Editing the Image: Strategies in the Production and Reception of the Visual 9781442687967

Editing the Image looks at the editing of visual media as both a series of technical exercises and as an allegory.

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Table of contents :
Notes on Contributors
Editing Identity
1. Mr Blank Gets Concretized
2. Striking Through the Artist’s Body: Ekphrasis in Bellori’s Life of Caravaggio
Editing the Body of History
3. An Edited Past: Aegean Prehistory and Its Texts
4. The Trouble with Painting, the Image (less) Text
Spectacular Editing
5. Concealing Spectacles: Childbirth and Visuality in Early Modern France
6. Edit In ... Edit Out: A Performance/Intervention
Aura and Edit
7. Editing Armageddon
8. Editing the Image: Two On-site/Online Exhibitions
Institutions of Art and Editorial Practices
9. The Art Museum as Installation: An Interpretation of the Place of Matisse’s The Joy of Life in the Barnes Foundation
10. Editing In vs. Editing Out: World Art Studies and the Pathologies of Academe
11. ‘Editorial’ Afterthoughts
Envoi What Remains: The Nachleben of the Invisible
Previous Conference Publications
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Editing the Image: Strategies in the Production and Reception of the Visual

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Editing the Image: Strategies in the Production and Reception of the Visual Including papers given at the Thirty-Ninth Annual Conference on Editorial Problems University of Toronto, 7–8 November 2003 Edited by Mark A. Cheetham, Elizabeth Legge, and Catherine M. Soussloff


© University of Toronto Press Incorporated 2008 Toronto Buffalo London www.utppublishing.com Printed in Canada ISBN


Printed on acid-free paper

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication Conference on Editorial Problems (39th : 2003 : University of Toronto) Editing the Image: strategies in the production and reception of the visual : papers given at the thirty-ninth annual Conference on Editorial Problems, University of Toronto 7–8 November 2003 / edited by Mark A. Cheetham, Elizabeth Legge and Catherine M. Soussloff Includes index. 978-0-8020-9248-9


1. Editing – Congresses. 2. Art – Congresses. I. Cheetham, Mark A. (Mark Arthur), 1954– II. Legge, Elizabeth, 1952– . III. Soussloff, Catherine M. iv. Title. N82.C66




University of Toronto Press acknowledges the financial assistance to its publishing program of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council. University of Toronto Press acknowledges the financial support for its publishing activities of the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program (bpidp).

In memory of our colleague Amilcare Ianucci ‘... tal era io a quella vista nova: veder voleva come si convenne l’imago al cerchio e come vi s’indova’ – Dante, Paradiso, xxxiii 136–8

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Notes on Contributors ix Acknowledgments xiii List of Illustrations xv Introduction mark a. cheetham, elizabeth legge, catherine m. soussloff xix editing identity 1 Mr Blank Gets Concretized john greyson 3 2 Striking Through the Artist’s Body: Ekphrasis in Bellori’s Life of Caravaggio todd p. olson 15 editing the body of history 3 An Edited Past: Aegean Prehistory and Its Texts sturt w. manning 33 4 The Trouble with Painting, the Image (less) Text catherine m. soussloff 67 spectactular editing 5 Concealing Spectacles: Childbirth and Visuality in Early Modern France lianne mctavish 95

viii / Contents 6 Edit In ... Edit Out: A Performance/Intervention lisa steele and kim tomczak 115 aura and edit 7 Editing Armageddon john o’brian 127 8 Editing the Image: Two On-site/Online Exhibitions reesa greenberg 153 institutions of art and editorial practices 9 The Art Museum as Installation: An Interpretation of the Place of Matisse’s The Joy of Life in the Barnes Foundation david carrier 167 10 Editing In vs. Editing Out: World Art Studies and the Pathologies of Academe john onians 183 conclusions 11 ‘Editorial’ Afterthoughts linda hutcheon 199 Envoi What Remains: The Nachleben of the Invisible fred r. unwalla 207 Index 233

Notes on Contributors

david carrier is the Champney Family Professor at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Art. He has been Lecturer in the Council of the Humanities and Class of 1932 Fellow in Philosophy at Princeton University, and in 1999–2000, was a Getty Scholar. He has been a visitor in the Department of Art History (University of Auckland, New Zealand) and a visiting lecturer at the National Academy of Art (Hangzhou, China). David Carrier’s books include Artwriting (Amherst, 1987); Principles of Art History Writing (University Park and London, 1991); Poussin’s Paintings: A Study in Art-Historical Methodology (University Park and London, 1993); The Aesthete in the City: The Philosophy and Practice of American Abstract Painting in the 1980s (University Park and London, 1994); Nicolas Poussin. Lettere sull’arte (Hestia edizione, 1995); High Art. Charles Baudelaire and the Origins of Modernism (University Park and London, 1996); England and Its Aesthetes: Biography and Taste (Gordon and Breach, 1997); Garner Tullis. The Life of Collaboration (New York, 1998); The Aesthetics of the Comic Strip (University Park and London, 2000); Rosalind Krauss and American Philosophical Art Criticism: From Formalism to beyond Postmodernism (Greenwood/Praeger, 2002); The Art of Artwriting (Allworth Press, 2002); Sean Scully (Thames and Hudson, 2003); and Museum Skepticism (Duke University Press, 2006). His latest book is A World Art History and Its Objects, forthcoming. mark a. cheetham is a Professor in the Department of Art at the University of Toronto. His work ranges from single-authored books that focus on the interactions of theoretical texts, the canon, and visual expression (Remembering Postmodernism: Trends in Recent Canadian Art [Oxford University Press, 1991]; Kant, Art, and Art History: Moments of

x / Notes on Contributors Discipline [Cambridge University Press, 2001]; Abstract Art Against Autonomy: Infection, Resistance, and Cure [Cambridge University Press, 2006]), to the editorial decisions that construct an artist’s biography (Alex Colville: The Observer Observed [ecw Press, 1994]). He is committed to editorial collaboration, both in academe and in contemporary art curatorship (Theory Between the Disciplines: Authority / Vision / Politics, coeditor [University of Michigan Press, 1990], The Subjects of Art History: Historical Objects in Contemporary Perspective [co-editor, Cambridge University Press, 1998], Memory Works: Postmodern Impulses in Canadian Art [exhibition] 1990–1, and Disturbing Abstraction: Christian Eckart [exhibition] 1996–8). Cheetham’s awards include a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, a Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute Fellowship (in collaboration with Elizabeth D. Harvey), a Connaught Research Fellowship, and the Northrop Frye Award for teaching excellence at the University of Toronto. He is at work on a book titled The Englishness of English Art Theory, which explores the displaced presence of art theory in England from the eighteenth century to the present. reesa greenberg is a Montreal-based independent scholar and museum consultant whose research focuses on contemporary exhibition practice and display. She is co-editor of Thinking About Exhibitions and CoExecutive Director of mosaica. Her recent work examines the use of web space and the internet as sites for creativity and display. See www.reesagreenberg.net for related essays. john greyson is a Toronto film/video artist whose works include the features Lilies (1996), Un©ut (1996), Proteus (2003), and the video opera installation Fig Trees (2003). A recipient of the Toronto Arts Award for Film/Video 2000, his current projects include re-editing scraps from the Iraqi National Film Archive and writing rhyming couplets for gay penguins. linda hutcheon is Distinguished University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto. Her many books on literary subjects have established her as one of the leading literary theorists in North America. These achievements were recognized when she was elected president of the Modern Languages Association in 2000. She has also been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and honorary doctorates from eight universities in Europe and North America. Hutcheon has edited several collections of academic essays and short fiction, and has learned to have the utmost respect and admiration for good editors in the process. She is currently working on two projects, a

Notes on Contributors / xi theorization of reviewing (in all media) and, in collaboration with Michael Hutcheon, a study of late style in opera composers. elizabeth legge is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art at the University of Toronto. A specialist in Surrealism and in contemporary art, she has written widely on twentieth-century artists including Vera Frenkel, Max Ernst, and Francis Picabia. Her publications include Max Ernst: The Psychoanalytic Sources (1989); ‘Analogs of Loss: Vera Frenkel’s Body Missing,’ in Visual Culture of the Holocaust (2000), ed. Barbie Zelizer; and ‘Reinventing Derivation: Roles, Stereotypes, and “young British art”,’ Representations 71 (Summer 2000). She is currently completing a book on Michael Snow. sturt w. manning completed ba and ma degrees in Australia before writing a phd at Cambridge in the uk. He was then a Research Fellow at Jesus College Cambridge before becoming Lecturer and then Reader at the University of Reading, uk. He took up the Graham/Thompson Chair in Aegean Prehistory at the University of Toronto, before moving to become the Goldwin Professor of Classical Archaeology and Director of The Malcolm and Carolyn Wiener Laboratory for Aegean and Near Eastern Dendrochronology at Cornell University. lianne mctavish is a Professor in the Department of Art and Design at the University of Alberta. She is the author of the monograph Childbirth and the Display of Authority in Early Modern France (2005), as well as various articles on early modern visual culture, the history of medicine, and critical museum theory. Her recent work analyses representations of cure and convalescence in France, 1600–1800, focusing on royal bodies at rest after giving birth, Kingly bodies recuperating from illness, religious bodies receiving miraculous cures, and unborn bodies at risk of becoming ill. john o’brian is Professor of Art History and Brenda and David McLean Chair in Canadian Studies at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. His books include Beyond Wilderness, Ruthless Hedonism, Clement Greenberg: The Collected Essays and Criticism, and David Milne and the Modern Tradition of Painting. His current research is on the engagement of photography with the atomic era. todd p. olson is Associate Professor in the Department of History of Art, University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Poussin and France: Painting, Humanism, and the Politics of Style (Yale University Press, 2002). His forthcoming book is entitled Caravaggio’s Pitiful Relics: Painting History after Iconoclasm.

xii / Notes on Contributors john onians is Emeritus Professor in the School of World Art Studies at the University of East Anglia and former director of Research and Academic Programs at the Clark Art Institute. His Festchrift, Raising the Eyebrow: John Onians and World Art Studies (ed. Lauren Golden), has just been published. He is the author of numerous books and articles on art history, including the classic work Bearers of Meaning, and was the founding editor of the journal Art History. His most recent book is Neuroarthistory: From Aristotle and Pliny to Baxandall and Zeki (Yale University Press, 2008). lisa steele and kim tomczak have worked exclusively in collaboration since 1983, producing videotapes, performances, and photo/text works that have been exhibited in festivals, museums, and galleries around the world. They have received numerous grants and awards including the Bell Canada prize for excellence in Video Art, the Peter Herndorff award for Media Arts through the Toronto Arts Awards, and, in 2005, a Governor General’s Award for lifetime achievement in Visual & Media Arts. They are co-founders of Vtape, a Toronto media arts centre, and teach at the University of Toronto, where Steele is the Associate Chair of the Department of Art. Recent projects include two large commissions for public art in Toronto. catherine m. soussloff holds the University of California Presidential Chair in the History of Art and Visual Culture at uc Santa Cruz, where she also directs the Visual and Performance Studies faculty research group. She is the author of The Subject in Art: Portraiture and the Birth of the Modern (Duke University Press, 2006) and The Absolute Artist: The Historiography of a Concept (University of Minnesota Press, 1997); and the editor of Jewish Identity in Modern Art History (University of California Press, 1999). She has published essays and articles on Early Modern Italian sculpture and painting, performance studies, and theories of the image from the Renaissance to the present. She currently chairs the editorial board of Art Journal. fred r. unwalla is Editor at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies in Toronto, and, for sins both accidental and substantive, the chair of the executive committee of the Conference on Editorial Problems. Old interests in ancient allegory and modern philosophy inform his current project, an experimental work that attempts to trace the withdrawal of the classical gods across disparate texts, images, figures.


The starting point of this volume was ‘Editing (out) the Image,’ the thirty-ninth Conference on Editorial Problems held in November 2003 at the University of Toronto. The conference was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Aid to Occasional Research Conferences and International Congresses Grant Program. This book represents a greatly expanded development of the ideas raised at that conference, with additional essays commissioned for the volume. For financial support, we are also grateful to the University of California, Santa Cruz, Arts Research Institute; and, at the University of Toronto, the Faculty of Arts and Science, University College, the Humanities Centre, the Department of Art, the Museum Studies Program, and the executive committee of the Conference on Editorial Problems. Publication of this volume has been supported by a generous grant-in-aid by the Janet E. Hutchison Foundation. We would also like to thank Professor Marc Gotlieb, Professor Margaret Miller, Barbara Edwards, Allan Doyle, Sarah Stanners, and Minna Lee, for their various assistance throughout this project. For her meticulous editing, our gratitude goes to Evelyn Mackie.

