j"'t the that the surviving images had
ruin, void, and fragmcntarincssalready written into them, as counterpoint to
their hardness and brightness? Th. rCpl"lition of ncuer and neuen in the
Heartficld might strike the interpreters a, Keys to all this, hut the words
themselves would mean nothing. Lihwisc the writing nn the hack of the

ologi,ts would not know it read: "The compo.ition ou' nl dements of
th ..,nsati on of emptiness, 01 loneli ne .. , of the exi tlc.,ness Ibesvy khndno.tijof
life."' And even il by some fluke they it. how far wnuld ,hat get them
in making SenSe of Malevich', (moderni,m's) tone? The painting is ostensibly
jaunty, almost flippant. Its man, housc:, and landscape have the look of toy '.But
in what SOrt of game? Played by which waUlOn chi ldren? Was it the same game
as Hcartfield's(or even Moltkc',)?
I find it hard to imagine any human viewer. even on the other , ide of
Armagcddon,notrespondingtothctendernessandpunctilinusne .. J El Liss il"lky:De,ai loi
modeling in Italian Woman -lhe shading ofe)"cs and mouth, the different fig.147(1argerthan
sheens and textures of what the woman is wearing, the p,essurcolh and on lap actual .i,<)
Adolph :\lonzd,
,,"ocil .ndgouacheon
paper, ,6 )( 40,
IKupf.",ichk. bi noJt,
- and understanding the)' Were offerings of love. BUI beyond Ihal, this world of
I"'rsons and sexualitie, would be (Would fUlure viewers sense thaI
Picasso's woman i, wearing fancy dress? Would Ihey take thcir ",e from the
douds in lhesky?) I, Ihe ma le in Complex r,esefllime,,/ being leased for hi,
are Ihese hisla'l 'hred, of humanity? I ha"cno more idea Ihan the archaeol
ogists. Arc Field Marshal Mollk,'s binocular, wooderful or silly? Her. they are,
'nug in Incir carrying case! And here is Inecas.: emply, with magenta lining
,isihle. And here il is shUl tight and buckled. And this is now Ihe locltsscrcw
works. "Isthereanobject for whkh the nineteenth century did not in "ent a CaS<:
or a holder? It had them for watches, slippcrs,eggcups, thermomclC rs ,playing
cards. And il nol cases and holders, il invented envelopes, housings, loose
e",'ers, dust sheets."' It i, as if an ohject did nO! properly exist lor this
unti l it sal light in inown interior; and one is hard PUI wS<ly - certai nlyonthe
evidence of Men>cl',gouachc-whether thi. wa,because theohj"'t was fel\1O
need protection from Ihogenetal whirl of exchange lor bulletsl,or whether it
was thought 10 be .0 wonderful in ils own righl Ihat a separale small world
should be provided for it, like a 'hell or calyx. Heallfield'snew man, photo
cooperative "parrmem bl""ks, tractors,truch full of soldiers, the new Ii.Iku
Palace of the Vress. He look. 10 the fUlOre, eyes airbrushed full of teaTS.
Now Ihat I sit down 10 write my introduction, I realize thaI what I had
taken for a conveniem opening ploy-the fragments,lhe puzzlingsch olars,Ihe
inte"'ening hoiocauSJ - 'peaks to tnc book'. dcepe,tconviclion.thala Ireadyth.
modernist past i. a ruin. the logic of whose archittXture we do not remotely
grasp. This has not happened, in my view, becaltse we have entered a newage.
Th., is nO! what my book title mcans. On the contrary, it is just because the
"modernity" which modnnism prophe.ied has fina lly arrived thaI the form, of
repres.entalion it originally ga"e ri,e to are now unreadable. (Or read able only
under wme dismissive famas)' rubric - of "opricaliry," "formalism,"
"el ir ism," ere.) Th. intervening land interminable) holocaust waS modcrniza
rion. Modernism is unintelligible now because ir had truck wirh a modernity nor
yer fu lly in place. Posrmodernism misrakeslhe ruins of those previous rcpresen
ralions, or rhe facrrhar from where wesrand rheYsei'm ruinous. forr he ruin of
modernity irself - nor sei'ing Ihat whar we are living Ihrough is modcrnity"s
Modernism is our amiquity, in other word" rhe onlyone ..... e ha,. ; and no
doublthe Baku f'alace of rhe Press, ifit survi,''', or the Molrkc Mu scum,ifir
has not bttn scrubbed and tweaked into post -modern rccepti"iry Icoffec and
biscotti and intcraCli"evideQ), is as owrgrown and labyrinthine as Shelley's
dream of Rome.
J John Heartfield; "A
New - Masu. of
New World, ' photo
monug., j8 x
(Ahclemie Jer KunS!.
j K.,;mi r ,\b lev"h, P "nUment '" YdJuw Shirt). oil on co,''''. 99 >< 79.
Rui.n Mu""um. St. PNorshu'!!i
6 Tin, Moooni;M",
pnotograpn,17 lx2J_5,
(Privot< (:ollectionl
This Poem was chiefly written upon the mountainous ruins of the R,ths of
among the flow .. y glades, and uf oduriferous blos<oming
trees, which are extended in ever winding labyrinths upon i!. immense
platlorm. aod diny arches suspended in the air. The bright blucskyo IRome,
and the elfect of the vigorousawahning spring in that divincSl dima !e,and
!he new lile with which i[ drenches the ,pirits even to were the
inspiration 01 this drama.'
The lears in lhe eyes of Heartl1eld's new man will soon be as incomp .. hensihle
as scratoheson Mousterian bone. And a. lor Menzel's passion forbinocu lars!
His "are lui measurements in inches, hi. depthl." swivelli ng of lhings to reveal
Ih.ir"isual truth, hisd .. amingoistale-Iormation in t"rmsofa gadge! in a
battl .wurncase ... Thi,isaworl d,anda visionofhistory,morclosllOusthan
Uxmal or Annaradapurah or Neuilly-en-Donjon. W. warm mOte readily 10 the
Romanesque puppets on God's string, or the kings ripping bloud-saedfi cefrom
Iheir IOngues, than to workers being read to from or EJ Machcre
T h .. e are the reasons I could not escape in writing thi, book from the
dangerous (and no doub! absurd) idea !hat it was addressed to posterity. Of
course this was famasy, nut it was n way of writing, or dreaming of
.. and
arbitrarine,., and !he accompanying effort a! compleleness of knowledge, al
least in the fewt.,t ca .. s I do pre .. ",. I !hink of them as core samples, or
preliminary tolalil.alions. The moderni.t arrogance of thaI ambition is precisely
why I could nO! let it go. (Not !ha! r am claiming lhat this is how lh. book
proceeds all !hrough. Ch"p!ers vary in !eng!h and laClics. "Completene.," i,
not the ,arne as comprehensiveness. flUl !he chapter, and moments lhe book
hinge'S On - Pissarro in [89[, UNOVIS in David in Year I, in lhe
fiLL'" of Cubism _ . u .....! in tho- I u as Mottke's
n .. y art r ... m a modt. ni" dig.)
Add .... ",,, to po<' c.i. y,lhen - bu' J>O .. meaning u.
No On" book. On Dada, or lh. Rc""I".
fion '" "p with definitions of thei, Why hu
bct nthe nc""p';(>n .... s.ory in i"own r; !;hl. I sha ll opc,","witn .Inose

p"nio:ular mode of repreS<'1lt 3lion (maybe we $huuld uU i. a family of m"dn)
" l imi.s
in,hi<uw dotS not mtancd!\'-'S_I thinking of n..-.d
ern;.m in 'pa,ial term" even in \<, m. of coner pll,. 1 SpOKt. r wan. t<.>
.. diinc.ive pallerning of men .. 1 and fe<: hni.:al po,,;bi!i,i. Limit
Pis'"rt(, in or in 1910 0r rol l,..: k f",m 1947 W
stem ." me by " thidcning or nf {hoS<' P"ttOrn< - by
kind, of . impiinc"inn <lr stabs at fal ..: imm<diacy or mut e
ness, ilka. of b"g,inning aSJin 0 < putting 10 ""yb"
nloving finally from
to or '0 .igns whose mr. nlng. only wlligrdspj.
II< for tho: word it '00 will "" u$ed in a 1= way, in
hup ... thai mo,1 know;, wt..,n t .... )' \.t( il. "Modelnity mean<conlin:-
geIKy. Ir po;>ims 10 a soci.l l oro:lrr whieh ha, t"rned fmm ,he worship "f
and pa .. amnorities to Inc pursuit of a (Uhl' t - of good" ple3.tltes,
f,do ms, forlll< of c"hlml ovor haturc, or "f informati on. This
pro<. " goo. along wi.h g'Oat cmp.ying and " nili ,.i nS "f the in" ginat ion
Wirhuu. anu' ro .... wors hip, i, in . hon supply - - oneaning" he re
mtlIning3grd ... n.nd in>IIIu.Mf,, 'm; ofv.I . .... nd unde ... 'anding,implici'
0Iders.S1O<ic'andin'agfiin which aculrUK Cryslall{ztsi"..,,,,,,u( , he""'ggle
will> , .... ..,alm of ncc,-ui,y aod .t.., of pain and dealh. The phra.., Mu
Wet .. 00"-'-''''''') from Schill.r. -,h. di .. nchan. mnIl of Iht wOIkl.n ",ill
.0 ",., to , urn up Ihi, side of m..,de, nily ""'I. Or Ihr . h. ow. way aphori, m of
Paul Valery: "Th. modem com. m. ;t.dl wi,h li,tie [u ",ode"," SO COI1Unl( de
lAnd of COl". ' it il no argum.nt against ,he,i. !O s.,y .hd. "we
livcinlhc middle ofa,ei igious revival, - tho< Morxi. nIOecam. ag(islySl.'Cular
in (he twr n.i", h cen,ur)" i. ; 1,11 pcrmuI.d by the
of and w on. di,. . .'ncl!antnlt'n{ of II,., world ho rr;blr,
Any mOV<1hCO, or cuk .har prom;S<."S way 0'" 01 it will
b" dun!; ' 0 grIm ,xa.h. 1I.'lItr (VCn fa", .. m .han .hno.:racy: ,h..''''
so.:,.1 id in ru.,.. of U5 g ..... "S un heing remP'M by dUE proposi, ion.l
ila Ihnie. 1 word for tni. .. It mean. '1""", 1;.
abmaClion; wei, ) lile Jriv,"" by cakultlS of I .. atiSl i.:a1
chance>, with eve"Yonc acce pt ing (or r"",mins ) hi gh of risk; time and
sr 3Ce fllrn<di nwvoriablesi n lh", ,", m,, ca lculus, both " fthcm .... mrat. d by
"in formatinn" "nd playcJ with .. ly, mon'"onoul ly, on 1I 0t. and sueell s;
!h.de-d: ill ing ofc,' ..
fnOn' of tht miCfO<tnlC"'. t of .elf), avail.blt, h"uming upt'rt;"":
.. raighr
aWOlY that rhi. elltS'er Ilf feot u.n '!r'flIIS lu me lIed '0, and propdlo:d by,
One cen",.1 proeM" accumulation of 0ri."., and Ihe "f ""pllali.1
m .. kef< into more and mOre ol 'he world and I .... reXlurc of h""", n I
"al, >;c .his nnw a mi nor ill' vie w, and will "" .<un hy many .. a vC<1igr
of the early tw. ntiet h,,:cnfury I just t,ied ' 0 put at a distance. If 1
cannOt havetneprole1ariata. my chosen people any longer, at least capitalism
,..,mains my Satan.
r ut me try to slrike a bargain with lhe reader over this. Could we agree on Ihe
followi ng, wnich Ilhink .. ,ary,oratleasthelpful, hypolhe.i.if
wh'l we are trying to do is understand why moderniry and modernism go
to!:"tn .. ? leaving the word
new, and disorieming, cnaracter of modernilY i. il. s..,mingly bdng dri.'en by
merdy m.rerial, <{.ri.tical, tendemial, "economic" consid .. ations? We know
we are living a new form of life, in which all previous notions of helid and
sociabililY have scrambled, And lhe true terror of tni. new order has to do

profil and I""s, bids and borgains: lnal is, ny a system withoUl any focusing
purp<JSC to il,or any compelling image or ri tualizalion of thaI purpose. I l islhe
blindn .. , of modernity Ihal >eems to me fundamemal, and 10 which modernism
is a response: Ihe greal fac'!, 10 go back 10 Adam Smilh's insight, i. the
hiddennesooflhe "hidden hand"; or ralher, Ihe visihililY oflha Ihiddenness-
Ihe auilabililY 10 individual con""iousn .. s of more and more (a
ludicrous, lobolomizing barrage of samel pointing 10 Ihe purposelessness of
Blindness, purposelessness, randomness, blankne .. ; picture. built out of
Slal islical accumulalions of Ihtown marks, or touch aner louch of pu,..,
surfaceness,pure sensal ion; bUlequally, pictures clinging ro a d,..,am of mar
Iyrdom, or peasam leisu,.." or naked imensity in th. woods: and pictures
fama.izing Ihemsdves lhe voice - Ihe image, Ihe plan - of a post-human
calculus in Ihe making. "I decla,.., Economy 10 be rhe new fifth dimension, Ihe
leS! and meas ure of all C,..,.live and anislic work." "THE FACTO!! BENCHEs AilE
caughl interminably horror and elarion at rhe driving il -
belwcen "less Is Mo,..," and "NO CHAOS DAMN It lake, ils own lechnicalily

qualities are polemially smug and phi listine, always th,..,ateninglo turn inloa
Bauhaus or Ecole deParisorthodoxy. Modernism's disdain for lhe worl dand
wish for a truly gratuilOus gesture in the face of il are more lhan jUSl alliludes:
Ihey are Ihe Irue (Ihal is, agoni zed) form of ilS so-called purism. Wilde and
Nielzsche are Ihis agony's spokesmcn, Rimbaud's its exemplary li fe . And yel Ihe'
Ihought of belonging and serviceabililY (of Economy asan ideal) haunts mod
ernism, all Ihe more so
modernilY's Irue opposiles - Ihe dimensions to experience it mosl ruthlessly
outl aws or trncsties. These antinomies of modern an, and Iheir relal ion to a
history it invents and resislsand misrecognires, are whal Ihis book ism,inly
aboul. .J
T he book was writlen after Ihe Fall of Ihe Wall. Thar is, at, moment
when there was general agreemcnt, on the part of masse< and elites in mosl of
Inc world,tnat the project called sociali,m had come to an end -al rough IYlhe
same lime. il seems, as Ihe projecl called modernism. Whether Ihose prediclions
turn Oul to be true, only time willlell. BUI dearly somelhing of socialism and
moderni,mnasdicd,in bOlh cases deservedly; and my book is pardy wri lIen 10
r'J:nswer Ihe question: Iflneydied 10gClher,doc:s Ihal mean Ihal in some sense

Socialism, 10 remind you. waS Ihe idea of"lhc polilical ,economic and social
emancipation of rhe whole people, men 'nd women, by Ihe establ ishment of a
democralic commonwealrh in which Ihe community shall own Ihe land and

to oor cost , does nor n""essarily mean mUlual aid or agreemen! on much.
Modernism w", regu13r1youlSpokenaooutthebarrenn ... sofrheworking-<13ss
movemenr _ lIs polil;cs of pi,)", ilS dreary materialism, the taste of the ma,,,,s.
the Idea ofrrogr ..... tc. Butthis may have heen bause it sensed s<xiali 'm wa s
10 imagine mooerni,y OTherwise. And maybe it is tnat there could and can
he no modernism without the practical po .. ibiliry of an end to .apitalism
existing, in wha'evermons'rousorpi,iful form.
Monstrous or pitiful. We are back in Heardield territory. You will S<:e in what
follows ,ha, t interpret the 'erms "sociali,m" and "working .. dass mO\'ement"
broadly. Two of my main cas .. are Jacobinism and the sans-culo"es in 179),
and anarchism in ,he early 1 890S. Even my third 'CS' ,"se, War Communism in
Russia io 1919 .nd 19LO. is delilx-rate\yextr.me: it is maybc as dose as any
modern socirty has come to a whol ... le disman,ling 01 the moneyonom)", but
of ,ourse the dismantling was largely involuntary - and where deliberate,
doctrinaire and foolhardy - with results tha, were truly horribk I make nO
apology for my strange trio.TheJacobin momtnt is foundational (sadlyl for ,he
imagining. of mass politics that followed. Anarchism i, an aspect of s<xi.li,m
lamong many OThers ) that those of uS wishing sociali,m. Or SOme ,,,mparable
form of resistance, to survive will b.veto think about again, ,his timew ithout
a prearranged Sneer. W .. Communism was utopia as wdl as horror and aby .. ;"'
and it l. av .. us with ,he which we should nOl allow the enemies of
.nti-capitalism to monopolize, whether a utopian form olopposi'ion [() thc
pr...,ntisalwaysinpracti""infemal."Modernity,thetimeofhell." reads on.
of Walter Benjamin's jottings.' There WaS' kind of socialism ,hat wirh.
and in the end realized"hepossibilityofmaking that hell actual. In hopes of the
fire being purgative .. This ha, " gbastiy arrra,tiv.ness for mooemis,s,w, shall
see. UNOVIS tried to get on the bandwagonltumbril. Modernism joins'
hands with !O(:ialism when socialism is in That is ano,her reason fos.
my choice of examples.
Socialism was One of the forces, the fo"e, that made for th" falsely
polarized choice which modemi.m belined it had before it - between ideali,m
and materialism, Or Oberme"s(h and lumpen, or esoteric and popular. Between
,h.cul,ic and Ih. urr.rlydisenchan,ed. Betw,""n the last rxacerbation of indi_
viduality and irs magical disappearance inro pure pr."icc or .vant .. gard.
coll<'Ctivity. I sense tha, what be,ween thosr mad ahematives waS above aIr
s<xialism-.gain.broadlyconst,ued.IRevolut;on.orth.,uhofdass,on.clous .. -
ness, would Ix- other word' for much ,be same duster of imag ... and acrions.)
Socialism occupied th. real grouod on which modernity could be described and
opposed; bur itsO<."Cupation was already seen at the time (on the whole. rightly)
to be compromised - complicit with what it claimed 10 hate. Thi' is nor mean,
as rxcuse for fhr ,hinness and sh,illness of most of moJernism's occupati on of
the ,mr. al ground. There could have been (there ought to have been) an
imagining o,herwise which h.d more of ,h. sruff of ,he world to it. But I am
saying that modernism's weightl ... sn.ss and extremism had causes, and tha,
.mong the main oneS was re"ulsion from the working .. d.ss movement 's
modera,y. from the it perf<'Cttd a rhetoric of extremism that grew the more

great wishes. h wanted its to be ltd toward -;;1
recognition of rh. social reali,yofthe 'ign (away from the mmforts 0 fnaTrat iv.
and illu,ionism, was the daim), but equally if dreamed of turning the sign back
fro of
ultimately 10 be iudgro by the passion with whkh, at certain moments, it
imagined what thi, new signing would be like. Cc'zannc and Cubism are my
touchswnes, and Pollock in the world of hi. drip paintin!,"l. Bur at the sa me time
I want to say thar what they do;sonly imagining, and fitlul imagining at that
-3 desperate. marvdlousshunling hetween a fantasy of cold arril1.:eand an
an.wering one of immediacy and beinginthc-world. Modernism lackro the
hasis, and epistemological, on which its twO wishes mi ght be
The muntl"tfeit natme of its dream of is written into the drum's
realization: this isan argument that crops up,",veral times in the book. The
chapter on l)NOvtS rna)' .how the link between counlt'rfeit and the modern
artisl'. social i,olation mOre SJ'C"cifically than Ihe on Cubi,m But
the link i.cssentially the same. Some avant gardfS believe Iheycan forge a place
for themsrlv .. in revolution, and have real truck with langua!tes i nthemaking:
others believe that artists can bescienti'ts, and new descriptions oft he world be
forged under laboratory condition., purting aside the question of wi derintell i
gibility forlhe time bei ng. I do not see that either belidi,n...:e:o;.aril y(logicallyl
misguided. It is JUSt that in the actual circumstan"". of modernism - in mode,..
nity, that is - they have so far proved to be ..J
A bo<.>k about ninet""nrh'and twentielhcentuljl culture will inevitably
turn on the quesrion of money and the markel,and theireffeclon anmaking.
This book d""s SO times: in its dealing. with the Terror and War Commu-
nism, and with Pi"arro in 1891. Again, two of the thr"" cases are extr. me. In
t79) in France and t920 in Russia the very relation belween markets and
money seemed. for a while, to be coming to an end. We shall sec that ,enain""
Bolsheviks looked 10 Year 2 explicitly, and exulted in the notion of the
socialist stare's being able now ro drown itsenemiesinaAoodofpaper.ltwa.
a fanrasy, but not an entirely empty one. Money is Ihe root form of represe ma
tion in bourgeoi oeieIY. Threats to monetary value are threats tosignific ation
in general. "Confidence in the sign" wasac stake, to quote one historian of
Jacobinism, talking of inAation in t79J and the role of new banknot cs." In Iheir
different ways David and Malevich confromed that crisis ofconfidcn c lthink,
and tried to give form 10 its enormity. In coming ro with money. or witlt,
money seemingly aboul ro evaporate as a (centrall form of life, modernism at
moments 3ttained to true lucidity aoout the sign in general. -'
I did.ay "at I am not forgetting the a priori empliness of most of
moderni.m', pronouncement. On mal1er and the production of meaning. Of
course modernism usually vacil13ted between a crude voluntarism and an
equallycrudepositivity("inthenatureofmaterials"andsoonl.BuI again. limit
ca .... refle<:t back on normal ones. What modernism thoughl was possible when
Ihe whole signifying basis of capitalism went into flow - whal it thought it
might do with the opportunity - may tell us about where the crude
voluntarism and positivism were always meant to be going. even when moder
nit y was a, ",lid asa rock.
A word tha. hh come up already, and will do so again, is "con tin
gency."lt points w the featurcsof moderniljlI began wilh: the turning from
pa<l toforure, the acceptance of risk. the omnipresen,'e of change, the malle
ability of time and .pace. What it d"". not mean, 1 .hould .tress, is Ihat modern.-
life is characterized ny an absol ute, quantitati ve increase in uncontroll edand
unpredictablee".nt Tell that tosocietics still in the thrall of Nature, meaning
/loods, famine and Tdl it w parents copinS wilh pre_mockrn levels
of infantile mortality. Obviously modem so..:ioly offer> the majority of ilS
'itil.ens-wecould argue about the pre,ise .i,eoflhat majority-saf er and more
humdrum lives. Bu' i, i. ,hi, very fa't, and the ,t .. " pur on thea"kievemem
in modern so<iety\ endicss sel fapology, tha, makes 'he and
oxpanding areas of ulKerlainty the harder 10 bear. Again,lhec'pil.1 iSlmarket

if playe .. are willing to ""'pt Ihalconduct ;scakulus and ,[><"Culation, and
In.rdoreinoomefundamen,al,,,,nse hi,or miss. Marke,s are predic,ab Ie and
ri,ky.Humanbeing,.renotu,odtolivinglhoirlive. un"!ertho signofl>OIh. (Or
of either, ina sense. Pr.-modcrn social ordering, were not -predictable." They
wererh. vety ground of experience as.w:h - of having and understanding.
world - confirmed and reconfirmed in the riluals of overyday lifo." Pr. -modem
n.lural disaslers were not as ri,k. They were fury or fate. The very
idea ofn.tural disasterisa modern one, an invomion of actuaries, aiming to
obj e.;tit)apreviou.congeriesofterro ... l
This is wha, "c'On,ingency" mean . It is an issue of represenration, not
empiri<;allif._cha,,,es. And usi ng th,' word is not meant to imply that modern
soc;'ti ... lack plau,ible lcaptivaling) orde .. myths of
tn.m""lves - how could anyone living the triumph of late-l"-'enl;elh-century
consumerism. or watching ten-yoar-olds play c'Omputer games. have any illu-
sion,onth.tscore? Contingencyi,good businrss.1r maye.en IUrn ou'tO be
goo..! religion. lit remains to be seen if the tenyear-old. grow up and gel born
again. Whon [said a few pages agolhat modern societi .. were ruled "by
a sy'te1ll without any focusing to it, or any im.ge
1 knew my vocabulary ,,""Ould sccmold-
.. rhingshumanbeings
can do wirhoul. Maybe nOI. 1 All [want winsist on is the novdlyof ourcurreni"'
ways of understanding <elf and others, and the fact that for moderni.m, risk and
predictahilitywerefeltro!x-endlesslyirresolvableaspectsofe"perience (a ndof

atoms, Or Pollock's greal walls of and ncssity - were meant to be

regiSi<'r a udl . Sit in th. roolll full of Pollock's piclures at MoMA,and I isren
to vi.itors protest against both ,id... "Kisk" here, in vi ow,
is randomness and incompetence, and "predictahili'y" lack of incide n"lackof
individualing structure. A child of five could do il. Ora painting machine
s..uratand Pollock are unfair exampl .. , of course. Theyare.sclosea.
modernism comes to embracing contingency and making it painting's struClural
principle. By and large modernism', relalion rothe forces thatdeterm;nffl it
more uneasy, U 1 said !x-forc, antagonistKo. Contingency was a f.,e
to be sufferffl,and partly to be laken advantage of,but only in order 10 con jure
backoutufit-outufrn. blse regulaririesand ,he iodiscriminate free /low - a
new pKolOrial unity. Out of the flux of vi ' Llal partide. would cume the body
again ( .. ys Cc'zanne)-naked,in Nature, carrying the fiXffl weaponry of .. ..,.
Out of the shiflS and transparenc;'sof virtLlal space (says Picasoo) w ouldcome
lhe violin and the mandolin player. Token, of art and lif.. Moderni.tpainlers
knew the market wastheirclement - wesh.lI scc I'iss .. ro in ,89' half_railing,
half-revelling in ils twist. and ,urns-but by and large they could n
,ke nmion ,hal an would a]'solve Or transfigure its ciKUm'!:lnces, and find a

Unconscious. the Party, the Pbn. Call il Art itself. Even those moments of
modernism seem to me to have understood t he implications of the I\CW
symoolic order lor lack of ill mOst unblinkingly-Malevicnand Polloc karemy
chief - are rorn berw..,n and despair 31th. prospect. I
",11 nihilism, and tne despair unhappy con",iousness. But I do
nul pretend they are easy to tell apart
O ne further ,oncessinn. I realiz. that my view of modernism as best
under"ood from its limils mahs for some nOlabl, silences in the book, or for
hinl$ at a t...,atment J do not provide. Matisse is a flagrant Above all
there is an ominous leap in what follows from 1793 to r891. Partly thi s is
aecident: I have had my say in previous writings on aspeCIS of nineteenth
century arl Inat wou ld connect most vividly to the story lamtelling(Cour bet's
'!lemp'tosei .. the opporrunily of poli tics in for example, or Ihe pat1ctn

I SJw noway to return ro Ihem properly here. Inanyc.loe. I want Pissarroand
anarchism to stand for the nineteenth century's bestthoughrs ,msuch lOp i..s. 1
bdieverheydoslandfor them.Therruerepresentativenessofl89 l andPissarro
is one of my books main claims. But I know full wei l lh. daim is disputable,
and that so"",readers will see my kap over the nintteenth century as the due
10 what my argument as a whole has Idt oul. I cannot bear to face, Ihey will say,
the Iruequiet-the true orderline .. and ,ontidence-of bourgeois we ietyin itl;
heyday. and Ihe easy ne .. ingof Ihe avant garde in that positivity. I willnollook
again a, Maner because I do not wanr 10 recognize in him Ihe enOrmOus
distance of modem arl from its circumstances, and Ihe avant gardes willi ngness
to seize On the side of secularization - Ihe cull of and technicali,y-
Ihat =med to offer il a mnso]ing mYlh of il$ own selfabsorp,ion.
Of course [bringon thissl:epncal voice because one side of me recognizes
anyone looking at Manet lail ro?
But equally, I am sure IhisviewofManeland the ninctecnth cen,ur) is wrong.
I have no qUMrei with the words distance and "sdfabsorplion-
wi,h rderence to Mane!"s achievemen,. What I should want to insin on.
Ihough,istheterrible.inconsolable affect whichg".,. wilh the look Itomatar.
In general I think we havr barely begun to discover the true Slrangeness a nd
rension of ninet..,nrhcenturyarl, lurking behind itsexrroversion. Michael
Frie<l's books have way." And do not make the mistake of believing
that exrremism il Mane!"s and Courber"s properly ex.lusive\y, with maybe
SeUtal and van Gogh a.,o,owners.lngres is more rmhl,,",sand preposterous
rhananyofthem.Cizannearound ,87oexistsal,and epitomizes. Ihecentury\
mad hear!. hen Cnrot is a monSler 01 inrensily, pushing innocem:e and srraight
forwardness "'th. point where Ihey declare themselves as srrategies, or magic
again .. modemiry in general. His gray paslorab grapple head on (nOI even
defiantly] wilh Ihe disenchantmenl "f the world. They aim 10 includ, the
disenchantmen, in themse!v"", , and Ihus make it bearable. Sometimes they
succeed. (I'issarro in r89J i. stililrying oUI variants On his m.ster Coror's
tactic.j Ev.n Monels art is dr;ven not so much bya version ofp<>siti visma<by
a cult of art as immolation. with more of the flavor of Nerval and Gericaul t to
illhan of Zola and Claude Bernard. "I plunge back into rhe of my
of my torlurCs. Oh, ifFlaubert had
been a painter, wha' would he ever written, for God's sake!"" All of the
F rit ..... book in advanc:f I.;>,d.!tt-y found i. "",b n.
havt Itifd ubr possible. which In II .. .... ts
nUl lit b r. i. anyway an effn:t of wming; \ ... hich i. to say,
this panicular practict of writing - word apptd nurly sound
imo Krtt n spact al fin dc siecit. Tht reaSOn J writ. history is that I am
intertsted in other pra.,,,ts, I",scu' off and absrrac., whic h oncc n iSlcd and
mi,hl!liI1l>ckarnedfrom,loope.hisprovtsltucofPi".rroand ElLi ssilzky,
MO<krnism may ofttn havf bttn ""&,,.ivc; it waS ",,,,Iy morose, h i he c . ..
Ihal many, may""' moS!. of my ChaplfrS ""t 10 a bad cnd. Trust lhe btgin
nmgs, .hm; lru" the cpO,,,,,,,, . Trust F...,od, and SlrVfl>S, and Frank O'Hua.
So cold "primiS!ic. motkmllm. So i. WIll gt"t .he..., eventually.
Painting in the Year 2
Hi,wryhas.ooofte" ralc of the.ctions of
wild bea"'., .mong whom from , ime to time ooe mak ... OUt a
hero; we areenrit]ed 10 hopc ,hat we are beginning Ihe hi,lOry
of mankind.
Boohabout moocrnism tend rogo in for inaugural dares. It all began
in the ,8:0', they say, or with Courbet selling up his booth outside the
Exposition Univc=lIe in ,855, or the year Bo"',uy and Lts Fieurs d"
Mal we .. put on .rial, or in room M of the Salon des Refuses. An ;mportan!
component in historical seq"on,es of artist ic events," writ.s Ceorge Kubler,
is an abrupt change ofcoment and expression at inter\'als when.oemi ..
language of form suddenly fall,intodisuse, being replaced by a neW I anguage
of diff.rent componenr. and an unfamiliar ",ammar. An example is ,he
sudden !ransformation of occidental art and architc<:ture about 1910. The
fabric ofsocicty manifested no rupture, and the texture of useful inv entions
continued step by step in closely linked order, but the system of artistic
invenrion was abruptly tran.formW, as if large m,mbers of men [sic ] had
suddenly become aware that the inherited repertory of fonns no longer
correspondedwthe actualmeaningofexistence ... lnartthetransformation
was as if instantaneous, with the total configuration of what we now recog
oize a. modern art coming all at nnce into being without many firm li nk< to
the preceding system of expression.'
My candidate for the beginning of modernism - which at icast has the merit
of bcing obviOl>sly far fet ched - is 25 VendemiaireYear l{I6 Ch:tober '793,as
it came to be known). That was the day a hastily completed paint ing by
Jacques-Louis Vn'id, of Marat, the manyred hero of the revoilltion - Maral a
wn derniersoupir, David called itearlyon'-wasreleased inrothepub liercalm
{fig. 7).
A few minutes after midday on 25 Vendemiaire, MarieAntoinette was
guillotined. Michclct ldls us that her death,s-o long demanded by Hebert and
the in the event wentoffquietly.' Pwple's
minds were on other things - the scandal of rrtey's escape from Lyon, for
example, and the news, mostly bad, from the Arm)' of the North. They knew a
great battle was brewing. The cart carrying the queen to the scaffold may well
have passed dircctly under the windows of David's apartment io toe Palaisdu
7 J.cquc.-loui.David
canvas,t6j x 118,179.1
Btu d.)
"i"i, h"nnr'< ... . hcm b)' . hcir B, .. . hc (;KI Ihal ,he)" w"re,and
thar in ,he cnd "'COl !O such knll,hs '" tt." of l!>e,r ,"dusi"" in
Ihe ,.-enl. snmc,hing , he MWn: of l>avid's a. an
aniM - his 3Cli,'c imaj:ininj: ,,( what ...... doinl! ""intin\; Mara, a'
Somcthing d"Cisi"e:tha, is my h"nch, Fnr m)' Ittli ng is , ha, wha, marks.his
m"" ..... '" of picruremakinl! " If frum (whal it in,,,!!ur,, l) i. prc
cisdylhe i3". h3Icontin.:c .... )" rulcs.C""' i,,II. ""Y. nle"lh.p.lX.sso/pi.;. ur
in". 1.;",".1., i . Th.r. is n"". hcr suh""nceoltlnfwhi\:h nnw
he ",ad. - no !!i,ens. no mallcrs suhi.Cf-matl .... no for ms. no P"SI'.
Or "nne thar a possibk pllbli.; " mid 1:>< "k ., to a!! ... on " n)' m",,. And in
pa;",i ng - i" arl in mosl often m.ans d<'SII\' tmlc
a, I ha,', said, is 'he "f .he .. n.w circumstances. h 'an ""cl
i" . he m",in!!.nq' o. muurn d.cdcsuelud . B", <1,,1 )'
art can t.".,.dll.d mud.rniM , hat . a k .. th. .. laC! asd'"1l'1minan,
Bur \\"h3. And Ih. pk lll ..
I ... me!!o hack to p,,,,,,'!!.i,,,, .n. "-S V.ndi'nl;ai.e. The firM , h,nl.! '" S3)'
"hour it .h3[ it I..':lSI "n one 1 .. c1. pr%undl)" ordin,w much
like it had happcned in Pari. in Ih. plNn/ing and m""y more
....... 10 come. T!>e Sn:ti,,"s Uc b de Guilla"" ... Tel l Reu" i ....
f" " x""'pl had gat!>er.d n" 60Cl"b", P""r/"lIr.mKw,m ",,drlhlls/(sdr
Hrlllll$ , Micbel Lepellelirr r, Pillli de /a IiIwrtC. rll" ilrritmlli""
drs dmits .I" 1"I"'''''''r. K""'i(' S/lrllnt' pierre de la IJa' lillr .' Th.)' I'uhli shcd
from 'hn! The s.ce.ion d. Piqll C5 w"s c'Iu;\ lI y
proud "f Ibe ProllOlln!" IJ drccmcc . .. a" x ",Jllrl dr f/ de
lA.' I' ellelier. Pol' ,'I.1de, (//I)'M dc u tt f se,ti"". ct ,"r",b,r dr la mci<,tr
Im/,"/olire, The)' it ou' in pamph let Inrm on .1.9 s.e pl .nlber, Ci tilCn Sade,
... risingl). hod .hinllS lO!Ioar a .... 'u' ,\bra" , ,"urderer, ChMkl" c CordlY:
Sof, and . imid sex, h"wcan i, be Ihal ddi""e like )' 0"0 ha"c , he
...... h.,.. d h)' Kdil;on? . Ah! ) .. ur eagt"fl.tsS now tu come ,h"",'
flo"'M"l nn the tomh of . h,s True friend 01 .he pNlple Ihal
Crime found" pcrpnra'm .>ng )'.,,,. Marn.s ""r""'OIlS aass,n. lih one
"I ,huso: hybrid I., ",hum , he ,'er)' .enno male and fema k nOI
applicahle, mmi.cd frllm .he jaws "I hell ,,, ,h. d .... pair 01 boI'h sexes, hd"n""
di rcell)' '" neilher, Her Imm"ry m"SI he fo.ev .. <hroudcd in darkn<'ss;
nil I ,,<> one oller uS hcr dfig),. :;.ome d'l. in .h. om,hanl;"1.!
""jse of Ileau,)'. 0 !lXl (rtd,l lu,l s - hreak Ihi , mn"ster in
rra",ple her u"dcrlOl)t, disrigm, hn k atures,nr only offer her to ( mr rC>' nl"d
t-;a t<: pu.sued h)' frum rho underworld.'
PrCj; umahl )' . he 31 " .imilar w.ek befo.t. nn II ScI'
rem!>er, /Jdlll;1.1 Sr;""drl Gdrdes Frdll(Qi.rs, pm,,/"i"""II"'dl;V" i/,'S/"'Sles
l.epell.,i.rrr Ma'dl, had had IC'los "f a ",''''''''al sub, ."I. On u
Section du P" nthion p l hued 1<> he3' "nc - I'XnlS to ha"c mau., no
nrher mark in his1Ur) - d. li'era ornlion to .\bral alone. And Stl tln.
These n .... onl)' Ih. OIXlISII>nS left wri ...... r<'Cord behind ,h.m. '"
The show put on by the /.iU""Um sl",li"" wno ordin3ry. Ihen. 10 the S(!OS(! of
I>c ingone ola <tries. II am "ul dcnyinl.! . hn. individual in the ';':li.,. as
far OUT 01 .he ordinary as )'UU ,uuld drcnm up. They look like figmo:ms " I
Gu)'n'sor Baud.birc's imaginaliun. Year l i< Ih. nightmare Irum whkh alii",
sadiSls hn"ow The show wa.likewi", ordinary in its
irso.ganiza.ioll.lflheprllo:nsiunull j Vend<'m;ai ..
,ionS"lout inlhe O,d,r de la Marchf-and any mi lilanI w"rrh hi s l>r he r<air
S::!rctlphall'" hI' ... ,.""Id ha\'c IIuO.td thrm with I't'li5h. -Lei .... ru..:ulones
communinrnt d:m. It M,u"mit de leuL"I I1UrtyL"l. - Thr bodr and bloot! thry
p3r1lX1k 01 in tit., Cour du luuY,r, wSoboul t",lirv..!. thri, 0", ...
COm<' unto mc all rravail and aft heavy bdtn. David's asking
.ion II) ...... If .IK M"".., and /'t k,;u to his Icllow s..CI,uJtMiuJ was
,ntcrpreted on a s,mi13r1y cul.ed vcin. -An wa, no ,..,..:rvnl for a
I wppo!.( l ammol't'inclinedthanrnostlo tak" Sohoul's hypothc.i.s.. rioosl)"
Som"hinll was being pbyed OUI in JUmmeT and f:o ll 179}, in and around Ihc
col! til "b,al, which no ont hi"orKal actor wa_, able to connol
I;ompletdy - no, .ht nor 1),0, nOOl rhe fo llowO:' 5 of poQ'
J:KIIOIIS R OUI{ Cbi lO: lacombe. IlO! the militln.,; in the Omklkrs Of the
st'rti""nQ" ts withthti.m,n""rs., nOlI)<I,id.rw"knMprcrrc.rw .. Cinzen Sade.
I shall to rhis 13ck of c(",,,ol in a momen . BUI for Ihe .inlt bti n!;. k1 me
jmt poinroullhaI Soboulhirn""lf,in bowWr:. givts uSlhtdut
thulthink ... astsd ..
Tht ann ,he p'()CQslon. It., I't'ponl. lhe SociCtr! $C<.'1i<)nl1ai. c du Museom
- thaI lhe hard ,'0.., of popula. ""00 I'3n .he stion u a poli ..... 1
ml;t)" - wlidlrd for 10 .hr Ja,ohin Club, Thei . pokt;$m;on 10
know w",,,k! .II> thr . ';';-k, - "... OIl' ,hr
01 1M M .. \(' um I.n:lion coroc .0 uk their motM, for the
no:1l'1l')' fo, thei, 10 It"' .... c...uld a Irlldr' mOlher ..,buff
,; nUoo., child? You are the sodeTY of all in lhe: Republic. Add tn your
6mily b)' m,-" The >celion,. wish waii gr.Imw; not. U the
Jarohin as."rnl iu rcalkrs II\'Xt tbr. until afttT the flM'mt...nhip
had -tht mos/ For had 1101 the J,oobillSdtddN.
Ih."" "'""h t.../orc. thaI .hey wuold 35 true populu socio1in -only
... ocn: Ihr l"C\ululiona.y oommilt, li n t h.ning I>urged ;15 "lnki. ' lOW
formed.he,;'-'c;cty.'col1.".arld ... , ..... .. fthis
>arlkcommillt't 5"bOlul may ht rijtlu in ,;ayinJt ,hal 1M
very k"cnty ul part )' diklat p.oduad a backla$/! from ,he 1IXictin them
""'["0.. we ha\'C insrancn of of them asking for allili,nion, ho:i",
drdarcd nO( pu.etnuugh,
Termr k,.hem), But thc KCtion: that is the point, They .... 1',,, the
pUIT.!.1 " I Ihe pure. It i5 my th-c- cpi-!l<wlf Vendimi;;..,, 'n
i3ct - milkr metaphors amI all - WIS flM'am IS a kmd of lempbte ft" ",her ouch
hindinpand l'u'l(inp . ocOfn<.
So are wc mtided 10 look hack on .M ul LS V...rnJr;miairc .... ith
wh. h.:Iprcncd Ih-c- ""Xt day in mind? N<M nn:u'III , ily. in hi.tory
striAp ",all)' nOl bring pulled behind IM- SCe ....... R .... olul;ons:lrc "mid)',
CO"ICKkncts du have mu.e imponan, Ihings 10 wnrry
about ricturnand hymn$.
But UaYidU".l$ lpolilN:ian. My huochis .h .... 'ilcancmoon's o:'rnl5h3dbecn
co...:..,''...!, 3nd Or,heilrJled. 3 kind of proof of thot Muwum Sti"n',
ort hodox),. Poputll - tM -rommuning in 'lit memory of
Ihei. - WJ. un ..... oon .. ol. It hid IV" i,wlfthf rtquisilf :\t if/min"
&pfflallr o( anncdf"n:c,
Ot wc , huuld sa)' . h..t the <I kind of ,rw:"d. f.om the
partr.fora J'Ufllc which had alrcadYlakrn pl;c( . - RigidCl{;lm,n3rionl."aner
all. 3rc rull pcriormedon.he:'pu, of . hcmo"",nt in Ihr hody " fthc hall. Whal
lhe Mllleum W>ctiun ",a ur h..d nuok i'l'df, wu nodoubr kno"' n 10 ,he p!;.yet$
Ihat m.1ncrcd long hcforc anyone lu. n"! up at II\(, an",mbly point on
Vcnd.m;a; lc. "1aybr this is ,,'hy lhe Con"(nt lonnds alk>wed Ihdr pictum QUI
in the fi, ,,, pbee.
HiuorianS;ql.fff that SeptembC"r '711} w,"a tumingpoinl in 1M
Jacobins' rdalioos wilh 1M 5111110<1.1]0110. (What is meam by 11K- fiM], hyphen
,1IW word hue .... i ll eme-rgc gndually. 1 hope. a$ lilt ChJrTtr rro..:uds. For now
iU5It<lke it IU indicate, or clairn to indicale, Ihe Puis.i3n m3Sscs.) bcn f fllno;<l i)
Furn, who is l.tI:pricallhan mOM of an accounT of rC"oluTionu )' politic..
impdk-d by Iro)ion, KeS x pl cmlkr Rl'rohahly Ih., cruo:i.ol p<"rioo in In.,
formalinn of Ihe R.,...nluTion<lI)' H j,; ,..,awns ,1. Sobouli.an
ring 10 Ihem. r>dNJ co dcko, The
CiT<)ndt in Ihe5pringof 179). and ",ishNJ'okp th.om allies bUI wj,h
out g;"jng 1.11" all)' impollam powers." ThaT difficult. A summc:r uf
aE;ilalion in lhe $1,15 anti dubs culmi(l.,1tOO, on S September. with the
scail)l>$' armed for"!l su.rountling 1M Coov"nlion, .JellUooing the Riling 1.11'
of an '''lOlMtionNli,,, for UiIC IlYIinsl Tt..- Rt-public's ,1.1 home,
PIl'llc of ,he Commill"!l of Publit Saf">' and G<:ncfll.1 SecuriIY. and m,ll-S
FurCl\ phra$(" is a trifle hland: Con"cn,ion !t:l"C lVuund but mained
comrn] o ..,r UenlS. - On j Seplember it 3gr<l Ihat Terror was now RTIlt urckr
"f I ..... On 9 September" ..,t up the Q,,,,h ,trlf>l .. twnnairr. Two days
la,e. it fixe>d maximum p.ocn for grain and flour. Anuther and
maximum WiU (xtcn&d, at "'aM in theory. 10 wlges price.'!> fOf all commudi
riC"l. tThis IS (lOe of the ro:.uc)ns why a.so.:iating Tenor with a nul yel horn
.socialism is 50 tempting.) It nibunal on a war fOl)fing on
the fourt....:nlh. p,J"cd It..- law of the S(\'c"lITeelllh. IOId 1001
...,.,olulimwry (ommittttS 10 dr.lw up !illS of l"C"Volulion's enemies. And
i, turned its IXW IIgainM Ihe mO$\ .bnge-fous
,i.C'S of Ihlm' wh" Iud ,"ked for them in the !irst The JtTUS'rootJ amy;;:t
Ja,'1ues KoWl'. who had made Ir<,.,blc for the Ihroughout Th., )tar. was
finally impriSQOCdthe 'eryd.JYlheannwOCCtiDnsringc-d tb., Tuilerics." Oth."
("n,:Jxb fullo ..... ed. Their $puncml into si lence. On II
SeplC1llbc-r the Convent ion "oIJIfd '" pay a slllall wage 10 ndycitiuns for
a"endan.."Tat their lJSumb/k$ Y(lioflil/n. btu only if,b., secrions8'lYC" up Thci.
of tnling wily (and monilOring The Cofl\"t mion'l doings). Twke a week.
or henerloldl,twkce\"Crylcndays ..... Duld besufficient . .!I)hw:Ulhebcginning
"f a whok ..,riC"luf mO>"CS by tM Jacobin. henl_d in. and (v(muall,. (>\>1
an end 10, the It\.'Tions an intlcpcndcnt force. This doth. COntnt in which the
",en .. nl Vendcmioirc .huuld he understood. September is the month. ,
think. when DJvid 10"" lhe ke)' decisions in his painting of M3f"i1l.
I rclliu l hanrubbcdmyrcadcr'5noscinthcdelailofpoli,icsinI 7Y"
Art<llhal as'l daim. ynu remember, is that lhe defail of pu]ioo
is "'hat O.lvids M .. , .. t is madc out of.
Pulirks. I should S3f. i, ,he form par excellence of me conlingency Ihat
mndrmism ... if is. lh ... is why lhose who muderniun IK'\"('r
happened (and n.:M:II few who ,he)' are firml)' on its sidel to lhe death
i<ka 'hn :a .... , at ib mumcnr$ in the and ""'enticth
ccnlurin.. l()IJk Muff of JI'U)jlic.. as ils and did not il. I
think of Gmnul!', Rolt <>I Mtd"sa and Delacroix'i Lib .. rly GlliJin/l /h ..
... fCvurbtt in III}oan.! MallCl in 11167. of Morris. E.nsor. alld MtIUCI,
of P'''UQ :and Gllnnicd. of Rude's Mm ... ,l/oIiu and s;:' intGaudms. SI'oIW
M .... ori.2l. of M .. ddJ, /0' Diu,cmor. Mon ......... t to ti, .. Third IntnndtiofUll,
Ikrlin and \r,rebd. Colnsne and Gua<blaju:a. No one but a f()IJl, of
wuuld dent thaI politics prGvided the occasion for art in .so_ or aU of IheSt
The di"'grllC_nllUms on ,he wutd. -ucc,ujon- and -m.neriol.- and
un that in .or .., strong .... ,..., mO/krni>. a" n,,, only
ro form 0,,1 "f poll. ic.!;, hu. 310.0 '0 .he ,.xi.xm ;;Ind
of poli.ic.. .. in ..... Inrm i. "",kd _ .... 11: .0 "aMnlu.e i in o.her
..... cbim is harml<'Ss. Fo. we know full well m..1 Rubcll5 and
3$" cou ..., "'i,h m"'erial s Ih31 had polil;''$
ons.:ribnl ill ihem. Tht S.,,"tJldt1' dl Brtd,J. Ihe Triumpbs of MIl,it' de Medici.
.... kcs.6ut(>r3spi.:Il.dulr"1I0,,cdIdnd
- h Ihe f.om mndcmism. The $erl'ice 1m,. was 10
.he n:Jlm ,,/ allegory. ur - suhtler pt'rlormanec for uprr
.0 mJke ,f>, '"cry c."cryda)'ncM '1uiel ly mirJcuIQl1s . S"ffendc,. al lI....da
lamntM "'ling lh ..
"bou, VendCnliain: Year ! . ' 111 .. df'm, we .haIl1'<'l:, i. lIilI palpahk in D:lvid's
MoI,al. A,'Jin.he1l.oI{tand' .... r.il>f,rty. I darc Sol)" 311 thlft3ftist$ woold havt'
btl hal'pywilhlh.'itkaofth .. tll5<'lvesas3nt .... VeI.lzqucz. BUII I>clie\'ttl\;lt
in I'1",'Iier Ihc-y were nOl abk to bot any !uch thing, anu ,hal
3n;'"'II12tion of .hal imposltb,lil)' makCi ' .... 111 \lIIprccc-dtn,t-d , n 1M
of .HI. lum, on lhe impoibililr of Ir:onKCndmc:c.
This bSI is" si mpLr, not .0 ""')" ohviow. idra which )'(>11 woulcJ
lhoughr anyonr ;nI.,...,I .... in the IUtu of mock.nil)" would find i, t'3S)' 10
flU! .hat would he: II' tof 1 .... lerm
in .he p ..... po1i.ion. Moorrni !UI i, Aft. And An,or a crrt;un cult 01 An,
is Iht fi le (fUf $Omc) on which the impos.sibilllY of tun...:cmkoce hc:
d.nitd. Pnh3pl it the om si le We ru.\ . left. So defend it b)' an)' rllCans
and ""r in an: willed. folUd.
and ulrim3rc!)' futi' . W. may .,'(fI CK-apt<l (rum Ih ."m 31 13$1. Mudcm
unemill', say irs frkndf, ii iuS'! ,u.bee b.:n.3Ih which
the fC3t mattt:r of Jft - not just Ihe delights of manufxture, but what th<We
.... "Shb alw3YS s,"en unro, of .. i;;'on. ... 1".,,1," .....
whQIcuhk paSI- is kept in hc:ing. nO dOOM When I $:I)'
Wf"l", frknw
i ... 001 IIu, 1 doobl Iht p"ss;onoflheir ddellSt',ort\'cnlha lib
rhcturoccurr<'SpOIItl!. to much 11131 modtrni'itlisaid oflhc:-m$("I\'. Rut mod
.rn.s.m. we: dun sec, is " proccss th31 deepl) misrc.:osm16 liS own narore fot
much of .he lirllC. How could;1 no. be? II is .... . t. And fnr An 10 abandon .... hal
Aft muSI .nrcn'idy had mn. 300 10 I'r,)Ceed, nomlheleu 10 gu (on
I .... world ol .... rwi ... - IUS! OIh wi .... 1101 cp;tom".nl Of - "
nut likely In happen wlrhoul "tI kinds of fC;1ct;onfo.marinn on the r-an "f

T hc rem:oin.. '" be p'()"cn, I kn"w . .... nd Ihe i. 110' munl
to 3PP))' th<- boord. I nOl S;I)'ing anylhillg <IS 1ru.1
- all Of any modtmism - is or Irying idio"rnlly 10
<kmol he of (amoogorhtli) Corot, Monel, and MaliOS(. My argument
i. Ih3. I .... of wirh politics 31 ul'uin Iclli us
"'mc!hing abnut ''''' to lerms with .he world'J discn.:hanlnw:1lt in
ct:ll. Corm, Monel, 3nd Mamse had thcit own ways of dcali"8 ''''"h 1M same
".uarinn. I . hould say re.:ogniud rM world's disomchanlmen. in
(with <I KIlse of Wh31 wn 31 that pUI thcm Courbel. Manet,
- opposed 10 Tb.!odore RollS1o(':lu. kenoir. and Ile""n, fot
enmp!e, 10 dM)<)SO: dif .... -ult poinl) of WnlJ'ilri,.,n. 1"bt f;KI mar Iheir had
nOthing 10 s:ay 300UI the Dreyfus .fbir, o. that M;/.T;SSC dt..:idtd nOf 10
disturb tltl husband's by him die 1I.'3 working fOI the
is oot apropos. TMrc and drumwurhb. Anyone
nOf of secing Thlt rdh lIS more than anforlt elsc, in th" laM
h"ndmJ yuro; "OOUI whal drt3ming ilorM h;!.! bctlfr giv. up on modem
bm right
I have tI})howwhl t me;n, IMn, by lOaying Iha. David'sAla'.J,krulnson the
imfM>lo5ibilil)" of ;nd jhow, us politjc, 111 ,be form of 11 wurld.
On 111 July [19', a Sunday, .here a ':e",m<nly baving 10 do with
Mau! in Ibt Cluh dO'S Curdclien - [hal morntnl Ibe Olher gUI .:enttr of
Jacobin polilics tw=sida lhe $oriilc",ffl it$tlf. A of stood bdo",
a small alIa! erecled 10 Mar3!'$1<IInrd hean . f-br,JI had uS(d ,he: CorddicB 3S
3 haso: for his "oliti(al upC'falion .. aOOlhc
from his bvdy jUS1;/. hdo",. TM murder had I"ken "I:aer On
lair!' wrilers about picture been foAd of makin): thc(!)mp:uiwn
bcrwtrn ;1 5trm to Ihink coml"'riS(ln
of the And lherr i. nUlhing fO or 10 tilt wo, k
lhe Imkasc it. mC"1lI .0 60: lha, u.. 10 ","vr Mu:u from .. rcalm whre
whal he mum. .. n open qllr$lion. main .pe...:hmaker on
III Jul y this to s:a). U have two of from
o thou j nus. 0 thuu 0 ucrrJ of jO'SlIl, 0 s:acrrJ h.,." of
you alt'bOlheqll:lllydcscrvi nsnfourhumagl:' ... lr1 ul comp .... 1M Son ui
Mar)"Jw ..
lhe j:to:uhins311d Ihe Cordelitl5, l'u"l;.;an. arc the shopkrc:pen,J.nt1 thr
31t' Ihe 3riifocr3B. Jesu. , in .. word, wu a pmphn. aUI 1$ a
lih J..sul, MJ.af the pctIplc no QI1e bur them. lik('
detest. Ibe nobles and Ih. the I;;;h Ihe $windkrs. Ijh ""
never stop$ filj.lllins thOK plagues of we'ny. like jtSuS, he ltd purr
frusallifc 13 pujnl, _ shall sec, .... hich picture It,
lenglh' '" cmphJ.siul. likr jnus, Mar31 Wali eXllt'lMly lendt ... h.:uICd
hun, .. ncldinol"
P .... ."um3bty Ibe or:u()t rhoughr he WJS on ground. !kI1 he was wrung.
Almosl immrdl.:IId) ran imo trouble with pan of hi! audic","c, induding
some of M3r:lt'S most drdkalcd $upponcn. A ,,"- ns--culotl(, called Brochet fOI
ono: . who reponed 10 the duhon hiscfforu ro find .. ,uil3hkcunI3;no:'
for Iht s.1ercd heart IiI was elcnlually hung from rhe ceiling in 3 son of ";all,
"p","all a. (ull"",,, in nUlc on lhe:
payi"l! 10 , I\c ur.UOt':i latena.. 600< wi,b .he
par.ll1d I\c drew: Mar-II, h( il. nol 10 be (ompa",d ... i,h j M'" of
N .. urcrh; lOOn, fumed into God b). priem, sowed rhc liCtd$ of sUp.'t'$(i
lion on unh. he ck-fendw Kings .. 00 lhe con",.,. foughl ag.ainn
bnatidwn and dtducd war on tht Iblont. lr1\ hear no mO.f talk of

Tht..-c:dsuf fanalicism and all su.:h fiddle
fadd lt h,,\"1:' di.ligud !.ib.-ny tVU .IM- was hom
(,,""'isme tl /(Jult$ us /iJooi$($ 0,,1 In Libtnt $Om #In(tIJII).1
Philosoph)' _ ,r ... nothinl( but philMnl'hr! _ should Ix
I!uidlnl( M"M. Thf.y ......... no mhtr God bur Ijt..ny!u
Supposing I),wid h.:td!>ttn in !h" 3udi"n.:".,n 1.8 July (whkh is'\(K improb-
wh<e: ,id" would bn Or 10 pu. i. Ius cruddy. tv
exlent did the di!>.1grco:mcm betw""n Brochcl Ihr - Ihal ,s, .h ...
prn.>ibilily of .""h 3 di."W.,.,.."...,I. cnn among IhlM who .h"ughl Maral :I
t;uod Ihing - 'nform ,he making of Mar:II'S p'cfurr in lhe- Wtth ,hal
GiVC"l1 lru.( ... ' ... r)bo..!r 3Src:c:s ,hu ,.,me kind of anal,"",y hrlWn-n o.ri$1 3nd
HIICflIkd on 1j V ... ,dnniair ... - by Il<.oIh ,h ... pil:turf. and lhe- whok
KI'UP in Iht-Cour du i.ou"rr-lhe-n whu kind? And pif;turr actu. lly
Ih ... -I mean Imk ... il nuk ... i! pla .... ihl ....... en fa vi,,,,'c" lik ...
Tnbq:Inf1)""'"" ...
in the CorJc:li,," was about. Wbal at in il ! I talknl
of [la"M! pmsihl)' mdin" up Iln Ikoch .... s or .he oramr. sidc. BUI "'h...., sid""
werc ultimald}'? In what IoOrt of ",,"nle?
Vny lillw in "9' is simplt.llrochn.im ... "ampl .... iilt)' picaUyhardto
pio down. We know he linked Itl Vin.;cnl. the ltading lighl of IhI:
at thi$ mom ... 11I, ami lalcr.o Hthrrr 31111 his I1tWSp;:!pt'r, Ih ...
N.I' l)"rhrs"r. He luve fu. assoclatiuo. Cobh he
dr.lfh on 11 u parr of lhe ..eltling o f
u"Cuunr$ wilh lhe Htbertiou, Sub .. ul him into Ihe Yur onlr m
bc"rrno ...... M'''''fOli.l-on lj
f.V(11 if " "t. for rrain how cnlkd up, .lul would STi li 0(1,1\'"1
him .")" culaod-dr ..... poliliC;11 posi lion - kt dabpolitical poj;.
lioo - in d.echaO$of sunlmu f3111'9,. He $<:ems 10 luve Mcn
kind of hones! brok ... r, or f,OOlm,n. betw""n II.e Cordd.er$ thc
It Krud.et I qUQfW pre"iously :u in Ihe Club <k$
J3.:obins 00 l} Sepcrmhrr !hal lhe WCiclic,. pUlge hrforc
heing bound en tho< fI<-oc:het who a ., m<>&n"ng
wilhin hi s own lI.bra., bringing in I.e"". d.:!.$1 of arriuon and sm:oll
10 .it on the "",riti ri,.'Owliml1l.:mr"'; B.occhct w .. o put up ...
lilltllthe-Jd presiJo:ntofl hcCordeJicl"lolKclhc-club had been marginalized.>'>
--- .
1l,t>thct"5.repTCSC"Olal"cvoi(e.inuo!.erword!>rcpr<=Scnta,i vcinit:<\"ery
ulKcnainryaboulwho:relhercvoluIK)O".s.llisbc:inSsun:inJuly thaIMar:lt
- th., !\gure .. nd m ... m"ry elf Mar.lI-h.d 10bc nlhcccnt ..... ofr ... volulionaryloel f-
dclinirkm i. '>mhing ,;pecial. f."cryt.>ll<" "um SlIint-JUf.( ,<> Ruu)l" (himed
io with Ihal. aT leul for a while. hi$ being so vehelm11' about the preci5e
in which ,he Iodf-dt:linition 10 Ix done - Ih,sr I .... ms. my
nm and jal:qL1t.' Roux had bttn in 11K' room
... ."mf"'ar
Maral wu 3 maTtyr of liberty. lie pn:.pk, friend. - In thf scalf
of war we in. it is only the people - 1M linle J'Npk,.1.e pc()pk SO !!Corned
lilfle dnervinl: of scom _ who are ... apahlc of impming IJilxnYI o n .he
cncmits of ,he tl"olulion. Onl)' .he people 010 m;,k ... Ih ... m do their duty, fur
IhcmLOIQ silclK .... rNIKClh"'" IOlhal slatcof ... Iut.:uy,erro,soindispt'MDble
if tl.e )t1'\",11 work <lf ette it 10 he comumm"tcd lar>dl the St::IIC
orgam7.ed wisely . M>O Mal"3l Iud bttn a conscant ... af Ihe OIu.spare"'$.
,m, Ihe "H',"",' tk IHxe wlwm he numben-d artisHI. Thai
of specula ton, lind The peopk lack
IK: h3d :ugutd thu 50CIncr or laler the n:voJulion would Mand in nm of
!lC'lfmifM:: gruunds jilt /un: lho.- h.e had mrdkiM in London
3nd wrillm books apin11 "'ilh nUl Rev"I"I' .. n wilh a
,ho,o Jolleled Ihrough Ihe liquid an: in moeKln. di$p(rsing and
minglinll al random. Ihen llity wilh leu vi\xit)'. by thtr dr.lW
doser 101Icrm,r. lind in .he md they lah up Iheir original cl'>mhi nal ion
a);'\;n ... -"" Only -.I )erit$ uf 11CW shoda would prn'em Ihe uxial mixture from
hardeninlS ooce and lulal!. -It is by viokrlCClhalliberty mu.1 bratabli1hcd,
and lbemumenl i,eol11C-- thisonc /o! many);s ;n Ap';I'7" --10 organize
momcm3rily .he uf lilitny $0:1$ 10 crush Ihe dC$JIOI:i$Ol of kings. -
The Frc:n.:h kre is tipially (hillillf,' -GeM 1-' la qu.,n doi, dablir
13 liberr':. erie m<>l11CnI Clot vcnu d .. rganiscr moment3nCI11CnI Ie despo:Misme de
la Jiben': pour krJ)er k \k,putismc dn loi .
Ofcoursc Ilt.:rcis mu.:h in Ihis thai would JikclyapJX"!I,,,,lt.:Jacobins3s
Ihe)' stood on II.., ve. lte of Terror. Mual had often been "f lheir p:lI'ty in II..,
dispul':s uf ,t..: pr ..... iou. monlbs. Whn1lhe Ci rondim had ukcd for h .. arr"Sl
in nlly Al'ril. l>avid himKlf tr.ad rushed tu (he uibl,ll)(' ,houring: - I <lnTund
t(>u PUt nw to dc:",". I 100 am , vil'tU()'" man ... UhelfY will "iomph. ).> R)'
Ih(' lim( of dealh w:u largely reo.:ondkd \I>; lh the cmerging powen.
Mklitlel has -.I 'l;lrdoni(: for JU(lC 17'): "Rnlxspicrre and ,\1;1(;1{,

But look a(."lin OIl II.., phraow.s from I: Am; dH Ptuplt qUOled Th";r
conlcnl, Ikit rhclorial rc:mpcr3lu .... Irc typical of Ma,. t's
journalism. And an: enough 10 l U,l;C'S1 ,hal, m;on.:i1e<l or nOf, Marar
plOmionl III Ito on being a mixcd bl""';ng for R ..... olulion3f')' gO,""mmcnl _
ct.l3inl y for gnvcmonof Rohc!;picrre'i vision and Myk.1t W3< nor: jUllI
Mar3!'s h.,billlf adopting tilt willksl and bloodiesl form of C\'cn when
Wh.al he was WII a .mJinuy ... f lhe:
mnnopoly of force. (i.cf u. not caU il a War Cabintt or an F.mergtlK')' Powtrt
Act.lC1 us all il liberty. ) No. w:u il nwrcly Ihal he- St<'JOd in lhe
lhe Jarobins' c11Cmic$ as symbol of f\'u}'thina Ihe but
did 001 dcc:lare (The Girondilt$ had far from givcn up on
Maral after II>c failure of their .... ".il campaifl,ll against him. He the
who had given rhe signal for ,he Stplcmbcr MIIU3Crc:.. 81uoo W3$ 51ill un his
hc::ad. <:h3r1une Cmday p:1r1 IIf a Girand;n circk in Cacn wh"re IIKh
wu cummunpllKc.) It al!>O Ih11 Marat's unswerving idcnlificalH)n with lho,o
"tHple uf Paris - oM.;.idcd is 'M have been, his
linh wilh lhe popular dubt. and were 'enuOtU-led him lime and 3gain
lu give voiR 10 po.ilium; IIn .he thar all orner panic:. agreed

In '79', for example, It.: had been It'S! alune in opposing Ihe lui' fA
whkh pll' an end II' \\'orkt'l's' nOt hr dii:1ppruvtd
uf removing 10 'Iff !fade - ,hal would have bttn '0 hii
whole pl!ilawphe ;nherilarK< from ,ho.- ground up, which certainly he WIIS
incapothle of dlling - hul thai,", IhoU",,1 w, .. ken from galhcring 10
dis.:lIss ,,",i r inltreMS wa ... in a rimt uf lrouble, one mOre way of depriving It..:
'eyulu,iun of A"d Ihi, is lhe typi .... llrajn:lury of Maral', poIillC1. A
rcrribledclcrmiltlrionIOfor'fl,eOfPm.crvelhoscweapon, riull (inhisupiniun)
mighl with a wish 10 I.fl"'k fo r and
n.i"",n1. Nn nn<' i. rh .. the w mhin.o.tion led to,. s!,itk or cunsislcUI
politics.. or to one tl\;lt rm him 1l$Il.ltlr odds with tht ja(obins. A ]()f of Ih",
in I ?9J II is mo ..... II tjllt"Sliun of hi, seeming I() Ihe 10 do
.... h.1f nrtC10ury 1(\ ,umihibll< Ihnr enemies, ""en if - in MU3t', (JOK.
if -ll\(ocncmin \0 b..- spt".1Iking in the 11t/;/ prup/6 nanw.
MarOlt .:alled (ad)' 'Ill for an rod 10 Jactju.,. Koux amI Ihc t"fIlKiI." 8m
""0 Ihe logic 0/ Turnr ktl back 10 thr WI of cb\.li p3r.1.Joxes.
i'1ml,,;' mo51. br I>au,"" Ihr y ,. fJC1iun. Tho, . nolulion has no
room fur faction. h-.1u.., i, is OM and indi" i..ible. fia1U(' irs s'eat lemu are
NOliun ami Peuple, smllolor and Rut if the Peoplr and
w .(tC'i#O,lhcndtx'l th3tmr"nth3ItJ>us.,who.KIu3UYlTUkeupthrm;l!orilyof
.. rr the Propk - fur $Ome reUon .. yC1 nnt pfOpt'.ly
An'! .:nuW Ihtle bt S..eh;1 te'prntnt;lrion without lhe whole curfent p311(lply of
Ihe sule-lhenf'l.'<:Sj.3ryllm'Or <)flhc.evololionindiftkull;.,.-bc1nglhruwn
uuo the melting pol? No a os .... cr:o 10 IhnequeMionSmlCTgrd in Y(".lr ,. Tho,
qun1lnns only dimly anJ fi tfull>'. Bur leaSI
"",m. 1<1 impdled him tuwnd point wk .. , io how ..... rr prblcd
and a form. tl\(o qUeilioru nmc up.
M 'l1;it was dfnot' 10 It..- ja''(Jbin;.. th(,.,. In my .;.-.... Irom
Ihtm -,ht im311e of poliliu he for exceeded Robcspitfrc', 3,><1
<'foci", 1 war. - 30<1 il nOl COI1M: 3 . urprtSC' lhal a fln' his
nf Ihought li'lle h3d come 10 make Ihe disllnct;un
r'K M;I<t; Ibtl ... (bys .. in;lIIion, .... ' ,6 Jul y, J3'q ......
Rou" puhlish(d is\ue 01 Mat:u's "" ..... s p"'f'<'., I. t I ..
('''''f"lu pa, ,'.1"',,/, /,,,,,,; "" P .... plt. Whal!!3Ve him ri!Vt1 ((I do
so. daimnl. wu tht h:mi!'d he hnl uf 1M It..- f<'<kralisl$.
Iht modCl'1I ln, Ih( ho"den, !hr mQflopulisls, the t pulatol'$, IIIe-
inlriguers. 1M .lind bloodsuckcn (If 1M pcuplc'J - the mute' (umplY'
Ihc bener hi, l1li( to Maral', legacy. (Unlike lhe people in power,
waS Iht implin li.)n, whn h3d di ... ovrKd Ih3' mndc",IQi and mo"opull,,) have
their u>ct.1 AnOlh(, ''''.181, ThWphilc leduc. foHuwrd ."il with a run of
I: Am, JII I'nlpk in .... mmer and urly /all. Ho!krt. in lhe Pm DufflrsTIr. tu;.hcd
to a ... ore hi. rca.k", Ihal no duoS<' uf mUlhe .. d ..... "5 nn\.:l1')' : Ihr manllc of
tell on him.
sIgns lieN nOl "' mu.;h. They ( QuId havt

u'Ultdies In w()fd", "-lIh
no vtry deep III 'mcrnlS in play. But I do nut think .hey wert. Two
Ihings OtMrw;K. Fi'$! htre is .he of the JQcohins'
10 'he ."r.1l/h bid for and n. al:-e Mar", lheil lotem. And
st'I."und, Ihe IiIn lhal Mar.>!'s ..... hpl 5pTr.ldinll aDd lr.>nsmuri11j; in I3le
summtr, in ..... ays lhol.;iorly an)' ont p3r1y'. 0. Joing.. ThrIY
in 1. Soboul is nOialone in thinkingil had, fora while,
Ihe iitM "I.mmclin,s of IrUt rel igiosity aboUln. 1r wn" cult in lhe mong K11S(.
lhen -lht Itlr $til$('. Ptoplr g3Ihering, .hat .ugi.c f",m
in' ... 'in".hcir Itarsan.l hopcs in a singlefillu.e, lii<c
let me !>cgin dhCTiplion uf I'rocCM with what 'he jllCnbins .lid.

CoOt\tmment) and pressure from belo ...... I dlink Jacobins ..... ere often trying
II) dr.tw SOlI\(" 5uch IiI!<", and !\tiling. tiler "'tTe on 1., Vcndemiaire
F.qu311r. Illc IICcl!<" tile t'Ild (If July in the Con:lrlitN some Qf
oj an ufficiat oc.:asioo. Ttot orMor nu.r .... cl1luve thought hi: w:u .peking a
J:u:obin ..... ould approve 01. But thu dotS not
enriclw In take Brucht"t <khering 1M tn,"giJ' tina, or Hibo.n's. Ma)'be he
..... 3$. More likdy he thought he right M the Cl:nter. II ",.alone
as he had Jof'l(""thc day before. for ao urn 10 (.,.nlaio
hun, and anolher to glory in ,M- an;tlogy between Ihc ne ..... cult!.
and they were to di.placc. yes, nOlhll11'; hUI
philosophy! Ill: thc Rcpubli.;an's guide. Whal ..... ould Robespierre find
m d')3gfW "" it h in ,hal?
The J .. oobins i.,.und thcmwlvf:1; Bq;<><i ... ing with 10.,. IhinS- 100 many
imeml$andencrgies-c::t ll ingtMmlCl\"f:1;Mar.aI.Thisisputoflhclension thal
makf) David's pic{ure SO spellbinding. Hul it dots not foll.,w tll':l1
wa, Sri" 10 11M: jacobin mill. Lina i':ot dra".". quickl)" and h.uully.
Rnbespierre broughl Mar:u's ...... dO'l>. SimolK' E\"rard, heron: Ihe 01 1M
c.:.n'eot;on on 8 August, and bad her specifically dr:nounu Jacql>C5 RouK and
- wntcf"$ .. . <ownri nue
and mah his spin' sJI<'ak. in IU hi. memory Ind Iud 1M
:lSIr.ty. _l< rhal he is dud, Ihty Ifying In pcrpcfU1UC the p.>lri"dal
c:l lumny which him oullO be a crued. apo5tk 01 dison:lcr and aru.n:h).-"
On 11. Jxqucs Roux W:t5 fnr Ihe first lime. On S Scp\"cmber
iai lw fur g<:")(\. Ller.; di.uppc.:lrs from (1M: fttord as 11M: fJll
pMCl'("ds. He h..ad ICtn Ihe ..... riling on tlw: wall. Hebert won fighring
fUf his life.
Maral was 100 important and voblile .:I polilical sign. Ihffl, 10 , hare
with enemies: especially Ihose whn ..... anled. his ghosllo do lillk mon: Ihan
n:PCJI Ihe queslion he u ked in Junt, and b)' irnpl kation ofttn
-Wha! have Ihc,y g<lintJ from Ihe - "Ihey- being 1M Ptoplc,
nalUr;oIl} ... Uullbcql>C5rionwould noc be: robbcd of il::$edsc.implr by ['<roo
..... hn u;dhehad.
Mara. must go nn asking 1M ql>C5lion, with his ,harat"tmni( \"ehemencc, lIul
a Jacobin answe . The OIC3ory had In hne ",mClhing be ils
sign. Amung 1M signifying possibi lities on offer to ' ; 9 ,. hUrat" ","med one
01 lilt bc$1. AI lem in him 11\(0 OlegOI)" WIS pcr.s.onified. Thu mis}ll mean Ihat
Ih<- ..... dttr of cla;ms, ider"llific.lrinns, atld rMentmenlS wr.:lpped up in Ihc word
leaS! be C<lOCtntr.aIW into a fi gure - and thnefufe . lIapcd and
containcd. llwouldlak.c 50medoing.
Of course I am IlO'I $:lying Ihal Robespicrre and his hcnchmc:n ,:11 down
<)lie day ;n Augu$!: and worhd all Out. Job fnr you, Ciliztn DJ,.d. -
Nobody Lmtw w.u going 10 happen rw:.o:r in rhe .unlmer f>f 1193. fo"""rd
planmns W3S a mug's pmc:. BUI equally, I do Ihink Ihat Da"id's painlin& a
pictun: "I M3r.lr in Aug.m and s.:ptcmher was ,t..,pcd in - infunnw by 1M
b.mle oyer Malat', lcgat:y. OtherwilC I would nUl h.:ovc bnlhc,rcd 10 dcsaill<' it
in ", .. ; h d("lail. Whal mark. my "(",!>Unl off from ("on'pirJI;)" lheory i, nOi ""
much an a p.iori judgement history dOC$ not work lih lhal -1(10 mLlCh of
lime i, '" a feding in ("\151: . wilh IhcS!: TlUlnia]s, no sU("h
oomputing of advantage W;li p<>S1ibk. I mah a di stioction. in word ...
ht"lwrtn Ihf St,re of maniputalion I think was bl:hind 1M pnx:nsion un
its with the putge of the section next day) and
mote extended, more intuitive Jacobin effort to have Marat 'ignify in their
tetms. It is Davi d's effort in particular that concern, me, bur al.o the wider
Jacohi n negot iation with the Marat cult . And most of all, the implication of
David', painting in the negotiation. Soboul i, right. The ,ituation is out of
control. Surely never b. fore had the powers-that-he ina . tatebeenohlig edto
improvise a sign language whose very effect ivene on its seeming to
People a language they had made up, and that thei r
interests. (It is the comhination of democracy and headlong improvisat ion,
the pretense by leaders that they are truly ventriloquizing their su hieels'
thoughts and de,ires, that mark Robespierre'. Pari. off from Athens.)
No doubt it is eas y to , ay in retrOSpe<:t that the new language did nOl hingofthe
.<Or!. BUI that is not the point. What matters to lhe historical imagi nation, at
least in the first insrance, is how the aelors- eS!",cially the Jacobin. - saw
things. I conceive them as wavering hopelessly between cons piracy and self
deception, b.tween calculus of effec"ls and belief in their own symbols. No one
mOre pruductive1 y) than David.
The quest ion I poscda few pages back was: Supp<>SingDavid had been
pre.., ntin the Corddiers. would he have b.en on Brochet's or the orator'., ide?
And what would he have taken the argument )",tween them to be about,
essentially? RepreS"nting whose intere,rsi
At least by now we have established what ,tands in the way of a cut-and-
dried answer toanyof lhe above. But the David I imagine is notdis<:ou raged by
his inability to give an answer- more likely galvaniRd by the fact. It is the
uncertai nty ofl.oei in the debate that i, and make. him
most want to ioin in. He knew t hat Marat was a mailer, part
ofa process of "frcezing" the revolution ISaintJust',unforgenabl e metaphor)
and making it Jacobin property. He was aware of the steps had
taken to hurry th. process on, and why the step' had been necessary. Hewou Id
on the lookout for danger 'ignak lIu! of he took the
rhetoric a! face value. He that a new world was under No
doobt he saw in Ihe cult of:>.1arat the first forms ofa liturg)'and rirua linwhich
the truths of the revolution it..,lf would be made flesh _ People, Nation, Virtue,
Reason, Liberty. How could he not have thrilled, as Ihe summer and fa ll went
on, to the glamorous details of Marat', deification? News of twenty-nine tOWns
and vil lages calling them.., lves after the m3rI)'rcd sainI." Of Marat becoming a
favorite anti -Christian name for newborn babies. Of church after church, in
Brumair. and Frimaire especially, taking down the crucifix and Virgin and
purring up Marat and Le Pe)etier in theirplac"-onehisruriancoumsfi ftysuch
ceremonies in Paris alone. " "That the building previously St:rvingas a church
become a hall for ,essions of the sociili popu/aire, and in consequence,lhat
busts of Maral and Le Peletier be pur in place of,ratues ofSaim Pel erandSaint
Denis, its one-timo patron saints, and thalthc village of MennecyYi li eroy
henceforth be named Of and spC<:chcs and
apothws .. , many of them - particularly in August _ wilh much less of a stage-
managed look Ihan the one David would b. invoh'ed in. Of women going in
for 3 la Marat.""" Of Mommarat Mommartre. Of
dechrislianisMeurs p"rfecting a suiubly modernized of the cross, to be
accompanied bYlho imP"<'Cahlernurmur, "LcPclct ier,Marat, lal.iixrreoula
Mort."" Of prints and broadsides and terra-corta shrines for sans-culottes'
mantelpiC"Ceslfigs. 9 and 101. Of militam, on II Octob.r, just flvc days bcfore
the pr<><:ession, dragginglhe pomaits of kings and princesoul of ,he
TO Anonymous:Ol>elisk
wit l,C,memofL.
P.I.tj" wOO<!
Paiai. du and burning them in front of Marat', image (fig . II
and 12.1. Smoke from ,he portrait of Louis XIII hy Philippe de Champaigne. il
wa, , aid. wafted toward the bus!. II was the mo'l agreeabl e incen"" we
The"" details,a.[,ay, are glamorou,; and perhap. for that reason mi. leading.
There isaqualityoffarceorfactitiousnesstomanyofthern.andtime and again
one is on the "erge of dismissing ,he 10' las Richard Cohbdid,for inslancel as
" series of ludicrou, or vengcful S'Unts. which cut no ice with ordinar yrnenand
wom,n. And then one corne, across the report of a ceremony, or a petition from
a vil lage, or a phra", or two from a speech. which is suddenly free
of ,he slandard form, or the acr;yists' o\'erkill,and in which One ,hinks one
bei ng
born. Therr are many Olher BrochelS taking part in the proc .... Even thecro wd
.. inthe recorda,more than
a mob of peasant dupes egged on b)'a handful ofvandal/prof. "ionals. Wh
are we to say what it mu,t have been like to see the pompous encampment in
the foresl 31 lastgening its come"ppance! What group of men and wo men had
more of a right to Walt .. Benjamin'" "There is no document of
which is not at the same time a document of barbarism." Barbarism
had been their daily bread. Maybe it took a burning Philippe de Champai gneto
co,,,,inCClhemit need not beany longer.
The morc onc looks at th. cul t of Marat. the less dear it becomes kind
oi phenomenon one is S\udying. Which hiS(oryisi'partof? Of popular religion
or statcformation? Of improvisa1ion by the mmu or manipulation hI'
T .... question applies 1<.> II .. of 35 3 wh<.>k.
And Ihc answer ohvio<Jsly is b<.>I:h. n.. cuI! of Maral exisl$ at intersection
polilic:al rontingencyand long-term discnch.ntment of the
world. Maybe in its latlerguisc it often looks liha rear-SlIard aClion again.ll ....
loss of thc ,acred. I!ut here too ils forms Were unstable ami .mbival.m. W.
17'J3soastoprove , hat
the priesls had .aptuud and neutraliz.d MJ u, by pretending
h. was something more Ihan a mafl." Or OIhc1'$lbcsidcs Rrochn) making the
comparison 10 JesltS Christ's dij.3.dvantagc." We kflow that cven in Ihc best-
managed ...crion-.,.n in Augusl-thingscould happefl"'hich remindcd all
concerned that t .... cult's basic: wu far frQm
!t i, Oflly too tru. tlut ther. were dioconrcd, in ,he general u",mbly of t he
Bu"cd ... -MoulinS$CCtionlthevoic:ehcreisthMofth"su/ionnai,eJrhem
... lv."rc' ponding to an acculation from their ncighbo1'$ at Arcis1,cit izenJso
villainou.and I"'rverse as 10 applaud the mtlrdcrofMarat,incorruptibl "
Friendofthc r eople. Much Ihcgreal .. part of the as",mbly wa ..,ized wi th
ifidignationalt .... oco:urr.nceand, todoiljuSlice,dteidrdthattheappaliing
facrshould berccordtdifllhcminutcs,and ... reportcdIOthepublicpr<.>So
teulOr revolutionary Tribuflal so that he could unCOw, the perpclra'
tors and punish them ... Many Cilil-C11S who had oon lcd aSlray by intrigue
- rcal anan;hiSls, as you Jay _ now acknowledge their crrol'!. ThaI I"",ilies 10
the purity of our inttntions."
Is it wonder that Robcspicrre drew back from the whole farrago with

ultimately playing into one's hands? Had not the procrss kd -1 mnn
,he whole mad, for a religion of Ihe revolution - to the bishop of
Paris, no Irss,beingbrooght to thc b<tr of the Convcnlion Ofl 17 Brumairtand
wlcmnly abjuriflg his faith? And .hrc<: days laler 10 the Kandalou! (marvelous)
Ffle de 1a Raison in N<.>treDame? News was romi", in of the annies
in the c<.>unlrysi.k, making bonfires of "atues and riding
priests out of town on a rail.
B)' what righl did men who til l now had counted for nOlhing in the course of
the Revolution look round,in the midst of these events, for way ... tO lure
even good patriOIS into false measurcs, and sow confusion and dis<:ord in ou r
ranb? Ky what righl did they threaten freedom of ,,o .. hip in the flame of
frttdom, and b<t"le fanalic:ism wilh of a f\eW kifld! Whal gave
them . he righl 10 pervert lhesolcmn boomage p;:tid to Trulh in all iupurilY.
and make it an e"crlasting Wh)' did We let lbem dally in this
way wilh the p<-'Qplc's digni,y, and t ie ;ester's bells onto the very oceplcr of
Atheism ariJtoaatic, says Robcs pierre. that nrgument was not enough
toputanendwd.Christianizationstraightaway.S,illless lothecuhofMarat.
A.< laIC as 15 Floreal (I " May two months or so before Robespierrc's fall)
Ihc 5lioo Mara! can be found asking the Commil1s of Public: Salct) and
Gcncrnl SecurilY's permission 10 march Ihrough Palis ifl honor of in patron.
drumsplayi""choirssinging.rhreeofirsdaughtencl"",..,da. Li bcrty,E<jualiIY,
Fratemi,},. The committees were unimpressed.
l11eyare far f,om con.idering this project wonhy of .... g"'at an objcct, or
likely to realize il satisfactorily. Theycomidcr the idea ollne Ihree divinities
repre",med by Ihrce women ascomra,y wthe principle. that the French
I"'0ple have JUSt proclaimed way of the Convention Ithat is, RobespiNre's
Culr of Ihe Supreme Bcing), 3nd against all notions of good ",n",.
An order banning the proce .. ion was issued on 1 Prairial.'" A month or so
before, a police spy had picked upthewhispcr: "If Marat was still alive atthis
moment, he would h ,. been indicted and maybe
T his is to leap forward too far. For the purpo,"" ofund.manding
Da"id's picture, what maners is August and September, and the rdation "f the
Jacobins in thosc months to the popular movement they had hdped bring into
being. Outright suppression of theeul! of Marat - and of many O1her dcma nds
and images dear to the militants and the menu peuple - was nOl p<YSsible, an d
doubrle .. not wanted (yet) by Robespierre and co. They thought theycoul dride
the whirlwind. And pan of th. riding wuuld be to take the demands and images,
even those (particularly tho",,) moSt open to day-to-.day political disto rtion, and
give them Jacobin form. If that could be done with the maximum price, for
example (which had its origi ns in pure workshop resentment),thencertainly it
could be done with .\l3rat. For Marat waS their own man, eS'""ntially. H.
needed only be rid of the nils and shadowsc.st on him by the revolution's
enemies. us hack Marat whole [Redon"t ,"ous Mara! rou, as
Audouin shouted to David in the Convention."
O n one level I think Audouin and David would ha ... e undemood that
request quite literally. We know that Da"id hadoriginall yplann ed. in the wild
days following.\1aratsassassination, to stage a kind oftablcau viva ntusingthe
martyr's embalmed body, showing him in the attitude struck at the moment of
death. What had stood in rhe way of doing so waS the body. h wasnotenrire
in thel1rst place
On theeveningofMarat"sdcath,theJacobinSocietysent us, Maureand
myself [the speaker is Oavid, to the Convention on 15 Julyl. to galhe. news
abouthim. l found him in an attitude th. t 5ltuck me deeply. He had a block
of wood next to him. on which wcre placed paper and ink, and hi. hand,
5licking out of the bathtub,waswrit ing his last thoughts forthes alvationof
the people. Yesterday, thesu.geon who embalmed his corpsesem to as k me
how we should display it to the pcople in the church of the Co.delier<. Some
parts of his body could not be uncovered, for you know he suffered from
leprosy and his hlood was inAamed. But I thought it would be inurest ing to
offer him in the attilude I lirst found him in.

I gct the feeling thc emhalmer was already Itying to talk David down from his
l1"t idea of a scene straight out of the morgue; but David was nothing if not
stubborn (as well a,impressionable)and itwa, nOt till next day. after consulling
wi th secf;olllla;res from Theatre-Fran,ai" t hat he admitted defeat. has been
deci ded that his body be put on sh"w covered with a damp sheet, which will
represent the bathtub, and which. spr inkled wit h Water from time to time, will
prevent t he effects of
Surely one main thing the painting of Marat was meant to do was make up
for the disappointment in July. It would restore Whal had been missing. It would
be imperishable. Instead of metapbor and stage hus iness. it would be trans-
parent to the faCIS.
We shall not get the measure of David\ amhition for his MMat. in other
word" unle" we understand the depth of his commitment to literalness and
oompl .. in painting. is sti ll full of Ihc idea in his presemation sp.:"ch to
ConvclHion on "The people demanded its friend once more,
its grief-slt;chn voi"" made itself heard. it pro"uhJ m)' art, it to see its
faithful frienJ's fearure, again ... l heard the vo;"eofthe peopir,I oOcyed:'
Everywhere clse in translating I have madepeuple plural. as is usua l in English,
but in Ihis ca<e David', mdOOmmatic singular goc'S to the heart of the mailer.
Le redcmandoit son ami, sa "oix so: fa i.air entendre. il
pro"oquoitmonan,ilvolllaitrevo;rlestrailsdcsonamifidClc ... j"aientend"

Partly the stress on litnal recreation he re has to do with the fi ction. w hieh
..,ems to drive David's whole ptoc<'Cding, that what he has made is the people'.
image - asked for by them, addressed 10 them, of one of their number. "He met
his death, this friend of yours, gi"ing you hi s last morsel of bread; he died
without "'en having enough money for his own gat her round,
all of you! mOlhers, widows, orphans, downtrodden soldiers - all )ou he
defended,lohisownperi l. Approach! andcontcmplalc ... '"Forpi"turcs. inlhc
people'S eyes, are mira des, what everyone Ihoughl waS lost . or mayOc
justsubjecl to time and fevets, comes hack fore\,er;nto the world. To call this
illusionism seems to me 10 Iriv;alize il. It is conjuration, n"roman,)', made
by Ihe force of "ol!ect;ve will
It would take uS 100 far from our .uhjea 10 discuss how much this view of
painting'S powers diverged from David's OWn. Obviously David was a bookish
and elaborate paimer, 5Om"tim .. pl a)'ful in a I"gubrious SOrt of way. Bur I
should say t hat even at his most grandly discursi,'e _ in of/be
!i.Jbin .. Worn .. ". lor ullmpl .. (I\g. IJ) _ "1>:11 1J Ihe
all-o-r-nQthingSC'nSC'ol lhe reJI.
Thr grru bodin lumIK-r into $),"holk po:inon, finally. 001 ;1$ il
wcre on .pitcof the we'ghl uflhelr It is Ihis douhlMidedrn:ss
of D,H'ld's PI"on;!1 - lhe dfon 10 $ignify so oftcn odds .... i,h Ihe
for rmhodimenl - Ihal i$ lhe-.;IIK' 10 his wotk'$ immit;1hlt
8", <)i COIII;';- Ihr AI",.I1 .s ,ht itka o( comrle,r and
rrnderml! in art MIC by a politics of l",n.paTency.
,\ nd Iherelore siven hectic ,inaugu",1J iorce. Virtue was uO<>d uI' 10 lhe
lighlofday. VieC-lhe very ell"fenc:C 01 which urlaiucd wh)'fhtlTVolulion ,of
alllhmgs, mt:I w .. h - ""ushl Ihe Jhodo",'" All Ihe rc"OIUl i<)nDry
.. a,"do)'ou$IJrrO)llnd)"ou ....
:\oClva wi,h .hadow>; I .hall light inw the rnsa of )'our hcart, I
uocovcrthe srtt spnRgjof your eoudut1, I slamp on yoo. bmw
lhe hid,"(Ous(halll(I., of the pa.sl ... ns """"" this is D;1vid fighlin!; for
his lile In Ma)' in a publk indKllllC"l)I of his ao;uscrJ." I doubt theTe is a
in hi;, "'ritingi bnngf UJ dO!'C", It) lhe he;1U uf hi.
.. A
.. ",,,h1 nd ... M OIal()r al in
July in lurn Opening his eYd and murnillS Inc people'$
gn<'. bdo.td 01 ... 0pC11 )'our t)'('i 10 lhe lighl (In,,e again !lnd
Kc,n..5<>\ereil!nwhosurrounds)"ou[o ... "",,,,,uou/uyc .. 1tal.Jfumiiuetl'Ols
1 .. , ..... :'rQm '1m I reminded of ,he i.n 1,1;"' ''er Stnja,,,in
""M"" Ihe eh')IllClf,i";e "I Ih. w,,," of .... in .he Ilg( .... , ... "" n>Khanical
'(p,ooucrion t. 1<> he thaI ie In<>kcd haek ...... Of courk' Ihi,
illu$Km ,",,!Cd Mon lhe t"'lUpo.;I;Un of;1 rnpnt'1SC' common in human relal;"'n-
eo 1M ",fa';on,..,i!' I!clween lhe ur nalural objn:! Ie
WJS a qll:llllr 01 lhe work 01 all b)' i.s uSC'n;. Art Pr.Jcri still bore
lhe of ils iJcginnings 10 magi<:.
May!xiIISlruf lhal inlhccnd,heKkindsofculrici""t'SIIIl<'nrsmarrworks
Wtff (or "'ill be) 1$ &nlll11in iI, by <ksi'" of COnTCOIpcH"My
mA.1oO 10 bring .hinp cio;.c:r _pal;3I1y and humanly, "'hich i. jUlil li.-r b

Spalial humall d<>KlldIo is iMisw.l un with umqlot: p;Io.s;on in
Dav,d's p.:a'n,,"G of :\Ohnn. And Ihal (;It1 i. hound ur, you .... iIl K"lhcr, ",,"h lhe
f>ction of COftfempoury masses. R BUI nothinji: I ha" r foond
Ih31 Ihis undumin..! wooi:'$ maGical ;ddrns - ;1$ abilil)' It> Iouk ha"k - 10
lho" who 'IOIW i, in If an)"thing il rrinfon:cd il. A. ... $ having I{I
;1 done for thc (50ho.,I', - Art w .. , no longrr for a
pO"il<'ged al 1e:I5'I ini.ially, 10 !Tin"Cnlion of il$ culr
aJi Ihe mo.e ursrmly Ih. >tak..s wCle Oott al;ilin $<':C'TI 10 be hiP!. An
had <luI theen d"'SSCd OUI) of Ihe du Font;1;ncblc;1u. That did nOl
me"" ;. was fe!ldy 10 un<kNf;lnd ilS plJCt in dis...nchammell' of the world.
TIl<' "'holr hlltory of moocmi.m could II<' wrillen in tenllS of ilS coming..

in Ihe C1JC of ltot: Manll. i. a Ipc.:it'k form 01 whal I been
ulling contingency. Anothe. ",.,dr.niol word for il il; imm..!;:Ky. And On<
.hing Ihe pinU!T <If Mual demonstraln i. dwcllin!! on lhe$c qU;llilia .10ft
n(>l necuS;1lil)' 'lI<";1n th3t the "'ork of 3rt uillo from ,he ,<';1lm ... r nlIIgk. Any
how(,'<" ullhbound, ,s r,pe fur artislic .""ul\guT:ltioo. In ble Monel.
immcdiaq .ak"", 011 mct.-physical deplh. In mOSI u rl y rwrnt;cth<cnlury :HI,
conlingeflC)" is as Ic.:io:knt o. and inw",.td ",".,h sini<,c'
glamor .. r say, is always part reaq(uard action al:ain<t the truths
it has stumhled on
besides David in Year
Roques (fig. r4) - it is safe!O assume that Roques', painting derived from
David's. but his treatment of the sUhject isdilferent in all sons of ways - then
ar least we shall get a dearer idea of what David took the request nOt to mean
Koques, we could say, took Audouin's words at face value. Offering t he body
whole. lor him, meant giving it a fair amount of space to occupy. It involved
putting the ,iew .. hack acerrain distance from the bath andorangc: boxes.

from a high enough vantage point fm its front and backsides, as well as the
bloodstained water, to bedearl)' visible. III is not that sueh things are simply
absent in the David, but information about tbem is kept to a minimum.) Of
course decorum, and maybe "erisimilitude, decreed that much ofa male body
in a bath Was going to be hidden. But what there isol it on show- almost
exactly as much a, in,he David-is astruetodeathasa Tu,saudswaxwork.
The che't and rilxage catch the light, and the blood lrom the wound looks 0 nly
half dotted. Roques's Marat isall skin and bones. His flesh is an oilyg ray. Over
the collarbone it seems strcrched almost to bursting. Mouth and jaw are set in
something too much like rigor morris. Bbck hair falls out of the turban. The
chesthasanipple. Fingers are bony and prehensile. Ina word,this body belongs
(too much) toa possiblcworld. It is tOO much undre,sed as oppo,ed to naked.
The cloak on ,nc wall behind and the hat on the back swank
Jacobin hat, with tricolor sash and feathers - are ju,t the last straw. Even
without them Marat would have had tOO much the l[)(lk 01 someone surprised
by death, and nOt given time to compose him,;elf for it. Now might J do it
Noncofthis,asfaraslcantell, isthercsuhof.omereser.-ationonRoqu.,'s
part about Marat and the revolution. His painting wa, presented on r 6
Prairial to the CI"b de, Jacobin, in Toulouse, a gifl from the co",,,,;,sa;re
Desbarreaux." Hard to imagine a more orthodox pedigree. But all the same, the
features I have been pointing to put the subiect at ris k, J think. miss the
poim of David's el isions.
In David's painting. Marat's body is maneuvered into a state ofinsubst anti
ality. This is not to say that thc armS and torSO, which are what we mainly see,
are hidden ore,'en made difficult to read. But rheydo not elicit the kind 01
scrutiny_rcpcllcd,butforthatveryreasonfascinated _ thatwefindoursehes
giving the corpse in Roques. They do nOI detain the in the ,arne way. This
is partly i,kept in shadow, and one
which in David's ,reat ment of it S""ems to make Marat much the same substance
- the same abstract material - as the empty space above him. The wound is as
abstracr as the fi esh. And the blood coming out of it as impalpable as thread.
(Olcour", the econom)' here is chilling. I Even these sigmofYiolencr wo uldbe
enough to call the body back to its death throes had its arms and head not fallen
into such strict, almost mathematical order. Neverhn-e horiwntalsa ndverti-
calsbeen '0 settled. The laws of gravity have spoken once and for all. So thar
whatever might have been obtrusive and particular about body - all the
untidy spedfics of irs martyrdom, all Roques's di,hevelment - is quietly set
aside. A lacr put at ninety degrees to its normal orientation, and perfectly
frontal,by that lactalone exi,tsatan infinite distance from the world we know,
where faces return our gaze. We do not look to it for emotions We can
recognize. The face is further estranged by being miniaturized by the turban.
(And whya turhan,anyway?1 Miniaturized,and robbed of the normal si go,of
masculinity. asan eggshell, but of course invulnerable. Howtouehing
the wisps of hair on the forehead! How heavy the eyelids and delicale the
mouth! How accidental your kindest kiss
SaimJ usr blurrsout a fear at one point in hi,E.tpril de la Revolution. lest
"perh"ps our children will oftneirfalhe"I"'"
f"(al1/$T()"giwntp,tlI-e'retil!$'abieJ"xdfcmllle,de/Cllr>phe'I ."" Buth.
.1grc<;"nal "th. r'\'ol ut ionary IS impl"cabJc toward Ihe wKk.d. b utn.""man
of fcclinH ... Mamt wasg.mlein hi,o\\,nhom . he terrili.d only traItor . """
The ,-!u .. litie. nere are hard 10 baIOlne . Salllt-Just's 'preeh .. ",. partly about
re"ulmionJrY I><>ughtal,heCOSl uf maKlIlg him too linl ... man.
I remember talking nn <>1'" "",as;un Olbout the Al aml. and someon.'.
sa)';ng wh. n I lin;.hr<! Ihal I had on al length about e\'e'}'lhUlg in th.
pi""r. ncept .\ l3ml him!<Clf his dead body. his physic'al pre ... nce. It struck me
allh"limeasa true ons''''a,inn, and somewhal c'rushing: and il wa sonlrlaler
I Ihat what J had left "UI. Ihe pinure in a .. n", left out too. The body
is nOI , nne in the III Ihesamc \\'a)' as th,> other main obit'<:" Da>'id has
gonc[Usuchpaimtomakereal.lris lcf'asag,>m>,alily:.kindofs<:aff"ldinH
on which paniculurs - U!lrih"rcs, writing" instrument. of the pOls,ion -
arc hung. Or J ma,hine!O hold and di,p"' y them. If il holds them properly
wil l bring Ihe machin. hacK 10 life
Th rcCI;mesinhi, pre""malion speech David ",rurned 1o the idea lhal WhOll
he had dom' in his picture was maK, M .. al's f.,rur., his lrai ls vi. inl. again,
"Th" peuple demand.d its friend "''''c ,no", ... II to sec il> faithfu l
'4 J"",ph Ko"!uc.
DJlh ufMa'''',uil un
_,."was. 11 5 x 16 1.
To" loo ... 1
friend'sfealures ... "May hi,vanquishcdenemies grow paleagain..,eing his
disfigured fcawr< ..... " "As your eyes run across Marat'. livid and blood
stained features, what yuu",e will remind you of his virtues [Vos,egards, en
ve,lIIsl ., ," Obviously I am not pretending thm blood and disfigurement are
sintpl yconjuredomofsightinthepiclure.Butldo thinktheyareovershad-
owed by the play ofolher , igns rhat catch the light more strongly, or .. aeh
forward into our ami space, And given the depth of David's
commitment w an aesthetic of bodily revelation, this should strih us as a
into the innermost your heart."
It is not that I now aim to turn David's recommended procedure on him. God
forbid. But I do want to know what it was in Marat that could nOI be written
on Or with the body, howev .. much David may hH'e wanted to Imay have
believed he was doing); bur had in'tead to be given us literally to read
Onone level the answer i,ea,y. It is implicit in thcmatcrial presen ted
SO far about)l..1arat's place in politics. Maratcould not be made to embody the
revolution because no one agreed abom whatthc revoh,tion was,leastofall
about whether Marar was its Jesus or its lucifer. David's picture - Ihis is what
makes it inaugural of modernism - tries to ingesr this di'agreement, and make
il partofa new culr objeC{. David 'pell. rhis our in hi'prescntationspce.:h. He
knows he is making an image of Maral againsl many (maybe mOSI) other
image, of Marar in circulation. The picture i, addressed, somehow "vcr the
"Posteril)', yo" will be
his avenger ... Humanity, you will say ro rho"" who called him bloodthirsty,
thar never did Marat, your darlingchild,give you cau.., to weep [P" SI<'r;li.l"
Ie venge,as ... Human;te, II< dirasa ccuxq"i /'appelu;enl que
iamais 10" enfanl cheri, q"e jama;. Maral. ". I'a fail verser des larmesl .- Hut of
David is fully aware of this , and of the spt...:ial pressure it pmson picturing.
even you, I conjure up, execrable calumny ITo; meme. i f /';voqlle.
execrable ca/omnieJ . . . - - one can almost hear David gasping at his own
(nccessary) daring. For how on earth will it be possiblc to secure an image 0 f
Ma,"t's saintline" if one ha, to find form for his demonilation atth. Same time
- in the same canvas - and show the deadlock of truth and lie as now
conSl itutive ul Virtue?
This is what I meant before by talking of contingency entering the imag e,or
of painting being forced 10 indude rheaccidcnt and tcndentiousnessof politics
of what showing now is. The carrier 01 truth and lie in David's picture, needless
to say, is writing. Isn't it always? BUI wriTing infectS the picture's whole
economyofillusion.Thaliswhat is new. i1s procedures overtake those parts of
the picture thatare,oroughttobe,unwrillen and object i ve - emp'y ,faewal,
unoccupied, material, merely and fully present - all 01 those words we have for
the part' of a world where words seem like aftertboughts. Writing swallows up
the figurarive in general
I rem one, Charlotte Corday's letter, Written in a brave, 'quare, super-
hand. Two pages long. Well lit. Tbe first thing we look at in detai l
13 juiller, [793 ." it say' . (The revolutionary would not Start
u.uil <XIo"" . 1 " Muk an,.,.. Ch;arlol!e/(;o.rcby au
and addr_. "[h(, basic comporn:ntl. nr of lilt speh aL""1:. Then
",I suflil ql.lC ie sokfbrcn Malheu",USI> fCJ.pifa l Ml /p ... ur avnir Droit mort
fomoal capilal ilia "II lufk." Ihal I am Ifuly Unfnnunalr
ror me 10 have kiWn 10 you.
Of <:OUrfC" the quile from irs (Ol1lent5, is a IOU. de force uf
NUing to mInd Ihe sct:l.P"'of-P'lfll' $ign;lrulTS in Bellini 0. Zurbar.o.n.

il("$ in.1l1e ",aduw on 1m, gr<"<'n Even ,m, blood i) hke
pullen (II smoke. II gray, green, lhumblUiI holds onr., b'ffllfe,I/a"re lib
llrim dealb. The p.:Ipe' Hackl("$ under its prts$lIlc. I kn<>w of lew monl(nrt on
painling,hal $(I ;nisl 00 Ihe sr.an!(c Ihing lhal WIlling it - duldhkc. formal,
Cmr.1lKlng. not Icclingllo of il c,'en in deuh sum) lhe by
rohis,ulner.o.bl hl}'.
The ph.3loai in the Inte. 50.> rell lis., from one found
on CharlOlle e".day arrer her arresl. She had the btlltr of using it 10
g3in 3","""" II) and in .. ead anolMr olft-ring 10 ...
in IItI n>l;ve dIy, un>. ThaI wu 1l11.1ranlc..d !O do Ihe Irick.
One .... I\y for the allcrnative.
" I I sulli l que ie S<>is TM pictu.e ,urns on 3 "3'f
nltlH Ihal is true - lilt pictu,e a whole is 00110 shoW;1$ trulh

know how close: , ... I>.,..id Upc\1N his VM:wer (0 be. Someone ku lruSling
. 79}migh'c'cnhawbttnputOllguardhrlhefacrolC. .... r1onc
al the m<)mcnl when
such martelS we.e on r"",,oluricmari(s' minds. Mil &IOU. i, for A!QJI.,(Ifr.
10' i. SUil"bk for G,,>y"': 10 '1"<. ,h. O>ro"iq .... d" P,m' in O:.:Iobt-r
Ttt is , he langU.1ge 01 lrulh. "Jnd un .. , th( language: of Ib" comptimem . 0'

fa"l in 179j Ihal il uncluf ilDavid ... ould have Ihnughl be
"Ollldptayuf'On IMm.CC"a"'lyb)" IIu:I; ..... he ...
jnmof spt"h .... re Thoroughly 01"1 10 Brumaire a dep,ml;un f. om
1m, pop .. /ai.ts ca ..... ""faIT the Con"(I"Itiun 10 ask IO! IIIto;tm .. ", 10 bt
Wflll." '010 IJw. lind lhe- C.onvcntinn 3grttd. T" "':u b .. ncdorth Ihe
lorm of Ih. French bng\l!lge: ,m, C..mmirte($ of Public Sokty and G.""' ..... l
Sc:rurit), Wet. to Uk"" il III tbeir and rorn:spundencc." There was t,'cn a
nlOve $Onl( wHks t;.ler 10 spoken 3 Ihing <If rhe p:lst.
The Ihuln Cll,hcd 'n on Ibe mlK: of the mo ..... nt with pl;!.y
entitled I.e VOlts tI /to 1m. The- n..;'; I.e Nu'onal followed up .. i rh one called LA
Pw.Par{.lI1eigll/iti:o"/e l"dle loi.
BUI the (:ue n;on'pl ico.ttd. T"lD'tmenl was a .an ........ lorte idea.
lh. o."".,nl;On'$ a.p'ing if on 10 Brumai.e wn p.:Irt <If it:s gern:131 Mgiving
wound hut lTuinillA ronlroll)ver Robpitrrc In hJ'<f
uM'd the so:ond peMn from Ihe rostrum. Thu.iO! PUI paid 10 Ihe idea
of spoken varlan wiTh a S(nltn.:e or 1,",0 lofty
11,1 mt typical of Jacobinism - ,hal is. 01 Jxobinism'S OIMr (mosl ollen hIdden)
side. " It IlUO .... ilhoul sarins ,hal _, is absmd. thaI il is 3 Jtlammatical
(frur 10 ,peak \Q 3 singk pt'l"SOn as one ... ould 10 two or Jtvual- bUI is it not
"Jlw COIllra.)' 10 liberty for e;liuns 10 be !Old how Ihey muS! rhem

W r proballly nnr. k!>Ow how dt'rI'I)' ;"8",incd in
SrJmmJr untruth wa. mc:llll 10 be. Blu il i, (rnain her knt'r e$Iabl i!.hes frurh
anJ falschOOtl a$ maml)' on. 'rnar is why ri>e ha. w
be-w>"uallr'p<"lIbinding. Onct-"'caredrawn 10 il. wt'all: IUlpected 10 Ihink
about wh.,'rt ;md 110,,' is <Arday's words all: alilrut. II whal
j,; ;n Ihcm. or be-lIlnd lho:m. Ihal II: .. to be- ""'Icd OUI - Wtu.1 be hiding in
Ihcir .hadow. If )'00 do 1101 tool il Otll J.OOn enough you dir. Tht"" a", lbe
or 1M Con"t'lltion in 1M summer ..... !'t' .. led ad nauseam In <ltb:n" afte.
tktu.I". Th.c:r al'l. "'ho,r nla<k Tl'trur Iht' order nf 1M
of ,IKe r,,"olulional}' Sllualiun, u Fum has ,{'minckd us.. is Ihal
in !(.nernl. or eWn II) a ","nW" of I'raaicoollimiu. "fhc, w<>r5C o"r, opP'_nIS'
Iil\jlulMl(" p<"rfidy. lhtmnr{'>'UlToneh<..-anlethoatlanltuagr.Qn"t ridoflbc-ir
aUtnli"n., m;Xhl "ill of lluud.l)i.scuurM' ."cpt the-
on. No one dreamt "f a SP;ll'C it.
"ju<.' a_ mwh a " 'nl",,, Charluut Curtby. lie .Iill pen hand.
Alluchcr I'"' is "",dy whtn Ih .. 1 Om" "'U,"" ')UI. lefl (Off .. rm rnl$ 01\ a pitt.
And IhnC". ifwt to<>k.OIrt" his "md ... plIcal point in Ihe picture
whc,cc1"OCflOSS. in beo:umes pooili"r nOS'ioO"n
'p"U of illusion 1o dle of the rell: on lOp uf IhC" o",nse bo.o)(.
Ulm .. !)t)' on il'\ f0fW3N OUI ""yond eM hox's fact.
( ..... hich ahud), by Iht look) of IO""C"1" 1"\';1(111..". "p ag;o.i'lSl Ihr
I'iclUre ptanrl, a sh:.dow UP"" il.
This is ... Iq;ihk. bul only just. Thr r)'( h,,,, 10 51",in fur .. readill!:.
mainly 1M ..... holC" ,hing i. o/ftm:l ;11 :\Cure r"".shonm.ng. al ..
dl31;0I'131. bUf .. llIOIIJu.ri.Sl1Uloh .. vrbft.nscr:m:hedoul
nont of Corday" dthbor.aoon. Wt" .. nnoc "" SuR" who I; addre.u.tng ... hom. Thr
lophalfof rhrktlu.looganJlhin,ishid<knbY3lll>'fher<erdp"fpapcr.OInJ we
pick Ul' whal i. on il $n'IIllnllll' in midflow - ma)'be nol tnn OIl Ihr $I;1n
<>( .. SCnlcncr. The !if$! "'<lrd - "ne h<>1"'" Ih;$ limt it if ,"cnu;ndy pluul - is
1"(} .. s,,""'s I)omrc' ... [or lTL:I ybt-w .. sDonn('1' .. :, .... hich .... ouldbtgr.l.mma,ic:lIl)'
m,,1'I: . ..... en if tht form of IItt w"rd', !iJl;1.11etttl does IIOf rnlly
fil Ihe (a>c: 'M D, hy III.: .... 3"/. WI...:hinsl) dunuy wilh
ctI/IUJIX''''( II nll .. lnlcre de j tn{,,,,s(n dONI Ie: mil'; rSI (hcrt Ihings
ot .... ,IO j!;rl difficult, Ihe 11(1' n ...... t pcrfunetQfy,:I' If t he ir ....
runninJS, 001. :lnd 1M 10 curl sli)!hlly upwardollpanj lor i. il
mortll ... />0'" t.. de{{e .. u (pow, dt{{t..u: of .... hal. Jlfe Ia
p.,trlt. . . I,. Myou will Ki,t thU i, ')I\e passi
.... MIO nlOlhrrot fi"r rhllJrrn hU<Nuli i. uff dc-kndi", Ihr
IIUI rhrrt 3 firo! pllr;uc: aU? Of coursc Ihtft looks ' " be
somtlhinK: bUI il is so KI';I.PPY alld ''""I;'till. ;an txlra few word$ WMrt
.... no ",om kft for anflbing. Ihal ,\I.e ........... doubleIJkel., as
if 1'l.'IU("Inr 10 ;!Cup' W'lIIng, of can Ikeline 10 Slalr of unrr
"isual Surely if I look JPln-look ilaldN'lOugb -Ihc:lrulh willOl.lr.
for.patiall)".lh,. 'StM pictUI"\'. Sf:lninK ptl;"I. It incarnate. No
rtadrr or .. ,r .... rr h r"er quilt' '-""lng to .CCCpl Ihal il alsn Ihe painr
Nurt;odcr,and,,,mrltll\uI.II .. Ifll2.IlYl"illltfS.'.':'hm l)avidhadhisuu.dio
do .. Ioo",d """"ilm of lhe- ",me limt O,tl rM ..... ineer _ .... t koow il " ,n
don.:unJel DJv,dS1iupc:r";$lOn.and 1',""umablrllH:'3nt 10 ManlUlactrtl'liao
_Wh"III,,1 lidif(! Ul' "'":I$txa(1I)' (ltitrinS-OUI of .\1.1."'1" "Tiling. E>'tf)"
Ihing on lhe: pir .. f paper op<"fl<'d :t lillie morr 10 Ihe "irwtr, p;trtly
I ) D 'I<I, 1 I>c.:;lU>C lhe jUl"'"r w3i 3110wed 10 dtoop Jown a triAt l(Jwtr from lh" lip "f rhe
orange box. In particular, the last three words, de la pMrit, are th is time d ear
as day.
Who can blame the po<ltcopyist? Something about the fact of the picture 's
most salient point being also its moment of illegibi lity is d..,plycounteri muitive
Espe<: iallyin a picture so spare and sharp-focused - and when sn much depe nds
on the contraSt of texts. So that we want the contrast to be cut and dried. We
wamtn be literal readers. But here, where the picture offers u.thc figure of
andtherefnre,urelythemcaningtoo? - writingandillusionismsuddcnlyturn
on each other lih a Miibius .trip. Reading becomes viewing; but that kind of
viewing (that determinant human activity) in which what we sec is always
already lost (but why do we say lost?) in what we know. Maybe David him.df
came not to appreciate what h. had done here. Why set up a system of writing
at all, if not to tie down what Marat mu" have meant? Is not that what writing
(a. opposed to picturing) is supposed to do? Ican imaginehima month or so
later, back in hi. role as teacher and admini.trator, tell ing Wicar ors"rangeli -
,hey seem to ha'"b.:enthc pupil. who did the jnb - tn gi"e the viewe rpatrie
after all."
As for Roque., what gelS Icft ou' ofhis version of David (as opposed to
put in) is p,eci.dy writing. He puts Corday's letter in place of Marar'. on the
Irontedge of the orange box. Only now that front edge has b.:en set back sa Iely
in the space of illusion. Roqu.s certainly expects his viewers to thrill (othelener
a. illusionism. A few drops of bathwat. r haye spilled on it from Marat's hand.
Light is reflected off them. Their tran'parency is marvelously done. Only the
fir,t word of the letter-Citoyen, naturally - islcgiblc. ltisupsidedown. The
r.st i. rendered handwr iting looks.
Thi s is a painting "f writing, in other words, as opposed to painted writing,
which is what David's picture is struggling with. That is to sa)', Roques's
paintmarh show off their own technical, visual difference from the sign-
language they portray. Whereas the point of David's manipulations, as I see
them, is that th.yenaCI ,he lack - or loss - of just such diff. rence. Painted
writing becomes 'he figure of ,he picture's whole imagining of the world and ,he
new shape it is taking. There is a moment at which the descriptions "painted
priate '" everything we ... . The boundaries between the discursive and the
visual are giving way, under some pressure the painter ca"no! quite put his
fing .. on,lhoughhcgersciose.LargequeStionsoccur,about .. eingandunde,...
standing in general. ModerniSI questions. Is it (everl poS5ibletos<oywh atwcare
looking at, or see what we are saying? Are there parts of a world to which the

applicable? Do bodies (ever) do anything besides write, or hold upwri tingsafter
they are dead? And so on. We shall find questions 01 this kind rttutring al l
through the following two centuries, regularly generali'ed hy an ominous
"ever.M [,hinkofEI Liss itzk)'brooding on the words Rosa L"xemb"rgi n 1920
{fig. I). Or De Chirico's Politics of 1916 (fig. 16). The "ever" is regularly what
gives modernism i!s flavor of madness.
Let me look one last time at Marat's and Corday's letters, and the
contraSt intended b.:tween them. Marat's letter was presumably dashed off to
accompany the piece of paper money that holds it in place, and its purpose at
least is clear. It describes, or recommends, the unfortunate widow to whom the
IISSiglllit should be given. (Could thr widow even be Charlotte Corda)", in her
guise as mallJell,ell,e?]
IlmhlcmrS,lhari.,posethr prohlemofpolit icsnndthepcopieinr79Jin
lerms of benevoience. Maral'. being a frienciofthe pcopic is mOSt "i vi dlya
matter of Bare room, orange-box desk, acts of charity. met
his deat h, Ihis friend of yours, giving)'ou his lastmorsei ofbrea d." This is pan
ofwhatl seea,David'sstrictJacohi nconstructionofMarat, andi Igi" rSllsa
due ro what the Jacobins conceived popular polit ics roconsist of - what its
propcr discursive forms were, who were the acrors and who the acted-upon.
When David had originally promised to show Marar as he had found him,
"'writing hi, ia5l thoughts for [he safet) of pcople,H he could not have
\<nownthal thosethoughrs - nratieastlhclaslpubli,hcJvcrsionofthem,in I..e
Publicisteon I41uly - werean artack On no lcss than thc Commillce of Public
Safety. A Joubleedit , then: of Corday'. promise ro sweli the list of susp<...:t"anJ
of Mara!'s inveighing against '"plotters On the committee of public safelY whom
/.I,,;,[I'{}{)"H,,mlI.k .
T his, if you like, is the picture's ideoiogicai ground,bass. 1 hav ebeen
suggcslinglhal the rest of Mnrat"s wriring being lrmhfui-lruiy bene volent - is
irs dosen ... , and illegibilit)", being offered to 'IS as a thing things. I
havcuied to show tha! the offer doubics ba"k on irsclfin pcrp\cxing ways. In
that, 1 think, the picture enacts the of claim. to umh and
at the moment it was made. This is irs mooerni,m, so to speak. Bm we gl'tthc
pi"ture unerly wrong if we seeir as accepting, let alone re,"eling in , these kinds
o{",lf,doubt. They arr douhrs foisreJ on it byrhe '"ny urgen"y of its effort 10
gllarantcetruth,to ,how it inhering in {h. world. Marat's Icnl"f,rhc picture
want. us to believe. i, not writing at all- no! like Chariollc Corday'. pat ient
establishment of grammat ical coordinate - but a piece of real which
happens to be readable. And for that reason inwmpktdy. We ,hall nevCr be
sure who ,ay, what to whom. The lener i, an act. It begin' in mid-sentence. so
that we do not know - or need ro know - whether il5 fint ,'ou. is subject or
object of the ycrb that follow . a ",n", it i,
hardly Marat'. at all: it plurajyoice
ofcollcctivt concuns and loyalties. Or so the illusion trie, to pe"uad ,u,.
Someone might object at thi, point that I have made out Marat', ktter to be
a more unusual object in the history of painting than in fact it i,. Fo rWestern
artsincerhe Renaissance i,full of such paradoxical moments. when an objecr
seemingly e""ape' from the picture space to b.come part of ou,.. . Sometime, the
offer i, made with a flouri'h, like the leg of the stool in Caravaggio', Saint
Mat/hew, as if to confirm the whole picture', being larger and more unstable
than life (lig. 171. Sometimes it is 'luiet. A knife or a duster ofgral'"' in a
Chardinst ill life pokes Out over the forward cdgc of the shclfon whic hobjec!s
rest (fig. 181. Again the front face of the ,helfseems pre"ed right "p 10lhe
pictu .. plane. The painters ability 10 sel up a ,;Iuation where objc"t, come
forward even beyond that notional boundary ;smeant. I take it. to Icad uS to
think abom the slX-.: ial ncss of illusionism in general.
The last thing I am saying is that Marar"s IeltCr is whol ly unlike these
precedents, any more than Charlotte Cordar's IClter is wholl y unlike Bellini and
Zurbaran. Bu! I do Wlm to speak to the way it differs, ultimatel y. In Chardin
to dark, from vegetable to mineral. from animatc to inanimate. from focused to
generalized. which i,meatHtO re<;oncile 1he final , incidentalexcessof .. ality
with th painting"s overall view of things. [think the opposite happens in David.
The exee .. of reality, and the faCt that the exee" is writing, are only the
sfronge't.igns nfa general uncertainty about what picturing now i .
Consider, abo\"eall, the weird di'parity in the painting belWeen itsinsi stenee
On matter and it, trealtnent of where mailer is not. Of cou"e Marat', letler
panly posses""lhe force ir docs !>ecause it i,one amollg a panoply ofohjecrs :
the pens and inkwen, the parched ,heet,lhebone handledknife, th ebath, the
orange box. The picture goes in for Marat's a. we know hi, devotees
did ing.neral.ltinsi,tsonthe spt..:ificformsmattertook in thi,in'tance. And
yerthc single most extraordiMr)" fcarurt of the picture, [.hould sa y,i.i tswhole
upper half being empty. Or rather Ih.re is whal i, unprecedented), not being
empty, exact ly,nOI being a sati.faclOty repre..,ntation of nothing or nothing
much - of an absence in whi<;h whatever the subject is has become pre..,nt - but
something mo," like. representation of painting, of painting as pure activity.
Painting as material, therefore. Aiml. " . [0 the end detached from anyone
repre..,ntationaltask. Bodily. G. nnating (monotonous) orders outofitself,or
maybe out of ingrained habit. A kind of automatic writing.
This is one of those points - more and more of them will occur as thi, hook
goeson - wh .. e pcrccprion and interpretation ofa paintingturooll features
that are specially difficult 10 put into word . The task is difficult 1101 j ustbecause
the effect is.ubde,buthecausethe,ubtlety isofa kind that is meant 10 I eave
it open 10 douhl whether what we ar. looking at is an effe<:tat all. Muehle ss
andfe<:1 Ihat purs rhe mechanics of picturing at risk. II is open to the vi ewer,
that is 10 !klY, loser the upper half of the Maral as <ali<factori lyemply, or
sufficiently like a wal l. And equally, the ,'isibilily of Ihe painter'. personal
handwriling here can be brought under a whole SCI of comfortable (normal-
izing) technical descriptions. Whatwe e isscumbling. It is a kind of brilliant
unfinish-ma)"beinrhiscasemorebritt!eandperfuncrorYlhanusual- with
,8 J .. n.lI.p,i" Sim<oo
oil on
can"." X p, 176.1
.. ,P.ris)
wh,ch lilt' bcuer d:hl of view ... ", In ,he .,gh.""".h would Ix: IXrfK,ly a.
hom .
I am bcms 3 bit di .... i" lny pr ..,nt3IlOn of be<-:luR;1I
th ndl.hink,hc) avo;dlh",'"osua!'SSlle.ThtyolfcrwaysnOIIOI()()k (<.Ifwhod,
u, h"' or)" j, Bu, I am "or denY'ng ,hc-y ar. ahem3rivN. Alld lilt' Ix:$,
I do 10 I""r$ua<!c w '3kc m)" rudin);$ is ius! '0 go on
insijl;"f.!on ,h. f"illir. nfb"GlCIsr -,,,h.rfl<"<:lpl.s is. norma
.iV!' and nurmali,-i,,!: deser'pliQfls of these fUllirH as pan of a world of obj",:u
andl or 'hlliqu .... - t,\ roclit' to with whal we are looking al. Look al
.h. s.:umllled waU, l .u n ,,"un in rollgh proximtcy 10 tk triumph ()f
of ,ht kind of ;llftn""n invned 10 Ihe businns of kl ... CC'n the
suin on .M, dmrs. 10 - rhe bee of 1m orange Mil" - and Iha .... n th.
,urf""r funks! away. And;s surf"cew.he "S-hl word her.? oo.,bf ,try
mrt:lpoonn of ... n which mr M11'rlKe P"'0'5 - of di<T,,"' .... ,,,,." .. In:I,
be.ween irom and b:Kk, and ann'< leng,h and throw - il"$Ctf a
wa)ofe..-adinglheuppcrhalf'splactlrnrltSs? It.>nOlbcinttanywhrreandnOl
oollS\ mad.: of So lhal for ilt U br off bran,
as - furlhol a .... ay- for ItS (lCc-uP'llion
AliI am doin",] !uhu, is in ... tnlins: diffe:mll w:a)lS of A)'mll' Trust m .... the
' rsualis aforwei"kr,hinglhanlanguagt'(andJuoking ....
know. This is a lOPOS o( motkrni .. cri,ic'"n. SomclOmcs Ihiniu il is
311 mode""S! wrilOnll ol1lht ""su31 aru has 10 !kIy. And its ,one is rCj:ularly
or ... Or.loC. I..;lItly " has come in for a lor of merited mcthodolo{;w..1
Thcrefu ... [do no! I,ke doing (I. J kllUw tk had company I 3m kping. J
do II land shall do "ap.1I in "' hal ';'1101"$/ bel:au.sc 'I 10 me ' ...... 1(' the
' .. ual of the TIt" mo<irmhf is. A) ro why modernism fdl
drawn .n thek of visual cxpcrieoc. - OrltS where b"guallc ha)
minimal ..... here Ihe unrknl311ding is in doubt as I() whrther
"h. brennfftrnlal1),h,ns-orenough. for Ihe intcrpreting.uind "' .... ",koo
- I hop<' !-tlme kind of amwer 10 Iha. qUQlion .... ill emerge in what folio ...... As
to wllnher an's com.ng to dcprnd on tll"plor:mon of stl("h areas was a good
I should tr) rooffua plausibJeaccoumofDavid's imem;otl$heIT-of
",h.,111 would have led h,m 10 lea ... l he uppo:=r half of hi< piclure empt)" in Ihe
pb. 'fhr:rc ,s no gru. mYSlery 10 lhe SC'{up. l""he emptinriS i$ of" room,
a wall. INo halS and cloaks hung on .his 0,..e. 1 11 signifi..s
aU-<1mlyand:ortf-drnial. ltmaknhim<lfleof'hrpeoplc-"andlbrorangciJox
"no.l 'M patch on .he jh.,..,. A. the er" m'''''''' righ., 1M empl,n_ g ..
bon'" We know D."'id waS"IVeoIlbclit'-erin l""'ligl"
Th,s kUld of aCCount hi: s.mpleminded, hilI I am ilIre illeJds 10 (he ""'an
of bo:lod) and and uf .ht' rev!)l",ion'," Wt wuuld nOl nttd

tht' ptopk', entry onto ,he .tat!." of chapltr's first Iwenry fj,'t
pag<'l- or M) werr aMmialir an elfon 10 grup Up{ again. as ilmight
affected D3y,ti. And ] mainly ' 0 iugge.. lhal hKauS<' i, .... u SO UIUot
:lnd nonl, i, changed .he cir(um$l:lnctSof picturmg for good. It is. in my
",ew, .1It deepest C:lIIS<' of mo&rnism; which is uacdy nOl 10 $.1.)" lhat mod.
emiun h:u U.lU3Jl)' rc(ogni:ecd ,IS caUS<'. Whr ill It " enl)u.i).h. mosl ..,f
The ,ime.,fi, rrprn.:nlcffn.
The '1ueSHon of Ihe People" a qumioo aboUI Th. gr ... al
n'llC"ltcnlh-a:nlury hi$lurians of lhe revolution, if we U'" II' belir-... Fur ... l ......
grUI brol.UH' they centTllI impoltlltc( 10 tbe Rel"OlUlion's
$ym\:Mllle inl'e$ullCnT in a II(W of powu" The Propk wu !lUI image.
Edgar Quinel "und.rslood Ihal if Ih. R ... volution was a kmd of
[Ih. Chri!-lian tClm,oology .himdO in wllh 001 .. bjCCl il was nOl b;iu$C il

in of another. And body had ..,m.,[lOw U) be repreemed wilh"\11 ils
cithcr.ongealinginroa arrayo(vil:l.1 (UII('
wilhonEyaninslru ..... n.aEr.awntobindth.mrogeth.r.
at a l)'mbolic I.vd. Ih. ClIrring lowa.d direcl dcmo.:rJ..y in 17'J.
(In my view. puning Ihis kind of SlTTSS 00 symbolLsm nOI !Kassaril)"
"unAi., wilha hillory .... hich
a. a.,ual. 'cmporgry in a clus politia.. Hue as ... Is.ewher ... . polilal
i. lhe cin:umstan that symbolic IIri,. '0 contain. "Con-
,insen!:)"" is ju.' a way of deKribing the faet llul rulling tM- People in plac. of
Ih. KinsonllQl ulnmRld)' be done. The fo.ms of lhe 50Ciai outrun lheir
;n.:arnanon$.) Th. Jacobins Ihe Propk mhcr ... ords.
a P>ple hl' definiTIon :and Iherefore !ubi"'" to ""If
puri&,:.tion. to rllm;""le hldlkll ... ilhin IIIe boxly of Ih.
wvcrelsn at>d rhus 10 an unit).""
F rom IIIe po;nlof vicwof Ihme rryingta repre ... nl il.lhal i . lhe
of Ihe Po:op!c ... as aJW1I)'$ sick. It n=led some radic:aJ purging. And ullimatdy
Ih.n only Dfle 10 do Ihis. IT 10 be killed in ()tlk, 10 be reprcscmcd.
<>, ",prt'Semtd m OrdH 10 be kIlled. Eilh ... r formulalion will do. is Ihe

N I:lT:lI.1 bc:fOfe. had lObe malklo.land Pfi)Jlle. By now lhe
enormily of Ihe tail< should be deaf: nOl lhal Ma' ''1 wa uch a dispuled
ohjl'O.""l, pul1ffiloand fro by 1M plOlyof faC1ioll'l (thOUghlbll indeed
pr{)bkm). bUI lhal al II any body waS inadequale 10 whal had nOw
10 bcdorlC. Or any l....,hniqlK' of I.p,c:q:olalioll. "11:11 rt"p'$Cnr.>riOfl
fl.l"h a Ihniqu ...... ,1.S ("sauly tilt trulh that had nO! to be m:ogniud.
T opUl itallOl hcrwa).Maralhadtobc: sh" ... nlobconcoflheprople.
This difficull nOI only because his inuge mighl so .ully be UpIUft'd by

the)a.obm norion of Ihl:$C enlincsor qualil;!"$ ... a5 tmpe)'. They .... r. dditICiJ by
pure discursi,'C' opposilioo. tu Iht idle and unpro.
dUl'li"e. And the catcgories themseh'cs Iud !:>me' be kepi frcc from empirical
detJil, 1t'S1 ' ht aqua] dislinniuns tensions lhal e.;l'I.d within Ih. ptpk's
",nks lakcon polilical form.
Thi) is In. frJn work in which instant ialion nf in
picture's IIPI'<"' half mighl come 10 make It cmbodirs In. concepl's
cmpcine5l . 1.0 10 spcJk . It h3ppcm upon pt .... mnion lechnique. It "'IS Ihe
... al on IInslIll'lhililY for Ihe wQrk of Some para of
body cuuld nOl be for)"1111 know he from kptosy "n,J his
blnod wn
i l.1lkcd .. un abour .M dfOCl on .hc piau.e in
pUrl,n!; '<)Ihe viewer.laR \'l':Srillc of cert;lln'y aJ w 'h",
ricturc's rcprr:S<'nf"Jliunal lope. Now I c;l n j.,1)' wb1, I by 'hi ....
1>:l1'Id W.1$ commi"o:d '0 anthl,'fio.' "f complC'lmc">.s :u,d nevu
mu.e "" lle:re. The job of Ihe pli",er, in hiJ upmiun, 10 ( "njun Ma.JI
bad: from 'he rHlm of de;.d, and make his l:K:ody and allfibu.<'S pteSffil. I
hJ"" bc.:n off""of p,-nccOl1 wh",h ,lie: piaure lurns is a rin."l'
.. f ..... itinS- forwa rd on'o our lI. eading arc
a. ' hi< poll\!, 'M one .(11" [ht mher. Bu[ nttd no,
ha,'c btcn fa.al, ifooly lhe pift"re had c"ginnrtd an abk,,"-o( , hc kind
anol in Ih"i.olifferc:n . .... a)'i-ul;rt)und and foil "'
Ihr .... orld '" paimi ng. So) Ihe We:;.I"f'1"ndi,iQ., IIm:1 10
" unIC.i<ullimal"lytkpendtn'Olllhc pairllCI'JstCurinllanoppMitel".mfor
il: a .... lKrc dfau i.sd(, bK"w.c in II l her" is lillk: '"
"<)Ih,nll'O ITprt'$l."1l,. A "''lI1I 0, void or of lill'll. {Thne qUe5lions will

S<>nlt1hirtjt Ihal oul/,hl on btsueh an aho.r:n(C looms1argc in
Ihe M"r.:r'. II h;ol( .he ea.,vu. Bu. imlud of .he hy ;ts
simple nt'j;:lli "il), I. IUrns OU! 10 bo, a pmi l;'''' of wrt$: 3nd nUl juS!
. li1rt , he unobtrusive wall in Chardin, bll' .... mr.hing
unmCl,h'3ttd, whieh OCCllpiQ different concepll.lIl space f.om ,m- b"dies
1>.,10 .... u. ThiS prooucC1. Ilhink, t kind of ,eprC1ornlalional Jc:.dJ..w:k. wh;.:h is
.1Ie: 'rue: of MOT"f. c ..... !mId on us. Nu paiming ",'N bchevcd
;n illusionism mOrc No objls "'..,,.., offt,.cd rhe as
and HUI the ohj""fS are .... riting. And up above
.m-m, ironizing or o\eDhdo .... ing IMm. is anUlhe. kind of scriJl'l' 1M
munmlllessobjCCli"" y prod ..... "Cdb)'p.linTnOlqui .,lirwiinJ;;uohjn't )mbulic
...... n procwu.e,.
In len...,. ,Mn. 1.()t.I am .ha. til( up",,' h:llf " 3 di.pla) of 'IXh",q"c.
nUl di'play ,"" ncutrnl a word, for 'M point I am makIng, is Iha
hnique: in modernism is a kind of shame: something rha. aSSC'm: i(Sl'lf ,,$ ,hI'
trllih of pic1u.ing, Du. al WAys ag:.ins, p ... ,urings btSI and mos, .ksptutt
df<)" ". r , ..... ," i ..,II ... II('e the rn<) ...... .. u,h. "nd 'm,he,,"
IinaUr Ix' - as of a wo,k!. in the carl)'
,"",uM:th cenl"". .puke "f wha, they W('", du;1>tl , .. :uten'ptillg
-'futh 10 materials. - 1'",(<<. misrl'COl!nj,inn. For -malc.i.ll- In mOOrrni'ln arc
the- of unu" lh, o r 'M- .h. whc-rr qucs.il>oJ "f trllIh aoolic di$ilprwar
iOfO 00'" of p,.,."k",. '1"IIc bel .hat .h.s in IIIe: O,,\td "' he.c
-I'ruplc- o<'gh. 10 ," a kind of aUI:I o. 1$ 10 happcning
in MPI ... ough' IU a kind "f 8"ound or inlf1lC'
'0 upmcnce ".",jured up b)' Ih. shce, fort:( of color. As does
,jnl" afttr
T h",cis. l rhink,oncf"tlhcTsm.Upiettoflhff'''",ure whkhmighlh.,..,
Ihe poWt. u) m......,,,c,lc the warnng p;lrtie$. Up .0 110 .... I h .. " htu.<h.cd ;1 . id .
I mtan 1M of raptt whO$ot tiny wrijth. kps let.er r!emaliy
00 box. It is J pie ,,(rc:vol,,
lionJry paper moncy _ wruinj: whkh $(andl: for prupctl).
I h3"C MOlt1hi",. in C'nnKqu.coce. 3bt>U' what . he .:ru;g,wt was. Many
of ,he ' LlC$con....,ming il a'e for JoolUI"e me::l,!. far hehind as d\C")' kft
mO$I was on ",b;1. BUI
or lwo ' hinS' arc dear. ""'go.:rl form of p3J><'r cur, ...... ,. firsl ISW....:!
in J:1nuary 1190. plnly in TO fIillh. of gold and (oin which had
f"I1",,,,,d Ih( slOrminl! of lhe Ibslillc, '" II onl)' j:.nJduaily il;1mr;1 0;
fioaOo:f. TMrf was considerable 5Cff"!i.:ism :tbmll fbt ..... hok ilka of
monry. wblCh was dlouglu 10 he an Engli$h >Oft of IhinRo 10 thwry the
IlOIQ wwo: gl,l3r;1n1ttd by bnd. 00 o:xh was Ihe
00 lhe Nalion.al EsrJtes. - "har is 10 S01y, on Ihe wealth generaled from tile S01le
of cn>wn ",nd dlUf(:h and from lbr bdongHl8' of
hn;gt<'s relarives. aod forcignns. From a Jacobin poim ot' view, this
or the pll!",r in .he c;l.nh an impmunl Kkologi.:al CUl1wblinn.
For they WCrC Il<) J>ft';tt 1x-1",,'ClS io Ille dot lig.,t ;0 arid in
p;lr!lCular mo!1(')" thtm n(rvoo<;, SaimJusl can bt foun.J playing . he role
of Jttfml'lh in !791.' -, 00 long('r f,ff lI!.he bm
pridc, . nd pal'<'r. - The th.n' Wen: roughly C"quivaknl, . hat IS, but al lust
somC\O' lIC'rc bchmd Ihe a 1'll<'0l<>ry. or prumisc. of Gcrminal and
In the .. n.J. in "!I" and " !I}. I"" ""w form of monel' colldpw<l. The
go'nnmenl Wd5 (o,.,cd 10 conspirc apinsl if$ f)"'n - buring up 1M
in 3nd burning II. ;IS 3 hedge IOlblion, Bur in
Iba. snll in rM (U"lfC, No QIlC wo"I.J o'lOmi.': polK')' o(
and 00. fX:Kflr bUI iT d,d hal'c OIl(' for
wh'k: I( u:lbili1.f tM of mulriplyinS PJpt'r, This W3S no
fUI for J 3! wu. bit of thc kinJ: IIIC' (all of
Robc)piw\" If)('. put II billion li>m' wonh of new n<J1C'!I in m\"ula{inn,
} .'Sli billion in ... D<'Prttialion"'l
on. BrSeplcmbcr 179},lhc..uigtWtw;ls chanl',inf!han<h3Ififlrptrunlofiu
bce '';II ...... . \bn) 31l'tXiou$ thing.< fnllowed when W.;lS made ,he order

nl nf bee ,'"III(' h" Thcrmidor. The Am<'liC'"dli in I'M;1 wro\c
adl1l1tiujl.ly 10 Jdfe"""n .he fC\'nlulion manJll-cd ,he of 3 paper
mont)' "' hich 1',06 up III value wbile lite amount of bills printed is 3L"tlI311y

And IIm<' ha.J they done' it: By Terror. (Of Ct)ursc. B)' ,he P3CC
by "",kingouo and mcllingdown bid.leo gold and nl<'l31
L'Oin .. sc. br a genc.al 3n.J rUlhk roItTS (Q1d, I)ao'id III his
m.mbcr "f ,he: (:on.mill vi (' ... 5ur;l ), (one' of the IWII
on il htforc \1 was p,nperly pUl'j(Cd), WJS in"oh'w in
\hc dct"il of durns all th.ou)th summer, survi,'c 10 pro>"C it."
M "I':lI', IISSiXn.1I i, c,),jed, 'hen. Of ('()Urse [ am n,)! 01
thc kind of vi .... al "(,)tI1i 1ru.1 btlonp 10 main objtcu in Ihc
"'tnr. One II is mC-dlll 10 IlC' ol'c,looke<l, BUI only in the ",ar
of l'Ot''S PurloiOoCd Ltner.And ..
l""k it up. :anJ Jpprcc:ialt JIO",er, A wnln in Iht Fmllit
531", publ,e. for had ,hi, 10 )a,' on iI Brumai", mOil likdr
r .. 10 Ihc picw .. 011 ;n >ludial:
Thc lor fi\'e whICh ""':lS MMal I. pia<! b)' David
un 1M hl')l:k "f w, ..... 1 ",p.n cmtd nUl In 1M, h3Ihlu". Th;, i<k" is rnll!, a
"'to:c of Senius, :and:an answer on :and iUI Ihm.t fool. who accu...d
Ih.o.> Frn:nd of I"'" ptoplcof bri", a r.m ftlr hi..,. In3nrn",.whtloould ha\'C
him what p<'II WIIS ","nht
NOI g.cat critici<m, bUl il don "i,t a him "f tht "icwins hahiB in
YtH 1.. II confirm. lhal nil<' of 1M i"",- .I:>c pk.,urc was tak<"o 10 turn on was
Marat', poverty_ And that were able and willing to invest the
,mallestsign with meaning.
Wishing to be as tcndentiou, a viewrr asthe one in the Feuille deSalutpu bUe,
therefore, I shal l mke th. ,,,signat to sum up Marat', (and David',) world as
follows. Those involved in making the r"'olution in In; believed profoundly
that they were doing Nature',bidding. If human life could be ridofart ificc,thcy
thought, Virtue would rea"ert its.lf; because artifice was invariably the work of
power. It was a Wt of ways to keep men (maybe even women) in subjection
Tyranny, fanaticism, custom, superstition, time immemorial: they w .. e all
names for the same spirit of misrule. Hen" the utopianism of the revolution
when it Came 10 the symbolic order: the institution of the calendar, th edividing
history, the rationalization of measurement (3 meter being exactly one millionth
And behind all this, the belief that power itself had been natmalized,i n the form
of the People's body.
Some ofthe, e mm'es look captious and thin. We ha\"e seen that theJac obins
themsc!\"cs recoiled from them or their con""quences on occasion - as with the
WM against voJlsvoyement. But the same verdict applies here as in the case of
de-Christianization. Ik<:ausethe actiomtaken were often .trained.and most
of did not stick, d""s not mun that the d""p"st meaning. and funnions
o/Ihcrevolution were nm al stake. The re"olurion i,anticipatory, ofa hi,tory
thaI is still far from ended. Its project is the disenchantment of the world.
This is the ultimate ,ource of that desperation which seems to me most
distinctive ofJ."obinismasapolitical,ryl e -the blendofimpatience, purity,
andst'lfdistrust. To believe inoneselfa,ush"ing in Nature', kingdom. and to
think thne was no time to loSt if it was to be s""u",d against it, enemies; and
YCI to know in one's heart of hearts that whal wasbeingbuiltwa,ju stanother
form of artifice, as wayward and unp",dictableas the rest. Another arbitrari
ness. Another law for the lion and the ox.
"When I u,e a word, Humpty Dumpty ,aid, in rather a scornful tone,
means just what I chooSt it to mean - neither more nor "The question is,
said Ali"e, "whether you can make words mean so many different things. " "The
queslion is, said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - that', all." Thi, is
the kind of conYersation David must have got quite used to in the Commit!""
of General S<-.;urity. Let Alice be Saint -Just, and Humpty Dumpty Robespierre.
Let equal i1ssignal - plus malhet<rcu5eand bitmveillanceand droiland
deffemc and I,alrie. And People scrawled in the paint above the lot of them,
though unfortun.tely not quite legible. "Therr 'sa nice knockdown argument
for yo,,' "
The French Rnolution w.s made by the bourgeoisie. By that 1 mean
roughly what lIurke mCafll at the time, when he said lhat "the moneyed men,
merchants,principaltradesmen,andmenofletters ... arethechiefactors in the
French I differ from Burk. in thinking that the
coming to power of 'uch mcn wa, patlof.n irrcvcrsiblcchangcin thc soci.l
and symbolic order. is suffici ent here, "expression
of." lamnotinte",sted ina narraliveofcauses. Al ii Want or need to do,for
my preStnt purpose, is insist on the oddity of the word ina revolution
of this social character.
An image will do beller than a thousand words. There is. pinure in I.e Mans
Museum that for years WaS thought to be by David himself, amI that I think
rnusthavecome from someone in his inner circle (fig. 19). II is rightl y held to
I, Anonymous: FIlmily POTl .zit. oil on con .... ,61 X '30. ca. '79S-,9oo u Mansi
he one of th. most poignant documents to down to uS of the change that
the rrvolmion wrought in personal style. Nothing I Can say will rob,or is meant
to rob ,the man in the center olthe picture ofhis plain dignity. Iti sma ssiveand
But lor that ,'ery reason I think w. should attend to the WntraSt
between the father's cardul s)'mbolic desbabi/Ie and the costumes of hi, sons
.nd daughter, the china on the mantbhdf lone looksabom fora terra--Co II,
Marat), the glimpse of picture-covered walls, the well'fUmed furniture, the
'pinet and the young girl's music lessons. the power to orderthi,paint inginthe
fi rst place. Thest people and [heir painter are anonymous. as I say. But I take
them to be rep .. sentative of the poli tical actors we have been looking at.
Compare. for .)"mple. the sam-culotte militant Fran,ois-Pierre Be.udouin.
pr ... ident 01 the comire of the Gravilliers stetion in winter Year
(we know about him lrom hi. wi ll )." Master de""ativ. painter. employing six
skilled workers. in charge 01 the seetion's war production. and leaving behind
at his death in [795 a fine "panmen! on [he rue Phelippeaux, several larg.
rooms opening onto a terraced garden, a kitchen with two O\'ens. walnut
cabinets, inlaid hardwo .. d fi oor'J, copper plumhing, crystal chandeliers and
goblets.seltingsi n porccl:linltcrra-cotta Marar. long 'incedispos ed 011. table,
01 oak and marhle. Remember thM Bcaudouin existed quite lar down Jacobin
ranks. and in " sen<e o'Jlside them. Hew"s a " popular" leader. To quoteth.
verdict of the hi.tori"n who J isco\'crcd him,a leader<hipcomprised olmenlike
Bcaudouin .. bourgeois in its social aggregate, and absolutely by com
parison with the population it ruled. It was hy its manulacturing and
commercial capital. by ils rea l prupcnies and salar ied income., by its ,ki lls in
literacy. manipulation of ideological formu lae, and governance. It had the
power to command labor on a la rge scale and to create dependenci es, ai le
giance<, and const iruencie,. " Thcsc were the kinds of men who rang the
changes on David's"y htforc thc Convention: heard Ihe voice olthe people,
I obeyed"
Of course [he point is not to convict them of hypocrisy or e,'en lackolstlf-
knowledge. I lor one am Sure David waS horribly sincere. It is to wonder what
might have been invol,ed lor bo .. rgeois individual. - whatkindsolin,enti,'e
nes<,whal sOurcC1' of knowledge and ignorance - when they began to rep restnt
those whose labor [hey commanded
M aybe I was wrong to b"ck away at the start 01 this chapter Irom the
idea 01 modernism's having I"'gun at a particular moment , For ultimately I do
believe it began with the hench Revolut ion. Thi. chapter has tried to show why.
01 course modernism also ended with the revolution, and began again when the
revolution began again.".,d soon. (Thecydecontinu ... 1
If I wanted to argue more fully lor rhe t790S and early [80m being the
decades that usher in a decisive new structuring of time. I think my best
cvidence would be music. Naturally. since this is the art that leedsmo ,tdeeply
onaculture',imaginingoltemporality - itssenseofstquenceandrcpctition.or
of discont inuity and inauguration. !leethoven for me i, David's brother. I
imagine the Sabines dancing Ihetter [han Wagncrdid) to the lastmo\ 'ementol
the Seventh Symphony. And.\1arat agonizing to the dosing barsolth. Fifth.
"A fi nally it reads on the orange box, " DAVID. L'AN DEUX."
Dedication. ,ignawrc, date. And even here lan!;uage is not transparent. For
what d"". the capital A mean, precistl)"? What kinci olc"nnecriondu ;t .ndthe
following comma between Mnrat nnd his image, or Marat and his
maker? For Marat , presumably. BUI also aspiring to Marar, reaching oulto him
physically. And in a stnst I,;s, belonging 10 him or done for him by proxy - as
we might say, tableau Ii Marar." And where are th. words supposed to be
spatially (ill usioniSlically)?
that is one inlcrprctarion. It is as Marx once had it, talking of the wmmodilY:
thar maybe ils power derived from us not l>eing able to ten the com-
mod;ty Thi s gels 10 be true of more things (more sigm) in David', picture
the longer we look.
More, bUI nO! all. The MarM i, not a picture that ,how, us .hins and
uncerra;nries ending up swanowing the world, or making the conl'cpt
rcdundanr. Ih leave, that to lat .. brands 01 modernism.) A pen isapen,a kn ife
i,aknife. GOO'ie feather< catch the lighr likc rhis, and Iheir vanes g row separate
and sticky with U'ie just so. Blood on a bone handle looks one way, on steel
another, in water a third. Matter is S1ubborn, oral leasl predktable ,andgoes
on resisting the work 01 moden'ily, Even Ihe proud inscription is
provisional. The numl>ers '7and 93 are still therc 10 Icn and righl of it, only
halferased,Sttmingly<l ucklOlhcwoodofthoorangcbox,asifDavidhadtried
to mak. them vanish bUI been defeated b)' his own materia ls. Te<:hnique is a
perfidious thing, says Ihe painter, but at l.a" a hedge againslthe fUlure. The
time of revolution is short. Am", dom;,,; will doubtless return
2 We Field-Women
How it rained
When we worked at flinleumb_Ash,
And could not 'land upon the hill
Trimming , wed .. for [he ,]icing-mill
The wetwa,hed rhrough u< - plash,plash,plash:
How;, r.ined!
When we c""<cd from FlintcombAsh
To the Great Barn for drawing reed,
Since we could nowisechopa,wed . -
When we went from Flintcomb-A,h
[n ,he laughing me"Js,wi,h cow,thre. \Core,
And pail"and songs, and love-loo ra,h
How it shone!
Thomas Hardy, "We Firld, Women"
Camill e Pi""r",', Two Yo,mg Pca,,,,,/ Womell (fig. waS fir;t shown
to the public in late Januar y [89l.'ltwaspartofa wide'rangingcxhibi,;onof
Pi .. arro', past and recem work - Ih. kind we would nOw call a retrospective -
put on at the DurandRue[Gallery,ina fasnionable shopping street JUSt off the
bou\e"arddesltalien,. Tbecatalogue for the.how invited tbe vi,itor to look at
Pissarro'spaimingscbronologically,OTwitn a 'iense of how paimingsd one in
the previous few months matcbed up to tho'ie from ten or twenty years earlier.
There were fifty oil paintings and a score of gouache.: deYen oil, from the
I 870S, and a hard core of twenty or so landscape, and [><,asant figures from the
great years 1881 and 1883. The y .. r of each duster of pictures was 'iet off in
thecalalog",inboldcapital .
All of this had something of a newfangled fla"or in One Or tWO cr itics
of the exhibit ion managed the word but never as a noun!
Pissarro himsdf. writing to Monet a fortnight before the opening, opted for the
slightly bemu'ied,or maybe even apologetic, formula,"a more or less general
exhibition of my works."' Thinking of pictures as primarily episodes in an
individual's career-as oppo'ied to,s.ar, contributions toa public di alogue in the
Salon, Or "'p,m , to moments lih Vendc'miaire Year - was to become
Camille Pi ... rro
Two Young

89 X 165, IThe
Me,ropoliun Mu,,"umof
Art,New York,Ginuf
Mr . nd M". Charles
Wrighrsman. I973)
Mwral 10 modernism in the )'cars that fo llowed. The retrospective is one
of mod,'rnism', main language-games. h teaches artists to view their work,
prolcplically, as partoia singular, continuous past; and th .. dorelO p roouce
work to fill the bill. lam not saying that the", hahit. of mind were l1on-e xislent
inI89l - ifonIYlhehisloryofoourgeoisindividualismweredi"isihle into such
neat "befores" and "Jfler<"! - bUI it doe, matler, lomooernism and Pissarro,
that they were still a hit foreign and fragile. Two Young Peasant W'omen IDeux
jc""es pay.mlnesl was number 50 in ,he Durand-Rue! ca,alogue, lhe laSt
painting liSled for the currem year. We know from l'i.<arro. lell.rS , hal il was
sti ll under way on '3 Januar y, and shipped 10 Pari. Wilh juSl days to spare.'
By Pissarro,.tandardsTwo Yo""gl'casalJl W'o",eni.distinctlyahigwork.
".\1a grande he it in thc '3 January letter. Thm may seem
Slrel"hing lhing. a little as regard. s'luart foolage. The is juSt Over
under 46 inch.s widc. B)5alonslandards, smalllxer.But
Pissarro was thinking of formaT!; he had made his own Over twentyfive years,
and "labli,hed", the IddikrJlely mooesl) sizes of modem painting,
whelher landscape or figure; and in rho",r.rms he was not exaggeraring. Th.re
no than a dozen pictures, in o"er-a-lhousanJ did in his
lifetime, that arc even roughly a. big a, Two YOllng Peasa,,1 WomcII ; and no
other painting in which more lhan one figure loom. thi, large in relarion tolhe
whole pictorial field. (Ther. are, of course. portrait!;, including several of
p.asant . BUI it is of the e,sence ofT"", Yo""gPeasanl Wome" rhat iris not
portrail -lih, nor even likt- a porlrait by two. Or maybe w .. ,hould
,aythalmultipl),ingaporrrailbYlwointhi.ea.eproducr ,.omethinganoma-
lou., nor quite monumental hgurepaintingand
life. The anornaly "'ern, to fascinare Pi>sarro. His picture i, partly aoom the
quiet of inherent in a cerrain scale and ser-up.)
looking at Tw() Y()""g Pea.a"t Womm, lhen, we should lose . ighr of
it.,trangcrdation roPi"arro'.ownnorm.;alllhemorr50aslhehrslcoIllexl
in which the appeared the 50 powerfull y of whal
lho<e norms had been. The most exquisire of lhe paintings from lhe 1870S
included in the ,892 show wa, Banks oftl,e Oisc (hg. 21) , dared 1873 - more
lhanonecritic,ingleditomasalouchstone.'l r measure' 26bypinches.And
e,'en lhi,i. one of Pi.sarro. larger size, forrhe de<:ade.Ju'l a.r epre.entative
would Ix a picture like The Oisc 0" tbe O"lskirts of Po"toise lfig. 221, which
packs its reile<:tion on landscape and indu,try (and even orher, more
un,ul li ed Ba"ks()fthc Oisehasa train racing h)' in the hackgroundl int olgby
22 inches. As for pictures from the 1880strealing Two Yo",,!? PeasalJl Wome,,',
specifical ly, rh.re ha lf a dozen in the The
pea.ant figure WaS meant ro Ixsren a. standing at rhe hearr of Pissarro'. car. er.
Ir is nol alway. easy to Ix ,"re, from the brid litles and de,;criPlions
in rhe pre""which peasant fi gureswereacruallyhung. Bm l have a ferl in g(from
a descript ion by Gustave Grlfro)' whic h is a little less formulaic than mOSllth.l
one of WaS Peasant Warne" Mindi,,!? Cow. (fig. 231.' Ir mak .. a good
with grande toile. " It i. half lhe ,ize - by 32 inche . The
same forma l,essentiall)', as Ba"ks of the Oi,e.
P issarro knew only 100 wdl in 1892 rhat he did in rhe present
w()uldb" lookcdatcomparalively,andputtothelestofrhr I87",.lnthalseme
therelrospecriveonl),compoundedaprocess-a,etdict- rhatwa.alreadybui lt
inrothe.lructureof,hemuJ",nartmarkcl. Themarkct purca,h value on lhe
past. It very soon ga,'e a <;arccr a characl.ristic profil. , wirh a rise and fa il lih
u Ca milier i . H m
T h ~ 0;.- O ~ t h ~ Out
".nv".4\ X H.187j
(St.,] ing. ndF,.ncine
Willi. mstown,M. ss.]
horcolumns on a graph. It made a Pi,sarrothat I'issarro was ohliged 10 he
In April 1890. for example, Pissarro came across an old picture of his from
a year spem in London in 1871 , the Churd, M Syde"ham. Partly the encounter
was The painting was hanging in DurandRuels showroom, and in 1890
land for mm. of I I . we ,hall ",c) Piss:.rro and Durand-Ruel w .. e at odds,
with the dealer refusing to buy works in Pissarro's lalest mann ... All the ",me,
ChurcbalSydenbam looked good. "It isinadmirablcconditionanda lot better
than I thought the picture was back then; there isan dfon at unity in itwhkh
lilled me with delight . it is almost what I am after at prescnt, mi nus the light and
hrightness. "' Cb"rcbaISyde''',amwas bor[Ow"d hack from i .. owner - it had
e,idemly sold fasl - for the I show. In June 1890 Dumnd-Ruel pushed the
price of a"other 1871 Canvas. Tbe RocqucnCOl<r1 Road, 10 ,",100 francs at
auction.' By December 1891 prices in this did nOl finagling. No less
than IkrnheimJcunc, dealcrinordinH)' to boulevard cu lture (and as such
often the hutt of Pissarro's sarcasm), was gi,ing room to
seasom which I' issarro had done in 187L, and asking L.SOO francs prr item.
had bought t he lot at auction in May for 1 , 100 francs. Pi"arro
sell ing them in Ihe firsl place for 100 francs each.'
I think the"" facts arc rclnant to Two Young I'M,am Wome'l - that the
painting wa, imended to SCI a crown upon a li fetime's dfort, certainly, bot al,o
ina sense to contradict this cffort, or aller it, or aher the notion of it tha I the
market seemed to have ""ttled for. Of course the picture did no such thi ng(nor
will this chapter] . But t he enormity of Two Young Pe.l, ant Wome,, 's ambi tion,
and t he sense of thi, ambition flying in the face ofa strucrure of value thaI
already seemed solid - I am sure these are partly what gi,'es the pinure its
inimitable sad force.
They are also partly what made it hard to finish. Scale was obviously an issue
he .. : Pissarro was mo,jng into an area where mosl of his normal ways of
drawing and handling woukl nOt deliver the goods. He was improvising strange
(and wonderful) rolutions to problems he had nenr ,et himself before. The
surface of Two Yo""g Peasant Women is full- rometimes to bursting - with the
efforl. Panofthe reason for delay was simply physical. Pissarrowas in his sixty
year. The picture had most probably been staned in early summer r 891,
maybe even Out of doors - though it was always meant to be ",'entuallya stud io
production. " In Mny the dustin the orchard at Eragny made an abscess n areup
inPissarro's right eyc, putting it undor bandages forw ... ksand..,ndi ng him off
to Paris for treatment. Two Young Peasant Women wa, evidently going to be an
immense rest of visual concentration, visual staying pow ... No wonder it was
putoffuntil Pissarrocould be sure the.ye would hold up
But behind these lam lie other more pernsive problem, - of mode, of
expression. Size on its own does not explain the difficultie . Pi .. arro was
working on at least tWo additional picrure, ofpeasanr, inthe late summer and
fall of T89"both ona much more modest scale; and his letters are eloqucnr, a t
mOnlents agonized, about his lack of certainty over Imth. The pictures were
e"entually numbers 48 and 49 in theretrospective'scatalogu.: Pe"sant Woman
8illing; Sunset lPay.anne Ass;se; soleil CQu(hatJtl (fig. and Cowherd
(Vache,e) lfig. 251. The first measures by inches, second 29 by 20.
Opinions will vary as to whother in the end Pissarropulled the picrures off. But
the leasr glance will show what the agony had ho.enalmut.
Astonishing wench [this is the critic Felix confronting the Cowherd in
Februar yj,a toy, a SOrt of toy that life, and seem,to
take her first breath and be just discm'ering what life is like; she lea dsacow
on a serpemine srri ng, a cow seen head-on, two-footed, neck like a camel,
munle inching irs way through the grass. And if Durand-Rue! recoils ftom
this cow unknown to photography, old man Pissarro will say' "It isn't a cow,
it's an ornamem."LL
The I.st telegraphic phrases (which haH ~ i , ' e n more ,han one rranslaror
trouble) se<:m to me genuinel)' at a 10<5. Of cour", moderni" painters are always
producing prohlem of when and how to finish - the problem i,
lifeblood, and eventually its deathknell , But this is Pis.arro was
on his meuic as a letterwriter when Mirbeau was the
principles, g,we opinions literaryonesl, talked politics (to a fellow anar-
chistl. The pattern of ambition and feM in thi, paragraph - the tug-of-war
bctwl't:n necessary intensincation and easy romanti"iLing, ur b.<tween ornament
and photograph)" - deeply to his purposes in Two Young Peasant
Ul've thinking abom your cowherd and her cow," Mirbeau write. ha"k
on2sl\0\'ember(hehadseen thepicturetwomonthsbefore) ,Uandaboutthe
stained glass window behind it [au "ilrail qui est derriere]. The project gave me
a religious sensation ". of that religion the tWO of us love, in which God is
replaceJ h)" matter Eternal and splendid, and by the innnite!'" has given
up painting outdoors," sa)"s Feneon, uand treats Nature as a rq)erlOirc of
.. theantagonismof those twO
characteristics, energy and Sweetness - and attains to high, unconscious
,ymbolizations lp<ldfic/""" t<lgonismedecesde"."rcaraCieres:blergieetdouur.
de/},,"tc.symbolisation5inCOn5cicntes]." "
[am not ""ying that Pi5Sarro would have agreed with his literary

l"te189Ididinvitedialrctic,notlosayprosepoetr)".Most ly in189ljournalists
ignoreJ them." Feneon was - partly he was out to trump the hand of
the young writers and artists who were "Iready (crudely) ""lIing themselves
Symhol ist.in 1R9J - but weshall .. e he got many thing' right.
Pissarro is on a simplicity and or
strong expression and souped-up emotion, He is pushing al the limits of
modernism, For some his painting had now to risk the hieratic and
(two mo .. words fencon - pHdy to wrest those quali ties
from the hands of Ihe Symbolists, partly to ,'aSf light hack ward, uvCr his
own partl)" to spdl uut (in new ,'ircumstances) what he had doing
allalongpaintingpeasants. Ofcour .. ,pellingoutwasdeeplyrisky. lt might
and 1870S - that of the literary, anecdotal, the big scene or small drama
h"mming with a culture's cliches. None of these descriptions applies to Two
Yo"ngPeasant WOlllen, at least in my opinion. But they could ha,'cappl ied.The
picillre deliheratelygivcs hostages to
Think of l'easl1nt Women Mindi"g Cows (ng. 231 as one term of comparison
- the anecdotal interest safely sewn into the of the rectangle,
on theall- in-onesurfacc. And then enter a pastd dated W,",IIell
Chalti"g, Sunset M Erag"), (fig. 26), as the second term. It 8 by 6
inches. MAnother mistake of Pissarro's," wrote Lionello Venturi ahout it -the
previous on.,,; , in his being Cow/'crd anJ Peasanl Wom"" Sirting - "in
pretensiontosoci"listpoliticalacl ivil y."" Thisis3
speaking from modernist center, of course (Venturi was one of the
compilers of the Pi,sarro catalog"e raisonne, p"blished at the Galerie Paul
Rosenberg's expen .. in t9)91, and eas)' to di,l ike. One senseS the fear and
packed imo the last five words quoted. But what other voice - what
response - did Pissarru
Whether tht of the past.! somehow manages to hol d and the
illuminat ing s"n and upturned rnb the <tanding woman of the after
taste of Millet's Angel"s (fi". 271, is an)"body'<gucs,. I ha" enot abl. to
track the picture duwn and judge formy ... lf. Ilut in any case Venturi was ri ghl,
I belie"e, to catch a whiff of socialism in rhe air. lsha!!
cour..,. And righ! thaI socialism put Pissuro's normal skills - hi. <.en!;e of
decorum and !;elf-effacing arro!;anceuftcchnique - underexrreme pressure
The question is whether rhe in Two Young fea!ii1>Jt Wome1J, dispersed
the ,kills or lransfigured rhem.
" It is this ,ay, "the very rocent one. that we should be
celebrating. Fi nally master of forms, he hathe, them forever in a translucent
atmosphere, and immortaliles, hy mean.< of the benign and fl exible hieratism he
has JUSt invented, their exalted interwea"e [puis iternise, en I'hitrMi.me
souria"t et.o"p/e q,, 'i/ ;''''''8ure, leurmt,elac exalteJ."" This too is a mod-
ernist voice -P!Jtonist, anarchist, Mallarmean. The voice, I should say, of the
what set Venturi's teeth on edge.
"I have dreamt of a more and more sober, more and more simple art. I
have conden..,d, amalgamaled, compres!;ed .. . I ha"e (r;Wto say much as
possihle in a few words," -Puvisde Chavannes,"
As a general rule, most peuple ... are much more naive and simple-hearted
than we suppose. And we ourselve. are too.H _ Dostocv,ky.
The picture (fig. is of two women taking a rest from work, probably
chalting. Two field'women. How exactly they are re.ting i, not clear. There are
problem. of relative height and placement shall come to later. My besr guess
is that {he woman on the left is silting on ground, or on a grass bonk, with
knteS ,played wid. - maybe squatting. The woman on the right is kneeling,
,S l:3",ill.Pi..s.r .. "

1'1IN'/i"X. oi! VA
)( II. (Pri".",
"'0\\ .... ,;"",1
untu .h. flat - blue skim. .h. uf
surf3ce.h3 ..,.m,.0 J:i.. then' .ul>$l::",C.: Ih. Ihey arc rl;ng
"n,nUlthecan:h. )
II all maner of and liShl. lim ar", ,he 35pe..:TS of Ihe piC'ure
,h, arc hJrd.s, to sra,!" and dcscrio. - ,he aspc.:'s Ihal an)' ,iew.r

minmcs go hy. l'm,ly Ihis is ph)sical. The surface 01 'lit'a YOIIII.!: "r<JslIlII
i, and ,,,f/,,,,,d wi,h dryly, ..... ying
Iwllt millimeter!O millime!.r. Therdorc the is uhra$cnsili.( t<.> light
cOII,inS ,,, i, f.om .he n",.ide w",ld. Th" pi<:. ure "nw in a ,,"ou, where
natural lil:hl, shiningfromabtwClhrough;l partll' 'ra1151ucem ceiling .is helpttl
ou, hy mix'ure of run!>"." aod nton. Only whell th sun i, high and
ullub;;'m': 'cd dOt!. na,u,.11 ligh' n".rwhd", i,s slIl>$,i,u,,,,,,- And rhar when
1i/.'o y"UlI!lI'<'<lsaort 11:'u""'11 comeos into it s own. On" d3)' with
- a lypic.11 New Yurk day - yuu ,ho", walching Ih.