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Figure 1.1 Rijkaart (Neil Sandilands) and Claas (Rouxnet Brown) break rock in the Robben Island slate quarry 8 Figure 1.2 Prisoners on Robben Island fishing 9 Figure 2.1. Caravaggio, Mary Magdalen, ca 1593–4 16 Figure 2.2 Pietro Santi Bartoli, ‘Suicide of the Dacians and the Dacians mourning their dead, Trajan’s Column,’ engraving in G.P. Bellori, Colonna Traiana (Rome, 1673) 19 Figure 2.3 Raphael, Deposition, 1507 20 Figure 2.4 Caravaggio, The Taking of Christ, 1602–3 22 Figure 2.5 Caravaggio, The Fortune Teller, ca 1598–9 23 Figure 3.1 Gender balance in Aegean prehistory in 1994 46 Figure 3.2 Gender balance in tenured versus non-tenured academic positions in North America in 1994 46 Figure 3.3 Publication rates in percentage terms by sex for three publications by various time intervals 47 Figure 3.4 Aegean prehistorians by nationality in 1994 sample 48 Figure 3.5 Aegean prehistorians by nationality groupings in 1994 sample 49 Figure 3.6 Percentages for language of publications in the Nestor bibliography listings for Aegean prehistory and related areas for entries in the 1958, 1979, and 1999 listings 49

xvi / Illustrations Figure 3.7 Type of academic department in which Aegean prehistorians currently teach in 1994 50 Figure 3.8 North American universities producing 4 or more phds in Aegean prehistory as of 1994 in the survey sample 51 Figure 4.1 Diego Velazquez, Las Meninas, 1656 72 Figure 4.2 Diego Velazquez, The Forge of Vulcan 74 Figure 4.3 Diego Velzaquez, The Waterseller of Seville 75 Figure 4.4 Leonardo da Vinci, The Last Supper 76 Figure 4.5 Title page of the Trattato della Pittura, Paris, 1651 77 Figure 4.6 Diego Velzaquez, Portrait of Pope Innocent X 78 Figure 4.7 Nicolas Poussin, Self-Portrait, 1650 79 Figure 5.1 Woman in labour assisted by man-midwife, from Louise Bourgeois’ Het begin en ingang van alle menschen in de wereld 96 Figure 5.2 Female genitalia, from François Mauriceau’s Des maladies des femmes grosses et accouchées, 1668 103 Figure 5.3 Author portrait, from Pierre Amand’s Nouvelles observations sur la praticque des accouchemens, 1715 106 Figure 5.4 Head-puller, from Pierre Amand’s Nouvelles observations sur la praticque des accouchemens, 1715 108 Figure 6.1 ‘The Gloria Tapes,’ by Lisa Steele, 1979–80 117 Figure 6.2 ‘Birthday Suit: With Scars and Defects,’ by Lisa Steele, 1974 118 Figure 6.3a ‘Museum of Man,’ by Kim Tomczak, 1981 119 Figure 6.3b ‘Museum of Man’ (detail), 1981 119 Figure 6.4 ‘Paradise Lost,’ by Kim Tomczak, 1981 122 Figure 6.5 ‘We’re Getting Younger All the Time,’ 2001 123 Figure 7.1 Robert Frank, Hoover Dam, Between Nevada and Arizona, 1955 130 Figure 7.2 Atomic Explosion: Frenchman’s Flat, or Yucca Flats, Nevada, ca 1955 131 Figure 7.3 New Yorker, 6 October 2003 136

Illustrations/ xvii Figure 7.4 Front page, New York Sunday Mirror, 7 October 1945 137 Figure 7.5 Atomic Bomb Explosion: Mushroom Cloud, ca 1952 145 Figure 7.6 Atom Bomb Blasts, ca 1951 146 Figure 8.1 Installation views of Frida Kahlo’s Intimate Family Picture at the Jewish Museum, 5 September 2003–4 January 2004 155 Figure 8.2 Installation views of Frida Kahlo’s Intimate Family Picture at the Jewish Museum, 5 September 2003–4 January 2004 155 Figure 8.3 Entrance view of Frida Kahlo’s Intimate Family Picture at the Jewish Museum, 5 September 2003–4 January 2004 159 Figure 8.4 Entrance View of Charlotte Salomon’s Life or Theatre? at the Royal Academy, London, 22 October 1998–17 January 1999 159 Figure 11.1 Barbara Kruger, Untitled (Your gaze hits the side of my face) 200 Figure 11.2 Hans Haacke, Painting for a Boardroom 201 Figure 11.3 Jim Logan, The Diners Club (No Reservation Required) 203 Envoi.1 Erasmures; negating chance; obliterary creation 208 Envoi.2 Shrine-stela of Ineny, ca 1350 bce 210 Envoi.3 Joseph Kosuth, Zero & Not, 1985 211 Envoi.4 Imagewriting; the gorgon of sight; parerga 212 Envoi.5 Woodcut by Sebastian Brant from Virgil, Opera (Strasbourg, 1502) 214 Envoi.6 Otto Freundlich, Composition inachevée, 1943 215 Envoi.7 The open – animal being; seeing holes; appropriating being 216 Envoi.8 The Salon Carré, Musée du Louvre, L’Illustration, 2 September 1911 218 Envoi.9 Cornelius Gijsbrechts, The Reverse of a Framed Painting, 1670 219

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Let us say that we are all editors, creatures of discernment, distinction, and judgment. From the uncontrolled exercise of our fundamental perceptual processes to the most complex cultural productions, we constantly edit in and edit out data of all sorts. Such a concept of editing enlarges our traditional understanding of the role of aesthetics in art, society, and culture. As a description of exclusionary practices, the notion of editing democratizes the function of aesthetics. Editing describes something we all do all the time. Because it is part of our everyday life as readers, viewers, and consumers of culture, editing is both banal and critically important. As several of the contributors to this collection remark, editing is associated first with texts and with written language. Yet it is equally essential, if less examined, in regard to the visual. Our curiosity to explore this particular territory came about not only because this area demands our increased attention today, but also because of the very discrepancies called forth by the processes and terms used in speaking about editing and visual culture. Why can we effortlessly discuss editing with reference to some visual forms, such as those of mass culture – photography, film, video, digital media – but not others, such as those of the traditional ‘fine arts’ – painting, sculpture, architecture? This collection of essays by scholars from many fields exposes issues of editing the image, or visual culture, in all media and in the institutions where it is prominently found. It brings together a range of experts from different constituencies: academic art history, museum studies, studio art practices, and moving picture media. Editing the Image touches on concerns crucial to those fields that make up the history of art and visual culture as a practice today, as well as those media and institutions that produce and disseminate the visual arts in our society. Many of the

xx / Mark A. Cheetham, Elizabeth Legge, Catherine M. Soussloff essays included here began as papers for a conference titled Editing (Out?) the Image, held at the University of Toronto in November of 2003. Their authors have subsequently edited them for contribution to this volume. In addition, the editors of this volume invited several other contributions on topics we felt necessary to a fuller understanding of the history and impact of editing in the field of visual culture. The work and effects of editing take place across the wide spectrum of visual and image studies, from the most traditional to the most provocative approaches. We focus, therefore, on both practical, localized concerns and more general, theoretical matters. We also address not only those specialists in visual culture who may be familiar with many of the disciplinary areas considered here, but also the many people who are affected by ‘editing’ decisions in the visual media. Editing the Image takes up in new ways a number of the significant and controversial questions that have been raised in visual cultural studies in recent years. Taken as a whole, we would call these essays speculative within the fields of editorial and visual studies. Readers will find that the interaction of word and image figures prominently in all of the essays found in this volume. We want to ask whether the visual image is somehow lost or at least compromised when we apply the arguably text-oriented practices of editing. Although the word ‘edit’ is relatively new – a late eighteenth- to mid-nineteenthcentury coinage, depending on the connotation – we find a significant history of editing that may be said to extend back to the Early Modern period. Even though editing retains its textual overtones in most definitions and terminologies, are there specifically visual dimensions and a less familiar history of editing to which we need to attend when image and text meet? These ‘meeting places’ certainly occur in early printed books and today are found in the new medium of the Internet, such as the museum website. ‘Meeting places’ of text and image, too, may be said to be intrinsic to the project of film-making, as various interrelated editorial practices play such a large role in script, storyboard, and film but remain ‘unseen’ by the final audience. These issues of image and editing animate many of the essays collected here. They are addressed in a more general cultural context by Linda Hutcheon in her concluding meditations. Even as we view visual editing and editing of the visual today as basic human activities, we do not see them as taking place autonomously. As co-editors, we have been particularly self-conscious about the three-way dynamic of collaboration that has shaped this volume. A few words, then, about the organization of the essays. The twelve chapters pre-

Introduction / xxi sented here interact in theme, historical topic, and method, which is to say that we imagined them arranged in the book in many configurations. What won out as the organizing principle, however, was the goal of highlighting new insights about editing the visual. We believe that this end is best served by encouraging unusual contrasts and continuities between essays. For example, instead of pairing Olson’s and Soussloff’s essays because of their compatible analyses of Early Modern Italian cultural practices, or putting Greyson’s investigations of gender and sexuality with those of McTavish, we sought to reveal new ideas about visual editing by mixing up familiar categories of scholarly analysis, such as period and area studies. While the associations that we as editors have – and that we hope to inspire in others – are by no means restricted to the interactions between the pairs of essays as presented here, we do claim that these particular ‘collaborations’ are especially revealing of the topics at hand. The section titles under which the paired essays fall give an excellent summary of the topics that we, as editors, found compelling in this volume: Editing Identity, Editing the Body of History, Spectacular Editing, Aura and Edit, Institutions of Art and Editorial Practices. In the final essay, Fred Unwalla exposes the editing of the image to the pressures of metaphorical reading. No one reflects more ably and evocatively on the complex processes of editing the visual than the celebrated filmmaker John Greyson. In the essay that inaugurates Editing the Image, he probes the discourses that inform the editing of his recent film, Proteus (Pluck/Big World Cinema, 2003). The film elaborates the trial and execution of two alleged criminals, one black and one white, who were convicted of sodomy in eighteenth-century South Africa. Following the transcript that Greyson’s co-director Jack Lewis found in the Cape Town Archives Repository and had translated, the film situates a gay or queer history within a range of other narratives stemming from the European attempts to understand the language, fauna, and folkloric culture of African aboriginal peoples. The eponymous Mr Blank is enmeshed in his colonial master’s development of Linnean taxonomy and efforts to apply it to alien species. He finds himself trapped in the evolution of new colonial languages and miscommunications, and implicated in the distortion of his own cultural history. The interpretation of the events of this important moment in the history of South Africa, is, in turn, inflected by the subsequent taxonomies of apartheid. Mr Blank is obliged to negotiate the ‘protean’ editing out of his own identities: black, gay, African, colonized. Greyson’s film and the reflection on it he presents here make clear the complex imbrications of text and image crucial to this collection as a

xxii / Mark A. Cheetham, Elizabeth Legge, Catherine M. Soussloff whole. Translation and adaptation come to the fore as editorial mediators of what we, as viewers, take to be truths and falsehoods. Quoting Greyson’s description of the editorial processes involved in the film reveals the myriad ways in which a narrative history film both employs and is determined by editing: Jack and I worked from Watson’s poems, editing and condensing our own version of this moon story, and then translating it into Nama. Thus, in our process of writing, shooting and editing, it was not just Claas who twists the words for Niven’s consumption, but every one of us along the path, taking this story of the protean shape-shifter /Kaggen/Mantis and the moon through nine stages of translation: First, there is //Kabbo, the original !Xam speaker, quoting and inventing as he goes; second is Bleek the linguist, phonetically rendering the story in his own invented form of written !Xam and then in English; third, the 1991 poetic interpretations of Watson; fourth, our English script, freely improvising from Watson; fifth, Johan Jacobs our Nama translator (because !Xam is an extinct language, we used Nama, one of the few surviving Khoisan languages, whose speakers were driven from the Cape two centuries ago and who today reside in rural Namibia); sixth, Katerina Kaffer, the actor playing Claas’ mother, who came down on a bus from her Namibian farm, changing words and phrases as she performed; seventh, Rouxnet Brown, playing Claas, who twists his mothers words into English; eighth, editor Rosalyn Kalloo, who cut and shaped the Nama and English versions down to half their original length, for time considerations; and finally, ninth, Kelly Morris, our online editor who had to trim and tweak the English subtitles to fit and flow within the final picture cut. Nine versions of translation, nine versions of protean shape-shifting, of editing, each distinct, each both true and untrue. Even the original source is no source, but only a version of a previous oral tradition. When Claas says in the sunset: ‘That’s it, there’s no more,’ it is his grandest lie of all.