Tho l),I inti ll8. I S<lid. was .10110 io a I>am studio E.:ll.l"}. (':lnt1(lI
IIt'surehowlh31n'iginai tilat il lI'as simple. 3nd Ih31
I"issarro worriwin whrnhehadrnoughmono).obuiJdancwunc (whieh
"u,,i,c,;. and is nOI dab"l':ltr). pJimillg is guing 10 pUI un ..
1i(I(.IYo.mgl'r,l$odlltlt'umffliS:ls!udiopicmrcabt.)l'callini!$cQtnple)( . ,illing
ufaccnaincondiliunofliJ:ht-tllcKnsrinitoflightbvin/!slOpptdfora lung
m .. mem and bring ,hk undc. C<>IItwllnl condi[iutls. That dun: not m .. HI tho
paiming on glu'os. It s obio" Ihe light uf day. lIut il 3 compromise, nlld
"ffcrsir'lfas _" .... h. IT isorn"mcnl nOlphnttlsmph)-acompl.x.maginitllttlf
light, a rC<:OllmUCI;Otl of it, in which Ihcpaiote,'sdi,mncc fmm the fa.;fi. he is
k ,ncmi>erillgisadmi.rcdrhrnushandlhrough.
i'arrlYlh31 diS':l!l(C:lnd mutingi, buil. illlolhe ",cn. i'self. and tho,wo

Only slowly, if my i, typical, doe< it dawn on the viewer that
the key to Ihe piclure'scolururganiz.ation is the fact that its two P'" santsare
a trace
of mnlight coming thruugh the leaves onto their fist. or foreheads, Ofcours..
that is what they arc doing! Re.t seeh .hadow, work u.ually cannot, The

s..mantk charge this is its way of reinventing pastoral. Bur it would not be lih
I'issarro to polarize the cuntra't, or offer it with a MonetAour ish,li ghtisthe
guarant"<' of pi,;torial integrity, and al.o, ultimately, of '''p,"ssive integrity.
"I know full wcllthat my Pea.""t Wom"" is too pretty, that happ'ns to me all
the time.,,"" There Can be [given the ci rcumsrances of the later nineteenth
century, there incvitabl)" will be) plenty of .weern ... and sentimentality in a
picture, ,IS long as the light the surface COuntermands them. As long as it
embodies the qualitie. of enetgy, equanimiry, and truthfulne<s whic helsewhere
evaporate the they are pursued. Don't 'ry '0 figure [he value, that
ma'lcr 10 you, have them be instanced 1 ' what )ou do, Th; , is the central
Therefore the ,hade that.urrounds the IWO actors has (0 comc ou, 01 the
whole te"wrc 01 colored marh come out of it like a =rel;on, or emanation,
which can ne"er oc tied down to this or Ihat painterly cue. Therefore the
in sunlight h .. somehow to participate in ,he shade, or be ,iewed
through il,or be.hot through with ils qualilics. The sky is white, a nd Iheair is
charged with what ",ems like humid o"crcasI. light is diffused, The atmosphere
is sulrry, thete i,a mufAed quality to il. looked atd"se to, the painr is as dry
aS a bune,happiiy.rill unvarnished; from twenty feet, the same pain' isnlugg y
Is the cheap cloth of the squming
woman'. wurkshirr shiny from wear or SWeat:
It is shade, to rep'at, that i. Ihe sign of pastoral in Pissarro. l eisure
is a time of day and a partial removal hom "",light. We shall come to
wondering in a moment whether Pissarro succeeded in drawing his IWO women
convincingiy, and in giving us due, (I mean inrimarions, not cue-c ards) 10 their

less than that the women be pUI in a particular condition of light, A ligh' with
the ficid,women'. dreams I>uilt into it. That was intimation enough. HIe est

;0 (abo,"",'ighl)
W .. dinglhe Vi ..... ,
Ponloi .. , gouache,
How typical a moment of modernism this is! Typical of its strength and
pathos. depends on an effect of saturation, and looking at light
through 'hadow, and the effect is marvelous: but it is only on offer, in my
to the mo<l sustained (fanatic) allemion; and inevitably it is the
quality inthr picture that is mistaken for temativeness, or too bea vyabuild-up
of color-it is the quality that keeps the picture out of the modernist canon. And

yiewing conditions. It is a miracle that the room in which Two Young
WO"'eII i, now hung occasionally provides them. Only when real daylight
Isteady daylight, studio light coming in from abovel Aoods the backgro undwith
enough solar white yellow to ha"e the over<;ast register as sunlit-only thon
doe, the picture work. Otherwis<: its rang. of ton. can seem sulien, or ryen
subaquwus. So d .. ermincd not togrimace,coloristically,thatite nds up looking
obstinately withdrawn. Lechiendentc'estqw:celanesouffrepaslam Mioer;le.
T892 realized that the way Pissarro's new surfaces
responded to light needed descrihing. One of the few times in his life Pissarro
bothered to reply to an art critic was in February, when he read the foil owing
paragraph, in L'Esta{elle:
In order to translate his new intuition of nature, a new procedure was
neces,ary. This procedurc ... is most striking in the painter'S latest worh,
where thick,tight-fitt ing, dose-packed brushmarks build up from Ihe canvas
surface in powerful reli ef. They mah a kaleidoscopic mass of colors, and the
painter', abilit) 10 keep them reveals a certainty of eyesight and

M. hardly us<:s brushes any more, but worh with the palen e knife,
not for the sake ofspced,or in Ihc fury of inspiration, but so as togi ... more
of the impact of daylight in his composition. The uneven surfaces that he
produces ILesasperites qu'i/",uftip/ie] s.erve 10 catch and retain rays of light,
and when the sun hits Ihcm, ,udJcnly the colors glitter hke a jewele r'sdisplay
These lines wcre by a young journali,t call.d Clemem-janin. The piece
appcaredon IS Pissarro, still in Paris, replied the nnlday'
[have nothing 10 add to )'our way of understanding my works from a
philosophical point of view, you get my thinking right, and the same goes for
the division of tones, which leiS me achieve more intensity of color while
preserving the unityofthe whole, and still slaying dear and lumin Ous.All Ihe
same, a few errors hn'ecrept in ..
.. s'''ve to trap
rays of light, no, really, light has nothing to do with it
independa"t de fa lum;he]; anyway time will leye! out this impasw and I
often do my be,t to get rid of it. [do not paint with the palcneknife, that
would make i! impossiblew diyidecolor, I usc long, fin e sable brushes, and
alas! iI's thesc long brushes Ihat gi"e risewthe roughness.es, against my wilL"
Whata sllfface it is when the light falls on it (fig. 3I)! What color! As
usual with Pissarro, the predominant hues are gr""n and blue: leaf green and
gr.ssgreen,light blue gingham blue calico, blues of all kinds pooling
alongthebankbytheorchardandinfil tratingthemipofshadowonthe ground
between the two women's knees, Blue ,hading to purple and indigo. But you
have only to look hack atllvo Yo""gPeaMnt Women after a few minutes in
front of one of the oth.r Pissarrosin the same room-there isa fine peasa nt
figure fromth r rarly [88os hanging three paintings away-for it to bes triking
how more the greens and blues are qualified by warm solar than in
any othcr picture in sight. Above all rhcrcisan extraordinary rose-pi nkplaying
everywhere against the blue-purple - mixcd into the strip of shadow ,and across
the chalky earth directly above it, and along the side of the is there
in the tnmk of the neare.ttree and on the squan ing woman's back,and spreads
latcrally aero,s the far firld just l>eforc the line of popJars. The pink ofsunS<:t
celehratcd carnation on the peasant woman's flushed cheeks. Srifling h cat. Here
and there episodes of a purer straw- or lemonyellow up, as a kind of
counterpoint. A lot of work is done, for by a patch of dry, light lemon
put on to the right of the last orchard trer: it opens the distance between
orchard and poplars, relieves thc OVcrc3St a bit, and prepares the way forlin.s
of pink and violet put on l>elow the horilOn.
Somc of the
isto""y in Pissarro',ca", idwlogical. They

the whole idr a of a painting that would in its bui ldup ofindi-
vidual touches, the raw materials of visual perception. Specrn,mcolor" olar
orange, complementary contra,t. Pissarro had ,pent a long time trying to mai<e
the technique of pointil lism work for him, wi th mixed success. He had been
captivated by Seurat's actual painterly achievement, in the first by the
lead; and
by rhe idea of escaping from the brilliantone man improvis.ationsof Imp,,s-
sionist painting to forge a collective ,tyle. The the young men called
themselves. In 189' Pissarro was in the proc." of learning again todo without
thedo!.Whyhedidso is a complicated story, which had beller be left for now.
But it matters .,en to our first nnd."tanding of Two Young PeaMnt Women
that it was done by someOne disengaging Irom a previous, more .tyle
-one that went on hauming Pissarro',practice wel l imothe [890' . As late as
[896 )'on find him declaring (about his new use 01 whites), "This way I am
completely Ireed Irom theneo!!!,"" as ifnp till then he had been pai nringunder
Two Young Peasam Women was partly an argument with pointillism, then.
which i, to say with his own previous work. It was intended to show that the
ful l complexity and e,'enness of optical events could be managed bya nimpro
vised, Aexible handl ing, withom that handling -making nature grima",," -
Feneon's crud and unforgettable phrase abom Monet, Pissarro had
relished when it was coined. " The handling does sti ll have a memory
ofthe.ystematicand uniformru it. In one or rwo place. (nOl the piClUr e's best)
a kind of outright pointillism hangs on. On the kneeling woman's .hirt, for
there a .. ""parate sma ll splash ... 01 pink, red, green, orange, and a
lighter blue on lOp of the basic establishing hatchwork. I guess t his has to do
wirh a special effort to model the body - to make things,olidify. In the arm and
shoulder the effon is ma)'beoverdone. Bm by and large the surface is left a,
hatchwork,crisscro<s: strokes srill visibl y "'parate. and 10 a degre e consistent ,
but woven togeth .. likc coarse thread. The line where the strip 01 shadow at thc
gi,'os way to sunlit earth is like a local drmonstration, more broadly
done, of the way the whole surfa,. is made. Pure blue over pale distemper
} l P'''Mru:D<!aii of
sttong ate the women, How heahhy' they married or single? body's
worth more than the a, the saying had it. "fille iolie. miroi,Je (Oil.""
ultimattiy 3 politkal mailer. Pastoral is a dream of time - of leisure
sewn into uenion, snatched from it through the rhythm, of
I.borandinsinuatingothertempos.ndimperativesintotheworkingd"y, l did
,ay a dream.
They ore going to take ,he ticld<and harve'ts fronl you. they will take your
very irom you. the)' will tie you to some machine of iron, smoking and

piston ten or twdve time, 3 do)', That is what they will
.gricuhure. And don't expe.:;' to make when )'ou r heart tells)'ou to
ta.c 3 woman; don't turn )'ourhe3d tow3rds the young girl passing by: tbe
forem.nwon't have you cheating the bos. ofhi,wor .
Then. th,r. will he no women .nd children coming to interrupt toil wi,h 3
k;"o, care ... The workot$ will he drawn up in <quad ron., with sergeants and
and til<' inevitable informer.
worth were written by one of Pissarro', tlistt Redu,.
ina little pamphlet often prinred in IS9o.. Ii MOM rri:,e.lepaysan. "' l
think that ",me ",heme of v. lues, and mayhe even some SIKh foreboding
of,hecenturytocome-of,ou"eneith .. R""lu.norPis",,,o>uldimaginethe
true horro rs ,,/ .gribu'ines< - lay .t the root of Two Young Pe,,,,mt It/omell,
and made its dreamworld worthrcaliting
"P .. is a hard word. I mean this chapler to he about n.ture
and grounds of. "",rtain sympathy, on thc part of a modern;'t
arti,t, for We Fi eld,Women";and about the pr<ssure that sympathy putonthe
arti<t', technical assumptions. Inevitably I shall talk a lot about limit.tions
bound up in it.
The - laughing meads" and the etc. But I hope to steer de .. of
the kind of academicism that think> Ihat One has pointed oul
sions.nd convention<, and invoked the horror or loss the picture doos n Ot
show, one has solved problem of .<ympa,hy .ltogether. It i. shown to he a
Thcrt is nO road here. s)'mpathy;, un<rly eXlerior - is nCver
a in Pi"arro's lencrs of h.rv<sts or prices or part;';ular pe3sants living
across the ro.d - but in llvo Yo""gPe"",,nl It'ome" I belicvc it is real. Or3s
roal as we shall gc" That i<, as much ofa picru reofa pa. t way of life,.nd of
why ,hat way of life might be v.lucd. as wc .rC cv .. likdy to be presented wi,h.
I think we should look at Pissarro'. painting with two kinds of ,.stimony in
mind. Firstly, the word of mouth of Le1lnard Thompson, farm-laborer in 0
not unlike Eragny (and not far away), recall ing much
the .ame time - S'"rting from. of going off to enlist in the First World
War. (pea.ams as cannon-foddcr, we shall <ee,are on govcrnmcn,,' mind sinthc
We w.lked to Ipswkh and got the train to Cokhester. We we .. soaked 10 the
skin but very h'PPf ___ 1n my four months' training wirh lhe regiment 1 put
on in weight.nd sot a bntaller. They said it was the food but
it wa,really because for the first time in my life there had been nostrenuo u<
work. [ want to say this simply a, a that people in Suffolk in my
day wcre worked to death. It literally h.ppened. It i< not 3 figure of speech
I was worked mercilessly. I am not complaining about it. It is wh.l happeneJ
to me. We were all delighted when war broke oul on August 4th. "
Then from Word,wonh', Preface to the
Low and life waS generally chosen [he means in the poems Ihal follow)
be\:ause in that situalion the essential passion' of the hearr find a bemr.o il
in whi<;h Iheycan.ttain their maturi ty. are less under restraint,3nd'peak a
plointrand moreempha,i<; language; because in that situation our elemrn-
tory feeling,exisl in a Slale may be
more comemplatod and more forcibly communicated; because the
manners of rurollife germill3le from Ihose dementary feding'; and from the
necessary chara,:ter of rural occupations. re mo,e easily compreben ded;and
a, e more durable; and lasdy, be.;au" in that si tu.tion the passions of me na,e
incorporated with th. beautiluland permanem form. of nature. "
lknowthisconjunctionof textsisintolerabl . "Thene<.:essarycha,a(terofrural
occupations ... " "h is not. figureofspeech ... " And the last thing I invite til..
reader to do, or think Pi ssarroeverdid.islosquarelhecirdeoffa.:,.nd.alue
implied here. The facts are horrible,andthe.aluesb."din wilfulign oranceof
them, but that does nol mean Ihe values.re bogus. Leunard Thonl pson c.n be
right, and Wordsworth (and Pi"arro)c.n be rightth.t th.1 siruotion the
essential passions of the heart find a benersoilin which Ihry can anain their
m.turity. are I .... under restraint. and speak a plainer and more emphatic
langu.lS"." O'l"'rhapswh31 i. ullima,dyalSlakei.thar rherecould be (andean
be) no picture of the qualilie. valued in Wordsworth's phrases - passion,
maturity,plainn ... s,emphasi,.unrestraint - withoutavisionoftheminheringin
peasant life. It hardly needs thai the qualities are th",e modernism
wished for itsdf.
Sopeasanl lifewas a screen, then, on which modernism projecteci ilS technic al
and expressive wishes, Well. yes. Bm this does not mean lhe screen WaS empty,
or the projections made Out of nothing. Therew3 form of life still actually
existing in the century (I know Ihe wo,d sums il up tOO
neatly) thot stood in the woy of modernity, and re.isted the disenchantment 01
the world. Modernist values partly del"'nded On an image of that life and i IS
characteri"ie qualitie . No doubt in th. imaging process the qualities were
idealized. or prettified. or sentimentalized. But rhose word. are not final
pejorativ .... They may only describe the agony- the inevitable ruthks.n .... -
involved in keeping a dream of humanity alive
The year 1891, to Two Yotmg Pea",nt Women belongs pro.
foundly. was a fate/ultime for French paintingua whole. Pi ssarrocer1ainly
thoughtso,andreactedtowhatto<>kpla<c withuncharacteristic.enom.lthink
he sensed (a. iltumed ou,. rightly) Ihat one era of modernism was coming to
an end. and th. hrstfeaturesofanoth.rappearing.ldealismsof .ariou.kind.
were on the offensive, and materialism in retreat. Maybe Pissarro even ktlfw in
hisbon ...
roised the stakes of his retrospective, and of Two Young Pea"'n! It'omen
inpanicular. h was not Ih.t ri,s.arroupected a singkexhibition or painti ngto
ofhi"",y. Hi s eXl"'rience of the market over the
years had been a crash course in artisti<; realism. Sut he was nothing if not
stubborn. He intended hi. exhibition to ,how what the ambilion, of previous
modemism had really been (as usualth. transmutalion of the moderni" field
was3ccompanied hy all kinds of cynical srupidilie<aboUithedispJaced I mpre,'
.ionism, "N.tur.lism." and soon). and his new work was meant
10 take up certain featurtcsofrecent art.nd theory, and pUl them to proper us .
looked al t891 somelime. wilh but did OOt intend to sul k in his tent.
f.\-en y",boh,,,, , he Ihoughl , mighl I" He , hal for e\"Cr)"
YO"'''g,,,,,,-Ca,hol,,,,,la,ming,henan;e thcrcw3,,,,, n., r,hi''iu""" 'unvtnc,,d
lansnage.i\ \"ybeS' g!l"nd N.O{LlCcwuuld
'Ol rnou'"0!IObe"""t Contr,,,,,,,. ,\\ ayl>c,hepaiming,h3'''''Ol alanm,ghl
now ""gin from was I'Ol \' i" S",'''''cr (tig, JLI. nOI G.,uguo,,'. Vi,,,,,, 41 .. , II,.
Scrmon {ng. H)' Or Seur,,', el",I"'1 (fig. H), nO! i\laurice D,'nos's My<t.'"
Cuhoil<llleifig. H I. rh"><, ....
was wi, h art e",m, _ w"w plotted, ot he rs ou, of
the bl"". 0" , April "" ""I fo, Tohn" afte, sam" week> of public")
m"am 10 r,,,,, monq fot h" fJ ""ly and ,ht' ground, of h" .lbandont "g
,h<Wc"cr)'_", I .:!car. (1" "Jrtodtd h"b",orcn"'I M"hc"J ""hcrubl"' ,,)'
,ampelign. hul Ihald,d no, 'lUI' h,m"\Jrlmg"lhet.fe"eli'sge"er;l1 tawd"
nes>. M'Jndon Ihe '.1:,"". ind,,,J' i. going '0 Ta hi'i. hut 0" a mrs,ion from
,he SO"ern""", "blamed ,.,. fil . " "I Th<' I'"nlmgs "f Vin m "3n Go)!h
who ,,,,mn,,"ed ,,,,,id, ,It, rre"iou, July, were ,hown 10 'he publ,.,
Bru,sel"n F,'bruMy and
in Parts tn ,\\.Hch, The Bru, .. ls WJS pHI of' he Y"Jrl)' of
'he lId!:"" , ht' so ... 'lied Twemy. (Se u",.-, C},,,lml In ,\ I'b.,<
"r honor "I th. S"me u h'h,t_1 Th,- f't>C1 tmile Vernat'n " "OTe btaulifull)'
dMU' van Gogll on ,h" ",.-" ",on. ,ltll struggltngI" mJk. up h,s mind .boul
hi m" Pis,:l ft" bOI w,nd of , hese even ,n Eragn)": "' It .... -.:ms Ih"l rn
BfU'St'I,"',Gaugurn and ""n Go!:h who lr< winr><r<t ho<)'ear, L",,,,,fd,scu,
.ion in .h" r"" , n"urdliy."" In I'"ft, "an GOSh" ur:o '"
Ihe d,'> Indcl"' ndant s, Ihe "uin 3\'an'-)!.lrd< e<"<1lI ofl h" 'rt1ng, l>1"b.au
,'dcbrated Ihem, wa ho", ,,'serw, tn 3 fnml r . gr am.:!, lor I. "}':(bo J,' 1',m;, ""
M,ur",e Den" showed a """,;on of h" MY' lert' ClIlmh,/lIe "I th,'
Fenron a. ,h" Symboli", 0><3r
Wildetype Ii i)' in oHtr'; portran by Paul Signa", wmplt<t" with
II,e ,''',m,,'1 o{ a ",itl, inter-
" .. I. ""d IJIIgles, wil" IUII<'S <lnd tllllS (SIIr /'';'''.11/ d",," (olld d,.
mC'I<re. el da"gle., de tuns "I lelllles) . . \lor. or I ... everyone cen3inl)'
Seurat "'nthi,
I."e.t hig p" iming. CiTCIn (ii I:. ,6), 10 the sh"w, imending to work
it< brilii;liH ""h"mati'01ions a little iUllhr, 31 dare. (Or I""haps not.
One of ,he """' )' distinction. Seum,', p.111tu' gh"d pm", quesllnn O\'er the
pr .. ';ousyc",sw,,,that betw.en "painting" and ":;.:hema.")A week ,,"crthe
H r .ulGaugui n
>< 9'.
,88K IN"ion.IG.llcry
H Maurice )).,",.
My";''' C",t/",/iqlle, oil
o"<'''\".J' ><17.

15 Gwrges s....r:o" Chahur, 011 on ""nvu, '71.5 X , ~ o . 5 , , 8 ~ (CoII=tion K",II.,...\I;;II., Mu .. um, 0" .... 10)
)6 x 'I'. IMu ... d'O""y,f'.ri.1
is more serious and hardworking Ihan l.eo,:omle on. RUI all Gz.anr>es
worshipers we.., seriOU$.. They wc.., horrihly so.." as .xru.ier was, of whal tkir
idol had logi ..,.
I...r.,onHe was a rcent acquaintance uf P;ssarro's, rcommendw to him
by He was" wriler, an anarchist , a Symbolisl fell uwtraveller, and was
in the end .dcted to wri le Ihe caulogue essay lur Pissarro's 189L show. " He
Can stand very well for the fine line many artists and wri rets we.., tryin gtotread
in betw...,n Symbolism and ffi)513g0gy. Mor .. than one commell1,tor on
Ihecalaloguein ' 89llhoughl lheline in '-omt .. 's prose too fir>e 10 detect.
MOanS un bnpge was a Iypical jah." ae .. rly corwel"S;l-
lions wilh Pis ... rro ... er .. al Ik hack of Lecumte's grappl ing with Ihe CU'lnr>e
pknumenon: tk reference oock to Ihe heroic age of natuml i.m OttmS li ke I
disgui sed lhalf-i,unic)qume. Pinar rohadfumedallheliesandmi.under.land-
ings infe.ting the life ofceZlln"e in Us HO,,""'CJ d/l"iOllrd/"';lh .. p ' eviou!
April _ all the more so because il was wri tten by someon .. from Gauguin'scamp.
MTh .. poor foo l reckun, Oiunn .. waS at one ,im .. under Mollt'r'. infl"""c ..
... Reatl hat! M" He wanted tk rcordset.trailllll,
H .... anrw tk full compluity of Ih .. balance of qualiries in Cb.anr>e m.:og-
nitt<! - hetwttn peculiar symhesis and TC!ipecl (or visual facts, berwttn
ornamem and awk ..... rdness. Ihis WlI. the b31ance he and Cb.anne
workw for t<>ge.her in the ,87os, , hal he now intended to slrike again.
I do not wanltOgivelhe impression lhat th .. gffiup nf.rtisl<calied
in ,891 was coherenl, or had a .hared sense of what tne wo,d appl ied
10 them mighl mean. The label in any did notlong. urvive Ihe yea . Slillless
was if dear at . he lime which individuals, and which elements of Ihei. practice,
would lurn a u 0 be crucial ro modemi.m afrer Who could have
pl"Cdictedlhal pictures on cardboard, lIening Ihtir first showing
at jlUl lhi. mome'" - lAdy o{ Fashjon (fig. )8) is a hrilliant eumplt, measuring
II by /0 incht$ - would poinl ,he way fU Malisset Or th31lh .. painter of DIIJit
(fig.)91-abiggcr, mure prwicf1l.ble pruduclion.wearingi" "dcoT3livene:ss

sheer persistenoe, "' aloe hi s wbimsical ver,iun 01 Ut3maro a cornerstone of
twcmieth-ctntury art?
J7 Simsi..., Dish
x B,ca.
1891 (Collection
[he fu[ure as usual, Noncthclc" if i. imporfam Pic,,,, Ilonn.,d
Vuillard arid B"'''lMd emerged from thc of .89', and that the [erm 1)"lk. 0.1 on canl ... ')0
thcn utd 10 them _ as wcll as Ikni " and Sirusic . and Gauguin. and )(
"an Gogh - W3$ Symbohst. At lea .. [h. word dorrxted ,o ....... ers (mcludmg d'Oruy,


a ,I:(I(>d loh. The)" had nm .heir Hegel and ."hIIJrll1f, or not read thcm writ
Therefore .he wurld "'mled ,0 pnlariu into ,\Llmr 3"d Idca, or and
Meaning, or some s",h c\unkingdualism from wnoch,hccr;'icpickcdhispnle
of ehnice. Tl>tre ""S a .ypklll knochhou. nch"nge un th .., man ... m Aprtl
be',,"",n I'i"""o and a young writer (ailed Albc" Au"c, - r issarro was
rnpondmg .0 an all;';l. m Mt.e".t dt F'olnn wuh th. !Kadli ... mle, -Le
S)'mbolosme en r .imurc; Paul GaUgUln- _ in whICh Au"c' was acrusrd, 00 ,h.
whole fa;rl)" ofrcd()(;mg v,sual art 'oa mane ... f,rlcas "lIldoca'ed b)' 3 few
s.gns." rissarmth""gh.,ha,doongsoC\adttllhcossueofwhatthenll""ethe
.'isual SO);OS their Spc<.:ilic or effe..,i,encsj _ what made indicJ
Ilener .hon ",hen., And he Call al>o"l, for an answer,
lhmugh I;sluilerms; "draw;n!;," -hMmouy," -",nsariun." Luok
allhc JapanO$C,hesa)'s;lnepoimi"nar "'ilhthcon"SOJ,:nsnne,hestuffof
A<p""" of .h " 1,><.11 "rld pe,,,,,,,,I. [,,,,,,,,, W.\< uII<""ly .. Wdre ,ild'
h,1(1 oll.;e Ix ... " h,s 1"0' ':)1'' ''1>,1,011''00''''''', and p.rtly ,he "",II",m"of
.Ircw.I),,,frc,,"rII'")ll ilJ' "'cenl polS! . Th.01 ... "h'"sho"" who.:h l'IS ... rroilJd
1"" up o"l y . )"<0, !>cro,e.' BlIl's",J .Hld V .. I.,d"n. ",);JIlL,,,d oy "an
hrot h.r. h"d,.r,ll1l""S h)' G.,",:,,,n 1',."",', p.II 11 ll11g' - e,'en
ne pill s uirr, re l,d '" ,'olored wood. Soye, "",ollre",;e< "011<

F""lue,I I)' tdlt.li<' ,< ,he qU(s1Ionf<>rm ul I'",.uw, bst bur one. II "
.,ddrfS""d '" 1.11,"<11 lnd by no "'("'S uj h'i resp"""" I.uci .. " 'n
L",,<!on. his w",y .",o '" rhe world 01 Waltn lfig. HI ,lid
'1'1" Hoi;!,), H",se . .\I ott'th.,,,,,,,," IJthcr.,,,d SO". wh","corr""p<",dcncc in
, N9' ispartl)' all"!IIlgof ""<!' p. l hn,,,.,.greetodoflerowrtheworkL,,,ien
i. d"i"g_ClpcciJII), tht pr,ms ht,.,,,, h" f.ll hcc,hrnugh 11, .. mlil. Here, lor
ex.,mrle, i. repl)"ng to o"eol his iJ,her. hro.,d"de. "'J" ly
A ",,,,imenul l).lIn" ". I h3d.I kdiu" d,al th" wh," muSt
hd"e re;, ll y ,ho.:ked )'ou '" m)' "'oo,km l fig, 4' I. In ... " \\'01 1
drJwn 3< ,he - A"d "'S nO ac"d,'" , of i, 0''' ,h." IVJ)'. I
wpllt .,lonlel1lore idr . mto'hell""g!l"!l I "orm, ll)' do.
As loe the of ,hu<, who d",-"" tht futu", of 3rt II.,,,,,,,, h ... '"
mi!ld,her<'po"de"rsroJ "ew'p"f'<r yu",,"o,,,,",, .. wl,,d, i',,,orro/,e,e had
s<mh,nll,no.!o"htt h,)'nl<';", t h.lIthc,mmed,.lI<fulurc-th.lIIS,10morrow
- ",ill b-< m),S,",31. ""d I"'rh"ps If,e)' .Iee rlgh,. S",C" ,he of "II.""".
arc te"Jing this ml's","",. BUI here, so.:" list Jrlists and ."""
A"., ,,h,,,s, hke ere"' t. tI",y m)'''''' F"r C""" is ,-orr ;,d" . n"ed III
hIS IdeJ' . nuke he . d or IJI I ']IIS. but ",1m I do kilo"
th.lt wc Ollr "''''" O(lt In ""h a 0,,10" (1 .1I1d ),,t l/i"d
, Il< An",d"" ,dc. mJkc.< 111 ",i",
To wh..;hC"nillc repl i ..
I'",,,,,o\.,,,no)"-,,,,,,,, local "nd pcrson.,I .. 'S I bUI shol Ihrou):h "'Un"
",,"" h"own (nnd h" ",n',) ""niu,ion! Me hnkeJ !oth"",
, ,, I' ure ,,' _ hq .hou):h . Il" [,,,,,,,I,ar po,m. It
wa. hoc" "", P"",r,o "W" neW form' of ,Jeah,m r.""p''''' In;ln.1I ",uOld h,m
th.u h" ., II <g,nn" .. t..":,,u,," nldny of.h. nt'w
,.Ic.l i" s p",.:Ia,n",d Inc "me II ..... " !,,,,,"u>c the ThirJ Repuhlic
ouJ , o",a l"J.ula>!iso hr!houghUoni',\fu.,,,>lQr<,and , hcr<io,,'on
""""h", . h.1t J,ffc",,ce. u\erth,wo,J , "";:,,."
",J . '."'nd-, ) .... h"."-haJ.oj,.,i"u):h.",,,_ ,pcl,ou._'n ..... mb hhT"'(,
\'uo"'8 I'e.".ml lt'o",m
A nd du nOl t"ke Lucie"
,he "'h,l" sl,pp,ng ,mu tbe orh" "I T/' e )'el/"", /J.",k. Thtre" ""me of thdt
gOIll): nn; hut h< 100 W.1< ,'onlh,-t<d, For c"n)' f'g"'" 1t'l1/'.I em",,,
' n (here wa, " Gllnt.,/.md Ch,mt)" Iii):. of" "r",sol li thographs
d,d thmugh the )'ear, 'h,' f,e" of th .. m nude ,,,,d IInI1"",hlll)(. lor ,he
,HlJ r,' h,sl ",<-.;kl)" U I'ei".lfd. "We )'our drawi,,!! It' I'.-re I'em,,,d,-
Q)"sf.lther'"son ,n)l.lor<h. '"I! " r. "II)'o" gltt"l;ond full " f ,h;Hd.','r. th(n,k"d
figur. ""'.,II )"hnc, ful l of,crrihle", n . tt illll .-" 1)'"",' SMSollinn re ",Vie. Th""
P;,,,,,rro'sult'lIlatcterm ofpr., i-r.
In ,he "" iSl ",a, P""is de Cha"a"" cs. He dear til Seura[
S,!:n" '-"'othe M"",(er of I'obhc I""ruc,ion. Th,'S)'",l>ohst, WlIf> h'p ... J h,m,
the .\c"()swors hip<-J him, he ""sgi,'en' ncl"", ",; II'oft he Rcpubli'to<O\'cr.
His ,,, me was" ,-31<1,..,11 , ;nHle for e".,)' [h",)( grand ''''p",bable Ihar an
<ollldnIlJgctltto lif.-. E,enanan;1f\-hll><.>okktlikcKropo,ki n'sTbeCollqIIe,t
"gr" nd d':",or ",><""1"",3 b Pmi . -"
Somewhere Jf thr .. enter of I'u"is. in lR90S was hj, ,', ,,,m of ,ho
on Pi""rr,, 's m111d in Nowml>",. ostemibl), N'''"'''''' he h"d the "I sellinl.(
a pai nt ing ", ,ht ''"ll', TheM'two ,,"cre sril l i'l BQus,(><iand
.",d ma)'M [he), would .I", Whet her he look at [hem again [[] Pari, i. nO!
dear. pl.nncd to. " Rm in b" nr ""''''0')', [he)' fed into hi, wor k
in rhe !a,e fal l. The)' wcre rell','ant point "f cump,,,iM'" for what he was "OW
Itrin{! to do, Th,,, was sp<'"iali)' tr ue uf lh,' w"",an.' kh in The Apr!.'
frui, in ,h,,h'ile.
One immediate differen,," b<,'lwcc" , he previous big pictur and Two Ym",!\
Pra.am W'ome" is tha, in [he IallC' the ,wo ligures are incomplete. Thi." a ke}'.
andu""haracteristic.drci,ioll, PeaS"mnguresinl'i<sarro xccp[foroc"a. ional
portrait" arc "tablishcd f<Hl'Ml""'C wi,hin , he pic!ure frame, [heir
"'para," claim "" !h" ''',ngit-, E"en C"wherd is allowed [0.
Th. de ... i.ion!o dn ,hc "pposi,e in Two Ym"'g j 'M" m ! W"mclt i. pard}' , h.
rcas"n. I am ''''c. that the piaure III Hennal unrcsulwd. At this lewl it
IS wi. h " fi",o" ofdo""n"". of
"on,'cr>;l,ion ",'.rheard. bu, no, ImUllJ")'. O,'erhear ing bu,
nO'o>.rseelng. (h "aniner.en, h",en'uryquc>uon - anEl i",,", Re..:lu 'ype
quemun - whorher every kind of lookIng at tho lo",e .:lJ."'. hJS to in, r",",'.
" nd disciplinary. ) The' ,""u womcn Me meam to ,"un"mental. bu, nO!

nlly" ("t"weal l ,h"laner) J.e ,he tw" wor" 'lual i"., p",Jrro, hink, hi, ,on
may f>e "a"hin!,: In 189' fromh"Engh.h.urrounil",gs,"Th",kofrhep;"rure.
then. in reia, ,,.n '" M,ller'. Anile/lIS Or bener mil,,,, "n CxaCl contem
porary Ioke Jule. 4S),.hown in IheSalon of The",. ,e
,he pic,u,e. Ti,,,, r Oll"lI f'e,1s,,,,t Wf)I"ell" pJ"'teil Jg.linsr. Th"t"'" ligure.'
mm",pltIene.; doc, nOl ilanen or Jereali,e them, They"", .tronglyenoush
mo<leleiltfloc<'upy'pace:a'pacewh,,,h bdung; lU them (l h, mC1Jphursherc
are !,,>und lU be a bit , mall'proprierorial) and to whIch as ,'iewe .. we h""e
parrlygaineda,cess; hu,onl)'p., rtiy,rhJt " the poim -so that ween dupse ... n):
a sen .. of ngure, and ",b, ions, but unl)' a sen>C, We '''uld worry endlessly
,bout the peasam, anual pose and ,he di"an,e between ,hem, and where t he
gro"ndpI.11lei"b"t of,Dur>cthepJ int lnsdoe.nmofferu,.ufti",.mclut.10
"nswer ,hc", kind. ofqut';I;on.,ond doe, nO! mCJ n to. !t mea". '" to be '"
1",,00. We hJ<" come In dose - "'.-. , Iuse ' 0 !,:e, the whole
\ '0""8 PI'.';."" few 'Cme",e ,e not meanta,a way of
wflggiingou, of ,he ,omm"""n . jUSl a wHning Ih" Ih""lk will no, get us
"cry far. T"ke the S<Juaums woman, for example Ing. 46). I s she
",'h"r, p"",i""'ly? on her heel,. o. 0. h.r haunche.?
Sming c"'ss-ieg,ged.-.r wi,h kn..,. 'piaye'd wide? M .. ybe the beSt'"", .. intorpro-
tatioll 01 her afl'" is ,hal Ihe arm is r<sringon a knee We "'" nO!
shuwn. lUst and ", frunt of the picture and the knee We can Stt i,
J f",nn one, b,:arong no w,;ght. IYo" woll notk-' a gl impse of,he won"n', left
hJnd,Jppearing under her dbow.1 But th.n <lloestions multiply. lIow on earth
("n the knee be spreJdmg th"fJtw ,he ' ighl! Wh,u isil w< are looking "l
Ihrough ,hccruuk of the woman'. arm? It JPpears tn !>e roughly t he <r>1", "f hr
kirr. Yel i, is painti parti)' wl1h l"nger,I Igh'er. ''Of tical .troke.- lhere .. 'en
4j J"I .. II,.,o""/.",,.,
''- t,!, An
Fo<>y, h<Wi<k ... ",
.... mo,y"ihcrmorh,-"
F. ,my!\rnol H,.'.n " ,J
h ,"no,
Sl:<!mS to be an orange _ which might almosr be [he mlor and fall of the
wom.nshair. Bmsurely herhairistic-a in a bun?
r am
drawing, and the improbahilities e .. ily suhsumed in the O"erall shape. As a
shapeofstolidrcveryithotsneverbeenbencred. Thefaceandfistarewonderful
-dumsy,elliptical,aereated hy lighl. The IOlIches of pure blue line-drawi ng in
between the fingers are perfectly, naively calculated. The fist is as three-
dimensional a piece of painting as Pissarro everdid- a fi gure of uprigh tness,
containment. firm support, like a Roman"",u. capitaL How imperturbably it
"",wers the hJtd slashing e<lge of the same woman's back and shoulders.
squared and silhouemd against the orchard bank' How approximate the
fingers of her other hand in comparison. or the hands of the woman kneeling
This is where the aesthetic (as opposed to allawmical) difficulti .. begin, I
think - once we look at the rwo figures comparat i, 'ci)" as answering and
qualifying one another. Pissarro worked ferociously hard at the comparison;
gr,""n halos pur in around the women's profiles. for instance, were meanr ro
establi,h the silhouene of each face more strongly - b)' colorconrr-asrofgreen
against blue-purple - and thereby h3\'e them speak w one anorher more
decisively acro .. the gap. (the picture seems
to have been La 0J"selle, or Chatting. by the Pissarro family) that is
crucial. and rhat I reckon doc"S not uhimarelycomeoff
Where do begin here? Maybe wirh the kneeling woman's face. "Je sais
bien que ma Pa}"",,,,e e<I HOp jolie "The consists, by Pissarro', stan-
dards,ofan awfu l lot of dec ora rive shortcuts: a wafcr-Aatcontin Ll ou."acing
of pale orange to eSlabl;,h rhe bridge of the noseancl nosnil. St raWs of pure
grttn to make tile re<l of tile li p. hz, touches of rhick cream on the upper lip
and chin. Thescare marvelous close to, for sheer naivety. It is as if l'is,arro ha d
been looking at his belm'e<I Corot again-at Corot', figurc pieces. Or eVen a !
Renoir. But I am not sure that in the end the devices make enough of a
counterpoint to the shadowed profile of the woman on the ground. The f aCe has
to be delicate to the other one's massiveness, mu ltipartite and faceted ro irs
partner's muffled sphere. gr,""n and red to her pink .nd blue. The
headscarfsets rhe tone. It almost works. There arc parts of the face thar h oldup
at a distance - the green ,hadow around the eyestx:ket.nd 'mder tile jawl ine,
the cast shadow from the scarf. But the wholc thing sHikcs me as jusr a litr Ictoo
britt le, too determined to be winning. Not so much pretty as prettified.
tiness isa worse danger than the ugly or the grotesq"c ILejoli es{,m dan gerpire
que Ie laid et Ie
Maybe the problem is not prettiness in itsdf. Prcniness has '0 beadmine d.
Not to do so i, not to admi t the grounds-or one of the grounds-ofone>s
imeres, in the , ubj cc{ofpeasa nt wOmen. (In ,he letter wilere I';ssarro say shis
peasant women in general arC tOO prett), , he whole thought is that they
regu larly start offth. l way. and only become bcaMifj.l - that is, part of the
pierures' beauty - through repeated work.) The downtrodden of
Millet, ur the Joan-of-Arcs-in-the-m.king of J" les Breton, are far deadlier
fiCtions of labor and the female body ,han the one Two Young Pea.mll
works '0 resuscitate. Anti -pastoral WaS by Pis,arro's time (and long. long
hefore) as much of a cliche as pastoral, and more smug in its Real ist certaimies.
So uhimatci)'the issue with the kneel ing woman is nor her delicate face so
,, 6 Pi .... ,ro, Detail of much as ,he fi, between ;md bod) _ particularl)' betw,""n face and arm. ] am
hg. <0 sure, once again. that the contrast here between massiveness .nd delicacy
was wnat inlended. BUI Ihis lime, it to me, anatomy really i,
an prohlem. The arm and shoulder are straightforwardly bad. The
kneding woman tOO much an impossible a compound of incompatible
modes. can almOSI sense Pissarro gathering up her skirts behind - the

surface and gi"e Ihe "pper body support. The skirt i. a kind of cantilever.
The contrivance seems dcspcrate tu me
" B/Xause in that ,iluali,m the essemial passions of the heart fin d a
octtersoi l ... andcon<;equentlymayoc
more accurately contemplated and mOre forcibly communi cated. " I am not
suggeStinglhat Pissarro',drawing,imply fa ils wdoeither. Locallys peaking,it
has accuracy and furc . But the tu-and-fro of feeling octween the picture's
protagonists (thm is, the indication of the overall play of their
passions") Slrikes me final ly as lopsided. The squaning woman i, a triumph -
of placemem, of contrulled awkwardness of drawing, of 'ension octween
modelling and silhouclle. Sh. occupie, hcrcorner royally, leaning on t
with )I id ccrtainly, spreading her bod}'ou, and out across the surface - fiat
hack, knife-edge shoulders, armur-plated biceps, infinitely capacious lap. The
kneeling woman has to answn thi, dreaming. For me she just fails to.
Her hold on thc luwer-right corner i, jusl a littic 100 showy Ithe showmanship
is '00 much of an add-on). Her upper body is like a collap,ed, impalpahle
of Ihe one oppo,ite. The muveS from the laconic segment of
under the squatting woman', elbow and picks up Ihe fa lse rhyme in honde
hand on the olherwoman', knee. One undersmndsthat both hand,aremeant
as no more than shadows of Ihe hands above, which Pis",rro has
painted in fu ll . Buthcreag., inonehandisa rea l invcntion and the oth
The crouching wOman is Gauguin revivified - I have a feeling figure may
even have ocgun as an answer to Ihe peasant women al bottom left in Vision
after the (fig. H), though no douhl the dialogue was deeply
I thi nk Ihat lhe way Ihe Iwu wumen respond to one another visually in the
PissarrohasmOlCtodowilnPuvi,deChavanncs. Andherethedeht , orallempt
at paraphrase, would have been consciuus, I guess - in t89t, orthodox. We
might enter intO the equat ion anuther Puvis in Durand-Ruel'spossession that
year,theconden..,dversionofan eari icrmuraI PuviscaiiedTheShepherd's Smr8
lfig. 471. Notice the foreground figures in particular. The last thing I mean to
imply is that Puvis'sinAuence on Pissarro was all for the worse. The quality of
Stolid separateness to the figures in Two Young Peasant Women is one keyt o its
power; and quality derives from P"vis. (Or from Seurat seen through Puvi, ',
eyes: Seurat understood,as heoflen WaS atthe ,ime,a,a "Puvismodernis ant "
or "Puvi, materiali ste."" 1 BUI it does seem to me ,hat the Puvis quality is not
wholly under control. It is Pissarro is coming to terms with from the
oUlSide, ina scnse for t he fimand last time. Something he ha, ideas about , bUl
does nol necessarily know very well. Gaugui n! That knave', tricks he
knew like Ihe back of hi, hatld! And in practice (as so often with modernism)
;t is the negative action ,hat is most successful. Taking Gauguin'. glib
simplificatiuns apart from the imide, wresting depth back uUl of his clipped,
playing-<:ard edges, showing his signs ,tirringclum'ily into life-all oflhis
worked marvelou,ly, partly beeau"" arguing with Gauguin waS arguing wilh
oneself. With Gauguin had Slil l been ally and
col laborator.
M"mems likr this r,""ur wi,hin moderni_'m. There i. a
One a decade or so larer when .V1nurice Denis, in his role as criric,
rounds on LUM, Calmeel 48) and it Mth. schema of
a ,heory.' ''' Ofcoursc ir is ea,y to bt dismi"ive W. could
confrom Luxe, (a/meet I'o/"I'te with what Delli, was doing in , 891 - Out",
Mystery (fig. i< fair example _ and a,k wh,eh painting is the more theory
drivell. Or look at ,he kind of picwre he hadturn.d to by thclimo he pi eked hi,
quarrd with .""!ati"", - /i.urydiu (fig. 491 is dated, 906 _ and wonder what he
thought he had gained.
But what Denis went on!O ""y Motis,," and the Fa",., later in
when he was collfronted with Woman with the Nat {fig. 5 I), wa, genuindy
rroubled and deeply aware of Moti''''',gihs. E\'cn \1a,isse'sfierc." p artisan,
admit rhat il i. ",me of the btsterit ic i.m he ever rt<;ei.'ed - .. pcciall yifw . .. ad
il in the light "f what followed, with Br",hfllr de or Na,m"ny in Red in
Wha.oncfindsaooveall,parriculariyinMaris .. , literary
artificiality, which f"I1",,"s from th ... aRh for of not
artificiality, the makers "f T",ki.h ,nd Persian (uPC(S (011-
<ei"ed ir;no,somerhingmor. abstra(t still; paiming bcyond every comin-
gency [iapei"wreh,mdetnl<lecomi"gcIlcel.paiminginil<elf"hepureaC!
"fpainting . .
What you are doing, Matis""i_<dialectic:)'ou bcgin frol11 the Illul tipleand
individual. and by defi .. iti"n. as rhe neo-l'latonim would y. that is. by
Piorr' PUI'i,J,
Shep/'",ds s"IIg, oil on
cam- ,IOj )< 110, 189'
Ymk. Rog<rs l-'und,
Henri ,\1>,;, ..
"iloo .. n". <.86 )( 116,

Mauri Dcni.
E",,'dice, oil on ""nv".,
{Jes >lo"m'm d. You all' only happy when all the dements of
your work are intelligible to you. No.hing remain of the conditional and
accidental in your univer .. : you it of ever)'thinS tnat doe. not corre
to the possibilities of prO"ided by reason. As if you could,
inside your own artisri cdornain. eSl:ape from the Sum of that
always "'Ii limitli 10 what we experience! We know mill ions of faCls, ,aid
Taine, bur hy mean, ofa hundred or so ,hal we do 1'01 understand. You
should resign y<>"rst:lf10 Ihc be infelligihlc. G;.c
upthcidc30frebuildinganew3rtbyrnean.ofreasonalone. PuI Yo"r trusl
II ;<wh", make<him , he ,'nice

Societe Nouvelle
..... , .... ..,., ....... ,'.pP>ci,. .....
"7.T .... ,KcD<C ... , ... , .. ,....... ...UUCll&u. ...
............ ' ........ , ..... _ . Gm.c.so 8""",,"
... ... """ .... N"AiOo.JU<;' J. _ ..
'",J""_ ... H .. .."s,.._ s."""",,,,,
... -'" ..
Qu" mK> ..
,4 C"1::;:',.::"""':,"' H'''''L<T'rt """,'" Euot t> .. """U,
::i:=:::::::':'- " . .

..... erepoisoned.lThereW3San id.aalm'adin,h.
early Nie'zsche and .11 lhe other proph." of irrationalism (;Quid
'imply be plundered, .nd uS<"d for their hatted of POSili,ism. The m(wement of
Somelhin;; of rhi. c.n be heard in Lucien', argumcnts wirh his
lather. II only it had pro,-edrrue.)
The I.ad item in I..: S,,,,iiti you will nurice. ;, an ", .. y
Kropotkin.;nwhid, here,-;ew<Oarw;n'"heuryof,,nlu, ;onandpu"hi,.,,, ..
Inu, at all an one) on forms of and inrerde
MIIIJfdIAid, II That K"'potkin las .... 'ellas,h. "pri.ing.'
lertz" ' , ,how, so in L1 """,elle hrings lip the '1"'''';on of
anar"hi.m', pia .. within "",iali,m in nd Pi, .. ",,', understanding of
This i .. u .... There i., to beSlIro,. sid."fanarchism th,,/igllr .. ,
.nd wants '0 figure, "-' , he to sociali,m. i,. evermina,ing angel
Ni." ,h nd 'hings in CommOn. So"ei.li,m, Irom 'his poin, "I
v;ew. is only lhe lastanddr.ari.st'''empl. t .rariunal izationulpiry, born 01
oourg",is."ciely'stetminald .. ad."" . [,i.,I0",.-philosophymu,"' ed(",m,he
,fligioustotheburo.lJ.:rat;"mod . And no dollbt thi. rhotor;':appeale drosome
,,,iSIs. PisSl"o wos not far wrong in ,usre<',ing.i n l891.,ha'to,hecJ'aloglle
ul wuuld ,,,on be added ,he my"iei,m of , .. olr.
But to Ie .. rile '1Ue\t;m, ,h.rewould be to m; .. th. in
the Leni"i" history 01 ,he revolu, ionary movemen' _ fmm we "ill need
to e",.pe). Pissarto. aft .. all . i, mOllnting hi. from ,n
perspecti"" Ana",hism for him had .Iways !>ren one facel of - a se'
of issu .. and lactic. that had crystallizrd uut of the Struggl .. wilhin 'he
wo,k ing-d.ss in the r870' .,Klrarly 1880s. in "'ponS<" rn the
I,,,"zi ng and ,plitting ,ha, lollowed the Pi .. arro. when we filSl wme
",rOSS him lookingSpe<ifically for bearings in IRRJ , w ... , ,, hscriher
toa papcr"lkd LePmlildire-run h).n tl<"ao.rcni" ,,"Iltd Paul Brou ... on.
o[ prime o[ .n.",hy wi'hin ' he Firs' Inte rnat;on. 1 in the I H70S. In
rlleurly 188". Btous".had broken wit h hisana",hisr friends. and began ro
pre.ch dour (bu, still qu;xor ic) poli, ics of class loc.1 eng"s."",nt.
s,ep-hy-s,epr,e .. ureonearirali_,,,, from w;,hin.The lull 'i,ieof the r3 per when
Pissarro men,ioos ".ding ;, was Pmlil.1ire. u{ficid d" Pdrti
O""r;er Frdnrai . "
Some tim. in Ih. mid or late r880> Iw. "mno' be when"') Pi"arro Ie'
his sub""ipt ion to Bro",,,., newspape' lap". .nd hegan , . ading Ih. one
K,oporkin h.d founded.L1 RiI'O/le. aboor politics
"' ,h;$ time - I h.ve ,he impression that ,he sheer lur macht
Id' norime.o"ontiden,. , Inr "pinions - hu' giving up llrou,,,. lur K ropu,kin
i, n"" ohe unde",ood .. mu"h ofa,h,ngeo(spors.1r me.n'choosingone
varietvof ",,iali,mo, .. anotfler.

form "I """i.I;" poli, ;", - W3> a"d by n" m.an, 10
The ",,,!:!!I .. w; , hi n , fie In"rIlll ion,1 in I ft60' and J h,d bun r3n
comus. I,,'ul , he nam<_calling had '-n ligh'on ideology nd .. ",inly
ligh' on (on,i"ency. A was any friend 01 the man in qu. "ion.
whelher he hJd r do.p;td/or not. lAnd an)'Way Ilroll'''' J"d KropOlkin bo,h
took as common ground. So i, seem, did PiSSl"O.) "Anarchi,," was a
u",ful 'ynonym lor It wa. onl)' 'lowly. and witl. olten mind-
hoggl ing 01 personnel. 'h", cert. in ques,ion, el."ed ,hems.,h,,", ' he
doubt by
18911hequCSlionswere well Pi"arru'>lerre .. "fren
wi,h somelhing of a ai, - hu' the ido ... th .. they con"illl'eJ"
ideoli'" wa,only ten years. o,>u old, Theid"",it)' wa,,,ill b"ing
AI the hearT of the matler was the quesl ion of the Sla,e - which stra ight awa"
di"id.d in'u que"ion, oi lung.,um phil"<ophy and immediate 'ao,;,ics. !, was
onethinll'''re,:ogni,e'h.pre''''''ma<hit ..
of da .. ruk I,hi s waS the A RC "f and ",'eo 10 pr<>puS<' ,h"t one lask
of. fut!lre reV4) llIIion would !>elo,m.,h ,he n.a"hinery, as 0rp"..,d lOr"" if for
the .... ""Ii,of,he prok'luiJl. could agr.., to diffef On 51t,h things
Where and fell to figh'ing over h"", mu"h of ,he
prc>entstoteappafat",sho" ldbt'all3ckrdhereandnow,andwilhwhal'<>rTof
weapons. Anatchisrs were anti. rnili'''ri,,!, "'orkin;; 1<> s"hven the '''yair)' of
wldiers.-thaT wa, whyso man)'of ,hem e"ded up in jail in ,S\lI, The\' htlieved
incor>fr<>ming 'he p<>li,cand thcc<"",,-in pushin;;new fOf""ofw<>rking-
da>5 resi,mnce and dcmonslfa,ion roward the breaking-poi", of cbss
and >f3te repl)', Nigh",;"h and the of corbine" In these ",aTters
""ned on Ihe oi [() ,h. " .. ;"nr I.nd unpb""fd lnd
unprediclable! movement to lurn 1 inw 0 dJy " i worldwide dass ,olidariry
and Jeti"n in In the May DJ)' demo",tmliom, which had
only he"un in .arncst Ihc )'carb<fol'<'.w.regrtt,cd f,yo f",illad., in
,own of Fourmies, Ileu the Bel"i.n !>order, kil ling Itn p"oplc. There was a
smaller, Jnd "em;ngly ins ignifiean', dash dO"f to home for ParisiJns, in t he
f.crofy.uburboiClichy,!>etwccn p<lliee and anarehi,rs. waving ,he red t Llg.ln
,h", dash wnuld !>ear frui" Muef, of the binerness inside Ihe
sociali"mowment in Iheearly 18'N<deriYe<lfrom,htques,ionufM3yD3Y:'
P; ss:>rroi,typical,writingtohi,ni""eon5 May,890-
in !'ari,.Bu"hcsrrikNarecontinu;ng,
th. socialist ehief. have done everything in theifpower t<> put a 510p to th.
dcmnnSlra,ions, bu, ,he rno\'emen' i. under w3y, "nd ynu will scc in due
.:nu f.." hat Ihis "ighl-hour day, which iS3"'solul. ly u..,I"",and willnolgiv.
thewofkingcias,athing,wil l i'C the.pafk that will lead to one dem and after
another, The hourgcuis wil l norhave,rolen ;t Jftef all!!!""
in the last senten,-e me"n, the movemenT in gene.,I, and hourgeoi,-
are Jules GueS<ie, ,he MJrxi>l leadcr. the handful of w.;ialisr. in ,hc
Chamber of DepUlies,
An",h;"s despised the .(("'IS of G"esJisrs. and So.;ial Dcm<xrats
tot",n thee"""" in ,he srr""ts inro ''OIes, When Marx's son-in-law P,,,I
Llf:ugu,"'on the Fourmie, seal in Nov.mber ,891,3t a b)'-eI"",ionres"lting
from Ihe ma.s:lcre, him of building a ,ar"'ron (Orps<:s:'
The M.rxi"s in the m.anlime had rh. exelusion of Ihe

in p,rT;"ular w3s quntc..:l as exul'ing ill the f,feak:" IHe had Nenan an"",his'
him..,lfinlh" 1870s,3nd was vigorous in aposlasy.1 La R,'"oilchormwN L,'
verdin on the whole affair: when Ihe da)' cornes that Ihe)' will
havede",oyed ,he bourgeoisie. wha' fine hourgC'oi5 tilt socialists will
I\.:hindthi,,,,d farrago,whie"' aoysludemof,.",i,l ism will know b)' hear!
fmm other in"ancos, by fcal and intra"'aok que"ion, ahout whallO dn in Ihe
face of power, To whar were ,he maSS party sys,em and ,he
apparatus of puolic opinion, whic'" had bttn '" quick ly a ..,mhled in mid
,cn'",y '0 handl. and chJnnei the fOf""s of univers:ll suffrage, firmly
parT "flhe "are and ,herefore "nregen.ra,.? Onc derut)' in ,H9' qooted
May man.:hers in Gen.va as chanting, bas Ia bourgeuisie! A bJ5 la
Ifclcctoral politics was ",If-defcat ing, what other kinds of politics
nOl? If the forms of organization - the trade unions, the
M.y D.y comminces, the local movementS for the eight-hour d.y, and so on-
were emhryos of a different sooial organiution w come, [hen was it not vital to
Slruggle against ccntra lizalion and bureaucracy inside each one fthem,whal-
ever the cost in ,.rmsofeffi eicnC)" ' The Fir" Imern3lional,so the anarchists
Ihought,had been it .. lfthc form oflreedom, Ihe non-state gwwing within the
5Iale. It had been saootaged. The poim was to rebuild iIPiN:ebypiN:e
Anarchism was part of socialism. (In Cadiz, the anarchist newspaper was
cal led EI Socialismo.1 That meant .narchists went on working and worrying at
th. problem of forging real, effective link, with the working class. They knew
their intransigence (Quid easily become quieti,m. Thcy knew that the question
ofwhcthcf the prolct:lriat would choos.e. or be obligcd, ro accommodate Wilh
capitalism rather than tr)" to def. at it was ,"ery much an open one. (One could
say that the early 189m are the last moment at which the working classs
alliwde to the emergent institutions of parliamentary democracy WaS sti ll
genuinel y in doubt. The last moment when it stil l made sense to believe in an
incipient rejection ofth, party system:' ) In No"ember in London Kropotkin
organ ized a confcreneclO diS<.:usslheou!lincsofanarch;st tactics toward the
!aoor movement. " In England especial ly, In"' que",ion was on the agenda. The
following .,ummer the first nucleus of the future Laoour Party - Keir Hardie,
John lIurns and Havelock Wilson - entered the House of Commom. Th. same
Walter Crane whom Pi ssarro took as the image of .rti,tic in
July,lenthisservices tothecau .. (lig.j3I.
Real, dfective links ... Ilut of course anarchism was nnally, ornolOriously,
distinctive for the presence in ;tsrank.oflhos.ewhobelie."edthatno," ehlinks
or could exist until the proletariat was shocked into life by acts of
exemplary violence. Propaf1mJde par Ie fait. This is what and journal-
ists meant by anarchi,m in 1891. All)" anarchist - certa inly Pissarro - knew as
" P ropaganda by thcdc .. d was a proposal lor soci. list tactics which.
li ke its m.in rival<, first came 10 self-consciousness in the 1870S. On. could
argue that oothMarxs insiSlcneeon new lorms of centralization an dauthority
",.t n", the ]ntrrn.1!ton . ], ,,,,d the ,Je. or C'Ialy"", lorwoomeJ "f
ins"rre"""n and "'ere resp<>nses to the bleak ),ear< 1011"""n,:: t he
Co",mune. ["Itt, turn the I",ernattuna! mto a r.d""bt. ,, d)' to /"'"$ and
.1 ml(>rthccne'gtc.of,h,w"rkingd"s",h.n
,h,.,nrrg,,, mwltfe. in hop'' nl .. ,hatn ",,Cltun th" ",,,uld ", ., run a n)'p."t)
pl..,form or ccn,,,,1 ,,,m"''''''''. lltt>re weT< plenry of ",::umems amung anor-
.h,.<ts "I".ut ,he p."tlc"h, ",c.ston . fo,m, and <ombm;",o", ,u.; h a t:oct",
<houldtah.Nodoub(,',olencewuuldbe tlse1.>sunle",ttconn",,,dwi(h u,hrr
"mol, of agll.",on . nd "'ork. Il lll th,> (,,:1i. i,,,,, lf Ithe .."mpl<-, of
lrelJnd and KU" ;J kep' ,,,,,urr;ng) w. 1110,, 1)' .""'p,ed. - A, for me: sat d
K,op",km. -I approve entlTel).,fthts "'a) of ... tt will be propag.1nda
b)' ""J,::ci bl"w . (>rff"uh, ... , ln.", .. ",ary.M-' )'"IIwtll not ... ,h" ,ht, model "
troublcatrhe." lgcolademon,rr.l!ton.o,aq,,,,;k,tri\;r,,,nrttorJ , man
",,!-nedT""'n Hall. Not ()",,) th. Ion, bomb",.
T he mornemofanarcht>lpolll"' mlalet8<1t ..... as,p"c,fi . lthtnk.and
had db", un l'i<<.1""\ \I om ... 1. NO! dr"m"o..:311)". No, in
It'rrnsuf particuia,tm.1,::rryo,,,enfirmly ,denttliablrront.IJonm ,m<nd to
pb)"Wnt uT1 "" hc n.Th,...,,,"
, Io glot 'htf" ngof bonodar"" - in .1 modernist whert,v,n ,h,.,! ighl<"
, h, ft endange .. ,he .conom)' olthe ",hole - be'",""ne.,p"."","e
n .. ,and.",fac.t mtgT1ly.ur Jraw,ng .
A ""t lhng11e" to ",I: "illne" ,,,,d ."lemni,)". To bring ,h. d",,",. To try
1Oo.-erhe", ,hem
The pi""re WaS in the 1..11 and aher ,hr FOUfIIltc. bu,
I,,fu," Ra'Jchul'. IirS! bomb. On >8 Febru.1T}' ,H9>. a wer" or so aftrr
1''''.1rro, c"xh,t", ,,,n dused. thc tn,,"n hou,e of ,f,e PTlII""'se de on Ihe
Ch''''' p'. tJ),,,,,,,wasdyo'''''ttt""d, Spanishan.u,h,,!S'''e,e tbollghttnbemIOwn
On ,t ,\hreb a Itt""h ",("nt off ",,,'ss the river" ' J6 buul.vard Saint
<-"rm"i,,, In the buiIJingli\"Cdchicf", .lgt>trare Ilenoir,wboh"J pr'>tded o'rr
the tri.ll of th ... ln""h,sts JrreS1,d i" Ch,hy the pr",i"u, Ma)'.On :]1o.1>r.:h . ..
I"'mb levelled a h"u'r in rue de e lkh)' wh ... lIulu,. ,he pros.:c,,1O' at (h,,am.
tn" i.had h""part ment:' In (he meanttn1<. on tj ,\ 'I,,,h.abt)mb h . dn ph.letl
at a h.ur.leks tn ,he ru, L"I"u.An RJv.leho!. whu "'a, ... poo-
"ble for Ihe C!i"hy bumbmg was <runed bY.l "' ... "'r at ,hI Re>r.ll1rJnt Very,
:>nJ arr .. ,,d un /o,b'.:h. Hi, trial "1'<-"11od on >6 AI''' !. The d.l)' before.
,om<on. bl< ..... up Ihe R.staura", Vf,)" ktlhng "od 0 C"stomer. On
:.7 Ap"l. Kovachol senlen,,,d to life ", .. h hard boor. Th.Ia ..... ).'" in
and IH ..
w."nursp, .... dulong. ) I'Jrtoflhepr ... >S'ollnJ ... dunthcmagi-""'o.:}'{or n;"'ing
tum<d th<tri,1 mw"n,ulan"'chi,,,, tn tht"tl 1.,i!ing(o,on'tCl
"k.,., gsidc nLl n . .,d ,hr""
acqmtted " ,Might. ,\h)' Day ",a, ThIS was by (he
d ... d -
I' t"."",, pOLnting to the "UlI"ent I"{,,,," Th" IS . W a
",om<ntwhr".lT",cd ..
he<;onw " _ ,,hrn the paper, were {ull ,,{ , he "(,,rm,,," "I
th. SI"'I>I!I ... and t ho ;n"u",,,,,on at J'"l, strikes and
b!ood,h.dtn l'ilr,burgn.Tlots in llerlin, One an.",ht>t g"H'p ,t"Chri"coed '1,,"lf
"Rcveng' fu r Tht"T< w:o' alr< . d)" a wn,,,,,,,d .lmon ,h, tn
t 8)1' .pm>! newspapers ,,,, .I per.>nnnd, <entcnng tin wh,,, Ihc)" ""id
'0 'he lroupS. /'he fellla, ,.J w,lS in ""ublt". The ednur of LI1 Rh',,/re was
,i n' e. "nd Sue, . 1 Democr"" " rr. eager to go on r.,.;ord "'
d.'nouncingor ridiculinglhc ,hre.!."" L1 Re,'olre r.prim. d an article
by ,he i3W)'U and porI Jean Ai.lb.", "Aher Fourmi.-s,M in which he argoed
,hOI 'he maSS"re h.d u,hued in a new period of "passion and revoh,w as
.viden,..Jbyaseneral'urIl'olheloitinlhtprrssand linlemas""ines. "' llw"
!fue,h., ,he Syrnboli't joornal,wer ... kingon a morepolilical lone. Emrnims
had already reprinled rhe Comlnunis. Manif.-s'o in its
April issoe," its .. M) debme over May D.)', Much
m"re in ,he ",me ,'ein wa,!O lollow. In No-ember. f"r in .. a"". , L1 R",,,,lre
reprinted an l"icle from Elmeliens hy Bernard LaZ.Il" MN"uveik Monarchie"
Wil wa'the kind of,urvey of the new rdigio.i,yPi ... rrowooldh,,ee, peei"lIy
enjoy,-d anotl ... r entitled "l'An"orchie" from /..1
It waSa mau., "fopinion,na'urally. whe,her Ajalberl h"d it righ . Did the
,ign, point to anarehi,m,/inall)'b.c"ming Ihe spe<.,cr h.uming Europe rjuS!
Ihe SymboliS! pr ... ? Remembe, rhat Pissarro waS a congenital op,imiS!. In
Januar)' Eli"'e R,du< "" down to wrire a prei.o:e for Kropotkin's new
bo<'k. TJu Conqllest of Bre<ld. Hi. n",od Ifor. man u,0311y given to stoki,m.
and with a long schooling in disoppoinrmrn' ) wassrrangci!' eh1led. y"ol<'ill..,r
Jokers talk nf"fin drsi(-ck,"a"d rail ag.inst Ihe "ic.-s and oddiliesof clcg<o!1!
youlh;hulwhali,happeningatpresen!i'''Jme1hingqui,edifferen!from ,he
is , he whole "f pa" ci"i li,.,ion we ... H"w con Ihe defend,'rs 01
IhcoldorderP'-'",iblyk ... pi,alive?Theydon",hdieveini'3nylonge"Ihey
figh'", random, wilhom " leader ota flag
They know ,h" Ihe I,w is iniquitous and I)'ing, Ihal magistrale, are
", .. ",utes of Ihe '!fOttg and uppr .. sorsuf'he we"k ... hu,inSleadof regu
l3,ing,heir,hough,;"heirdesir.s"hcirp"'je.;'s"heir3(tinns ",curding,,, a
sense ofjustio.- . mosl of them take ro!uge inwme hackwater so a, 1o escape
rhe implicalion, of Iheir own lucid;,y. for in"ance ,he neo-rdigiou S,who.no
lottg<cr,ble'opr""i'e'heludi.;rollsfai'hoftbeirfa'hers. goinfo"omemore
origina l lorm of my>lagog)'. wilh no pr .... -i'" dogmas, b.uhed in a mi" of
muddled ",mimett" ,hey br..-omr spiri'''alislS, rosicrucians, buddhistS and
f,i,h -h lcr, _,
But .i""e lheylal k i",,,'<sonlly 3hoUl rhe Jd.al,lt."t me offer ,he", "beau 'iful
suol, r,,<surance. :\13'eri31 hein!;>th"t w. ,"e, we are weak enough. it i,
tru tOthinknfnouri,hmet1I.br..ausew.haveoflrnboeendeniedil,and ... n
nowilislackinglUllliliionsofoorSla, hro'hers, subje.:"of'he C20r, a ndto
milliunsofmhersix>ides;bulb.,yondbread,heyond well being. beyond the
colie.;ri"ewe. llh Ih31 can coml' from the proper ose ofour coomry,ide, we
... e a whole n",," w"rld ri,ing up in ,he diltancc, in which we ,hall he able IU
1"",,,neanotherf"llyandSJti,iyrhenoblep3ssionforlheJdeal - rhe''ery
Jdealwhichlhelm'ersofe1herealbtau,),foll"fdisJainf<>rmalCriaJIife, say
rheirsool.,hirs, 3f'erwi,h.n unquenchable thirst! "
liw irom day to day," Redu, writcs to Nadar on April . "happy and
,onfidcnt, listening 10 gteal bla,l of ,he ,evolu,i"" which i< .dvancing. ""'
NOliee ,hal ,he le"er '0 NaJar waS written nn Ihe day Ravachol wa, lound
guihy. Which i,,,, '''y. anall'hists did nO! imm<di>lely realize ,hat wi,h ,he era
01 bombings a new (and ul, im.tel)' 'urn in the hislory 01 anarchi,m
had btgun. KrupotkininJanuarycall"d RavJ(hol a lin de si;'de phenomen un.
"This "'odd i,ofno imcres,,,, ,he,"",olu,ion ... "" Ru, Ih .. waS hefore ,he
humbings began, when all that was known of Ravachol was ,har he muved in
anarchist,ird." w"' probably. murderer anJ .gen, provocateur.
"Now ,ha, we are quiet ly immersed in <:ontemplation of did
YOll hear d.1mor c'oming from Paris?": Pisstlrr<> 10 Mirbeau. 9 April 189!.
R.v3chol m"st have pu' ,h. wind up IhoS<" good m.gistr ..... They only
go'awa)' De"il take il! lRavMI'ulatila .. la
(,mlSsea ce. /;>0'" i/s belle! diable!1 It is not a good
are g"ing to h"'e 10 surround wilh ""Idiers from now on.""
"Somc)nc sent me - I don't know who - ,he hooklet of I :lm
""oding il on 10 you": I'i .. arro 10 Lucien.!6 April t89! Iday one of ,he
Ravo<-hoi trial). "lam also sending Rewlt whid will fill you in on S<"ver.1
n<w.spec'I,ofrecrmeVtnlS. Pouge, and Gravcledi.orsofIRN,ePej"", ,land
L1 Revolte r.,;pe<:li,eiy. bOlh of Ihc family) were in lhe round-
up Ihey ha"e been of ' ISing laws Ihat even the bourgeois
papers are beginning 10 ,hink unwi,e. - The Republic, Iw God. i,defend ingiTS
Iha!"s llnderst.n,bbl . It is easy '" .. ,hal a r.,"I",ion is in full
,wing - i'thrra,en,from.v"y side. (J1esl{ariledtse remlrt<ump te,/lIero"
eslenpl"ne,euo/lftioll-elce/amCII"rederollt,{jri.l rdeaswon't"opnow!""

i urprising. just lhal il i, u.ually pass.d o,er. Nor is il con.i"e"'.
phenomenon wa, perplexing for various reason,. ['i"arro congratulate<!
/I.-lirbea" on the art;';1e> h. wrote about Ra\' achol for Ih. anarchist journal
L'Endelwr$. broughl Out on May Day"- ,he artide was le"exult.",

adayors<>laterloreadandvilifyan intcrvicw On ana".;hi.m Zola had gi vento
u Fig"'o. in anarchists were of being ideologu.,; .nd ulOpi.n
wilh not enough .-onfide""e in ",i e""e."So Ihe people are going 10 be freed
,.;iemifieJliy. Thal'lI be rig hI! When ,he men of Kienee g''''em, 'he(1I go"ern nO
less tyrannically fot doing SO in..,ienct, name!""
Pissarrowas nogrcal politicallhinker. He knew his limits, and ducked the
invilalion to PUI his , "archism in p"blishabk form. (He Wa' not

version of sociali,m WdS .imple. He hated bourgeoi. ,o .. :i<>[y with a passion, and
wa< not such a fool as '0 thinl< il would crumble of irs ""''' free will. He knew
,ha, violence waS part of,,'eryday life, prac,icedhomeOI"lhic.lly hytho<ein
power. And ,hen from time to lime nol He was awarc thaI
answering vi"lellce with violence waS mostly a foredoomed struggle. Bu' vio
le""e would be answered in kind-,ho.., w whom evil is done. do evil in rer urn.
And Ihe question for socialism was how 10 respond'" Ihal desperalion. NOl
prosumahlybyhandwr;ngingbttt h)' help. lIis pol;Iics, thaI i' t" ,")'
of mosl anarchi.,,), were somewhere between Iho", of "Revenge for Four",i ... '

for lonch. once ,he buurge<.>i ' did ,he pri.,;l; nor do
individttal.lodolhisorlhalsp ... :ificthing;we are persuade<!thatindividuals
d()only ,,hal Ihoy have do:<:idedlod%r themselves. we belic"c ,ha ,vi"lc",e
i, by example nor by wrirings and pres.:;ription: bUI we arecon'
vinced al"'thar ideas. well understood . wilille .. :essarily, in Iheir J><:ondant
The more ideas penetrate ,he masS<"s, the more ,heir ",n..,iou.n.,;, com.s
to life , the more inten'e will be their sense of their Own dignily, in
c'onsequencetM It.stheywil l be wil ling to endure the pesteringofa uthori
tarian power and thieves. lndependent.ct, will
multiply and be.;o"", mo,.frcquem. Weh"'e no worries aoout this r.sult.
On the contrary. For e3Ch act of individual revol'is :l<wingofrhe an" t,he
foundati ons 01 the social rdince which weigh. us down. And ,i ",e ir i, ... id
that progre" "nnot happen without uphe" 'als,
wh<>will go down in the torment, in hopes thar rheir ex. mpl. will l,ad {Q
man)' mure su.:h this . ime armed SO tha, ,he blow, they . trike will
have mMe ef fe.: t . Ma)' the s"uggk he brief. Th.l .Ion. will ""'e the victims
devoured eoch d.y by uur Minuuur ..xiet) ....
These arc ,he final p"rJgraph<olan art;.;l. published in L" Rh.:JIre in May
18\1 1, calleJ "Why W. Are "b"iuu,ly writt. n with Fourmies
in view. I :; nu reason t<> bel ieve Pi ssa"u wuuld h.,c di"ented frum them. And
th.twop3ragraph. , .,p""iallr th"la<tlin .... ,i"di,a ..
disown R.v.crn,lwhen he .. me
Noncthelcs, there are r.asons {I>rsides pure ideology) wh) Pi ss. rro's
opinionoIRavacholhasbttnsostrenuous lyrep,"'sed, For of,ourse Pi,s,)rm
was. gentle and bene,""lcnt man. It i,hard w ... :onc:ile the contraries of his lif e
and belief> - but in ,Ita, h. is hum,," and nine,,,,,mh century. And typicall y
anarchist. Forwha,i<anarchi,m il not a politics 01 ir=onci lable,.' A ",noti,.
srrength and weakness precisely the ,,,,,xistence within it, undcr intol ...
able pressure land lor many it was intoler.ble), ofext .. <>rdinnily different
aim. , rhetori ,", .nd modes of acrion! Il1di, id.,.l ism and communism. Belir! in
",ienee and a taste lur sacrificial gesture. Freedom and order. Quietism and
rerrori,m. The loltincss of aristocracy and the cynici, m of , he
Stnt i"",,,, and reml;",ml. Loathing ul ,iol, ... ", and embra" of it
Ir i. eas)' eno"gh ' 0 enumerJte 'he contradiCl ions, hur uhimately,he point i'
tograspthe kind of political identity - pol iricalcons istenc),-towhi chtheygave
rise. And", recognize the pOlt that identity played wirhi n sociali<m. (Or rh.
parr it should have played. The pri" ,odal ism paid lor excluding ."d sup-
The answer ha$ to do with ,,,l lUre, taking the wurd in its widest sense. It has
ro do with the faCl that societi es, in order to endure, have '" go on belie\'i ng in
them""lve, - in their ,'i,ion olw,lI-being, and imagining 01 ,he future. They
ha.. to pretend to be mora l. Fin d. soci,ty _ this is the meaning of the
term, and 'he r.aSun it became internat innal - exi.ted .. a moment when th.t
pretense was wearing thin. And part 01 the job 01 socialism was to in,iSl on this
unravelling 01 idcology, and '0 pres.nt an image 01 poible morallhum''' 1
mns i' ten.:ya, an alternati" e
Thi s i, what anarchi,m managed to do, I 'hink, in contrast to l>1a rxism and
S<xi. 1 Dc","'racy. h. lone, in it, ve.,. bombaSland nai,ery,h.1d the "",asure 01
th.bourg .... ,isbeaSl in the Iale nineteenthc'entury: ilS rhetoric of horror a nd
denunciation ..... a. ,he onl)" one adequ.te ' 0 , he new color of e'CntS. To
Fourtni, Tonkin, P. n.m., Dreyfu,. To the whol ",. Iating ,ilene .. of patri-
uti<m and Empiro that ended Ibutdid nor end) in The"i,is olfinde,iecle
was mUfal. It was rep .... ntationa l. You have on ly to walk through the room.
01 a museum ckvoted 10 'popular" and mass.pwduccd vi,u.1 imagery' in
western f urope -1 remember ospeo:ially the great nne at Nancy - to shiver at rhe
'pe<i. 1 gl ibness and exurhitance that com .. over the imagining 01 Nation,
Youth, F .... "dom and Ma leness a, the new CC<>fury app"""hes_ Y" u , hi" er
b..'\-'3use you see modernity mutating into a truly virulent form, for whi ch
hundre<l. of mil lions would die. And the anarchist., it =m. to me, were rhe
only ones c.pahl. of turning at rhi' turn of events inro resist'""e, jUst
be ..
of statiSTi<:S. production, ewnomy; 'nd went on des.:ribing rhe
problem as one of Irgitimacy, of representaTiona l
I am nor claiming Ihi. on ils own makes a polilics. Nor do I mean rhe abo"e
asaverdiClonanarchism',overallinrelle<:,ualsrrengrhinrhet89<>'<. 0ronllle
an<wcrs it ga"e to the prohlem oforganilation. Tactical ly and poliri<:all )'i,oftcn
de<erved iTS uPJ'Oncn,,' scorn. (Though
on lhe question of milit,,,y loyalty and insubordinalion come. to look
dearsighlw. It is a good example of neeessal")' extremism. The dehade of
socialism in
where thatlh. futureofso.;ialism. not to say civilization, depended onone'.
own (oumry winning ,h. war _ ,<l Is Ihe swry of whal Ihe rest of the move
ment's moderac'y really mtant."1 ,I.ly purpose, ag.in. is to suggest whal the
aMr<:hisr,crsionof.o.;ialism had )offer'lthelime Pis.sarroembrac Wil,and
Ihew.ysrhesociali .. from refusing rhe uffer point blank.
The uf socialism around 1900 i. Ihat no r""dezvous was made lor
m"de effe(Ii"ely) kelween Ihe ,wo main di<.eourses Ih"1 socia lism form: Ihe
discourst ofdenu""iation and prophecy, and that ofda",consciousn",s. Of
c""OurSC the former wasan..:ient-ilS rnolS I.y in Jacobinism andlhc image ryuf
Ihe 'iecrs - and it was always on rhe verge of reverring ro chiliaSlic ranr. The
language of morality needed stiffening-with thc eighthourday and the laws
of primili"e accumulalion. BUI are momenrs in hisrory when Ihe very
nature of ela" power, and the fnrms taken by it< manufaclure ofth.., future,
make questions of ethic. and rhetoric-questionsofrepr",ent .. ion-primary.

room replacing rhe arcades.1 Remember thar so.;i, lism was in many ways at rhe
heighl of its powers in the early Y'arsof,he twentieth century. h had gained ilS
first foolholds in parliamenl, if< infl""""e wilhin lhe trade union was
growing, intelle<:lualsralliedroits,ause,ilhadreasontnbeli"'ethatthefmure
belonged to it. My argument is that nonelhele"il h.d still 10 de"ise a selof

ofcapilalismas well as tile e<:onomic and polilicalon",-could he describe dand
resisted. Anarchism possessed some of Ihe element. needed. In dosing again"
anarchism,<ocialismrobhed itselfoff .. morerhanfire.ltdepri,edir ... lfofan
imagination adequare to the horror confronting it, and Ihe worse to CO me.
T his isas wide a field of vision. and as much ofa s<:nse of forebod ing,
as I neecl geslure toward for now. I have nodoubl Ihal Pissarrn partly share<l
holh. Being a congeni,a l optimi>ldoesnol mean living in bli the igno"IK"of
what th. c'ullu,,1 pessimists ilike C;luguinl w,'re responding to. When Pi"arro
wriles 10 Mirheau in April t 892 alx"'1 TI,. Co>rqlles/ of 8rfJd, can ke found
admin;ngtha. ,he I>ook is"utop;a, bur Mthere is nOThing '0 prO"ent you from
believing that one day these things will be possible, unless mankind founders
and relUrnS to utter barbJrism.' The qualification here i, nol formulaic
AmongOIhe, 'hings, i, isa further jmore ""berl rcacrion to Ravaeho!.
The note is genuine, bUI not,hJTacteri.<tic. Above all not ,haracte,i'Ii<: of
Pissano's I.ners Ih01 year are eI.led. ThaI is 10 "'y, "ngryand g.1nulous,
anddeepl)on .heddensi,e,bu,with a sense of even the embattled n<"ha"ing
a future glory written into it. Tile world may Ix- for the worse (the aT!