Paired with Greyson’s essay, Todd Olson’s chapter, ‘Striking Through the Artist’s Body: Ekphrasis in Bellori’s “Life of Caravaggio,”’ also examines the body and the ways in which identities are forged through text and image. However much this point of connection between eighteenth-century South Africa and seventeenth-century Rome, between Greyson’s essay and Olson’s, between the body of a slave and the body of a denigrated artist, occurs in the similar construction of biographies, a literary form inevitably determined by editing, it should

Introduction / xxiii not be taken as an invitation to ahistorical comparisons. Olson’s historiography of one of the most famous biographies in the art-historical canon, Giovan Pietro Bellori’s ‘Life of Caravaggio’ in Le Vite de’ pittori, scultori e architetti moderni of 1672, exposes the shaping force of specific elisions in Bellori’s text. Olson argues that in Bellori’s hands, versions of Caravaggio’s notoriously colourful life determined what was and was not written about his individual pictures. Elaborating upon what Catherine Soussloff has called ‘the embodiment of the artist in the mythology of the visual,’ Olson reveals how Bellori’s descriptions of Caravaggio’s paintings function as reciprocal exchange points between the artist’s life as Bellori imagined it and the meaning of his art. Bellori’s image of Caravaggio – for example, his now disputed claim that the artist worked directly from the model – is never separate in these ekphrases from the interpretation of the work. For Bellori, the art must also reflect its author in minute detail. Like Greyson, Olson takes advantage of the image of a blank screen to explain these editorial projections: Bellori’s ekphrasis in his life of Caravaggio points to the pleasures of blankness. The artist is embodied, but as a passive instrument of vision, yielding to appearances by erasing the indexical traces of his own body. The accidents of light are a priori. The painting is an interwoven surface of seemingly unmotivated incidents. Bellori’s attention to these passages of unreflective perception betrays his desire, before Caravaggio’s paintings, to be momentarily forgetful of expression and the demands of history found elsewhere in the theoretician’s brief.

Both Olson and Greyson see history and biography as enabling of editorial projections, both in the technological sense of projecting images through light and with the Freudian connotation of displacing psychic data from one context to another. Pairing Sturt Manning’s chapter on Aegean prehistory with Catherine Soussloff’s reflection on the relationships between image and text in early modern illustrated texts by and about Leonardo da Vinci is designed to remind the reader of important continuities in the disciplinary practices that have allowed the construction of a history of art. Manning’s extensive meditation on the archaeological uncovering and presentation of the foundation of western civilization shows that instead of an increasing certainty about the past, we find that ‘the past has little independent existence.’ Prehistory is surprisingly modern, its supposed truths governed as much as any other period by what he calls the ‘restraints’ of the field. For example, what is found and where it has

xxiv / Mark A. Cheetham, Elizabeth Legge, Catherine M. Soussloff been unearthed is a function largely and increasingly of ‘Anglophone imperial enterprise.’ Manning reveals also that the ‘tyranny of the Renaissance,’ the traditionally pre-eminent period in the narrative of Western art’s progressive evolution, has profoundly determined what is sought in pre-history. In addition, with a subtle inclusion of statistical data in chart form, a visually ‘edited’ conveyance of supposedly scientific information if there ever was one, Manning analyses how gender and place of employment also spin the field in certain unexpected directions. Art history and questions of editing intertwine in recent academic research priorities, publishing, and in pedagogy, but as Catherine M. Soussloff argues in concert with Manning, the image/text interaction has a specific historical pedigree. In ‘The Trouble with Painting, the Image (less) Text,’ Soussloff provides a critical historiography of the ascendance of Renaissance exemplars in art history in the new and lavish genre of the ‘art book.’ She argues that since the nineteenth century, history-writing has supported a transparency between subjects and objects and interpretation that did not pertain in the Early Modern period, when the relationship of history-writing to rhetoric could not be so representational. Beginning with Rafael Trichet du Fresne’s 1651 publication of Leonardo da Vinci’s Treatise on Painting in Paris, illustrations of a theory of art co-exist in the same text with portraiture, biography, and description. Soussloff finds this same scheme elaborated some twenty years later in a book by Giovanni Pietro Bellori. How, then, are we to understand the editorial decisions and practices attending this new relationship between image and text that developed in the art book? These particular texts form a key transition in the history of European art between the image and the text, the absent object and the deceased subject. Soussloff argues that art books promote a tradition of intellection in the history of art in which painting predominates as a medium capable of making representation. These books articulate the difficulty for the discipline of art history in obtaining knowledge of the image when it exists together – as Olson also shows – with textual ekphrasis and art theory. In concert with Soussloff, Lianne McTavish addresses issues of editing in and out. Her essay meditates on the sight of others: of looking and looking away, of seeing and being seen – issues pivotal in philosophical considerations of vision. Here, they are staged in the context of the history of childbirth practices and midwifery texts. These alternatives are allied to the states of being covered and uncovered, part of the complex scenario of the childbirth chamber and the relative roles of woman in

Introduction / xxv labour, midwife, and male physician. Investigation into the inclusion and exclusion from vision in the birthing room indicate how relative to social position are our understanding of shame, wisdom, knowledge, social status, and power in regard to childbirth. Obliquely, these binaries all attach to that ultimate power of life and death, which is given through the domains of sight and touch, together with the authority and prohibitions attached to them. Within obstetrical treatises, too, there are complex issues of editing, particularly pertaining to the scientific inclusion or moralistic exclusion of accurate representations of women’s anatomy. The editing out of women’s genitalia, both in the practice of male midwives attending at childbirth and in Early Modern midwifery treatises, runs counter to modern positivist medical texts illustrated by anatomical diagrams. Delivering a child, therefore, is fascinatingly interwoven with notions of ‘editing,’ literalized, on occasion, as the dismemberment of an unborn, malpositioned child. The birthing chamber, with its web of deflected regards and blind spots displaced onto tactility (the doctor feeling rather than looking at the woman’s genitalia), stands in for a room in a museum, for the layout of text and images on a page, and for other heterotopic metaphors of exhibition and display within which taboos and seductions operate. From the editing of corporeal bodies, we move to the work of Kim Tomczak and Lisa Steele, which creates a narrative that has to do with the editing of the body by mortality and the artist’s reputation and standing. Tomczak and Steele, artists who met in that peculiarly Canadian context of arts patronage bureaucracy, a Canada Council jury, have worked collaboratively for twenty-five years. Their contribution to our discussion on the problems of editing was an intervention in the usual procedures of the academic conference. They spoke at the lectern in front of their projected alter images from one of their videos, We’re Getting Younger All the Time (2001), in which they stand naked and, from the shuddering of the digitized image as it jumps from take to take, apparently cold and vulnerable. Their conference selves, crisp and dressed in professional black, generated a dialogue that had implications for the university context, ranging from allusion to the Socratic method (questioning as philosophical and pedagogical method), to Beckett’s Endgame (the sense of the interminable and unchanging, the Ham and Clov generated by academic talks), to the vaudeville or comedy turn. Their presence called to mind a metaphorical Adam and Eve, ‘before’ and ‘after’: cast out of the garden (in the video), only to become engaged in the world of human labour (in the conference).

xxvi / Mark A. Cheetham, Elizabeth Legge, Catherine M. Soussloff In their essay Tomczak and Steele ask one another questions about their respective and collaborative work – questions for which, at the conference, neither was prepared. The deceptively neutral questions addressing the history of the changing contexts for her work in video festivals and university courses set off various traps for Tomczak: When, and why, are artists edited in and out cultural discourse? How do ‘critic, curator, and scholar’ affect the work, how do they edit it into the discourse, and how do they, in effect, become part of it? Does the artist in fact lose any hold on the work, as it morphs through the variable iterations of intellectual and social fashion, and even, in the matter of such things as black and white versus colour, fashion for fashion? Steele and Tomczak meditate on the implications of contexts for their work and its reception, in ways that address the social and political anxieties of the ambient culture, and the stresses that warp editing into censorship. For example, the reception and understanding of their work has been mediated by feminism, socialism, the Vietnam and Iraq wars, and the mass media undertows that both represent and suppress these social and political traumas. Steele and Tomczak’s intervention shifted the conference’s attention from the scholarly response to cultural objects to the problems of those who make cultural objects to be cast into the solvent of culture, which included Editing (Out?) the Image. Reesa Greenberg sets out the essential properties and variables of web exhibition design, and the opportunities for evaluation and occlusion that go with these devices in her discussion of editing in the virtual art space. She argues that we should not imagine a website as the equivalent of a museum exhibition: rather, web exhibitions are a new category whose properties bear close cautionary analysis, and which ‘edit’ their anthologized content in new ways. If, as Greenberg contends, the image of the artwork as museum ‘masterpiece’ has edited out ‘other images of the artwork, images of art as part of socio-political and economic frameworks and other art histories,’ then we need to be aware that the website itself can edge out other properties and values attached to the work of art, while at the same time instituting and insinuating others. Walter Benjamin’s axiomatic account of aura and its dispersal finds confirmation in a new medium of pop-ups and rollovers, of skipping intros and deleting at will. Greenberg considers matters of relative visibility and exclusion within the metaphorical space of the web-based exhibition. Websites themselves, potentially claiming access to limitless times and spaces through their hotlinks, have been considered to be inherently heterotopic, but they have particular applicability to spaces of exhibition. How does the

Introduction / xxvii virtual installation of a museum exhibition, with its apparently limitless potential for inclusion, set out new sets of criteria for inclusion and exclusion, for setting up editorial frameworks? The mats and spotlights that set off works of art may be taken as staking out and elevating aura levels; but they are also readily allegorized as the white space of the page, as textual spaces. And it is that repressed prestige of the page that tends to be left out of axiomatic accounts of the museum space. On the web, however, images installed in the flow of an exhibition are presented as if on pages, more or less simultaneously available, rather than being at the end of a walk through related or supporting material in an actual museum exhibition. If an installed exhibition is a kind of narrative – one thinks of it as a Renaissance allegory of strange encounters – then web exhibitions tell a necessarily differently configured story. Greenberg uses the pervasive Deleuzian metaphor of the rhizome, a spatial and temporal anomaly of times and spaces infolded on themselves (Brian O’Doherty, in his exhaustive list of metaphors of the museum ‘white cube,’ did not include the page or book; Rachel Whiteread’s Holocaust Memorial in Vienna literalizes this repressed metaphor, by turning the white exhibition space inside out, as a library). The author’s close and subtle analysis of the functioning of a web page offers a suggestive account of the mutations of our seeing through that medium, and for the concomitant modifications of our thinking about (art) history: ‘As a visual model for envisioning the writing of art history, the rollovers embody the opposite of a single, authoritative text or image and the temporality associated with interpretation.’ The website offers many such potentially combinatory narratives caused by the promise to the visitor of a new freedom to edit art. The question of the afterlife of Benjamin’s aura erupts again in John O’Brian’s ‘Editing Armageddon,’ which deals with what we might call extreme editing, that is, comprehensive nuclear annihilation. His subject is the picturesque of A-bomb imagery as found in magazines and picture postcards of the 1950s, especially as it occurs in Robert Frank’s photograph of a gas-station postcard rack. On that rack, the A-bomb explosion is framed by the image of another great human technological feat, the Hoover Dam, and by the image of the sublime in nature, the Grand Canyon. Here the A-bomb is situated as a half way between natural wonder and massive artefact, simultaneous evidence of the apex of human (American) technological civilization, and of its potential annhilation by unleashed natural forces. The implications of this atomic imagery are filtered and dispelled through the banalizing effects of cheap colour printing processes disseminated in magazines and

xxviii / Mark A. Cheetham, Elizabeth Legge, Catherine M. Soussloff postcards. We might say that in O’Brian’s test case, the auratic is displaced from the radioactive cloud into garish emulsions. O’Brian considers the layers of editing implicit in popular cultural images of atomic explosion and their focus on the magnificent mushroom cloud ‘climax’ – with side and after-effects edited out. The crucial Frank photograph directs us to a narrower editing within editing: Frank left this photograph out of his axiomatic book The Americans. Did he consider it too facile an observation, or, we might say, too cheap a shot? The roadside postcard A-bomb image is, as O’Brian observes, history (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) repeated, a kind of ‘re-edited’ farce (A-bomb tourism in Las Vegas). In the section of the volume entitled ‘Institutions of Art and Editorial Practices,’ David Carrier and John Onians explore the problematics of editorial practices within the institutional context of the museum today. It is well known that curators edit both the thematic content of any exhibition and, through practices of placement and display, the works of those artists exhibited. Who and what is chosen – and excluded – is frequently controversial. Questions of individual and institutional censorship arise, conflating decisions made about individual works of art with broader ethical and aesthetic considerations that also pertain to the institution. Museum curators are frequently responsible for the catalogue raisonné, a supposedly complete accounting of an artist’s work and a form that is replete with editorial issues, not only of selection, but also of authorship, intentionality, and history writing. The editorial decisions made by curators in their professional activities in the museum affect the evolution of collection policy in national museums of art and culture. Carrier’s essay, ‘The Art Museum as Installation,’ addresses many of these concerns by examining the history of the placement of a canonical modernist painting by Henri Matisse in the controversial space of the Barnes Foundation collection. Carrier demonstrates how the needs of the collection may be served when the patron/curator imposes a Deweyan philosophy of viewing upon the artist’s own creative decisions. By pushing together the exigencies of display based on architectural configurations with the considerations intrinsic to a particular painting, editorial decisions of placement, point of view, and contiguity emerge. So too, John Onians addresses the canon, particularly the ways in which art historians edit to construct it within the fabric of interrelated endeavors in the educational and scholarly world of visual culture today. Onians, long a pioneer in the inclusion of non-Western art and ethnographic artefacts into the field of legitimate study in the history of