of ,he new """q:a,d< gambits, the way reo"tion is opt'nly ,h"wing i,s a'
. Ile ,hi, i.""",ehowdupl)'en.,giling
, ign of ,h. ,im.,. Thelx>urgffii,;' i5 f, ightrned.""priscd h"th.danlO'
"f In, disinh",itod ,h. immenS<' .teman.t, of the p<'opk. and f.d, the
net"d to h,in!: p<'ople to sUp"", itiou, helie/,;, the h"hh"b of
,digi,,,,, wml>oli"., r<ligio". "",iali,m. art "f ideh idh.rrl , """"I t is",.
S"ddhi,m. <te.. sensed tho way things \\'e,e going: long "SO I
',l\\' him 'h,,, /a"ot;';JI enemy of .he r .... r the worhr; fh,f's why
the n1<1I'e"",,,, muSt he" de"h "",le. a 1.1St psp! Thelmp .. "ioni,,,
aft" in Ih< right: th"i" i. a "''''0 arr. h.""d on .. n"",io"s, n thJt i, ho, ... " ,"
Andlhen Oln'eglnol1li l"
The'e Me wr.cn I wond .. if I h,,'c '.,!em. truly, I "fton h",'e
dOll n!>_ , _ Wh" is ir ,h:,,\ !:Icking' 0, what is it ,her." "'''
of! " , I ",n po<,rI)' unde",,,,,d, cSf'<'.'i,!lly v.1n dit"d Ihe meons
Th,I: what it i, to the inAue",,,'"fan el1thu,i""on )',,,,r\iJ,. ! Thor.

l "mll<'hinJ,herim" ,orperhapsmyarri,ourofsrep.a"ddO<", "Ofh,wilh
p'<'<on' id."" wh;.;h s m ' 0 h. to myStici.m. Su i, may he "nu,h"
lIe"".,i""whi,h "-'ill I am
tokinll- one wh .. :h has rid it",lf of religiou" myste,iou, ide ..
conlehack",moremodcrnonrs,lfironl)'belie",.rh:\four ide", impregn"e J
wi,h an","hi" philo""'phy, gi,-e. color '" tho worb we do, henc. make
thorn to the ideas "fthe moonent Ijr croi. (rmlr'"ell/ qu,"OS
el des
',"s idees COII,mlles]:'
You = how wi", P;"arro was to 1,3\" anan,hisr to mher I"'upl . Bu.
nonerhdrsshismoodcoun's,his,h''''a,chiSft<lnJ>C, - v,ngeful,>elf-<Juubr.
Ii"" Vu""gP""'di1l lI?ommcolll ....
"Telllp<,-on irs own O''''cns things a bit. What/"m trying to b,ing
inw fo..:us i,Pissarru"polilics and th.ir effect on hi,art, AI on. le",1 Ihi,has
r"do wi,h .h"p"';, 1 circumS'3nc,. uf ,he way .heydisrurhe.:l ,he
balance on which Pi,s."rQ's w",king p'''"'i., dorcnd, d_ The b,klJlC< was
te.:hnical.nd and the to,ms in [,i,,,,,,,o no,ma lly discussed it
sho"ldbe bmi liarby now: ",nsation, ,ynth .. i,. I,...,dom, unity, ow"ne" of
",u.;h, " / h<!g:>n 1""ndrrSI.md my 01<' 11 seJl$,ltions, '0 know what I wantcd,; n
myio""" b",,,nlyv,gudy; .. fiftr.that i,. in 1880.1 iormub .. d an idea "I
unit)" but I could not PUI il into pmcl;';., now I am ,ixty, I to "'" how it
migh, be These are p,ucedu",L in o,he, word<: ,hey .. ,.
deopl)' omhedd.d in I""king and denoting and building oneself, p,;nterly
repertoire, The)' rake time, They only h"ely under the "rtiS!', "on",iou,
COlltrOI. II<' ':lugh, (Ihi. i. hnllly point oi ,he autohiog,"phy
jU"4,,,,,ed, whi"hc<>OlC'l from" Icn-cr'o his ni<;<;c), For,ingand altering ,hi,

to repl)' to ,h. situarion OS oppo>CJ '" .:on.inu, in"c>, i8ar,ng ,he
StrLH;'m. 01 one's own response-is po'cn'ially the W<JrSt kind of dis a" .. ,
Ye' ,h. balann was altered in T",,, Yo""g Pc",,,,n nol disastrousl)',
,nay h<! on. way ofd.",ibing ,he re,ulr, hW3scc"ainl)'diihculrand
un<tanle. and Pis",,, ' o neve' tried anYfhing ' e",o .. lik. it again - in Sl:ale. in
and of figur .. , in charged inwa,dness of mood, II i, a
limit"'''' 01 hi' prac,ice,lhe point a, which hi,moJe,ni.m (rheSt-,ofp"",.
d", ... had built in dialogue with Q-anne and Mone' and ,he res') almost
gi, ... way 10 somerhing else. almost yidds to dep'h. And depth .Imos,
.. s i>eing a s"",ly matter and re-enter< rhe realm .,f
mrrnphorthat modernism had wo,ked ha,dest 10 dfStroy. as human
posse"ion '){ my""}'. (How often the word my .. ery O<."l:urs a, a ,erm of abuse
in Pi ssarros lmers3"his'ime.)Depth as a sign of "ompletedunders,anding.
The dimension ,ailed "hi"ory" re ... ,ablished, ,herefo ... on ,heo,her side "f
Limi' rerms Ira go back to my in""d""i"n) :Ire instruc, ive. They show us
whar quali'ies and modes of ha"e no,mal ly '" i>e exduded from
a r ra",i", and they why: ill this case. ,h. y coniur. b.ck 'he kind, of
inviration '0 ialse knowledge and.asy idenrific:uion th"r mod.",i,m ,hough,
had hte" ,he dea,h OfHt. And they show us 'he way any pra.ri..:e ishaunto dby
,he que.,ions i,,,i ... '" put aside. The t,S! ofa PrJ"';"":, ulrimJ,dy, is how it
deals with those gh"", when fo, some r"sun ,hey crowd hack on srag . The
gho,,, of",,"cd,,tc,e,hos. inwardn,"", past and future time. I am not saying
1jllO Yotlng I'easant Womeu h.sall "f,hese demons ""derc"nr",l. hu' Ido
think ,he key to Pi"arro's version of mod.",i,m i, ,h,,, at one moment lin
extremis) it duh wirh ,he demon. directly.
This b'ing. me back to rhe qu,""ion of Pissarro's anarchism-to the
qut.,iun posed Ipainfully badly) hy artist himself in the .entence of hi. I
quoted earlier. sense, '0 pose i, differently. in which anarchism reaily
informed.nd inn"'led rissarro's way of painting?
Of course anarchism waS" fo,m of thinking that Pi"arro Cam. to relativdy
late in the day, when he had alread)" huilt himself a complex ,,)"i<. How did ,ht
terms of understanding me,h with those h. al,eady had? I, there
w.y the new ,erms . i,ered. or ,he ,ndl. " moment of "under
standingone .... rowhich hi,painringreturned? Rememi>er ,har ,he
larer t 880s",e years in which Pi "a"o had ,truggled to .. cast his style. and
discm'er means by which ,he point migh' bt made part of it. Th. encounter with
anarchism was bound up with this. though nu' in ways ,ha, .. "le e"ily into
cau ... nddfe.:,. In ,his sense theepisod. of , 891 had i>een Inng in the m.king.
so that wh"n i,came i, did n", ,hrowevery,hil1gollTufjoint
Anarchism. among orher things. i. a theoty of the compatibilit)" of f,eedom
and order. hispionring newspape' LA"a,d,;e.jo"",a/

aS'umed hyeach is due to thM dialcctic bting brok.n .... Much of anarchism
broodsm'er Hegd', brooding on ,he Enlighrenmenr and Lt' uS imagine
a painter, then. who thought that pic"'res could i>e small epitomes of ,his
repre<<ed !ru,h (fig. H). In ,hem order and f,eedom would bt shown to be
reconcilable - indeed. not or quali,i ... a, all wi,hout on. an",her.
,han a bri,,)earm .. ure-the.indacademicscall ""olllp0Si, ion"-u"lessi, i>e
fo'med from ,he en.rg'es release<! by individual And let rhe painler
stake even more. in truly Hegelian f"hion.on the word he chooses to des",iJ,.,
,h" uniqut momen' o/con,aCt bt,wetn the organism and its surrounding ,-that
sensation fnrhim bt the \'.,y form offreedomandordercoexisting, Leti t btt he
mome'" of pure in'.rccp'ion of sense data. But remember i, no idiot
empirkisr. He know, very well that ,he wnrt.! impli,'S some form
SI; I. " nn ,on, d,,, mw"pr wi ll alwa)'. fail and gr\"<' fist' 10 further
""".Hions. nOl 0,., afra,d of pafe"" i"" 1of ad"."eme", of r 8- .1
and for "",once. or rhe I'ainnngo; done", dn,Wer '0 Cb"n,lt' on or
d"'id,omuf,hefirsrr.:,.a"'p,''' ur e,,,,,881I, l'erfectio,,,,nurrel'earable_1t
"IUS! a go"d " mMure for Ie,,,', 0',' good fo, fUrlhcr
"lon<'1 had rillS tlgh'
Ckrn"nl Grrt',,!>erg, who "d"ured I',s"",,, g,eall)', w"" a, f,,, ,I' I know Ihe
first f(j POlllt "'" thc ",nd, of ",k. ,nd defi.;ic11ci", ,h" f"llowed f'um Ius
'''lIludcto , ht world, He,. ,dof l''''Jrro ,ha, a 1m "fl"","",e -thewIJllin, 1
d ft<:t of the t1.u ,...:t,'ngirw3'" ,a p'U3I)'1ongoh",.s"", for hll11. I'k"l lowed
hI> r ... of ,I." f'ee diffuSIon of Iogl1l 10 hush ,,,,,I mer)!e all
n"""fI ., I,,, , Coudx:t _ dnd would \",ifor",i,), fM ,,,,,Iy,"" The rJ;me,
h,,"lf knew Ih" wa, Ihe " HJrm,," y." he say, In h" son, "" unly nude
oUlofconl,.lSt'_Olnnw'j.['wnJt ),uuhJ"ei<utll<0tl , rl's"S'[rolf"' de"rlfne
(m "II Olll! H" " angr), "' <lh h" "", h,,,, h .... , ru "rear
rla",,,des, Nonetheks,Grrt',,[,.,rghas J poinT. F""nanJ",hl<t,cu"',"'13nd
h,m"ony, or ,,,,d "'Iu"lit}'. a rc qu,liti", d,.ply ""."wined. The)' will
(lnl)'be d""Ol'ereJ a, fan, ofol1e anuther,
A ",,,h,,,,,,.IS I""y, ,anI<' to I'i" . cro late. it wos" W.l)' of thonkong
.,]",ut i.",es h,oJched ;n pllll!l ng for ,lmM' Iwemy I w't il
G,tt"be' g Ihar l'i .. arro'.Ii,,1 ,'omn",",em, om 10 lu"e bt"'tl ",alell" li 'l. und
"'lIh G,eenbe'g's ''''rilouon Ihot IIIi, me'HII C,,\l ' [,.,' W3' h" to,,,IIswn" _ A"d
Co'OI _ Cor01 JI rhc cold " 'g'I"" of tone, Ana,ch"", ga"e l'" . lIro.1
frameworK 1Ilwho.:h rhe .. "ornn"tnl<'nt' ",,,dl' nse,ndcur",eo.:t"dwuhothe"
II 3'" ,,,t<, thot r.m ofon""h"n"s JPpeal 10 him w,s i""u",mu"' g l",'en ffair
wirheigh ... ",h-""",ur), "'Jtcridli'","I, but did" t-hongt'o, e",,,e,bale th.",?
D,d It edge hi, in O"l' ralli,uio r di'''''''''n?
An,wers 1><: onl)' And ,he be" ground for ,pecubrion 'n
rim case , urn, OUI '0 be I'i"arro's"'ronlf 1o Jnolher HtlSt - W the ,rronge' l
artMo.: pe,son.,IoI)'. afle, h,' "'T' f.-lt the n"",1 tn g,"pple with d""'ll)'
That ii, xu"lt_ (Mc>'l<'l, w< shJII set'. is ,l lpt'Clal and oppo", e

fo, mulatoon nn-d lx, no shorpc' Ihan th,l(_ The '''ron"" outh"d [''''''''0\
be]; d. which was b)' and large nmgui ,lod. ,hat Scutal "" ghr a,'IIIJ II), be "'"
laled. 1;'-" \ ',-"",!,' "e ... ,,,,' \\ '0"''''' waS n' ''TII , omongmhn ' hil1gs. "S a ,Icc];,,
,'11<", nf ",depende,,",' from ,he pornt. And )'''' $.rur.\[]"-,,, on in It,
Pi'sarro I> >till ' Iruggling in r89r ro de" ,,,, h,s own wr"ion of
"",formil)' - " ,,!ted, 10 r l,,), " lune a I.. Ph, lo p GI..S$ hlt'rJlly " ' S"u,at'j;

.,nd nai,-e curli,'enes, of Seur,'I', u11d,'"randmg of 1'",""", Feneon
wJ< "'" ,," 1)' i11 ,S9" 10 wa,m 10 ['iss-uro's n,'W ,,,
ch,cf inO"c,>ccwJ\s"openl),
s.,,,,, ewh,,,,, here. I rhon". m Ihe':otltll ,uinS en.:ounte, wn h S':U"u , " Ihc ke)'
tothequ",uonofortandanJ",h"""nl'""'rro, IN-l,ncl h", ifwec",,id"nl,f)'

r"lIow> from (he 1111(' uf thought ,.Ix"'t ",der JlId freedom in
land polotoc,j, What th"d"t ",'n,,'d '0 r ",,,, isc,ar fora wh, I w.,. ,rul)'
nJ,,'e ' ' ,,,al,,,,,;o11 of ,he .. ngula, and unifor",.1< the ,anI<' Ihing, Th" dOl
"xploded rhe opro""on, And tillS was "'onderf,,), It .' I n ,he
middle of th. ooll'gen;' of f,cedom .,n,l ",der, a"d ind,,',duJl ity nd
Durand won'r t:iw Ille a repl)' nhour Ill)' piClurc<_ Mi ss Caan lal ways "
reliahleally1wa,a<lonishedrh.n hewo"'rhuymeany "",re. App.,rcnriynis
,,, ]., are up. hUl for ir i, nnly Mnn"" rhey fnr.11 se"mS
he cannor turn our enough. The wo,,, of it is ,hor rhC)' all Wam (1/
SUI/St'I!!! Always the ,our ine. E"errlbing he docs goes " Ifro America ,II
price, of four, five, ,ix ,housand fra nc,. "That', whar comes 01 nor scar ing
0" '" d iems!" Durand .aid 10 True enough!' "No good ] sai d
back. "it's just the W.1) I am." ' O<
I>lo"e(', show opened on .. Ma)'. It was nO! qu ite ,ruc rhal irs conlcnlS wcr<' ,old
ourheio,chand, bur apparenr]y all nhecn Ha)'SIiJCks had huycrshyrhc.'nd of
dar t hree. Pric .. were high, though again the gossip Pi,sarro picked up may
have cxa!!):crated slighdy. The "ccouIl! b""h<ayrhc)' fc"hcJ Ixt,.,ccn J and
4,000 francs .. was nn Pi"arro's mind; his cy.-sight wos
terrible; b", o3,,,r-Jlly h., ". M"''''t's ol"'ning, and the ""
tin.es th., ful1""'itlJ!, ",.,.,k, It i. his Ii .. t rean,oo. no j Ma)' to
L""ien.,,,oflictwandfl03, ing.t h3.registe,,,histruedial"lluewi.hhimself.
I "'COl with m)' e)'c in oondag<-s and could onl),...., Moner's mar"dous !<.'tting
... ns"". ofoneeye.
incumestahLe. butsi.w( lur uu. own beyond the
giHn. l ashdmyscLfwhntitcouldhe that ",emcdwn"l11issing. ltis, ... y
difficult .0 pin duwn. Certainly it i. not a m<lltrr uf ;lCCUr.,CY ur
hMmonY.l"'rhap.i t ismnrClhc unityofexe.:miunwhi.h lca.'cssomethingw
l:>c de<ired.", mayhcawa)'"f lookinga(things (ha(i s ""lmcr, Icsse phem,'",1
in crnain piaces. ,he ,olnr. "re more pretty than Itrong. the drawing i.
he",,'iful hut "nstahle, ,-sp'",ia ll y in the distance l!lo"",,' dam (""ds
:1<1,1,,"11. hut all thC lamc hc'.Irulya Srealarti,t! '"
This is prj"a'e no<ation. running from comma W comma in a Iyp;':all)'
unpremc.:lilalffl way. (Hcrc nwrcthan tlsewhere [ha"e h .. d '0 add PUnCIU alion
W du justice.o Pissarro's fr Aow.) R", as an example of SCn<ous oeg;rti"e
criticism - of I'l:I rro fC'<:h ng his ,,'a}' towa rd a ... n ..... uf hc thinks is
mi,;,siog io an an he re,'crn - i, '" ,(>'"Cia[ molTl<'nt in the klten, I should ""Y
unique. Aod I "'e rhe li.t of Pi .... rro comn up wilh as 3 kind of r""il'"
fur, ur premonition of, 71,10 Yut"'g I'cll .. ",1 IVo",..". The pnintins he drums uf
(uut of one will make Monet whole. [t wi[1 li nd" w"' y to han): on to
:'lun"l\ ""d but lnok a. the world ",Ur<' calmly, have une',
hon<lling .... more consiSlwt. nnc', drawing ",,,rr sulid. unc's color less
geu"saod Aarins. Abov",, 11 il will not hen setling s"n
What d"". il mean, of Mone!'s light? Yo" will nmice Ihal il i.
Ihcre from .he begioning. as shorthand fur Mone,'s ,)chic,'cOlen!
loos hefore lhe works Ih(111SC]"CS are """". And pan of th" u"erdclermin"iun
ufthe ph",,,, has tudo wi,h its bting uncomciolls[ydi=tro ot himsclf-310ne
ufthe.hing< I'iss.orrodid bnt.and had had wdo mu",uftcn in the pre"io",
I-cars. jusl .n hu)e",. 10 . he grim late 11180 p.;tintro fJns had hn
Pi .... ",,s hread and buller. He ",0 he senl in the lettersddi"cring them in
p'rsootnhorrihlcpalfonsinthesuhurbs. andthenvcntinghi" p)nto
L,,,icn, , .. (One main Ihing ,h., S)'$tem ",,,ally dots is prutt.:t from
knuwkdge uf ,,ho rheir ' ... wcn really are. For a while Pi .. arm wo", no s""h
hlind.n.) The snluhk bns were thnse that showeJ the ,,,n going down
llig. 5\1). And even in this ruk app[i"<i . [n No,emher. stil l hurting finan-
.:ialiy. Pissarro mad. n sale to Rodin, wilh Mir""'au acting as i"'ermedi",y
Rodin kft the choicr of work 10 Ihe painter. I'i os"rro secm. to have heen
man, He pichd a Soldl co"ch""1 hro",'/I",d. ",.
Wh31 do do, The)' make Nature grimace. "f course. "in order
to pru"e" - here is the of ,887 phrase - ",h, the molTl<'nt is
unique and we shall ne,'cr on like again." conjurer. said
Firn.'un. -"''''cd byan blll"urn olexec", ion, a fccundily"fi mpro"i-
sation aod a hrilliant vulg;rrit)',- -He up an immediale emolinn in front
uf" spectacle [/I " "" but Ihcre is nothing in
him of the comempb,i,'c or ,hc analyst nO Cum!",re Pi""rro the 5:lme month:
";t is Ihc art o/askillful butepbc01era[ d<'Cora.or. -,n
Mayhei, ;sunbirtovisilOnPiSSOlrroandHno'onlhehruta[ ilyuljudg.",.nts
made three yeatj he/nre. when the ocos were on .he warpalh. R", some of thi
[think. is "i[1 [u'kins in thesynccJoche of May ,89 1.
ex"uses for painling. Too mu"h mctapho" for tin de si: le. T"" Ihe
moment (and hence the individual) which t"rns out", repeal
to make pinllre.1O plea .... The phrase i.loaded.llec,lU'it We'
know that eventually in lH)l2 Pissarro" ,,{ro.!"'-ti,e took place. and that
paintings sold from it . rome of them fora, much a. 6.00<l fran.:s.and thala.
a re,ultPissarrog"tanexdusivecontf3ctfrom Durand Rnel. ' '' iti,ea, yto.lip
illlo[hinkingof 18)11 a.alreadvlhebeginningoftheendofthearri ,t"sfailure
in [he markc,place. Tha, would be wrong. In markel,erm" the rear wa, <Iill
Theo van Gogh, who had been rhe fore'e behll1d Pissarro. one-man show the
year before. followed hi , ro an early gm"e in January 18)1l ,and with
hi< dearh !\ou.sod and Vabdon. enthusiasm (which had alway, been limitedl
largely ceased.'" I'i .. arro found hi",,,,1f na"igating dealers again. in
parricular strll):!;lin!: wlfh the scepncism of DurandRue\. DurandRlId did nor
Ihink Pissarro'.arr wa, purged "fthe intluen.e oflhe dot. He did not th ink it
saleable. Helhoughl thale"en ifPi"ar{{) managed ewntllall)" ",mo,"cout of
S-eurat'sbaneful orbit. hi'c'hopping and changin!; owr the prevl o",fewyear,-
and 111 a semem'erni, whole career-might finally ha,'. alienated buye" for
good. *Dumnd did not want "')' small ",:a lecal1\'ases, ,imply beca"se they wore
in my recem manner. He say. an artist ollght 10 haw one manner only, like
All through Pi"arro sold little. or III and dra bs. He blamed
Durand Rue\. He blamed th. idiocy of parrons. One among many low
poin" wa, in April, when even Tadam",,, Hapshi lold one of Pissarro', go
betwe.ns Ihat he did not li ke the artist's blest work. A
'" .\tar,'Ca.sat!. wh,,>tcool head i"such matters Pi .. ,,",o rrgu
lorlyd.pel1dod on. tried 10 Ihi"k ol wJys lor them. llloe",ape Dur"nd R lIel',
clulches. bllt did nO! come up with mllch ,"" :\ta)'be he wuld be ploved 011
ag"insl Bollssod and - .\10"" W.'S ,upposed to be a" expe,t at this
kind of thing. S'" heh.d .\I.d,ull . Hos<hcd. ',capit:.,1 behind him. An dh.wa,
ind.nund . . \Ia)'hea livingwuld becobbl.dtogeth.r ..... itl1lhe help of.mall. ,
deale" like He),"''''' ' " ild Porti ... '" wl f only I lind somrone thor. to
exploitm. [Sii,poII!",1;SI,Vln"i',I.i "",,' e,\'ph>;tcII'i!!" '"
Things gotbe11er inthe'all,b",qill onlysp."modicall)',l'iss, .. ,uwun'edhis
", I ... i""heyearin O.:tober. alld .. emedalmosl.u'pri""dO! whatthey.dded
up '0, " I ,,,ckon ,his year I make ,,,,"nd "'" ,hou,and i'"nCi." 'N Aboll'
Ihr ... o,fourHa)"I./Cks,th," is.B<1trn'yhe ' hi s ..... uulddo.Ma)'octhiswaS t il.
",arket Pissarro ollghl to settle ("r. Mirhea" no douh, mel'" w.1I in I.te
Ocr"b .. , tl""'ing'he plan fora big Pi" arro,,,bt bough, hythe MuiiCe d"
Luxemhou rg. -SUI I h,,'e to say I don't il . ha.'ingdealing, with thest"' "
I"dprderto>t llron ... little.,,,lo,,,rs.hUllhey,,,,,,dal,,,ofcoHing.lho>t
buggers!!!" '"
Only in Decemher did the tide .. em to Tltrn. Something was in the wind.
Boussod and VJ l,don ,"ddenl. ,howed int.rest ,,' Th. Carriere
came up '0 Pi .. ,,,,,, a' ,he ,h .. " e shook my lund ond soid point blank
'I ,,"at1tlo Warn)'Oll thaI you're h"'i ng a big,ucc." in New York and ,. erj'500n
)'ou'lI he 8Mtingoffe ... I I ought '" pu, you ongl1 Jrd so ,hey won',
you by su,p'iS<':""J time hos eome lor me 10 off." But still Pis,"rro
thinks he ",ay beabl.lodoil wi,hout DurandRue!' DurandRue] hodoban
doned hint in his of need. Wh)' give the ,he Ixnefi, of dolla, no,,"?
When .wnt"a lly Pissarro makes up hi. mind 10 go wilh Durand Rue! . the
le1f."ro Lucien are.h ... pish.
Pi,,,, ,,,, .nd sons. ilc sa,'" The ",,,ke' ""ants indi"id". ls, And DuranJ Ruei".
space i, Ihe better IiI.''' his ",ore reliable, It isd.Jr by late Dec.mber
rhat Pi"arro h his Bu' no. "n,il a le11e' of 10J."",,'y
dO<. .. he 10 Lucien that "a general exhibition of my
works." '" Th. "J,on for th", hardl)' n ... ds ou . Ou'andRltei "ill
w"nted to hedge his bctS, He w"n.eJ '0 put Pissorro's re'Ccnt wor k in th. light
o{workh. kn.w hisbuy.rscm, ldlOlerale. He wanted to r.ad pointilli,m O\lt
of Ih. record. and pu, Pi s"' "o" prese", in ,"""Oct with a paSt. " "
Rotrospecti on. then. was far f,rom h.ingan in"ocent in 189" Pissarro
knew ,h", Jgl<'eing 10 it ,,"as in man)' ways admiIling defe3' . He was making hi,
I .,,, for th. tim. being) to 'he
idea of mll"oormive effort. He wa, giving up on rhe hope of a-.""gard<
i''''''genc), self support,.o which he h.d ' t:.'yed true for so Ions
I. i n)' w"ndor,th.n. th. t the poi nl ingsh. fittish.dspeciollyforthe show in
D""emOer ond January were worked . nd reworked up 10 .he bs. min"tc)"
They were called "" '0 do tOO many thing. , Salt'e" anroum of guilt .
pc,haps.ororleJstlurncompronrisei mo tri,"nph, SpcJk a lans" a!,';e ,ha, the
markelw"uld n"t be able 10 convert - orco,werten'i,ei)'- into ils preicrreJ

risk "ffecl. Be nai"e "nd ,inrpleheorted. "nd a":lin to high lmt<)nscious
From deep wi,hin the of priv",,'), {and Pi.,ar", never had
ill"sionsthOlhisa".xisteda"ywhereelse). dreJnlof,hepuhlic life
T",o Y(>""X lti('",t n. in lil. was held h,,,k Pi.,.,,,n
frnfn Ihem.1 'ko1. His retrospecti,ew",., ' "n .... .,nd.,"'acted buv<,.; bu. he
had hisia .. st pi<nores .. tllrnedw Erogny. wNkcd On Wmc of thcm again, and
r,,o Y(lImg PCi1$ilnt U;'ome" To his wife, - someThing he hod done
ThroughouT hi. ca' .... ' with pictu'es he p,ized. JlIlie herself Ito he
biog .. phical fo, a moment) came f,om pca .. ,n! STock. Her bmily
owned TWO small vinep,ds eaSt of Diion. Slw had heen a kitchen maid in The
t",entyone ),e ... old. f,esh from thecoun'ty, ",hen Pissarro
had f" ll en in 1M. ",i,h her, and got h"pregn3"', yeats before
D ream of the publ;" life.-If I am TO make good on Thm daim, which
obviously need to relUrn To thcquesTion ofwhar 1jl!O \'mmg
Pe., .. ",r WJS of. Wh), Ip"hlidy speaking) ate its two women peasams?
are iI, peasant' both women? And 50 on.
Piss,rrol<new "erywell ,ha' paint ingpea'''"ts in the 1/19osmeaOl i,,,,iring
,0m1'",ison with .\-lilleT ancl Breton ("g.,. 4,)anda hundrw other lesser
imimtor> in the S.,lon. The same L'Arl{'.1111;a;s ,h., !}",ehis retrosPffti \'e,uch
good cove .. ge in Ma"h reproou..:ed Breton'sj""e The following momh. ' "
'\lo,e ,han One criti.; in J mad. the link with Millet som .. imes in
ord.rro pUI Pissarro in his place. The ."hSymbolist Ka lophi!e l'Ermile (,he
kind of pseudonym Redus and Pi>s,.w Wete fond of) mm""ed "n argument in
L'E,milage Th" ),,1ill"1 had been Ihe true "yliz .. and seer - ,he ."ist. in
other wo,d, - whereas Pis,",rro enslaved himself to thc phenomcnal
world, ' "
What would l'iS!<lrro hJ'" m.de of rhis? How would he have responded ro
whot Geffro\' wro,e of his pai"'ings in La jllslice (Ih. org.n, that is , of
CI.me' ... ..,aus Ext,.me Ldtj?
The beings who live in these bndscapes have been kept in rl,.ir permane",
pia.;es Im";lIIellm 0 ie"rs placespem'''''elltesl. There is an accord of line a nd
colotbe,ween ,hese people. these anima l. and the decor of Ihis greener y.nd
sky. An inrimJCY of earth. atmosph.r beast. man ... The .. ate not person
.ges put in on top. p<osing fo, 'he painter in ,m;rudes.rr\>ck on ,.11. R "all)
hes.. peasJnt men Jnd wonlcn parI oi ,his nMure, ,hey c'ould "0'
be imagined el". and l.mdscap,,, would not be thinkable
ll,at humans Ixlong to Ihe land""pe.heyculrivateislr"e, irisa pro posilion
Pissarro spent his lik rephrasing. Bu' did Ge/froy's orher posi,;,e. follow from
ir,nece"atily_.,b",eall. ,he value he apparently puts on u11erp<'JSant
perm."ence and "",ran,blabili,y (even ". far 35lhe market town down tho
Compare Ihis. from Ih. crilic to whom Pissatto rook ,he
in February- and wirh whose gcncrallineon his h.
WH firmly ()n the Lefr:
P,,,allo', temperament of a colorist has dete,minN his a .orr of
..:tushinggr,,,,d.ur ofthing.s. ,he revem ro the humble role
OUt pride ptorestS a):ain", "ndappeH, no more IhJn a mo,if lor ,,,,ious
colo .. ... We depend on the "a" .. ed for"" of
the world. as much J' cows or trees or Ihe ston", on the highway, His
p<'asan" are hiped, who haw soul. Ide. I,ipedfs a rowe ;IIctrl";IIt l.
fruitsoflhesoillnatsuppomth,:m.as.1pples ,,,e of ,hc"ppielree. Their
"",hitKlureharmoni1.e.wilhlherocksofthencight.orhooJ. ,heirlatg. feet
secm to roo'lhei,rocs in thce.rrh. videnrl)' ,hey feel no more th"" the
No need toexaggerl'c herc. I'is,"""o. is still a m'x krnist pr"'ticc.
proud o/irs pu"" trchnique and deeply disdainful of most of the surroun ding
world of idwlogy. It is almoSt sure ,rchniqu, ,-an keep that world ar bay.
world e<>me. to it. It sees the terms of fin de appearing within the "ery
preci nn of the aVam w>rde. Tricksters and nwC.tholics and Kalophiles
IHermite. "All that the mooorn world requires most ursemly ... " A of
peasants huro I'oice. off-stage. !'eopk with ,hings tu..,y about hi .:hoscn
L d Rh.olte. for instance. Part 01 the reason an.r,hism appea.,d to
!'is,""rro.lam<ure.isthatthegreatan.",hisrs w"rgrogr.phorsl unli kegre. t

his paper inJ.nu.ry and February 189'. I'issarrowould have found a long
scries of unsigntd artide.ca ll ed "Agriculture." in which the "IJ tt;lgie view of
the peasanrr)' was disputed -and equally, the new socialist platitude that t ile
future la)' with large-so:ale and the end of the pnit The
essa)"Swe .. by Kropotkin. and were rewritten in thecourscofrheyearrom akr
upThtO",q"esto{Bread. Pissarrowouldhardlyhavestartedthembeforehe
cam. on thi"
Ea<:h time there is talk ofagri<:ulture. ,here is always {he imageoflh <pe.s.,m
btnlov" the plough. throwing any old groin 'U randomonrothe.arrhand
waiting ;n .gony for what a good or bad summer will give him in return. You
living in rags for
their pains. ralingdry brrad and. meager ratiun of bad wine. Inawo rd. you
see La Bru)'he's"wild bea't.
And lor this man. bowed down by poverry.,he be't"ne hopes is 1o les"n
his burden oflaxes or rent. No one dare dream of a farmer slanding up
straight again a' long iasr. having time for lei,urr and producingeno u!(hto
live on. not only for hi, family but for hundred o,her, ieaS!, with" few
hour, work per day. Even the socialists. in Iheir wi ldrst dre.msofthe fut ure.
dare go no furth.cr than ,he gr . .. /arm, of which in fact ... nu 1110re
than first ,ups.
For us , ,hese aredr<am,oflhe Middle Ages. Fur the ,enden<:y ofagricul
ture in our own time and in ,h.c immediatc future (we d ... sa)' nothing about
the fU'ure beyond thai) lies in a difle..,mdirection altogether. The presen'
tendencyolagri<:uirurei<toilln .. ""he)"ieidofaf.miIY',vegetab.,die1.0n
Ie .. ,han an acre. in the space that nOw is generally nded '0 raiSC3 single
ww, there will be twenty-five; the soil wil l be "liJde by man. in defiance uf
",asons and climat"; the air and soil arOUlld ,h. ,eedling will be hea,ed ,in.
word.a ,ouple of acres will yield "much as u",d to t>c harvesred from a
hundred, and it will bt do"e wi,hou, wearing oneself oul with labor. hllt with
.n inlmr"sc rrducrion in the Sum total of work -so {ha' we ,hall bt.ble '0
produce what is nrce ... r)" on the basisofe"er)'one farming the fields" mu<: h
"s they choo",. forrhe pleasure of doing so
Thi'is the direction of agri,ult"'. nowadays.'"
A utopia. as Pi"arro said later 10 Mirbeau. BUI followed "I'. in the articles
appearing in spring, b)" KrOp<J,kin', ,haracrcri"i< barrage off3<:IS and figures
on the new market gardening. fertilizers. greenhouses. S1rain, of wheat. crop
rO,",iuns. With bthind itall-naturally.with the readrrs of Ld Revolte in mind
- . final vision ofth.c regentralive power of ,he new agri<:ultute viz;' vil the
w()r\;ing-dass movement. Anarchists had long t..,en preaching the lolly of
neiusi"e prwccupa,ion with rhe city proletariat. The litl e of a
pamphlet Redus had brought our in Switzerland in !l180. Om'rier. Prftld,/"
machine! Prendslll /u re.paY$im!. spoke ro their hopcd-for double Strat egy.'r
Anditwasrrue.astheirsociali,topponentsnev"'lircdof,aying.rh31one vein
of ana,,;hism was deepl y anti-urban. The true utopian moment 01 The Cotlq"fSt
o( Bread is its imagining ufthe new countryside as a poleof.11raniun after the
revolution,reversi ngatlastrhe drih,o rhesuburbs.lrslangu.ge is typically
An end to frippery Ihen! An end wdolls' cloth .. ! We ,hall go bac'k to the
work of the fields alld regain our strengrh JndgaielY, seek nur rhe joy ofl ile
.gain. rhe impression, of naruro that we had f<:>rgo!!en in the dark mills "fthe
(Il ll bo!l rg.
Th,,, i. how a fre<: people will think. It was the Alpine pastures. not the
arquebus, that gave t .... Swi" nf the Ag., their freedom from kings
and lords. Modern agriculture wililer the revolutionary, i,y dn rhe same
,hing-free itself from the bourgroisi .. ofrhe world.'lo
T he la<l phrase of Kropo,kin's is "dc-sbourgcoisiescoal is.ees." It lead.
us from , pring to summer ,891 , and from Lt R;r,o/re to ,he Chamocr of

in general. The papers were fi lled withreponsofa long series ofdebates, fir<l
in the Chamber and then in t .... Sena,e. Over whether finJ II)' to respond to
German. Russian. Engli ,h, American, even Indian ,ompeti,ion - opinions dif
fered to who WaS reall y t .... enem),- by putting an end to free trade. In
panicular. from our poinr 01 view, pol itici. nsargued endlesslyove rwher herto
Save the peasant, who most of ,hem rhoughr was in wOrse sha pe Ih,1n Kropotkin
did. by building a custom. wali - duties ar ,he border on grai n and bcc, suga r.
li,'cstock and processed food. The Republi, had made up irs mind on
thesemaners. It wanted pffltecti,)tlism, and in February 189Lir got i t. Thestory
of rhe nexr ,cllIury of french agriculture was thereby set in stone.
with ali thar story's stuboornnes< and pa,hos. Bu, ,he deba'es of 1891 were
Irul)' pas<ionato and elaborate. partly because the peasant was at and
part ly b..cause "ny capi lalis, regime is alway, deeply in two mind, abour free
,rad. ,'ers us pro,e<;tionism, like moch else in rhe ,890S. this aspect of fin de
often has a familiar ring. I sa,'or ,he mOment (as did the socialist o.,,,,-,hos,
apparcnt ly) when l wn Say. rhe eloquen, def.ndcrofthe fr<:etude poin,of
vi ew, rounded on the Minister of the Interior with the "eOOi"" - PrOle<;lionism
- it is rhe :IOCial ism of the rich." To which the Mini<ler replie.!, "And fr.., t .. ade
is the anarchism of millionaires. '"
The papers. as I say. were full ofil. The davsofmoSlsJvage debate W<'fe in
late Apri l and early May. inttrrupted for a round 01 ch' rges and wunte reh,uges
on the ,ubje<;t 01 Fourmies. We know ['issarro WaS mo re than u<ually . I[entivc
to ,he bourgeois press at this moment- he wa,scouring rhe papers for
abou, Fourmies. and ,old I.oci.n ,har Le Temps and L'chode Paris. and even
Le Fig"'", were for the momen' the best sources.' ''' Of course we do not know
how m",h he read of ,he free trade debates. Stili k .. how much hc ,'Mcd, The
debar", would have dune no more than remind him of wha, the Republic was
supposed toocl icvo abour the muntry.ide, and why rhe pea<antmanered ro it
The)' PUt certain commonplaces in ,irculation again _ mayb.. envenomed rhem
alilde. The deb.,es were part of the years harrying out of implicitness. Part of
irs Aushing ofcvcr)t hing up to ,he surface: I netddaim nO mOre for t hem than
"In G<:rmany," says Paul D<:schane1,president of the Ligue Republica in edela
Petite Propriett, toward the start of his great speech on 9 May,
the tariffs on ccrealshave been fixed by M. Bismarck for the benefit of the
reuJaI pruprinors, the landed aristOCra9
VMious members on/he uft.Just rhesame as with us! (ProT""Tson the
Right and Cemer.)
M. P"u/ Desch,mel. No! Not the sam,' as wirh us! HercThe soil is divided;
it was pur intoth. hands of our pea<:tnls hy.h. French RevoluTion.
y"", iT is fOT the !;;Ike of tht- people of the muntryside [I" rHrllle]
that we have taken the .. meaSureS
And the people of ,he countryside are not mistaken on thJt score ..
Remember. gemlemen. The deep crisis of agriculTure in 188, To
l884 ... thal longcryofdiwess,discomentanddisaffectionthataroS<'from
the hean of our countryside ... Wen, we Took the cau<c of the peasam in
hand; he sensed that the Republic was on his side; h. had hope again.
confiden, courage; and so, when. in the name of who knows what ambi -
tions and designs, there came an a"emp[ [0 disturb this work of rebuilding
[he means the movement of opposition to the Republic led by General
Boulanger. which in [he late [880s had come close to coup deta.), when
cerTain greaT cities wenl O\'er to ,he enemy, ,he peasant rose up! He with his
rohus! good sense and line - he smdt out charlaranism whcn he saw
iT! (Applau>eon The Lef! and Center.1 Let us render homage to rhis ptasam of
France, who rejected diClatorship and s3ved rhe fatherland! '"
Deschanel lay, Our rhe elements of rhe Third Republic's cult of the pta ... nt

competition.andphylloxera had done Their wOrSt. A p.tttrn ofdcarrh a nddrifT
to the cities had taken hold in the ,88os that observers summed upin the word.
/a crise agr;co/c. The peasant stood firm. He had beetn more loyal to The
Republic than the urban working class - a steadier VOler, more scepTical of
Right and Left. "Our vicTory is rural,noT urban. " (this is Jules Ferry in ,890)
"the towns are rollenand relOain so; it is the republican of the c'<)untrysi dewho
votod lor us en masse."'" The time had come to repay the peasant 's loyalty. and
tion and prices spiralling slowly downwa.d. Meline himself, rhe prime
mover of the uriff proposals - "the Torquemada of beet roo.," one wagca lied
him - put the mailer in cold numerical terms. There had been 19.598.000
ag,ieu/leurs the time of the 1866 census. and 17.698.000 Twenty years laTer.
This is a grave phenomenon. he,.id.
because not only does i. have economic bUT national ones. If
the Minister of War were he.e today, he would be the first \0 admit that
everyrhing Ihat diminishes our agricultural population weaken. our
army .. . l\ecause ,he ann)' recruits from them - I shall not call them its
bra\'esr ligh!ers, for all our roldiers are equally brave-but the strongest ,The
most most resiSlant.'"
Depopulation was a touchy subjecT, of course. regime could not resisl

orhers more frighrful for nalional honor, like the falling French birthrate in
general and rumors of peasan, birrhconrrol in particular. One defender of f-ree
trade wenr so far as to raise the latter suspicion duringtht l89[ debates, and
broughT down the anger of the Chamber on his head. Viws I'mleslllli,m, StIr
M. Viger [Mini<Tu of I prot .... absolutely! The people of our
counnyside take pride in the they furnish the fatherland with 50
many of its workers and ,oldiersthrough their large numbers of childre n."
Look back to BretonsJ,mdfig. 45l. I imagine Vigrr passing it in the Salon an d

for parliamentary dehat .. os I do Ihe was never of a masochi"l, and it
doesnm need saying what he would have thought had he Tead them. Ofcours e
my selectinn of momentS "f m."i",u", ideology raTher ",isrepr .... nt< the alllu-
ment a, it generally went. There were colu",ns and weeks of statistics, and lots
of basic economic theory from both side . letlTio", to find.h. protectionists
quoting Proudhon, of all pe<,ple. on the folly ofthciropponent<!"'Bu Ilhen,
even Pissarro recognized hi,hero had a 'taTi" ,,,eak.l
Foran anarchi,t reader, then and now. the debates m"ha go"d rounterpo int
!O Conq"fSI of Bredd. Here was an aboul .he natUre of ,he
capitalist notionstateand statesyste""with dassic expositions of the fr eetrade
and national securi'yca,e" Both sides intleCTed their uguments with M.yDay
and Social De",ocracy in view. Several sJX'akers rhough' Gennany",. ponsil>le
for all of the above. '" And never had it been 5Ode .. - thi.aboveall wouldh ave
resona.ed with Redus's and Kropotkin's ",aders -thaT the buih fonn oftb.
Slate was now very much more than 3 set of pri",ns, i"Sliu, forfifs,
'OI,e., and customs posts. The state was a landsc.JX'. It was a pattern of
agriculture and subsidy and monopoly Jnd who.e forms had
less and less 10 do year with the of dimate, geology, or
sJX'ciali,-ation. These things wrre still in their infancy, Not even th. gloomiest
dystopian had an inklinH of what waS to come. The poli.ics of water was slill
quire local and gentlemanly; ,he labyrinlh of farm Programs and Common
Agricultural Policies was just a bureaucrat's bad dream: only the
bare beginnings of monocuhure, hyJX't-fertiharion, genetic engineering and
assembly-line meat production; few people had heard of sera pi. and none of
mad cow. Bu. at leaS! anarchi,ts knew already in the 189'" that figh ting th.
state meant thinking g.,.)gr.phically and I>iologically. Mapping "'piul i<m, th"l

An end tn frippery, then! An end todoll,dothe.!
'The ,ubj,..,t of Two Ymmg Women i, a form of sociability, and
'pe,:ific'ally of ",entallif, .. imagined as belonging to wOmen. We know already
that Pissarro was aware, acutdy al jUst this mOment. of .he ralor'< edge on
which such imagining stood - .he ri,k i{ran of romance or prettiness. T heri,k
hadtobetaken,as I understandit . ifawayw3stobefoundoutofMilIet'.great
version of anti-pastmaL The deadliest aspect of that myrh - and in many ways
one might fairl)c.lI it the m)',hof tl>e nine.eenthcemury - was its vi sion "f
working..;I"" consciousne ... Mental life in Millet wa, wholly defined I>y the

guishcd. lf, as an ahernative, one wished to piCTure ""me kind of to-and-fro
(and being-together inoprositionl be.ween labor and lei,ure, outwardn essand
inwardness, tyl" and individual - and thus between the mast .. terms Nature
and sociabi lity - thon they would h.ve to be shown as wo",en's business.
Be<:.nse Ihe world of Women could be imagined as <tanding ju>! a little outsid e.
or. little aparr from. the struggle with the realm of ne.:essity.
What Twv Y(JImg Peajant Wmnen worb hardest to figu .. , it ,.ems to me, is
a moment of <mceruim)' octween people, one or both of them waiting lor an
an.wcr, urlhinkinglhingsuver. Ncithcrof,hem sure-ultheir
feelings, or of whether what One h.d.aid expressed them properly,orw hatthc
other would rnakeufthcm. Again, putting the possihle ,tate, of mind 0 rlvrms
of interaction herc into word. immediat.!y harden, and trivialil"s them, The
uncertainty iscnnveyed by pose, hy ,patial set-up, even by l"i.1 c"pr e,s;on.
Plotted mo,.., explicitly tban Pi"a"o usually ch",e to,and maybe not entirely
,uccessfully. But above all Iheunc.naimyi,emboJied in an almosphere, a state
of light. Tbis is the picture'striumph,l think: that it gctS irs metapbor ofea,.
and inwardness into the foreground air, into a shade rb.r is palpable bur nor
Io<aiized. An armosphere rhat i, there in the totali ty of surface touches, hur
neveranywher. in parricular- never marked. nevcr epitomized.IThe line of
shadow rhat does appear between the two women, cu!ling aeros, the dry earth
-ofwursel am not trying to fa ntasizc lhat demarcation out of existence -i,
like a parody or h)'pertrophy of how picwrcs normal ly conjure light an d,hade,
anduactl)'d<JCsnot esrahlishthck<yofthepiC1u .. the
key edge-the silhouetted or,hadow-casting one - in a Monet Ha),stac k.)
These women arc working and ralking. They are outdoors with no house in
sight. It has got tOO hvtto hoc. So 'ake a break.Lei,urei,avai lableinl he
imer"ice. of work; nOI >omcwhere else, not allotted its own time of da)' or day
of the wuk or forms and equipment. Thete is never enough vf it, this leisure
Leonard Thompson can 'peak to that. But when it (;omes, it is charged and
imimateand human"ei1.ingon the instant and fi li ing it wirh the rho ugbtof,he
previous mute hours. It i, narrative, thi, leisure. Anecdotal.
The women are working and talki ng - the mere fac't that the two word, crop
upinconjunct ionestabli,hesthedistancebelwecnPissarrO'simaginingoflabor
and the nineteenth land twentieth-] century norm. They are talking, not
gossiping; that is, thei r talk to a community of 'wo, intent on fra ming
the particularity of an experien"e: it does not happen ina ring of worn enatthe
wcll or a grollp at rhe m."ker,uchanging barh<and commonplaces. Notrhat
,he laner kind of exchange was incidcmal to the huildi ng of community. Of
cour",no1. But ,hc folklorist. had feti.hi1.ed it - made it olll to be what the
discour.,e of community es",ntially was. ,,- No one was saying the well and the
market did nor count. l'i,.arro,hronicled both. lrwa, juSt thar sucb mo ments
chimed in too easily witb the norion of rea, ant society as all outwa,d - all
c"'tom, proverb, and moral economr;and with the corol lary idcJ ,ha! it didoor
make room for-did notdependon_quiteotbcrmonlCnts,moreconcentrate d
and indi,' idu" I, Taken together, the", ideas confirmed the centuty's founding
myth. Its wish to have work be the true Nature of a da ...
Amwerp 7 january 9'
Can you, master, up this by letting me know,
if a study has appeared of YOUf work; porticularl)'from the specitl/p oint of
vierulwi.h t()wn,iderat present ..
Could! beg a prompt word of reply? It has me a long time to pluck
upcouragetoapplytoyou. llut that the
you occupy;n my admiration and 10)' own hllmilit)'.
Henry van de Velde

Thus hegins wh"t SCemS to me the strangest. and in many ways the moST
hrilliant, pi""e of , he Piss. fro jigsaw in , 891. Henry "an de Velde wa,
he wrote thc leuer. He waS a painter and wfiter, and eventually became ()nc of
the prime mO"crs in ",rn-of-the-<:enturyarchitectureandde,ign. His painting,
had be,n point illis! since ,SSS.with peasant life a, their main theme. At the
Twenty previOIlS year, for example, he had shown a picture called
facts VII: Girl Al ending 4 (fig. 631. He had fallen under Mallarmes
spel l, and counted himself a Symbolist.! su'pect he already had passages of
NietlSChe hyheart - Iatcr he w.schosen a, designt"f of the Nictzs<:he a rchivc.
Certainly h. knew the leaders of Belgian socialism, and was well read in
anarchi,t and Marxist litcrawrc. He admired Will iam Morr;, and Wolter
Crane, and in , 891 wa, reassessing his nco ,,,mmitmcnts. Ou, "f tha, faking
st""k hi, main entry to the 'R9! Twenty, done in tcmpera, called I'roia!
fur Embroidery (fig. 64). Wi,h it ,he peasant in painting took a
char.ct<"fisti,fillde siecleturll . '"
be ,ure that Pi"orro read D" enpeint"'e. J, is hard to
bcline that ,"an de Vdde did IIOt send him a wmplimenfary copy. If he did,
,here is no mention of it in Pissorro's lettcrs. An eXlfact from the Iffture,
cenreringon what vall de Velde had to say ahout I' issorro, waspuhlishe dinthe
Bru'scls journal L'A,t rnoderne in February Agaill. 110 response. But
64 oJn Veld.,


remcm""rlha. PiMarru ..... asgo:ncrallydi5inclin.d ",gi..opinionson wha' ..... :IS
written ahout him; and b. advise<! that il he had 5<1.1 down to read van de Void
h. would h'-e realited the ,ex, di.reted a' ncr)',hing h held
dcar. I, is a !rue m:tgnificent homage '0 Piarru's att, But a.!I rll' pea5.]n,
painting in As fo, the ""stotal mood As for U"'pinn dn:aming of
0. kind! If 189. in grncral did nlll harry and ;,"nile Ihese
chin/l-i to extinc.ion.;, WaS nnt for want of Du 1'11)'5<111 tn pninting the
Th. !eXI a picco III Symbvlism. It cHip,;';al, ironic, grnndil,,
quem, ddib.!rattly ..... einl, delibtr.llely wounding. NaIUrall)' il rtsiSIS
phra..,. J am nil. a, all J callgh. it>. rune ,o retly, and cort;in ,hat by
,he end of the .en I am meant It> .e.:l1i .. thaI Ktuneft is.ou crudc a metaphllr.II
cap"'''' its "",1f<onsuming elation. NiCll!lche, as [ "'Y. i. in Ihe wings. The
lecture is a of ;nn:n::onnlro pl"OSC' in which ,he various appur-
ancts of the pe.:lsant in pain,ings;nce Bruq;hcl ,lie palSl in.cview. Panlyl hcsc
arc meaOl'" stlggest do so unanswer:rbly, [think) tha, prcvi()us
studiesofthcsuhjccth\.failcdtnunckrsundthcstakcsinvolved. Thepcas
3nt. says de Velde. is the "ery form of Reality in Europtan culture - tha,
cul.ure which mnre "nd more s:lw itself. from the century un, as
ddined by it>. wish, ability, to stick 10 world uf things. The pU$;lnl is
the Rcal, meaning Eanh, Mallcr, Laugh,cr, Skepticism, Bodily Rtnewal, Primi-
riveno:ss,ami.Tran",endcnce. So many JI'C!l-',csSl:ntially, for the hourgeoisphi-
losophy of life.
And of that, Ihe peasant in afT is marvcloos. Van d. Veldt's para.
on Brucghd and Ra""lais, or hi. h)'mns of prni""I<J "".r. urinc, and
vomit in ()mch genre painting, nt his passing comparison bt-twcen peasaOl
is describing, butnoncdH:I($S;t Oohsand
with the small child in rheaudirncc as 1M peasant rabbil comes 0111 Oflh chal.
All of .h'$ preliminary to ,he lecrures last ten pages, whi<:h
What had to be dom' was to b r i n ~ Ihe Peasant clmer to oursdves. and lake
him aWa)' from thc factiliou, alm",ph.,e of [he [healer. ThaI slage on which
,hccxa!;gcrarion of hisgesrures, and the visua i heaviness of his poses, wOre
him Out more than hard laoor itself!
S<) Camil le Pissarrosollghlhimom ..
Hi s ficlJhandsnolonger.tanJIali li keheroes.anJtheymahonesuspc<;t
lhatlhebcamyofform bclongingto Iheir anc .. to" musl have been a Ii ... or
at any ratC an ['x"cplion; they make do with new, more complex shapt.,. . more
intri<;atcanJ tortuous, in line with their diet of 'tarhes and scrap'.
They are inclined to simpler, more servile. more n lcrnai alt ituJes Ills
"f(ectio"''''II1 dc. MtitHdc. pl" i",plcs,p/us rui/cs. pI". ell deho "I,wilh
real weather soaking into them alla,t , ha\' ing [hem ,uffer its harsh col JanJ
~ - October, with its hoarfrosts, chaps the Ae,h of [he young I:irls who mind
Ihe cows in Ih. Eragny meadow", and ,he women who do the App/cpicking
lfi",. 44 and65.bothofwhich van deVeidc had,ecn at the Twenty in 18891
beal the trees and sweal in Ihe real light olrhe,"n."
This lime. the Peasant ",'olve, itl the t.lle humility of his work. bound dose
toa dewrwhich is lessepi.<odic. le"d"ora,ive. with [he ring of trot hlo it,
and .0 pown fully done Ihat it hold, ,he Iking who mo.'", wilhin ;1 in a
""vage embrace, ruling him inflcxibly, all weight of correspondences

trulyhimself! '"
This passage is humane "n<l and obviousl)' r to quote it. lIut in
the end wbat i. most imprcssil'Cin van de Vcldc's last ten pages is what happens

consume the lxxly uf pa inting they are meant to frame. Before is Mi ll ct. And
Mil let is the true heroufnn de Velde', text. in spi te of-or bccauscof -his
hyperooleandcant. Thctcxtknowsthat theninete<:mhCtntur)hasnowhereto

The apparition uf thc Peasant in Mil let is such an enormous fact, and such a
work of excavation wa, needed to get back to the giant source of things
through the rottcnn." that had invaded everything. that nowaday, people
like to say Millet "fumbled through episodes from the Bible."
Thiswasa palpable hit. Pissarrowas fond of calling Millet "too Biblic ai, " and
shaking his head at the fact that he, a Jew, lound that a fault ." !
Why gu su fa rto hnd the source 01 things that came, on the contrary, ,tr aight
from the heart! ..
What Millet gave back the l'easam was space ..
And fur the hm time in l'aiming, the Peasam was really oound toth.
Truly Hatred drive, the Peasant on, making him punish the Earth imermi-
nably-that great sow [he as capacious and invincible as the seal
It is Hatred, this e"dle" hand-to-hand combat; an eternal/lurry of foul
blow" dirtying the Earth in "'erything She has most flowers, which
the Peasant aoomina,"" and tree<, wh ich hi. worst and which
slyly he chokes to dea[h ilhe is denied the ultimar. pleasure of setting on
them directlv with an
If they love the Eanh, these louts, it is in [he way of monsters who love
women for tbe li"ingtheyge[offt heml'"
Y"u will gather I am translating freely, leaving too much out; and also that
transhtion isa lost cause. 11m J hope the English gives at least an idea 01 the
temper of these pages, and the WJ)' they veer betwun celebration and
There arc ,ix long pages on Millet - struggling with avant-garde conde scension
toward him, trying lor a rhetoric to match the ma,ter'", berating him, glorifying
him,establi,hinghim asa horizon which ...
Or nO! pass artistically. For here is the linal message of D" Paysan en
peintl<re, and surely the one Pi"arro would found most truly discour-
aging. Of COurse Millet's peasant is a thing of the past, ,ay, "an The
countryside i. bring modern ized. And modernity puts an end to the possibil ity
of representing the peasant - for modernity in the village epitomize s{bringsto
a headl [he true banality of the Ia .. nineteenth century. Nietzsche, in the
I"ture', [as[ two pages, "ie, with the of et Pecuchet. The
pr .. ent wor ld isluuked Jt through an architect's eyes:
For a ncwdecor is arriving, which will br ing in turn a whole fata l, uncon-
sciouschangeuflife; the new ins urance policies will have done more than our
most brilliant ,heorie" our most ferocious attacks, to destroy that most
odious of rural society', aspect' - the They will have brought
modernity to the countrysi de wi thout even trying to . .. Do you not see it in
the puerile new housethathas justgoneup, pink and cheery, fortun e-tel lerof
the village to comc!
That is where mudernity li,es. She is straightening up the undi>ciplined
conage. of times gone by. She has put them in pitiless straight lines. and
where once upon a time they were painted all ,he color. of 'he rainbow, now
they are pink_new and pink!
And in the midsT of them rises the pompous new >chool .. . The imbecile
enemy of legend and credul ity, full of the vanity of the parvenu,gi ving itscl f
so that its very sweat run, pink; huffing and puffing till itswcllslOth
it, rival,theChurch ..
And out beyond the village squarc, along the dirt roads rise up new farms,
with their precious pink bricks all carefully protccted by litrle StraW harso!
cropped thatch; and all their openings correct and rcclangular, with bli nds
and shutters to match ...
Mudernityha,eute"erythingdownto,izc! '"
You see now, I hope, whyDu PtJ},SI111enpeinlllreisrhete:<tthaItdlsus
mostabo"t Pissarro'ssituation asa pai,nerin ,89', and why Pi"arro passed
over it in silence. Fur it> version of modernism is unbearable. Everything we
valu. in [he past, it says -and that means al l the dream, and duplicities the
peasant WaS made 10 stand fo r over four centur ies - is being destroyed by
progr .... Progress is udioU5 and absurd; and y.t w' cannot argue that wh at we
"alue in the past should survive, be<:ause it too was odious, even if not absurd;
and becau<e the price of it waS misery, which progress ameliorates
So what does a modernist do then? Find a way to make art the
double perspective of past and future altogether, answer, sincc both are
now horrible. Find a way 10 be {n,ly banal, truly momentary; and have the
artwork, by its very lunatic perfcction, swallow up the falscva l"es which lof
nc..:."ity) it will indude or connOle. No morc Earth, no more Nature, no more
Woman, no more Class. No more innocent (idiOtic)
To the Great Barn for drawing reed
.. chopaswcdc. -
Flakes in each doorway and casement-<ash:
How it snowed!
iA.ng ago, talking of mudcrni,m, Clement Greenberg had things to say
about the avant garde in the later century and its double relation to
politics. " It was no accident," he "'rot,' (he was wriring at a rime when
gardecoincidedchronologically - and geographical ly, too - with the lirst bold
deoelopmCnt of ",ientilic revolutionary thought in Europe." (Let us include
Rcclusand Kropotkin under the rubric "scientific.") "Withouttbecireulation
ofrcvolmionary ideas in the air about them,hhe avantgarde) would ,,,,erhav.
isolate their of the 'bourgeoi" in order to deline what they
But equally, Greenberg waS of the opinion that what soon came 10 matter
about modernism was ilS ability to resi,t the smrounding confu
,ion and violence, " re"olutionaryconfusion indudcd.
Once the avant-garde had s"ccceded in itself from society, it
proceeded to turn around and repudiate rC"olutiunaryas well as bourgeoi,
politics. The revolmion wa, left inside society, a part of that wel"r of
ideological "n'ggle which art and poetry find so unpropitious a,soon a, it
Tho key terms here - ",'en -style" -
shiftwilJly in meaning from text to text all through find. ,ied . And that is
hau:;c they are lIed Oil to do the Imagic) work, whi"h moderni,m stil l
beli eved possihle, ofsoIJ<:ring togcthcrthe3.sthc.i canJ t hcs()cia I. On the One
hand,tbe word decorative had and has a pejorat ive under[One [0 it, even (l
should sa)' espe.ially) when it is p .. ""nted as" demy,tifying alternative to
higher acSthetic values. Decorati ve mean, mercl}decnrative - mean ingovertin
itssimplificalions,OSlcntatiousinirsrepe.tedpanerning"andunashamed of its
offernfvi,ualdclight. It mocks the idea ofa beaut}' distinct from pren i ness,or
gli ller,or blinding coloristic shock. And itean re>t ea.y in its mo,:kery {here is
the Olher. opposilC work lhe word d""'1 because it assem rhatthest" arC the
qualities tha, all ow Art to speak to the public realm. They are the quali, iesthat
prepareil - ,,enilin rcali ty the picllIre isno more than 35 by 46 inches-for

It would not be fair to iudge thi.stratcgy h) vande Velde .Project/or
Ornamental Emhroidery(fig. 64) or Bonnord, I)u,k {fig . .191. They .,eearly
work,. Bonn"d, we know. was later to make of the decorati,e - meaning the
Himsy, the ga ."ly.lhc repe,ir i,e, the cheaply consoling - somethi ng uniquely
p" ssion3leandregTetful. His Cmmtryside(tig. 68) is a cruel version of pastoral
- a firs' World Wnr version. And van d. Vel de was to move into three
dimensions proper in the '900 (fig. 69), and find his own show-
stopptngvOlc, .
Nonethdess. J believe tnat in lhc form it mostly t()()k in the carl)' the
decorative was a p .. lend Solulion to mo,kmism's prohlcms. It g"vc an alihi to
weightless simplificat ion. and coquetted with ,he idea 01 lh. architectural-
hcnce presumably the social - while all the whi le preing the visual arts towa rd
wh imsy and nostalgia. (h would take a Mati."" to retrieve the tactic ['an of the
rea",n Maurice Denis was so angr}' with him in '9D.5 was that Saw
theinJicrmcnt Motissc'sartrcprest"ntedofmoSllhing,doneinthcnameofrhe
68 Pic.,..,IInOBllrJ,
Co.tn/""id-:, oil on
C:ln"U.1JOX 160.

This hrings U$ back to Two YOtl .. g Womlll. Cerrainly Ihal p,ainling
wa$ meam Tn seen in TO me jobs Pi$$3m) had done in Ihe 1880' 015
a dew/alnr of lam. The were a nOT llIlimponanl parf of Pi5sarro'5 prodoc:-
non. Their modOf)' in ,hei, favor. PisRrro knew lhallhe Kale and (ormal

.:nmpom wilh lhe kind 01 clevemen he olhetWiK wn abid of Uig. S9). He
CIlj()yedlhelitense.andr-ll()fhisefforr in 1891 Wa$ 10 find a way 10 impon
il inm full'Kale painlin8" There were five fourl shown in Ihe mrM-plive.
induding a particularly finMUned ooe c:llied HtmIUf. done in 1890 (fig. 70). I
Ihink Pi$,,.ro hoped his viewm would look al TIW Young PtaltJII' WOlnC71
wilh hindsight (0 PetUttnt Womm Pitking G,au, donc-"in 188.1 (fill. 711, and
wonder how much of a memory of msngure, hid imo Ihe latC!',larger ones.
Two YOtlng Wo ....... is m. Bu,;t ill also profoundly an

and nuan,e of fnrm, iPlen5ify ofattnosplwre, ,omple>eifyof "Hea. If
nego(iariOIl bctwn the of , modunist pan and those of
possible modemiM future that ill end I admire ilion drcply ill me work. 1
have said thaI NSilIrro wenT along wilh ronlemponries in adoptins lhe word
as it value. So he did. BUI il was nOiIM !erm used mOM offen. and
'hose he proferred in 189' gI ve u." 10 hOfl<'. He gave two Inleniew,
to ,he press In early I'chruar )' ('gain, a "gn of tim",) , The tits! wa,
The,", my favor;,.s, ,he ",,is! <.;l id I<) uS )'<s(crday morning, us hIS
l,lICSlCl TWaSCS. ThcSCl ,et he " ne" halbeSlrcpr",cntmy .hough" .anar"".
the on .. where I ha,'c real",:d my
He pOlms.o .he 1'."s,1JI1 U'om,1I1S,"IIIg;SulIS<'l{fig . 41.lnlcTl'stingly,'nough,

The.., arc m)' fa"onte pa'ntings. In them I h3"c !tied 10 loi" the <Ii"ISI O"
of tune, 10 a gru. exact ilude of moddl, n):. an<l 10 rea);,." synlhes;1.ing
harmonyofwl"rslrJ,'/;se.l'b."",omes)'m/";/,qlf"de5,o"leff ,,l.'o.l
The intervIew wnh Paul Gsell m l.a ReI'"'' b1",,,. i, " liule longer and mor<
Infomul i"" Pi's3fw ,jlh movingl) "f his innm,,), w"h Corm"," man,
and i. proud of Corol', Inllucncc on him, Th.n he explain' wh)' hi, rceen,
ha, becn done in ,he Sludio:
I d"nOlpai n" " rpic, ur"s J irecti rlnfrontufnature,J onlydoSl uJi .-s,here:
hut the Unit)' that the hum"" mi nd w vi,ion c" n onl)' he founJ in the
"udio.lt i, ,he' e ,hOI our Imprc-,;,ion" S<.'at1<roo "they hrS!, become
coordlnated.und b"ng out ea"hmher'<qualiticsw3<10 fo,m the Irue poem
of ,he Iltos >r coo,dO/melll, se
{Olll rr'o/"".llfe'''I!III/,,,,,, 10m"" Ir ,'T,,' {JOi n'" .1 .. 1" (aml'''.!I"el . Om
"f d""rJ;, "ne ,:0" Se"" , he ha rmOnies th" immedlJlcly ,nih ,he ey-=
one ,," nnol , uf",,;cntly in!<rroga'e onc-self, su ' 0 m,.l" ,he work
whal one is fC'cllng "mhln. Th.lI IS whJl m)'work ISdtreCledw-in search of
,hi, I",cllce,oal
The worJs arc Ihos.; he uSr;J Umt)', harmony, s),nth.";,, c<>o,dlna-
tiun,a .. i() t\s. RUlalsof"d ;t\ g.
,,,,Ifmlcrrog.:>toon,ll1co,y, in,dk",ual unily.
b ,',,;(m.I'.IIHmg>.hould becogn,I;"C - ,h"I>, invc,lIp. iH and
roolcdln -D,..,nrall\'e"
me"n, owmng up 100 carly h' Ih,- rcaliu" of pOliming" ..xial f"n,lton
Ifone do,,, Ihal. harmony OInd bcnomorc,h. n
ncOl >o1" hon, 10 p",blcm"h3! wer<nC\''''''e,yd,flicult III ,h. Ii", place
T hese pa."a):e. hfl n): In m",d a cryp,ic ,,,menee OJ Iwo '" 01 letler
ct'lanne wwle 10 mll,> Ikrnard. They form p.n of p<:'p",,,al
10 persuade lIe'na,d I,emember he had been GaugUIn's m(l!;1 [", lham
dl"ipld '0 p",h"""b,,," ,n,claI ICmlOe)'cSlghl. -T""" and rdl"""on." ,ay,
11111. by latie m<xllfy the way wr Stt. and finally comprehen>ion COm", 10
II IS onl y old ... id",s (" ,mx ",10/ . a m.'aphor fmm me,allurgyl
ol>sltuel our inld l'g'nc wh" h needs to be wh,pped' nwshap<'
You'll u"d"Nand me bellO' when ,0,,, seC edch (lIher ag"n, "udy modifies
"I"'''",,, I" ,u.h J" ,-);"' 011 ,h.1t ,111 h",,,hk .,,,,I,,,,I.,,, . .1 Pi" . " .. ti"J,I",
_uu.du",h,"r,,, ,uh"."""",-.1 1,/", I"/J"IIIMcd,-"/,, . I/ / 'r<$.lm"c/n",,..
,,,,,,(i,,,{,s,'stl,,,,,,,,s.m.,rdml,s l.'
TIlt' "",,,J "1h""I" ""'''''. ,\",1 ,h. ""'''''1 "(,,,,,h -1,,"): .InJ tu,J I'K.lUl):.
a"J ,," ,h.It ,h, ... ""'n""'.II'." .''''
h",mn): "n ",or ""." .'rrn'h.-"""" ", "h." Ih, " .",,")' w. ,h"
, .. ,' ''''''): '" .11' 1"'rruN rul'l"heJ ,,,, ,h,'
1''''' ,II", ,\"',', .If<' ,1<.',," ,,,,,,,, .. 1.,,,,. h,' h.lJ (",m ,h..m
Ihe ""."lIIl. ""tou" lIt "(I ..... p.",! I he Ix .. " "he,he,
Ih,') .In CUll!I"1. \1.,,"'1. ," .. If, "nl "VI '" nul.,. u, 1u,):e<
)..,.hdall):,I .. . . . Th.) .If<' .II,.,nh",. "h" "d<U ,,, ,'.orr ,II<, ... "rld u\"l"
J.", 'rullllh,III ... I" .... .. l w,"'d,,.Ci'.""lt'f<rl"'.] """J,.,
" m<><I<-m""", " 'all ), r<" ...... ' .. 11 Ih, h,It ........ , ""hnu, h"f'<' n'
.... 1,,( ,h.1I Ih,' r'""," ,,( "'1''''''''''''''''''' ",,):h, <h, ",,,IJ .md "'It
kll"wl"d):,' lit n. A".I h"" ,1 ... " ,,,,h .n, ", ..... Ii,,d <-'<'er< I,) ,,,IJ
ffl' 11", ".,,1. Il,,,,, '" ,hI' ,,,,,-,t-I,'! W."" ,h.n ,em.'"'' l,lk I"h.>
Wh,,,!,-h.- wh,p!
1) umillrPlu.mr.
ofCJultfK. oil
""","Yu." x )'.7.
"74 (Propmy of G .. ff

H ... ,ro;l ....

l5o S,4
(P,iv. ,. ooll .... ionl
H angingoppo,ite I'i<sarro'seasel in " pholOgraph of hi,studio taken
SOOn aner his death is a mixture of old and new paimings lfig. 75). He would
ha,. SC<:n Ihem each da)' as he worked. GiYen pride of place orr IWO from the
! 870S, the years of action in <ammon wilh Ulanne. A canvas from! 874 called
La Mert I'res/e, of a peasant woman bringing buckets from a well (fig. 74)' II
is one of,he fir1'1of Pi<sarro', pict ure, in which the peasam figllre predomi-
oa'ed. A small paiming, bm evidently treasured. And Ihe portrait Pissarro
had done of C'.anne ,he same year, showing his friend in aggressively rustic
uniform. posed against a <1rangc(uncharacleristically up-,o-,he-minutej back-
ground of other imag .. - mainly carica'ure, from the p r ~ lfig. 73).'" Courbet
the beer-swilling Communard rampa", tup right. On. of Pissarro's own studies
ofa " illage street - trust him IOChoosclhemosl mudcs, and lhrowaway! -just
visible past Channe', sleeve. The ooious Thiers top Idl. midwife to the Third
Republic - exulting in the bourgeoisie's abili,)' 10 payoff the war debt to
The rOOm in the photograph is quiet. Contingency has ebbed away. La Mere
I'res/e is a dim shape-Cuurbetand ThiersbarelyYisible. I furgclwhallheanger
was a!>out .. BUI the wall was a daily remindN. nonetheless. uf whal theory,
,tudy, and ;nrelleclual unity meant under mooernistcondilions. OUI of what
ideological confusion and violence they came, and un whuse shoulder< they
mighl rest. So lhat "our elem.",,,ry feeling, might I:>c m o r ~ accura,ely contem-
plated and more f()reibly communicated. M MSo OS lu make ,h. work affi rm what
one is feeling within."
Obviously Ihe", latter wi,h" and iden,ificari"ns are naive. It is open to
anyune to call them innocent (idiotic). 1= wh)'. I just feel Ihe paintings on the
studi" wall arc te'limony to what the wish made rossible.
7S Unknown
, ~ ,
3 Freud's Cezanne
The ;m.mion of this proj"'" is to uS with a psychology
which shall I;x:. n"t\lr.1",;." : ;".;m . h,, ;,,;, '0 rep''''''''
psychical p,oc .. s,,, asquan,i,at ively determmed st., .. "f
' I"'cihablc mat. rial partide, and so to make them rlain and
Freud."Proje<:t forax;emiticP,ychoiugy,,R9I'
M odernism and materialism go togerhtr. This does nOt mean, any more
ehall with mooern;,m and ,hat the fellowship was alway, rffognizeJ
or welcomed at [he time; Of ,hat, even when it was. artis" agreed on which
,-... ion of marer;ali,m to fol low and e"ac, l)' how. Chanoe, for instance, SCemS
to have m;"ed (he pain! of Seurm', alomism (possibly because h. had too ftw 76 Paul c.z.n"o, TIl<
opportunities (0 see Seura", painrings firsthand). )"lalevich thought the IArgeilatll<rs,uilun
Cumtructivi,ts were danking along with weightand-beam Physics as if can,". I H X 107, ca
Poincoreand Einstein had never happened. How many modernist Purita nsh,d 189S- 1906lllorne>
a place in their hearrs for Bonnard-for hi,terrihle r ... triction to the world of Found"ion,Mcrion
Ihings? And SO on. Strong materialists most often misunderstand each OIlter. S ... ion,P","'. 1
Mond,ian', being able to re<;ognize Pollock's matterof h,-,ncss when he saw it
in New York is the (heroic) that proves the ruk
There is no such Ihingas a tradition of mat trial ism. then, in the art oft!telast
hundred and )'(3". IIUI I do nOI think we shall begin to understand
modernism unless we look at the Wa)' it was seenlingly compelled, over and
over, at moments it knew wcre bod, tCSlins-grollnd and breaking-poim. to s.t"t
it .. lfF .. ud'stask. Which is also l)iderOI'SI,1Sk,orlhe 13sk of Enligh t"nment,or
the task of bourgeois philosophy in il<rulhbs, world-breaking and wOrl d-
making mode. Pursue il witb Diderot', impudence and Freud', grim care.
O f the thrce lorge Batl,cT5 picrures O'zanne laboroo O,'er for the last ten
yearsofhislifc,theollclltat now hangsin thcBa rncsFoundo1tion (fig.76) .. ems

ne.,n working on it for a decade.' That would p,lI i" beginnings in and around
O'zannr',showat Vollard's in

weare ,urehad prideofp!ace in t!tat exhi!t ition: the Batherlll;th 0" tstrete/'ed
Ar",,(fig. n ), who .. deadlock of psychic forces it .. ems imemon r(."S<)lving,
and the even more enigmat ic - and tbrreforeseminal-Bathersat Rest (fig. 78).
We know Ihis laller picture waS on Ci"Lanne', mind. In 1895 it was already
77 c.;unn<'
A"' .. ,od"" ... "' ... 7J
x 60, . 1 880--8S

twemy years old. It had lx-en thc ccmerpiece of CC'zonne's to the
third exhibition in alongside Ihe equall)'
fry the !k'l$lde (fig. hd bn duly s.:.uged by the nni<:s; and had tM,rdore
he.! on in a"ant-garde m)'\hmakmg as the plus ultT;) of Ciunne's early
work. ' l-Iercil ..... asagain.Cizanneshoww;'wi'horher'1lQf"trecent.ersionsof
,hc samc sublY in ,he Vol13rd rClwspeclin, and .orne time in Ihe )'cars
immed'alely following _ when 1M, RarnC$ 84th", was cen;unly under way - M,
choselomakealithographofiT,inb13ckandwhiteandlhenincolor.' Hcwas
right, I Ihink,towam to r<:vivcThc old monstrosity. and c,'cn to in,iston it as
lhe slarting point for thc work he then had in hand. Uke much el", in