Introduction / xxix art, takes on four case studies which address, respectively, an institution – the School of World Studies at the University of East Anglia; a professional journal – Art History; a reference work; and a method of research and explanation. For Onians, to take on these different levels of discourse on visual culture means to challenge and provoke in us, his readers, questions regarding our own editorial prejudices as viewers and interpreters of the visual. Just as Carrier invoked the ethics of display in his historical analysis of Matisse and Barnes, Onians insists on the ethics involved in our professional and scholarly decisions regarding the ways in which we narrativize the history of art and visual culture. Onians calls upon his own experiences as an editor of a journal, an encyclopedia, and an art collection to elucidate the stakes involved in the choices and judgments that purveyors of the visual in culture today often take for granted. In so doing, Onians makes each reader of this collection aware of her own simultaneous role as editor of the visual culture encountered not only in the classroom and the museum, but also in texts, indeed in their very organizations and discursive styles. Together with Onians we might argue that it is in these very deep, and often unexamined, levels of visual analysis that we find the justifications for thinking about the strategies in the production and reception of the visual that have pushed us to the consideration of editing found in this volume. The concluding essays by Linda Hutcheon and Fred Unwalla function both as grace notes of the volume as a whole and soundings for future thinking about editing in the visual realm. Taking up the theme of text and image that has been heard in all of the essays included here, Hutcheon keeps us focused on our debt to the visual editing practices of some key contemporary artists. She sketches out the roles these masters of visual thinking have posited in recent years for the interdependence of texts and images. In a similar spirit of thematic unity between text and image in editorial practices, Unwalla calls upon the contrapuntal character that underlies theories of visuality, textuality, and translation in modern and contemporary cultural interpretations. Moving effortlessly and with elegance through what we might identify as the literary and scholarly heritage of editing the image, Unwalla’s essay, both in its content and style, propels us into the space where language and image emerge as mutually edifying and mutually complicating technologies of editorializing. With Unwalla, we see that the richness of the theme carries us back and forth through an analysis of a variety of theoretical perspectives on visuality and textuality, just as the practices of editing set forth in this volume engage the reader in an active debate for the primacy of editing in and editing out the image in culture today.

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Editing Identity

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Mr Blank Gets Concretized

To edit is to traffic in duplicity; to splice is to perjure; to cut is to mislead. All edits are deceptions; all edit rooms are falsehood factories; all editors are liars. It’s a delicious job, this occupation of fabrication: to pin up disparate scraps of video in a sequence on a digital clothesline, and then declare to your audience that these scraps are related, connected, cohesive – in fact, that there are no scraps, no clothesline, but only one flowing bolt of material unfurling in the breeze, suspended magically in the air, telling a single story like a perfect tapestry. How even more delicious when your audience nods in agreement, convinced that the tapestry is authentic, that there are no rips or seams, that its threads are unbroken. In cinema, editing commonly refers in material terms to the stage known as ‘post’ (for ‘post-production’). Editing is after everything else: post-research, post-fundraising, post-first-draft, post-shootingscript, post-scouting, post-casting, post-story-boarding-and-shot-listing, post-camera-tests, post-rehearsals, post-first-day, post-second-week, post-wrap-party. Yet each of these stages involves related practices of splicing, cutting, and editing: the splicing of meanings; the cutting of texts (written, verbal, visual); the editing of history. This essay explores how co-director Jack Lewis and myself ‘edited’ our feature film Proteus over the course of five years, through the stages of discovery, research, writing, and visualization, up through the actual shooting of our film, editing that preceded the literal ‘editing’ of the film. In this way, I hope this case-study can contribute to an understanding of some of the practices of montage that can pre-date the cutting-room, re-tuning the scrutiny of viewers away from the meanings produced by cross-cuts and dissolves, and towards the ways in which the practices of historical research (and in our case, particularly translation), can serve to splice, cut, and edit the eventual narrative result.

4 / John Greyson Six years ago, South African video artist/activist Jack Lewis dug up a 1735 court transcript in the Capetown archives: the true story of two prisoners, one Dutch, one native, who were executed for sodomy. He wanted to make a film of it. More, he wanted to collaborate. We’d been friends for a few years, but this was a unique pitch: co-writing and codirecting a feature-length low-budget sodomy epic, shot on location in English, Nama, and Afrikaans. How could I refuse? He had the transcript translated and sent it along. On first reading, I was underwhelmed. It told of Claas Blank, a Khoisan native (Hottentot in the parlance of the time), and Rijkhaart Jacobsz, a Dutch sailor, both of whom were serving time on Robben Island. They’d been caught in a hut performing the unspeakable crimen nefandum (or mute sin) of sodomy. They were brought to trial at the Cape Castle; witnesses duly established their guilt beyond doubt; their confessions were introduced; the verdict was declared, death by drowning in Table Bay; the costs of the execution were invoiced to their families. Nothing about this judgment was surprising or shocking: sodomy was then considered worse than murder, the death penalty was de rigeur, and the Dutch courts prided themselves on their scrupulous and transparent administration of justice. Interesting, certainly, in terms of the case’s interracial aspect, given that the Khoisan peoples in that era were classified by the Dutch as subhuman, making social interaction between the two unthinkable. Interesting, also, in that the courts made a point of noting that the two were the same age and that the crime was ‘mutually perpetrated,’ a departure from the more common practice of an older (richer) man fucking an younger (poorer) one. Finally, however, just another eighteenth-century sodomy trial calling out for naturalistic Merchant-Ivoryish treatment. Someone should make the film, certainly, (Rupert Everett as Rijkaart?), but it didn’t feel like my turf. Jack emailed back: look deeper, between the lines, particularly on page seven. One of the witnesses, a prisoner, Augustijn Mulhasz, testified that in 1725 he had witnessed the two fornicating while on a prison detail collecting train oil (seal blubber), and that he had complained to the Island Sergeant, but the Sergeant did nothing. Which meant two things: that Claas and Rijkhaart had done the sodomitic tango at least twice in a decade, which made us think there were probably more times during those ten years, making them – what – lovers? Partners? Fuck buddies? What words might these two illiterate convicts have had for these acts and for one another (affective, social, formal, slang), speaking to each other in their common middle Dutch (a creole in the process of becoming Afrikaans), speaking about each other and themselves a full

Mr Blank Gets Concretized / 5 150 years before Foucault identified the emergence of the self-conscious homosexual European subject? What words would these men have used to describe those ten years, that string of acts? Secondly, the authorities had known about them via the Mulhasz complaint and done nothing. What changed in 1735 that resulted in their trial and execution? Though we tried searching the archives of Capetown, Johannesburg and even the Dutch East India Archives of Den Haag, we found nothing more on their case. We had their transcript, we had a motley collection of related historical materials describing Robben Island, the Cape Colony, the Amsterdam sodomy scandals of 1730, the declining fortunes of the Dutch Empire, the wholesale slaughter of the Khoisan peoples ... it was time to start editing these scraps together into a narrative. It was time to start telling lies. Jack and I shared an ambivalent relationship to such proposed mendacity. On the one hand, we felt a great burden of responsibility in representing a period of history that has been under-represented, with little popular visual vernacular of Cape history, this Dutch colonial period, and, particularly, Khoisan history to draw on. We committed ourselves to building a script out of every fact we could glean, staying as true as possible to the world of these sodomites. At the same time, we had no pretensions about the ‘truth’ of our account. We knew the version of the tale that resulted would ultimately, always, be Jack and John’s, not Claas and Rijkhaart’s. The struggle was to find some mechanism to foreground this, some technique to keep our film from resembling a seamless tapestry. The Robben Island that everyone knows is of course the jail of 1964, when Nelson Mandela and fellow anc militants were sentenced to life imprisonment. Indeed, the Island is now South Africa’s top tourist destination, a museum operated by former prisoners. We were committed to shooting on the island itself, and the island authorities, all stalwart anc members (despite some controversy), granted us permission. The first thing we did (once we figured out a way for me to visit from Toronto) was catch the boat to the Island. Bleak, windswept, and barren, pounded by waves and punishing currents, it boasted an almost perfect track record: only one prisoner had successfully escaped during those three hundred years. We wandered the island, searching for the ghosts of Claas and Rijkhaart. The slate quarry where they’d broken rock was overgrown and abandoned, but with a bit of set dressing it would still be stunning as a location – except for the reverse angle, which looked across the water at the emphatically twentieth-century city of Capetown,

6 / John Greyson nestled in the shadow of Table Mountain. (Indeed, anc prisoner Tokyo Sexwale once commented in an interview with Jack about how they maintained hope during the long apartheid struggle: ‘The only mistake they made when they imprisoned us here was giving us a view of Table Mountain.’) The site of the eighteenth-century island prison garden was now an overgrown field grazed by springbok – again a perfect location, except for the 1950s lighthouse in the distance. The penguin colony where prisoners poached eggs was similarly untouched – except for a row of twelve-foot-high concrete doloses, those unique South African breakwaters that resemble nothing so much as a scattering of giant jacks waiting for house-sized rubber ball to be bounced. And that’s when the ball bounced, or rather, the penny dropped. The pristine past of 1735 that we sought to recreate didn’t exist, couldn’t exist – it would always be haunted by the present, by every image we know from our century, by Biko and Verwoerd, by Mandela and Botha, by whites-only beaches and blacks-only townships, by pass books and colour classifications and funeral marches and now, by ten years of democracy when South Africa became the first country in the world to enshrine gay rights in their constitution. No matter where we looked, there would always be concrete chunks, of the brutal past and the difficult but hopeful present, interrupting the view. So we embraced and extended these unavoidable modern-day anachronisms (concrete and otherwise) to include the curbs and telephone poles and light switches that littered the landscape of our story, focusing on those that particularly invoked 1964, the year of Mandela’s incarceration. We shot the trial of Rijkhaart and Claas in the actual Cape Castle where they were convicted, but added a Greek chorus of sixties stenographers, complete with cat’s-eye glasses and beehives. We made the convicts fetch water from a concrete water tower surrounded by barbed wire, collect shells for the lime kiln in green plastic bags, and smoke dagga (dope) using a broken coke bottle. Our governor’s wife presides over a drawing room done up in proper Dutch décor, but a baby-blue portable radio sits on her dining room table. The botanist who runs the prison garden sketches with a bright yellow HB pencil. A German shepherd guard dog keeps the prisoners in line, and two Dutch settlers chase Claas in a jeep. Indeed, some audiences have seemed unwilling to credit our anachronisms as intentional. At a screening in the Hamptons, one audience member indignantly informed us that jeeps weren’t invented until the twentieth century.

Mr Blank Gets Concretized / 7 For us, this foregrounding of the sixties allowed Proteus to explicitly refuse making analogies between the experiences and convictions (pun intended) of our sodomites and those of the sixties political prisoners. Instead, we wanted to acknowledge the continuum of evolving incarceration that the Island has symbolized, and stress the extreme social, political, and cultural differences that separate the two periods. Often, period films allow the past to haunt the present – for instance, the present day framing stories in Portrait of a Lady, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, or Possession. With our curbs and beehives, like Derek Jarman in Edward II or Baz Luhrman in Romeo and Juliet, we chose to do the opposite: encourage the present to haunt the past. The first scene of Proteus comes out of perpetual debates we had with translators and historians about words, about the gulf between what might have been said and what was recorded, about how to render it, about competing interpretations of the transcript, pages of which we were actually able to shoot and edit into the film. Jack had the handwritten transcript first translated from Middle-Dutch into Afrikaans, and from there into English, and at each stage, these versions raised numerous questions about what was said in the original, how to render it in Afrikaans, and from there in English sub-titles, balancing what might be true to history with what might sound true to the eye (subtitles) and ear (dialogue), and what relevance or value truth might have. Court of the Cape Colony, Jurisdiction of the Dutch East India Company Cape Governor presiding (assisted by three stenographers). Governor: Rijkhaart Jacobsz, a sailor of Amsterdam, did testify that in the prescence of Sergeant Willer, he did cry out the filthy and abominable words: ‘Send mij maar op, ik het hom in’t gat geneukt.’ Rijkhaart (off-screen): ‘Send mij maar op, ik het hom in’t gat geneukt.’ Elise: ‘Het hom in’t gat geneukt.’ That’s like the Afrikaans, ne, to hit to strike? Betsy (consulting her phrase book): Here ... ‘fucked.’ In Dutch, ‘geneukt’ only meant fucked. Elise: Oh Betsy! That makes it sound so modern! Tinnie: Very contemporary! Betsy: ‘Het hom in’t gat geneukt.’ I fucked him up the arse.

8 / John Greyson Tinnie: What about ‘buggered?’ Betsy: Right here, see? ‘Fokken,’ to hit, to strike. Perfectly good 16thcentury Middle Dutch. Tinnie: But it sounds so modern, Betsy. Elise: We could use that slang from geneukt: ‘ny ... holnaaier ... to sew a hole.’ It’s a euphemism. Betsy: Fucked. Tinnie (consulting her phrasebook): Oh! Howsabout ‘Send me up, I used the native against nature?’ Elise: Or maybe ‘I performed crimen laesae naiestatis tam naturae quam divinae,’ an offense against God and man alike?

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Figure 1.1 Rijkaart (Neil Sandilands) and Claas (Rouxnet Brown) break rock in the Robben Island slate quarry. Photograph by Crispian Plunkett

Mr Blank Gets Concretized / 9

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Figure 1.2 Prisoners on Robben Island fishing. Photograph by Crispian Plunkett

Betsy: Fucked, darlings. Elise: Here – ‘I carried out the mute sin of crimen nefandum, from behind.’ Tinnie: Perhaps ‘I executed sodomy on his person.’ Governor: Stilte asseblief! (Silence!)

10 / John Greyson Thus, Proteus is established as a battleground of competing translations, a site of conflicted interpretations. Our three bee-hived chroniclers hopefully open audiences up to the choices (large and small) that are continually exercised in the writing (and editing) of history. The film is constructed as a triangle between the two prisoners and a Scottish botanist named Virgil Niven, a plant collector who runs an acclimatizing garden on the island using cheap convict labour. His passion is the protea family, particularly the King Sugarbush, and he is determined to introduce what would become South Africa’s national flower to the greenhouses of Europe. Indeed, he’s based on the Scottish botanist James Niven, who thirty years later collected sugarbush specimens in the Cape and in time did become the protea king of Europe. Claas, Rijkhaart, and Niven define their conflicted relationships to each other through a series of necessary and destructive lies: lies about facts, lies about information, lies driven by fears and needs, lies fueled by emotions and doubts. Lies driven by the necessity of ruthlessly editing their ambitions down to fit the harsh realities of their circumstances. Like most plant collectors of his day, Niven fetishizes the fantasy of a trusted native informant, through whom he’ll be able to record a wealth of authentic native lore for an eager European audience weaned on boastful colonial travel diaries. He thinks he’s found his model Bushman in Claas Blank, and Claas is all too willing to play along, twisting what he remembers from his mother’s stories into what he thinks Niven wants to hear. We based Claas on an actual prisoner of thirty years earlier, Autshumato, a skilled linguist who served as translator for both the Dutch and the English at various periods, enjoying privileges and relative wealth as a result, only to fall afoul of his masters and be incarcerated for twenty years. Island Prison Garden, day. Claas has just returned from plant collecting and is unpacking King Sugarbush specimens on Niven’s work table. Niven: Tell me the legends of the King Sugarbush. Claas remembers stories told him by his mother,/Kaness, at night by the fire when he was a child. She is Nama, but her father was /Xam. /Kaness: Sa outab ge ge mi ... (Your grandfather said) Claas: My mother said, that my grandfather said ... /Kaness: !am-//gôuab ats ga ke o (if you look at Mantis) Claas: ... if you look at Mantis

Mr Blank Gets Concretized / 11 /Kaness: ... ob ge //khâba ni //aixa tsî ni (then the moon would get angry) Claas: ... the moon would get angry /Kaness: .... !khaeb !nâ ni xû da, /anni !nâ (and hurl us into the smoke.) Claas: ... get angry and ... make the sugarbush blossoms bitter. Niven: Wait ... good! The moon would get angry, and make the sugarbush blossoms bitter. Bitter like lemon? Claas: Yes, like lemon. Niven: Just the flowers or also the roots? Claas: Just the flowers. Niven: Very good, proceed. /Kaness: //Khâb ge /apa !am-... (the moon is red) Claas: The moon is red ... /Kaness: ... -//gôuab ti //haros !aroma, (because it is the shoe of Mantis) Claas: ... because it is the ... king sugarbush blossom of Mantis ... /Kaness: ... //ib ge /Kaggen ... (who is /Kaggen) Claas: ... who is /Kaggen /Kaness: ... tsira !hau !khaeb !na tsi //ib ti //harosa ra #noa !apa /hommi //ga, tsis ge //harosa /apase ra #hai !aromas /Kaggenni go !garob !na !gû kai /urib tsharab !aroma. (who got mad at the darkness and threw his shoe up into the sky, and it shines red because the shoe is covered with the red dirt from where /Kaggen walked on the veld. Claas: who threw his ... his sugarbush blossom, his red sugarbush blossom, up into the sky. Niven: You go too fast. He threw his red blossom ... The legend that Claas purposely ‘edits’ for Niven’s benefit finds its origin in a unique transcription of San oral history. In 1870, three /Xam (San or bushmen) convicts named //Kabbo, /Han=kasso, and Dia!k-

12 / John Greyson wain were serving sentences of hard labour in Capetown. A German linguist, Dr W.H. Bleek, intent on recording the near-extinct language and oral traditions of the /Xam, had them transferred to his service. For the next five years, he and his sister-in-law recorded their stories, songs, and folklore, devising a painstaking phonetic system for transcribing and then translating this ancient African language. The results totalled 12,000 hand-written pages. In 1991, Capetown poet Stephen Watson adapted some of these transcriptions into a series of poetic ‘versions,’ his own translations of Bleek’s translations. With great subtlety, he rendered his sense of the originals in the hope that ‘at least some echo of the /Xam’s all-important presence on this earth may still be heard.’ Jack and I worked from Watson’s poems, editing and condensing our own version of this moon story, and then translating it into Nama. Thus, in our process of writing, shooting, and editing, it was not just Claas who twists the words for Niven’s consumption, but every one of us along the path, taking this story of the protean shape-shifter /Kaggen /Mantis and the moon through nine stages of translation: First, there is //Kabbo, the original /Xam speaker, quoting and inventing as he goes; second is Bleek the linguist, phonetically rendering the story in his own invented form of written !Xam and then in English; third, the 1991 poetic interpretations of Watson; fourth, our English script, freely improvising from Watson; fifth, Johan Jacobs our Nama translator (because !Xam is an extinct language, we used Nama, one of the few surviving Khoisan languages, whose speakers were driven from the Cape two centuries ago and who today reside in rural Namibia); sixth, Katerina Kaffer, the actor playing Claas’s mother, who came down on a bus from her Namibian farm, changing words and phrases as she performed; seventh, Rouxnet Brown, playing Claas, who twists his mother’s words into English; eighth, editor Rosalyn Kalloo, who cut and shaped the Nama and English versions down to half their original length, for time considerations; and finally, ninth, Kelly Morris, our online editor, who had to trim and tweak the English subtitles to fit and flow within the final picture cut. Nine versions of translation, nine versions of protean shapeshifting, of editing, each distinct, each both true and untrue. Even the original source is no source, but only a version of a previous oral tradition. When Claas says in the sunset: ‘That’s it, there’s no more,’ it is his grandest lie of all. The Dutch courts could not sentence a prisoner to death without a voluntary confession. However, the commonly accepted practice to secure such confessions was two regulated sessions of torture. Though

Mr Blank Gets Concretized / 13 our transcript doesn’t indicate what method was used (beyond passing references to beatings and the daggetjies, a particularly brutal whip with metal teeth), we became fascinated by a unique seventeenth-century Dutch device, the drowning cell. In his book The Embarrassment of Riches, cultural historian Simon Schama writes about a drowning cell in an orphanage in Amsterdam. The principle is basically: pump or perish. Sometimes the trickle of water is slow, and so the torture is prolonged over hours, the prisoner becoming slowly exhausted as he tries to control the water level; sometimes it is so fast that it’s quickly impossible to keep up. Schama found numerous references to the drowning cell, in various letters, diaries, and accounts from the period. The more he researched, though, the more he became convinced that the cell was an invention, an urban myth that lived only in the circulation and repetition of fascinated rumour. The threat of it was enough to keep the orphans in line. No actual cell was necessary; there was no cell, only the very effective lie. In Proteus, the story of the drowning cell is a lie of Rijkhaart’s, told to keep Claas interested in him. In turn, the story is twisted by our script into another of our sixties anachronisms: the wet sack, a real form of torture from the sixties, one of the simplest and most dreaded that would take anc prisoners to the brink of suffocation and madness. At a climatic point, Rijkhaart tells Claas that his confession (‘Send mij maar op ...’) wasn’t prompted by the drowning cell, but the wet sack. As audiences, we all love to revel in the authentic representation of the past and its monstrous excesses. We crave verisimilitude in our images of agony, we derive pleasure from their awful truth. Of course Claas and Rijkhaart weren’t tortured in a drowning cell; of course they weren’t tortured with a sixties wet sack. This collision of an imaginary torture method from 1735 and a real torture method from 230 years later operates as an impossible narrative loop. Neither can be ‘true,’ yet of course there’s still a truth at stake: Claas and Rijkhaart were nevertheless tortured. Jack and I chose to tell this circular lie about this specific detail of their saga, and to make our lie a transparent riddle. Again, we chose to reveal just how protean the writing and editing of history must be. Again, we chose to let the future haunt the past. For all of us who venture to hang scraps of history on a narrative clothesline, to edit the past into a tapestry for the present, it’s vital that we keep our seams and rips, our lies and fabrications, in plain view. In order to accomplish this, we must continue to invent new aesthetic strategies, ones capable of engaging with our post-po-mo present, ones capable of troubling the past in new post po-mo ways. Further, we need

14 / John Greyson to continue contributing to an evolving ethics that informs such mendacity, one which admits freely to our fraudulent passions and fabricated agendas, one which acknowledges that these edited, mendacious, and vital versions of history have much to teach us about the lies of today.