,hal bn abandoned long ago, ,n 1he 1 870S and c,'en the r8605. if only
now 1M, means were auibbk 10 wmpklc ,hc dl"C'amwork lhen begun.
6ringingondl"C'am-work. I l"C'ahu, lips my hand. If you pUI Ihe 84tMJat
Rest 3 Typ;calscern. of SwImmers from Ihc urly ,89-05 (fig. 80) - 1M,
k",d n wOtlld hn'c huns rn.XI 10 ,n - and Iben look for a word 10
to me 10 come to mind irresis,ibly. Or "nightmare." Ry
Ihis I mean several thin"". for 0 smn, has a pi<:ture itself w
openly - !'O awkwardl y - as m,,,k 0", of scpMarc, overdetermined parts
c,,",xislinsonlyon.offerancc.'Thc paint is piled upand up aro"nd Ih e(OnlOur.
oftheb.1,her in,hCCCIl,n.or,h,ontlringonthe):wund. orthesmalltronca,
rear starin): off mto ,he bnd>cap.:. and ,he build up in c"ch <:"S,'Se "msimrndcx!
to dfee< some di"'''gagcmcnt of from ground - "bsul",e. and
no doubt absurd. "ola,ion ofd", 00<1)' not iust from ,h,' others In i, hilt
from a"yll""g eise. Even fro", li);nllwhich "'''ps ,,, th" hcclsof,hc in
th, background li ke an ,hork). Th,' picwrr is P"""3ct ;C. One can
"Imns! he,,, the d,,am narration beginning. "We in a bl' 3
"rca", ... Tn,". waS" moumain In the ... J\n IIldividU.11 of rome
SOrt un grass Wllh no dothe, "" ... I coul dn't"", if it was a man
or a Wo"'an.,. One arm W,IS thrown up (j\'er head. makin): a kind of
pillow, , . OIl\' wa, bent double. so the (:enuals were h,dden ... "
And, of co,"sc, fO ,hat ",11,11 result, from this of sc:par",r
;m.1g..,; is exactlr not ,0 sa)' that ,h, >C,'ne b,k. 'UHl)'.JWit as much as a
it is irrev"".bl)' (ludicrousl)' 1 Oft< thing. It is ,hot through with visionM)'
intensity. There wi ll never he ,I "'o"'em like: it again. En'" th,' douds ,;,ttlll to
parti,ip,1Ieinthe);emraldemcmia. ThcYp''erdownoll[ hcpoorba,her>'doings
wi!hsho,:ked",licnude. inqui$it i.'edc>p"cthcnlscl\'cs,likc[hegods in Homer.
I! is JUSt wh," thi. charged l1lomemarin" .. might I,.. aMUI tha, is ob",,,,e.
" ' I n "ny he added, giving his
it 's inside here!' I'D'mileu .. : (I;oll/(I+i/ en se
peinrure, , . c'esr la-dedJ"s!'I"'
Choosing the title arid epigraph 1 do for ,his chap,cr, and talking straight
away ahouT dream-work and ps)'chical forces and SO on, is n01 meant as
prei iminarYloa Freudian reading of the ,hrce la,e Bal/)ers. l douh t I could do
one if I rricd,Jnanycase the Freud I quote is the Freud helore Freud ,still
struggling to think Ihe unconscious in a language horrowed from Hdmholtz
and Fechner, This is the Freud, ultimately, whom 1 take to b.. dosesl lo Ihe
Balhers'mental world,
AI' lh(' same, I have never understood why writers abont Cezanne shy away
from Ihe ten )'earsspt'nton the three large 8athers wilh
dlOseoflhe founding of psychoanalysis-the years of Freud's self-analysis and
Ihe publication 01 Tlu Imerprelalimr of Urea",s the Imers 10 Fliess, the
ItCJtmem of Dora, the writing of T lm?e Eswl's On t/)e Theory
tOlhinkoftheRarne$piC!ureasroughl)" hC"'1 uivalemofTIJelnrerprelation of
Drc(lms,andthecooleraTtllosphereofthepai ming inthePhiladelphia Museum
(fig. 88) as corresponding to that 01 the Tbree Ess(lYs, Though I admit that still
le.1ve$ me with the problem -it i,throne I am funhest from solving_of the
picture now in London lfig. Would it help if we it as
IJndt/Jeir RelIJlioti 10 Ibe Unconsciou" which Freud published along with Tbree
E""l'sin 1905? Ernesl Joncs tells uS that the manuscripts of the two books were
laid out on adjoining ta hle. and dealt with according to Freud's mOO<! ," The
l ondon picture seems to have bttn begun around 1900 and worked on righl to
Iheend. The Barnes picl ure, we shal l =, was massi.elyaltered nen after '904
']l,e l'hilodelphia makess,,"se as a prodnu of may Ix: the last year or
eighteen m0111h.ofuzanne's lile.' For.'ariou. rea.oo. , I .hallconcentrale
in wha, follow. on Ihcfirst and last of thcs.;rie>: Ihe Barne. piClure and the
one in the I'hi ladelphia Museum. Apan from anything else, the fact Ihat , hey
are hung within ten miles of one another means they are easier to look al
H ere, to !legin, a fragment of C<' zanne's St'IIdescription. It in
Bernard's '90j memoir_ Ch"nnc is trying to expiain to Ik'rnard his horror of
humancnmaC! . SCene in the Streft the day belore. He reaches
back to an ancient memory. " I waS going qllinly down a staircase, when a
g.""in who was sliding down the bannister. going filII spceJ,ga,'e me such a
kick up the arse as he went by thal I almosr fell down [en pa$$am m'a/lOlrgca
'msigmndcoupdcpieddans/ccufqrrcie {ailliSlomberj; the shock !leing so
uneJ(IX'Cted and [[nlooked for. it hit me so hard thar for years I ha"e been
IIcprrisso,,{{riri'alluucbclllcntou/efrOiememdepcr<OImc[."' Onecanalm"'t
hear.heanal)'Sf breathing a discrl'etsigh of relief. This patient',phantasies are
the surface
T heBarnespicmrcishardtosc'e.!tshowsninenakeclorncar. naked
figures in a dearing by a stream. apparently toweling themselves and
others just ha'king in the Slln, Therc is" dogon the grass in the forcg round,,,,d
th., makings or leaving.s ofa picnic close by-a basket oflrllit, a tippe d upbowl
(ori, it halfa watermelon?). I rhink il hclps to conceive of the scene as made up
csscntiallyofa central group of six women.r hcir bodies and faces all interco n
"ceteJ, with two somewhat "'parate ligures fbnk ing rhem on either si de. IThere
isin fact a seventh lignre in theccnrral group. disappearing behind the grea.
righthandtre . Bm he or she is vestigial to rheplor. All the Balhers ha"e ligures
which "'''n to have loomed !arger in earlier srares. bur end up miniat urized or
shadow)',) The two fianking figures are different from the central group, ana
tomicall)' and physiognomically. Rather in the same wayas in Bathersal Resl.
a great deal ofcffort has gone in to marking them off,spatially, from t hefigu'es
next to rhcm. There isa rrcmendous not<ch of buhbling paint lodged belwC cnrhe
towelhcldhythestridingfigureat lt'ftandthcbackandshouldcrsolherncares!
neighhor, and. li kewise,thc g:lp between lhc elbow of the figure proppcd ag ainst
the tree at rightand.hal ofrhcwoman leaning in th.oppositedirectiu nislilled
lip (toa depth of inches) wilh Iti,,]s and CTrOrs at h-cpingthemdisri ncr
So l'.uIC':',ann<
Batb"., oil on ca,w".
H . 1 X H " .ca, , 89<>-
94 IThcAn In"i. u.co/
Chicogo. Gihol Mrs_T.
Clifford Rodman.
to call the left-hand figure "striding" is to beg the que"ioll of her
pose, which seems to he as much a matter of standing and displaying -
her hand splayed OUI acro .. her hlue-green chest - as of walking in from
somewhere outside. There is a quality of revelation to the figure , and of
inruptio" and movement , Her great train of towelling seems draggNl a hit
reluctantly jlltO the "ene from an elsewhere below and in front 01 th,'
plane. I shal l ca ll herth"stridingwoman forshon.
As for her partner On the righthand ,ide,] >tlppose] should.,y from the
outset that he or she seems to me sexed. This is matter of museu

scene, and as compared with the Ifamil iar) signs of femaleness in tne
bodies center-stage. And i, is bound up with ,he curious energy of the marks
that hollow out - gouge O\lt,I am inciined10 say - ,heemp'yspace betweenthe
figure's thigh and uprai,;ed Icg,The)' jnsist too much on ansence, asiff earingor
hoping that there wa, something ,here 10 be made absent - something which, as
SO often, the cancelling process partly reinstates. All this, I admit, is gross
reading-in on my part. But the picture invites - ] should .<JY, coerces - such
reading-in. Would there be "greement at least to the proposi tion that gender
here is not fixed or sdfevident? Andcould we further agree to taket h e pose and
expre<sion of the figure - its separation from the main group, the propping of
the heavy hociy again,t t h"tree, thedeep ,hadow acwss its face - tosjgn ify
some kind of revery Or inward-turning? [,hall it the dreaming Of
course I know the bbcl is tend,>ntioltS.
The dreaming figure is deeply linkt-d,;n pose and to the figure
out on the in /lathers at Rest., oThe tWO share the sanle shad
owed, disconsolate face. They exisr in the same interim between the sexes. It
as ifChanne had waitNl thirty years ")go hack to hi$ root figure of sexual
differcnt;ation.and put itjunstably) uprigh, - turn ittowardusa nd.,howwh"
it IDeked. Or as if the more di,tant figurei" the
the landseape and seemi"gly dari"g it to do its worst-had swung round 0 nit,
heel and revealcd that it too bel ong' betweengcnde,"
yes, r am .. mbarra,,,,d by my prudery - hut having reco\"tred fo r a
momen!, there is a sid .. of me that want, 10 hang onto it. My wish not to see.
ornottoseeseparateIY',isJlsotruttoUz"nnc'.strongepereeptual balaneing
act. Johns knows this. Some of his tradngs are rudely explicit, others fioat the
penis back jnl<> the complex of shadows lfig. 83). Tracings are nec.ssar ily
reductivc. Th'-question Ihere and elsewhere) is whether the kind of
reducrion - phallus for shadow, and so forth - points seeing in the right
Color in the Barnes pic'ure is saturated. The tone is set bysuperchargcJ
grecns. The douds building up in thebackground,fhegeneral suff usionofdeep
blues, the glisteni ng yellow on the bodies in the center, a slight land, on the
8r Cezanne, l)elail of whole for uncharacteristic) oiline to the color, even in are", where
fig. the loading of pigment hos Iltrned the into a these fealltres all
8. j"p<r j ohm
Trac,nKsafu, Ch.J""e,
i"k on pl.stic, x
74.7, (Collection
,he,rt i,,)
gJ j"per Joh",'
Trac;nKs a[ur Ci;"WM,
mkonpla"ic,41.7 X
71.4, 1994 (CoII""ion
Sttm w license a reading of ""lor as the product of actual humidit y,
at a mOment shot through with .unlight but about W COmC 10 a violent end. Any
se(:ond now the wil l he" the tirst dap of thunder. The dog is already
Of course this is fancifu l. lam not saying that looking at the Barnes Ba the,s
need neccssarily turn on.uch a I.>efore-and-afternarrative, But some sense 0 ftht'
momentary, a feeling of rime he .. having ,topped, some sense of the
as opposed to the generalized-these do seem to mewarrantcd,ancl in a sense
particularity of the light in thiscasegoes.long with-is
support for -the particularity of the bodie., It is wh,,, seals the profound
isolation and inwardness of each tigure, al l of the twn ,superintendent.
left and right,
Louleri"K WeMher is a tille Clement Grnl.>erg is supposed to ha,'. suggested
for the painting Pollock eventually called One. Ir wnuld do even better for the
p,int ingwea.e iookingJt
Hard to imagine trees more melodramatically phallic - their hranches
rigid and repetitive with the ",me usele" assertion. Or a towel more like a
honeymooners' Niagara than the one on the right, fa lling endlessly from the
dreaming ligure's I<nec and dispersing in spray at the corner. Ora rent in th e
douds more ominous and al l-devouring.
But [am going round the subject. [am try;ng not to look at the striding
woman's head
The head isnotmuchofa metaphor. htricstobe litcra[about scx,andsho w
uS the phallus once and for all - show uS what the phallus is, physically,
anatomically, materia[ly. "To make it plain and void of Won
derflll,hopeless, nineteenth-century project!
T his is what [meant , essentially, by invoking the Freud of the "Project
fora attheheginn;ng. [WaT1 tcJtOsuggest that Cezanne's
[ate Bathers would look [ess 'trange, or more properly strange, il they were
conne<:tcd to ot her sllch doomed, magnificent [imit-cases in ,he history of
materialism - mOments at which materialism tried to confront the paradox its
opponentsc3st mOSt confidenrly in its face. Let me present you, say Freud and
Channe, with a fu ll y and simply physical account of the imaginalion. Let me
show)."ou bodies thoroughly subject, as we agree they must he,to the play
of ph ant as)'; Ihat is, dcformed and reconstitutro at every point by the pow e .. of
mind. let them appear as they would in a world where all the key terms of
our end[essdehate - ;magination,mind,body, phantasy, and so on-wo uldbe
grasped, hythe bociiesand imaginations themse[ves, asdes<riptio", of mailer in
various states. Then the world would truly be remade in representation. All 01
the mind's previous attempts to imagine ils own deforming powcr would look
pallidbycompari,on. Pallid hecauselncy did not undersrand whal that power
waS of.
No wonder c.;zanne's idea[ist supporters (the Symoo[istS and Neoclas<icists
who had kept his reputation alive in the t890S and .arly 1900s) recoiled in
horror when Ihcy sawlhe Bathers finally in the Aesh. "C".anne has no knowl
edge of the human body and has not worked OUt its laws; he goes naivelyah ead,
inserting into the tissue of his patient and logkal touches forms that are
illogical, beC3USe ignorant and without foundation.
What kind of dreary
would you expect this to he from? [t is f.mi[. Ikrnard, of all
pen Ie, reviewing the Channe retrospect i,. in '907. Likewise Remy de
Go rmont the same year: "Celanne i5 evrrywherr at the Salon d'Automne.
Everywhere his raw earth gra)'sand terra-cotta reds, hiswashed-outg reem,his
dirty whites; everywhere his rotting carcas"" of women rses femmes en via"de
pourrieJl"" Both wrilers have the Bathers5pecificallyin mind.
M aybe Remy de Gourmont 's phrase is nOt comp[etely off the mark, at
least as regards affecl. I take the Barnes painting to be" staging of orne
ultimate sexual material - ultimate for C".anne, that is - which could only
gradually be dragged into the light of day, and even more gradually (ifat all)
hrought into order. It look len years. We know that some of the key deci,ions
in the staging were made more or 1. 5S at the last minute_In Ihe pholographs
Bernardtook inJ9040fChannesittinginfromofhiscamas(figs.84ands.I)
the striding woman hasa very diffcrem body-[onger--tegged,more Aacci d,less
pneumatic and substantia[- and her penis-head i,asyct no such Ihi ng.Sheis
bigger, but seemingly lackssexua[charge. (We know that figures in IheR alhers
rcgularlygolwhinled down over the years, 3S ilto concentrate their energies.
86 Ti,i;n:
]Dukrof Suth<rland
Coliec'io".on 10' " lO,h"
National Gall<ryof
Scotland, ICdinbu'!;hl
Dreaming and grieving are words tOO p.ssi,'e, I realize,tocaptu .. the agony
of a,anne's ""Ifidemification here, for pan of fi gure's femin inity
- I have ,lipped imocalling i, in my text, hut only for convenience-has
to do with thewo), its hasic ou!line of orms and shouldersagain>t thctrce
carries with it the shodow of SO many nineteemhcemury images of women held
""XU" ] capti,'e." Andromeda and Angelica, the harem and the cnve
This as mIlch as reverie
Maybe somewhere back of the picture lie memories of Titian', two
sreat primal scenes, Diana and Acraeon and Ditma mId Callis/O lfig. 86). which
.imilarly ,urn on ""eingthe "nspeakable and paying the price. The striding
woman i, Actaeon, rough ly, bu' also , he pi,; le.s nymph in Titian's other picture
li ft ing the dmpes from CaliislO'S giveaway s,omach,
If we are looking for the ultimate source of the dreaming figure in
Channe'sart, I think we have to go back even furt her ,han
,he gloomy hermaphrodite on the right of the Tcmpldt;o" of $aim Amhnny,
done in lS7oort hereanouts (fig, 87i. The<:>doreHefflongogoidentifiedthisas
and remorse, " Onl}, what at that stage had
sceminglybeenguil tathaving]inphama.y)toomanygcndersbewmcs,in lhe
Barnes painting, sadne., al never quile allaining to any - or never qui tebeing
ablctodoso ina way that ward,offthegllfflin on thc'lairs,
The script. as I S.1Y, i,easy to write, Thi,paticnt's phanta,ies are close ,o \he
surfoce. Or ra' ner, they art: on the , ,,rface-,h,,, is the point . A ,remeodous,
interminable effort has becn "'ade to ha". ,heexisten"" of,he body in phant asy
be literalized, made pre""nt as so many determined states of
specifia ble material par!;cies,-Weshould not besurpri""d if the effort finally
opens onto a scene and drama'is personae which <cern almost to illustrate " On
the Sexual Theories of or the "Analysis of a I'hobia in a F!ve,YcH'
Old Boy.-Wha,issurpri,ingis thatthe return of,hc repressed docs nm sballer
Channe's empiricism SO much as drive it on to a last ferocious effort at
reali,.ation," !\odies SummOn forth the phall us as their symbol, "'J'S Freud,
because what mOSl ofall ha'to be symbolized isthe ab,oluteness of each hody "
identity, its self-enclosure and inwardness, We are all like the dreaming figure at
heart, We all need a tree to lcaTl on
The real difficulty (and rC31 power) of the Barnes Balher. i. t hus not that it
follows some spe<:ifiable phallic scenario, but that it never giv,," up trying to
imagine th,n imagining in ",aterial termS. The more the material of phantasy
bubblesto t heslIrface-and thcto""rcd,urface oftheactualoilpaintis itsclf
a kind of literalization of rbis AcherOll/a _ the mOre the representa,ion
insiSlson phantasy'. inhering in a world of hodies, sens,1I ions, sights, shocks,
touches , wupsdep;cd,u,",/ecui,"quamila,ivelyde'erminedSI3Ies. " Andwho
is to say Ihat this amhition distinguishes C.hann. from , he Freud who was his
contemporary, as opposed to making him Freud's most lileral interpreter? 1
talked of the Freud whowrotelhe "Project fora Scientincl'sychology IS",!
being the Freud before Freud,but of course there i,a sense in which the Freud
who wrote Three Cssa)'$ and The i"terpretatio" of Dreams was just as belated
or ptemature - a Sense in which Freud neHr stopped struggling to convert n is
insighrs back imo sy<lems ofneurom and quantities of excitation
Let uS picture a Ii,'ingorganism in its m05t simplified possible form as an
undifferentiated ,'.side of a that is suscepti ble to stimulation, Then
the surface turned towards the external world will from its ,'ery si'ua lion be
different;aledand will serve as an organ forreceivin!;stimuli,lndeedembry_
ology. , ,aClually shows us" . "
Ptesent -day readers uf tend to skim such pas.ages, which crop up all
through t he laler work _ the one quoted here is from Beyond the Plea'OIre
Prmdple - or denounce their "&<:ienti.m " I imagine uzanne', reading them
all agog,
87 P3u1Chant>e'
of Saint
AnthDny, 011 on c.nvas,
j4 X 73,"', 1870
(CollectiQtl E.G, BUhrl.
Foundation, Zurich)
We might think of the " I'erations mad. to the s!fiding woman as
the poim whcrelhe patient fioally lake< over the analysi,and tellslhc analysl
whal hr or she has been waiting 10 hear. AI iaSl it is re"calcd whatlhe previous
bodil)' symptoms - In Ihis case, from the look of the fig" re in ,he '904
photographs, gigami,m and Aaccidity - were always mosl dl"Cply of. Not Ihal
n;try 10. Ihe p.n;ent's being curcd. Some lruths, as Nicm;.;he never tired 01
tdling us, arc best nol binned 0111. Prognosis in seems bleak.
Let me turn to the picture in Ihc Philadelphia Museum (fig. 88). And of
course;nlhis.;aselhelecwrehallphrase" utmeturnlo" is . even more than
usual, ludicrously bland. "Let me wrench myself away" might be bener. "leI
me look del iberately in Ihe opposite direction." For in all sorls of ",ays the
l'hiiadelphia painting sms mcam as !>arnes'scontrary, nol to say corrccrive . It
;s,olderand more consistent. Blue rules m'er gre"n. The ",hole thing stands,
mayoc a trifle stiffly, on lis ae>lhetic dignity.
A 101 here depends on change of formal. Thel'hiladelphia paillting is as high
as Ihe Barnes painting is wide. and a fool and a half longer. It measures 82
its twoprcdl"Cessors, and visuallyreg;"ering
aSa h ;s ulterl y unlike the
previous packed r<-.;tangirs.
How this allers the ",a)' the SCene prcscntS iTSdf is hard to <ay. Clearly it
meatl, ,hat ,he picture surface off looking less clunered and impacted,
and the nalure handling, we shall see, reinforces this. There is
room to ,how ,he river ,he bOlhers ha,'e emerged from. One of them is still
swimming, halfway aero, . There are olher, smaller figures on the f .. shore. A
wood. a steeple. a cloud bank which keeps i15 distance {unli ke its ai rhag
pred"" .,ors in Barnes and London) and e,'en manages 10 look decendy vap
orouS. But I do nol think Ihat Ihe painting _ from all)' reosonable

Ihe new forma l pillS Ihose bodies wn,i'Kingly into a landscape, or e,'en
""ablishesaDabncc(thi,i.awordlhatcomes "po!tenin.;ontlecl ionw;ththe
painti ng) bc,we.;:n hodies and "'lti llg or figures and Nat ure. J am not sure
Nature gets moch of a look.in. Nor do I feellhat the figures seem fi lled or
constra ined hythe lramework of t rees ahove them.'" It is more as ifthegrcal
surface and structure in the picl\,re's upperhalf,which lorsomc reaSOn had 10
be Ihis gigamic and ""hemaric, had been extrapolated out 01 Ihe figures-
l'Speciallyollloilheir;nterieavingpo<1ures.mdges",res. I would say t hal the
s,,,,i"g c()nfirms Ihe unreaht)' of the Iigu .. 1 "'CHe below: Ihal i<, its quali ty of
intense generaliz31ioll,Ihe insislenlrhymingandredundancyofits key shapes,
the look Ihe fig ures all have of obeying a ,uiCl butohscurechoreography. It is
nOl tha, const!";", is Ihe wrollg word for Ihc way th .. e individual, ca rry
themselv .. , and even for some of their facia l expressions; but the temion and
repelilion SCem to me generaled OUlofth. bodies-out of Ihc cfforl aI
and placing thei r typical stales-nOloul ofsomcahstra"imperati,'e I oha,.e
Ihembend"'ilhlhc lrcelrunborlincupparalieito rhc piClureplane

london painting wert: shown in the Channe retrospective of while
(perhaps understandahly) the !>arne, picture was kept under wraps - people
h;lYe talked of ils being unfinished. The talk seemS misleading to me. Of course
paint i.applicd more Ihinly and evenly Ihan in Iheother 'wo BatlM rs,and lhere
But in ,, 11 sen.""thatmattcrthi'pictllrc
is the m()'i t defini"" oftb" three. It, unfinlShedncss I. II, ddi nit i"encss; and
it " an "nfini.h that wmc, " u, llf flln)" yea" 'pmt mcdit,lling on wh" ,
"und",i"n in paiminj( mulJ 1>.; . Thi, i, " <:on"I",;on. !t , t,Hl', what the "ondi
tion. 01 depicting tb. hod)" in ,he ,,"or ld now amo"m to, and il Joe, '" wilh
"lIn w mplelcn ....
I h""ctoju'lif)"that"erJicr, anJinordcr,,, d,,,, , 1,ha ll focu."napatrof
NgLlre"" to th,' right "f the picture IhO! ,cern 1<> m,' III epi,om;'e ,he w"rk of

al ic "f moderni, m - aoo"e all. of il' mgni,ive amb"io",. There i, a danller ;n
Ih;,. I know. one or two figure, fm", ouch a ltllhtl ) "'''''en ""X i,
bound al nne le,cI to traJ",," the picture', I:",d moderni,m',) mam poEm
Languag a, u,ual, wil l pile up d,' ..:ript ion.and qua lification,. anJ Ireat wh.ll
it talks about a, sdf-!ufliciem. It ,,"ililOta li,. w;rh a ,enge:mce. BUI lh,' Iwo
ligure.are, lammnv,nccd, ancpiromcuf""crythingarounJ rhem: t hC)'brlllg
to tho , urlace the way' rhi. pien"," ! languag, - thi, "pp",;ch 10
phantasy - diff.r, from tha, ufrh,' IlJlb"T$ in th,- I ,hnl l de""ih., and
rdk":lnn them. and then ""he ri'l"'" in gctlernL
Mthcfarrightolthepa inting {fig.H91.",erb rpingmuchlh ametr". trunk
OS had <u proned the dreammg fi gure, i. a w"mom <quailing Of klltel itlg. We
88 pouleh.""" Ti!("
1,J'ge8",j,,rs.f>il nn
".nv", X '\1. \ ,
c . I
IPhil . d.lphi.,. Mu>t"m "f
An. I'urch .. oci wi, h 'he
W.r.Wii>"chFund l
her [>0"'. whi<h "lit Ih" h<.J!tom imo .hadow or ",hcr
" h, .: uri ,),. h)' with "l uBffinl' ,h. nter _ or. if w, k""w In.:
tun..!on piemr with ,Il. . "KU"'" lhe....,. plaud or in Ihc ,,-,me
I"",ition as n., .... knn'hng ",oman is <'""" in profile. bul Wtll> hl:r I" .... y
,Ii):hd )' in VII I dl, ...-li" n, Her sh"ulde .. hun.;h<-d and
As u,u31 in )'lU firKI ""..".,. 01 Ihc 01 Ihc sh"ulders
d""""he", - in Olll' vf Ih. p;:ai r "I ManJin): al back "I Ih. .. 1n .... fI '()UP.
Slari n): off ",ross Ihe river; :onJ in l <md<m in Ih. u",fyinK w,,,na,,
wh"", face is rcocal,J to liS Cc lllH Idt . 'OOdoWffl a" J ,,--a rilicd wi lh ",roil):
onJ of brll.h. II", h(_ever much we Iry I<> boll' al""1( "ur of Ihe
Phi ladelphi a by """i"): Ihem a, ,'ari,m, "n ,)fhrrs ,ldd-
w. lI. so,""wh,t Inl odd - Ihe . hould. " wi ll ne,'ef 'lui'e ..,ttl c down", he
.houlde ... Andth,ti .mainlr l-.c<'ausct hrrar.h"'tl",ks"nd 1"!I,.1S wcll. The}'
.. r", to tn a ... ",h",,' h",d ,md ,h"uIJ""
and ri):hl arm "'" ""cn jU;'I ah"ve.II i, a moor poinl. "f which Jillure
of Ih. 'wo i, ....,n Jim. IHIr pretry ooon hoth arc. Aml "nce rhe)' ir i.
impo ihle to sclrk lor,i rhcr,,! t he Nm p" ... iblc readinj:,,,fllw.' rio. ).,fmarh
Ihar mah up hun .. cksor <houldr!':. Enough has b.:.:n given h)' rhc Juint '"
!ll.1ke hulh ronfigur.lfio" iu.r is more morr
casi ly. a standing ,,nnlan """II Imm hchind a .... uanin" "'<>fI.:on lrom
In.: side. And yet ;1 CQ.u.nl be, or oc and f"r :011 . The S<Ju3l1ing
woman's and loa" ... hc", shuuld he
M .. )"hcthiscp;"-.dcha\ h<.cn JiKu ...
litn .. rur<' !.Omr thinj: ludi,,,,u, 0, "'''r .. h,winl'l!<1 rJ lk
ahom hurl<xks "nd , houl der! im" Olll' ;",0,11<", If ""Iy had
.bo,,'n ropb )' d",k rnhhifwirh ,.,mr sli"hriymnrc .ncL1t'oMhlc rar r Df tlle
human ana",my! KUI he di d nm, And h<.xli l'S in """eml in 1f1e IIMhers are
luJi",ou, '" w,,"'o(. ThaI rarl of C<'1,anm'"s m.,,,. ial i ... I",inl . (I remom!>",
),ca" ago s<:c ing a cnn, k ruut inc 300UI ,he Lo nclon HaII,rrsinwhw:hlwO ,diul
"isi,ors ,,, the N",,,nal (;allfry werr impres..-.! ahilit) to mJ ke Ihe
ligur .... "'-'"<lm' )'0" round {he roum.- Not h"..! 111lou.t;h1 "I
Ihe lime.) 1 "-,, "1 ,he fa ul! airol r m""rraSSml"Tll hr .. nnr 1<1 bedisp<'lied b}'
"nJ-lhi ng I i;" on 10
Froud."f c"ur,\.C. ,,nuld ha"f had a for il. Two in b Cl:,,,rKlcns:lI;on
and And II" douhl ':"nden,al;un the wnrJ "'.101 - Ul><"
rh" Slandinl\ for than une p' ",'i hlc - l>ut lito
norion "f dispbccmcnl wi ll in m)' "xpcri",,,",c, cnl i.ely II" .. t,
bt.-.:;1U'" rhorc i. a - "isual Wn,,' - in lin I)n !<Celn): thl' une
or ):cuinj: in lh,' way of Ihc "1h,:r. Thcy never d,) quilo
And ,<,cond, Iho M'ns.' h"iI, ,m" of
in ' p.'Cc - as opposcd II> dn'"mlih III"n-act u.1 1 hd"nll in): Ulgolh.-r-
""cn" again. for "f ompirid, m. Even wh.", h,'
10 <hnw u< Ihe ,hift,n): in ,h ..
'I""e "f tk,;i (e. n., wants In., spac .. In .... lire""l iud an..! bndy's In h.:

I) r R.;n m)" drt3m a!>nol my undo lhe )'el k_ beard I'his FIt,," in The
/ntetptcttl/;'m of D"'''''''I a ... ,,-,mpusi, e figu"' .... Whal I drd WJs , n
".1,,1'" I'f'O<."tdurr by mnns "f which Galt"n proldUCffl fomil)" pmlr.li,,:
namel" hy prnjO'Cl ing IWO un tn a sing!.: pi"., .. , 1I\3( ' tlmin femur .. ,
."",., 0.1.,1 "I common rn IMm hoIh :ore cmpha. i'.cd, while . h".., wh",h bi l ' 0 iiI in w;lh
une un. nul nnd :I'e ;,Id;"in"I. ln n, )" al><,,,, my
and rnc !hl' orn."
sprawled h,'adlnAg ac"," gra .. , h thf who falb hu JlnAJ: J:<l",;n
,Ii..!in!! ... "'." o. "".haP!' C';,,,,n,,,," ,enJ:ran.:. .,,'
him, ) No> "Af has r vrr ","" " "" .... 0/ ,h., . . .. gende" hm
and path", "f di"aoc"!,<,,'m phalli c. do ,,,,I n,..,d "eepk ", kllnw
whal of" ... nd"'"...., 'w in. The", of tluIsiJ""es" "f
";ew;ng ,II (I",mllhr v,mi.lhing point, HI the of m",'n." aliaS! pllt '" W"l'

'mi,' h,: di:lll. ams of SO many bl k'n o. f",zen ... a. opl"..nl ' n
rh. "':11 thing. Th. " ':11 IS .... " . wh",e wr a,e - in ,he ... .n. WM'T\' ,h"
, uhie,t is a pm,agon;"" nm an Remem),." Pi)'M"'" "Ifim'nt<;,ion
S" " '" make II,.. work afti rm what " 1...,ling wi thin." 0, Co",.;",,,,',
cxpl,,"i 'cu pe;ntu,, ... C' .. II.;<k...Jan . I"
M ")' 1>r Ih,' I>cSt wa)' " I , .... ,hi f, h"twecn h"mt<;ks and
,h'Hll der" th" n, i,,,,,, nec"ssa, ily Ix'i""in (' nte,in!!
hod)' ir ionc,minJl>ly "'",lin" "onfi"'lfmi",,,
"om .... ",c .... 's hr u r;ng Them on 10. s;"": anJ , .... .1';onall)
agi ng ,hc: cronjuring Irick u .... himsi.;ally tn1<'a nillg. as < nmpl..-.:d }" and 1"c .... "ter
" vslyl Ihis.
Which woulJ f,.,. ,,, ..a)' rhal thi , j, the linalligur .. of m'1I\,i.,l i, m
is, p!:.;n .. st aHeml" 10 rr w';"'ph,1n",,)"; n material re,m." '" "" act",, 1
fu" n)"! J;'ph cc<11cnt <If 0"'"' ",,,iil.ari,,n ul m,mer hr an,,hrr.
Whal wovlJ i. mCJn. in "Ihcr w",d, . '" mar".i" lize the Pl.'" "f
if !'C,'ms ,he answ, , ;, a kinJ uf 1;\<'r"I;"1Ii<111 ul rhe nn,i"" of lh"
m..J(, heing !O " f "'pI;, CCI11 <I1I,
' hull li"j:I"I('" '"' ....
might sa)'. AnJ .. n rhis lo. m nl 1<>0 highf:olutin'. On on ..
main ,hin" am,," hu",,.;ks/sh,,,,ld'l"li Ihr sIM"T.:rudil), , h,'
, .. "ightf(l,ward fnrer , of il5 pin", .. ,,/ ho..Ji."> ;m"gi ni"ll ",,:h
nlhc,. lma!!inari,," if i'ph)'si<:al ,'m, y n, in''''ror;ni"n ,hal hodi,"
W" nt . ;s inter.-unl"'S<" h"h, I)' d"gLli",d. Thi" !()u - Ih;s "",,"em "f

full ulti mau:ly I b)' mr " '!thol)" );.::m""'r form uf wonJ ... ,,, lal"
" f ,he as f. )r ... "I met,I,.h<" .1" ....
the wa)' pi"urc', amhitions J iffe' fm'" Ih",,' " f ils ocil!ht..,, ;n the 11M'''''.
IRe"'""'h", that in ,,,Q$ and ,II" t,,u pa ;nt;ng' ",nulJ haH worktd
un sid<: h}' sid<, jlr oo.k '" luck, Th"ugh I suSpa:l thar ,,"e had 10 1>0..
C!wr,.d upUflurned tothrwJllin . hr"udi"fnrihen'lM'rt<)(um' nuc.l lnSU11>r
... ,hr 11M"'" pic1U .. WOl<>!iII(u"'min ...J l<l ,hr idu nfg'>ing l>cyunJ."
rn,ne .. , h '" "m' c h"'d,,,ck 01 ,ha' hlJ " ' ;gi""II)' Ai" t n ;t
hirth. It was ' 0 ,h,)", rhe m..J) n"ninA un - ' " '''",ing - as il
was. Nnt nude hut Il3krd, I'hib&lphia pieru,. is rout up!,,"""')' ", thc
""me ""'}"" is not T .... u " I F,.uds rtteIlI "'1)" U 'If,..
point thaI what ma. b "ff his ",,"i,m of fmm mhe,s is th .. ...... In
which h<: an,ihu,,,. ' 0 th,' it,;cl/ _ nor In St)l11f f'nm
which it is tnad" - powe,. Cohcren",, ,,,!!,,nil.ali,m, ,,,,.1 d fi<:adl)'- an."
the tn.,)" ,,<c." I think Ih"S<' a,c ,h. '1'l alit i", of 'ht .hallh,
l'hiladdphia pio.."tu .. is fcding f",. If I hung thi.' fd luw uff, h .. it' ll mNn
kinJ "f Im"ylle a freuJian. th"u):n ",,' "cccs, ariI H
mi):ht.oyof thehoJi e, in al l three rha, here,Hu'ual"hequesrionof
what anJ wha[ not to ,how wme, 10 [he figure. geni[a!.. The i" ue oj
i, uhimardy a ma,k for ,he Jeeper i"uc oj an,c"," J i",-ow,ti
Parrlr I a;:ree with [hi, . J Jo "ot think an)' o"e I"ngc"nugh "' [hc
fail 10. And n"douht it would he p""ihlc ro ,t"!lc a ,.,.1Jingof,hc
l'hilaJel phia paintin;: whic-h would have rha[ image', fin"l k
ab",nceand , ub"itutim,. Hai,in,he Rdtlut<certainl),partahsnf,he quali,y
"f fet i.h. Time and again i[ peel, awa,' from [he I",ad i, l", l()j,):, ,,,
l"eO\'e,,') and .. h""ibly ,,,l id, 'eparate, and anima, e.IThi, i, rruer srill
of the pictu,e in London.] And the bodie, in Philadelphia, e'pecially on ,he
that nei ther "f [h. ", "runure'-the hair takin;:"n a life nf i"own. ,he fle,h
gi\'ing way lO norhing-"'em, in the end d",crminanr: rhe)'orepartof at o-and
f,o, opcnendedplay nfphantasy,notthe/inalterm'ltherepe",edmanem'e,)to
whrc-h the p!ar relUlOS. The empt)'com'a' ,to [akcthe "",st p!au'ihleca ndi date
of the tw", "", nlS to me "i,-id becau,e it is so comple,el y imerme,hed with
a,,,,rtion, "f,nlid,and ,al ie nce. On the pro"e woman', ridiculou , ,,,,hogo,,o l
hac-xand,ide"fo,examplc;nn the de,,,\a[eindi"idual',hright-orangeknce,;
'ndeeJ, "n her dreadful face: in among [he d ectric green, and , an, ()f [he
woman ,ittin):on [h. ground n<ar.st the cem.r, her limh, like ,he blade,,,fa
jackknifeahout to snap ,hut. But I know that m) ... ing the emp[)" can va,a,
part of pha",osy, not i""uth, i,lihl y helped on hy my own repre,,; oll<.
I think of the three hg"'es in the l'hiladclphia paimin):'s Center (fi;:. 9J I,wi th
arms reac hin): down to an unfo,med patchwork or marks on ,he ):round - from
which the ba re cam-a, ,hines triumphantl y - as emhodyin): care . !-,,,, wha[
pre"i ...!y we are not , hown, and should not gue" . They reach out ' " u matively,
attentinl y, almost recoiling from contact it i, made: [Ouching. c"<)mfort
ing. paying homage. A tremendous nexu< ofw"h .. is in play here. To ha\'e ",ha[
formula. ,,,,n,, to me
to ditch the he" side of Freud - the ,ide summed up in the word
"overdetermination. "' They ''''Ill S() c"<mhJem oj the ah",m center's in/iniu
generati," I'<)We ... A, if they wcre drawing th. whole M):um,i" e w"rld of [he
p;";ture.themscl"es incl"ded,out"fthcprimedean.-a,"po,iti"ity. What word
9\ C',.1nnr: 1)o-,.1 il"r will do here - I'<"iti,-e or negati,'c, high or low, ah,tracto, lumpi,h Iy eonc-rete
fig.S8 -to .nground zero?
art ofirn; diffelem kinds of imcrtst. Any altcmplt" arglW' that
"ne kind is 10 all the ml cnlls up as n<Jt much mort
apology (Of one's own IUrrowmil\dNlI6S. But ""hu is "",,<ihle. I rhink. and
ncU;Iry to ;:rinci!;lT1, is to idrnrify a kind of inrero.! that .'emin worh
"f ha,'c which m:llb them "ff from Ihe form5 of til around
thrm. t h IS nm tM onl)' kind "f [nltrw evcn Ihnc worb of art ha,'c 10
It iJ. lhe kind Ihal j_ l"fCuliar 10 tMm.) ('.cnain ... orks (If trt. [ .hould
whal ;t i5lo Jt a pJrtkl,llJr hiSlolic<l1 momefll -
)how u\ th ... poW"S of a PI';h'Ii of knowkdgc. Thai is hard ro do.
h i'l"olvt$ rhe aflul in fhnl; 101 of a:;;,umplion palltrlU of
that are tmetcifully) dply hidden. implieil. and embeddl in
our ''ery Uj,C "f II is " m:mn of comi", tt) understand. or at lust TO
articulate. ",hal our of ..... orldmakinll mlKl <>b",o,"ly (hul also mO.1
unrOI!nil.lblyl ."noW>I 10. I think such work is dune with ..,al rffa'ti,c.

.tPlcmcnts,;lnd the $Ironure of qui rhat Irulr a.., our W3)" of
<II ;lU)' ... thn hold \I!. dpcsr in Ihr31L That
,II",.. i. " n($,';Ir,. (lhol,l1;h of "<XI'1o<: ",II .uificic-nl) bcfWccn the
mtm.il)' Jod complexity of a work ,,; fo.mitl or<itnng and ils success in
pUBUlng the "Iuocions: i. il we: do. now. wht,n we: If}' 10 mAh
Of.l I' mld? And whJt do..i the form ThaTSucl. now lake'S
[cll "I."ulthe: conot",intl and possibilitin built inlO our with Nalu.e
one: anOIIK-r?
1 am n()l askin!: 31)'one to a<stll! fiction ,If and Ihal h;\unl5
the p:t.r;1grlph. 1 am $:Iri'li ,hat works wh)r was
;n'o),td. 31 a.:enain moment. in producing This kind of false tbUT
They put a of .cprncnntional powm Through tllcir
so 10 5pc'ak - .iding ,hem hen for ,1:"ing viewc:n '0 find thenl
wanting. For " ,,', 'his 1M world IJid om whole, maniloltl, fully arliculatc!
\'I'dl no. '101 "IlliIC. So whal fUrlht. 01 particularity
eould)'oupossihly wanl,inlhefaola lI.uMnsor E\o$ch? Srop a mo,nenTand
1'1111)' ' 0
My a.gument has 1> .. Ihal an "IunTlo,,, 01 Ivrm
and e"l"''''ale""c rdcntlnsly, and don Win" dttpl)' w:ly. I
the (0 c.:zanut a$ NlonK"'K to the world of Htlmhol'l.
lInd I,., Rt""c mcy</op/d;que. As ... i>t and in .he
litn)ug scn-rs of Ihn;.c I'.cudi,." in .he- way "I F..,u.,I in
Nonethe:las, If 1 am Thallhe ultimate internt t}f Cc'Ulltlf'S art
"" iT$ happc'ning on the !'Owen and of a part;(IIIBI sy"em of
Ihen presumabl)' I do nol Ihal his lies sinrr1r wilhin th.u

wilh ... h.ch Cc'lanne Hi", 10 enrei", 1M ro ..... e" in "Iut'Slion fO kad him
con.i""ally 10 IMir iruuffidenc_. ,\1)' is
of allernat',"e of ".., only .hrown up h)' 1M
mOSt .nlenS<' and r(('",leitr"nt effnn make the oncs wc h,,\'c fin"Jlt ddi"cr lilt
It is only mIlle rro<:o:s;. of disco"ering th" s)'!;trm's anlinomics and blink
'I"'t. - Ihtm in Pf3c:li.1 -lh:1I . he fifljt improvised forms of
.... "'["It)' (Ome: 10 lit:ht. Thoogh in the end fomu u" I<'S$
imtrating in theif own righT - lhey ".., too "PP'O){;'""tc, 100 p.diminary f,,,
rh:1I - Ih"n a. rrpouUQ" fur Ihe S)'SIcm Iher sliII Nkmg to. They are whal

This ,,nu of Ciz.lnM. I ;lSI"" ""'Ih wh .. wrollfn aboul
him Ihal wmewhere lI,e hnn of h" {and ;. an
ofkno .... ledgf bt,,11 ou! of unilS -C'o'e'\ts happen in Ihe
eye.;lnd which Ihtdabufll"int will analogil(' pr('(iscly. \"('f IxIck 10 Ihr

proja:1 is 10 furni,h u, wilh a which be- II natural scifna: lUi
31m, thl 10 ""plTSC"nl p.o..""CUH qu"nlu;uivdy <J(ICTm;"ed
of SflC'C,/iab)e panick-s "n<J $0. 10 make them plain and ,'oid of
applr 101M Balhns.1:\u1 htn.' isTht nib.
TlM'y apply a"d Ihty do no! "rpl). We .hould nol :1bk In "" Ctunn,,'$
epiStemology of the singul:t.r "'tui .. as rhe ,1r.>l\Sc IhinS it: is if i! were
nOlXlralpabl y a!<.KId,inl ....
0)111 h"inll in lhe wOlld;l"d h; .... illit knowlwgc of it. TIus ,$wbJII ha,(btcll
1I')'inll 10 ).\I)' all 0101111. NO( ,lUI thai Ih( 8;Jlhn s luuntc<.l Ii!;u,..,,; of
mconsiil(rIo,')' and displ:>C('l'IIt'nl. 01" by (,f run:i.ucnt( fof marks and
Qbjf1..'<) ,lul!;ln.' IIIOI"t n.1Iur31, mt'>rc like interTUpllClII lilo:ln ,UXIa'
JIO'illon, ffilln.' lik( 1M t(f'aI'lIjo! a"d locking of of :1 rsrchit
Ille p:l''''1lI d"dOliun.' of3 ",otld -nO( iusIIII's. but
the.!' wa,'s IIf .hings d<, nOl fI, ..... of
p,ec ... brpieo:cl't'a!iur;onbuldri,('il"nU)n( ....
'M ",hi.1 of di;tr.lerion, and amhiguiuCi w,lI rome rhe ';ngu[;u q"llnd
The hndy ma)' nc.'u rake place ;I")w .... rc OIKe and fo, "II; bon whar i! ;. mad<-
01- WhJl our inugining of n l' made of - willl"ke pla(t, "rn.llJke Oil U5 own
nmsislcocr.its plJccb l hcpictu,c$urfacc. Andlhckindofcunsislency'lha$'$
ha.d for uJ,,,dul wi, h -Ilul;$ wh)' ",c imo 1M wo.ld of ri,e imJstoJry
- in\\! Iln:amc IT i$ uhimately inhurrun, or nonbnmall. or has hum"",ry Oil('
uf If>, ThJI " whal Ihe .dJtion of rn rile pK'lUI"t """,,"!;Ic ill the
Philadelphia 8:nbrnh3)mOSfJK,lwcrful!),toloO,y.llhink. Wc donnlliktrhc
proro<iuon. !oO We .;:oil " for..-w or "nili.:i:ll. Even bnI (omnwnUlUrs on
f.on, ,he Bo/he,s on grounds. Or invenrinJt a Sa/b..,s wilh no illOl'go1nic
chill in Ihe air - havios liS surbee bf \,brant. Tensc. or smsiri"c. Havin/t U
BUI no OiOrf;l(c Iu,'c"cr hren ,h.,,,,,,,. Nllhalldling
h.u (,tr bee" INs a means uf 13)1ng hold of (gtmng OIl) a human
" 'Orld.
I rn!i!( t,,"," b51 fl'\\' b .. ( r:;5CI\1;allr ,rosKd from Frtud',
!(r,;lory ro Ih31 of more ""'age kind Qf whICh I
wilh IIw IllKhani,ts (If the hi)th f.nlighlenment, and wilh die ",rilU who
1(,1 mf in P""lde SI,II I do think Ihrl"'(,1
- Ihe F'eudl:ln Ih( - overbp. The
-Proj.,n for a xienlific linktd in ml' mind wi{h lhe
bl' de Man on -Aesthetic Foo"",luJ.iOl\ III Klfi $l. _N 10 why'" ckt ... il
would tlIh me tOO felT 3W'''')'. SUI I unom r('S,SI ending Ihi, ctupler with a
'1ootr.,r IwO from -On 1M MariOO<:lIe ThC'3lff.-
MJ. C in rc:o:. ,s rhe pone'p31 in III( opera .11 M. ami an
enlb"5,aSI for lhe pUppel thc:Jlor III rho park. 1010 p.d(I"S;1 b) far IU tllo
b;t.lkl. 111(' "H .... lor his aston,shment -altm, :IIIonl;'," C;s polling Ih"

I said Iho Job of Ih" h.d beon pI_nled to ,,'" somt'lbin"
dOrl('wilooUIKllsi,jv,lr,solllcwl\;lllikclulllill@,lhohan<Jkofa b.rrcluf1!,ln
IdOl. Drl'br" l'II,tr /(Hrbc-I Ur d/f rmtl , .... in .p4'l11.
"Not at al l: hc an,wered."lnfact,ther<:isarathcringeniousreiation.hip
between t he movement of hi, and the mO"emen! of the an ached
puppets, somewhat like that of numbers 10 their logarithms or the asymptotes
And)'ct he believed that even the last trace of human volition towhic h he
hadreferredco<ddbcremovedfromthemarioneues,thattheirdance could
be transferred completdy to the realm of mechanical forc .... and that it could
be produced,as I had tho<,ght, by turning a handle .. .
Il f that were done, ] he said, it would be Impo,,;ble for man to Wme
anywhere near the puppet. Only a god could equal inanimate mancr in this
respect .. . "
Thi, is not offered as a description ofChanne', last BathcT5-notC\'cn of the
london version - but rather of a logic t hat threatcn. 10 overtake them, and
which $trikes me as the key to thcir mixture of Grand Guignol and mopia, or
ab,urdityand "threatens 10 o\-ertakc them," and of Course
what is ultimately most touching in the BatheTl is their will to resist the vision
of boJics that the p;ctures'own rt" h!essness makes possible. WhatKlcistgives
voiccto, in de Man', reading,i,the necessMyor hcrdre;un of "'Ofcria lism - the
one to which the various Ibut limited) me.::hanisms we call aesthet ic give access,
and from which we regularly draw back. It i, the reason we all hate the
beautiful so much.
Modernism, I am wrwinccd, would nO! anger its opponents in the way it
seems to if it did nOt so fi agrantlya"ert the beautiful as its uirimarecommit-
ment. And ifit did nOt rcpcatedly dis.cover the beauti ful as nothing bu tmecha-
nism, nothing hut maUer (dead) form. Thi, is 3 horrible proposal, and
I understand and sympathite with the wish to retrieve the human, the social,
and the dis.cursive on the other side of it. Itoowuuld like there 10 ha vc been a
"'n. (that i, . ,u,,ivingl van Gogh 10 cancel Scurar"5 nihilism. or a t"tl ycie"cr
Marcel Duchamp to save u, from ,\hlevich's divine idiocy. Bm it rorns Out there
WaS neither. This is modernism's worSt di;o"cry
We might say that the aesthetic, as Kleist depict, it, is materialism's uncanny.
Whkhistosay, itsrepressedtrut h,i !>ridiculous conciusion -i!>familiar. And
who could look the striding woman in the lIarnes /jalhn<, or the douhle
figure in or Ihc lerrible, cramped repetitions of bodies in london,
without reali1ingthat ulrimatcly thc horror in these pictures reaches beyond any
re.::overableor irre.::ovcrablc human content to the sheu turning of the ha ndle
of the representational machine? I stand in front of the Barnes Batl,crs andhcar
a hurdy-gurdy playing
.. , .. s::. ..
-;, -'. . . ",
4 Cubism and Collectivity
... sontcux-mcm de'loile,
IBm shadow. ,hcmsdvcs.n: picture'lln which there li.,c.
dartingfmm my eye. by the thousand,/Vanishcd cntiti .. with
familiarfac ... 1
Some time in late summer 1912 Picasso look a photograph (fig. 941 at
the front door of the villa he had rented forthcseasonatSorgues.Wck now that
Braquehad brougntJown the photographic" specially from Paris
a week or SO bcfore. ' The picture records the main p.intings Picasso had done
overrhe prcviouslWO monrhs. On thed()()"rep, from left 10 right, are p",ch.d
lhe imposing Portrait 0(" Mall, which in time got called rheAficionado (fig
951, the equally grand Man ",ith a Guitar (6g. 97 1 in and an only
slighd)' smallcr canva, next to it, differentiated from its neighbors by the

Picasso's palme the winter of 1909-10. maybe
responded to the ,ardonic gendering later and litled lhe pkture The Model. )
Two oval paintings, both be,t called Guifi1r. are hung on the doorframe
Floating between them, apparently propped on top ofMa" "'itha Cuitar-i t
looks as if both to some kind of easel post - i, a den .. ,
squarish canvas, again with the look of a portrait , which Pica.,o ,howed in
Munich the following February under the tit le The I'oet(fig. 96).'
The ",apshotis faded 3nd crude: one should beware o! trying to mak. too
much of it. But the set-up is far from casual; all of the pictures on view
and enough can be made out, particularly ofthosc on the doorstep, for variou,

he had them photographed? Presumably he did. And if later he changed hi,
mind in one or two and altered the paintings in slight butd.rectable
ways, then why? What could have o.:currcd to him as sti ll needing work? What
the case of Cubism, for question, of
intemion to ,orne up in .uch seemingl)' limited, cir.:umstantial way', as mallers
SO rar in the interpretation ofPkasso', paimingas 10 notice that there are
alterations will probably al.o have learnt nOI 10 eXpe<:1 tOO much from any one
tCSl case - especially one lik. this, glowing with thefalseauraofth. f actual. But
you have to start .. e, even with Picasso. There is no harm in clutching
provisionally al ,traw .
II d"", i, "0'. OS ,f lh.u shape powerfull. ,hrre , n ,he block-"n,j ,
"'hlle photo) st,,,,k ,I> ,(>{) dc,a,h(.'<1 frorn thc.urroun,j,n!:piay
offo,ms,Thc tnangl"ft'g"t""'d """ali), ""uo m"ch.or too "",'",, " '0<,11),. "on
!Op" of the d,Hhr brown. and gray. 31>"IfIng ll . wi,h 'p",e d"'pP<'ari ns
behmd , IS "Kollch edge and going On .>olllcwhn" in the '1II3g, n.1I1On. [(I
emnge Intact un [h,odw, ",Jt" of [he hn'OIe"" ""I, theSloppeT<d mangle
"",hal'" b<JIlk ,,,,nr,,fe,meJ"t h'gownh the g,,'cl)-an,j ' pink ""hct on the
,,,blcbotw1IIIeft?Wh,,[(" 'erll ...
on ," '-ny ''.In.parcnq-. it "'.I S l ,.,I",,c< th.t made "''l'T)" h, ngawlI nd II .'"
.lmhlen,'e,ltseJge' "'ere end,ng, ,,\'er wh,ch ,h,',,),' p,.",d UnOhstrlKt,'<I,a.
"PP">c,Jh,h"'geso"wh"h'p ... ,'an,J", I,dp,m,edrwow"),,, In "lI of,h,,,,,
IlIangle on It.> S<>'gucs """"teM"""n
l[wJ'rlO" b),theway., ha' any"frh"-t l",pedongapa,,"fspana,,d.ol,d.
th" scnhng down ofstgn, lnW3 peTCep'"al orJc,- h,.J !:une in ,he
piel l"c ,IS we k,,,"w it ir"", Sorg",'" h d ' 10[, The cumest wa, wha.
W.l> ,ho"" Th,' ""nJ ', WlSl. to hJ"" the stuppe,,'d """.gie b ... In Iront
or on , opoftnc fUTnl' tnat tn".' h U w"3l reJJy ITOI""J In [hey,rgu,'_<" ",col
the p",,"ng. "'me, im", w;,h almo" "" J agog;';al " ",ene"" Look at the . harp
bl. ock linc m'" the b"se ufthe mangle. hoI JI )' tuw.ud
[hecarafc',OOtt<Jrncdgc"",lrhcn;, oppingdead.onlylOreappeJr.off'"'i"Sl
slightl)'. on the ,hadow world below. l. ,h" one hnc rdracr,'<I ' hruugh Jiffn..-nt
0,,, hnc 1n <'lng back from thes",f"e lT ,,'em; to .. "" "".
th,ough tha, ,,, rfocc, into 3 'P]Ct' Dcl.i " d' Or,w" l,nes on two,oda."" I""
help""n"'g lal",o'll to ahgn! Or two lincs on one s"ria,e.set up [od,,,i, an
",fini,y "f rcad,ngs? /\ nJ , herd"rc t" oroni,c ,hr", all. Tht'se :lre, ",,' shall
,he o,J""lTY me.,n,ofC"bi.m - t he , romes i, I,,'ed b)', \Vha[ ",special "OOll t
At.", " 'lIh a Gill"" ,s th" 'h" 'Onstant g' Ol,nd,,,'ell of local ""J'Ossibli tt i.5{1
ha"r p,,,keJou, the most prograIH",.,i" for Jcscripllon. hur ,hc,,,.r .,.;ore,of
ot h,'r:s)J,J not . "'the,'nJ. srrike thcpa",reras . "fli",ent,Th,'ccnt,altrl.lngic
Slill AoalCd f,u ""J eleH_ Th.- ""na, ""J> h,ollght On alx,,"" .,11 to p,ns
ba,k and dc.'lah,hzerha, "iJngl,,-tomah,t>lcf, -hJndS!defli, kers. ,,,,b,,,o,
ri l), Dct"''-'''' ligur, and gfOj,,,, ,j,anJ pft" 'cnt the f",,,,, next 1o " from sidhn):
and ' hding il\[o ,he "OIJ. Th, was IIk.'wise in",J.....:!, b)," Jark re['<'.11 uf
II,df wl' TIght .. 'gaon bru,hed on wlIh [he o, lier ""X of palm (gra)'ed
Jown" 1", let prcplTeJ fN Ih,' .I"",), n".'k, A lin,.., whKh haJ
been there 3[ Sorg"e' . b.',wn 3 gU;[M-ClI " " "n ,h. face "f,he s"'ppel<d
mangico"Jan",hoinguneoUlSlden.a.'ro,;.[heh)'l}()Il'nuse torheTlgh[.Wd'
ucdud,J ""d quol,fieJ . 1", ,,-,, rIJ)'ofSlmllar>
-'<'I'"a"ng the game of [he hnes below. m"", tloridlv - wa. ludged,n [hcend
",J" the wo,k It WJ> 10 p,,,,dy, And", on, All of Ib,,.,aite':! tion, m""
h."'e>eem,J rhc"'0T<reckle"becl"se,hep",urca.>i'''()(Jd l!, ,hepho'ogr:!ph
dq,,'ndcd so ", uch - ,nd s,,11 - on Ir. ",,,,on of cui"" The hlad J
un ,he"'ck "';I' bn!!a!. A Ia" ,,"ort -
T h,_, IS ,h,S!", of atn""", I !""I- mo,'i"go,'t'f rh, piC'"reSl ..
p,,,,,e by p'""e, p.u . h)' p.,mdox - lIu, C"bi,,,, w .. 10 eh"i l. The
,wrgucs phNog,aph It.how. us " ""nnu" ',eff",, Jtsusrained
""" ala"",ubq. h ",,,an, !O In,i" on the p., ,,,lIn):s',on,,,[cn,,),,.nJ Jrn,;t)'.on

,,,,d ,"ure difli,,, lt Ji",,,,,,,nat lo,,s; and" imagines "",'we, able :!nd w,lhng
ro t lllt. in[ " ,h, k,tS' par"c"),tso!,),e ,ort K .. I.,,,on. IT)'i ngon reaJ'ng"nJ
d,,,, .. di ng th.,,, re.1 N,erl",h""ga,ClY.
But those words are also ,he clue ro whar has gone wrong in the

at Ihis moment. The describer's lOne is never enough. The par
ticular ,..,adings are always too local and <ommonsensical, and their rh .... oric
,he linle world of spatial !tansirions 10 Cubist signbnguage
never adds up, as if al some point il mighl have meant 10, or mighl mean iTS
ideal viewtr really . ... riously. to ha"e that world in mind - to imagine Cubism
as S13rting off toward Ihat world and happ<ning on another. This is not w holl)'
wrong. Cubism, we sh.1I see, does stand c'onstantly in some kind of relalion 10
world we might w;ognize and tra\'erse. Butlhe point is the U same kind." The
point is Cubism', annihilation <>f Ihe world. its gaming with ii, iTS pr<>posal of
other, outlandish orders of experi ence to putin the world's The problem
fordcscription istobuildintothepoimbypointd.tail-wbi(hldonotimend
toleaveoff_a s<:nse of Cubism's deep, wild, irredeemable obscurity, a ndofthat
being Cubism's first mme. not final conclusion. "You""y Uhde doesn't like Ihe
last piclUre, I did,theone. with the Ripolin and f1ags. Perhaps we shall end up
disgusting everybody, and we h.,'en'r had our filII Sa)' yet."' The problem is to

about the m.d language it used-its great totalizing will
Here is where rhe photograph from Sorgu .. is precious_ For this surel)' is
what mailers most about it: that never has a docum.", so reeked of world
historical suspense. Painting at Sorgues, says th phOlograph. stands 0 nlhe
threshold ofa new order.ndchaos; and nOl jllst painting, by the looks ofit,but
picturing ingener.l ; and not jusl picturing bur maybe and not just
but maybe or at
maybe the world ilself.
The state of the world i. not yet fully known,.nd the aim is togi.-e it,..,a lity.
This is Ihe object of world-historical individua ls .. ,Th'1' can discern the
weakness ofwh31 still appears ro exisr in Ihe prC'S('nr,ahhough it possesses
only a St'mblalk:e of reality. The spirit's inward d"'e!opment has outgrown
the world il inh.bits. and is about to progress beyond it ... ltisnotea syfor
us to know whar we want; indeed, we may well Want something, yet still
remain in a state of dis""tisfoction, for we may as yet
be unconscious of the positivity. But the worldhistorical individuals
know .. _ There is 3 power within them Ihat is than Ihey
are ... They havedi""erned whar is true in their world and Iheir age,and
have .. ,thenntuni"ers.l.
JuS! so. The paintings in ,he doorway 31 Sorgues are gathered into an unholy
polyptych, with ThePoel rai",d high in place of the pant<xrator. They are a
kind ofaharpiece, ilswings unfolded for Easter or Pent""ost. They ",I out the
posilivi,y 10 come. Of course the claim is partly comic: and that too -lhe
coexistence of farce and metaphysics in whar Picasso did a' ,his time- will
somehow have to be hung on to in the descriptions rhat follow. But comedy is
athin disguise: Th POl itself is a good figllreofexactlrth.tambi\ale nee in
Cubism, with its sming wish to semaphore its own jauntiness - .11 that
smarmed-<;lown hair and brilliantined ringlets, those mllstachios, chubby
pink cheeks and bags under the eyts -and none of them saving the likeness as
a whole from an impacted. melancholic severity. And in my opinion not meant
So far this chapter has tried to make vivid the IwO main kinds of
description that the Sorguesphotograph seems to me to call up. Let uS call Ih em
local and formal . and the worldhistoricaL I should warn you that if l
manage to keep both kind. ali>'e in what follows. it will be at the ex[Xnse
ofconnectedne.s, Thebestlc.n ofieronCubi.m. it turns "ut . is. medley of
pensie. dh.1Chhs $I" peim,,'e - a ... ries of Slabs ar description. full of
crossingsoutand bit like ,he Cubisrgrids l am ,rying to find
word, for. This di":Olln""ted qu.lity ... emS n .... s""y to me. p=i ... ly it
i'the opp<>site quality th3l I mootdistruSl in thc a(counts of Picasso's pa inting
we already h ... c, th.l is. the W")' they are dri>'en by a basic commitment to
narrative continuity, by a wish 10 so,e Pic ... ,,s work from 1907 10 191L as
possessing a logic or forming a srquence s not l>einghroken o,int.rrupted in
any imporrant way - not,aboveall,encountering failure. I would .. y Ihat thost
wish.s and StructurOS are what Cubism is. di""ursively s""aking; and they ... em
to me tied in with (maybe to producel rhe "n.ltdh.l. blankness of writing on
Cubism in the face of th. moment it most wants to agrees
that the p"inting I'ic .. so did in 191 1 and 19lLrepresentssome ullimatetest-
Case and triumph of mod.rnism: l could fill p"ges with characreriutions of it
hardly I ... man;'; lhan Hegel on Napoleon, BUI if what we want is analysis as
oppos..d to intakes of breath. wr arrhard PUt 10 it 10 COme up with anything.
Th. manic a. this p"int give. way 10 the mUle.
I hat.booh thors[XndtheirlimepointingoUlothcrpeopies errorsand
blind spots, This chapter more than anyolherwill lay ilselfo[Xn 10lhatc harge
But lthink it has '0. Cubi$m o n[Xat. is th. mOmelll whe,., modernism focused
on its meanS and purpo .... wilh a spn:ial The idiom thaI resulted
the idiom of visual art in the twClltieth century' Picasso's and Braque's
way of organizing a piclUl'( WaS borrowl, adapted, or fought against by
almost all subsequent art.and,eryoflen taken as the still point of modernism
- the srt of works in which modernity found irself Sl)-le. (The pas$age! quOt..d
from Kubler in chapter one is rypicaLI Therdol'( all .h05l' who wish to secure
an acrount of modernism asa line of art . Or tradi.io,.,. Or cano,." ha,'e had to
confront Cubi.m pr",minemly - to spell OUt its purposes, and .how why and
how Ihey gavr rise to such rich variatio,.,$. Cubism is th. theme 01 moderni,m.
Giving an acroum of;1 cannot avoid havi,.,g a programmatic, thematiling Ige.
So far in the book I ha"e relerred 10 the most powerful program or theme on
offer in somrwhat guardllerm" - M,,.jernisms false friends, - -those who did
.nd so 0,., . Now l am bound to name name.. Tht historians and
critics lhave inmindarethosewhosep;ctureofmodernismlfirst learntinthe
19501 and ,,601. They were and .rrthe movemrm's mos. passionatc advocatrs.
I pinning illustrations from Herbert Read's The Me,,,,i"/! of Arton my
bedroom wall. I the shock and excitement of readi"'g Clement
Greenberg for th. firsllime. and Ihe hours S[XIII enming to terms with Ihr lal""
essay by Michael Fril in Artforum. 1 still learn more from an aflt'rnoon in
MoMA - from the links and analog;es il< insta llations argue _than from lift)
e.saysdmouncing its bia ... , and exdusion . Nonelhrle ... I basic.lIya gre.with
many of the e.sayi$ts' points. The history of modernism constructed by its
apologisrsinthe 1950sand 19601-1 ,hallealllhe", -themoderniSJaili,,' from
now on, bu. alwaY$ with the proviso that their modernism w .. local and in a
.ense terminal - dOts nOI ..,m 10 me 10 haye worn well. Even at the tim. it wos
chilli"'g to .... Greenberg's views an orthodoxy_ Whal was deadly, above
all,wasthepiClureofartisticcontinuityandsdl-sufficiencybuilt inlO.omu<h
modernist wriling:.he idea that modern artcOI1ld bestudiedasa paS$ing-onof
the Sa me old artistic flame (now unde,thr. at from -ideological confusion and
violence-, from Mane. to 10 xuratt" Ma.isse to Mire.
space shin,",.ring with squarish, almost nro-impressioni>t brushstrokes
Th.t this seems 6nall)" a shallow rathcr than a deep spac. may be bKause w.
know it to br ofe"lierCubisn,'. [that i. , the paintings
BraqueandPicassodidin'908 and'9091solidrelier.
The light in these .arly CubiO! painting' did not function in
with physical laws; yet it continued to .Ilude to the extnnal world. By
contl"3S1,.he light in these high Analytic Cubist pict ures is an int.rnal one,
seeming almost to emanate from obj""" that have been pried apan. Accord-

rath.r than scientific sen,"" for this mysterious inner light i. ultimately a
metaphor for human Th. R.mbrandtesque way in which the
spe..tral forms emerge and submerge within the brownish monochromy and
the searching, meditative spirit of the compositions contribute to making
these p,l;nt;ngs among the mOSt profoundly metaphysical in the Western
I have nOt brought on thispieceofwritingtoscoffat ;t,orevendeclareituseless

picture's profound ""gagement with thetechnique5 that Westem painti nghad
thrown up through thecenturk$ in pursuit of strong likenesses of an object-
world-seem 10 me to hit the nail on th.head. Modernistcritics(and Rubin i s
one of the best of them) gOt a lot abo"t modemism right; only a half-wit would
Ix- hoping lor an account of Cubism somehow magically purged of terms
The terms will do fine: it is the relation Ix-tw .... n them thO! seems troublesome
What does it mean, in oth.r words, for a painting to "abstract" th.var iou.
constituents of a "from their former
descriptive functions"? Is this what seem. to Ix- happening here, from the
point 01 view? The Iragm""ts of plonrs, lines, lighting, and 'pacing
thaI make up the lexture of folie" mayor may nOt have forfeited "their
carry their form.r descriptive appearance. They are full of th. kinds ofparticu-
larity, densiry, and repleteness that usually go with visual matching, TheySlili
look to Ix- describing. How great is the ten.ion Ix-tw""n that look and the
overall. equally pervasive uncertainty about what the des.:ribing is of? W illiam
Ruhin seems to think that what the illusionism nOW describes is the
it intends. so to speak, to dramatize the configurations'
autonomy. This is what he means by "abstract illusionism." and he does not
seem to wanl the reader to give that phrase any particular oxymoronic force.
But does not it one? Rubin know, full well that "Al a Jolie ''',
dramatization of its mealtS has a dark sidcto it: thaI its abstractness may Ix-
and shimm" ing but is also cloned, sedimented. ",hemati",
and grim. He i, aware lhat his account has to ,hilt gea" somewhere to tah

register, that i. - the internal and metaphysical one, from whi.;h leaks a "mys-
""'taphor ""Itimately" lor (what .I", butl "human
I, is not just that the oomfonable humani,m of this conclusion seems to me
atodd,with "MaJoIie"'srelentlrssshallown.ss-theway the.dgesol . very-
thing in the piCl"'c are drawn tOO sharply, and shaded so as tOCraSC inw ardnes.
(mystery,en,.nation) even a. the signs things are trotted OUt; the way
paint is dragged and spaokkd back to a surlac.as hard as it isllim.y; the way
limbs and instn,mentscreakun pulleys, digits are pressed togetherlihma "h-
and geometry repealS itself.cross Ihe body with a delilx-ration, not to
.ay 3 pernichtinrss, that gets to seem posi tively tinny. The problem goe, d.eper
Ihan Ihis. It is that Rubin's shih into metaphor strikes me as <oming 100
mctaphorizing of its .ubj"'t, as I sec it - and I Want 10 call
until he getS 10 Rcmbrandt)- happens in its micrOSTructurc: the mctaphor.
'hifting, is in the rdJlion ofprocedurts 10 purposes, of describing to tot alizing,
of 10 illusinnism." The melJphor. if r can put it this is in the
obscurity not of con",iousness or inwMdness, but of what is moSt outward nnd
on the surface in "Af"jo/ie"-whal orcmost ntal1Crs of la't or practi,e about
it. Modernism's metaphors art alway. dit<"<:ted essemiaUy to ted-
nique, be<;ause only tcchnique seems to oller a ground,or a reluge, in a mere Iy
material world. I dids"y
H .re r am already at the hcan of the argument I find mysdf having with
the modernistS (and 1 think wilh their semiotic inheritors) about high Cubism.'
So the point l ammakinghadbt-tterbclaboreda little. What Rubin and I are
disagreeing about (as in many such arguments) is the nature. or rather. the
place,olthc "figuul- in Picassu's painting-thc place. so tospcak,where the
metaphorical moves get started. Evcryoneagrecs thaI once do get started

place is crllcial. It may also bc what drives them 10 the abyss.
The metaphor, I want 10 sa)'. is in the materialism of the works we are l""king
at - in that kind of malerialism- which Picas$O proposed, in retrospect.
as the of Cubism in the years to (As usual with Picasso, he
waS PHtly playing with his inrerkxuror. The phrase occurs in a con.ersarion
with his dealer And Picasso was well enough aware
of Kahnweiler's high-toned Kantiani$m to know rhat the formula. applied 10 Ihe
p;lil1tings Kahnwei ln most revered. would seem link $hon of !.,erik-ge. He
pretcnded to regret Cubism's first hasen ... s, and be ghd that he and Braqueh ad
later grown om of it. I reckon this is 90 per cent game$manship on part;
not point to something real in paintings like "M"jo/ie. The title itself, taken
from a pop song of the day, is sufficient token of the Cubists' wish alallcosts
to bt- 10w.
) The question to ask of Cubism. it follows. is what kind of
metaphorical structure it gives 10 its pmudJlrts. to the local aCfS of illus ionism
whi,h lead us as vi ewers across the surl,tce, nOW that thosc 3CN are cone eived
- and, if luck)-. actually carried oul - as nothing but manual. nothing bUI
matters of lacr? Into whal key. if I can work "AJajolie"'s pop-musical subtext
one or tWO nOtes further. is the -base kin<.l transposed? I take
it we would agree thai it waS bass as opposed to treble. The Irebl. def at the
picturc's bottom center is as much oul 01 tune with -Af" grid and
monochrome - and surely meant to be - as the mock-title just bt-low it. NOlhing
here is high-pitched.
My description of Cubism therefore Marts from the question: What meta-
phors ofmaner strike the surface 01 Majolit" orAl"" with a
C"itar their ch"racterisric tone or consistcncy; and in particular, wh" meta-
phors of painting's matter? answer will not necessHily bt-Ihe same for both
pictures. Let mecon<;entrale for rhe momenr on "M"jofie"
WhattheviewerofAf"jo/ieisoffe ..
holing kind 01 way, is illusionism, but illusionism in disguise, as ilthc various
procedures thought they should nOt add up 10 a mere obj"'t any more.
pretended that thcyadded up to something else instead. or to Ihe same 0 bjcct
concei.ed under a completely different rubric; one for which. Or to which. all
the little local acts of illusionisticdescriptiun are meant to bc seen as ineid ental
intheend.mereladdersorprops - since l gonausewordswhen l talkIOYou."
Wha, are 10 a!lend to - "'y, by the outlandish bravura of ,he
veil 01 light juSt to 'he right of lOp wilh its 01 membrane
Ihrough which light pouhalmost unoh,,,ue'ed, or so"'" banner Irom which
light is ,haken lih tinfoi l (,he poin, is that we cannot be sure whichl - are
pr..:isely the best, most pungent resourers 01 illu,ionism; bur PUt Ihrough t heir
pac ... just a "ifle '00 coldly, 100 They re,..,althemsclws thereby as
",roun:rs; or de"ices. in Viktor Shklm',k(s .. n .. 01 the word; .hat is, as ways
of making a painting. lIutalway" I think,with the further preten .. , that the ..
resoun:es, for all their fauitiousness -or is it in their factitiousn ... s? in a
sen .. be<:au .. of il! - addre .. ing some other abj"'tworld, or some o.her
way "Iwarld-making. Or SOme ahogclhcr different .. etion .hrough Ihe three
dimen,ions of "i,ual experienc.. This i, a preten..,. in my ,iew. II". tile pre
rending in Cubism is done wilh such imaginalive vehemence and ..
Ihal it ,'Onstantly almosr ronvinccs-bmh tbe viewer and no doubl.hepa inter
in ,hen", pia .. ..,. PretcndingisCubism's power.
le, be dear. When I talk aoour Mlocal aus 01 iliusionismM in ,he
'a .. 01 "AlaJolie- .lJo nOl have in mind the notoriou. introjected tokens of
realit)' that often crop up in Picasso', grids from 19" and '9U' ,he w.xed
mUSlachiQS, cby shaded snundholes, translucent sorbets, and soon. In
anyca .. in "MaJoiie' they are in short ,upply.
light and shade in the picture. ,he in,er>CCtian ando"erlapofplane ., spaces, and
center of Man wit" a Cuitar, and which we Saw him working 10 the point of
und""idability. lmeanacerroinkindordegreeofcompl."ilY,a"""mingopen
mark to correction, a nuanCe and precision in Ihe whole fabric of
touches;oraqualitytolhetoueh"'lhatd""snot .. .. ns.e"cep,as
and pred,ion, .,.It" il w. ,anno, see what pro,-ok.s them; th. effort
effort apparently 10 some defini .. bur elusive phenomlt"on _ Mhere.
"now,M "like,hisM-andplo. itsre!ationtoo,hersaroundi,lbehinditlbelong
inglo il . nd soon. Let th. reader's eye move down from ,h. pulled "eil in
j oiie-, for . "ample, and namine the gradient of shadow across the Iwo
rectangles ju" brlow and to ,he left of it; or ill, look at ,he pl..y of

and make 'bem wgcs,o/surfaccs that/1;cker in and oul of possible po.ili on"
lextur ... , mn,istenci .... deg"'es of refl"'liveness_ Thesc efforts Can only be
under<rooJ, it seems 10 me, as efforts at illusionism, using illu.ionism's bag of
tricks - pushing them hard. straining a bi., ,hem. And I rake
it.hat ,hey are readableflnly in ,he,erm, provided by rhe tradilion , hey come
Out nf: looking a. them locally, we apply ,he usaal,ests of ,'ividness;!lot
nnally (Mr.ally, M p,-.-,f.-,undly) ,he performance of ma"ers is supposed
nO'lUbrread in thesc terms-or not merdy in ,h...".rms, Look again, the
says, look bo:yond ,h. de,a;ls 10 the totali,y! Bur how,ekactly? With
whateri,eria? If lhelotaliry doe,notcomeout of ,he detait., thrn where doe.
i, come from? How is a .. quenc. of illusion, - imitations 01 'iOme 'iOn
-,uPJlO"ed to generate a non-imi'a';"ewhok? Doe. it, in Ihi,ea .. ? Did ila,
Andye,ofcour .. ,hein,'itarion - thesen.einth.sepiC!uresofsomerhingd ..
king the ... if only we knew bow [0 look (and maybe ,h. pictures will pro"e to
be Icssons ) - is s,rong enough '0 re.istany amoulllof demysrifica.;on. There
a,least with whallooh like particularizalion. They a logic, or at any rtue
a gromnry; i, nOl lhe ooc iupposc:d 10 of .he orhrr ? Surely II
mU<1 bern IogK ,,( (whc'lhrr or (oroctptual fC'mam, 10
Knli lhat Ii.., ' 0 Ihis <kgrtt of J'f""ision .nd rC'gularity. La " t< IWO
qualilies are irrtsi.,ibk. rnrlorially ipeaking. Things may b.. difficuh. thry uy,
but a lot of the work has bndone for you. r ay dOSf'.nention, but 00 oot ge I
I<J!; I in minuliar; look at what the drawing does 10 Ihc modelling; admire Ihe
strength of the rrun lhat the qualilies uf pre.:;iiion and reguLarilY are
.. 1.0nlr
a plod<kr would notgo.long.
Whal I am going 10 II"Y rlCxt about Cubism, lhough il applies 10 ,hr
pictUIn we bn deal ing with so far, had 001(' b.. ""id of a mil lik. Fox
instance, the ooc Ih .. includes Gemude Stdn's ca lling card (fig. '00), which
l'icaisoidentifiedina lener\o hrr as "vutrenaturemone( m. jolier,thephr "lie
fN)m the pop song appul'$ again, wilh what look N) be li nes of musk (or moyb..
gui lar string') in the ,icini, y. humor hoped for in thecuumerpoim
bc1ween "Ma ]olit" .nd MiJ [sic] Gttltudt Siein i, .bou, up ro Picasso, usual
sund. rd. K.hnwri1er preferrfll to , ake his cue from Ihr U .prnlerS T-f<Iua..,
visible upper Id and chrislened Ihe !"l iming Tht T"b/t."
l.tl .... gree.finl of.ll,h" ,he world in Ihis painringi ill.hinglike ,made
up app"",mly ofobj'$,oraspeetsofobjecrs, . ((umuLaItd, inter...:ring.
fighting fur room in Ihr oval. Ai a maner of if we do agrtt on Ih.t much
we ha"e already come far in Ihe interpr .... lion of Cubi,m, fOJ thi. opening omo
all obi<"Ct-world has olw.ys be"n di'puled or downplayed in lheca..,oflhe
!"Iimingsfrom ,,11 and by Ihosc: wilh n'oJI to say about Ihem.
The mOSI b.illiant u ri y u amplc is Ivan Aksionuv, in hi . book on PiUiSQ
publishedbyCtntrifugt'inMQSCowinljlI 7 Bul eYenhefC' lhr caseiscompli
(aled. Coming it did OUI of a milieu where FUluriim and Formalism had
.I.eady ,rrue\< up aUi.:I nce, Aksionov's of his hero was
, ,,Ortg, IlOl ' 0 say <baling, in its lundlingof - ;1 Iud more to say
aboul Pius",', pe<:uliu of lhe paint . tlrfaa:, and the waj'$ in which his
brushwork man.ged . 0 a"oid vinuosiry, Ih. n anyOM before or since. Alll hr
sa me, Ahionov SlI W thr picture. from So'll"" nd thereabouls - hi. main
ex. mple,in fact. is the Poel'p;lnIOCrator he may have seen in Munich or P; ori s
- aist illin the grip of Ihe objoxt-world Ihey arc trying 10 desc. ib...
[TJhr elements of the piclureconlin..., to be volumes.. n ubbornly.efusinglo
give up .hrir Ihird dimension 10 Ill. will of the painle. who crulcd .hem.
Picasso wen! 00 increasing Ihr number of b yers . nd divisions. nidrnrly
suppo<ing lhar if Ihe curve of Ihe object's surbce were sufficien.ly brol<eo up.
lhen this would S1'l'. ly show up in the clements of analysis. The muhipl ica
.ionofplanes resuhsin a multiplication of p;lint I.yers: in thr most rompl;
caled composiTion, Tht P""t, in e,'cn the mOSI simpl y paimed aroa we can
Count and each layer appears as a volume. "
And Aksionov knew fun wel l, of Ihal T/, t I'Ott was a picture already
delib..ratdy 'i mplified by com!"lri'lOn wilh many of from the monthi
Nobody is going to say Ihat "feronce to.hr Ihings of lhe world has)imply
ceasedi nhigh Cubism. 8Uli.rnaynorbe.hepoin ny loogrr. hmaynocM
whaldri,r.lhedepicriOOloward.hrkindofonlorrsillinallyoffersus. Mi&ht we
do bc1t .... 10 understand the world of high Cubism u one in which objecthuod,
howe,erqualified. orthinglikrncss, howC\'crgenerali>:ed into a se'lofrro:on-
nruCled,semidet.ched qualilies, has brrn overtaken by Ih C1 of sign ifi c31iun
I 00 Pi""",,, TI,, :\,,'/'ilo<"/,' T.,Nc. "il ()lI "'''' '''' '. x 1 'I I
ITI", .\ I"",um o j Mr. N,I\' Yor k. Th, Wi ll i ,ltn S. 1',11,' 1' Cul",,i,,,,i
iudf _ generaliu:uion
{Ai.:sionov's phrasd, a f" ... r anJ fTtt r plJy of
tlK signifier, S<1 of <k .... 'e5 J,scrwcring ,hal simply Ihe difk,..."",e herwcn1lh<-m
iSC'nough ro mJ kea world?
These b q ate serious propOSals CubISm. ,ndew its ",hI ion - its
('x('",pbry relation -10 mooemi . ", in A 'ertai n pkrure "f
trajcctory til'" un ,hem, i" a dq'cnd on I believe rho
prOp<;l' al , are ",i , uke". hur I am aware thJ t against 'ht'm (annm
he a matl.r " f fa ull ing ,hem 0 " p,mi.:ub r poi,,,, or of evidon.e
Ir is a queqi on, as us".I, of how ,wo diffe",nl arri wdn '0 Cubist work - IWO
is, his ,nle.."ons in pra..:"cc)-doo.
donothang rogcthc.nawhole: iti, aq ..... tionofhowtheyfarcargcner:ning
thick description . 111<' of my disagrCt:"""nr wilh Ihf 'cmioliciJ.ns is the' ...
fOfef .... .,.,""Om)' Jn<J rclc\'Jllof my wholea..:rounr; Ihc kinds of purch."" "
h>l(.mparticulars: whal fcatu",sof Cubis' painring " i. able to dis<:rimi,mc
and. ab.'JI'eall. to ,OnnCCt:
the " n(, s in of lind So on
.... 1<:
""i nrin!:'beingbe!-lConlt ruedas <Jes<:rip'ionsofanobject,world.lt i'rhekind

himself. Now and then in h" corresponJrn<-" from 19 ' I one comes
across him ",lIing II rJquf or ... boul plinri n!! he ;, workin)! on,
a' . hose he ha, i"'" TIK situation, u I il. no. 0''':
rompdlw or enrour.lg<.'" any parti,ular tOrt of des.:ript;on. let alon('
p.Ht; cular deg'e<: of de,.; 1. KNa,u,c morte" or Ku ne jewne fil le a",-'; un
;1I:..:ordeon " would hal', done perfe.;tl y w,'II ; and in faCI rhe lamr phrase
proJu",d in a kner "f lj Jul ), ''.I ' ' wi, h",,, (("the. tl('s hing our. lIut 1Ior
morte." Th,,, wh. " it did come up. rise straight
posil ive ",vemory -",'hich ha<J better be lef. as il irom Pi(.mus
ptn _ Kun. mOrlc d'un >'crr( un un dC'nli<i. ron el un pI-'lil
JIOI a""",, Ics"halumoJu)f t'l b [.0. ,,;Ulik of a glJss J lemonsquttzer half
a lemon little po! w"h drinkingsr",ws and Ih('
to IIrJquc in ,he ",me kne" ir is imriJ!uing IhOi [he wale..:olo. to which Ihe
"",m, to or ply (fill' '( 1) is 0"0 of , he of summer: onc
how nouns i'ic3SS<) wo" ld h,we used if h" hJd w,i"en
"bm01 'fil e A,chitut 's Tablr, Or this w Knhnwcik, in Jlmc ,he next
Di>:id"",em ie "uuscnvoi jevoul p,,, I.i ier dJnsrna
Ifnre .. .
clo.o.'2. Druetrx Ie des 10", .. "!al.' gr::," sur
rond(' "n des pnires un ..:outCdU un vcrre. t aut'" rl.l fUre morte
Ie P"rnod Sur une IJhle ronde en hois un >-.,rre I:! grille et Ie su,...., ('I
homeilJe e.;r;[ fond des ",f,; annagnac So.
(For (ert:l; n I "m ""n<Jing )'0" pi" ",es I tol d you " llOt" in my
kit,, .. . ,here rlll C<: of Ih,'m a viol;n un il s and Ih,'" slill
li fe don" al tn,' hOlcl- kc"rer', pl."c wirh lerr ers
arm"s"o"a(eon 3 m(lI,d Idill e ., frtli toowl wilh re"" a knife" gla,s.TI,,
OI her sr ill li f, P" mod on round wood." ".bl.- 3 wi th "rainer J nd
and bortlcwrillcn PerllOd Fil,wi rh inthcbackgroun.I J'OSI,>rs maz.lgranc
In Ihis Ihe pictures tu.n Oul 10 Ix- allTlO5' clUIlCrW rhe ,(,n""",, ..
h is nor, to Ih." ,his el' idenc"(' 3S
,OU"'", terri ble French wos up 10 ar this tim<' was . pile of
it ju" ",,,, ,ns ' " m< to tall), with t he SO m.,,, y of ,he
'0' IrI)!I!l1 I'.hlo l'ic",,,,, hIH,/",,,.lm,,IF,m'.oil
Oil ",m,-.'. 51 X ,S. 191 ~ 11',,'-"'" <011".-110,, 1
0, ,athe'. [ h.:li thot :in'l<il1 is hel< to ,,"k .ospe..r of
Cubism" th"wti, (no duubt the 'I'dl of Pi""",,, .. ".1 of
C"hist b ll);ll.1ge in his gre.,. p.,inri ,,!;., of .... hi,h Ei""ein h"J
wrilten ito th. """t twO months h.:iol<) ..... here'" ,he poim
is, in '9" - ' '' . ,h.1I ,he .. , wc> i;,crd. Ol1 tn., 00< f;>,, - ;",,[ onl)'
Ei"'tri o knrw how to speJk of,hissid,' oiCu]'i,,,, ",jth,he righra)><>,,,Jyp,i,
S1""I - ,he .. i.d,,,kne,,""dobs<mit},,o decl',h,"'criog<Jf,J.e ",,,rlJ,,f ,hing<:
hut nn ,ho other, ,h",," "'" .ign, ,,( rhor d,,,\:ne5S ""d oh",uril)' I'<i,,);
produced h)' she<rtrn;1Cit),of;1ltfl1,ion /"lheworlJ .\l1d i,s Ili,' keto!
"l'p."""n.:e;,,,,,, ,,.lc,pi,,,,r. ,,otto,,,y io,,thing.,,ithcpicllIrc'stolOlix'lli,,,,
Let me introduce unother photogroph a, corroborative evidence lfig.
'0,). The was taken, pre.umably by Picasso, in the lall of 19" in hi,
sllldioonboulevarcideClichy.lt.hows lhcpaimcrMariel..aur.ncin.trikinga
quilt and pose _ knl": raised, dress pulled t ight over call
and thigh, torso halfswivelled, mandolin in hand - at the loot 01 a tall ,dearly
unfinished can""s. WecannOl be sure ,hat Ihe canvas ever wa,finishcd 10
Picasm', and Kahnwei l .. s sari.faction, bUl certainly the bonum ,hird was
worked on subsequently, in rather the fragile manner of Yo"ttg Girl with Ott
Accordim . lt,tayedinthepaimer", pmse.sionforthe restofhislife,and
al some point acquired the ti tle Mm. with a Mattdolitt (fig. 104). No one, to
my knowledge, bas proposed thai the photograph, which surfaced only after
Picasso's death,hc rcad as pmtinglhc gender of Mott in doubt. Jsthere afeelins
abroad that ,hat would be taking the photograph too li terally? And yet the
10<4 P.hlofuoso:

M.'m/oU"."' l oncan .....

_____ I'k ... ",roml
photograph asks to Ix token litorally. And its asking us to see Mar ie Laur encin
-not to mention [he tassdcd table with its bjbelol,and ewn the table's tripod
leg; and creaking castors- in painting on the easel is all the more pointed
andpoig.nant an invitation oc-.;ausethe painting is still under way, and dearly
in need of radical surgery. It seems that originally it had missed its mark. A
whole extra bonom third has Ixen sewn onto it." The first outline, of ,ome

Marie Lautencin? And what is to say, in Cubist paint ing, when she wi ll have
The upper two-t hirds of the picture in question-let us try to think 01 them
assel f,ufficient lora moment , and ask why they needed adding to - are one 01
the most lanatical ly labored passages of painting by Picasso to survi ve from lhis
moment. They arc done in an altogether different color regiSler from the added
third below; a registcrthat any reproduction is going to rob of its gravit y,since
so much depends on a heaviness of color corresponding to a dryne5S of touch
(This is as dry and granular as Picasso e,ergot , at least until he perfected a
unforgiving surface texture as one of his main weapons in the
There are dark grays, outright blacks, grim whites, rdatively little
brown (especial I) compared with the additionl; an area toward the middle right
has oddly inorganic greens worked into it; the whole thing is compacted ,grave,
dour, steely. And even steely" here strike, me as trying to redaim lor the world
of things a set of textures that in the end are harely redaimahle - the paint
conjures upa substance or suhstances that look to be metallic hut at th eSame
time deeply here and there thinni ng or accelerating to the point of
Looked at on its own, the original picture is a good example of one kind of
difficulty Picasso's paiming regularl) fell into at thi, time - I would Sa),
There is no very simple way to describe it . It is nOI enough
to mainlain. for imtance, [hat the picture was over--complicated in the first
place,since thatisaqualitypaimingsofJ91'ollencuitivatcandSttmquitc
happy wit h. In tcrmsofsheerpiece-by-piece arithmetic,and even co loristicand
tonal congeslion, who is to say where 10 draw the line hetweenlhe firsts tate of
(Wo)",,,,, with a Malldo/jll.nd, ,ay, the AJa" wirh a Pipe (fig. [ 3' ldone.1
Gret? The difficulty has to do, I think, with the way the piece-by-piece com-
plexity was originally hung onto the picture plane, or related back roit ;thatis,
to take up the langnage of my previous discus,ion ofCuhism and meta phor, the
way the figures 01 bod) or embodiment in (lX'o)",an with a Malldoli" were ticJ
to - were also - figures of material process, of mere manufacture. 11 is important
that the language olthc upper two-thirds, in contraSl to the tailpiece, is nO!
fronta l. not even straightforwardly planar; and where planes are established,
they are mmtoften impcrlcctly aligned to the picture surface. So that one of the
things the addition is meant to do, and does a bit gli bly, is effect a trans itionto
thesmface - 1etringthe pinure flnd its footing, so to speak. More and mo reof
nnpainted surfnce islitcrally left to appear; and in terms of illusion, [he planes
gCl more and more transparcnt, as if they were hung across and in front olan
unbroken ground. Most ofthegrids hard ,dges are wrtic.l , repeating the
picrmc's upright format.
These are all rules the original pa<:kedrectangledisobeyed.lseeth egrid there
as largcly diagonal , hung from Idtto right, its main lines descending at various
speeds from the vertical but approximating forty-five degrees - often a bit
steeper. And into the scallold or suspcndcd from it-Ixhind it, in front 0 fit,that
depe"ds-is pur a oerie, of hard-edged cu"cs, sometimes reading ast heedges
of walcNhin solids and somClimes entirdy cursive, like lIeble or bas. clefs
Once or twice tho fretwork circles are lined up in rows rCp<'titiwly, as if ready
al I" fronl, hut lor Ih. mosl parI Ih.y go on bowing, lurning,
Why in Ihe end did lhal s.ttm Ihre.reningt The answer, again, cannol be
simple. NoOOdy who has looked hard .r Cubist painlings, especially Wilhoul
moJemis' will be inclined 10 say Ihar Ihi. canting and lilting of forms
away from the ,url.c. , in disob.-dience 10 Ih. graviulional pull,
automatically problem . On Ihe contrary. The canting and lihing are
Cubi.mslileblood. Th.-yar. lh. action-lhe efforr'l lihne" , lheopeninginlo
dCplh- which the "grid" is in\"enled 10 contain, and which prevenrs the grid
from being a dead a priori. (Insofar as metaphor til. righl one.r
all for what happrn' in Cubism in '9" and '9'1, l .hould say that Piea.so'.
grids are very often,prrhaps mOsl often,srretched or 611ed to breaking poi nl.
"Majolie" is exceplional in Ihis. lis trueing and fairing ate" meant 10 be
o"entatiou.ly - in Gertrude Stein, s"nse, - nral.1 The problem in
Ihc hrst slJle of (Woi"'a" wirh a ManJo/in i,oneofdegre., n01 kind. There i ,
such a Ihingas roomuchJepth,too mu<:h obliquity, 100 mu<:h mulliplication
ending up nOlexacr!ymuddi,.J orimpenetrabl., bur ralher. toovibr.n"fo rail
the pain!"s dryness - maybe W," could say, 100 l3elile. The form, stand back from
Ihe surlace 100 nrally, 100 ,harply: Ihe)" are stacked 100 lilerally eilh eras
srroighr repe,ilion.oflhesurfac. furrher back,or as palhway, in to ward some
cluttered center" The acts of illusionism work tOO efficiently. they do nOi happrn
enough on Ihe ,urface. They ha'"elo" hold oflhe melaphor of ,heir own
Hencethepholograph. I nddaim no mOre for illhanlhalitsin-groupjo ke

of illu,;on, and sometimes laking"e!,> to give Ihe viewer ground 10 .rand
on and rOOm to leI me be worldhi>lorical again. photograph is a
staging of the great s<:ene in Ballacs I.e inconnu. where
frenhofer". dream of complete r .. - 10 Ihe female model
- giVe< to a canva, no one Can read. Cubi.m proc<ls, in other words (Iih
modernismingeneral),underlhe.ignofFrenhofer',fai lure. h srage. Ihe {ailur.
of repr .. though nOI of'en, of course, as lilerally as Ihis., This is
a special case" It may (ven be Ihat the reason the with a
ManJoiin Slood in need of. supplemenl waS precisely because,in,ide ilsel f,il
aikd to stage ilSown failure eff..<;tively enough. It losrhold 01 Ihe faCl t hat its
illu,ionism, to r ... use a phrase from Clement Grnberg. waS essentially "hom ...
It grew too much al .ase wilh surface, and Iherefore wilh deplh as ",ell.
grid inCubi.m had 10 be bolh al the same I;me
H ere is Ihe momenl . which 1 have purposely t>een cklaying, where m)"
account ofCub;sm ought 10 be given a bit I delayed, as 1 said
t.efNe. hKause Ihi. SeemS 10 me Ihe point at which most other aCCount. of
Cubism go wrong. One can s.tt why. Clearly there is something e)"e-calchingly
sequential tolh. ""ork Pica,soand Braque did between '90S and
to have a kind 01 logic and ronsistenc)",IO t.elooping back and back tor h. ,ame
or much Ih. Same set of problems, edging for",ard to new ways of doing things,
plotting a and testing it oul a(toss the u,ual range of subjfoCts -still life,
lands<:apl",nudes, figure paintings,portrailS ofd. alers and friend . This look is
not misleading. There is a qualil)" of and repelitiveness 10 Cubism Ih.1
sets it apan from all olher modernisms, even the mosl Jogged Mond'ian.
vKhul'n'AS. again, i, one sign of that "baek to the drawing
board" frame of mind
d,nger, then, is not in trying to lollowthe sequenee and say what the
problem, might have been, but in the assumption that the sequence ftom 1908
to is all one thing; lor example, the run 01 work ftom 1908 to '910
(from Ihe ,ummer 'pent al La Ruc-de,-Boi, 10 that spent at Cadaque,) in SOme
way gi,'cs rise to the work Ihat follows. I wan, to argue thaI it does nOt. J believe
weean hcslunderstand the painting Picasso did in 19 " and ' 9'2 ,fwe se., it
as''''tiss"ingfmmtheprocessofi nquiryoftheprC''iousthreeyears,Of course
ina sense ni l
momem in Picasso', work that everyone agrees was odd - the lIIolllent of
,umlller '9'0, and the pinures done Oil vacation in Cadaques. We nOt
have nee<:led the famous reminiscent ,emence of Kahnweiler - the
he returned to Paris in Ihe fall. after week, of painful struggle, bringingbaek
works that were unfinishcd""-to hn'e sensed that the summer bad been a b ad
one. There is e,'idence. again from photographs Picasso took at the time, of
recognition. cut up. maybe
JUSt burnt . The pinures that Jo ,urvi"e speak a uniquely spare, impalpable.
diagrammatic language: ,hey Me, and have ,Iways hcen recognized to be.
Cubism ncar freeling point
I ought to make dear ,,,aigh, awa)' that none of the terms in ,heprcvious
sentence is meam neee"aril), as judgement of the Cadaq,"!s pic1llres' formal
coberence or succinctness, On Ihe ,omrary, it may been of Picasso's
dissati<factionin '9,o tbathispaint ingslookedgoodaswdla.eva,uared. The
work done d"ring the sUOlmer. or at lea'tthe best of it - take, for exa mple, the
version of (Wo)",an with a Mandolin (lig. 105 1- had an evenne" and
opennessoftoucb,ofarrangementofelemelll"ofcolorandligilt, which must
ha,'e made a lot of Picasso', previous painting look decidedly duttered. Even
ness and openness did ""em to mean paiming - bad not that been
Rraquesessential proposnltoPi.,"ssoforthepre<;eding threeyears ? - butthey
al,," meam empt)'ing. reducing, diagrammarizing, blanking out. " This, as I see
it, muq have what I'icasso's twisting and turning in the fall following
CadaquCs the evidence of tbe pi,lUres that survi,'. tends to back up
Kahnweiler's memories) wa, mo,t deeply about. Not ,hat the summer's work
had been a fa ilure, but tbat it bad been tbewrong kind of.uccess: ,b31 a ki nd
of painting had emerged from the trials and erro" of July and August which
went on looking lean and authoritative however much one frelled at its
simplifications: th31 one had to"admit rhat the preceding years ofexperimelll

the last person towant,or perhaps to see how. to pursue the Cadaquc',sollllio n
'0 its logical condusion (Mondrian being thc first). Therefore he changed
course. He m,d., his wa), back fO Ihe world of phenomena. He pili togetber a
great counterfei, of everything that had, at e,,"porated under his
This i, to anticipa,e. Before I can have my proper sa)' about I have
toestabli,h, howeverskClchil)',what I think the previou. three years of experi
menthad been after. What were Ihe main questioos and 'trategies of 1908 to
'9'0. on,,' the aftersbock of the Demoiscl/es (which is anotber
'tory) had subsicled?" It comes down once again 101he issueofillusioni,m.
T be main line of work that Pica"o did from La Rue-des-Rois onward
can be'l be descril>cd, 1 think. ascritieal and skeptical in temper,conc erned
above all to s.., if some orher modd of rcprcsclllation might be " lvaged from
S" wh" W,1< ill",i""i,m Wh.ll we, e its deep SlnKIll,es. sn 10
'peal.: - ,I", "'" of ,ha, ).,y at the root of it ? How ml"h or how lillie
did i, ". h Inr p,.i,,,i"g '" world, Th.", rhe rh'll h"d
lOix'n'l'''I'!llrcdinp.,mcubrpallni''gsfrOlllI90H ro '9<o . m<l restaredin rhe
,i"'pic'l . bald"" ,crm, on "ffer: Iht' beller l<> whal f\-emllally .a,,,ding or
Ihe Ie"'" "ugh, he hh. Th,,, Ihe !.tllguage was "lllple. >!"'It'lime, 10
Ih'p<.>im 01 b"rlc''l llC (J>icas:;o remembered LcoSre;Il.",d l- l.lIl'se bllrslill goUl
bughing In front 01 HIISI ofo [fig, IIOJ in 190M. and Stt'in ""' ing

drift 10 ,he"" and;1l ' 909 III lllolllellts crop up of posnl\'dy fi ... ,-"
CXPO"t"'" and rec:lI',,"bllOn of the problclllS " if roin.i.tlhat progre.swa$
bei ng ",,,de. Oneof, hc"" mOlllell!>. ",,",)'o,,e agret"S. occllrsm rhe.ummeral
Iln"a de Fi-,ro (fig. 'Ill. I sh.11I do no more than IndlCatrlhegc'neral form-
n\a)' be Ihe ,ontrolling figure - "I" of the wo,k
L('I h.;:gi<l h,- ,,"u h "h.H , he books on Cubism lradilio""l1)-
poinl Ih, kcy to l'ic,,'w\ al Hom,. '" 1 haw nner oc.,n happ)"
wilh W.I)' the)' . ingle mn a rCJ'Car(..J episOOr III [he pam""g.' JOl1e
till'''' (Il",), arc . In\l)\1 all portr"n, of low, and mood Fnnande
Ohicr).", whicha long weilgcoiHe,h","erh,,,IflOksas IhOllghltbelo"gstn
'ilclar,idcof,he$Ll biecl\ <lecl.: or ,hollIJcr-lhe "de thatollghl by nghtsto
be ",o,ti )'in\'i,iI,ie _ is pUt down in apposlt ion IOthc part$ofneckandsh oulJer
JOCO<lllnOIl >CIl$icall) face u . l eaS! of al l "m I hapI')' wilh lhc warrhar
appo<i,;nll l S u,,,,,II)' descrtbed. and has becn "tnce the H'r)" brgtnl1111gofwr irin"
Oil C"hi,m: "' a m"I"pli"";,,n or "nfixing of po;'" of ,iew. a I.:lnd of mO\'ins
ol ,iteeycrn" nd or ileh,nd(ncsidcofasolod.<"a$lo rakelllwh.lIthc"bscrwr
\",ow, ;, ti", ,,', c,'cn ifit i,ou, of sigh I. " Bll,lshallcometolhal. Forrhe
rno"",nll simpl)' wallllO prom"" thaI we look dscwhere for Ihe gO"""'tng

10 hfr forfhc"J.:tnd in pnnicu l."rothat hard-edgcd. spotlll. rcversible c'"be
tI,," ",i"nlle"hm""h w manyof,hescpicluresandfinallr.lll \\'0''','''11'111>
1'<',,"5 i/'r",.mdc) (lig_ I I ! ) get> "ffixed", [he poi'" of ma"imum sal ienc<'-
b<'w",c;,h" ",lien.:c. '<'IIlSIlt'ak.
On til" Ihe HII .. ,;"" ,,( ,ali,'''':'' is ,till ;nd, ... d ,d",mc'H.
In this ".." ... [ ...... rh,' of ,10 b <):dr It..:
yain of cen"in wClrks l'o.:a.<sOI had Jon' lh, sprm):, in mClte i",m.-..Ii .. ",
dia[O):"" ""ilh Rr .. q",. In ... ,t lJl P'':I''''''' ,hat l;n1o.' .. .:. op
tl<uml<nail .kcKI." u{ hnu5t'S in ,h,' b..cl !;,"'M.md, nr of Iha. [,K.k mnn'
[ike I<ou ..... ." 'han Th.: n is CIne In},., sn in th, I<a,kg",,,n.! "f
H,,.,,,,, ,,;,, lfig. 11.11. lor or 0"'" .hm,ldcr ui "',.. ,,( tl<c figure, in
' 1II'(J IJ;.'"",,,,, ''4); ur Ie" " hnllS<: 11I 'l n " PU I<' ",hem" "f
hellin.! th,' 1",,,,iJahl,' 5.',11," Nlld<, \\""111111 Ifill. I , 5 I. tow,,,,.! hottnl11
"'n,ion },.,rc I-':l w""n and irres"[uti",, ill rI,,' .",hema ,1t1d
",,[icIK" in the hod)" it!it[f; , l'Xtrl",.;
motif muS' "h"jousl)' J h)'nu'" in ,1<"", PICture.. fro, ,, t .... ' (,rio):
o:ach 1>.,,1. },.,yond ,he Chanll<' of 11<, [ale Hdth .. rs and ponr"ih (Clf C,)lJrse 1<"
is ,,' ...... inl<nding d. ,,)" of Pi"lSSf's an i '0 the tirs! C," ;lIl1H.", lI<e ,'o"n):
1>.l 'III( ' uf ""uigI1l po.:t lln.". Apin the 1)0""" .... ' "n.,..,, h . aWd). Thai
11 I'., hl" 1'",,,,,,
w,ll, "'"Jr'
1 ...
1 " . ,. 11><
\ j" .... ,m" j.\I, .... <TnAn.
"""" . , .... 1<.1'1 .......... .\1.
,11",,,)" ... n Ilo:4""'"
and compare il wnhthe prevlOu, k,nd offaJonganJ mconclus,veness
ofsha['<'-theJnfll "gofe,'crYThingup ro The ,urf:lCe - ,hal " ",II to be fo unJ
in ,hi'pic'Ture,buImore"ndmon:.sJc'(;ora,iwgr",cnOrc,hardly '"lerfcring
wllh Ihe ,,"',on of ,hc ,ube. al ,COler. ,,"rrainly nO! unJo",!; ,hem. II am
,h,nk",g ,n p.m,,,,,lar of Ihe 10 and fro of ,oj" .. d "'gmcnls going up TI'f
Re5crI'IJIr'.ld,cdgt\wherelhehigherlhey go,lhemorelhcStgmenlS1"""lhcIl
feding of Ihmg l,ken<>s. enJu]!; by f.,dmg mto thon all.) Here is Thc Re''''''{)I(',
"'a!,ter, i'<ccm' In me: Ih:ll II "'ould bepreci,eiy hyl:!"cning nn ,hca poria;lnd
undcCldable, of illusinnism a 'WW .ystem of spac"'g and ,mgling ou' 'he
pans of a world would be gencr:ucJ. II wuuld bo; dune by workmg Ihe
und"",dablcs 1o br."k,n!,t point: sharpening Ihe cdS'" dnJ , he p].,y
" f ligh,unnlthc..-cryourlanJishnessoft hc,tru<:lurc_ llslcmnginnfnlorc,,,,d
more allernative rcadmp - look on a !,treal pos"ing power. Le' uS ,un the
m'ch,ner) ofiliusionism for :lIll1;' .... onh:letu,.ngin""rlh.ultimate figure of
darlty. ofd Liferc"". and d"lincrncssof pan" and nJ>' c ' hc m:Khmery open
1J,,,,e Onl<> II. oppos.t" or LIS Thc worJs I ,h", k we .... aOI to
de"'flbewha,is IICL Ll"rried forhcccaredeadlock.ra,e-off.warlihc""xi"cncc
The rc,ers,bl, cube ",nc
,hcs.c;an,! of (0u,""I ,,"' <:IaLLnin!,;,h" i, point' IO lhe general.
owrndmg idiom of rIJe Re.t',,/UJ'ranJ picrurcs lih it . not j"S! 1o the Ihr"" Or
fnur h"use, on top of lhe hill. It,." bener ligure. I am arguing. than Ih,'
homclc'"" hcqu .. wmk or leh"
le"en belie..-e Ih:lIl h" "",)' be Ihe pmper fr"m ..... ork 10 makc ""''''c of Inc
<I" .. ,);el hingsdonew Fernande', m,<k and,hoLL lder. R.'lurnioramomen" o
Ihe ba", 'quanon. If rRF..IEN(:E . CONVtxln' . ,hen c"cry,hing in pai nting
"himatdy turn. on arn' t', ,uee .. , 1n establi,h"'g a cored.
form Ln :I n.! 3n opp""te Haines< or 'oiJ. And in pra"' .. Ihi. bask
,ll uSion dcrends on Ihe .ngin""ring of a fl o/'",en. J of
m b;"h.1 The moment ofmaxLLnu", ,isual mformatlon in" pi"u,,- LS
ay(lig. 1 t!l).or ce,anne',Stdl Llfeu'lIh I'ldster m""
had',,"ork from Gero",e?
"? (fJ rle/t)Ed"",,,d
M.,,., , F.{et,,,,l on
''' '' .''. ,<\0 x
(Mu'''JOr>Jy. l''''' j
51.1/ ",,,I> rid'l
"""' __ 1 0 ,,,,,1. 0,1 on n" .... 7'
'<p,<o_ ,89l
C"lIw ....
Compot e ,\lc', z"'lOcr '11' 0 vc,'" ,, rI ,,,r. ,n (),:tolx , '9'0 - "'ming. I dunk. ",n it
II ", Hon., ,an\'.''', III Ill",,1
Ir IS '10' ta,} for '" !O k"ow \\'hJ( w< wanl: i"d""d. Wr 013)' wdl wanl
""" .. ,hing. ,C. "ill r< main in .l ,"It,' Ufn,;-g311 Yity,;, st"ti' ufJl>sa ",fae'''')'' .
fur w,> m,)' JS J">' rtmall, u"co"",'ous of ,h,. new ro,i,,,i, y. !lu, ,h,> world
hlS, o",,,1 onJ'I', J ,ul, know .. , The"',, a "'i,hin ,ha' i, ""'''ge'
,h"n ,h .. )"",

)' okm)(oi , h ", pi rK.l 1 all .l worldhlSwrK.I -lh.l ,' wn ,h. Ir<"m,.", u j ,he
,-"afc ,:ri." ""' . on one 10\'<1. lu I,.. 'h "i",, 1 be"_ Fur,'", "'" ""'1,\1",.
c.1f" te''lll'lel ,ke lhlS? 1' '' Ol th'' lrreaJ y-madef,Kcl ''' gJnJ rra n,p.Hen.:yv. hJl
,he P'''''''' '' '''"'); to repl"",., NO! Abio", o\", "31>-;01""
,he"" bu, "I w" )-, ,, WI ld tr" dorm,,,iu" oi no",,,1 ,1 r r<" "" " '"' , ,,-hKh "o,,,,, he
k" 1,, )',d.1l1111o ,hlS form, lhi ,e"'lfy, thIS p.'r!1""I ... " Ulh.
\'i'h,,, m:!I!nS is simpl)' ,h:! t ,I ... be '''''''k br ,he trawled
belween. say, Nlld,. Iro"",," ing. from Ih. ""d of the ,,"!lI ntr " )-1""3-
I ddiber,"d)' ,'hOM" on,' ofth" "">St " ILl,i," ,"J oflh" piclu,,'s
do"e ,here - .",d "/"I,e e""."", Ing. '2J I from th,' same roi'" "' Cad"<i"'::s
Ag,lIl . ,he last ,hlllg ,nis,:o""p'IfISQll " nWa m '0 suggest (or " 'o"ld ha"e
" ' f;!;"t"dwl'ica,,,,. 1 Ihlllk i ",hat thedlS,aLlcetra,elnlw.sa llmt h,wror,g
direction. The problem. to '('pt';l t. w,,, th,t T/,,' C"JI.m>llooked so good, In
man)' "':!ys" mu .. h:ll'e "",,,,,ed a 1"1>, ... 1 ,'o'KI","on to th. Itn<' 0/ IIl<iU")'
0' g'H" ,I> nrs! 1,,11 re,form,m<e. ," , he Horu slUJ i". , If 011. were
f"dillS for" me.ln ,h" i., ,ocar,cc! ,he "<iu,uon ofpr("S"'Ke with ,"Iien"e.
Ihenma)'belherewo"I J pro,'. noolha,,a)"ofdo;ng lt th, r\ redu""'g,heboJ)'
to" ,,t o/cumjllg<'''' f'O,;tio"''' Ild J irIT, ions in 'pa'" - p'-' ... blr n01 ,'" na l.
mappeJ no. mate", IIZ.d. ln wh,,-h .;as<" d'J"'mg wou lJ "uJ 110" ur
,I> the ""(",,,, '0 look more "ud more I,kr di.l!',J"amming: " plottm!; of
ftlncl ions:l lld 'ppo.",on< . o '0 speak. a. opposed 10 tn1l1K-, a!l d d"mJr.:J '; on
Im,'S, The or;:.'!l". "'); ""' "'''' 01 ",o"ld no longer b< anJ
In r .. bI<,rl("A<""
II'"""",. ",1 .... ,
"".". q< , -I,
.urf:o't. - w ild, ""' into .. hm'ing - hll' lis.ue of,-",,,,, I
rebr"ms.l<,.,d. "I orienu""" or IOpol,'II.}' Th.lI "lIloca""". art' now
\'InuJI,. nrr<"S ..... In Tbe GlllrdrtSi. "}' 'he fd.""" mOrt "nd more
'" bo: or I",,,ti),"", orcmngonl()o't.." rossil>lc
d1.lrIng them .. I ... -, nOt '0 bo: solids. or form, of tr.lIl,pJrm, bul
""hcr of .. re"trs, bil"l' '" Ihc Ill .,in
Illt'!.Irhor. And ,lI erd"rr the pKfUrt ,<ally does.;l1 I.". gtt "",Ii "" ,,'w, 11
-gcon"'''Y.- Edges ,'In bo: reguLmlN., ''''''J'''''' noth",f.: Inll.h
on ,he", nO'! ".herr ,t.., "'orl< of drrK"on grls done-:
therrl'noralTl("ul ...
Thr 'e"",t-Ir c"be- sn'ts 10 I .... lind.
I hore ,ha, ,ho of 11m d,,,,,pllon ,!rile' .he rt.,der 3S I",,'''''r and
n"RJ"H' h) lurn" Ik.. .. WM: Ihal" huw I ... "d 1',.-.1<><)'. own to

did, ,he Kllom I , ""h",d .rom ,h. h3d a IH"W <kgr .... of n:UI",m' .",.1
"Udner .. \br"" ,,:uo "-J' Ihr mo"'em. "'hoch "men on Cum,m .....
"n ,"'''' 1001<",,, for. ""rll n"nors ()( new rh)'"'' lert ur I".
spmh. Hm of mo, .. the mam douh ... I1IJ ctalton, .,hom
wh ... ,h. IICW Idiom h"d '" uttcr r.ltlll"'!t. not ...... c.htr It might lilt.'! ",IIh
\X'otl ld.h ....
nrwranrrnofposll.omanJdll ... lton<.,f,ha."Jswh.II.h<"subII O'pJI"I1n!!
had no".' br.:runo:. tum 0'" 10 rru'-I.k k,nd of ..... It, depl'I.on - ,he
l,nd,oidl ifi.:uit!. uneJ<f""lrdnes-. .111.1 r.ru,oiarn)"-wh,,,h bd rrnlOu,h
kepI p';"""!! .Ik,d How WI}!Ild The gri d '<>vk? Li h Wr! of
!,l<vmt''l', or iust 3 "" vi '0111 cn,e", on ,he - l
'0 look wh"h kit ,hc ,'>ewer, 0 .... (' ,he b3sic l,ngu"I:C
".IS learnt. "",oly ,mpressed by II! dC"lPO<.:c and SO,"'"Y 131><1 OOf mu.h uno,:;:
"h.lI e" .... r.rrlord IOI? 'X"hJ' w.\,. .... optransl""'n.;yd,,,;hOlo,:;:,o'(>emr ..
nC'Ss. 0' ,he mere d,spl.1) of P3'nfCrly C"I.: Wa. c,t1, the ""h, word
........ 1 Pi.:J ... " qUts",,,,,, . tha, IS 10 <ay. not ulllln."rly .Ix""
im,,'''11 du,)" " "Re,tI.- bUT ,he ,"111 drgr<"(", of r.(\",,,oll
.ur;,ed""nClddtjue<wouldrl">ui1,nlh.no, ionolpi.,"rll'l:lx:ing"i"fllan.w
,.,n ... -firM 01,11 n; rro..;Mu ...... ,hen IlS wholeontolog)"Orwould, .... ) 'e,"h
m ,hinoulj( -loss of prubkm,;. - ,.'.-Wlt - gt"'t S'g"J( ur.
gt"'" l'u',Juo - tha, .... !lv n,., ... III.;/I1Q<I',I"d Tha, bSl
,\I)'ugum<'''' ",b" 'n ,he e",l. (>wr ,he w,mor nHMlIh> of ''}I<>- I'} I I .",d
11110 ,he ,h. log,. of Wa.l lIu, I .10 mean
'.r< ""bhont. Onl) par!;.:n l ... ",,,,,Id ,ho", wh.lt ,ht
new ,d;OI" ",,,, ,.'p . hlc of. The p."01"'!:' ,h.n seem '0 Ill<' 10 ,h'""n" mo"
,.,.,dly", ."f ,he IIt.,,1 "/" \ "''''K Girl (hg. 1!4) - for OO<:f Ibf "tic
.. firml)' ''''C">'c-oJ - ,t,., fem.,1e 1'''''1111$/, ,,hi.h ... ai prul>.lhl) ,ho ... n '" Coloj;:nf
dl><l.\lun .. h,hflwurearsfoU,,""ng.,1\c- 1\''Qm,mP/I\'''KJGw/.Jt (Il". I! JJ,
bough, b) Kr . n.jr)OOn .. h<"<i hu'o"",,, . I1)
.1 ,11.",<1,,/111. l>lgger Girl (fig. ,he 1IIt ' I1I.,W I/,' . '{
Iii):. 1171. r.llire,.1tld A/JIlle (fig.
I!, r.. ..... : nu,
G''''''''''.(HI "" ".'''' .
10<> '" I!<- I,,";'
S,",oodl d',I" ...
physicsorpni losophy_h ...... ls:l.OIl111erf.llofsllch:ldes.:;rtp'ion - anim.lgini,,!:
of ..... h,!1 kmJsof,hmpmlgn, h"I'I":ll ,ot h" ,n"",,'ofW,-,1'''' I'ain, ing,fsuch
a TWW des.:;"pnon And a th''''",g 011 ,ha, ,mag"''''g: ,h''''ing he ,impl)'
",."ni"g an m,""," ,,:, uns"'ppa bl. ,th<h a, pUlting , he medns of,Ii"",o,,,,,,,
through ,h." .. , nlakml: tllem i"'pos"hlr obleCt<, p,,,,,sing ,h"", on
mfun h,-r'nJ fUrlherfeatsofi ntimation and m, .mce-a li forthepurposcol
,how,ng (he trw::)' nllgh, fo,m a d,fle", .:o,,,,,dIJ,,on. ,he ",ay, ,hey "o\l IJ
1><. ,,,,,a'l, '" SOm,' 0>,(",,11 ,...:amng of "",;al p,ac"" Ithe kinJ Ih,,,
t,"Pr<'""J '" Gimw', dnd I'ie,o', cent uries]. The" n" such "",""i"g '"
I'i ca''''\time_ Pa""'''g "" ely well on (he le,,,"mg' of ",,,',,n. I-Ie,e "'ha,
"f,-edson is maml" "",If.
I d"c S,ty not h, ng I CJn aJd 10 ,h", my baSIc tn ...... , w, 1I ,ome
adnmns of C"b"", f,o", ,ak"'g it "' '" in,,, I .. Thc)' will "nJer",,,,J ,h<'
monume", suf modern an of one
kin<i olalll homylr<', naps,heydo.hUlonlyto,ug,g,'s"heyn,,,'e<,,ht"l's),a"d
wilt ",i,, on ,h, -", '0",'' 0"<",,11 of >c,.,t pra':IL'''- JS idS!
... ,,,Ju, in my lext of .\1a,x"" dt,e,mini"" 'If WO'S<' lin which , hey will I><,
.nti, ely righ, ], L", ",e try, no" cthcics" 10 pm thr less baldly. I WJ m
10 nuke pia", whal i, LS I ,11n n", saymg - or no, 10 _ by .alhng
Pia,so" paint ing cou"'nleit. The thing I wam (,h')!1gh of it ""I I
h"ppen) " 10' ,he "ds,f" hn)O(he.,.",,,hon a lifrof i,.uwn in dis<;oll 'S<'
abo", Cuhisln, "S a o,."in""s, "dgudy peio.a"'' ph,ase.
\'(Iha, do I mean, fir" of all, hy ,h .. Cuhi<t plC,ures, th.-y
cbim ",denntr., ,, J Ji","m,n,He a ,,,'w "'tof"'p''>.'''o,he wocid, do no such
,h",g? ] am oh"iou,ly nOlsayingso",,,,hingasJaf,", "There', really ""'h,ng
,here i"'Cubisl p"imings ,ne " 'oTc yo" look J! th,'m.Tne)"impiyJo ,, '(offeran
,Kc<>u",olanobject-worlJ, fO'.I 11 ,hei'p""cnJing 'oJ"",_" Ofcou,,", 1hq'
offe, an and., ft". a ,,h,I"lhe habn.of.eadi ng ''''Ini;"d by it bt-o.;ome
moreorleseconJnJ!urc.hi.notJi ffi, ,, I"oJo,nappmx1Ina,e,,,,ah>aILon
in faCt' 01 !>I,TII ,"'tl, " PII!e, fo, u"mpl., - to nuke oul ,he body in ilS mam Io"e.
anJdl<posi,iun." a"Ofl hcpbyolwcigh, and 1r.nsp>renC)'."'.,. , h" d bowun
th,'ldble .. rogh,or,h"pageof ,hrbook he",glUrnrd bonomcemer.l\l YJ'O,m
i.nOlaOOUllncpossibil l1 yof,,;c'p,i ng,hcp,elu,casd=,ipt i,,.""d noJ"ub,
cohc,ent,bm.oom whether the d.><.iplion ha,a" y genuine cOS"'''''c du"cn
,ion Of 1hc kinJ ,,<c,'mS ,op, of"
P..,haps c,'en ,he ",ord "'(Ign",,'''" ""II Srtm h"",oring, I Jo nol ,hink it
should in , hi sc"ntcx,-ifCubi" p",n"ng' do no, look asif th,y ",e d",,, ... ing
somekond ofepi"er1l ologlCalgooJ",hen"op.in""ge'<fh.,s - bu' Jam happy
'0 to wo,J ,hat has .rupl'<'d up 5('\'o,al ,imcs al.eady,
-metaphorical." Ld u< p<r<"1 wi,n M .... I<"lIh Pif'''' Wh,,, "n" of meuphoric"1
wo, k Jo we ,honk" Jone by ,he ways of dc",,, bing ,hat most of
(he pie'ure's,urf.,C(: J01]e"h", i<,!O'hcorJinary ,J"",i,io:s of ,h1l 'g'ast hq

chin, cylindcr ofskcH", 'IUPP'" m ,h,' bonk, buu<"'s and penCI l
.nd '0 on? Le! us ag'tt by way of ptelom",,,,y ,hm all pamtlng, howe,'er
J"",r",i" .. d'obo. ], 1<',JI,df.-nssonwkonJofme"photicalsh,ft ingoflh"world:
,h.l! ,he ",orlJ i,sell - ,he h,,,, " f,milia. - is compounJ or m<!Jphor<. Th.,
p .. n,'''' of lig"''''' ;1Tld ,urn, of phrase, we coulJ call " , wit n which we lind we
can opera mos, dkc, "'ciy mos, 01 , he "me. IILlt lor ,,,!,:unwm\ 'jkc. Ie, uS
comp.1r<'lhe P,eJssow;,h. kind of p"i",;ng where ,he me, ,'phor1ul.lCtlon i,
up be,wcen ,he
pamt l11g's idiom and any we ",,' [,,,,,, Iia. ",,, h. II wulJ be 101 Gm,o, 10' ''''Iall"e,
,olb:live ro very means of personal .. , hus
In ,he epoch thepaimers wert: living in. it had bener be said, lhecollecfivi sfs
(in affl were m05lly on 'he Righf. Or rather, Ldt "ied with Righ' lor the
ultimate image of national rebirth." Ther. waS much ra lk of a new arr 01
the c'fhedrals. depais Its temp" dits gOfhiq""s ... " and so on." The
iournal in which L. ger",pieccolwishlul ,hinkingwa, pobli.hed had f h'5ub,itie
O,ga". d. f;mptriali,mc arli,liq'"('Jm;aif. h.wiror.whosingkdoufLtgers
article fo r prais . had had his main.ayon the new artistic r. volution in an essay
a lew week. before entitled "I.e Juil au The'rre"." Renewal bound up with
Later on th= maners becan,. a theme 01 Picasso'. and Bfaques reminis
cence. gar said with Pica o in 'hose years rha, no on.: will ever sa)'
again. lhing' lha' no one would be abk ros.y. that no one could unJersfllnd
anynlOrt: ... lhing, that would be incomprehensible and which gave u,such
ioy ... and those lhings will die wilh us."" Almosl every evening. either I went
.. dtos<ewharlheother
had done tha' day ... A canvas wasn'l fini,hed unless both of uS Ielf it
"Pica,so and I w. re engaged in what we lelt was a search for Ihe anonymous
personality [one would give. lotto know what words in French the phra"
anonymouspcrsonaliryrranslat .... bu,Braqu.smanuscript""'msnOftohave
,urvivedl.Wewerepreparedtoeffaceourpersonalifies inordertolindorigi-
nality.-J I -You know. when Picasso and I were dose. ,here wasa moment when
we had rrouble recognizing Our own canvaSes ... I =koned ,he pe .. onality 0 I
the painter oughr nOl 10 interven. and therefore the piClur ... oughr 10 be:
anonymou,. it was Iwho<iecided we should nOl sign ourcanv.se. and I'ic asso
followed suit lor a while. The moment could do the s.me thing as I
did. I thought there w.s no di llert:ncebetween picluresand ,hould nOf be:
Afterwards J underslood that all that waS untru ... "" "Peopledidn'l
understand very well ar rhel ime why very ohen we didn't sign our <anv ....
[This is Pica,,,, in Gilo!'. recoll":lion.) It waS because we lei . the
temptat ion. rh. hope. olan anonymous an. not in ilOexpression bur in i !Spoint
oldepanure. We were trying 10 SCf up a new order and it had 10 express il&tll
fhrough differen, individual . Nolxxly u""ded 10 know that itw", so-andso
who had done thi, or that painting. Bu, individualism already too mong
andrhatTcsultcdinalailure ... A.soon"'w . ... wthatlhecoll..:liveadventure
wa.a lost cause. e.ch one 01 us had {Olindan individualadvemure. Andth.
individual adven.ure alway. goes back tOlhe one whi.:h is fh . archetype 0 lour
tim .. : that i,. van Gogh's-an es&tnrially ",Ii,ary and rrngic ad,'enture." ,\.0 "A,
tha, rime our work a kind 01 laboratory r ... earch from whi.:h ""eTY
pret.n.ion or individual vanity excluded.""
I guess we should beware of being dazzled by old men musing on the of
their youth; but these do Sttm like Iragments lef, m'er Irom " common Ian
Whar Picas", has to say aboul nn Gogh as moo. misms ulrimate model.
lor example. is worth of stuff Oil moderniSt autonomy. or art as self
critici.m. -One cuf'S one .. 11 off and forgets. ' Two people. as I say. may look like
a ,mall collecrivity (or would anonymity be bener?): nonethel ... Ihis olle
"",medpowerlul nd madecon'errs.preciseiybecauscirsfirstvi"",erssenscd
that Picasso's and Braque's piclure-n,aking had reached aSlagewhcr etheidiom
they were usingmighl not be there. first and foremost . to qualify or express
s.omeirreducibl.indi,iduality. h mighrbedesigned to redu," ,har irreducible.
Rede5<:ribing ,he world, which is certainly what these painters and crirics
thonght Picasso and Braquewereupro,&temed'obe predic.,ed on just ,uch a
The highest eflort and achievement of painting might be lhe

tion.i.aqualityth ..
of way, ofseeing. This is somerhing Car] book on Braque
bears down On rdemlessly. It follows that" root andbranch challenge 10
but of unlikeness .. wdl. The critique of is harmless without the

"hny of these issues will recur apropos of Jackson Pollock. in whO" art
"irreducibk individuality" and anonymous sameness con/rom one
another nakedly. Though of course by then the tone is agonized, norin.-estiga_
tive. It is", if van Gogh himself had happcnw upon Cererrype Cubism and
made a last. dtsperate effort to tum ittohispurposes.
I have been arguing that /rom 19" '0 19t1 Picasso. and to a lesser extent
Btaque. devised a way of painting as il they had happened on a whole new
repr..-sentational idiom a new understanding 01 the world. And what. ofter all.
It is the test of collectivity. That is to r.ay. it i,whether the idiom comes to be
and abused. adapted. expanded, misread. in ,orne determinate
another way of pUlting my " as if" hypothesi, would be this: /tom t91 I to
Picasso and Rraquedevised a way of painting as if they were a collectivity; u
ifrhelWOo/them were enough of a communiry of users. SO to.pcak. and thr
te,IS of practice had already pared away the /lourishe. and incidentals of
dcscription. giving rise toa language.
NOI that I rhink they had. Cubist painting is not a languag., it just ha. rhe
look of And if it is not a language. then naturally there will not be two
nari"e speakers. I am the critics are ultimateiy right to insist on ,he
differences betwun Picasso and Ruque in 1911 and 19lt;and evcnright whe n
they ,ay that what we a", confrontw with at this point in Cubi,m (in contraSr
A d)'adwith Picasso on rop.
(Hi, way of pUffing this later was characteristic. "He was my he said 0/
What else would you expect! Classic Cubi.nl, to repear, is not a grammar of
objccrsor perceptions: it isa serofpainteriypro<wures. habits, styles, pe rform
ances. which do not add uptoa language..game. These are exacrly the circum
in which there will mosl likely be one performer who invents the main
ways 01 doing things (or sees the point of the other"s inventions) whilet he other
just imitates or reproduces them. nO! wry well. Not very well , because at the
dttpesrlevel these are nOi ways oi doing things that Can bcleamed. They are
nOlthrown up by any particulardescripti"e ta.k. Thcy do not reach Out beyond
a world where facility is no longer the issue, and pure endles,
invenli"eness (the kind Picasso had uptohereJ issubjecttolnctestsofp ractice.
They are nol sharable. Anyonecan acquire the the history oltwenrierh
century painting i, la rgely made up of acquiring them - nobody will ever
disoo"er what the habits are for.
5 God Is Not Cast Down
The that b.. are anempting to ucatc a revol utionary art
fromahove. The .!.rrh alway.h"dir,i)avid.whopaim,
on demand today .0 Oath of the Harat;; and tomorrow a
Coro"':lIion of Na/mlwn, But at the moment" David is what
Elli .. itzky,Moscow,
M.ievkh who, li ke all other Bohhevik artists, has been working
lOexpr.",hegw"nc., 01 l enin in.modd forhi'monument,

agricul!ural and indu,trial tools and machinery. On top of the
pile was the of - a ';mple cube without insignia.
"But wher.', ,he anist was ashd. With an injured
.irhe pointe<:l to the cube. Anybody could see ,hat if they had a
wul ,he.dded. But the judge, wilhoot hdi'otionturneddown
the work of art. There muS! bt a real figure of Lcnin, they
reason, if the p'a<ant is to bt inspired
AT/New., S
I again with an old photograph 1341. I invile Ihe reader
first of all to compa,.., with thaI taken 31 s.orgues. The two photographs Sum up
for me. This book', argument !Urns on thc contrast octwecn them,
and also deep imcr<;onnectedne ... These arc the opposi te mOmentS of
modernism as I undust.nd it. Smgurs stand. Inr modernism's pri,aey, obscu-
rity, and autonomy, and the dream of history inhahiting lhatcondilion. The
Olher photograph i, the dream made Whether the dream made real b)'
modernist arti,ts .. gularl) (nc-.;es.arily) turns oUI to oc nigh"narisn, and
whcthu the dream or nightmare has anythi ng left 10 tell us, is whal thi, chapler
(ina sense, this bookl is about.
Wc are standing in the
stre.t in Vitehsk, a small town in Belorussia town, insidelhc old Pale
of s..tt lemem, too dose to the Front in the war w;lh Poland for its nol
to fee! the enormity of the moment. The Boishe'iks are trying to exporr their
rcvolUlion. World history wait. offstage. This time the artiSI has set up a singl e
IwO Amed iron pillars which appear photo center, going up out of shot. Ifth.
curb i,eight or nine inehc. deep,thr picture muSt be roughly twelve feet high
and fourtc.n feet wide-tnonstrously bigger than anything thr arti st had don.
'H EIL;"ilzky:
Propagand. ooard in
bl alilhe work of Ih. Party and of Soviet institutions, in Ibe
'en.., ofmobililinggrearer forces for producti,,"
cl endeavor to work
nationwide footing, and rake measures ro and im
prove it,wilb a spial view 10 verifying what sun'<'sses have aCluaJiy btt n
in pra"lice.
9. hisindispen!;ahlethalengin"" .. ,agronomiSlS, school-trache .. ,andalso
Soviet functionaries pos..,,,ing definitr professionalqua lificalion s,bedrawn
wilhthr liquidationofillileracy)_
Tbe organi!;ation "I 1I:<',ures. t:llks. reports.
Compulsory !Joor.ervi..:eon Ihe par! olall those who are able to acquaint
rhe popularion wirh rhe problems of ele<1riocarion, wilh Ihe Taylor system.
' 0. The more eXlen,ive and wstemalK use of films for production propa-
ganda. Joint work with Ih. Sf"Ction.
Soviel gramopbone ,"cord,. Displays of diagrams and carlograms al dub!;,
village r ding-rooms, in SlreelS. elc. BiJisand p!acudsrobedispla yedneat
faClories,work,hops,le<:hnKal ""hools, and soon.
Less polili"s, more Taylori,m. Weshdll ..,etba, Lrnin had rra<ansin '91010
h.nkeraf'eroo,h.Wh"lhaveiustpresentedaresomeofhisnolesfor ..,ri ...
ofth.sespublished in Pr .. vdaon L7November, under rhe heading MProdu<1io n
Propaganda (Oral, Th.ses of the Chief Commillee for Political Education). -']
imagine the memhers of UNOVIS k"'ping an eye on Ihe Party newspaper a"hi s
rime with iust such instructions in mind. And responding 10 them tOO per cent.
H, .. , for is fifteenyearold Lazar Kbidekel, anorher Yitebsk nar;ve,
newest and fie"esIOfl)I<OV1S'S rrcruits, in the Sf"Cond l)I<ovlsalmanac brought
out Ih. foliowingJanuary (hear in mind Ibat the almanacs were modeS! warrime
producrions, scruffily primN):
In the equipping of tbe technico-rll:<' rr;'al sociely.here is nO plaoe for the
anistwi.h hi,a"lhetic rubbish [esleticheskimkhlamoml,ande,erykiodol
"earor wilt in furure be required '0 p.rticipate in the sirong and powerful
culrure which is On Ihe poinl of inlo being in our Communist Sfare
In rhis work we muSl rake parr on an equal loo.ingwitb Iheengine.", th.
agrot1onlisland workcrli in ev. ry sp'"ialist held.'
Or someone we know only as M. Kunin, wriling the lead anide. -Parliinrul in
Art, in the same publi<alion:
All of Ihese new lasks can be "fried out only under rhe leadership 0/ an
organisrd, I)I<O",S Parry - one which will the old worlds
of art and create a new world. a new building, new structur" 01 " new
cultur. , a cullu,"" lor all, in accord,ne. wilh Ihe new forms of lb. commune. "
Ora UI<OVIS street Ayer from the p""ious May:
On Our way toa 'ingle picrorial audience!
Direcl your work in line with Economy!"
Th.placard inEI Lissitlky'sphorograph reads:Sr,,,,k;depo(tJbrik::..vodol'
lias. Then below '0 rhe right: D"i"em
mCanS [my translation is a fim Slab at a typically malleable pi""e o f
of the Depot. and F .. are Waiting fo r You
U. Move Proo,u'tion Fo,wa,d.
I meant to Slart slowly. moving out lrom the photograph toward the
various hi.,wries audiences it might have wanted to addr .... BUI the
language uf - thar and style which
Ga"e_ "'<'om mended at the time to Soviet citizen, " - is catching, and al,eady
the phowg,,,ph is bcstr bya bun of voic .. , alJ rauled and comradictory, eac h
sureEIUssirzkyspinureisdancingapproximatdyrohisorhertune. Malevich
and Lenin. Taylor and Khideke1.the rhe functionary

int: our, or being drowned Out by, the bark 01 the Commi"ar. There are many
other voi" . we , hall =. waiting their turn. Trotsky's al the Nimh Party
Congress in March. Mikhail Bakhtin' . General Budennyi's. Comrade Chagall',
("Gub"rnatori.l Plenipotentiary for An Affairs." a,he liked to <fyle hi mselfin
1919). " Nina Lissitzkyal Ihe
Vilebsk art school, both early members 01 U"OVts )." And voices which at thi ..
distance we are nc-er likely woverhear as much more than statisrica I whispers.
Like that 01 the nameless Menshevi k worker shot by the Cheka in the Summet
of 1918 in Vitebsk. lor pmtingbill,protestingtheBolsheviks'suppr o"ionol.
conference of workers' upo/nomochmny ." (Uss more Taylori,m.
PUlting uppropaganda in the streets in Vitebsk was nota risk-fr,""enlerprisc.1
Or the .oke of one Lazar Ratner, likewise from Vitebsk, found of
malicious criticism 01 s.o.iet power and its again by Cheka, in
November t9!O, and SCnt to the con<:entrJtioncamps. '''Or that oi the local
Y.vsektin - the Jewish section of the Communist Parry - which ol"!\3nized a
notorious (.nd widely unpopularl public trial of lhe town's religious !il:hoo Is in
januarYI9LI,andthensuperinrendedthec1osuresthatiollowed.' l Orthe I. L.
Perm Society-Peretz remaining the centr.1 personality of Yiddish litera turtin
to d""ounce the "Fuluristic" dictatorship of Chag,oll's Art Commissariat, with
ilS system of permits lor any and e.ery ilem of outdoot decoration don ewithin
Cily limits." "Only under the leadership 01 an organized, cohesi.e U"OVIS
Party . .. "
All of these, minus the dead Menshevik. S,""m to me possible viewers of El
Lissitzky'spropagandaooard in1 910 - possiblepassersby.EILissitzkyhims.elf
seems ro have anticipated dose reading by josrsuch inrerestedparties. Vitebsk
was a city of texts:
Thetr3ditional book was tom into sep<l rate pag,,",enlargcd. hundredfold,
... By comrastwith
the American poster. created for people who will catch a momenrary glimpse
while specding by in rheirautomobiles, ours [this is El Li"irzkylookin gback
from 19261 meani for people who would stand quire dose and read it
over and makes.ens.e olit. '
Slow down. in othor words. Imagine the pace of reading in Vitebsk as well as
its dogmatic flavor. Keeplhe Babelolcompetingviewpoimsasgroundba .. ,but
al the same time beslubborn and Iiteral,likeagood pupil in the cheder. Stand
quitr dose, read the pholographover, have ilmakesense.
and resi"an, as ,he earrh Or again: lives ar. now being buih un
a new Communist foundarion. solid as reinforceJ conere,., and ,his for all
nations on earth, On s",h a founJa,ion _ thanks to ,he - monolithi,
Communist towns will br built, in which the of ,he whole world
will live.'" J do not think ,he space anJ archi,ec,u", of.he propaganJ aooarJ
aremonoli.hic in ,hi,sense. The circle has bren pushed ro ,herop and righl of
,he board's surface, shrunk by hall in rela.ion 10 ,he po:rorial fidJ, .oJ of
course it has changed color. I hozard a guess it is black, wilh ,M ,ill ed'quare
in reJ las in In" '90.1 billboard). hcould possibly ix'ht'olherway round. I
would lih 10 know Ihe color of.he liny,deci,ivc "'luare Aoaring., .n"cenler
onlopof.he largerone.CouldilixanothershaJeofred,likr.hebb"k"l0-
black of the .ame elements in Tow", And could Ihe radiating b.,nJ. - a, leasr,
someof.hem-also bot reds? hisprobably unwise ro r<ad in.oo much color.
il' p<"rie<;1 Slate, suprema,ism fr..cd itself from .he individualism of orange,
green, blue, eIC. and won .hrough to bla,k and white_ In Ihem we saw ,he purity
of envisaged Ihe ",volution as having no color. Color belongs ,0
th. paSI_ Revolution is not decked out in wlors, nOI ablau wi,h ,hem. Color is
,he fire of .he ""d,,,, regime.' reven wriling in I92J or '9'-4
Malevich Slill gave ,his word a posili,"valenq] is colored black;,h ati' ... a
singledarkrayha.swallowedupall,hewlorsandplacedt\erythi ng beyonJ
mere J iffercrn:c and advan.age. E,erythingisllowlhe"'me ... "
Color<"<l ornot,El Li"itzky'spropagand,' boarJ isa lot less likearchire.; IlIre
in its overall s"unuring ,han ,he painling from Baku. The sanlegoes for its
relali"nlolheshtchforProu" ,E:turning,hecircle;nto an ellipse, as Li "itzky
d""s.here, hardly alterslhe basic archileetonic5: if anything il In.kts rhe
archil.nuralanalogy siertosustain:itpuI"hecircleandsqu3leinperspec
li,'e, and ha, the buildings ntslk arounJ ,heircenrralground pbneall Ihemo,.
"onvincingly. The circle and square in .h. propag.nJa boarJ srrike me, by
con!r,,, . as much more non ... pacts, unde<;idably ",lid or void, in shifring
rel.tion toone ano,her and ,he sp",e for surf"esl around them, (Ofcou rse,his
is. guts, ar how the board workeJ. Color was no doub, Ihe Jeeisive factor, and
"olor is what we nO longer h.ve.) The four main bands radiating from Ihe cen,er
oflhe picrure now "avrl over the edge of the circle wi'han ahogelherdiff erent
velocity. They are tilreJ up or Jown frOnl rhe board's edges at a stper.ngk
than in Baku or Ihe Prot"'. The band coming in from bottom lefl, hurried on its
way bYlwo ndleshorp arrows, one internal 'Oil anJ one "aveling.lon gside,
stops dead when it hirs the circumference: the ,hr"" stripe, or spokes a, '0 priSht
seem li ke irs lines of force reappearing. The banJ going up from
pro;ZvoJ.fllO rides roughshod Over ,he black circle and meets th. reJsqu.te
hcad On, uninterrupled,fi31 a&ainst fiat-something the banJs in the o.her tw
and "hanneled,overlaid or parriy hidden. till itw",s.felyparroflheCu olmu-
niSI IOwn plan). The band at the top seems lihwise 10 go across .he edge of the
cirde without paying it much mind,lhough he .. Iheeff ... t i. diff.r.nt ag.in
from Ihe banner fiarness ofln" band below: wha1ever ,hc color of.he topmost
diagonal. it has the look of being renrative, mayh< rransparent-a la)'ero fsome
substance we can look Ihrough 10 ,he cirde undernealh. "My research has
shown ,h.t color in its basic state is autonomous; Ih .. is, each ray has i"
own energy and characteris,ics". 1 thi nk ,hat freedom can bot attained only
aft.r our ideas abou' ,he organization of soliJs have been complerely
snla,hed ... Na,ure', perfection lies in ,hc ab""lul' blind freedom of units
within it _ units which .re ar Ihe same time absolu.ely interciel"'ndcnt.'
hav.ripped,hrough.hebluelampshadeofthe consrraintsofcolor. lhave<"me
out into Ihe white. Follow me, contr.Jc ""iato .... Swim into Ihe
by fragments of Malevic h'. pra"ical cri ricism ,h.
kind, I am sure, thar would have been echoing in EI Lissirzky's .kull as he
wo'ked my are too and pcrnickery lor the objt they
aim to EI effrs are simple. The una,cu.tomed $<;ale uf the
p["(JpagJnda board is pres umably r.ason lor that. So is ,he
in ,he ""n.., 01 possible ,'iewe!"1i' , k;I I, and interestS. And simplifica,ion
in EI CaS(: for better work, 001 worse.
One 01 modernist art I .te no need to dislodge. lime aod ag.in
within modernism, making cunvincing picture, seemed to depend on an
to lay hold again of III<- fa,t uf Aotness the object's empiric. lhmi" and
resiSlan"e and hove i, he ev.n in ,orne ..,0.., True. We arc looking
at ju,tsu"h. ca",. EI Lissirzky'. board i.orgJniudarounda S(:riesof heaci-o n
collisions between ,hr.e--dimensional ploning and ,wo--dimensiOMI wllSTraim
on the One hand. the dowtailing.nd accumulation of the bitS of at<'hi tectural

invading bars, the dark drde, the patterns of I.xt. It seems as though in EI
Li ssi,zky there necded to be this kind 01 ourrigh"dram.,k wnlront. tionof
fom,.1 to
be able ) retrieve a. anything more rhan Maurke Denistype tJu
tology.Cenainlyforhimrofiodawayolwt, lizingitas"rnergy
"ab",IOIe blindfrecdom" -the
square, the white .by, the space "beyond mere difference and

This leads me back to the Proun. in My feeling is that by and lorge
in EI liss itzky's art there is 100 much and advantage, and tOO
.. "I
' 91.o;andheS(:'sup,

rheblack, white, and gray-the "tecbnical m.,erials"-stuck like a cru St ro the
03turC of the demonstration too much olrhtctime. "Flatne .. the PT()IIn.is
alwaysvitru. 1. lr isonen'ore paradox or possibility among othe". I,i. ne"r.
fieldoffor,,",or. brutelOlality,n ..
,he bitS and pieces of piCTOrial architecture inTO it. ",hil - buckling rhem,
Ite.mrollering Ibem, "follow me, comrade avi.w"..H
Thela,,'hing I mean to imply h.re is that one or thtcothtcrconceprion of
AJlness just offered is <or=t. We are dealing with a.,therin, nOI ontology. In
ae"hCli<."1' the proolofthe podding is in Ih a,ing. And rhe PrOl"'s,eI egantand
as they are, strike me '00 often as a rarcll.d meal. "I think ,hat
Ireedom can be says Malevich, "only aher our ideas aOOut the
to polile shpti,ism. In this, I am afraid, Malevich is rhtc voice <>1 modernist
wisdom. EI Lissit1.kf. normal inability (or unwillingnessl TO signify Aatn.,sas
fo",e.", res istan,,",, ",.ms to nle ,he key to his limitations .s an .mist. The
propaganda ooard is as good as he gets. just because tb. circum'tor><.'.,Sttn, TO
h .. nabled him to make A.,nessa metaphor. foro""e - give ita h.-.:toring,
War-Communist kind of inTensily."
T he mc"phor !like the fo rmallanguagel was essentially simple -
might say, Flarness jUst "'". the lorality, meanin[; the Plan. the
SYSlem, the OrganIzation. FUITNESS = ENU,GY + INTERNAL lOGIC:
Thus the Resolutions of the Nimh Part y Congress. JUS! "fter 'IS
dos ing on 4 April
Our problem is N im.lgme.l SlTUl"on wher.IJngllJgr like Inl>, and of
Ih,lmurehke,h,'se lnon<ofwhKh,IIJkeu,.,dd,"ptoJ\"ersion uf",,,plaln.ll
,,,,kes uS .IS h""mg "u",h p<"lryl. gUI into Ih, hloudstrcam
ond .,bSlr ... "on a sen>< of purchase on Ihe world. - Inn", meJ nmg."
-lnrcrnJllog,co, ILty."l'rULt s"rer"epllblel",II <>nl) afl<r,hee"piLl lion ofJlong
I"'ri"J." Ph,."" ILke Ihest' hJ"" " lamlh." ring. ar. lookmg 01 , he
fran"a 01 art pra"' Lce hff"ming " form - fur a ",h,l. . the form - (>/
,b, <0<",1 imJglnar). ,\ m't' ", rdr he Ihro"gh momem. when rhe" kI nd " I
.,0tc, ",,,m,,,-",,,,,sre.l ll)',,,Juph,,a' <lh. l Ufl h0I"''' pl'' ,np<1w,r, Besl ,,'I?A' t h.
m" men, whIle" losl'. -No, b)' '''''In, of separ .... and Slngle hewlC' df"rt, ." I>m
-"",I", th" 1,.,J,r\h'p"lano<g.,n""J.,,,h","W UNOVts!'any."
Twu 'I'''''''' are pU'''' Ihe h,'ad 01 a pi<'\C,,(>f by F.J I.I,sir"ky from IhlS
IlnI<' ; On. from Sptngler"s Dec/me nf the
All Ihe Jr" are mortal. and n"l iu>' Ihe ,nd"'IJ",, 1 an"'ork. lml ,\ ,t os a
", holt-. On, J"y R"mb",nJt"s 1.'1 porl , ai, .... 011 ' 0 eXI", even 'hougn th"
palmed .... ,11 "ill II< int;!u: 1:>. .... ",,"'-. Ihe eye Ihal "an "pp,ehend ,hIS
!JngU;1g, offo,ms wIll n"v.J""Pl"'areJ.
T herc"cmanyrh Lll );->,TlIII() b,'sald:>I")ll,lh,propJg.mJ.,booa,d. ln
.,""nsc."".h .. WnOI .nl:>.'g"n , olackle lhea'p"'-t olitt hJ , ....,,,,,lnn"'Ih,'
"ue", .. Jtof IOJLissu,kys ll lnpionis"': thal l>,hlS .. n",'oflh.' posstbl.'reiarions,
Lll 'p,mg ,mJ ,umnw, be,,,,,cen Ih. two g,,'al f<>rlll' of (">t"bli,h .. J SIgn
Ih,' ,'"It",, al ia,!>," - "i,ual and ",,hJI. pie,,,,e .,nd text. II is
"lllx'C"""" ,ne ,irrum,r:l nCt"' following , ,, I 7 W'r<' fdt for:> whlk t 1:>.' bringtog
about a breakdown and ,,,m .. klng 01 th,,,,, dis"n,,,,,n, that ,mists
coulJ 1I<1"",., h.i , proit'Ct "' "pohttcal .....
Th,l'a"to,yrdule,lhel\l,opr.",oussl"'ake,s llhali, . Artand,h"Churchl
and s.;'ys: "I ,cm.,kr rhe "m,ld and its boody. I shJ II mo{h fy man',
,'''nsci"",n",s, J shall "uk. man omnip,,'scnl b)' Ih,' kno""kdg" ,,{ tho><
perf<'Clionslh.uaff to me, and Ih ..... orldsnall hffomcI ncarnJtein mc .. . 1
sh.,ll !", Ji cwho kn""'s .... rything.l shall be God,for God alone kno .... s all
the doings of ,h" unlverSO'. All ,h. demenlS of N." "" .. hall be galh ... J
in m,. ,InJ I shall bt, <tcrn"y. J ,hall g"'" m"n Ihe ):i/, of of
heartng, "f sl"'"kl ng in a of spJCes, I sha ll ,<'Conslruct ,h"
m"chJOlesof h" boJy along ptrf...." itn(">. I sh,, 11 MJ I'C man's will l"'l">nof
my own smoot h f"nnionlng, I shall Jbwrb the I"' w," of the winJ, of wal.r,
of ti .. and "frhc "'musph,re. I Sh.lll m.,k, Ihem .III m'In's""d",i ... Prol"'''Y.
AnJwh"n .,11 " .. , id .1nd Jon" . , h. " ,hol,,<>I, hiswurIJ,whlCh Issimply"n
Un!I,,"e.,;f,, 1 I",hnool un Ih< pan 01 God, Sh.l ll be rt' bui;- by me,
Hnd I shall m:lke It good." So "" h" I,,, Ih,,' spt, ks Inu, SO :l"d.'o,,,u.ly
Ih,o" gh t ne l'''lOry"shps'ht<God H1I"SO'II.sMou, ingi>ruSij " eiYlhrough ,h,
b"ory'slll .>lt th. "
ilt' "J"1""d Ih", lor in 1910 -thi, i, pa's:'gt" i'om h" God Ii Nut
(:.1$11)"".", ,,"ritt"n Ih"l Y"", in Vileb,k - t he terms God an.lI'J<'lory are almo,;l
Inhnildy ri"<lic. (".0<1 is .. No,hing Ih'l m,'n h:1V,' bUIlt . m'.'nS H ..
is IndestrucI,ble. And Factory equal, much mor" than '" n'on
tt"Chn(>cra,y_ It Ihe P,my. It ,q". ls M.".""hsm. II e'l" .. I, the M.1fxISI
J r.amo/""" I"y
I think make any !;ensc 01 the 'luesrion of UNOVIS'stextllali,y
in 1920 _ and 1<.hle"kh was. write" not a J>;linter, in Ihe year, we are
looking ., , - witho,,' ""empting to answrr the question of what Part}' and
politics were. during the period War Communism. It is a dOlunting lask
I.hall try nut 10 get lost in the derails. 0' utterly sidelr.cked bYlhec . talog""
"fhorro ....
Some catalugue is obligato,y. In tt.. spring and summer of 1920.
fo, imtance - and you will garher thai thi s is my hesr guess at the n",men, when
EI Li"itsky'sSIJnbdepowasdone"- the Boishevik,we, e fighting fo,
on at least nv. fronts. Viteb,k w. s only a few miles from one of Ihem. Ir wa.,he
"en,er for Ihe Roo Army's re .. rves: that meant it wa, ""cupied and ,u(found.d
by hundreds of thou,ands of soldicrs.'" IThc Red Army in 1920 claimed to be
hemillions1f"ng.'- An inAated estimate, obviously, but at least it gives a .. n,e
olwh.r -militaril.",ion" - a favorile TrOlsky trope al this ,imc - amounl.,.J to.)
Wirham'iesgudescrters. Bttw.en March and july, according to one Party
Commi"""report,50.oood"""rte"la"d313handitslhadh ...
belwcen Vilebsk and its larger neighbor. Sn, olen.k. " A I"tolthen'
were peasants going back to thei,vilbge, for,upplie,. The Part}", pa per for the
,il lagemasst\,8edl1otaI P",'err)),r.po"eda."cces.fulenrcizeofrh.Vitebsk
Di.trict Committee fur the Struggle against De .. rrion in its T August issue, in
which niner) /ive d .. erters. seven horses, and one pig had been red3imed h)' ,he
Anyon. trying to piece om the state of the Union in 19!O _ I thinking of
UNOV'S in J>;lrricolar. worrying aboot irs arr-worker
,ions of th. Fifteenth Red A,my, watching audennyi\ (wi,h iTS ,wel\'c
,cal ;'eroplan .. ! ) Ihrough the ci,). going west - would hal'e dined on
half' 1Tuth, and rumor. V"-ror Se'gr. who lived through {he period, is
doquenton thcsubjecr'
In thecounrry,id. the harv. sthad been brought in.lrwa, being hidden.
P .... nrswho had fought wilh ,heir scylhes under ,he red flag now buried
their wheM "nd ,ounded the tocsin at rhe approach 01 the Anti-Christ.
Oth.rs, their son,. with nod "us sewn into thei, old Imperial Army caps,
villag.elde ...... Around theedg. softhi,bilurecontinent, lik.fcvcri sh.1nt
heaps. moved a,mies which n'!CITed inTO armed bands and armed band, whi.:h
swelled lIntilthey became a'mi .... ]n the land of blurs and )'ellow, - peaks
and sand dune, - . nonCOm transformed in'o an 'T;,man had rail ro;ld
workers thrown aliI'" into The boilers of Iheir own locomoti,e,. Bur,,, son of
the Pfflple, hr th. daughters of hi . old gene .. I, to his exasperated
soldiers_ Fro", t .. ins the blind eye> of cannon pttred out over
steppes once overrun by the archers of Gengi' Khan. Gentlemen with
immaculate bodies d.ube,J w;(h cologne, wearing perfectly I."ndered "ndcr.
wear benealh ,he uniforms of the Great Powers,. . watch.d the Ru"ian
earth pass by (he window, ofth.ir Pullman cars. Their orders were d.,.d
Washingl'on. London. Pari Rome, Tok)'<., The)' .. , idea, aO polish.d

ab""t the Jewish plague, .bout .na"hy. Ge,m.n gold, Lenin's rreason,
Trotsky-Br<>nSlein's madn<ss, about the inevilable rriunlph of order .....
(All ide .. which are back in fashion, of course. Bill then, Serge waS the
person '0 aSSume his irony would end on thewinning.ide. )
InJanuar) andFebruarY19!O,rhepaperswtre fulloftht'dcathrhroe,ulthe
,...gime of Admif31 Kolchak in Siberia. The Czech,, Slovak legions had handed
,he Admiral over '0 the R..d,. Genera l Janin and his Allied forces - French,
American, J.pal1eSt' - headed for tilt Pacine. The Co""k armies Turnl sou,h
acrru.s the d"",rt tow .. d and Turke,ran. In the Ukraine. the Poles under
Pil,udski slnocksou,h and east in Ia,e April. They 'ook Kie"on 6.\iay. Behind
BoI,hevik lines the army of 'he anarchist NeMor lI.hkhno carried on it, tight
against "in"i tutio", of terror, ,uch as your Commissariat, and Chebs, which
commiT arbitrary "iolenee agaimtth" working m.sSt's. - .. Dzerzhinsky himself,
head of the Cheb, wa, sen! to supervise the war in the ,....r in the Ukraine," In
June and July, the tide turned againsr Pilsudski. By midJuIYTh" Polish armies.
in the Ukraine and on the ploins to ,he west of Vitehsk, were in full retreat. The
Bolsheviks hesitated fora moment ovtr 'he wisdom of trying t" eXflOrt rr,olu
tiun, hut eventually prrsslon toward Warsaw. They were defeated outsid ethe
cit) in mid August. Stalema'e ensued. The WhiTe, look rheir laS! STand in ,he
C. in'ea. Baron Wf3ngel proclaimed himself head uf mt. there in early April
Worrie<l telegrams from The British High Commi"ioner in Constantinople '''On
made it dear that the Allies w .. e washing their hands of their dients. Once the
armisrice wa, 'igned with Poland in rhe wriTing WaS on the wall
Budennyi himself came somh to rhe Dnieper. By mid November, French war
ship' and T">OP rransJX>rts were ferr)'ing Weangel's armies - all of

Makhno had gi"en the Re<lsa helping hand fora mvnthorso in the camp aign
against &Iron Wrangel. The regime had even agr,d in re'wrn, in OcTober. to
rete".., its imprisoned anarchist, and give them the right to make propagal1da.
Once Makhno's armies had served th.ir p"rJX>se, th agreement was torn up
The R<d Army wheded we" roward Gulai Polye and its anarchist Republic (for
SOme rea.on these la" two words are invariably hemmed in b)' qUOTaTion mark,
in the 'tandard histories. as if to dissocia," the writer from the "ery idea) .
Makhnu took to lh, H. was ,till at large, his army of p<asant,
dwindling, when The Kron,udr sai lors rose against l'et rograd in March
Thisisahea,ilyedited,e .. ionof, year of chao,; Or should " ... call ita)'ear
of staTe-formation (painful but not in the end unproduCli ... e, and a, th escthirt!l'
go - thatis.state- formarions - p<.>rhap,n01even,pe.;iallybloody)?l\lakhn0"
Republie was only the tip of the ictberg of peasant strnggle. Al l throus h 1920,
in Tambov province preeminently, and along the Volga, Samara and
Orenburg, in the Caucasus .nd on rhe western fringe$of SihetiJ. a SCore or
mnre peasant armies came into being. some of them hordes of bandits coa lesc'
ingfora month vr so,others publishing manifestoe, and "ring out the first
fvrm, ofalternari .... go .... rnmcm." lOne of the slogans of the chapa"y in the
Volga in 1919 had been -Down with the domination of the Communists and
the Anarchi,ts! long liH the JX>wer of the Soviets On the platfor", of tilt
October Revolution!"'' The ideo.>logy ofpcosant reoolt is ful l ofstral1S twists. )
l..enin, musing later on the phenomenon, exaggerated vnly a linle when he
calll.he "prisings -more dangerous than .11 the Denikins, Yudenich,.. and
Kolchaks PlOt together, ,ince wCare living in a country where the proletariat
represe"". minority. and where peasant pruperty has gone to ruin.-"
MyglleSs is that it woulJ have htt" The to and froofevems in the Ukraine
.hat the group in Vitebsk "ie<l hardest to follow. Maleoi,h WaS a naTi ... e of Kiev.
Makhno's JX>litics may have interested him. EJ li$$inky had workl in the Same
in 19'9. immediately before moving to Virebsk. He had Ix ... n employed by
the art section of the local Commiss.riat of Enlightenment. His energi ... had
gone into designs for Yiddish books. D<nikin', capture of Kiev in the ,ummer
of 19 '9 probably pur paid to " seri .. of children's fables 1 had
contmctcd '0 do for Yidi,her Folks Farlag.' The Whitrs were nOt likely to have
taken such pto; e, .. under their wing. It waS a time of pogroms. Some say that
over were done to death in the Ukraine betw"",n 1918 and
over Joo.ooo child .. n orphaned la grisly comext for Ellissi1lky's nursery
.tories) and over 700.000 Jews made homeless. These figure;; may be und,res
timates. It waS ,he worst killing of Jews since the sevem..,mh century."
Whar eventually gut christened War Communism will not make sense unless
it i"""n against this black background. Itwasasetofexpediemsinati mcof
cold:tnddeath. Irwa,away of keeping the skcletonof a state in n-ing. It was
what Marxists do in a country 'aering back toward feudali,m and worse. IWe
h.,c photograph. of p'asant cannibals taken during the famino in Samar. in
t\l'-I,standing in line behind the piled-up limbs 01 their vict im . ") It was the
dictato..,;hip 01 the proletariat in a nation whe .. the proletariat had di.ap-
p'arcd. Allth. t, y .... but utopia just the same.
Vinor Serge has a great scene in eo"quernl City-it is meant to tok. place
rome time in early 1920 _ which pUIS Ihe gime's land ,he historian's) dilemma
in a nu,shd!. The Bolshevik leaders have gathered to hear their ,ivil servalu.
report on the <1ate of the nation. "What makes )'outhink"

out when Ihe whole
Experts have studied the problem oftra.nsport, ,he problem of food supply,
the proIJlem of ,he war, the problem of epidemics. They 'o""lude Iha' it
would take a mira.:!e. That's their wa)' of telling ,he Supreme Coul1<"il for
Dden,", -You'real l washed They withdraw, verydignitied, veiling their
prophets' arrogance. One knows that the wear On the railroad line will
hecome btal in less than throe months. The other tha, rhe big cities will be
condemned to die 01 htlngcr within the .ame lapse of time. It 's mathematic,,!.
The third that the minimum program for munitions production is perfect ly
unrealizable.Thefourthannou"" .. the.preadofepidemics ... Historycan't
be forced. Production cannOt heorganiled by Terror, don't YOtl s"""with one
of the mOst backward popula,ions on earth! They barely refrain from pass ins
sen,ence, oUl ofdelerence lor the men of energy who haveembark-ed on this
formidahl. adventure. and who are loS!, but whose lust errors will n- studied
for a long age to oome. How to explain ,hese men.' That's really the problem
of problems. There is fear in that deference: irony, too; perhaps eVen regret. "
later historians. as I say. have largdy repeated theexpert<'v.rdict. Many 01
them h.ve leaned heavily on the numn-rs provided in by the Bolshevik
lev Kritsm.n, in a book called TI,e Hao;c Period of the Creal
Revo/JI/ion-pknty ofdclcrenlX in ,he'irle,obviousl)', but more tha natraceol
the Marxist's professional doubt. Kritsman could have been one of the players
in Vicror Serge's melodram .
The numbers aresttlpelying. What other industrial (orp31l-industrial) socielY
has liwd through ,he shrinkage of its TWO m.in cities by halfinthree)'ears?
That is what happened to Moscow and Petrograd from [9'1 '" 19!O.
Petrograd had twoand-. -hallmillion people in 19t7.ln
If we take 191, asourba>eyurl"rmeasurementofindustrialoutputi nRussia
(loo,inotherwordsl,rheindexint9[7hadalreadyfaliento77, inl9 8to ,5,
in 1919 to .6, in to 18. Industrialization had the look of a ruersible
phenomenon. The number of workers en'ployed in big factories and depots-
the kind listed as Isetlw.<Jia in the surveys went from million in 19'3 to
less than 1.6 mi llion in the first month,of '9!0." And even this figure masks
,he true Scores of sourCeS at Ihe ,ime talk 01 the
factory areas o/'ities as half--dark wastdands, srarved o/coal .nd electricity,
wai!in[olin vain for ,he ruined railroad,whringin r ig iron or wool, wi,h
engaged in pie.:ing together lighterli anJ can opencrs frnm
industrial dehris, iorsalc in Sukhar ... kaya Square. The nl3chines were broken.
The engineen. who knew how lu mend Ihem were long gone. One day in 'hree
,he worker Wd. off somewhere on hi. or her own initiatiw, looking for food,
nursing a
boTh." pUI fO<">d consumption in the citi e . at 40 per cent of pre-war
levels. s.."en million people died frOlm m.lnutriTion and epidemic, between
January '9IS and Jul)' '9LO. The dea,h rat< mOlre than d"ubled. " Tramp"na-
tion. in particular the railroads. '0).., judderiog t"wa,d a t01al hah
FuurthousanJ bridges were blown up during the civil w.r. Eighty -six thousand
,'USIS uf telegraph line were pulled down. II)' Jam .. ry only 6,700 lommo-
tiv .. were still operational as compared with more than LO.OOO in '9'3.
There were more locomoti ve. in the rep<lir sheds than out on the tracb. lJIe

by the local Soviets '" railroad as cheap hnusing. The fi!;lIres .. nt ba .. :k
to the Commi'S3.ria! of Transporl naturally lis,ed them "in Sometimes
unloading the trains that diJ still meant risking a gun battl. between
gwuJ" of bandilS fighting fQr whatever wa. on board. So trn, trains stood full y
baded in ,he freigh' ya rd, armed guard. awa iting further dev..!opment . "

ab",lute zero of all available indi,e . '" Slankidepo would have had a .;ruel.
d .. perale ring. Or m"ylle a fuintly ludicrou, one. to those who knew wh31
depots anJ Were like
N Olne of was a at the time. Lenin', anJ Twt,ky'. s1'<'e..:h ... are
fullofil lin suitahlyediledversionsl. This is what the-Thcscs on Prod"ction
Propaganda- were about. And natur;llly We'" earl)' un aWare of the
p<lradox. H.'" they we"" making the proletarian revolutiun in of "the
disintcgrati 0 noflh<' prole t ariat"-Bukharin.phraseat th. s..ve nthPany
Congr .. s. " The Menshe.iks. as good Marxists also. had predicted SOme
.u<;h plunge back inwd130sifthe r .... olu'ion were forced before its li01e. The)'
did not Ainch from pointingwtheemptines<ofa "dictatorship of ,he prole-
tariat" in the name 01 a dass that the dictatorship was putting to
death,l..,nineven fell warguing wiTh th. dissenters (when They were aU s3fdy
in e"ileor behind rn.rs) in May "Even when thc proletariat hJSto liw
through a period ofbeingde-dassed ...
ingand retaining political power." " it W3S po<.ibie to pnt. good .p ... .;alyptic
face on even the worst In a bn<,k brought out early in titled
h"pef"lIyEconOnliCJ ofliJeTransilio'lPerioJ. B"kharinseem5tohavemirrored
,he gene",,( mood among Ihe that year what one historian call, a
"mood of euphoria and i.striking, forinSlaoct. in Ih.
procreding. of the S<"ond Con!:,"essofthe CominterninJuly."
Anarchy in production [Bukharin writesl. or in Prof .. ,or Grinevetsky's
w ... rds. "the revolutionary of industry." hi.wri..:ally inev;
tahle stage which no amount ... f lame"tation wil l prevcnt. The Communist
of like o,her revolution. is "coom""nied by
an impair01ent of the lo"esof prod"':!ion lcivil war) . .. Bot ... weshould
(xamine the rok ofthi. phenomenon by starting from the subse
qllentcycie.ofreprodu<;tionontheirbroadhistori,als..:ale. Tlwn the co51 of
revolution and c;vil war w;1I be seen asa temporary rtdllctioo of The f",cts

We ,hall nul ).hl,',,,,h, m .. J Optl m'5m/pc", mI Snl wLl houl
I,ukl"r",', pseudod,ale.u" ring"'g In our "Jr'. The G .. d , no", m):
thrnu;:h ,heFaewrv, mouth waspanly.C...,Jlike,h".
T hl> e' hap,er', mJ '" "onc<tTl IS J rt . nd ,pec ,jieall) modrrm>m. I .m
tryonglO r""on"ru<tthcp. ttcm,,,f expe""rK"e thal m.yhJv, miornled .
prol"'" lora 1'>.JaI.,iehI)I'"rMlonc,.,d done in ,he UNo\,t<worksh"p,m IU"
,h" "''''''en' - pmb" bl y J studem nJ", ed 1\ lebJ ndr T"'lI hn (fig. I am
trymg to Im"gm' whun, and what EI I.i"il>ky he w," "ddre""'g In
St./IIk,d,PD. And who,," "0"'" he W.l$ "dortong
n", b""'qu.",,,nJboutlhe Pul). I\l>oulwh,,,h,' PJrty d,d ,,, ,"spom.,
!<> ' he .1r<:ll rn>1JnccS iuS! ourlmed. or how much ul !f,c "ircumstance was 110,'
Party's Jomg. To wh." n'cnt w., !he I'>'t) ;,,.,If the -[,Dnom)"" m To
wha! ex, en, .1 .1 11 ,nlagl1w 'I,dflo be? I\ nd hJd (0 ,m'glne " self. In ord ,'rtDoc
Pari )' " . 111
A",w"rln., Ih,se q"'-"'On' Ln""I"., desc"bl ng ",h.! ,hr B"I,n" 'lb ,bd, ,n
'9'9 and m an , u"mpl 10 put .,.;ono""" Iile on. nc,.. (o",;ng. !\u, 'here
;, nn. u"h fa " ual J e",,,p,,on herr. Ever)' .. a,emem 01 l'e'l " hJ umeJ
Id"" log). What (,,,one ... ' "fnpert,is.
"h"n of lmpro"lseJ exped,ent s. p"l<ht'd log,,h,'r f.om .1.;- w di .. st ."," do)."
fn","",herapro.:e"Jri,'enlromSlarf roji ,,,,h by <'erf,m polil",.1 iml"'lall "<'S
-aoo"" all 1-)'" ,;"on "("Jpi , ali ,rnc,, ming"' J n "nd. in a mJurru( )'<"f>.
ma)' be nlOnlh . From m)' pomt 01 "!t.",. u " ,'x."ly ' his "ndC<ldablht), ,I."
, Ounl>. I, " "","u" War Cumm"nism "'.i' l>olh d 1.1 '" and r.flon,luy. bmh
apocalyp",.nd"tupIJ-bt...: .u>cu pn'>ent"d "",If", ,ueh. ill " Aurryol
... tu ' ht mod.rn lSm "'ean:l{){)ktn);at
Prulc!HI,m rule. >a)", KriTSmJ" . "exud"" n"'Ill"ic ",holen,,>, unknown to
cap",h,m. gtvtngJ f""',,StC <>f ,he f",urc ,,,,,.I ,hce'h .. ""f , ne presen,.-" It
i, nO! hJrJ 10 "'c h"w Ih" lam.sy 01 dl<IJlorsh,p <ollud.d wilh ' hc JVJ n!
g., ,,I .. ", i" nwn I","'rica l m;>sion
I hDpe Ihe rc.,d,, wlil nol 'hlnk I .m ""nl,,(,klng <>. trivialll.ing , he ru l
horror of, helime- l hJvedont' mybt.-;'lO makesomeolu,i,,d -,f lal,"s:!)"
Ih", m Ih" und"",JJh,li , ) WJr Commu"i,m seem, [() nle '" epuom", 110.
oorrornl muJ.,rnny in g"nNal, It" bt."ause,o mu"h m EI ]. I><It,l)"\ pho", ..
>p,,,,k,,,, , he hl" w,liv. no"'- ,he IIJ! impera,, "."I uropia "PIh,'reon
Ih,b,llbuJrd.i roni uJ h)' 'he cn1p'ydr",b,ion JII "round I1 - d,. , ' hrpho",
graph ref", ... 10 d,e. 0 1 <0"", the utopi., on our 1-,lIbo" ds " differ.n!.
Pro,I""""n h" 10 cun, ump,i o", Con, ump"o" h .. pr01'eJ Ihe on ly
\" ,," n of '''''P'' .. pabl<' . '" th, , i"; umStJn, ,, of upn, l" m. "I u,
Wl1 )' "'qu" "r I"que""y , h., "orkl><",,he. Me ""lfmg, Ha\', II 1r. bnyn'S
. ceb"" "d his prope" y lro", ,he """'. I wnnder ? No doubl Ihe
strerr.;orncctn Vilob<k. ,( " "m IYe, . h.1S been <omp.ehcn<ivdy r<de,ora' n!
A P' r')' m<",her I .. " kmg .rou"d in ur a r<.Jet of rr,w./" o.
ile.ll!{)!Il . "'o"ld n" .... ""n the fo linwm):l.md,<",pe. In , hrenunlr)"Je. '"'" 'uSt"
, he pea,ants refused 10.,,,,,, up Ih. " gram the", were nO Indu,trI . 1
good, t .. for u, """au,"" ",onc yw .. mn.eand mOre ",,,,,hlessl . there
had l->et-n for , wn ye." a of rcqu" ,"on. ,, ' mtflmCS ,,"II), J fixed
'. r t"