Striking Through the Artist’s Body: Ekphrasis in Bellori’s Life of Caravaggio

[Caravaggio] painted a girl drying her hair, seated on a little chair with her hands in her lap. He portrayed her in a room, adding a small ointment jar, jewels and gems on the floor, pretending that she is the Magdalen. She holds her head a little to one side, and her cheek, neck, and breast are rendered in pure, simple, and true colors, enhanced by the simplicity of the whole figure, with her arms covered by a blouse and her yellow gown drawn to her knees over a white underskirt of flowered damask. – Bellori, Le Vite (1672)1

In Giovanni Pietro Bellori’s description of Caravaggio’s Mary Magdalen (fig. 2.1), the painted surface is trumped by a deadpan model. The close description of the seated figure, who assumes the liminal role of prostitute and religious ascetic, provides an inventory of a body, its poses, its parts (cheek, neck, breast), its surrounding objects (jar, jewels, gems), and the enclosing layers of cloth. As in other descriptions of Caravaggio’s paintings in Bellori’s Lives of Modern Painters, Sculptors and Architects (Rome, 1672), such as his description of a bloated Madonna, Bellori stressed the placement of still-life setups and models, not invention.2 Rather than imagining a disembodied hand that produces a well-crafted material object, we make inferences regarding the artist’s body in relation to assembled objects and other bodies in his studio. Artists’ bodies come into relief through the residue of sociability, a woman paid by the painter to pose on the floor of the studio, for example. The painting as depicted tableau vivant, found in Bellori’s influential life of the painter or more recently in Derek Jarman’s film Caravaggio (1986), is the product of the material traces left by the ‘life’ of the artist.3 Despite the death of the author, the visual artist’s corporeality has been resilient.4

16 / Todd P. Olson

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Figure 2.1 Caravaggio, Mary Magdalen (ca. 1593–4), oil on canvas, 122.5 x 98.3 cm, Galeria Doria-Pamphili, Rome (Alinari / Art Resource, ny)

Bellori’s embedding of his description of these traces in his biography of Caravaggio was consistent with the genre of the artist’s ‘life.’ Aside from the vita, there was no separate genre for the criticism of works of art in the literature of early modern Italian art. Biographies were the first

Ekphrasis in Bellori’s Life of Caravaggio / 17 place where the history of a life and a commentary on the works were combined.5 In his series of lives, Bellori’s catalogue of each of the artist’s works self-consciously revived the ancient rhetorical performance of ekphrasis, a ‘word’ picture describing an absent work of art.6 As much as Bellori kept the descriptive chronology of the artist’s work rhetorically and structurally distinct from the character study or prosopoeia in his lives of modern artists, the lived body of the artist and work of art were intimately related to one another.7 According to Catherine Soussloff, the embedding of the description of a work of art or ekphrasis in the life of the artist was an ‘ideal rhetorical form for insertion into the chronological narrative structure of biography because it was designed for inserting a description without interrupting the flow of narrative.’8 This notion of the ekphrasis inserted or edited into the uninterrupted flow of the biographical narrative of the embodied artist deserves further attention. The rhetorically distinct ekphrasis asserts the material integrity and completeness of the work of art in close proximity to, but not coexistent with, the artist as a site of production. As a consequence, the body of the artist seems to be temporarily suspended from visibility in the uninterrupted narrative. The embodiment of the artist would seem solely to be represented in the biographical and anecdotal material surrounding the ‘word’ pictures. I want to explore the traces of Caravaggio’s body in Bellori’s descriptions of the works of art themselves. As much as description rhetorically reconstitutes an act of viewing, the viewing subject represented in Bellori’s ekphrases is an embodied subject identified with the artist. Far from being edited out of the ekphrasis, the artist’s corpus is inseparable from the work of art.9 One of the striking features of Bellori’s ekphrases of Caravaggio’s paintings is that they do not encourage empathetic identification with the depicted persons. Elsewhere Bellori attended precisely to these effects. Bellori’s ekphrases of Trajan’s Column concentrated on the description of human expression and gesture in response to epic events. In his commentary accompanying an album of revised engravings dedicated to the monument, based on Alfonso Chacon’s sixteenthcentury publication, Bellori made the column’s copious and relentless narrative program vividly present by what Ingo Herklotz has called the ‘search for personal drama within the collective tragedy.’10 Bellori’s ekphrases reiterated Chacon’s sixteenth-century written account of the troops, spolia, prisoners, and refugees inscribed around the column, but also attended to details such as scenes of individual grief. The rhetoric of enumeration gives way to lyricism and pathos. Bellori describes a bearded man leaning over a beardless body among the Dacian suicides

18 / Todd P. Olson on the right hand side of the plate (fig. 2.2). He imagines a father mourning the loss of his son.11 Hence, in his description of the epical narrative, Bellori recapitulated Leon Battista Alberti’s shift of attention from excessive copiousness and the stupefying colossus to the istoria, where composition was modelled after the measured structure of periodic sentences, as described by Michael Baxandall.12 Like the fifteenth-century art theorist Alberti, Bellori’s ‘word’ picture is dictated by narrative relevance. Bellori also followed closely in the footsteps of the sixteenth-century biographer Vasari. Bellori’s predecessor structured his life of Raphael around his ekphrases of paintings such as the Deposition (fig. 2.3). As Svetlana Alpers has noted in her seminal article on the use of ekphrasis in Vasari, the biographer used description to stress the expressive function of the narrative.13 His vivid description of Raphael’s persuasive mimetic capacities was, according to Alpers, only the point of departure for the analysis of emotions.14 Vasari described the copious depiction of objects only insofar as it contributed to the richness and variety of narrative. By conjuring the surprising juxtaposition of details, he praised imitation only as a means to the expressive ends of art, or more precisely the istoria.15 In the ekphrases Bellori embedded in his biography of Caravaggio, by contrast, antiquarianism and human expression in historical representation give way to seemingly gratuitous contact with objects and socially marginal bodies. In a subject that potentially offers an intensity of expression, the grief and contrition of Mary Magdalen, Bellori solely attends to persuasive imitation, leaving only a mimetic skin. Emotion is not his interest. The Magdalen never becomes an expressive body with attributes, but rather a persuasive rendering of a model and props. Bellori clearly is modifying the genre of the ekphrasis inherited from Vasari. Or rather Bellori deprived ekphrasis of some of its affective powers, found elsewhere in his description of Trajan’s Column or Annibale Carracci’s Farnese ceiling.16 As in the inclusion of a life of Caravaggio in the Vite, the descriptions of Caravaggio’s paintings in contrast to those of Annibale were often deployed to censure rather than to praise. The ekphrasis of the Repentant Magdalen displays Caravaggio’s gratuitous imitative powers and his attachment to incidental things. By contrast, Annibale was committed to a disciplined composition that subordinated material qualities to narrative relevance. For Bellori, Caravaggio’s attention to and enumeration of mere things surrounding a model pretending to be a prostitute-turned-saint displaced the expressive body of the heroic male protagonist of the istoria. On one level, Bellori’s ekphrasis of the isolated and self-absorbed figure

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Figure 2.2 Pietro Santi Bartoli, ‘Suicide of the Dacians and the Dacians mourning their dead, Trajan’s Column,’ engraving in G.P. Bellori, Colonna Traiana (Rome, 1673), plate 93 (Library of the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles)

20 / Todd P. Olson

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Figure 2.3 Raphael, Deposition (1507), oil on wood, 184 x 176 cm, Galleria Borghese, Rome (Scala / Art Resource, ny)

of the Magdalen was a negative object lesson for the appropriate reception of ambitious art. Importantly, the paratactic effects of Bellori’s ekphrasis resulted from the editing out of the expressive figure coordinated with pictorial composition. When Bellori enumerated the desultory objects depicted in paintings, he described how Caravaggio and his followers unravelled the fabric of a cohesive pictorial structure modelled after an integrated body, with its constituent parts, plane surfaces, and members. Caravaggio instigated the fashion for genre pictures where the half-length figure served as an index of the abandonment of study after the nude and its correlative figure, the ancient statue:

Ekphrasis in Bellori’s Life of Caravaggio / 21 Since it was easy to find models and to paint heads from life, giving up the history painting appropriate for artists, these people made halffigures, which were previously uncommon. Now began the imitation of common and vulgar things, seeking out filth and deformity, as some popular artists do assiduously. So if they have to paint armor, they choose to reproduce the rustiest; if a vase, they would not complete it except to show it broken and without a spout. The costumes they paint consist of stockings, breaches, and big caps, and in their figures they pay attention only to wrinkles, defects of the skin and exterior, depicting knotted fingers and limbs disfigured by disease.17 [my emphasis]

Here, as in the description of the Magdalen’s jar, jewels, and gems spread on the floor, copiousness does not contribute to narrative and human expression, but rather only underscores a desultory array of studio props and body parts – stockings, breaches, big caps, broken pots, rusty armour, wrinkled brows, and knotted fingers. The inventory, like a descriptive recitation of spolia, underscores the discontinuity of ample particulars and the artist’s incapacity to find compositional unity. As in Caravaggio’s Taking of Christ (fig. 2.4), the picture is not structured by the expressive narrative of the istoria. Indeed, the critic Bellori perceptively identified Caravaggio’s frequent preoccupation with the persuasive rendering of discrepant surfaces and semantically impoverished incidents. We are asked by the artist to be so preoccupied with the dull leather against the gleaming metal and the smooth sheen of cloth across the soldier’s buttocks that we lose sight of the passion at hand. As I have argued, in Bellori’s ekphrases of Caravaggio’s paintings, the viewer’s attention to expressive bodies in Trajan’s Column has been set aside. That is to say the ekphrasis represents the conditions for the yielding of one pattern of reception for another. His description of particulars and accidents of light on material surfaces invites the viewing subject to derive pleasure from perceptual states that are unsolicited by the high decorum of history painting and its practice of citation. In his life of Caravaggio, Bellori’s extended ekphrases, with their careful enumeration of objects, betray the art critic’s fantasy of the artist as a viewing subject yielding passively to the objects of ‘nature.’ While visuality has often been taken to be aligned with surveillance and domination (pace Foucault), apparently unselective attention was viewed by Bellori as an act of passive submission. To what extent, we may ask, is the viewing subject represented in Bellori’s ekphrases an embodied subject, one identified with the artist?

22 / Todd P. Olson

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Figure 2.4 Caravaggio, The Taking of Christ (1602–3), oil on canvas, 133.5 x 169.5 cm, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin (National Gallery of Ireland and the Jesuit Community who acknowledge the generosity of the late Dr Marie Lea Lilson)

Let us consider a passage in Bellori’s life of Caravaggio where biographical anecdote and the description of works of art merge, providing a site for the inscription of the artist’s body in the biographer’s text. In the anecdote of the production of Caravaggio’s Fortune Teller (fig. 2.5), the rhetorical borders of prosopoeia and ekphrasis are structurally indivisible. [Caravaggio] began to paint according to his own inclinations; not only ignoring but even despising the superb statuary of antiquity and the famous paintings of Raphael, he considered nature to be the only subject fit for his brush. As a result, when he was shown the most famous statues of Phidias and Glykon in order that he might use them as models, his only answer was to point toward a crowd of people, saying that nature had given him an abundance of masters.18

Figure 2.5 Caravaggio, The Fortune Teller (ca. 1598–9), oil on canvas, 99 x 131 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris (Scala / Art Resource, ny)

Ekphrasis in Bellori’s Life of Caravaggio / 23

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24 / Todd P. Olson Let us pause and rephrase. The antique masters who provided exemplary bodies for historical representation, such as Phidias’s Parthenon and the Farnese Hercules by Glykon, were violently displaced by a crowd of people. Bellori’s wordplay inverts mobs and masters. The artist is subordinate to the masters of the street (a play on the maestri di strati, who were in charge of policing urban affairs).19 Bellori continues the anecdote and suggests that the Fortuneteller was a demonstration piece for this anti-classical theoretical project and act of subordination: And to give authority to his words, [Caravaggio] called a zingara who by chance passed him in the street and took her to his inn; he portrayed her in the act of predicting the future, as is the custom of these women of the Egyptian race. He painted a young man who places his gloved hand on his sword and offers the other hand bare to her, which she holds and examines.20

In this origin myth for the painting, Bellori has effectively integrated the anecdote regarding the artist and the description of the work of art. Importantly, in the anecdote the artist’s body participates in a narrative. Subject to a chance encounter with a gypsy in the street, he calls out to her and takes her to an albergo, an inn, and paints her. Presumably he found a random giovane to play her single-gloved partner. Once we have reached the site of production, we discover that the artist is without a studio. Finding ourselves in the stock slumming space of the picaresque tavern, the anecdote becomes threadbare, even ridiculous. A palette, an easel, and a wet canvas have been set up in a bar. Bellori’s anecdote is an obvious fiction, a pretense of unmediated representation and unregulated social contact without the benefit of exemplars, models, or sources, as in the case of ancient sculpture.21 Art historians have now disarmed Bellori’s assessment of Caravaggio’s direct replication of live models. We are told that his paintings were highly mediated by prior representations within his culture. The source for the costumes and situations has been attributed to prints, such as northern European engravings of gamblers.22 The roguish cheat and his accomplice in Caravaggio’s Cardsharps (Kimbell Museum, Ft Worth) have been identified with the bravi, stock characters of Italian sixteenthcentury theatre.23 The cheating at a game of chance was indeed one of the features found in the scenari, bare-bone scripts that commedia dell’arte players used as the armature for their improvisations.24 We have even more direct evidence disproving Bellori’s ostensible claim that the zingara was merely a woman taken off the street. The pretence of a