Id\Jf' 11\";1' i




", il m.,y ><,,,,,.1.- hell 1':"0.1 "-"oiled, , 'imts f,onl
BlIkh.1"r1\ .",.1 Tr""h', Inl'k. Trn .. k).'s 1''''1'<".,1, for Ihe milit."i,al;nn nf
I.,h,,, oni. tw" 0", "f whtn h( r'tn'ed "' ., ""nte,en"e
"I' !r;,,J... ""iun k,,,Ja, "' NOl surpr;,ill): . rlw ,,,al;en-'e. Th",'
knew hnw f." Ihe." """ lei srrc,,'h Ihing' wi!h Ih,,;r
Ol",in<",;, une "f rI,e on ,\luwo", e,c"",;w,
,,( Ib, Tr.II/;//I.", fniud had "h.II1.1"ne.1 allnh;nj: " ... 'mhl,,,):
on f.",u, uf 'he "Bukh,"' ni" n'<1h"J - nf f"'",d """i,,,J< JIlJ
"'1'.-" II \\'J>" " ... wilh Ihe in il> hones
of .,1 1 ,hi. w",,1..1 ,,, >Jy IhJt W.>r C"",,,,,,,,i,,,,.
,arl'e' Ih"n hl'ing "" f.'''''''""d ,,(tI,, TT.I!I$II,,'" /',r', ,,I. wa' .1n M!l'mp' Ie)
J,'S'",yu'ShM""i'(\' ;1 Ihe!r.n,ir inn hl' I\Wen ""pi",lis'" ,,,,d I h"",f",,,,,,,(
,,, .. r",Ju,'tion a"J Ihar ,'""IJ I'<"'ihl\' II, It "',1>, 0'
im";:i,,.J i{,elf", I ... ",h .. ne)!."i"" "f " 'ril"I",,, II"rl' .111.1 Ih,''', Or In pH' "
","'t ht'r w" y. il {(ioJ I" do wi lh",,! nw.1i.ni"",_ There ""
hyhriJ f"rms nf alld " "'ial org.",iz"r;"n ," int,'r-lin" "f
,h. ",,,k,, th,,( "" In speak of. or.' m ... hl "I a
more ",Jime"''''\, kinJ I: ", I .. ,he .:rca!,' ,hI' ''' 0,11 "f ",1",1.,
This is"" , neal.
:", .1 ",,,,iv3,i,,ns in ,he ....-or" of "i,,'UO'SL"Kf', It "ul l'("m)m'''-'
"I W,,. Communi,,,, I., I-oe ",n" uf a or an dlo":I' 10'3I i>a,i"", ,h.",
perh"pslho)'wn.,i>"'therei, n""
yet "g.l in. From our p<>i,,' of m,IIIl'" is , imply Ihc exlr:lIIrdinJry
ht'irlg' I'>gerher in lyl o oflhe gr<>ssesrsm'!!<llewi,h Ihcre;ll",nfn",e-;s il yanJ
the grand.st (or a, leasl, "'"" ",e".'eening) ""emrr '" ;nl.ll.\;ne new.,in
I"'''ginin)! ,){herwi St, w"s fo, a while.- .wllL.,lIy H pHI of Ihl'
rnight $,Iy't ",",IS Ih. SI,IIe did hest - the nne re,1lm
;n whio.:h pmJ"",ion prop"!!,,,,Ja h"d r(s"hs. A"J ,hi s seem, '" ,n<
gerwr;l lly In ""ndilion, of ",,>dern st.lte-f",m,ni"n, wh," "',,", .. is n"l Ih<
,omen! Or ... of ;lny parti<'lIiar n lwrt,ui"n (hell<'< Ih. IlIlil il)' "I
, "rinl.( at ,hc ...... n,>,; after ''117, sa)' ,IS tll'er-
!aine" "f Ihe working but ,h< .. ' n .. y "I i!self: !h,,, i"
the nhortir1& cbs,"" r..lief in nh"r",ri"n. ,he "."es !>did in !h. exhortin)!
d;lS"", Ih.ir heing-logelher in Ih. d.",,'e of One Ihin)! we
from Ihe Fal l "flh. Wall i, howahruptiy Ih;,kind <"HI
.. ..,., ... '" r..liel'ein 1",,,1 IlI.,lfun'li"" .. ,)mesl<) , hrc,,,en
Ih. ,Ule"," whole, in irsordin.")- ,inl."" . ,,,J 11\,11"ri"I[, y
Ag;,in, Ihe .. In" bt"):<. Ali i W"III wdn ispoi m ""hl'nempbry
"hH,,,'n ,)1 W,,, Communi_,,,, - p"in! 10 its m."je",;n' 1..1,."" and "II). And
insiSllhJtlhisi,whyaphe''''I11ell""likeUN<>VI"<>,,ltlheP'Hlofil,0" 1 as ,'"
.,herr:.nion !>o' ",,1 ""lin s),mp'o'" lIfrl,(Jis.:.'se, Arli,nne"f, hesel'fr"lform,
- ! sh""ld "IV perm.lnenl forolS, "nl"" "'"yh" we Llk .. Il"kharin'.
'"hruader view'" - 01 imagin ;"g olher",i,.,. Th.lI i. d,ief ,h,ng it dnes. An)'
,,, ' cn'pl ,HI Ihe pUt orlile slate II' <'Ie"le orw f""", of ,,,d, in);t):illin):. or
n,n'l<>pol icw old "U,'s, P"' S M' ,\1 ,isk, It .. -;In 10 'he Silll,IIi"n in.,
Jd.nsive or "'''nner. U",WI, <"1>0", (0)(" on Ih, ,,,,,, ,k .. \"'vhe !h,,,
wa, ""I wha! ,he ' '''Ie w:""eJ, hl" i, , h,,, for .l whii< UNOVl, ;nterpr",eJ
Ihe dream !>",'k 10 il in" w"Y st.lle f""nd irresistihle. It "nu.1kdl.,

the "h",>s "f , I,. prtsen'." s',11" p.'i J pipn. Left anists )('" 'f"'"i.,1
ra!ions. All K,itsn",o wa, "bour w ... ,he iJ,,,, Ih'll ",,,oni,,, .. wl",ll'"e,,'
IS fore'gn ,,,,:>pn, h, ,,,_ Td l ,ha, to>om,'on,' who liv, .. on ,h,' world
of Ihe muitona"onals. the lone) '"perrower. the nurkc!. II is I"""u
shows uS what the :n1lall)" ",II IS _ whal n " mo,,' and InOH'
tffe.'ltvd)"-Ih" rcadlng .l,.lolev,,,h. nrloobog.!l 1':1
I am trymg,ntmaSillt'.as I ltdprc'"",sl)'. " .. hom EI L,ssnAylhllugh,
he wJS adJros>H\1; in ,he p'op"):-lnda oo""d. a"d whu: "",,,c he w"' usmg.T hI>
". qU.51 ,on Ih.lI turns partl)" 011 cu"dn,onsofrcadinl;and I.,ok,ng - in,hee.'St
of Ihe pb,,,-d, of " '.,d'ns, "Th,' tr"d"io".,1 Milk wo< rorn into
""pM.lIe poge, ... and brough, "lto ,he "On" "'.IS mean! for peopl"
who would Stand 'I""e do,... and read II o".r." "The B\ble of our "'"e canno,
bepre"",,,,J ,,, lclttrsalo,,/o."-
When. ",rlic' In the cha pter. I sa'. 0 first lran.I .. ;o" of Ih, M."ds
""" to pdS: rs-b)'. It31ked of itS prose h.''''1l "" ll.ahle. The .. I> "u n.ed 10
owrstre"" Ih". The mat" .Iugans O'e strik"'IlI)' de .. , S,,,,,k, der'o ,.dmk
",IS, 1)""".", l"OICl'o./st/"o?}. S1JIlk. "wnrkbe""hes,"
. ,tradllIonal
doui>Ic,.i><)th words "(.1<'or,': ,he dlS,i",'tlon be,w.en ,hc ,w(> - is;,
'YP<' of bhor? or ",ht'rw,se' - OS mu,-h a of llll'-'<na,,")'
10 , he n.1I1vcsp""ktr,s<,1 alii lold.as,ha, be'Wtt" "'huc .mdcr)' or "ki' h and
km" in E")!I,,h; and p",,,,,ding/a/H,k and ;dl"Oao,'. Ihe notobkfo'eig".
Ilnintlc""cd. laten",cu..-mh...:ent",ywurd.d"/IO.wh"",''''c''n<ngl
dd",ed "
Y<>uwilln<JII,;clh"i,\,d""'i,,.'elylarl;cr lh.1n
,he,)fhnlwO,p'" ",'ati)'on,orof,helllin., sepJr,""'ai>ul."' o",,,,,d i "I,d
"iase"'''''ecl1,j'' ' g(i r",ei)!n".'s) prod"ces a tnOmelllar)' hemallon in ,he
r."ding - a momelll of wondero,,)! ,ne ,da,;o" be,ween Slank. and ,1<'1'0
will It'nlOu,IOi>;:-before tl,.s1loordma,.word,bn''g ,he impon pWP"ri)' to
h",,1. Ag.1i". nu n""d 'n "xag)!cr"te. The suspo:nsion ofmcanins .. ov", III J Hash.
1\II, he Hll<'.it lSpart of,h,poster's.ig"'"gof i,smodet"n)"h.l!1h,'
"Amer;,' , ,," (0' m.,yI>cEnglish) word beg,,','n prodcofpiac<.I1'" )'e, entlrdy
part of ,he S)'nt.1X thai surround. n
Zb"", ,'...-, isstr.11ghtforw.,,'!; "awallyou-lSoni,.. liltl " '"'' " iff J "",,.1.
"'>n. /)"illcm proh,-odslI-o would be si mi l"'i" tr,''''rart'nt - "u', us 1Il0W
produ",ionforward""r"Lnusg<'proouc, io"mo.'ing" - ifn,,"er. Il'"forlhe
haPI'),ac"C,dellt . A I", <)feft<>rI has alr.ady gone "uomaking
,he fl'.'S,c'slast word,dy"am .. : ,hC)'Jrellhd from hor;1.011I.1 1 ' odiagon.,I.
,h.Ir IIntd wilh Iht arrow< II)'lIl!; In f,om b"ttolll Id" a"d
Ilrol"'o.!sn'o;s wruten . Iong a kind of';"'lsb", (.",lId" b.. col",e.! red?),
p.1r' of. or "'lIlimall)' d,fferenualed f",,,,_,he bro"J whi.hsocs
So that "'''I'''Il "' ,h,spoln,-in
' o the '''P I,ft -"''''ISP''' of,ne pu,h:>nd pull of forces 11Itnmg,hc
wn<d. If ,h.lt ",c.ms the ab"m,' , machi",' has w",ked up enough "ncrg)'
'0 hurl (,,<>o:;,!'o.iSII 'O iolc."II)" off frame. then Sn b.'"
Th.boaldIS" Ev"n"
Ihe b'd "f 101 L,ssnzk)" h", I>cen. Il)' his stand"rd . nOll"tdbi)' well
beh,,,'.d. of,h< i .. ".s ,,' ,he lopld' sl"gan - ;n p"rtKul.l! some ufthe
11),11,1 ",pilal,-ha,'c loeennfl'.'n"d up so IhJl ,It<orfurrnal clcnl",m':an toe
analngll<d wj,h ,ht .h:>pc$!(' ,he and below. Sc",,,,ird Illuch
, ,,,'v,den,.,Tht[)andl'ln/), mml,,,,,,::,,,l<ISTI'O hd,'cbe,,,,,,.hl<rogl),phsof
d haSlc (wor klx-".hlarchncuure, Bur ,he .. 'S "0 PO"" a' wh,,,h ,h"v,,"w"r ,I
I.UXl MbURG meon on , he /\n.1 how.1o the 1>10 .. 1 an.1 red mll""t them'
WllJ, i, J 1''''1'''' "3m<, D/><"s I! If su, how? Th,s pJrlic"i.tr
properrlame belongs to a.:o,p"". It l> a pro"'popeia, J)"""tsp"ak,asp'e' ''III '
ahl)',o..-", IISt,want'tto>j>(',k,f,om be)'""d,h,');",w? ls that",h," '""oh"' ol1
H i.-s Jo! 11< 1ha, ,htir blood ,,,in,,,!; ,he cir.;1dl Or" wh,l! makes Ce r,.ttn
prope' 1lJme' p,,,,,,.dy th,' b ct ,hat ,h,'y do no, Ix'long ,'>
," ')'om' - ,hat 1h,>." g'" an.ldlt'd ("ght ly att . ..-hedl to ,'ny manor or p"":lIn
>I'" a",.')' ilfpun,ng Ihem ' 0 Is th,,, ", h)' th,' name h,'",, hard)'
legll>le; Is I! mea", to ht' undersrood j, on Ihe poi m ofl"'in!; .-ifaced b) the
m,"'e,S II iswrtltcnon-J>,fwipt'dofithe "Iuare'>hl.u;khu.,rdIJrh"r",b,' ,he
pl,"l\'t\ Ii,,! in space:' s,, ),s -,he' NlI1g rhc "",gled
m" ssof pJ>tccnwr ic",.""
i\-1a)'beth" .. toc.lrrvlheJrgumelllw"h lhc,<xial i,'lOof.1r_ Th"'ei,

"ill I wo"ld ';'1)' Ih"t ",nW ku, d "f doubt "bout nam",); and mea,,, "): IS mdu,'ed
Iov 10 1 Tht "'Orc w,' atttll.1 to lis - 10 'IS
text u.lli,,' wha, il i, . "ppo\('.1 '0]..., doing- til<' pIC",'e', non'
lextual eiemem, are thrown into free f.lli. Wh,lI, fot ('xample, ;, ,h, ,,]'tion
h;,"W(TI1 th,' hlotck sqll.Irt' .Ind the red c"de "f qu"lil rL',
,h,'y "r,. "'<Jill lootand fo,! Do<,> on,' ground or support or ,lIl'ordil1at" ,he
other> Which I",; ,),..mo" ,'i,u" l lm"y]...,conceptu"l j weight! A,,,the,,, ,he
rii:h' kinds of que"io", '0 Lx- all' Wh.11 would othN qllestion, - abom
de.un, "mlulion, n" min)!. and m",, )',do", _ b,' I,h'! Pe,haps
th,' i, 3 glimpse of , he form ,he)' migh' lake.
I do not want 10 Impl)' ,h", ",xt al1d picture in the propa!;.Inda Ix,ard
""li t]..., wa)' I hal'. jU>ldescrobed. The
proie':l is ,]"-'<.:, ,, 1, The .. " a work of 1110u", in); go"'g on in It.
"1X'n,ng to 1''-'" ,,,,.1 f"'ur", wh,eh" quu,' unlike the "I<'",al p"'S<:nttt'"", of
RllIl do w"""o s,)' th,,, the L,,-,,>mburg pro;",' ! epil<'lIl lz,,,
,he b,,,i of work ,h", 1I,0u);h, wri,ing>h",,"1 ]...,,, . lIed on 10.10
wuhin moo,'",osm. The work "'.Is forma",'c. Wilho,"' " ah'''aCTiu'' would
cnt., i"lyd""line imo lUst another sc, ofcenalllllcs
u.' t nl(' 1'''' it thi s " 'aJ' land here wh.I' I "m s..,\"ngcerl.l inl),apphes [0 ,he
pro rapn.1a On"rd), Ahsn,Kt art , right from the momem of its met'pHon ill "nd
:tround w,, ; h;wnl,'d by a Jre','nl of at hSf I."" ing Ih,> r,' alm of
.:o,,,,emion beh, nd. and ",(lin "'g mH"c.1i",,)', The words fo r bttcr
",,' ft'. remained, I"gio, ,- So, nt" of Ihe", ,,'Ct,' appa,cml)' ",h;,'rs
lunged toward of m",.' ph)",i(s: p,m'
sens,nion or p,,,e pla>l",i,,', -trUlh 10 I1I"e""I . ," simpliciry. "zen ,,"
an ab,,,lllle tnwardn." or I n eqo" II)'.lhsolllle,'x1ertomy,betn): "i ,, "
,ht or esc,'ping from pa'ntlllg " Iro);e,h", or p"intln): b.: ,he
uf so"" ' d,'cp unknown - the contents of wh",h nO! known
10 II", '''",," las ,\-blc"i,h PUI" in ' ':1 '51.'' Alloflht'S<'. I Ihtnk",r,' w,, ),sof
reph,,,,,n!: lhe old d"'all1 of" painti"!; -of ",,,cc'I'II1g
from \\'ords,moso:ei" g a".1 l>c ing. Ahs,r"" . (1 w.1SI ,1{<' , Ro"'''''"C. 11 ' hought
thalp.\lmlll):."f"l l ,ht"a rtforms. w,LS 1""t .. fro",
the rea l", "f lh,' d,s<:ursII'e """ II,,, of II,, s)' ", b"l - wl\<' ,) mfx>l, w'>uld
si mpl )' mJh 0' be meanmg, wllh meani,,): IIlher ",,: ,n ,hem, as or
Thi' ""Kh an extreme w'Slon 01 >lgn,f),lI1g lItOP',1 ,h" of U IInmroi ,
ltd)' spa,,-n,><1 an " ppoSIt 'OI1 , ,'""n f ron> wnhln it, ""'n """ s, I, w.' S ),,,,,il>l,
fo, .- m"" '0 Ixlo""" .,nd nol Lx-h .... e in il ,n th,> '''''''' t;m,' _ H' i,
of revolutionary discu .. i,'ene .. a deferring of meaning . even of
of narrative con<1,,,,,:tion. kind. of agreement abom ruding. Thi, i, what it
would be like. rht propapnda board "'ys. w livt in a world where lhe Wa$
Mhitrary.becau .. ,uhj ecllO endl .. ,socialconvohnion . lt isnOlaworld we
shall li,t inwilhoutthcrevolulionlakingplaC"
The action is at the
hcartofEllissitzKy, moderni$ m. (Maybeoneof lhc reasons theproj<'Ctfor the
190) billboard lfig. 1391 came to nothing i, that in it t.xtsmyt'<! too extr insic
to the formal action. and did nor
preponde .. nt circl .. and squares. Certainly I think thatth,, }{osa l uxemburg
148J is in e". ry wa)'a k>>er work th. n the One
we have been mainly looki ng at: every element tidied and disembodied, every
surbcetoorran$pa ren,. everyin, erl;(ction too p".)
I s""the acti on as all one way. Not at al l. Of course text,oocan bea dead giv en.
Maybe it mos,lyis, And one of the tasks ofth( poSler in a time ofrevolu tionis
preciselytotransfo,n, thecondition nd p<l5sihili'i<s of reading- 10 give the
ruder back as an an; vi,y ofconsnuClion (and deformation) rather than
reception of the ready-made. Thi , is where 1 l iss;rzky'. dr."m of v;sual
totalization. how",'er brutal.nd hco;lOri ng. begins really to do work. For the
presse.against the lincariry of writing. And. come to that . gainst t he linearity

from A to B, revolution .. y turning the whed of production, Communi,t
towns cluSlering round rheir Red Square. I say preS>;esagains,," There is no
hnalbreakthrough byei th .. side. The Whites are not beaten by the R.d W edge.
or vice vers,. is ironizedcnollgl, by text for
the question of imaging-ofwhat ;mag;ng uhim3rely i,-roar;.., in vicwing.
Text becomes suffici ently part of of
tached-to-,hem for reading'" beall 'gorized. The difference between reading
and seeing - that $hibbolcrh of all modernisms - i. just for a moment

"Natures lies in the absol ute blind freednm of units wi,hin
Squ,,,,asa markofworlde.;onon,y. " Thought is nothing bUI a process. an
acti vity of an excitation. Th" i, why Nothing has an influence on
me. and why Nothing, as.n enrity. determines my consciousness; foreveryrhi ng
in the of the tri be . - Whe n the eommunity wants to fix infinity, or
trace it. frontiers. it ha$ m;ou .... toconvenriuns. Thar is why life lakes on rhe
... a hugenurseryi nwhich ehildrenplayeverypos$iblesortofpme.
full of imagi ned rules; in thel;( )!;a mes they live reality. build lowers,
forrs and IOwno. demolish them. Then rebuild ,hem all over again ... -"
" Theworid is like a hole and the hole itselfisnothollow.l<an cuta .."tion
.eroS$theemptine .. ... andm"ybehere - uurofthegrid_ I
lin ... but once ag,in Man will fall into the error of
taking the puint or iine for reality. for th;IIgsth.1 exisl .. .... What muSt m.n
do to berome God la V;teb.;k question)? " Not much: the firmament of
suns and the systems of the universe. And mrantim in its ",nsel ... fall. our
Earth will carry hi n, on toward infinity. loward Nothingness. in the
of Ihe "'.?..':emenl of non-obie<:livity - Ihe rhYlhm of the whirlwind of Ihe
"Meantime, in
themnrent, .. .n the lone. ofMalevich'sand EI Li.,.ilZkys Ulopianis mlas lh"'e
iust lried 10 do),and anOlherlo understand the circumslances in whichsu.:ha
re-imaginingofdifferenc.muld be productive. There is noshorlage within
modernism of similarly apocalyplic half-poetry. Usually il is accompaniment to
(excuse for) bad work. Not"" here. Some'hing aboUl The world of War
Communi,m seem, to have meant ,hal lhe .. anitudes had purchase - or could
envi.age lha' 'hey would have pun:ha .. -on actual praclice. on The shapi ngof
spe.;ificsigniJnguages.l.m nOt daiming Ihal in the end They did. But I think
i, remains a problem for us ThaI the dream IhalThey might was nOI debililaTing
The problem has nO One ""Iution. The particu!'r depTh of Malevich's nihilism
iscrucial,and Ihekind ofl"'r""nal hold he evidently had On a lalenledgr oupof
P"<'ple. Provincial i""la!ion is impurtanl, compounded by civil war. II was a
time when individual communili.-s could easily brealhe nothing much b<'Sides
their own hOlhouse atmosphere. provide themse!"es with scraps from The
ncwspal"'rs, and imagine Ihemsek.s aT Ihe cenler of thing'. My picture of
is of a group f""ding On lh. whole enormily of War Communism. All of
Ihe faCts and dreams 1 adduced in describing il previously are rdevant_ But r
shall single OUI one or tWO in particular. which hadinlmediate resonance for
mak.rs of visual signs. My queSlion, again, is why mooernism could believe. not
absurdly. thaI il was on Ihe ,ide of his wry.
Most people capable of reading the papers in I,LO thoughl they were
living Ihrough Ihe end of capilalism. They were in Ihe Economics of the
Transition Period. And maybe ,he clearest symptom of thaI passing frum One
system to another wa$ the crisis in Capilalism's m<!$I pre<:i ous means of repre-
sen{ation.nlOney.Makhnoasusua l sawlhepoinLTbemoneyhei .. uedinhis
anarchiSI republic had printed on illhe message Ih.1 no one would be pros-
ecured for forgingil." But Makhno w.s only carrying to ils logi".l condusion
Ihe general collapse of "conhdence in Ihe sign: which noT only anar,'hislS
thought might be terminal.
Sine. 1918 there had been raginginflalion. By the middle of L919,saysE.H.
Carr. "the value in lermsofgoodsofa rapidly increasing volume of rubles w as
already approaching Printing presses had to run full lime. iust
trying to keep enough nOteS in circulation land never quite managing to). The
more money was primed, ,he less Ihe ,alue of ,he individual ruble. By July
19!I,accordinglO later Sovier figures, the real valoeoflhe p'l"'rproou cedby
the Ireasurf was three million rubles. This did nOI even cover lhe cosl. of
physically producing Ihe money in Ihefirsr p!ace." "Thedenlandforcurrency
or p,resident of some commillee or olher, and Ihey passed as
Needless TO say, in su,h asiTualion mort' and mOre of Ihe real economic life
of S(xiety Took place outside the of money altogether. There was talk in
workers were paid with {he goods Ihey produced, or with goods from orher
fac{Orieswilh which they hade"change forced requisilion of food in
Ihecounuysidew .. accompaniedbyaregressionlObarterinlhetowns.Asthe
1131e, ralioning came m h.verhe look of.n ahern3tive to money alro gelher. It
se.omed a shorr srepto aboli,h money oUllight as Ihe medium for basic goods
and service . In the slep appeared 1<> be being laktn. In January "free
.ommon dining rooms" were set up for the factory .nd ofoc. workers of
Moscow and I'ellograd. Th.y were imagined as prOTOtypes for the counlly os a
whole. In October plans WeU laid for Ihe abolition of charges for ,,"sIal .. ,,ke,
telegraph and telephone. water andel""tricil} (when you c"<lld geT them). In
O""ember ralioning waS finally converred inlO free di<tribution <If goods 10
designaledcla,,,, . Rem,andrate'<lnmunicipalandnationaliudhou,ingstock
wer' 10 be abandoned. Tr .. eI on the railmads was 10 bef .... The last inde
prndent bank in Ihccounlrywuliquid.red. Taxolionwasnow. moreor].s.
m. aningless exerci.., (except forlhe forced levies from Ihe peasantry). There
was a decree on thelabk in February ta.xes for go<>d and all. NP
pur a SlOp 10 the proj ... 1 in the nick of lime: '
Behi nd all Ih<."S(! giamoroul figures and plans-and this lime hardly di,guised
by rhem -liel a world of .ivil-war misery. And of improvised, mosdy desperale
resp<>nsesro il bygovunmenr and Ihc pt"ople. Carrp.ys homage to Ihe period
.. illusrraring"thel"'rsistenceandingenuiryofhumanbeingsind .. i,ingways
and m.ans to exchange goods when Ihis be"omes ne"essary 10 their survi val. ...
Mosl ways had linle T<> do with socialism
lIul again, our is pe",eplion, not reality. UNOVIS its
rations. And what marks off this period of frte hll from most orhers
- from Ihe process as it happened in Germany, for inSlan,," - was Ihe
seriously and propagated by at least some Bolsheviks, Ihal
Ihe end of money was a nec"""ary parr of the end of capirali,m, 10 be wekomed
as such. Makhno'sexaltalion was widely shared
The COnStanl decline of money (Ihis is Ihe Bolshevik economi>t Larin, wr i.ing
in Ekonomic/Jc.kaya Zhi;:n in November will increase in
wirh the growth of the organized ehal3CTer of $oviel economy ... M..,ney, as
a sole measure of value. does nOl exi.t. Money as a means of "irculalion o;a n
alr.ady begol rid ofro a wnsiderable exlent. Money as a means of paymenr
will come to an end when Ihe Sovier <Tare freel Ihe worker Ironl the n""e ssily
of running to Ihe Sukharevb (the black market). Bolh the .. d,,dopments
may be lore .. en and will be realized in praCTke wilhin rhe neXI yurs. And
then money will los. its signifieanc"" as treas",e and remain what it really is:
Alr.ad) in 1919, in lhe ABC of Com",,,,,;,,,,, lIukharin and Preobrazhensky
hadwelcomedinflationasa form of forced expropriation of the weahh oflhe
bourgeoisie. Thenexl
th D;ctatorship to "the printing press of Ihe People', Commissarial
ofFinanc . . . lhalmachinegunwhichallackedlhebourgeoisregime in ilS rear
- ilS monetar) system - by converting Ihe bourgeois ""onomic law of money
circul"ionimoa means of des True, ion oflhal same rcgime,and;nro. source
of financing Ihe revolulion."" Allhe Tenlh Part y Olngr.-s< Prrobralhen,ky
congralulated factlhat . whereaslhe Jacobins' a.signat had
deprc.;iateda mere five hundredfold in a year. Ihe ruble had shrunk byaf."or
of twenty Ihousand. 'This m .. n. we have bealen rhe French Revolulion by
forty loon . ..
Of cour.., Prcobrazhensky waS panly inlcnding 10 play Ihe mle of courr
jester. The Tenth I'any Congr ... took place in March !9'1. t-IEr was already
under way. llut there was no slICh double plans,serinu.ly pur;ued
rhroughmuchof!9>O,todiscover asui,abIeMarxist .,bSlituleforexchange
value ahogttner. .conomi<1S Went back 10 Bogdanov'. old S/WTt Course in
E<onomicSc;ence and wherehehadtriedtoquanrifythe
laoortheor)'of.oluein'ern .. ofphysiologicalexpenditureoftnergyintheact
of manufacture, Thty did nOt c ... much that unin had long ago consigned
Bogdanov to out .. darkn ..... Maybe one could have a.ystem of social value
based on the cal"rie. Or tht Ired(. basic unit of labor or themed (a
unit of lOtalrnergyourlay:laoorplu.,hernurn,han;';s),ore\'enas pe<:i/ied
amOunt of IkIh. Commissions set up to investigate the
Wha,everthe unit might turn OUt 10 be - experts
diS;lgreed mightily-there waS a S.nse in
,urning back from the ",aim of 10 'hat of u ... , This waS the future
Communi,m had always promised. Ma)'be i, would he ush.r.d in prtci,dy in
'he rulln of repres.emation. An AmiMoney - an Anti Exchange - would
hasten on thegeoeral tran,valuatiuoofvalu ... bo<>k would be
torn intosep .. ate JXlges ... " ColoredJXlperwould be everywhere.
I, is anybody'. guess how much of this te..-hnic.1 discussion filtered
through to UNOVtS. or how much it would h.ve me.nttO them if it had. But [
am ' ure the g<:ner. 1 s.ens.e of "confidence in the sign" collapsing was one that
Malevich exulted in. And he and his follower.; would have seen the of the
that signifying chaos was ... "ing in, moSf fLlgranrly and right
at the capitalist he.rt<>fthing>. "Ecunomy" waSa warcry in '920."1
d.dare Economy t<> be the new fifth dimension, the t ... t and of all
c",.,ive and .rtisti, work .. "Sup",m",ism has a new criterion for evaluating
everythingcreatedinplaSI;';d ... ign. lnstead"fbeau'yi,isonorny.""' ''Wear
the black square asa mark of world tcollomy!" And so on.
I do nor think we ge' dose '0 the tone and fo"'e "f the ...
pronouncement.-whyafterall is the sign nfeconomy ,he undecidable Black
Square? - if we do nOt build into thtm a sense of what uonomy in the year
they made. Economy was <>n the point of disappearing inro abs<>lute
immi ... ration. But Marxists capahle of finding a grim futurity in that fact
uonomy was the new zero M.lev;.;h w", on lookout lor - lik, the
M ore than once already 1 ha.'e implied ,ha' Malev;';h'sviewof,hecr isi s
in signification was very unli ke that, say. of hi. contemporary Ferdinand de
Sau"ure. The new signs would bedi"overed, Malevich thought, in 3 social
sJXlce beyond Mdifferencr and advantage." where Mnerythingisnowth ....
This is very far from being a Marxist view of a possible future. but it was aided
and aben...!, I feel. by a certain kind of Bolshevi k utopianism which waS
rampant in [910. ['art ofth. utopiani,m J sympathize with.I'articularly the
implic'3tion rhat rhere is deep connection oo ..... n the rep",senrational order
called capitalism and ,he belief (wh;';h werouldcall,forshnn,Saus<urea nlthat
all represcntationalorders are at hurt sySlemsofdiffer.nce. of pureexchange
values generated ou, of the rda,ions between the element. of 3 signifying
system. Marxists would say that the insight here -and c.rtainly ,here i. an
insight - occl"de. further problem of the ,ign ... ystems" materiality, and thus
their belonging to JXlllerns nfmaterial pr<>duction and reproouction which we
call social practice. (The stress here is on the hiSlor;';a!. material place and
de,ermin.rinn of ,he whol. language-game. not just 'he phenomenal of
anyone ",ken it. Obviously the least modernist or serniot;';i." is capable
of recognizing-I wouldlkly,fetishizing-thel.11er.1 Nobodyi. pretending thai
Ihis further field of problem, Wme, wilh convincing answers prn"ided
of problem' i, whM. wilhin lhe signifying regime we l>elong 10. has no, '0 he
Ihoughl. [vrry,hing abom Ihe force. and rdalion, 01 .ymbolic produclion
enciosNci'Cllilor')"Slem,of"'ningnowh .. eonrolhe realm ofnec.ssiIY. Pure
presence wars wilh .bsef\(."e. Ihe ialler winning hands down.
$ignificO{ion i. imagined under ,he sign of money, or nowaJays of
similar aClion jeon,'."ion) .11. distance. happening in Ihe elher 01
Symbol manag." role. -We arelhe Plan. ,he System. ,he Organizalion.-
and sO on. It Ilkes. ,'ery special (anJ n"douhl lerrible] momenl ior Ihese
sTrucIOTe.lobelhinkable3lall .. ,oe;"II)' delermined. '920 wason. such.
[I Lissirlky', gre" image of Ihe o,her (social) dimension 10 human sign
syslems waS The lerm is noT 1o be underslood lilerally. Wilhin
lINOV'S in general , archile.:lUre i.a st.le IOward which all forms of signifying
pr.cricelenJ.lh.dose,lheywmelO hreakingwilh Iheold order, Arch ile.:;rurc
i. anorhtr naml' for collrclivily. or lor a hiSloricily which rrcogniu. its elf.Bolh
.r<connrcredwi,hapr.,.,nrorfulurr rC-ln.,eriali2alion oflhe world
Those ages of mankind which were pussessed of coh .. ion alway, possessed a
cohesive mean,olarehil""lur.1 expression. Ihi s m.1leriali,ed assemblage of
all ,he OtIS - of li,e,,"ure, mu'ic, Ihe pbsli' arlS, painling. [No,ice ,hal
.nd demareri.li",,,ion se, in. Ensuing ages found ,heir highesr
0 .... of Ih. arts alone, Sculplure had ilS day. painting ;IS d.y. music and
lileraru.., ,heir momem, and ,hen ev.mu.1Il)' ,hey were dr.wn IOg",he, again
Weh,,'ejusrli"edlhrough. lime when paiming'loodallheforefronlof Ihe
alla,k. Now we are reaching Ihe po;nl of "ansilion from s<:ulplur<'p:li nling
10 Iheunilyof.r,hilec,ure.
From fragmental;on and dematerializalion. Ihal i,.lo relation. of symbolic
rrproduClion roled by an opposi" logic
OurS{ruggle a!>'linS{ represenl.tion,1 'Ir{ is . 1'0 3 Slrugg.k .gainsl number
["",aning lh. whole previou,syslem olidenTily and difference. Ihe , olmre',

It i, not lor o. 10 see how Ihe new world will be built. It will nol be hu;1t
wilh our I<nowledge and ,echnology. It will be buih wilh. dir.".nd a<Xu ra Ie
force -a lun"ic force. from wh;ch all will recoil in,ha"",. '"
N o ringing pronouncemem,. ,hen, on Arl and Re,'olll,;on. No ,.,dic,
un moderni,m al its momem of IrUlh, Abo,.-c ,,1/. no on Bol,liN;sm-
aparlfromlheobvious,.bsolule.preiiminaryone.Nodancingon,hegrAve. no
mourning.monglheru;ns. Be.:ausc Ihc dance" and mOurne" are , ... um 01 lhe
eanh. History i pupf"'llhey jerk on .n argume,,, , '''ing.
long ago Ihe sociologisl Karl "-tannh.i", imaginoJ an an history Ihat
would.,k lh. following questions:
Whose memalilyi.recordedbyanobjects!Whala .. ion.si.u.lion and
choices furnish Ihe perspe.: li,'., in which arrist'pereei,'.and represenl som e
" Pffrof realily? If work. of'r! reflecl poinlS of "iew, who are ,he prol>go-
niSI' and who Ihe antagoniSl.? Whose reorientation i,refleCled in changes of
style? ''''
Try .skingthe .. EI Lissitzky's propaganda hoard.
ProtagoniST 1 could bt Trotsky. Sl"'",h on 18 April 1910 to
for the Fight .gainn De .. nion On ,he Railrn.tds:
It't me ,um up. First. with regaTd to agitprop.Il><lieve we are nO{ doing all
we could in thi.are., and I think I .hould..,tout the t ks we n",d 10 ."ign
'0 GI""IJ"brPIll .nd [(he Pany arm of (he Commissariat or
TrJn'pon ;md the railr(>.1d workers' unionJ. We ,hall not be able to manase
without cooptra,i'm from ,he ,r.de uninns. Gi""poiilp"1 and T.dprof. o::b
and the figh' against l.hQrd.serrcrs.
help of p<)">ters- pop"l .. one, - whie'h will ,how the .. as the crimin.l,
they a,..,. These posters should be hanging in evet} workshop, ewry Jepart-
mem.c,cryoffice. Right nowtransportalion i,the Iynchpin. AnJtherefore
Ihere,houldnmbe.,ingie,hea' . singlepublicsr,,,de, ingle movie
show. where ptople are not reminded of the harmful role of Ihe hbor d"ener.
Where"er,he railr():l.d worker goes, he shoulJ find a poster which m",k'lhe
deserter and put'lhe.hirker [progur.l"hikj to,hame ... Wen""dw use

the vi llage lhey are not much use. Let us make ten or so against
shirkingandde .. nion.Li,,"ofde>e rters.hollIJbeprintedandcin:ulated.
Even if we do not the d, ... rlers b.ck by these means, '" we shall
frighten 3nyone who is leaning in that direction ... Be,id .. ,
;l1still awarent'Ssth.1 labor conscription Iparl of Trotsky's gel1eral
dream althis 'ime of the ",ili tarizalion of tho ,""onomy] means 'tayingal
one', post a, long", the circumsmnces JomanJ il ... The COUrtS should
likewise hea mighlyengi".ofag;tationanJ propaganda. Their role i,,,ol
i"st to mete our punish",.nt to the guiiry, hut TO agitale by meons of repres-
lion. We Ihould organile. show trial (literally. a 10uJ trialJ ofoneortw 0
.. lfwepu(thctrialonin ",heater
in on"of l he cities. and invile repre"'ntatiYesfrom all the workshops, .Old
have the tri.1 reported in all the pap"rs, and bro.dcast 011 the "dio-,h.1 will
re.l lydo",,,,eeducalional work.
As regards workers on railroad, who are systematic ab .. nt<e., we <houlJ
org.;nilcanumi:>t'rof tria ls. The railro.d workers could track down .. veral
.uch i"Jividu.ls and. after a ,how Irial, could steer them back IOward a
altitude. One Or tWo examples would make a colossal impression
PrO'agoni" lcoulJ be Mikhail B .,khtin.Twenty-fivein 19!O.Sehooireacher.
acmuntant, philosopher of language. MO"ed to Vi"hsk in 1910,from. sm.1I
IOWn calleJ Ne"eI seventy mile, nonh. Friendly with Pawl M.dyed . prime
mowr of ,he local Commissariar of No of Marxism (his
broth.r was known 10 be fighting with the Whites in Crimeal. Lecturer to the
Regional Communist Panr Sehn"l. ,he Party Club, (he Polilicallkpar(mem of
the Fifth Vilebsk Infantry Di,i,ion. the Prop.gand. Ce"ter, the Union ofP""
and Tei.graph Workers. the Union of Soyiet Workers. Le.:turerandorganizer
for the Provincial Women', [kpartment. Participant in of literary
charactns. [kfenJed lusually su.;ceo;sflllly) Khlestakov from Gogol's The
1",perlOrGelleral, Katerina Maslova from TolsTOY'S RtSllrrecriOI1,and SOOn
Not in receipt of "academic An making ends
Compbe publisheJ works in as follows (the hrief CSs.lY, from which I
h.velrimmeJonlyan opening sentence or lwo,haJ h<en publi,h"d i"N evei,h.
The three human cuhure -scien"e, art and life - gain unity only
in the individual person who integrares,hem imo hi. own uni,y. Thi, union,

whJt most often happen" The arti>! .nd the human being are nJivoiy, mrut
often mecha'lic.lly, unired in on, person; ,hehum.n being Ie.ves ",he fre, lui
caresof.,'eryday life" and elllerS lor 3tiITl<'lhc realm of ",e. ti"e
.no,her world, a world of "ifl<pirJ,ion, swe., sounds and prayers," ITh"
qllolcd ph .. sesare from Pushkin.1 And wh;t isth. re,,,h! Art is toosell.
confident, reck le .. ly .. I{confidelll, and '00 highflown, for i, is in no
obl iged ,o;nSwe' for life. And, ofeou''', life despairs ofevn c.tching up
with.rtofthiskind, "Th.ts too exalted for u,"-,ays life. -Tha,'s art. air"
alll All we've go, is ,he humble p,ose 01 li ving,"
When a hum.n being is in art, h. is not in life. and cu",'e",dy, There is no
uni,y be,ween ,hem and no inner i",e'penetr.tion within the unity of an
individual person,
Bu' wha, guar.",ee. ,he inner "onne,tion of the ,on.titll(nt part. 01,
person! Only the elemem of answerability, I h"ve to .n.wet with my own life
furwh .. 1 h.ve experienced and unders,ood in.rt,so,h.teverything 1 hove
experien"ed and understood will not remain ine//t'Ctual in m)' life. Bill
an,we .. bilityentailsguih, orliabili,y,ohlame.hi,notonlymutu .. I,"' ..... '"'
ability that art and life must . ssume, but al", motu.lliabilit}' to The

prose 01 life, whereas the m.n of everyday lif. oughttu know that the
fruitlessness 01 a" i, due to his will ingu.ss '0 be and", ,he
unseriousness of the (oncerns of his life. The individual must be.:ome answer
able through aud ,hrough; all 01 hi,"on"i",e", momen" must no' only fi,
10 each other in Ihe temporal sequence of his lilo, but must also
interpenetrate other in ,he unity ofguih and
N,,, "'ill itdo 1<> invokc in order to justify w.nt01 ans",e!'"
abil ity.lnspif3tion'ha'ignoreslifeandi' itselfignoredby lilei'nOlinspi
ration but slale 01 p<>.'5eSSiOIl, The true sense, as opposed to th.
selfprociaimed stnst, of.1l the old a'gum.nrs,bout the interreia,ionshi pof
.nd life. about the purity 0/ art, el., - that is. the real aspiration behind
allsoch arguments - i,nothing more ,han ,he ntUlual strivingolho,h.rt. nd
life to make th.ir Own tasks easier, to r.li. ,'e tn.mselv. , of their own answer
abili,y, For i, i,c.,minlyea,ier t"creare without answering for
10 live withoul taking art intoconsid ... lion,
Art and become united in n' yself _in the
unity 01 my ,m.werability.'''
I f work. 01 .rt "fleet points uf .iew, asks Mann],.;m, who are 'he
protagunistsand whothoantagonists?Ofcoursthe did nor mean ,he questi on
literal ly. h i<no'ourjohroplumpfo'Trorskyon Ihe One sid <>r B.khtinon
the oth. r, (The reader will anyway have discovered, maybe with a !Ouch 01
horror"h"on,he subioxtolart.ndlifetnereisagreatdealof,ommonground
hetw. en the two,Gui lt and blame .rethe <ubjec"ofho,h, II art istoger an
anSwer from everyday life at all, it seems it will be some kind of "' "ulpa,) Still
less am] i",cre"ed in the famastic (though mayhe fa",uall question; Wh.,
w"uld B.I<h,inor Trolsky have Ihought of the propaganda hoard ifthe)'had
actually .",n i, - Bakhtin on hi' way IN'" ,h. Women's Dep.rrmem to ,h.
Propaganda Centor, and Trotsky.ofcourst , 011 nisway lo,h" Fro",? ltd ors nut
ma'ter to me if they would have appro .. d 0' nol. This is llot art that is seeking
.pproval. The question is, where did this work wish to situate itstlf in the
abou, "Ar' and -thaI is Ihe lille of Bakh'in', artide, but
i,coulda$wellh.,-.l>eonofTlOtsky's - which w.spres.inginon itsevery.uy
life? Obviously at some The propaganda board ami,ipa, ... Ihe Cum,
missar', BUI whal kind of argumtnts did i, deploy - within itself.
prim .. ily, bUl .150 by way 01 verbal jU'tifi.;:l!ion '0 Ihe world uutside-IO
insinuate that ,ime wuuld pro,-e the Commi,,,,, wrong?
argumeuts, partly. No one was mure aware than El l issitzky tha,
very mlk.h of the previous his'ory of an and life, p.nicululy during Ihe
ninele<cnth century, h.d l>een a struggle by both p.niestodisso<iar.lhem<elv es
from one anulher - relieve themselves of their uwn it
is c-ertainly .. ier to neat. wi,hout answering lor life, and easier 10 he wirMur
"king an illlo considera,ion." Putting an end to Ihat (moderni"l Slale of affairs
would invulve a slrange kind o!double activity. On ,he one hand. men and
women would ha .. '0 lake ,he question of answerability liter:>lIy_ Pose il

roneofTrotsky'sspc"",h; nur even ro ". xudea muninic wholeness unknown to
capit.li;m, giving a foreta"e of ,he future amid the "haos of the prt"S elll." lIu"
al t hesamelime"h<ycouldh ... e nuillusions.bou, ,he enormity "fthe task.
They knew the que"i"n of art and .n,wer:>bilily was. ba,h of Any.rr ,h.,
beli,,'eJ itwuldposc the question in less 'han.pucalyp,;';termsw"fooling
i'sclf uuerly, and dooming irselfto the Worsl kind of failure-the failure of
prnendedpr.cticality, in a situotion where pra"i.;e (.nd v.lue. and "'presenta'
, ion, and production. and all ,he vulgar prose of life) wasp .. <isely t he category
in doubt. "Many peuple, e'pe.;iall)-socia lisrs. <eem '0 think thOl,n exislS for
,he purposeo! paimingcompreh.n<ihledonurs ...
Of"uurseitisalwaysand rightly po"ible ,,,dismiss this utopia with a shrug.
Like the iudgesconlronting Malevich's lenin. Or like Lenin himself in
hearing from a Cumilllern delegale from lIudapeSt ,hat of Ihe first "'IS of
the new So"iel govern men, there had to have Comrade Lukacs n.,tio".li,e
,he ,he.ters, and asking the ddegate if the regime had nut had mureimpo nanl
things 10 du. '" There never wil l be a dialectical recu"ciliarion of the Iwo
verdiCls.s.;rit>edtoA".tol)'Lunach.r:sky.'heBolsheviks'Commi .. .,rolEduc"
tion,;n '9iO. 0" the one hand: llunachaNky WaS ,alking about
Meyerhold in particular, but w;,h ,he whole family of modernism in mind,
<crr"inly inclnding Ihelikesof Elli .. illky] ha> fallen ,he times. It
... days,bUfalreadyi,
stinks_ There is no ne. d lolouk fora Picasso for 'he proletari.t_-
" And on lhe
",her: "In ,heir rev"lutionarystruggle Ihe lowestda,."" have always attra<;teJ
noble renegades from ab",-e. In the rulm of art 100 the prolelarial will find its
Marx."' " These are the tWO halv ... of a lorn unirv, as Theodor Adorno would
say - to wh;"h, how,,'''' they do no, add up_ What SMuid we <:3i1 unity
if We had it! Not .:ullme, "'ys Malevich. NO! even (nOt especiallyl PROLET
and stup"u!ture" -this is Malev;';h un ,he Ilyluf uf his l>uuk God I. Not
(Asl Down. it '0' f .. -orite studem in 19H:
For i,isnoc.,sierforcultureloguthrough,heeye of.needlelhanilisfor
"comel: b'u>cculturerricsw;th itswil,ilScons.;iousne"and its .. nscI"
go rhrough something ,ha, bs no (ullsciousn.'" 110 wil and no sen'e.
However witty and brilliant it may be. il will never ge, inside ,har whi"h is
... nscl . ss. ' "
An athlete's slipper for that C;mkreIiJ. The crackli ng ul the movement of
IJ O lInknown
rh ....
10 , ""
C"nb<rK.ofT.,d ... "
"nJ SwJcnu ,,/,hl,
Cmurl)"n,b, Col''I'n<1
to lerro, ,,e 'lu<lrnlS " ,11 I.ll' hlul '0 Ch.g.. II. ("The 01 hl,nke' eJ
ptr..,n, I"", w;,h", workshop''' not tn ,," nh Ihe It"' ... It
is "$ Jirc.:t1oo. The'" ""!Jodl",,h "od
or ,hetr person, I program, ... n- p' '''.n" propert)" "'p'."U of
cro"i" i{)'01"" hcJC>'fO)'eJ ... " ''')On nurW.l )" O' ",,);10 p,clOr ,,1.uJ,.n<o!
T he ,ex! liu,htJlevich's rollowers se."" 10 h,ve roaJ most elosel), in
,n nl.l nu:;cnp'. wah thc(ryp!tc !t!le
God /. Not Cm DO'11. ' " Bns and from il haw appeared. Jnd wtll
"pr ...... {h' Ol!);ho"( th;,ch.!ptlT,I Jonotll,,,od cvcnlOtr)".og.l.her,hem
logcth<rin:l n)'onepilce.
lint h"e.1I k 1>t ,re. few ,kdew" h)" 10 ,h .. whole. The pamphlet" a kind
of <lrhate belwl't"n th, ,,,, "t'<lorsorpos5th,It1 , ... . ., lled Art. Church. anJ F.l\ ,to')
The can " rei)" he sure which of , he ,hree i, speaking. or whether [hey
h.,,"e be ... o o,w{akon h)' t he J utho" "o;,'e; .m.! ,t ,. . Imost rtnn de ... wh:!, A" .
Church. and Fa<l"')" ""st and (or." OJ"obe"'ry"" ..,me,,,, ... s mwerni.m.
hy ,h, look of It . ,he of ted" ,,)1o!:)'. :>nJ sometimes. as I it",'e
"Ir",dY>J,J.Marx""" ndtrn- t5also Ihe "Church. "
,,' (>0" "I ,he Church'> forms (one 01 ,h, "go< of c" ,J Not lleing C"" Down)

Theo ,he
lex{e.>ni>ero"J as a frJn", J ", lc""Jlmedi(,ltI on onlh"e,,,oJesor mot11enls

endo,ufl'anJ .df<lrfcrt,eof, hecu l" lf <;("C! lOJ ,he fierreromllli tmcn! lOa
"'", .... 1. ,,,,htlol,,);;,,.1 w<>rIJ - wh;" h "',II in an)" clio" '0
worlJ othe rw,se oo,e Art "Je,d, I alll nf){ sa)"lng ,hi, rra ",ework
to.;al pm!,I.",> "f iO'Np,eIJlloo - b, froll ' it - bu' a[ l<l" it hrlps to
why Go.:! I, Not G..I Do"",, seetlled to 1(0g.l n anJ Chashmk of '""h
"f "'''''''' 1' '0",, ",,1, 1)' h"d .!.;,'C" In
dltfe,em "f w",k h.ld .1,,",. "hell he \\'."
.,")" 'Oll< to wn,k f" "" [,)' und ,fter. en' """nct'. ,,'
fJndom '56), each "peating Ihe message - but was it a message or a
- Ihal "Nalure's perfecrion lies in the absoluu blind freedom of its
parts," S[)mftimes(repeatedly) rhe painr ing's brute presentm,,, " an em iry-as
's.quare or a ren,ngic - would 'pawn an image of it,df irself (fig, 1571,
and the two totalitie, would "onfirm ,,,,d refute on" another ,i ll ,he
turned awa)' with a snort, Some,imes rhere would be an ebb ",,0.1 fiow of
pictoria l dements w;,hin ,h" f"",," which h"d "'Me or ,he look "f a pieruring
-a dreaming: - "f ",hetness r<) ,he wor ld, of ';"f>" from it, "Foilow me,
comrade avi,,,,,,s, , ," 0" Ihe Oil" hand a peremptory upward rush and rigidil)',
as of forces or partk:le, 'rapped in a dr adl""k of planetary inll"cnces (fig, I
Or a dangerous see,aw of spikes and gird ... (fig, (59), Or a of bal ls
and baton, in the air 1601, .. A hard, "old, unsmiling system," Malc"i,h pu,
il in in m"lion h)' phil",,,phi,,a l lhoughr,"'"
This is the model we think We can <;c" in his HI.
rho grcar cosmic ,'ortex-well , Iha[ would bea poi'" in i,,[",' o'. in nil' view;
bma,long a, irpresem,irselfa"implya for survival' or a "ruUlc wilh
Nan",. all its ,nik<' me as meaningless." Thi, i, in
Hi, vicw of Marxi,m ",,,I .:iv;1 war.
Ano,her way of puning il wo"ld l,,: Ihis. Th,' re;, a ,ide 10 Ma]e;'i"h',
and indeed 10 his practice, tha, might lead one IOCXpc.:( all of hi, a rt would
look lih ,he II lack Or like rhe picturesc"ntaini ng a , ingle 'ilred
quadri ialera l,orarl',"angkandacircic,orarc'Clanglcin"Odcdhyalriang]".,,,
the 'parest of the White,.,11 Wh ire. , Wha, is uncanny abuut Ma lcvich _ whal
mah, lhe inst allalioo ,hot, of 19'$, '9 19. aod (fig., 1M., and J
164 Ka , imirM,lryich:
Sup'emu, oil on
ny .. , 80 X 7,5, 1 16
(S13tr Ru"i,n Mu,",um,
Sl.PN ... hurgl
so moving _ i, Ihe coexiStence uf ,he mare c'omplex "compo",d" or "dynami c"
Supr,m,.;>! ..... ",Ks ..... it h ,he icon, of ,h. new non-heiog; anJ ,he fa.t that the
ordrrl; nesso{,hemul!; -elemempaint;ngsd"", reg;nerasp,"of - ne<:c,,,,,)' 10
- thcnewpictureofthe worl d
The paradox g"'"deeper, For the more one looks, the
the niceness anJ obv;o".n.ss of Malev;,' h\ composition is css.cmi allO his
p;cture,'finaleffect -cspec;all)-in,itu" urrounJcJb)-t hci, ncighb0', . h is
c. thrhest ofhis pictu'CSlhei,ai,ofp'ofoundinc\'ilability,nffinality
II lurnSOll{. Ihal I>bl"vich , nd 1':1 Lissiuky hJ"e In Wmmon Ih"n
one mif;hr ,u'p.,,,{, J . The neatne'S ,,,,.I orJerl,ness uf EI LisSlrJ.k),. which I
h",'" born" dowll on " rd,nllcssl),.;lIc c<rl.llnly (cature, {hJ{ {he discir k
"I<)uld hO'c f" und in ,he ",,,,, er. Bu"" ;,u<u,,1 unfair. Qualni .... ,h." in
Malevich"s hanJ . w<r. pm,uves. h<,,,u>< 111 I.,,,ion wilh 'Eld mmm;{-
m.' n{ , which by righ{,ough'{11 h"v< ""erwhelmeJ ,hen,. In 101 Li"i17.k)\wcrc
hy"nd lorse. IIm;t", i" "
Of eom", 1 h,ve h<.'n arguing Ih"t {here are exceptions 10 t his rule. Vileb,k
I;JnC'cep,ionalpc, ioo inge"""!. ;u,, b.",ous< ,h" )'blcvich I",,,c IS SO
do"" The propag" nd, board IS one proof of Ihat. The l!.os.J Luxemburg
n,{'mon,1 , nolher. The facI fh:n;n !>olh caS< . ..... ,. h.He "n eX" nlplc of EI
Lissitzk)"s h, b;ts rea"." fm!; ,hen,,,, I,'''' wilh much ,he ,a",e mJfer;JI- ,he
1'01<'11 and Ko"" Luxemburg min'" (he - only m.1k"s Ihe momen! of
freed"m Ihe more " "':l,bhle. And r am nOI ,aying , he momenl of f,eedom
nenr rcappc",ed. There IS /''''5511. There I' 1':1 !'lSsul ky', /,,,,,,,, room. There afl'
tlH" I:>t'SI (rh,'crude'ti of his SraliniSI pho'o"'onIJgcs
T ",,,rulc-.of,hur,,hlorEILlssitzk)'"
F,,,, (whIch os ,mpllcn m mu,h of wh' l I ha>'e "I , "ad),!: ,he doser 1': 1
Lossi{l.k)\al>,{rawon<ge{ 10 ",hne"u. Th"
fro of pos, iil le p<",,{[Ion, of ,,,hJ s In 'p.,,'" hecomc; loc. lly
abso,bmg. iorm,ker, ,, dvlowtr.andge{sm, ne wayofourgr,,,plns -andl1;m
arri<;u llllng -'ne ..... hole p,':I(>",,1 An "':,U",,,]a"OIl O'r"L,cinxc> end. by
bb.:k"'lol.l h,allon-not anyoneorhnJ l torallla"oll ,n""dless to,.l)', hut a
gJl nn ing of r,rucuhr p",,,Jox<'> for a m"n,..m mlO paraJox. which Ih"1l
'ga". , imnlcd",cly, r"o:rm intn.:.mripc", 1 I>i, ; , [I lhetcsi n'rl), ."."0 Sltong
"e<:lorsorhgu reso(lol"h"""n - nopull of e""Yl hongback onro lhelbI-Ihell
1ht-"lcw" , wlli n<){":e {hcccmri pclalacl ,vuy,,. o:emflp<"lal. Th.1{ i,.a,,, kInd
of en<rgy undermi nIng , he l mooe,ms: ) authoruy of the p,.:tu,e plane. The
will I""k n"" 'd"" .,nd cOntfl'CJ . They Wf)' of len do.
horiwntall)'on lyon its Icft, not its right, side_ The reaO;OnS;lre simibr in hoth
CaseS. In the disqualined orienwtion, the forms in the painting ha,'e tOO much
weight, 1<>0 much stahility - they are propped agai nst a central pillar like
quami,ie' in a complicated halancing-act, or they line up too tidily along the
picture's bottom edge, depending on it for support , "Support and
Jre tahooed qualities in Malcyich'sart.
repeJt his ke)' selfinstrnct ion- " ifwe hreak away frorn the ea rth. ift hefulerurn
My judgement, you wi ll gather. is that the best Malcviches rea ll y
JO'l()/turnontheTciationoftheirpartstoabuil! -inhori7.0n, drawnorimplied,
or eVen to the picture"s O"erall snape conceived a, a nnite,generat iveemity,
havinga mp and bottom, and ultimately dictating the heha"ior and gra"ityof
the forms within it. That would he true - maybe true preeminently - of the
Black Square. Just becanse the Black Squarccompletely repcats the shape 0 fits
container, there ends up heingnot su mucha rebtion or hierarchy hetween th,>
one and the other as a stand-off. or an infinite ironizingofthe "cr) . idea 01
rdation. And it is important that what is repeated is a top- and boltomless
square, not a rectanglc.ICrit icsare fond of lei ling uS th"l il is nOI" square,
rca II)" hu, a shape wi,h itS own ,uhtle inequality of,id ... But that i,onlyakind
of pictorial emasis. h is a square. II< 'quarene i. the root cause of its
undecidahility, Itisa hlack square. Its blackness i,the sign that it is Nothing.
is colored black ...
ThevariabIesina Malevi.h painting arc Aatness, hardness. separateness ,and
wrightlessncss. Picturemaking is a matter of making these harely compat ihle
qualities in the same Set of non-things _ Flatness, as 1 .;l id heforc, is
all th ..
elements on ,how. Malevich never douhts that if he roh, ,he world of dimen-
sion,h. i.on tne way to robhing it of other fa lse appearances. "The world is
like a hole and the hole itself is not hollow. I cut a section through the
emptiness ... "There is no empty 'P"CC. Nor is it poibl . to dtJw a lin. or an)'
otherfigu"',heeauscc"ctythingisaireadyfillcd. oc<;upied; andthcpointirself.
or the line, is already a infinile in width, in
dep,h, in heigh" nnd niSI) in space and ,im". In innni,y, every,hing will he
nothing . .. the last ,hing a .\1ale\'ich want. to be, or be read 3<,
isasan image of.ome poible los> 01 gravity, some " hreakaway from earth.n
We do not hJve the means as yet to make ,uch an image, The mean. will only
be found on the picture suriace, in the actual, mater ial place where forms can
bemacletonegatetheirusual .onnotations-oluprightness,density, .,,,Ie,sdf
support, interclependen.e. equili brium. imminent .ollapse.""
"Communism ... is al ready non-obiective. Irs problem is to mnkeco"scious
>l en nOn-objective, to frec,he world from the atlemprs of men to grasp it as
,heirownposs."sion.ln,hisliestneattainmemof,hehighe<lend.Here the new
re!igion has found its own internationaI li mit,th.sign<ofwhicb Ii einLenini,m,
not Lenin.n'"
politi.s, needless 10 say, are almost IOtal1)' submngcd by
antis.oviet f"lOids. The of Ihe Lenin monument is politcl)' ignored
Likewise, usually, the extraordinary Struggle that went on in Mab'i,h's writing
in \ 924 to wrt:sr from the hands of ,he Party and make him UNOVIS',
properry."' The sen'encesjuSI quoted are part of,hat episoJe. The Party ha.tne
hody, but UNOVt\ has what tbe body ,tands for. " Lenin" is the Black Square
Andrei Nakovwould ha\'e us believe that Malevich ga\'e back his party card
sum. timo late in '918 (no evidence add,oced)."" Vasilii Rakitin says that
thought he could ad just to was a bl,lOd-soaked ah)',<.) Whosc "'I iSl he more
inwardturning? Wbo across a. the hard .. r 0" ,h"", procedure.
or lh,' of effecr" Which set of image, is most open to mnlingcn,y
- !<> ,b,- unknown and unpredi,tabk. the ebb and flow ofcircumstance.thc
vagaries of pol i(ics' Which art muSt ,onfidemly "refers"? You will gather that
mode",i,m ",ih. me a. moS! fully i"elf al moment. Ilih when qlle,'
lion, olthi. ,on are unanswerohle, i>ecauo;e lhc dislinCli<>n"lhcy reSt on "".
whalan praniceput' in douhl
M y hunch i'lhal one ollhe rea,omlhe Lefl inan 'h<>ughl ilS time ha d
come in 1910 waslhal it sensed not ju,t a general cri,i, of confidence in the
'ign, bu' also a spccifk crisi, in the BoI,hevik, reiation to their own sign
language. It w", " h"d ycnr for any party thaI bdie\'ed it was, or rop,cscmed,
,he dicm'nr,hip of ,he proletMiat. Isaac DClJlschn, who was not necessarily on
'he l<><>koUl f or ' ign< of ,rrain, 'ingled ou'
BoI, h"' ik. among what wa. left of the working cb" Wa, at rock bottom
Menshevils and Social Revolutionar;"'s,whoin rhe course of three yea .. had
bttn completely eclipsed and had hardly dared '0 rai,;,t ,heir head,
is a good DeUlocher verb,and "hardly" disguises a grear deal 01
daring and raising in 1918 and '9'9,usuallyagainstfierccoddsj,werenow
rtgainingsom. popular favor, l'eopl.list.n..Je,'." more sympathetically 10
Bolsh,,'il regime. lithe BoI.he-
viks had now permitted free elections to the S<wiers, they would almosl
certainly hav. been swept from power.u-
Trotsky's fanra,ie. of the militarization 01 labor, and a cullure of total
cajolemenl and accusation direct..J ar th{)St/alling Our 01 Slep, were cell ainly
partly fir.d by a sensethar rhe relation of I'arty to proletariat had bee nalibul
d ... rroy..J. Writing 10 lunacharsky in
disconrenr" 01 the working class - and th. BoI.hevik, awareness of il- as
to all the d.ba,t'S abom policy in '9LO and should
Wi"g wmm,,"ism" - All Infalltile Disorder in April and May as parr 01
Vitebsk produced irs share 01 danger signs. Summer '918, as I have said
already, had =n a h.ad-onclash berw .. n M.nsheviksand Bolsheviks in the
city over the summoning of a conference of workers' upo/nomochellllye, The
conference had managed ro assemble and was immediately broken up. A few
Menshevik, were arrested for -counrerrevolmion .. yconspiracy.- Sociali'l
party organizations in the provin", w"e declared illegal, and all socialisrs
ordered to leave rhe province forthwith. On. Menshevik billposter was shot.
Pan <>1 lhe reason lor all this waS ,he facttha, th I,.1ensheviks had won an
overwkelming majority on theVirebsk provincial Soviet earlier in the y.ar. "
Early '9LOseemS to have seen a rttrudt'Sunce of Menshevik aClivityin thec ity.
Raphael Abramovich in May cit .. Vireb,k as a place where rhe pally had done
particularlywelJinrffentel ..
tral Commill .. lisred Vitebsk (alongside Samara, Rostov-on-Don and Mogilev)
as one of rhe areas where "the most ,evere arrests look place" in the /aiL
-During Ihe campaign of elfftions to ,he: Vitehsk So"iet many party members
w.re arr .. ted, among th.m Karavkin, S-tredinskii, and a ",ell -known party
leader, formerly a un"al Committee member, B. S. Tseitlin. IAny relation to
,he designer 01 ,he !.lNOVIS ra,ioncard?] Because of ,he ,erriblecondir ions in
pri.on, T .. itlin c.ught typhus and died. wmrade Karavkin btgancoughin gup
blood. The Cheka offered 10 release Ihem if Ihey would stOp campaigning.
Naturally th.y relused: " 'Thi. is rhe point at which a Cheka documrnt actu'
ally turns up - Verdict No. lSLI, '4 November '9LO -listing Lnar Ratner 01
Virebsk, a Menshe,oik, as "guilty of malicious criticism 01 Soviet power and its
activities" and sentencing him to the camps. Mallov, writing his usual survey 01
,hingsin Volia ROSJii(an SR paper publisheJ in Prague) in December,putS
Viteb,k as one of tke citi .. from which rrliable reports of rhe execution 0/
)"jensheviks have arri,'..J,' ol
I am nor daiming that these are more rhan scraps of information. In the
circumstance. scrap' are al l one would expect, At least rhey give an inkling of
wha, being on the Bolsheviks' side in a" migh, havc involvc<l,hywayofday
today turning. blind .ye. And they pUla on Trotsky's -menacing
wedo not build into our reading of ir a .. nse not jusr ofah!>Cn", and ahsrenr ion,
but of actual vinlenr disagr .. mentabour who could speak ro,orfor,rheprople
no longer"t the lactory benches-speak in whose language? speak in whoI<'
Georg Lukacs tells the story of coming down iotn the Streets from his offic.
rhe morning aher &Ia Kun lOok power, and happ"ning upon rwo billposters
and maylxa bit too guod to Ix true; but at ieast for on.:e it has poster makers
and poster readers face to face,)
' GoooJ morning, comrades," he grreted them eagerly. "Let's see what you've
got ... Without looking up from their b""ker of glu. and rolls of
posters, the workers muneted somethinl>\ about a "new government." Lubcs
corrtttcd thcm. " Listen, <:omrades, the proletarian dictatorship is more than
a new government." Putting down hi. brush, one worker glonced at Lubes
havewai.edtililate1this morning.Obviouslyyougentlementhinkthepo<>r
workingmandocsn'tnoxdagoodnight's,leep. "lukacspoi ntedattheposte.
headed "To E,erybody." I. pomayeda face, Aush<d wi.h n cirement, sh Out.
ing .hatthe proletariat had power. "But didn't yuu read it?" Lubes
asked. One of the workers burst out laughing. "My dear ,ir Ithat sound ,like
l ubes' Iran>eriprion uf the form of address], since we've glued up
more posters.1I over Budapesr than the number uf hairs on our heads. Do
you think we actually h"'e time ro read what's on them""'"
Of "uurse these are tensions and absurdities attendant on any effort to mOVe
poli.ics Out of its usual charmed cird . I am not sayi ng they were just a
Boishevil< problem. But Ido say tMtin
to speal< and act on Ixhalf of those who actually resisted the speaking and
a"ting - re,i,ted.heirown "accelerotedselforganization," as Bukharin would
have pUt it - was dangerously dose to .he surl""e. And this was l d. Art's
opporrunity. Ifthe.mmptto map BoI,hevik categories and prescriptio nsonto
th. world was more and mOre transparently impossible, then put the blame On
the mapping. Do not map the world, .ransfigure it. That is what EI Lissit7.kys
propaganda board promises to do. Take the mood of euphoria and desperation,
and finally syn.hesi lC .he twO terms. "At long last create si tuation from which
all turning back is impossi ble. " Create at the level of Janguage. Make a re volu-
.ionof the.ign.
R eaders will pl. ase themselve. whether they find this last uropia grisly
orarrractive. Certainly the uropia did not happen, and you will ga.hertha tldo
not think it muld. Bur again. my subj..:t is limited. A. a.et of fanrasti c
inStructions to ani"s - instrllCtions for Art's self,organization:'
th" is - rhey proved hellishly fruitful. Modernism thri" es On situations of
theenvironmrnt collude in persuading it) that such a transvaluation of values is
ah-out to.ake place. lenin onox said that a revolutionary si tuation i .onenot
just where the soldiers rduse to obey orders, but where the officers do not
bel ieveintheordersinthefirsrplace, Modetnismi salwayslookingroundfor
a suitably demoralized offi cer class, Usually it thinks it can hasten on the
demoralization. In it reckoned that if it could finish the proce .. of
disorienti ng and demoralizing the Party, ir might save th,' Party from itself.
lookingar.he twentieth century as. whole,thi< mighrin general bea better
picture of modernism's relation _ irs functional rdation, I mean - to the powers-
that .1x-
El l iSSillky's board wa, meant os propaganda. We knuw the subject of
mass persuasion wa, on peoples mind, in Le nin more than
"'I.e" m und., ,lit;, ,ok "'0'. mo.1 . "'''1 0" d ..
",h h.nd. it .10.1 qui,. .. i2jnll im .. , ..... ninll oj ,lit f>:o" om;':
pbn. iIS 'nt ."llIr." 1 .... prol"'pnda .)".m 'Muml)" ,,de.J an ,n.
of.1It if " I't'o.kd - I "")'. abo,. ;t nJN - for.1It
d aMe>. UNO"'S no. ""'f!.uidw 1.loough II may hctn
in .hinb "lt" m'gh. run lit .1>1. '0 pro"i<k ,h.
Bnwl't'n tho li nos 01 .h,. ,hople, has he.n the 'lue'II"II of
.. IJ ,;"n 10 .\hrx;sm _ m., yo. ... i<ln of ,\ hrx15m'o .d,.ion to ",ooe."i.",
in gen ,, 1. I do ,hOte is "n gen ... .!" ans", ' o .hi i 'I".won ""
oli ... J( n' .... n ol pan;.,ul,r.:a ... UI,I
!O rmswilh",h .. ... ,,ft .. 1917.
Som.y."",.goapanl phle.lh.J . h,ndinw.ilingri.k.J ,h. I"II"wlnj: on
.10. subi1 of .... {,"'xism, .dJII.m. 3' a boJ) of.i>uollht.loth. I""gJlr"lY!: I.
Lonini,m an.J .h. \'(IOS. :

gam. 01 bu. in",f .. as it bt.:a .... . ,n ,h. wah of
Ikob/>e,;s.-" he ideolog)' of - ..... dOpn'ICIII
for thQK I>o .. rgt<>isios
tbat on .J Jm;ng of ' " wd-,un ro.",d C-Jpi .. li, .... ,0 ",,,,",, .. Iously
"abilittd """,nodi.y .... Ollom). Th. 01 .\brxi .... d.um.
rist 10 in the tnt wu to pur i. mildly. 3 bil .. There n,ay
he diffrr.,,,-'nofopinioJ n .mong uS a.",wh.tr.er. in liglu nf .hi, hi ltory.
,h. old dog 01 hal OilY lif. l .. ft in il . How .:ould ,hor. nor lit f,ot
hail a.:.nn"y of he .. ing I-brxism out ofUl b.i<ht', mouth.o. K,ul,,'s. '"
Io.-Iugahe'!i! lIu. " .... .... "pon. lf Marxi. m is 10 !).., .crrio"d " all
, "i. i,. 1 ", poll aga in , api"bs.". i, h".".,y.hing III gain f, o'" lIt in@.
Ih",Mdi",.wi J- _ .ha' is. ,,i . h mo"of thr I'<"'pie who p.rviously gH' .i,
c,o:Ji . ifmayl.i ll p.ov.'olltanidiomofost 'o.hose:fo.wl\o,n i."':I.fi",
m<.nt. C. rtJ inly.h.y h.'. "Ofllonra".y ....
I "amos",,ntially .ouan.J oot ,,-ith on.or ..-oprov;sos. n..
,..,.dicri.b,icl.and .... ,do,."'ay .... "'disn'issi,-. O",d.oio...,ofMogabon13y
.. i.:k ;n SOJnC rcade,s' P.n", .. b , hi"o,ies a.., al"'3YS atto,,;ling. \'(I
Commu"i, ... ' 00 h .J iii , ... gi.; a".J heroic . ide. I wOtJld 1>;0". ",.n,N ..... n ;n
'OJ.o .o be wi.h IUkh,;" in Vi bsl<. nOf ",i.h h;. hro'n.., in C,imC3. (AnJ.1It
hrothe. in .. ,n""h rh. S' n ... thing. H nded os . ",.mherof . he
CommuniS! Party of Gal IIri'a;n. 1 To "'y Iha. banl. d .. ideology
01 dtv. lop",.nt in 3 copi."I;" worlJ i. nol to sa)' th .. th. iJ.ology (or .he
d.,dopm.nt) wa, ,mno.:es, y. I.jll" oo.ea mor.and mor. "es.igi" I .<i3lion-
, hi p "'a .. 1I.-br x 1.,iJ
;n tn.. Iw. mi. , h "'u. y """,,m. the id.olog) of " f".n,,,ion in
,:olldi,io", 01 p.imlfi, .:.:um"b. ion. Thi. is nOI uid. ag.,in. In donill"". ,h
. \I.""i-sm.of ,I ..
work Marx's idea, .. ,,,,11 .1 00 In do in Ihose: "-0,1.1,. in b ,. of ""h"
.:uns .. aims. And C.onunun .. m '" 19>-0 - . his;' what I ..... n u' g"i""
-;. t'" mo .... 111 of M", xl>m's "'I't'. ing "' IIh If. kIroIOf:iol dost",y. T",
.hio.: k Wllh .11<'''''''''''gof , oawn.In . h" .. , .... only. ", .. h,ng
'''old boo mo mod.", .han F.ll1",,"l ky'o pmpall"nda 00.11.1. No. hinll for oId
.MIUlu ..