Ekphrasis in Bellori’s Life of Caravaggio / 25 chance encounter with the gypsy model was hardly plausible in the eyes of Bellori’s contemporaries, who were familiar with the zingara as a visual, literary, and theatrical convention.25 Bellori’s claim that Caravaggio simply painted what he saw is refuted by Caravaggio’s citation of elite and popular representations of marginal social identities.26 The extensive evidence that the zingara was known by Caravaggio and his audience from prior representations is not intended merely to discredit Bellori’s anecdote but rather to make us aware of the tremendous effort involved in linking Caravaggio’s life with the production of the object. Bellori relied on anecdote (albeit a fictitious one) to convince us that the painting was a direct consequence of the artist’s life rather than the citation of ancient and modern sources. Like Caravaggio’s paintings, Bellori stresses the metonymic over the metaphoric. Returning to the anecdote of the production of the Fortuneteller, we are more sensitive to Bellori’s rhetorical strategies for the embodiment of the artist in the text. The anecdote importantly explores the artist’s production and his body residing in a series of liminal spaces. The statues of Phidias and Glykon are exemplary citations located in collections, such as the Cortile di Belvedere or the Farnese Palace, which are refused by the artist. Rather than the highly selective citation borrowed from the space of the collection of antiquities, representation occurs through the chance encounter with a socially marginal female in the street. Bellori’s anecdote suggests that Caravaggio’s art is born of the transgression of social order, mastery by a social inferior. Furthermore, the anecdote’s emphasis on the movement of the gypsy between street and interior is based on a spatial model where symbolically fraught architectural thresholds are transgressed. This model is consistent with the organization of urban space and the fashioning of the social self in early modern Rome.27 Affronts to honour were achieved not only by assault on the body but also by ritualized attacks on the threshold between street and interior. Paint and stones were flung at windows. Doors were burnt or smeared with feces.28 The archives trace the legal disputes that resulted from the disturbances to public order occurring around the entrances to the sixteenth-century houses of Roman prostitutes.29 Indeed, Caravaggio’s albergo studio was already fraught with social indeterminacy because it was temporary lodging for a transient society.30 Juridical responses to breaks in social discipline attained maximum visibility in the liminal architectural spaces of unregulated and unanchored contact with social inferiors. Ultimately, the cardsharps and the gypsy entered the palazzo. Caravaggio’s Cardsharps was housed in the Barberini palace and the

26 / Todd P. Olson Fortuneteller entered the collection of Cardinal del Monte.31 Through the mediation of an art dealer, the painting of the gypsy served an important link between the artist’s production for a market located in the street and his subsequent patronage in the palaces around San Luigi dei Francesi. The tale of the crossing of the threshold between street and interior would therefore also suggest a traversal of the palazzo and its collection by the proxy marginal social figure. For Bellori, who bemoaned the demise of ambitious painting at the hands of the market, this was a pointed social and cultural transgression.32 In Bellori’s life of Caravaggio, the confusion between embodied artist and work of art did not only occur at the site of production. The work of art was an extension of Caravaggio’s body and the residue of his actions that moved across the boundaries between different economies of reception. However, even as the critic sought to disavow Caravaggio’s practice by mastering it in language, Bellori’s ekphrases betray a pleasure based not only on wilful mastery but on the attendant risks of both intimate contact with social inferiors and, as I have argued, a subjectivity based on passive reception. In the face of the anecdote’s passage from antiquity to mobs, streets, gypsies, and inns, Bellori rehearsed a rather predictable pattern of elite slumming and self-fashioning. Bellori was the first of many biographers and art historians who vicariously explored the artist’s contact with dangerous classes and his registration of a breach of social prohibitions in his paintings. Yet once we reach the work of art and Bellori produces his ekphrasis, we should be stunned by the ordinariness of the placement of objects and the banality of the actions. Far from the anecdotal agony and the ecstasy of the cinematic painter, the life of the artist bound up in ekphrasis was as ordinary and devoid of emotion as the setting up of a still life or the mixing of paints. Bellori claimed that he was repulsed by the passivity of the artist before the material specificity of surfaces – wrinkles, knotted fingers, rusty armour, and broken pots. The artist was subjected to nature rather than mastering vision through wilful and selective attention. Yet, the biographer’s own inordinate preoccupation with the description of these passages betrays calm and disinterested engagement. ‘He painted a young man who places his gloved hand on his sword and offers the other hand bare to her. She holds it and merely looks’ … one might say blankly. Bellori’s ekphrasis in his life of Caravaggio points to the pleasures of blankness. The artist is embodied, but as a passive instrument of vision, yielding to appearances by erasing the indexical traces of his own body. The accidents of light are a priori. The painting is an interwoven surface

Ekphrasis in Bellori’s Life of Caravaggio / 27 of seemingly unmotivated incidents hostage to chance. Not a swordbearing hand in a violent narrative, but a bare hand beheld. Not structure-revealing illumination, but the texture of surfaces enhanced by raking light and unpredictable shadow. Bellori’s attention to these passages of unreflective perception betrays his desire, before Caravaggio’s paintings, to be momentarily forgetful of narrative relevance, expression, and the demands of history found elsewhere in the theoretician’s brief. Vision is passively constructed. We are quick to point out Caravaggio’s embedded self-portrait as the site of the artist’s embodiment. Indeed we are accustomed to considering the representation of the corporeal presence of the artist as a literal gesture of self-reflection. Caravaggio positioned his likeness among the witnesses in the Betrayal of Christ or the fleeing communicants in the Martyrdom of Matthew. Jarman’s film is spotted with camp reconstructions of Caravaggio’s self-portraits, such as an improvised street urchin Bacchus. But Bellori’s ekphrases in his life of Caravaggio largely edit out from visibility the corporeality of the artist’s body from the paintings in the midst of a text otherwise dedicated to that body. In the Vite, Bellori reminds us of the artist’s corporeal specificity. Annibale Carracci’s passion-wracked body is laid out in the Pantheon for comparison to Raphael’s remains.33 Nicolas Poussin’s shaking hands, inflamed viscera, and large abscess in his deathbed are represented at the edges of Bellori’s series of extended ekphrases.34 Caravaggio ran along the beach in the heat of the summer sun, collapsing and succumbing to a malignant fever.35 But in Bellori’s ekphrastic passages dedicated to Caravaggio, the artist’s body would seem to be barely visible. The physical presence of the artist painting the Magdalen seems to evaporate. Yet Caravaggio’s uneven attention to particulars and the ontological discontinuities suggested by Bellori’s ekphrasis traced the contours of the artist’s body in other ways. By all appearances corporeality has been distilled from the artist. In exchange, the artist’s body was reconstituted as a passive viewing subject. Embodiment persists, but only as a self submitting to the visual perception of objects. In Bellori’s ekphrases, the physical contact between socially inscribed bodies has yielded to looking.

NOTES This essay is based on a paper entitled ‘Life Traces: Ekphrasis in Bellori’s Biography of Caravaggio’ that was delivered in the Figuring the Artist in Early

28 / Todd P. Olson Modern Italy Session, chaired by Catherine Soussloff, at the 2004 Renaissance Society of America Meeting. 1 Giovanni Pietro Bellori, Le Vite de’ pittori, scultori e architetti moderni (1672), ed. Evelina Borea (Turin: G. Einaudi, 1976). Text and translation in Howard Hibbard, Caravaggio (New York: Harper and Row, 1983), 362. 2 Bellori, Vite, 231. For Mancini’s foundational description of Caravaggio’s Death of the Virgin, see the author’s ‘Caravaggio’s Coroner: Forensic Medicine in Giulio Mancini’s Art Criticism,’ Oxford Art Journal 28:1 (March 2005): 83–98. 3 See Derek Jarman and Gerald Incandela, Derek Jarman’s Caravaggio: The Complete Film Script and Commentaries (London: Thames and Hudson, 1986). 4 As Catherine Soussloff writes: ‘The body is ever present in culture’s construction of the work of art … because biography is the dominant genre or place where that construction has occurred.’ Catherine M. Soussloff, The Absolute Artist: The Historiography of a Concept (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), 144. 5 Soussloff, Absolute Artist, 19–72. 6 The literature on ekphrasis is extensive. See, for example, Word and Image 15, no. 1 (January–March 1999) and no. 2 (April–June 1999) for issues dedicated to ekphrasis. For Bellori and the revival of ekphrasis, see n. 10 below. 7 For the notion of the dissociation of the work from the artist’s life in Bellori’s Vite, see Bellori, Félibien, Passeri, Sandrart, Vies de Poussin, ed. Stefan Germer (Paris: Macula, 1994), 17. 8 Soussloff, Absolute Artist, 33. 9 This argument contributes to what Soussloff has called ‘the embodiment of the artist in the mythology of the visual.’ Soussloff, Absolute Artist, 144. 10 Ingo Herklotz, ‘Bellori, Fabretti, and Trajan’s Column,’ in Art History in the Age of Bellori: Scholarship and Cultural Politics in Seventeenth-Century Rome, ed. Janis Bell and Thomas Willette (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 137; G.P. Bellori, Colonna Traiana (Rome, 1673); Alfonso Chacon, Historia utriusque belli dacici a Traiano caesare gesti (Rome, 1576). 11 Herklotz, ‘Bellori,’ 136–7. 12 Michael Baxandall, Giotto and the Orators: Humanist Observers of Painting in Italy and the Discovery of Pictorial Composition 1350–1450 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971).

Ekphrasis in Bellori’s Life of Caravaggio / 29 13 14 15


17 18 19 20 21

22 23 24


26 27

Svetlana Alpers, ‘Ekphrasis and Aesthetic Attitudes in Vasari’s Lives,’ Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institute 23 (1960): 190–215. Alpers, ‘Ekphrasis,’ 195. ‘Alberti’s definition of istoria clearly states the central concern of Renaissance ekphrasis – that emotion can only be expressed by real action.’ Alpers, ‘Ekphrasis,’ 199. See, for example, Bellori’s description of the painting of Perseus and Phineas in the Farnese Gallery. Charles Dempsey, Annibale Carracci: The Farnese Gallery, Rome (New York: George Braziller, 1995), 32; Bellori, Vite, 33–65. Hibbard, Caravaggio, 372. Ibid., 362. For the role of the maestri in Rome, see Laura Nussdorfer, Civic Politics in the Reign of Urban VIII (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992). Hibbard, Caravaggio, 362. Ironically, Bellori’s anecdote is itself derived from a classical source. For Bellori, the desire for realistic effects is always already mediated by citation. For the topos of the artist Eupompus pointing to a crowd, as related by Pliny, see Ernst Kris and Otto Kurz, Legend, Myth, and Magic in the Image of the Artist: A Historical Experiment (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1979), 15–16. Barry Wind, ‘Pitture Ridicole: Some Late Cinquecento Comic Genre Paintings,’ Storia dell’arte 20 (1974): 25–35. Wind, ‘Pitture Ridicole,’ 33 nn. 74, 77–9. However, the theme of cheating had a marginal role in the extended performance. The trapping of a dupe was not a major element of the narrative but a burla, a knot in the plot. The primary action of the play would halt for a vignette of the duping of a victim carried on by a cheat, known as ‘coney-catching.’ Once resolved, the main plot carried on. K.M. Lea, Italian Popular Comedy: A Study in the Commedia dell’Arte, 1560–1620 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1934), 186. For the zingara’s association with the commedia dell’arte, see Wind, ‘Pitture Ridicole,’ 31, fig. 7. He identified a resemblance between the Fortuneteller and a scene in the Recueil Fossard, described in Charles Sterling, ‘Early Paintings of the Commedia dell’Arte in France,’ Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 2 (1943): 28. This argument will be rehearsed further in the author’s book in progress, Caravaggio’s Pitiful Relics: Painting History after Iconoclasm. On boundaries and contamination, see Rose Marie San Juan, Rome: A City Out of Print (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2001), 129–60.

30 / Todd P. Olson 28

29 30

31 32

33 34 35

For a discussion of honour and its association with affronts to the domicile, see Elizabeth Cohen and Thomas V. Cohen, Words and Deeds in Renaissance Rome: Trials before the Papal Magistrates (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993), 23–5. For the alleged burning of the door of the prostitute Pasqua the Paduan by her rival Camilla the skinny, see Cohen and Cohen, Words and Deeds, ch. 2. For the smearing of filth and painting of obscenities on the house of a castrato’s rival see Frederick Hammond, Music and Spectacle in Baroque Rome: Barberini Patronage under Urban VIII (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1994), 87. Cohen and Cohen, Words and Deeds, 25. On the anxieties surrounding transience in seventeenth-century Italy, see Giulia Calvi, Histories of a Plague Year: The Social and the Imaginary in Baroque Florence, tr. D. Brocca and B. Ragan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989). Bellori states that the painting was in the possession of Antonio Barberini; Hibbard, Caravaggio, 363. For a discussion of Bellori’s aversion to the art market, see the author’s ‘Long Live the Knife: Andrea Sacchi’s Portrait of Marc’Antonio Pasqualini,’ Art History 27, no. 5 (November 2004): 697–722. Bellori, Vite, 87. Ibid., 454. Ibid., 228.