And o, ... ,i ..,s ,,/ ,he rela,ion hemc." th,' So,; Union ,,,,.I .h.
projfft Ilnine by "ow sho"ld be f.irly dear) . it is a
when , ,,yone<oncerned for 'he projff,looks.bour - ""ybe a birfurri"d y-for
.. ion. I "h mine fro", a handful of lin.,; Wordsworth wro'e in Thr
PrrJ"de. in the aiterma,hof YeHL:
.. When a taunt
W .. taken up by scoffc" in their pride,
Frompopulargovernmt ",,,ndequalit),.
I s:> w that it w" "either rhese nor . ught
Of wild l>eliefengrafted on their names
B)'fal"" phil""ophy tha, caused tbe woo:,
But that it was"
And ignnran"c filled up fromagtroag.,
Th ... ,ould no longer hnld its "harge.
But burst and in del uge thr""gh land.' -'
Wordsworth, as usu"l.offers. hardo.'r wisdom '),.0 he Stems "':" first sight.
The reservoir that makes for revol,,,ion. hc .. y<. and for its Oegenerarion into

nes. for the tJsksof hisror), - but "Iso of guilt _ Guilt beloog, m. i"ly to the
cbssc, - to thoSt who lead the revolurio" 3, ",uch os rhose who fight
i'loothand"ail iand exuh in itsdo"',,fall ), Butg"ilt isloath,ome.l tdi storts
""d perverts the best vision of the futllre. Ir,annotrlJmuffitsaflectf", mother
fantasies -ofj><1wer. revenge. freedom. unanimity. and threndoftime. Lenin
would be the '''u,ial , .sest ud)' here. But guilt is what the exhorting dasscs
lIj><1n a time their b"'t representMives tried to face thaI inheritance
and think of way ofd.aling with it. William Morris unC. s.J iJ thJ< making and
art in the ,i",,,n"a'1<CS of "apitalism was " li ke felSli"g within earshot
of a palient on the ra.:k. " ' ' poet muSI remember that it is hi, poetry
hears 'he g"ilt for the v" lgar prosc of life "
$",h Slatement, are unfashionable ,he5l; days, (It is re.:koned Ihey lead to
" to,"li rariani sm. ") But s.omething is being pointed to in them - s.ome loathsome
cbarge. some or G.7,. Or EI MOWle. What 10 do with Ihll guilt i.
:moth .. marter. And J '''' nOt imending sollle last-minute
rlariorl,orex,use.for Bolshevism by raising the question 3t,,1i in the seP''' -
grapbs. Qoe, rionsabour Bolsh,,'ism arr poli,i<:ll. Bur one rhi"l! you do icarn
from looking ar UNOV] ,: there is nn end to the madness into from ,he
pasr.andwhichre,'olurionsreiease. The Bla,kSqllaremeansrhat:1IJ1Ongmatl)'
orherthinlls.Andthedarkne<siltri",to.:ontain.orironiu.renlains the fuel-
and ,he ,hie! thrt at -for any r,,'olution 10 come
I ,may seem srrange to cnd an ess.Jy on EI Lissirzkysprop,gand. ooard
with reAe..Tiunsotlguiit laoswerabili ty) and sr,,'e-formarion. Burl 'anont ,ee
whal other, lesser terms ",,,,,Id do justice to the board'sambilion. Th.re is a
third term. ofcour'-C -the nld moie,or.hos",ut, "revolution. "
In the '96os I rememb .. being ,truck 0)' JO atlide SchieJer. in
which he .rglled that our name for the ninet..:nth and mud, of the twentieth
'tlmori"" ough,w he "tbe ageof",'olutions":sin,e revolution w3Sth egovern-
jng mftaphor of poli'i".) and c")",,,,llif. in the period. and , .. rtainlr what
marhdoffiISstlf--l:on'<Cinusnessf"'n1tho"-I>lsocietiesbefore it:-'That""Y
hesc. Lud},thert' is somelhing like general Jgrcemml in th.: Firsr.nd Second
Worlds ima)'he ."en tbc Thirdl that thc I"riod anJ metaphor hal'e ,orne to an
end. Every la,t by

ofbo,h,ernrs.androinsinul,ethattheya lwa),heiongtogether.ltserve'their
turn 10 m3kc Out Lenin - of all ptople _ a "utopian"!) Even those wi,h
somethinggenuindy to ""'Y on the subjec"l mOSt often strike a v. ledi"ol)" nOte
".\Iarxism," one of ,hem h it. "onlytahs roo, in a socie,ythat i,imilgirtirtg
havingindustry."nThi.i.agrimdiagnosi. linmyopinion).burnlYchap,eron
UNOVI, has ended up brgd)".greeing with i,.
Wha' we need ro unders,and. ,hen - and ,his chapt .. i, intended as a
,,,ntrihution tl>the u"derst3nding-a .... ,he circumstances in which a socie'y's
imagining itself ha"ing indumy tokespiac"C in Malevich', or Lenin's ,"""s.IThe
,wo example. are in my Ix>ok "f what seem, 10 be a nec""'1)" "...,ring
in the industri.lizing imaginary between fan,a,iesof to,"lily and 6",.,i of
<"ndl ... shifting - shall we ,ay. hetween Party and utopi . or Leninism and
nihili,,,,? Or be,wee" ,he "Life and Art" of Bakh,in', 3rt;.;le.) I rhink we mighr
look JI ,he terms "guilt." "stateformation." and " revolu' ion"und ertheruhri,
ofa fourth and more capadou. one. ptoposed hy Norbert Elias. "thecivilizing
process.""Lttu,agteewith El ia.th.rth.g .... alch.lIlge in,ocial behavi orand
self ... onsciou,ness whi,'h wem along wi,h ,he prOlXS> of modern state-
forma,ion from ,he .nd of ,h. Middk Ages land with" vengeone. on"e
industrialization look off! was a turningaway from the hru,,, of
power .... lalions belween people nd Ixt .... -e.n Slate and citizen. toward
inrernali""ion of social And nOl only instr uctions. bu,
idealizations - more and more p",,,digms of wha, ... If and o,hers
.... ally ..... or ough' ' 0 be. or migh, become. More and more belie{ in the st"e
(cynici.m about pol ilic. only being pan of ,he helief). )"Iore and mOte self-
policing. "The individual must become answer:lbk through and through." "Bul
.n,werabili,y ent.ilsgui lt .. It is not only mutual answerabil ity Ih.t a" and
life must assume. bUI al,o mUlualliability 10 blame." .... ver the ",illOad
worker goes. he ,hould find a pos'er which mocks the deserter .nd purs the
shirkerlOshame ... EvenilwedonotgetlhedesertersNckby,htseme:lns,at
least we shall shame and frighten anyonr leaning in ,h.rdire"';on. . " It will be
built [muning ,he world '0 come) wilh a direct and ac .. :urare force - a lunark
fo,n. from whi"h all will recoil in It is the "all"' in rhi, la .. sentelk."e
,h", is truly a"ut:lle and
Elias and others have.hown I 'hink. ,ha' ,his internalizing of
social idealiza,ionsi,nec .. ".ry - strictlyfun'"lional_lorthesecuringofa
mode", nalion-state. You could nol have such stales without ,hem
creating and reinforcing their own e . honing dasses. is WI)"
much pat! of (Michel Fo....:ault. whom I shall deal wilh direc.,ly in ,he next
.. Eli",.grealinterp .... terin,hisregard.)Buthercis,heruh, I believe.
more ferociously inretnali:ted are ,he myth. of the 51ate's ben.li... .. nce. or of
,hcp"ssihilitr of the good life under itsaegis.orev.nofa deep priv ""ywhi ch
,h. s,ateguarantees-whichi,e:<iSl,rogu'rantee_the more appalling i. the
realization.iland wheni,comeslandita lwaysdoeseomeloa fewl.,ha"h.
myths are founded On hypocrisy, duplici,y. and repression. The guilt that is
generated by su"h a re.li,.a,ion sttihsmeasunique. It i. nOl like any previou,
.kepti" ism. or disappoin'ment with the way of ,he world: because nO previous
world had made i"larger ideali z31ions so much parl.nd parcel of ilS suhj eelS'
sense of themseives as moral "Cto". Ag.in. William Morris would be a good
example; or Lenin in r.lation to hi, brOlher's e:<ecutinn; or. come to that. EI
Lissirzky'ssudden and '0,.1 falling Out of love with hi'Jewishinheri"n'"
'>1:' ...... talking now aoout revolution . s an <x,urrtner i" the life oftbe
e.1:borring d.,ej - momt'" of tcrrible apostasy. Ihen ",rtainly can fuel
a lif"ime's effort. I am v.ry far from saying,h", ,hese are the only energies
operative in I9I7oronzsVendemiaire;bottheyare .omeof the energi .... and
have real cffe.;ts: I think we di5<ount them al our peril. (It i. part of the
exh<>rting cla<ses' self-laceration to ,hink of themsel ves as or .pi-
phenomenal to a revol ution always imagined coming from d..,where. Irom

off.) Revolurioninthesense l ampointingtoi.aspoxificmaladyolrheci.ililing
pr"" . .. and ,he bu. ine" of state-formation ,h., goes with it . hi.aproducr of
Eliass "intemali zationol ,o.:iali nstroctions.
And likewis. nihil ism - meaning ,,1'1 ab$<ll ute re jection. root and bmn,h, 00<:.
and for ewr. of the world and its value'lnm jo;t 01 th. values Ihe world
happens to have al present, but of "world " and Mva lue" as in
anypossiblcrebti"ntoone anOIher)_ inthehopethatsuchanegalionwill I;>(
curative of ,he norions of guilt and answerabil ity which are the prohlem. A
lunati, rei ... tion, by th. lookso/ i, . But somrtime.one lunaq- de..,rves an",her.
N ihi lism and answerability. then. These are ,he ,wo organizing ideas. it
tun" ou,. 01 a of UNOVIS in Vi"bsk. It is El '- i"i tlky', propa-
ganda hoard puts ,he ideas at odds with nne ano,herso tiercely- Red Square
versus Black Cirde. Stank; ve ... os ,he crackling of , he movement 01 nun-
objectivity_,h., ,he bond goes on (and will go on. I think I having aesthetic
Nihilism and answerability. And above 311 - 'hird lerm _ the state. The state.

perhaps tho scoffers will be pro.ed right. Mthe age 01 revolUTions"

01 idealizations and apostasies-repeti'ions ofY.ar L. Perhaps ,he phrase of
Marx's ,ha' will tum om to most trul y prophetic (i t is Marx 3! hi,
most utopian) i. his opinion. or hope hat "th. workingdass has no ideals to
I hope so. But the job of this in any ,a,c. has not been to lay the
ground lor pred""ions ahout the futu,e. only to poi n' ou' the horrors of th
p"st -the horrors of modernization. andofso many of the efforts (even ,he best
and mOst ruthless) to imagine moderni, y o, herwi ..,. We need 10 know Ihese
horrors. I 'hink,and wh3! the horr""tried to address. if we are 10 have lh eleast
"ho",. of transforming an)thing. We need to know ,h. true faee 01 Our
opponent. That is why EI Lis,inky's propaganda b(x .. d wi ll not go away. II
shows u. rhe Sta'e shouti ng (as it usually doesl through the revol o'ion smouth.
Thi. double image ough, ' 0 he stamped on our brow, . I feel. or sewn on Oor
sleeves. For whether or not ,h. age 01 revolut;ons is over. the age of , ta,e
fmma'ion hasonly iust begun.
6 The Unhappy Consciousness
non er d',mor ni de
qu'enons io,roba" en ciurmcn

sp"'ak ofmeo, mh.r"lof I<wc 0' youtn, Or of.n),!hing olse,/ for
it wa,eompo>cd while [wasasleepiriding on hor>thack.)
Willi,m IX of Aquilain.'
Once UpOtt a Time. When J firs! came across ,he by the duke of
some years ago, naTUrally r imagined them in Jackson Poll ock's
mouth. They put me in mind of modernism; or of one moment of modernism,
which I realiud 1 had been rrying(and failing) loge' in focm eversincelhad
read Harmoni ..... or 10<lked ar Le Ronheur de (livre. Two things were clarified.
Not juS! that modern artiSlS often ,urned awa)' from Ih. detai l of the world in
order to revel in the work of art ', but thaI the turning
away was v"'y often associated with a dassanitud. o. style nol unlike Duke
William's, or, at least, an attempt to that style - its brightness,
lordliness, and nonchalance. Its "balance, largene .. ,pre<:ision,cnlightenmenr,
.. imism of strength
You might such an effort at a,istocratic world-weariness on the part
ofbourgroisand even pettybourgcoi'artisrs. opcra,ingi n thenineteenrh a nd
twcnticth centuries not the eleventh and twelfth, to bear some strange fruil.
Largeness and lordliness, after all, were not likcly to be these artim' fort e.Take
the no,-elisr G"sra,e FI."ben, for (central) a[ the begin"ing of work
on MaJa/neIlwary in , hebitofrefe ..
to come wilh the form he had chosen, and dreaming of book about norhing,
a book dependent on nothing external,which would be held IOgerher by the
interna[strengthofitsstyle ...
atleastwhe ..
What strikes me as truly strange in FlauberT'scase i,not SO mueh the proje<:t h e
outlined fo, himself-though a, an ambition fora novel rather tha n "sesrina
or a SCt ofhai.u i,ha, its own pa,hos-as the disrance hetween the book he
imagined and Ihc one he 3CIUall)' wrole. No book has ever been f"lI<I Ihan
MaJa/ne Bovaryofrhe e,-ery,hing e' tcrnal which is the bourgeoiswo rld.F"lIer
in ilS hcarr of hearl" I mean; fuller in its in the weight i'giveslO
[H J ackoon l'ollock
_<;"a Change. oil.nJ
p<bble, on c.ftv .. , '4'"
X 1H.l,1947ITh<
Art Mustum. Gift
,"\ JAd .. ",I'oIlocl:
f,,11 ",I ,n.!
,....",1",."" .. 1< 0"
" 9.' x -6,1,
'9n ITh.Mu,..u",,,1
,\h><krn An. 1".",
G"!W.nl,. in,,
word It 3$ if .h, i",...,,,, bou's>is wish 10
dispo:ns.: wi.h ," ibilili.", . s"ong'" will b< hold un
wori<'5 p.:1c,-. >lnKIUr<", ... n ... of il> own obj..,,;,;,)'. Or m3)h. we enolld ""Y
.ha. wha. b,inS' on .he wo.d 3. ,11 3. p<Op<"' dC"SCnp.-ion of
AI"d"",e 8m",., i, de,dlo.:k ,,i.hin i. bc.,,C"Cf\ 3 so
and cold .ha' i, hoI"" .0 .he cmOlions it <ksc.ibcs JS i. d,'S\..,bM
.h ..... and"nahsulu.e.ubjuga"0nlo.host"""'()tioMand,hcwuriduflonl:'nI:
.hel ",njur, up, A derp nm .di.,,d bur uacrrbal..d by funhc.
(u\tima'e) ",,,,i m'ntali.y ,1'001 - call I. a 1,..lid in .h. n.hil"'''n ..... of
Which I.ad. m. (r) Pollock . "10 nlOme", in la,. ' 947 wh"" fw p.o)<h,",d
.heli." group of .lb,,,:! co nl'a,;.:! donr in J "ewl)' J.vi,e.1 in"ol\",ng
pollr<d Ihr"wn p.un., and "am,d ' wo "I Ih,m. with Ler ""d his
I,.:nds Mary a"d 1",lph hdp. 5,." C/"lngt, a"d 1',,11 1',11"'.1'" Fi ....
(fig;. 'H and '75/.' 1 do nOT wanl . 0 .her< waS ;111).hillg
wroUJ.!hI. ronf ..... "nal uf Pollock's , ilks in .h, prn-roing
years TOlrm Las",". TWllbleJ QII/'ell. Bill" U"cc>llsrro..s. Sm" ...
tI""goft!'" PJSt. a ndso .... ,}_.hr:y WITC ddibcra.d}' cool and g;ludy.
fllllF.l'/, <>m F;,'(' 3 .. ph "' ..... al.:cn from Atid's sonl:inT/tt
Tm,,,..,,. 0 .... of I"" play's nlO .. !!Ii.rcring. masqllc-likc "nd Ihc III!...
being so much Iol);tr.han hi'c-.hc)' chime In wi.ho.hcl""Sfrom.heuOle!;'oup
li k" AId):"i. L"'le,,", EIle/1"m .. d of lilt Bill D'"!'I'!'r.
1'!,o5p"ores ... " .... ... 'm. '" mr 10 h,,,, bttn mcam 1\) .');{ablish .h.
"",e ."nor of .he "eW body of wo.k. enCOIl'ag" .. i.wcrs to I""k:l' i
h,,,,,ghA, i. I's.y .... . Whicn is 10 say. look lhrollgh .h.p:lintinS,' sl' pcrfi ci,, 1
,oll gh", ... ,"nd "",,,'ri, lism. and see rhelll a,magic - Sp"llsu.disguis. sofsome
SOrt. bnci/ul.filis"'., madcou.ofn,,' hing:
Full fJdomfi, hyfa.her Ii,,,
Ofhi.OOnt'>Carc" .. alnlade;
I'hosta'cptarl ha ....... rehi.cy ... ,
N<)thingofh,m,ha.dorh bde.
Bueoo,hsuffcr a <c ..,hang;:
In.o ..... ,,.hing ri<"h and ,,,ang;:.
SeJa'''''geha,a<callcringof.n'JllpebblC$acros<i's.".fac( ,mosti)' (o, .. .,d
in "Iuminum p.,;m. filII f'Jrl'om h" nail, of voriou. sius. 3. disimcSroring
",boos,. button key,pushpin',
penni",. The of e"cryday life. You CXpr...,;I if you so) on long
en""gheo,-omcacross ',Mo"woof l'ollock's lton'lui li'.ers.ll",1heb .. " nd
piece. are oilly de"'i;lable fromeigil'ccn illche,awa). Go back "c oupl.'of p.1Cr:s.
w nOf"",1 "iewmg ,,,,d disappear into .hc ,low swir l of Wa ter ,,,,d
DOli It rt-mains." ""' ..... n ,f .hi> a.mosphcreoicounly
artin.;e ,,assomc.h,ng Pollock couldsusta;n. n ..-d 'say ie.a 1"'11)'-
ooufg ... i.df""of","""'allyundilu.'-dl)pe-o .... .... pro<l''''''of
Amnica 1of R,,'rrsHk Count)', Califnmia} ".., like 10 b.-l.e.c w,lI I!0 nny
s"icrl),,,,,.hnrowncia,....\'rn,,.lei,hordw.hinkofh.mpl a)"'g.hc3,;s'oe",'
hepoo .... dpainring'we'crl\(".n,
<0 co,,,...,,,1 f .. hed n,,,.h(r? Tn:mblfd Q""I'II? M"J AlooIIlt'omJII? IVQIf?
(1 .he .i.I.. poil\! mosrly on,- - 1'ollo.:k, of .1I p<.'Opk, was 10
com .. ", wi.h .In of lh .. conC,Jlmm. (,h. pourin!!) ench . ne -
Scent. So it proved in Poliock'. cas.e. On ! March '95 ' , Vos"emaga-
'inc four pages of photographs, black and white and color, by Cecil
Beaton ! 77 and In them Irene and showed off a range of
<easonscv"ningd ..
atBclty Parsons. Bcatonhad idcasabvut how the pictures and drc"esmJlch cd.
He reveled in the analogy he''''een l.,we"Je' Mist's powdery transparency _ or
the transparency hi,lightinggave it-and that of rhe chiffon and fan. The fan
struck a
fro of diagonal, which made it quite plausibly part of Pollock', A"flint"
[77 C,cillk.tun:
MoJtIin fron[uf
Numb" [, [950,
I Man;h [91 [
Modc:l in fron[of

I1 .... ulUmn Rhythm,

95 J
Rhythm behind. And so on. The effects arc nOt subtle, and did nOt ne.:d to be.
Hedging his betSjUSl a little, the Vog"e.ubeditor informed reader. that
dauling and curious paintings of Jackson Pollock, which are in the photo
graph. on thesc fou r pages, almost alway.cau.., an inten.it)'offe.:lings.
Vogueinthet94osand 1950swa. not to be sniffed at.' It.old copies and was
On Pollock's.ide.The magaline had printed a full-color photo of Re/1e aimlof
the Big Dipper as early as April 1948, the first time a drip painting was
reproduced in color lheating Ufe with Cathedral by a full.ix months). F inan
ciall)' speaking, early 195' was nOt a very good mOment for Pollock: he was
waitingforhi,contractwith/l.cny broke with heronee
it did; nobody seems to have made much money Out of the show the previous
Decembcr-theonelkaton used - and in any Case Pollock hada reputation for
working the media when he had a chance IMark Rothko to lIarnett Newman in
[946: is a self contained and sustained advertising concern-'). His
tone when he mentioned the Voglle event to Alfonso Ossorio in February was
matter of fact: issue of Vogue has thre.: pag.-s of my painting Iwith models
of course I will send a These things happen. They help a bit. is an
enormous amOunt of interest and excitement for modern painting there [he
means in the wider Amcrica j - it's too damn bad Iklly doe.n't know how to get
at it."'
Taken on their own, the photographs are slippery evidence. They are
falsely conclusive, like the forma l analogies &aton went in for. Ididnot quote
Rothko to Newman thinking the photographs j"St proved Rothko', point.
rhey suggest some of the tenns of Pollock's reception in his Own time.
Butlhe fact that Vogue was a fashion magazine docs not mean that painting.
appearing in ilS page, were, or became, fashionab le. Fashion isa fragile con
struction, which rcg"lariyfeedsoll its opposites. The opposiles of ren stay much
as they were. lleatonin 1951 occupied a particular Ilordly) place in lh eculture
industry. His photos to produce a slight intake of breath. And in

aitogerher, at leaSl as evidence about PolJock. I remernber seeing the model i n
front of Allrumn Khylhm for the first time in a lecture, and thinking it made a
powerful point, but then afterwards having the Comment reported back to me:
Pollocks got used as background ina fashionmagaline. \1:'e all know
that by now.
There is a phrase that st icks in m)' mind from a similar conversation about the
work of Serge Guilbaut - about his book How New York Stole the Idea of
Modlm! Art - to tnecffect that his acrount of Pollock and Abstract Expres
sionism amounted in the end to an exerci.., in "guih by vague associati on." For
is no! any art of real complexity Ithis is the implication) fated to be u..,d,
recruited,and misread? What a,, we supposed to say, for example, about a
photo of Mus<olini's shochroop'mnning in formation through the Arch of
Constamine? (This too I saw in a lecture, at much the ,arne moment as the
Ikaton images, and the comparison struck home.) Arc we to put the blame on
the Arch, somehow? Pretend that the Fascists got Roman architecture right? ITo
which the reply might reasonably be, in fact: Are you.aying they go titwrong?
What. after all, Was the Arch of Constami ll e for?)
None of these que,riom is open and.hut. This chapter, and to an extent rhe
next, are meant as anSwers 10 a few of them in Pollock'. case - in particul arlO
the baldest, most pugnacious question put to the
Do they maner?"
Co''' ""gn.cr, A slab at an ans .... cr .... o ... ld bt Ihis. The- phoco-
manCr fOf much ,he 5.1111(" ",,,son as ,t... bcn of Mara'-, .. , .ho .... ing
UNOVIS f. rcd in thc SI",eTS, That is, th .. y raise Ihe qUl'Sl ion of ['"lI ock'. painl '
ings 'public li k and one main hypothl'Si,of thisbook ha.bn thar p.liming "s
pobl ic life is "try far from being eXlrinsi, 10 il.'x post (dao. (Of coors.t
mod .. rni.m bt lic>C'SthcoPllO'iteaIOiOft hctime.ButtharisbttauseiI SfdWith
su.:h d ariry .... hal Ibt publ;'; lif .. of vi .... al ;nugcry now is. and
.. r acollC\.1I'"ilrofIWo.)
I"hc .. qU<'M;on.lhcn.of whalpo .. iblc ... SC'S PolIOfk's
work co ... ld ..... hal vic>o. ..... and ",,,d .. rs il Uplnl ..... hat was
nlCalll loinhabit ; md.abo,call, lhequnlionofhowsocha.rru"u",of
cxrtat ion can brK<'n.b)' usinrctr()<:rI.to ..
.. ag;,inMikhail Bakhtini . lh .. t..."
guid .. w .. hav"", sn.:h nlJll ers-e.pc<:iallyth .. .. wrOleinth"' \I.\os,
in the Novel." That =y can hel p uS thi nk furth .... 1 h0flt.
in,h .. Vi lebsk,haptc,aOOotsign,syslemsandlhcir
openingonro Ihe.K>(ial world.
Any I"' rtiLub r unernllCe. Bakl"i n rells ItS land I do noor rhink ;1 IS forcing
.. rancc inl\akhrinssenS(')-fin.dsIhc
ohicel at which it wn dirccled al",ady as il wc"' O"crla;n w;lh
open 10 dispule, wi th already in an obscuring min-
or. on t hecomra ry. by Ihc lighl' ofali .. n wordS lh3' .. adyn...,n spohn
about it. It is tIIlangled. shot Ihroughwilh sharedlhoughls.poimsof vi ..
judgements and .crcnl . "" is a good Pollock .... ord. The

.. -and
Ibcambiguiryofob;Ul inphraS<'Sli k .. th"-OOl theUllcrana'.verymafcrial is
al .... 3ys "already bnpoktn. -II - Th .. word in bnguagc is Iulf """"C'Onc
6akhtin S:lys." " \\" OM if a IU'O-sideJ aa.-" Thcll'forc rh .. oo-ol kd
of a work of an i. IlOI: 10 " ...... ""i,nl 3$ a m .. rc surrOtlnding. .. from
form; i, is what , 11. .. speaker or mak .. r h.s mOSI concretely to work wil h.
is tn T: t he conrexl is ,ht mediom. and rhtrdorc rh .. ""ry id .. a of havi ng
. "d ' uslaining "on'.owo idea basM.: ro I'oll ock. vi .. w ofarr - is

t'''U, is nOf wi,llin b .. , ol</Sidt."" .... lin'S. u it w .. r .. . On rht boondJry
he"",""n irs own and anOfhcr, alien (omt)(t. whiLh means Ihal any
speakcr-.rri.cs to gt'l a ITJdingon his OWn word. and on his own conccpt ... al
.)"1""" thaI oottmines this .... ord. wilhin the alien conccptual system oflhe
und .. rsrandingrccn'tr,-'All ullcrancC'Samicipalca" . .... crs-provokingIhtm.
el uding Ihem. O<lcnling towards an imaginro fUl ure in "'hich SOffi("
rhing i. or dOTlf in rc:ply. Works of an for Ih kh,in, because thty '1'('
speciallyeiai>or:Jr eandpondercd casesofull tta n(c.are n' OSlofali sholthrough
wilh soch dire<;lcdnM5,
Th .. fUlUr .. 111. " .... ork. of an envisagc, . , least in ",<><krn circumsta""". is
"cry oft .. n <MIt of misuse and mi.und"f!ilanding. Wt know by now thai they may
tir htt rry loconlai n and rulUll' . in an d lon loconlrol i, . or alfcmpl'
inSitad- as""rta;nol l'ollock.do, I think
m,sr"3ding.ihrugolfpasland furur .. alih. and havc lhc work tum on sonIC
impossible thiLktnnl ro Ih .. poinr wh(1'c iron diclal .. ils own (uniq",,)
leml . "Nurowing r.isi ng il ro th .. .. ion of an .bsolure," to ra ke up
G' ,""nbrrg's formol3rion again. which all rclal i"iliC'S and contradiCTions
would either r .. s.ok rd Or brside Ihe from public
g"her." Not thaI Pollock WO$ incap3bl .. of pngmalis m On th is ;ssoe. 01 tVcn
oprim;,m of a kifld - ar leasr when wn,ing gram proJl<'S,lb .. "The: piClUfCS I
p.1;ming would holfwar an I ... poinl
an irnpractK:-al .iu.- - l lh'nk lhe poss,bil;l;cs of usmg 0"
inmo.kmarchilC'Ctorc-;nn,odcrnconsfrucrion - ,,rriho;. -"
A furlhcr Ihe photogmphs ,nall.r. from my
poim of "iew. is 1:><...,,,,, ,,,' Ih")' hring 10 mind - <Jr stir up in ui our will
- Ihe rno" d,'pr..ssmg of all sl"pid "ns misht have about modern"m OIS a
wflOle. had J rea m of I ,hall it, I dlink it is a mgh""ore
,,,odemi,m has often had alla"l itself, ,md whi<: h may tho "lVI of ils
bm when I look "bOll! fvr Ihose oble or willing Iu pm the b"d dream
imo word,. not .urpri singly I On two m. mbt ... of modcnHS",', ofli.iol
llalr) opposilion: I>bnfredo Tafori ""d "'iehd FOII<aull. '" For b<>fltr or wor'S<",
J <annol quite bnng Ihe SUSPIcions inlo focu,wilhotJt imagin,ng Ihcm
by Ik 'wo of Ih. of "'lIh ,h. olher',
grim udltation. But Ik ilself is cornmonplact: il as follows.
JUSI as tht "ision of utopia <0m<'S 10 in <Clro-
Sprel - Ihis is Tafun .peak,ng - rIOl mlKh rno,", rhan an of
lal'srn and its poninglh. be" 00
imagining world whe", capital would finally dispoied Qf
knl (i",.ginins il mostl ) wilh ""ncrimoniou. - So too dOC"!o Ihc
moderniS! '''rlm, .. tinn of on Other 10 bourgf'<l i, experience - il! dre.,n of
"outsid.: a "bt for. : 0" opposite or ""dornc,nh ofcons.:ious
n ... - "'0'"' and part 01" general policing of in the e\,I"lre
which prc" iou,ly had useless, Ih",dorc uncharted. but which capi,, 1
e",,,,ually <ow it coul<J lrom, a"d wanted broughl inlo lhe rea lm of
rcprCSCnf;llion,lIytheendnflhal monSfrou, ",mencr. rou will h"'e .. I;,ed.
Ih, "oice d"'ng<"d from Tal"'i', 10 ",,,, ... hing like Foucault's, bI" in any ",se
ThI: l>.1<Jdre .. ",oIUiopia is onl y Ik o)(he.

A, .-..gard, Pol lock. II is "Ollcault', charge lha, "nkcs d05eSI ' O home.
Pollock. for .ure. had Iruck wirh n .. ",dess wildness: h .. an was wry often, as
G=nbrrg pUI " in 'I'H, one of 1'a""noi:l te""'flnenl: or
",iuk", cus!",rnlion and 'lfideney-." II waS -Ihis IS Gr"""berg
again - "' 0 co!", w.th u,ban li fe; il dwdl. emirdy in Ihe lonely jungle of
im,m"<li.", ",ns"tiom, imr"lsesond n<xiom. In.rdo,", i'l"lS,ti,i:,I.collCrc 10.""
"The work ... makes Ihink of Poe is lull of a ""disri, and s.:alological
sensibility."" No d,)ub{ Ihere is " ,,-,"'it" in whkh FOlKaul 1 would h,wt felt more
"I home in ,uch a of feclinll ,han Gr(,nbtrg ever did (J sh,11 '0 Ihis
late'l. bur 011 Ine same. hc w..,ul<J havehadsome ur,forgi,'inglhingslO 5OIyabou[
il . Here is how hi. argumenl "'ighl ho" c
I n.,.., impulses in modern afl were J:ffiuint, and perhaps i.
maye"en br IhJl th"y up 10 "come-sl;ng bourgeois hegemony ,n II>c
of mnsciousnns,M (TIn. las< phm'" would flO! have tnppe;llighlly off
Foucaultslonltue. bUI he can nonerkle-ss u''''g if, especially
. oward of his The poinl. ho".-e"er. is Ih ... Conlc<ung buu'W'"oi,
hrg ..... ony in Ihe of cons.:;oosnc<. apprurrial;ng sets of '"'presen.
lations ... -hi,-h were lhere in cui",,", bUf which unul lho,'n (un,,1
' 907,say)ha<Jb...:nlhoughlofaspri,ni,i'e,childi. h, ordev,,,Ilf-1una! i<:,
ch.otic, olherwise benu,h cVnfe"'JK. And in senS<" (hcy fhey are.
"Bourge.-,i, hrgemony" mal' be a {iroo catchphrase by now. but it is nOI an

thinkings."h an .. m"ding 'k"SS3r). On other (a nd baek
to ['oUo<k and WJ S what looks in 10 have ban 3 kind
of Luhural process guing On' arl Ihe ground real.
rurhless i"corporario" of marginal a' id ,,,,derd.,r)opod sI,,,,s. whi chwa, to be
dkclcd, in the b" ,he .enrlal 0tlpn. of bourgoois cullure it",lf. Fur wbl
bream. of finally? Who mad. btst uSC of the fOfm n providt'tl
fur cdebr:lfing Ih. irrational? In whose inf."""" waS "tn"sm? l lIoiffard. woo
Communis. Pari)'. wem back to full-rim. radiology in '9J6. I--l y g""u is he
Slay ..:! Party ", e",)"'. th.ough thick and Ihin. l ike another aVal1t-

I am nQ[ soyi"gtl",,ur. hechosc was th.righ,n"e.)
B irds of /'ar"Ji..... This is th. "ad drram 01 mode"'ISm. as I ... y: Ihar
howe<..:r ursent th. impulse had been f<> recaS' a<'Sth'I" and mo'. oul
into uncoloniu d of .. -.: . all Ihat resulted {",m" "Ill"'}," ae.iv;! y
was" thickening - a stiffening -of Ihe So,m, old I take Ihi , to he
P"lIock', uwn 5uspidon of hi. work - a bnd he h"d, built into his
practice. 1 g;V( my reasons fOf 'hinlcing 50 in follow . BUI (or the
moment. let me look again al th. ikalOf1 p"otographs. an.! try to approxim31c
Fouc:a "lt"l;,crdicI Oll.hcm
Wha, d ... he migh. "'Y. did modcnHsm Up! frOm Ihe public Wh.
dso.' did it Ihink arr "' .. for? What from '9H 10 was 0
repertoire of lor"' .. in which prt ,iou,ly "'argi'I"liz.d aSp""ts ul Jelf
- ,he wordle. Ihe Ihe wild. th, sdlriski ng. ,ho '1")11'
ranw ",. th. unconr,u1lcJ. the "u;5tenr ;al." Ine boyond or
.. 'Sof mind_couldachie'ea birofdaril)-.anJgeTlhc-n,,;ch-csa
.. ab)" set of s'gnificn. A pourw lone with now spo'tI.ndly.
etc. A certain kind 01 p . im.d m .. now could he 10 stand - lake"
qui 'e casuall)' - for "<usuincd parox)'sm' ofp35sion- 0< "ravaSi ng
I another ", uggem Ihe fluids vf life.
npandi ng and gradu,, 1 chemical change" (' 9.1 .1''; il "h'15 .1'1
irritable. d'''''''ldi''g fur,," j 19S91"; il -is done in ope" black
rhYlhm5that in diSl",hingUcIl'= of
poto.crful image in an almost h}'pnmic ..... ( ' 950)"; so on.
['ollod is pai mer who has fm:d himsclf from {hose. hindering m>1ri<.,ion5
which k,""p from cominll .v grips wirh world which i. olJ.-d
( I9 S' I." "For Pollock Ihe Ihe ",i"inll for
lIuidi r). is and has b""n the ' "'premc di.<ciplinc" ('955)." Ii, "could p"im
""t"')- a, i. not be wriller,,""
Whal dotheJe readi ngs of I' ollock add up to?
of - .nd you "'il) 1lOfM:( Ihat th .. bmily lx'I",,",,,, IMm
are strong - Ihal quile jan.! ro a deg,,",,, quite suddenly)
""3"" 'eprcSoomw. pcrMps be.. ... uJe II sc.,'S il can make usc 01 Ih. m, br:<;ausc i!s
orgaoizingpow ... hove COmo w n,""da more CQ,wincmgoccoumof[he boJil)'.
theSf",ual.lh.litxrat.d.inordcftoe)[rend - "'''yberoperfc"<: r _ Iheir c(\1o,,
ilarionoi evtr)'J"y lif . Ofcou,"c thc VOKllcphocOll'''ph,si,e.hatproc.""f

of modemi.m know. lie< in wail for il. and rna)' prove ilS mHh. Th31 f:":1 or (ur
isim"mal ized bymode,nismandbuihinwirsoptrations: it"p:lrl. perhaps
cause, of modern paiming's way with its medium. It is cenainly part of
Pollock's way with his.
sarily follow from the aCCOunt of modern an I have oudinffi , and that for
p",senrpurposes it is the lastassenionofall-the one about Pollock-that mos t

reasom for my thinking the previous pages the right frame of referenc. in
The teSts are the same as with Cubism. What I am looking for a", ways !O
dcseribePollock'sachit'vementconvincingly, panicularly in the three
'947. How would a pictufC like Number I. 19481fig. 180), for exampl e, have
been scanned and adjudged h""chad
of its purposes? "All he said to an inrcrvicwcr allhe lime, had
means and techniques of expressing their immediate aims ... The result is the
thing ... 1t doesn't make much differenc. how tM paint is put OIl as long as
somelhing has been said." " Obviously the "something" in this case will k hard
!O put into words. Gelling al i1 even approximatel y wi!! involve a fair amount
of overlay and overstalemCfll,repclilion, monotony, big pronouncement sfol -
lowed I>y long-winded qualificatioos, backtracking, me .. : all of it una voidable,
I think, given the <ul>ject- "that wild whaling to quote one of Pollock's
sacre<:l texts, individual notabilities make up all
BUlthis immediately ha. too much the Havor of an excuse, and not even
stricrly the right one. For the roundaoout characrer of my description s does nOt
derive so much from Pollock's paintings' wild uniquene .. as from their 0 rdinary
1 Jack"'n Pn" ock
Number I. 1948, oilofl
CO""". X .64.>,
Mu .. um "r
P"reh . .. )
as possible from lheir poims of origin. by i. more than
thrown, and more splashed (rained) than poured. Spotted. Which d""s
not mean ,hat it, ,urface looks straightforwardly liquid. Finding words for the
contradictory of Pollock's surfaces is, you see already, a tortuous
Number I. 1948 is thrown. Th .. efore it is fial, with lines hurtling across the
picrure surface as if across a pap"r-rhin firmament. Shooting Stars. Cnm"u.
Once again, as with Malevich, the high moment of modernism when the
physical limits of painting arc subsumed in a wild metaphysical The
Manheims' tirle, are wonderful on this. And I think the vcrdictap plies even to
those aspect. of the picture that aim to rub our noses in physicality. For
Commentators have argued that on. thing the handprint, do is nlake lhe
resiSlant twO dimensions of the canvas to life again. They show ..
actually occurring-here, here, and here in the picture, at this and thi.moment.
I am sure that is right. But anyone who does not go On to say that i. a
histrionic quality to the here and now in this case i.nol look ing at the ,arne
bctly when h. wanted. The one. at the lefthand ,ide of LaI'mJer Mist, for
They chmb the edge of the picture lik. a the prints in
Num/'er " 1948, by conlrasl - their placement in relation to the of lines
and the picture's tOp, their shifting emphasis and color, their overlapping, the
way tilt to side of uprighrness, the rise and fall of lhe row they make
- i, pu,," pathos, and pres umahly meant to be. The tawdriest Harold-
Rosenbergtypeaccount will do here. Because part of Pollock is lawdry. (It is
justlhat Rosenberg coold not s"" any part.)
The Same goes for fl atoess conceived "a characteristic of the
croSS of lines. The,," is no ipso (ac/o reason why a web of lines should be,or
look,flat. Often in Pollock il does nor. But in Number I. i,the
main thing. Evenmo,,"lhanthehandprints,lhisovcrallqualityisw hat gives the
picture its tragic cast. And in a sen.e,lhere is no mystery to how lhequ alilyis
,R, J.ck>nl'olloo:;k
.luminum ndenamel
onc. n .... H' x 299.7.
t950 IN"iona]G.Il<ry
of Art,W.,hington.
D.C., Ail Mdlon Bruc<
achieved. It is a matter of manufacture. This particular web i< buil too apanern
of rope like iliterally mingthickl horizontal throw<of white ..,mingl ythe
firsr rhings to b.: put down; mmt of them overlain by sub,equent throws of
black, aluminum and so on; but thick enuugh that they emblematize the
physical resting of the paint on a surface jUSl b.:low-a surfacc wrinkling and
fining into <hallow knots, like tendons or musdes under a thin ski n. All of
Pollock's more daborate drip painting. arc built in laye rs, of courS<'. But this
.. a harder.spikierskdetonis
specific to Number I. 1948. The laye .. of One, by compari,on, are <keply
imerfused, and dunut look to br on top of the canva, surface .u much a,
soaked into warp and woof. Even Number I. '949. which may look
<uperficiaJly <imilar to irs !948 partner, is builresscmiallyuurufa to playeruf
f1ouri.h e. which pu.h tM darker under-layers back into space. The in
Number I, 1948 ha. no.uch illusory power.
All this, as I say, i. unmy.terious. It can brdescribrd ill technical term . But
cumpare whal happens along the painting's top edge. No viewer has ever [,..,n
able to resisl thc suggestion that here is where tk picture divulges its = r en,
literal and metaphoricaL Here is where the thiCket uf line adheres to th eCanvaS
surface -becomes consubstantial with il. And though the handprints t. nJtooc
what comn,entators ralk abour, Ihey are only part of Ihe effect: Ihey a renOI
what doe. the adMring: they are one kind of mark amongmhers, less impor ram
than the transverse jen ofwhire. and the final loo!>, of whi.e and black ,which
somehow - improbably, in spite of tMir wild . piraling back into space - make

som.logic I cannot get straight) pan ufth. rectangl .
I cannorgel the logic straight because ubviously Ihe marh al the top do not
pay any lileral,formal obeisance to Ihe canvas edgc. They mecl it,a. ,ri tieshave
always ,aid, in a devil-may-care kind of way. (Compare the delicate, essentially
circumspcctdalKe alongthe lupofOne.)Andyeteverylhingtheydoisdonein
rdation to the final limit. " The central black whiplash wilh ils gorgeous bleep
ofred,and the final bl ack spot to the righl of it, seal Ihe belonging of e"erylhing
to the easd-,i'e and easd-shapc. I do not understand why the,e-of all sh al""
and velociti ... -dothis kind of work. 5tilJ less why the incident ,hould strike
me, as it doe, each time I see it, as condensing the wholc pussibility 0 fpainting
al a cenain moment into three or four thrown marks.
The Magic Mirror. So here I come d ean. You will gather I think
Number '. '948 isa great painting, which pushes our understanding to Ihe
limit. If I had to choose a moment of modernism in which the forms and limits
of depiction were laid out mo .. completdy - mOSt poignantly _ in wa)"s that
mean by modernism and contingency, for example, J shall point in Number I.
These are banal opinions, I know. I only offer them here because in my view
an account of Pollock would hardly matter, or be worth doing, iflhe opini on.
were nOt mine. And also because, even if they are banal, they came to me slowly.

about politics, realism. modemit)", capitalism, and So funh. Therefore, though
I wa, intere'ted in Pollock almost as soon as r was interestcd in paiming, for a
long time I did nor know what to make of the interest. I did nOt know how
18) J"ebonPoll"". :
Number I. 1949, <""md

160 X 1 {The
Museum of
Angob. The Ri,""nd
T.ftSch",ih." Cnll rion)
com1l1g to see a, ep"om"1I1g our and ,neir lime would end up
"ff"",i ngnuw I 5"w Ihe I"'",. So l did nUI,fnr mon)' )'e"rs, "mnr ru ",:r Ihern,
['<'noo, Ofcourst' "II ,h"IS my wrdie, In hllldslght.And I ha,e IfSconfessiona l
tone,Elnlunlcs,lm"kepiJinwhal l lhlllkl,lm'ol\'cd, n h,,,ngmodernlsmlurn
on ,hi'p.lIm,ng to par"""l,, r,1hen 1hebouk.l,a whule " 'III 'layuutuffocu.
me pu, i, ,ni, wa)'. I, '948 IS ,he p.lIn"ng of Pol lock's I would

and ur b.,.,:lus.e ", n", ll" ,,,,d "brink" o.;cur as jX>\\ibk des.;riptions
of II, aluns,ide, ,a)', Grcenberg's "hugr baroque scrawl to alumInum, bl.Kk.
while. madder, and blur." Th" IS. I thi nk iIJ"m/J<" I, '94.'J cuntains wotr,'ries
wnhto ilSt'lf. 10 a WJ)' thaI d"", no!. f..sprclally {he coo",,,ies
and "nd snip{, (h'cle{ and paitmpSt'sl, d,'pi,'I;on 'IOd
ins.: "plloll, IOfini,), "nd connnrment, and p.,]Xr' lhu,ncs, . I ,m
n.)tsa)'m&tnat the,emntra"",,,e slmpl), no longer p'"of Onc',eonc rplllal
univers.e. {1 b."k ,o ,hediffercnceoc{ ..... ccn Pollo(k'spa,ming in
.1nd '910 la{eron. ) Nor do 1 ...... 101 a cmicism ,ha, po,i" mnlJlned conrrarine"
,.esth,, i" quali{)'. I ,'gr('t' Wi 1h l.unginus Ih .. SOnw p",h-and
pull" what m"'l eff""ti\'d)" generate' passion in an. ("H,"nrr "nd
,oml'.,]' into unn,,,,,,,,1 ""'on WhKh .1re nOI eaSl I)" Jotoed togelher
he sa)', ,(rom ,,,rd,,, dea,h.' He 'Ortt"eJ hIS line '''10 "onfO,m'I)' wa h
(helmpcndingd;5a5t,er . . "",d,llmusts,ampsupon ,he words ,hr "e r)"'hapcof
,hc peril: ',hc), arecMncd ftom And I'lSsion, for modernism,
i, wl\3{ an is uITima,el)" made of. Of cOllrs<: moderni,m has m:ln)" modes. I
.dlnirc 'I'cold",'ss o"d""fts'''.1",hiplSweliosilSp.nhu . BU! I',,{hos;,lIS
d",pcS! nOlC, I fhink. Tha, applie, '0 Male" ich and Pica>soc,'cr)'bi ,osm,,,has
Onl of/beIt1e/!, -Hchastorlll redhislineimoconformit)",,'nh ,ne
"11pending There rna)' oc a d"'r wnnce,i"n. {h,,, is,
.lrt', culT o( P.1tnos - m .. aning qu., lit)" to 'pr""h. wriling. musk. orarrisric
represenf"ioll ,,' hich f"" li ng uf p;t)" or ,odnes,' - and ," continual

I\UI {here is anOlher sIde {olhe m'ller, whICh ", .. lt mn, {o ,he forcing. I' dlhos
IS a mood or co"dilio" ,h." IOle,"{': outrlgh1 nrg.ltivil)', It doe, nu{ go to
lorpessimllmofsrreng,h. lnnshe'rtofhc.ln"modernism"wuchi"gl)"hone>!
11$ own will 10 ]'Owrt. It knows" C,ln ne,'er altato '0
Wilham of Aquila;n's 'IOny. It fo,-,I, i,,,,lfi[ i, tr;CS Ivil.1I.l.trcd D,,,h,,mp, ,,'no
fookdolhcrs ).
Iflhcrc is lOb .. a posi{"'Cmu", .. n1 lOan occuuntllf Pull ock'sabslraction, (hen
- alld you see !loa, I ,hink ,here mil" be - "g"in i, i$ b)'
on lhe No.'d." I h,we to "li nd (hose momrnl> to Iher".1)" (tne)" are
Wllleli",,, ,een as wcakne.seSI when R"kl"in ,d l ... :,s nul j,lS{ on thcOIha-
ness of language - It , being , lw3)" "already bespoken,- ils being
"pop"Lncd . ,. ","h tn. intentiuns uf others"" - bur Oil ,he pos<ib,lny,
of !ome [orm of di.,k""".,j ,,,,,i,v . 1 of word by 'pr"hr. Fur (he
word, 10 B.,khtll1' I' iew. IS I'rl)' much ,h,,, 3n en",y 31 r,lrldom
b)' indi"id"al monad., ( .. eh "',,hing 10 m.,h" way of speaking own
prtva,epropert)."Oi",ourselives.,suwc" .. be)'ond i".-II,lnali>-onglmr"l",
IJI.lI"."./,,mosl l toward Ih" obl"'{-' " and i, ,! ,n rd.mon 10 ,hi, "'o,'c-
of COnS{r",,;on -Ihis contin".11 "1',,"II1g of di .. ,:our", {oward its obl""S.
,hi,dfort '0 "c word to world. ,his wish furagrt'cmcnt .ndgruunding - Ih.t
)84 1:><,.,,1 "I {he jX>ss,b,li{)' oftru,h artstS. "Th. 'peaker br"aks Ihrough 1heali"n mncep,u.,1
h(>r!>.un uf Iosten" r, ""n.TrllCts hlS own ""france un aiten ("rrotor)', again"
J "

othcr thJn connected in Bakhtin's way of thinking to yet
anothn. uncompromisi ng, image of movement beyond and toward: "The
woed, breakingthrougb to its own meaning and its own e::<pression across an
environment fu ll of alien words and variously evaluatil1g accents, h armonizing
with some of tbe elements in this en.ironment and striking a di.sonallce with
others, is able. in thisdi"logilCd proccss, W shape its own st)'listic prnfi leand
Put "sigl1" or or in plaCl' of "word" in this
sentence, and I think you ha.ea good image - good be<:auseconvoluted - ol
Pollock's utopia
E cho. Maners 01 "ocab\l lar)' hrllt, If what we want is to reconstruct
Pollock's intent ions in a pa inting like N"",ber '. 1948,are there words and
phrases we could pili in Pollock's momh, witholll thinking we were lon;ing
things be)'ond the una.oidablc forcing th"t follows from making the man talk
atall , whel1 mmtl), he preferred not to?
How far. for example, do the terms of Poll ock's bes, and dosest critic at the
time, Clement Greenberg. st ill prO'T of help? The question comes up nOt simpl)'
be<:ause of the cogenC)' and force of Greenberg's writing, bUI also because of
evi del1ce we ha.e 01 Some between the two men - diffic,,1t
ciosene", i, loo"s like. no doubt a bit wary and ironic, bm all rhe S:1mc
operative, in ways oth,'r p'-'ople recogni zed ,md "ven resemed. "You ",,,St
understand," writes Wi lliam Ba,iote, to hi, brother in March 1.947.
Greenberg boosts Poll ock and considers me in "Dear Clem," wriles
Peggy Guggenheim in am SO hJPpy you arccarr)'ing on the battle
ofPollo.::k"" It isa figurt'ofPollock jo"malism al l through thelat er'940Sthar
certain unnamed arbit"r> of taste with strong opinions arc
always "arbiters of taste"1 have already decreed that Pollock's is the great
American paiming Ih, world has been waiting for: so that Douglas MacAgy in
the A1agdz;m:ofArl for Mar,h '949,for""ample. writing in gentral termS of
the di"orce belwttn painters and first of all describe what he sees

the company of wr iters congenial" - and run on quite
dend)', "' if his audien'" will know what It, means, 10 two significant ""ccp-
tions, Thoma" !-Inrt lknton and the critic Thomas Craven, and Greenberg and
Pollock: "Clement Greenberg's cSp"usal of Jackson Pollock's work muSt have
been us.!ul to thnt artist."" A lot of MacAgy's readns would hn,'c put it with
more ofa snarL
The relation be,ween Grt't'nberg and Pollock is all the mOTe interesting
because it was so dC:lrly not. at the level of b"ic aesthetic preferences and
commitment' . an ea,y one. Pollock was doing the best painting in America,
Greenberg thought. but a 10' of the time he wondered how. Al l of the qualities
he rightl y found in painting in '946 and [947 - ,he "Goth ic-ness,
paranoia and resemmen,," the "morbid" atmosphere, the wish to be "wild and
ntraVOlgant." the American and stridenc)'," ,he
COnstant whiff of Poe and SaJe" - ali these are the opposite of whar Greenbe rg
considertdtberealstrengthsofthemoderntradition,andwhathe hoped might
next "i n this country. , he development of" bland, large, balanced,
Apollonian art in which pa<sion does not flll in the gaps l.ft bytbe faulty or
omitted application of theory but lakes off from where ,he most advanced
theory stops. and in which an intense detachment informs The proof of
,he plHlding. though. was in the ea,ing. Pollock was a great painter: ,he
inessential , I>oringqualitie, worked for him-even Grc'enbergdcspised
mOSt. "Gothicnes,," for example, in was a code word for
Surrealism, than which art cOllkl sink no lower. has revived all the
Gothic revivals," fle in '944, "and acquire, more and of a period
flavor, going in for Faustian lore, and Aamboyant interiurs,
alc hemistic mythology, what"'"", else are held to k the excesses in taste of
the past."" Who< price Pol lock's High Priestcss and Mad MoonWoman, or,
come to that, hi., Aldmny nnd tUdfer?
Icannmhel pwondering if,whcn Pol lock titled a 19HPi"ureGothic(lig
18.1),hedid not mean partly to provoke his new ally, or at 1east to make clear
h. was not going to he hrowheaten by him. (He knew Grcenherg liked ,he
picture "cry much.) So that when he chose !O include Gothic in his first sh ow of
Ihe drip paintings four yea!S the decision likewise ' '''"10' loaded to me
Gothic WaS stil l there und.r Cathed,a!'s alumioum deadpan (fig. 186). Alm"'t
lir.rall y rhere - its forms "ill del<'Cuhle - un<kr the Fau"ian fireworks of
Ga/axy(lig. ,87),thc picture in which the drip technique was launched." And
did nO! an thr...,?
D""s it down, then, 10 nu mure than the of re<;ognitiun and support
on Greenberg'. part, a< a time when Pollock needed them? And to hell with
,hared point. of reference? In which caSt we could give up looking at
Grl-enberg', writing a1rogether, at leaS! forourpre&Cm purpn<es
Id""", think so. It is d,'ar,for .'xamplc, from ,'arious things Pollock ,aid,
thathe.uh<erihe<,l to ,1 fa ir!y,traightforw"rd norion of the cause ofa work of
art', quality, He would h" 'cagrccd wit hGrunberg inI946 - thi,i.thecritic
working up to dedaring Pollock'_, gri'ly puppet-.how Two (fig. 188) the only
major picture in the Whimey Annual that December - that "Everybod)' know,
what has alrc"dy made painting great . But ,'ery few know, fc"!, Or suspect what
mak" s pa;nt;ng great anywhere and at any time - that it i,ncce"ar ytotl-gister
what the artist mahs of himself and his experience in th.- world, not merel)' to
record his intent ions, foibles and In its very simplicit)" this
",,,nlS to rally with P"ll""k', vi.-w of what waS at Slake. (Again, it is interesting
Its sadism could hardly be writ
larger.)Equal ly,i tseemswmeth"r I'ollockwould have understood- and in
b rgemeasure responded to - the accompanying ,tr."in Greenberg',criticism,
on painting as a form of positivi,m, and modernism as materialist deep down.
Grccnbn8 i, at his most eloqur nt in the '940S when he to expla in to
Amer,," that what had made French painting miraculo"s for a WaS its
willin!',ne .. to dwell in the wor ld of immediate sensation . Why could nm
Ameri can, do the same? And why, when rhey did, WJ5 their view of that world
. lwa)'s as a londy j"nglc? Wh)' did the)' populote it with Two) Hod they not
looked at LrmcheOlt oflile Hoali"g l'artyorA J;"riaiatOma"s?
D irection, It mar even bethatthiswasa stress thnr came 10 mc"n
more to Pollock as the 1 wore on, and was pMl of thc reason his paint ing
changed. lOot I. ""cbeon ofl/lt BoalinK ['arl)" rcad Eyes i" Ibe 189).
Certainl ), I think l'nlh;k would hav,' reading the long comparison
Ix,tween himself and Jean Duh"ffet whi ch Greenl",rg mounte<:l in February
1947 - inthecndth"omparison
spent imi,ting on what two painters share<! - with this sort of cutting and
sla.hing: MWhere thc Americans mysticism, Dubuffet means ma-

tahn in by anything coming from outside it. Dubuff"t', mon<xhrome mean, a
stateofmind,nOla secret insight inlO the abiolute; his poSilivism acco !l1l1.for
the superior largeness of hi, (fiy "Ihe Amni"ns" here Grc-enberg meant
ROlhko, Newman, and Adolph Goulieb, spt"Cinc, lly. but for him Ihey were only
thelatcstina line of tent preachers anathematiLing the Acsh. Howh emu.tha"e
loved Poll<xk'sgorgeous E4rrh Worms, donc juSt at thismorncnl,Or his fragile
Tea Cup from a f"", months before! They were more like Kennard ,han Max
In other words, I believcthat Pollock in some sense responded to ,he press ure
of Greenl>erg's argument: not. of course, bccaU5e it was a good one (though it
was),butb"causeitframedarealsetof tensionsinhNentinPoll<xk'spraclice
- it saw where Pollock Was going. "Unless American art reconciles itself," here
is the argument in a nUI.hell, put ro us Temps mooe",.s in Summer '946,
"with that minimum of posi,i"ism on which resr;, in my view. the continuity

I " ..... " ,.1""
I ,- 10-0.

,mm<."<l,ate rh), .. dnlli'n .... " . - will goon rrodu.:mg IIInn,d. lidul,
d,,,,,OIlu,,uOOls wo.k . All In 0 11 ..... "-h,,,h .... Ic-Ji:<'S
one<" aSJIII . rH'., 10 h" rra ........ ,h3' has bn,n -al ,hf
roOl of most of ,h .. I>rs' " .... ,h of "mcr .. l'I'nung. _'I Th.J, bs.
3 r<0 ........ ,,111""'0,1)' ",oun,""'. nl GrlXnbcrg's "<"-.
001 s.muy. "" oo"bl)' unabl .. ur u""-llIlIIg. a rur o ,-rkbr"c ,hf
moo" of l:.s,tl, Ini ,ms . nd I:,...s '" 11,i' by .1,"",1)' 10
ri""",_ And ".""" .bo", fir" sh"". "I dnp m Jan".,.)"
he 30.1",,,,<.1 hr had ,lo"I)! <. TIl<' ronr}" of "I;'", ""}" hJ"e b.,<n (lC
hombl, Or bot h. but u h d l,<'," rut'tr}". trJrrngand 10ll,'h,n!; W"'
".h" th" r'J('Ir) "'10 ,h< orr'. ;mmed,ate rh)".;,-"I
tl,, morc r"'I"IS!t'wm ,h. nigh,," ..... :.
-J""hon r olk",k "uh"r 1",,,, (\,f,1(IO'1' r,,,mlll!;.- ,hI, IS "rlXnbc.s
""roond'll!; 10 fi,sl I,!!h' 0 1 GIl ..... )' III Januar). -in wh,,-h It"", '"
.1"",mumpalll! sroun,j,ha. all ,mfmuy
.IM- I'"-,,,r. ""''''') J -I'ollo,:k', mood b<.;oo'. mI, ....
hrf"I ......... p"SI .,,-n '(lh(I;I."" .... al hl!;hn key
JS J -" Of "'liM G'IXnbt'rg Bm anJ
,udgl'mfll' .K 'wo d,ffe"."'" ,h,ott" In(<"1lsll" m. ) d""palnl. Onl) nmf
ell",rg"', I lh,,,k Ih.rrl'ollock ,n '9r 'uS In much th ... <a ", ... tw ..
"',nd,. Ma)'bc lur a mo" ... '" .... ,hough, new "'d) of PJtmmg h.ld ... ,h ...
problem of the previous four ycars: there is an elation to 1947 and a
ri<;hnessto his first dripped surfaces, that suggest as much. Not that the tides are
i. a Lweif" for every Cathedral, a Vorlex for ("cry rrism. In
Pollock's art always But surely the nature of Pollock's problem

on That seem. to me the mood (the wager) of the fa ll.
What was rollock's an to he - here is the question that had

Perhaps it was true that an imagery of ragc had pro,-cd itself
unworkahle in theend,the pi<;ture space stuffffi to the poim of ludicrousness
with bits and pieces of emotion, each buttonholing the
and talking at What painler would not .. treat from of
the Past (fig. 190) ? (This paiming, by way, was in the .how
preferred to Dubuffet's in 1947.) Some kind of balance had now to be struck-
struck in the act of painting as opposed to the imagery, struck by
positivity,it. tempo and handling - between nameless wildness and the-hi gh
impassiveness of modern style, -" Some kind of balance. One struck by the
his new way of doing things - getting paint on canvas, I mean - as

qualities were, as Greenberg knew, what artist made of himself and hi.
cxperience in the world.' Without them Pollock's art would mo51 likdy dedine
to a record of "his intentions, foibles and predilections.
Some,h;ng of lhe
'42.2 X 96."
1946 IPri"'I<c'ollrionl
G"."dl.mSO[lhtSurt!. I ,h,1I ,,,keit forgr.lnleJ,hJtmo"of us
blOW (or ,honk ... e <101 how , h" drop !""nllng' wen' dotlc. And
Ihe Ihong; do no, .bou' Ihe r'<xes; - how rnan, ",,,jon, ,,",'m
in,,,,, I,k< ,,,',,,,,/>,,, I. '948? wcn' Ihc'cmJny r,,'nunpPolI<xk Jid.n
one fell swoop ",.1 \l<'"ee ,e,utnt'd w, how long ...... e p,cruresleft hangmg

,hey ".nt wh"l propowon of p,ew,c.I gOl d,sc."dt'd' - ,he",
do I think the rt O(enCc of p"dqled ""ltne>scS me.ln, hol J; ng
'"'' "n us. p,,-,,,e,, was partl)" a <""e, at Ihe lime. f"r. lIl'ollo.;ks rck,..,
offmgmenrsofinform:lti on.bou, ;t "sp"nofbi,sclfcon", ,,,t'dand,u>!aoned
.,dw", .. ngwn"ern.-s.""c of th,' kcy'-!ucsuon5do n()("""n, 10 h"'",-",curre .I
to Pollock'<firs, onlo"ker> . , ,,d "annolb<de",de<1on ,"!r"'ped'().;';1SlOn., lly
w,m",,,,s .bo, .. ,he "on-ob,ious. G'eenl>eTg at ,ho ",ne J e"-' "bed
I'ol l,-",k', mo"emen,s whik as "oiten "e'), ,;;"eiul
J.Ia"", u,od ... ord, "harmonioo, and qUIet." H. would do Ihongs.
,nd,hen looked. and then he wem 1t>1f,,, ,,,hnSld,,,nd I,."kt'd ag.lin and .11.1
, few more ,hing,;. h "'JS n,""", lanal""i. "" 0>nallTl)" less fanaucal Ih.,,, ,he
looking and doing one Imagine, mro of the /'oW. "He wJmed
ro ge, a difierent G'et'nb<Tg WelS fond " I ,"),ing."'\ bru,h C.,n
want II 10." Sure
A brush in Polluo: k"sh.Tnd,w.".,lwJ)"llUIen,ially. knife
H.ud e,,den.,. . ,he" . is less pkntiful than II m'ght ""em. I" ;on)" ,a:.th,
,-!ue'tion$, h.ll nlOSt need "kong of ,he dri r Ie.:hniqu, are interpfe!au,"" .Wh;u
was" Ih." [>"ll ",k's n,'W W.1)' of allow,J. """heti<JII)" . nJ ... h" did
i1 dis., llow? "Te.:hnique i, jusI., m"ns of ."ri'mg al a sl",menl.-" TheTc .lre

partly) "'p"ral<: ",ues to do with PolI",k\ rh)"5;",1 p,<xedure. 'm th" one
h:lnd. and ,nJ ludgem.nr . on ,h. ol her.
In Ihe liesl pl.",e.;Is h.1S often Ix"<: n out , ,h" new u,.;hnique di,quJli
fit'd cen.in killds of pa,nrerl)" h;[bil and knowhow. oe m"d, them ,ltlli,uh to
mobili",: i, put the p.l in,," li,er:llly ou, "f rea"h of hi' ,kill,. hi s "1Ou.:h. -
Though e,'en ru.'re one shuu ld nOtex"!;!;eeaIC,
likelhO<e of Poll"ck in wnhAlrhe",yon, he/loorlfig. '911.",em 10POSl!
a degc<'1: 01 int;maq' b<twc ... n p.; ntc",nd",n,as whi,h i,,,ill redolenroffh,
Pollock i, kneehng, One pho,o h.1< him Iuntng ",,,,Si Ald'e"'y to
p\n on whal '" be a lini.hin): ,ouc h oe1wowi , h hi' fin!>,,'" ,\ 11 of
thIS .... IS no do" b, - Airh,",},. a, far as I ':;10 Ici l. wa, ;[I ' e.,d)
when ,he rl""og':l rhe' ""h'cd - bUI il i, ,1.0 kind of ,ugong Ih.u I'ollo.xk
th""gh' app"'rri;[ tt' whi.:h" (The,"" late, ph"'o b)' Arnold
N" ... ",an whICh h." I'ollo.:k ag.,in k"""lingowra !hree foot "'Iu;[rtc,n,;[s- 1
.:annOl "Ientif)"wn;,h pi",,,,". if it .lut\;,N ;T1 all_:tnd p"t!ingon p .1intwllhh"
hJndlrom.lsmJI I po'. /.bny , oc;[l lt'ddroppalnungslookwh.T\'cb<,cndonc
in simil." do 1101 ,hink. (o'."''''ple. ,ha, mu"h of f,lil EII/"'''' {we
was poured. Stl U,-elc-..I. marb<. ,w,l ru,nc-..l .1nd h i, a h.1nJ ,
on Imp"<10 p:linung. done on dt'cp greens and so forth .... tlh fi li gr .... pouring
on wI'. al laSt n,;n"'e. '0 pull "" me'ra,e OUI 01 the mu,k. )
No" ",hel,.<s. di Sfan<e ,'ountt'd. Pari of ,hc !lme. throwing and po\l ring.
l'I>lIod< "'"' nO longe' al leng,h. Th .. wa.< "nponan, b"""use in pr".'io05
)'ears I'oll""k held dol'elopt"d int o;[ monstro" ,I)' , killful arm.length p",nt er,
t9 .. 6had'-!uOleJArtnurll
Carles ,'ptnS! I'oll,xk - a remark Carles Wa5 supposed '0 have made wh"n
.1,k(.J did n", do ",ore ",",ermlo" - - They '.rrif)" me . .. , hey gel
!J<,:lllIlful so qui, . " Polio,,\; suffered. w the though,. from the
""b,lil)" '0 .1d,k,c surf,," ';nuO<\I)'.""' Th" wa. nO! u ,-h,'''p .hol. 011
b)' w\lh "'0>1 of th,> ,roti""rn I'ollock ,,,,,e,,'ed .. , ,he "me: or
rar hn. "hear or not. \I rn3)' wel l h,,'c LO wi,h wme nf I'ollock', own
doubls _ "nJ Ckmcnt G'e<n!J<,rg',. "Emotton th.l! demand, ,m!:ubr, o,i!:'"al
,end, to!J<, ,en>o,ed out b)"" ,eall)" g, e", fa..:i lit)". for f."iht)" 11,,,,,
"ubbornne .. of lIS own and" lo:u h to abandon <:")' '.1li,f.l,ttO"'": tn .. IS
On de K('''ning;n 1948:" lr " "' much a I"umott l of hlS " .. ILCISm on
the ,\nda,,,sua l. hiS'hinking
on ,hem.1".' i,,,ompl,,,a,,,d.1I os nogooJ "mpl)'.Ilppr .... "ng I.ldlil)". he say,
_ Ihat" de Kooning', mist:,ke, Tryi"!, for" rhelO.;': of a",kwardne" and
na,,,ty regu!:.rly ends b)' I' rodudng "mdetermmalone .. or .' mbiguil)'" in a
pi'lure. oi the SOrt bad mooern"," 'p< ... -iaiilC' in, r<>r.lkill. ,a)"Gn..,nbcrg, is
,0nneCfedtoqual itie,pJimingdesl"'r.lfcl)"nceds.l,kc",illandclari'),.Ap,"nter
has to get into an arc" wherc .kill, are re,nvented be,'ause the purpose, 01
arc s....,n in .. new ligh' . -Th" a ,ons,der"blc c"CWon
of ,h. will in .. differem context "nda [h.[ Ihe
Jrml w,11 know when he is Ix'ing tr"ly and wheo h,' " worktng
"nly Ob,-ioo,lf' Pollock i. m.:,", here.IS '"0.-11 .IS de Koomng
Ilo i, O1"o"oo<d b)' in ,ne "" 'iew', next
s" Polio"k', method W.IS panl)' pmph),"',,,,, h dio.! nm Ie, h,m le.ln on nlS
preVlOUS wd)",olmultipl),tng working up ,he "'thi<:k. lultginou,
tl;11n,'S,"" ,n31 G,aon,.rg:t nd othe" had fallen fO . .\lor. th,m th;s. Llintcrlc"'d
" i,h P"ll ock\ whole W'J' of look;ng al the p"'""6 he w;t, making while th9 '
w<reilcmgm;tde,and UP"" mo>Sl ol t!1<'habitsois.;.'nn,ngond unde"tanding
ne h.da"G"i .. d from Iwemy),C.1fsa, rhee'sel. Srandtng or cro"dung ow. th
..:an"Js. <:on,ing at it Iro'nall four "d",. dr;bbh"g fX,;nt thmugh h i,tiog""or
,hOO11ng i, Irom ;t ,,,,key I>.,ste., mO\'ing fmm "i l to to "n.uncl '0
enClu"k-the b""er), of new le..:hno'lue, ""t l'oll""k ... "di".n,'e lrom hi sOWn
S<"nse of the aesth,It, . nd ",,,de i, h,,,d ,g.UO w Jec,de when the work h,,,1
re",h,'{!" proper ".It.neol ",de," and -orgdnlc tnten';I),," (The 'wo rhL' ......
up ,n a h"nJwrifft'11 poem tnanlf",I" "I ,q\o . ... The)' an? 1'"I1""k', key
Ie",,, of.1e"het;c 1 think,)
\'(Iilirod Zo>gb,,,,,,,
I'ollockon h"<fUJ.O.
photogr'rh cJ _ ' 9 -17

Nfl/",j. I'ollod on his lif.tlme agaio,l a to
ote lite oo'olt) oi his method. M1 (}C'int on the fioor and this un",ual- the
Orientals did that. M"' 11m nobody who has looked Of a Hans Namuth phOTO-
graph (fig. t,,1 can es<apc the feelt nglhat,omethingstrangoandunp re<: '
.-dont,d is t.,king T.-chni<]ue is at war wilh cont rol and a_Ssonenl
Maybe the ho,. ili,ies wi ll gi"e rise to ,hat "hcigh'cningofcon>eiousness lin
whtch l the arlisl will know when he is being truly spontaneous and when he is
work,ng onl)' But why d,d tt lah d", deg"'" of dcsktlling for
,he di"in<t iOfl 10 bo.ckar?
"1akinganabs"act (}C.int ingot all. in I'ollocks case. f"r some reason in. olv<XI
mabngtlthi.way. The stake,are htgh. then. Ii wo could undersland Pollock',
a"ual. way of doi ng Ihinp from '94710 ' 91'0. then .urel) w"should
get mto focus wha, he ,hnugll1 ,he was for. 0, w ,he commen-
tatorshopc. "1 tr)" to Sla)' away from an)' 'e<:ognizable image, tfitcrocp' in. I
try to do away with" ... 1<> kt the paontong,ome through. I don't lot tho imag<>
carry ,he painting ... It, eargo _ and "nneec"' ') ... R,..;ognimblc
images are always thne in the end. " Remark< like ,hes. are moderni" boiler-
plate. Wh . t make. then, 'WId on Pollock's case is our 01 what It
wok. l...:hnH:all) ,md emotion . II ). for htm "10 let painting Wme
Hence tho ' 0 the bits,tnd pittc, "f .. idencc in thi, arca add
up. when in laC! the)' are mostly We know. i", example. fr"", lee
Krasna. that an amoun' of time and effort wem;nto drogg;ng the d"p pai mingo
wall, and dedding whether thcy worked there or not." seems to have
tried to explain this to I.ife in "While he is he knows when a
picture i, 'working,' hu, afterwards, when thc inspirmion is somewha, remote,
he ha, to get acquainted wi,h his piewres. " "When I am painting I am nO!
much aware of what is taking place - il is only after that I see what I hay.
done. - " It would be easy 10 too much of this, When Rosalind Krallss, for
nampIc. decides on the basis of Krasner', ",enwri e, that "there was a ca,'SIlra,
a "crygrcat one, between the statr in which ll'ollockl worked the painti ngi,sel f,
and ,heunc in which he'read'it; the paintingitself,inorderto be rc ad,hadto
be (tansfcrrcd to the wall , ""' I note the difference between h.'r metaphor,
"read,-and,h,'oncPoliockregulariypreferred,"getacqu,imcd,- 1 donO!
believeth'l! reading and wurking were ever separate in Pollock\ practice. The
picture was pur on ,he lloorrobt wurk ... !on,bmlthink i,was always being
read on the floorasifil wcre upright, or in tnc knowledge,ha, it wo uldbe, To
pretend otherwise would ha"e been naive, Poll ock was naive aboll!
painting, NOI for him the delusive idea ont might sol ... the problem of
uprightne .. and orientation in art by literall y upending ,he depiction andha"ing
i, k -flat," Le,ve that kind of .imple-mindedn ... to Giacomeni,
If Pollock hada dream of exceeding the normal terms of painting's rdc renee
- and I amsurch,'had-thc fanta,y wa. more ofendlessn,",s and transpa renq
than of physical grounding, "There i. no accident , justa. there is no beginning
and "0 Or maybe dream was of ntra-tnrestria lity, Constellation,
Reflection oftbe Hig Dipper. In thrcxhibition Pollock had in '95ja,Sidney
Jani,"galler)"he hung his '948paiming Wbite Cocktltoo on Iheceiling, giving
it its airborne name for the occasion (fig. '931: ' Nodoublthi,toowa.,imple-
minded. It just .eem. to m. the of . imple-mindedne .. one would expc<.-r in
Pollock'scase,lnhnite.Jevation as opposed wn,thle<siJ"HI,soe, Posit iyi.mand
Gothic-ne .. , not low materiality,
'93 Ol;v<rllahr:
In, .. II";o,,o!J.ni.
phOlog .. ph,'9H
1I"",kh .. dc:
lb.-I"u' "j/I>I) Rudy
Burdh .. dt:l'ullo<k,

The pio""'" heing-ncss Ye"'colj. y, .ha. is 10 'hi)', had to e<llf<gC
" '<11)', agalnlt thf g. ;"n of I"ooeess. hems-""'" yen,cality WC'f. or
bome, elieh .... Or, no. SO much the ThemselYes Iwhoch I !Kh ....
Po/J"",l Ihough., righdy, p;lll "f "!Kiog consis'fd vi), bu,
,he means b)' whlC" they wtTo usu., lIy redis<cov tod in the of painung.
become dkhh. Easy . e.dings. Euy .,,, isfaCllonl. N" d,,\l bo: some kinds oi
,oo-soon Were m,de J iln..:" I"or neX' 10 impos.ibl.'. h)' tho fa" ,hat
,he fie ld Pol/o.; k wo. king on - thi s i, Krauss again _ "wa. so ""lIe thaI the
p"iming, as a whole or ,,,"'d n,lI be S(;Cn b)' hi m f."m .he
position in which he wo. king on it. "" BIIf the , arne h.,d !>cen lor

ill fact. wc<c monjO,eN swallowIng ' he whole s,"di" 1100r.

"f his P.Jinting "",,"'00 on it; an of whole p""ure
from ,he various VIC ... ' He was reading his picwrcs acting
all ri.".. upon wha, he but what ....,mcd i""",a"ngl)' lu "'lot in
was a ,he- 'yn,h<"<i. of a.pn: .. - the -
part "f a <jutn.:f of movements: i, lOok 1'1 .... ..., h", was ..
Not , hal arrnt and .inlpl) vani.hed frnm tht procoss of
pLcwr<mabng. OIc<,".1': nul. Ph"'l'f;raph. of ,h ... udioMe full ofc,',,!c n"""f
p. imings bo,ngSlopp(d. PUI up for inspe<lion. left ,n m' ''''c for hounOl d.lrs,
to the !lon. 1<.>. 1"'lhcr w<lrk. A, I. ast .wo nf photOS "ken in liSo
by Rudy lfigs. ' 94 and ' 9)). lor , how whal 1 ", k. In ""
,hcpicllI rr Silver l'/u" ,,"s- it<. I.ict title is N"",brr 9. 19Jo lfill.196 ) M,til lin
transit, ,,, i,hou.
long piclurt' on the tlonr th" is h d IIl1domily-; , turns
nu' 10 u.I) ",age of N",,,ber}, '9JO - and it propp,."J by ,he
of ",me painting. whICh by OOw . $ comple", but for a few linal throw, of
aluminum and oli"" green. How much Ii.".. dapscd bo,w""," the liNt phOIO and
level of and for S,/,...,. I'/"'I"e. to St"t ill d,ff ... oml relmon
to it. Each ti.".. the reblion looks formal and as ,I ,he 'wo
pic,ure. in some I':OSC being d ...... with a view '0 one ,

propped up against the wall for further study. The squarer ofth.
two is RefleCI;'''' of Ihe Big Dipper. It stayed the way it was. The other I take
to be a penultimaleStage of T'llOspho rescenu (fig. 1971, the m",t daz,lin gand
encrusted of all the first group ofdrippaimings. -' It is already loaded with
thrown paint. But at wme subsequ<"Il( moment Pollock went ba.k ro it, and
.overed alm"'t the whole surhec wilh swathes of aluminum and straight jets of
hample. like these could be multiplied. The studio photOgraphs are a
treasure trD" e. The process of reAcetion and judgement seems to h.,'. be",
interminable in some cases, and,according to Krasner, nOt something Pollock
relished: pictures were ,at up straight,trie<J Out in more than one orientation,
made to dance with others, finessed with hrush or fingers, conjured away by
new layers, sometimes abandoned. There has never been a studio so
tended hy work already done. No paiming was "fe from Pollock'. ",,,ond
thoughts. All the way thrm,gh the 1940' he worked time and again II would say,
cemrally) hy erasure - by literally paiming out previo,," configuration ,.Galaxy,
on top of the chest of drawer, in the Alchemy photo, is thegrcal iwn of that
fact. The fim dr ip paiming is meant to be understood as hiding and re,'e aling
an imagery underneath. Again i, is done mainly with aluminum. And,
half-hidden by Gala,,), in the photograph, is another tremendous picture,
framed from Some pre"ious exhibition - it has much of the fed of Something of
Ihe Pas/, and roughlythr "me dimensions - which
Was it tOO put back on lhe noor, and swallowed by furth er pouring?"
R itual. ! am insisting that the play of process and ;udgcmcnt in
Pollock was more elaborale than it look.. But that still Ie,,',', u, wilh the
Pollock Hans Namuth shows us, moving at "ariou,specd,alongside the canvas,
bt"ndingandmaightrning,stoppingandstcppingback,throwinginwide arcs
Or repeated ,mall stitches of paim from the can. lIn the out-takes of Namuth's
movie, P;!rl of the t ime Pollock is what look. like tWO old bru,he, dried
I,; Jaek.""Puliock:
,I ummumoncam'."
I I I.? X 66,
(Addi,on of
Am<ncan An, Phillil"
Gifrof ,\lrs,reS!\)'

and logelher, Ihei holls Ihereb)' forming a chann.! down which ,he
liq"id paint could run 31 a slightl y.!ower, more ea,ily conlrollable, s!",.d,r
Modcrni.01 is emllsmanship, .,'en in its ,,;ldeS! moments,) Norhing! have said
is meam to normalilc what we s"'" going on h.,,., , The P'''''"''s is a.strang.' and
all)' painting process ever waS, Paimings rna)' ha"c been hpl a round
"tid hroodedovcr, b", it secms that in lObe
built in a whol. ""ries of obsta des 10 acs.hctic f.eC"ling ,nd fran,in g,J\cslhelic
dtclSlOn-making had to M into t ..... JCt of manufacture. tk
address to .hc surfact from abovc _ "thc of "",,c-
"slOg what i. nOt undcrstand." to borrow n linc from H<1;d on ,he
Ullh . ppyConsciou.nru:'
I do no. want to oflc, Ht!;cl 's word. 'S a , "mming "I' Pollock's
Ilwthl.d . or in BUll did no. chooS( my Hegeli.,n chapter>
Iwadi n!; for The "'0" I know of P""ock Ithe higher my ",,;mate
of hll"). the ,,""e .he pag<"5 on .he Unhappy Om",;ou,,,,,,s. fro", the
of Spi,;t ,hem"""',,, a. a p<.>im "f rdcrcnu.
.ha. , .... pages arc pudy "'riuen ","h Diderur's
Ntplmfl in mind. They ill .'J:nT1 ." me .he dis.:ussioo from ,,hieh any fUlUre
l'SychoioRr of modernism - aod we ,,'" worlds from posse-ssing on. _ will

Modern;.y fo' is .h.H mome"r a. which ,on.ingtn.:y and scifsam,-nC"u
, ,,,,f,,,,,. one.nother as '''g;' opp".i .. , . ThesIInplc Un.hongeabl," on oll e
the prote,," Chong"able" UI1 the othe,. Absoll1t( indi,idu, lit)' (mc"nin!;
.rands cheek by illwl w;,h the whirl of dif/erel"". For
H<1(el. of COil,"",. th( ( S5("n(e of Spirit 0' Con<ciol.lSno::ss is .hc being-tog .... h", of
hofh in One. Rur ,h" (,;j.("o.:.;, ,,( modem it). fo, hIm. is tk bilure to wasp ,h,I1.
Th. Unh..1PPY Cuns.:iousnc.s know> it is ,,,"of,,ld and divi<kd. bu' does no.
know.urcannOlA"Ccp rh.>e.h;sdivisionisi .. un;ry. "Th.. .wolkindsofso:lf.
(OO5<:iou""=1 arc. for Ihc Unhappy .0 on. 3"",h"r; and
it is ;Isclf ,he Jnsdousn ... ,, ; rhis wn"adio:tion." id(ntifies i.<c1f wi .h
,hc Chan!;"able con\..:iO\lintss. tah. itself to bt> rhe """'<ential
would M ",uee bcar.bl., if ot le," t the Unh"ppr Co"s.:iollsne" eQuid
pursue i" ,elf- IJccr."im' ttl.ht point ofext; nctioll . n", i,never"an. ItC.,"ne .. ",
I.,y hold uf mere dilferCIKC enlbr""e i. a. il< Tflllh, Mcouse differe""" turns
<H' iOOiffer"""". and cun{in!l.''''''Y on es .,,,,;al na'utc. The Unh.ppy COn ....
n<"5J,an nc"ergd IU the UnhJ ppin .... ... '.r rhcdcprcs-
); ... pu.i. iun.. .' . k s:>y. He'e is n.y cat.:hphuso: in come);"!:

uf p':>nising what i. dues nul undc'S'3nd, i. ,,"ly deprives
it",1i "f the "unsciuU!I1('SI "f il1ner "nd ollll'r of th. "tlllal ity ill
whi<h<on .... io"'nc cxiSlsfn'it.rl(llhasthoct",imyl'mi ll"""ycerr"in.)"
in Hegel, terms. bUI r,'en thi. !nomenf of obje..:.iikation i, p.rr of ,hc
w<)rk or Reouon] 01 havint; .ruly ;lS('lf uf r. 3nd of
lurned if'< imm.'<iiMC .el f...:on""iou'n .... ' in'" 3 TI,;/lg. inro 3n OJ.jul" ....
The move",em, of lkS" had mainly in m;n<.l hore drr Ih""" uf
111".d,,,, form. 01 rdigiim_ And 01 thea' is 0 ;11 whi,h the religiQUS

.he Incl on which ev"n .hesclfs.l!i,fjcd Ldris. ".rt
r(ligil'>n" miSh. be rcwQ.k..d 11'0 fO h.ve somc <:rlfte 1 pureh.se. Portl y thi ,
Ix:..)k i< all dUe"'pl 10 do 10 il1"-;lig.1Ie why G,}d It No/ c"-SI Do"",,.
Fls"'t. QutSlion. aboor merhod. t...
gled Irol11 onCS JOOU, .......... k .1nd inten,ion. -TechnIC IS resuh of a
So whJ' nen:!. priso:ly? In p"M,;"uia,. wh .. form,,1 n....dl Wh.1 kin<.l. of
wuo made pOsSlhl, by Polio,i', w"y Ihing.' Wh.!! killds
ofwnrk on the I,nglla):c?
..... o .hM<' ne,'c' 1><'..., in and . hot 1><' ..
COIn<' from .h .. pamlersa"d writ ...... "'ho Pollock'. work in IhO' 196o!..
undn a .. Grmll><'rg.spdl. Their ... unr hugm a b .. incn and .edious
sioc .. ,from ... ptlltjool.bu.a.t .. mpl<tolul'ou.ol;. v;z","izPoilock h:l\, .. bn
I donor in.nKI to try making anorh ... 001". Bt..."u ....
3 OS o,ubmilu. don nor mun i. has com .. 10 .hO' .. nd uf iu
u .... ful.....ss.. Ii we luckr. "" .. can milK i. a hi . f' om wllhin.
Th .. mam thmg the moderni>! cri li<:. gor .igh r Ihink. 3"""1 I'ollo.;k.
p"imings from '9411<1 ' 9S0 i. lh.ir tierc ... almOSldocltirlair .. '1"al i. Y, . ..... i.
<l""lit)" Ufrel\UIk:iation. N". ,hal this me3n' .ht pielur ... $<'n,"alily
or did nOI "flen ha'. bc:a,"y, .V. II ill view. Cecillka.o" s" w pa n of lh.
truth, Lo1l'mdrr Mi$1 Igi ,". " I ..... ligh.ing) i, u .. .. m ;IS Wall .. au.
("u.could no' ,he ",'m. bc:said ofa Malevich W/,it .. "" WI,iff? A"d 3.t 1l0l
PolI".;k\ paiming'i ultimaldy dr;, .. " by some.hinll analogous ' 0 Mal.vi.:h.
mad rigor?)
If, pain.ing 01 011 - .his ..... m.lO ...... he drip
_.hotn iloughl robtw.hroujo:h to ."" IaSI d .... iI Or first
gsr.lr: i. ough obtm, ..... i"'u ..... "f'I'O'iI .. olfigur:llion,l .... ourrighl lrKl
r>rg.3,;, .. ofit.O""ma.ndflvingfo", .. of Pollocks",orkfrom"H1Io ' 9S0i.
an .. lfon 10 Ihe m.os. rudimcnlary dc"",n" of dcpictjoo. - line. "olor,
ha"dling - from lheir ""ilh .he "'"Orld wc or, a. lust .
wilh .he work! of objfclS, bodi", and spac" thcm. Line. 10 quOIc from
Ihc /OCM of Ihb in Michael Fried's Til ," Amtri(iJII Paillt
f". be .. " Irccd 1 .. 1 from Ihc job of d.",ribing oo"'ovrs a"d bo""ding
Th. co", i"" ... :
It has bt.,,, purged of its figurali,e chorac.er. Li" in i.
rmirdy,r,nsparenr bo.h .o ,hc "",,illu.ionisti.:spacei .inh3bilsbuldon no.
w"clU .... andlo.hcpul$<'.of .... me'hingl ikcp"re, di"'mb()dinlc".rgy lhal
OttIIlS ' 0 mnve withoul .hrough ,Mm. Pollock's lillt bound. and
ddimil";,""hing_c:<Cfpl,i n a .... n .... .. y ... ighl. Wt .cndnOf . olookmyorldil.
arid the .. ...... ogat( . o .heraim il",lf. Wc 'C.ldlo rcad Ihe
canvU as if i. wer .. nor ..... ...,. In ....... "'orb Pollock has m311:tgl . 0
li ... uo.onl) fromilsfu,l(lion ofr .. pr"""miogobjeclsin .hc\lo'(>. Id,bulalso
fr0f11i .. ... ,wh ... herab .. r:I<:Ior
r .. prnenla,ion31, on lhe ,urbcc of lhe can'as. 10 a pJin'ins such N .. ",!>..,
I. lhe", "o"l y pi.:lorial Iiorld so homos .... ""s, ove .. and d.void
both of rtls"iublc objI' and of aMrr""l shap..,; .ha. I wanl ,,, u ll it
optical. 10 di"ing"i ,h il f'om 'hc struclur .. ,,,,,,ilt plelori, ( fidd
of previous modtrnist p3illling from Cubism to d .. Kooni ng and C,'CIl Hans
Hofma"'" field "p.kal ... il addresses inelf ,<>
alon ... ma ri ality of his i. rendered shurl )' visUJ I, alld ... ,,,It
is new ki,ld of _ if i ill mJk ... 5<' n .... 0 ,"all it - in
of ",(illS p ... Ihan one in whi.:h obit'" UiSl , Oal
.. tran. pir., "
.... l.bl .. , ... peciall) in'he la .. "'n. m''e>
I ha\'c ,'rudy glVcn role of In Nu"."' , I, a.1d
you .... ill ..... lhal Fried'! IS dillere" . 1 do nor ag ...... - Ihi, will ell><'fge mo..,
b .... _ ""i,h whal VIs on aboul'loe I'IUtcfla"' Y of Pullock's
pi!:n",", and 01 it; for Iha he _m,
..... ly
as 3 whok. a lew li"e! carlier, is a word calltd on ,000 an im"","""
amount of rlwlori.:31 work. u the ' u( (",d)' admi". 1Fric:d', 10 call
anu p""illg (h. conc .. p. in , lightly anxious makes feci
cnurlish at not .. se,
i!Self to eyesight alone: "rendered she.rly visual: of seeing
-are fin. as lung as they are not meant to conjure up some bogus
ontological threshold wnich Pollock's lin. magic.II) (rO"". lA lot of terrible

Ihing.sthal happen when something as basic 10 painting as line is turned aside
from ils norma l beha"iors ->till stands, and to my mind says