Editing the Body of History

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An Edited Past: Aegean Prehistory and Its Texts

Archaeologists do not discover the past but take shattered remains and make something of them. This is what makes archaeology so fascinating.1

Editing and the Subject At first sight the casual reader might wonder what prehistory, texts, and editing have to do with each other. After all, prehistory, a term coined by Daniel Wilson, first president of the University of Toronto, defines ‘the study of the history of a region prior to the earliest appearance of written records relating to it.’2 In the Aegean, part of the attraction of such pre-historic archaeology has been to escape the Classical era and its ‘tyranny of the text,’3 and archaeology’s long service as the handmaid of (the wrong sort of) history in this period,4 and all the many perceived problems/challenges of trying to integrate archaeology and text-based history 5 into a holistic cultural reconstruction.6 Although, nonetheless, the translation of the Late Bronze Age Linear B archives has in fact seen a strong prototext influence and recourse extending back at least to the start of palatial civilization in the Aegean early in the second millennium bc.7 And this proto-history really only partly replaced the long arm of Homeric influence (and its complicated and problematic relationship with material culture).8 So why look to texts and editing? Enough already? But there are other fundamental texts we need to consider. Despite the ‘Indiana Jones’ caricatures, and fuelled by seemingly endless television programs on archaeology and especially its cutting edge aspects, plus the rise of professional archaeology in a number of western countries along with associated professional bodies,9 the lay person might think that the finding, study, writing up, and publishing of

34 / Sturt W. Manning archaeology is a fairly transparent and objective process – even ‘scientific’ – and assume that editing has only relevance to the production of the final publication as found in the library.10 But, in reality, it is almost entirely through complicated and often lengthy sets of processes of editing and texts that we have knowledge or experience of prehistory. In this essay I wish to consider some of the issues that problematize such editing and constrain (edit out) a fuller (plural) view of the past in the Aegean, first at the historiographic and theoretical level, and then in terms of the contemporary discipline. To begin, the available evidence for archaeology is at best fragmentary and much has been edited out. We have to make what we can of partial debris and remains as we can now recover them, and the field should be up-front concerning these limitations,11 no matter the advances in recovery procedures and associated scientific techniques. Moreover, what we have has inevitably been modified or biased through contemporary activities and disposal events, by a myriad of later activities or events (human or natural), or even by looting or prior excavation.12 Some ‘evidence’ to hand is also improper or desecrated – namely fakes which have become part of the record,13 or the very many looted items with no provenance that fill auction houses and all too often museums and ‘art’ books.14 The scale of deletion involved here is staggering (and the academic field in its toleration and use of unprovenanced and improperly acquired material has not only acquiesced to, but promoted, such tragedy). One Aegean prehistoric example, out of the many horrific cases around the world, may be noted as an example: marble Early Bronze Age (third millennium bc) Cycladic figures.15 Despite (or because of) their (aesthetic) value, and importance to the archaeology of the period,16 only about 10 per cent of the known corpus of ca 1600 third millennium bc Cycladic figures have even relatively secure archaeological contexts. ‘The number of marble figures from graves within excavated cemeteries suggests that something like 12,000 graves have been opened in the hunt for these figures, a percentage that would imply that the funerary record of the Cyclades in the Early Bronze Age has been virtually destroyed by the hunt [for] one category of artefact.’17 The most ‘famous’ Cycladic sculptor identified by modern connoisseurship – the Goulandris Sculptor – is known from at least sixty sculptures,18 but only one complete example comes from archaeological excavation (on Naxos) and a few other fragments from authorized investigation on Keros – again nearly all context and potential has been lost, and the past severely edited out. No amount of modern scientific analysis,19 however useful, can make good this fundamental loss.20

Aegean Prehistory and Its Texts / 35 Nonetheless, the world of fakes and forgeries can throw important light on the editors – the creators of this modified discourse – and their times. For example, recent examination of some well-known supposedly Minoan figurines and their provenances has led to the view that they were manufactured in the early twentieth century ad.21 One instance is the so-called ivory and gold figurine dubbed ‘Our Lady of the Sports’ bought (at considerable expense for the time) in 1931 by the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto (inv. 931.21.1), authenticated as genuine by Sir Arthur Evans and included as the frontispiece in his Palace of Minos at Knossos, vol. iv, Part i published in 1935 (London: Macmillan). While highly disturbing that our (standard, textbook) view of the Minoans, and the history of art, has been structured until recently by such modern works – and the field of course needs to reassess its canon – the existence and ready acceptance of the fakes in fact highlights how the past is so often and easily edited to suit a given present. These manufactured items, and the wider invention of the Minoan world of Crete as the first European civilization, inform us significantly of the attitudes and concerns in the late nineteenth through earlier twentieth century ad as European identity was sought and formed. They are thus important to the archaeologies of knowledge, recent history, and the treatment of the past – but not directly to the archaeology of prehistoric Crete.22 The tatters and hints and bits left that form the available imperfect archaeological record (or text) are then interrogated, and we seek to place finds (data) into a coherent reading, a context, in order, via interpretation of this context and its associations, to try to elucidate the original whole text.23 Altogether, archaeology is an observed, interpreted, contested, edited, presented, viewed, and read-about subject. The past thus lies between relativism and objectivity: there is no truth, only routes to work towards possible and plausible contexts and interpretations.24 The past has little independent existence – the past exists for us in the present as constituted (edited) for and by us: ‘present-ing.’25 This reflexive ‘present-ing’ of the past has been ongoing since prehistory itself,26 and ever since. Thus the ancient Greeks created their past,27 and we in turn now create both this ancient Greek past, and its past, for ourselves. It is this process, and not an ‘original’ text, that is most important. The felt past is, further, ‘a function of atmosphere as well as locale,’28 leading almost to the situation where edited texts, towards Baudrillard’s simulacra (copies with no originals),29 become acceptable real pasts as (re-)made in ongoing presents. Tragically, this will increasingly be very literally true as the undestroyed or un-reconstituted or un-looted archaeological record is fast vanishing, and with another

36 / Sturt W. Manning fifty years may be virtually extinct.30 The past – its objects, structures, and landscapes – more generally is thus a doubly historically contingent entity, of their and our times. It offers contexts for, or sites of, meaning, memory, place, identity, morality, and so on,31 which we seek to access, edit, and represent as they are simultaneously destroyed and undone. And, for most, this eventual past is severely constrained and belittled through its representation via just a relative handful of well-known images and texts which are repeated again and again in various publications to yield a form of false reality as a minimalist canon. Greek archaeology has in some ways suffered particularly heavily – its high culture and ‘Art’ status (see further below) has led to certain classes of objects, and then those few items/artists within those deemed to be the most aesthetically pleasing, to be preferentially and endlessly represented – to the total exclusion (editing out) of much other information. Students or readers may thus know many of the few extant works of the esteemed ‘master’ vase-painter Exekias,32 but nothing about 99 per cent of the rest of the material culture of his period, or almost anything of life outside the major centres (or indeed basically outside Athens). Ancient Greece was very much a culture of images,33 but not solely of those images selected as the most aesthetically pleasing by modern scholarship – rather of shared myths, themes, and symbols and the wider context (or habitus) comprising all material culture and actors. Whitley thus comments that ‘it did not, until very recently, seem at all odd to describe sixth-century Athens in terms of its great black-figure pot painters, Lydos, Exekias and the Amasis painter.’34 But even modern revisionist studies end up ensnared: for example Whitley very much provides a prehistorian’s take and text on the archaeology of ancient Greece,35 nicely deconstructs past biases and selective editing,36 and incorporates evidence from the rural past as well as the cities and sanctuaries,37 but when it comes to his chosen illustrations of Greek objects we still find most of the well-known ‘famous’ examples, including among the vases two examples by Exekias and one by Lydos.38 Received archaeology is thus all about texts and editing and the selections involved. Objects, data, and the lenses through which they are seen enjoy complicated and non-objective relations: with the viewer/reader and the act of looking/reading, both in the past,39 and now the present, integral to meaning. This is something widely accepted for art40 or the iconography on Greek vases,41 but applies broadly to all aspects of archaeology and its practice.42 But some special, additional, problems of context apply in the Aegean field, which have tended to edit out, or delete, whole

Aegean Prehistory and Its Texts / 37 avenues or possibilities for the past over much of the last century. I note two issues. First, the history and development of classical archaeology led to a particularly narrow, self-limited field, by the mid-twentieth century centred primarily on Greek vases, that were mainly without archaeological context and held in museums around the world. Leach thus dismissively stated that ‘the majority of those who have described themselves as Classical archaeologists have tended to think of their subject as a specialised branch of art history which could be divorced from the wider sociological investigations of the society in which that art was developed.’43 This situation impinged on Aegean (and related) prehistory in its often classical professional setting, but did not overwhelm it – instead data and analysis usually remained more grounded even at its cataloguing and categorizing heights.44 In the classical arena, the great vase project took two forms. On the one hand Pottier founded the monumental Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum to publish (i.e., illustrate with a brief descriptive text) all ancient ceramic vessels. This certainly created a corpus, a great body of material that now occupies huge slabs of shelf space in those libraries willing to maintain it, but a largely lifeless one that has scant relevance to other material culture, to archaeology, to history, or any other topic, since these items lack, are even deliberately divorced from, context outside that of the categorising corpus. On the other hand, there was the detailed detective work (connoisseurship) of Beazley, which ordered and classified sets of Greek vases/vase-painting on the basis of iconographic details more or less independent of their contexts, meanings, roles, and the wider history and culture of their era – just for its own sake as a modern exercise.45 Beazley’s achievement is remarkable and greatly influenced his field – but the point or relevance of such categorizing and attribution of lists of pots to a vase painter or lesser grouping was unclear, and became an end in itself. These pots usually lacked context (coming from tomb looting in Italy in the main and then shelved as some of the legions of orphaned items in museums around the world). Thus although Beazley’s first triumph was to isolate a painter he called the ‘Berlin Painter’ (after a vase in the Berlin Museum),46 fewer than half the vases attributed to this painter have a recorded find location, and only about 13 per cent have a named find location (something in turn very different from a properly documented archaeological context). The result is that even with the recognition of the common hand (painter), we can say next to nothing about the relevance of this identification to distribution/trade in these pots or to any other non-aesthetic question one might pose.47

38 / Sturt W. Manning Meanwhile, most other forms of evidence or questions were largely ignored and edited out of the field. It is also arguable that modern aesthetic attraction for fine-ware vase painting incorrectly made it a primary focus of study in the first place – doubling the weight of the omissions promoted by Beazleyism. Vickers and Gill in a series of separate and joint publications have highlighted the apparently low value and status of Greek pots in their original context (crafted metal items were much more valuable), and the low status likely for the vase painters raised up as ‘masters’ by Beazley.48 Pots, merely by their survival (with metals mainly recycled/melted down), have thus assumed an importance inappropriate for their original milieu – and perhaps the humble low status vases and vase paintings we see merely derived from ‘high’ art in the form of metalworking. Pots, in such a case, may at best be cheap alternatives to, or replacements of, metal vessels. Overall, Whitley nicely summarizes the extraordinary gulf in perspectives and goals that ended up developing between classical archaeology and prehistoric archaeology over much of the twentieth century – between those such as Beazley narrowly pursuing the study of certain modernly (eighteenth century ad onwards) privileged (classical) classes of objects, irrespective of other data and the bigger historical issues and questions, versus prehistorians such as Childe who sought to incorporate all data types and to write histories of human development.49 The limited and inward-looking classical model left archaeologists working in the Greek world largely isolated from the rest of archaeology through the later twentieth century ad. As a result, in the history of world archaeology,50 ‘Classical archaeology (and Greece in particular) was for the most part simply left out of the picture.’51 Only in the last thirty years have, eventually, a series of new perspectives revolutionized Classical archaeology and opened avenues to pasts previously edited out – the field is both still recovering and learning to use its new faculties.52 The second issue, for us today, is that time and our perceptions thereof create straightjackets and tunnel vision which can inhibit access to the possible pasts. Snodgrass has commented on the fact that archaeological evidence and historical sources offer different facets of historical reality,53 and that it is often difficult or problematic to try to bring them together.54 In the prehistoric Aegean, time has been allocated to sequential periods defined by fine-ware ceramic styles. Despite the obvious problems of overlapping styles and transitions, of how to incorporate other evidence that does not comprise fine-ware ceramics, of regional variations, and so on, the field has successfully, if not always

Aegean Prehistory and Its Texts / 39 usefully, employed such a schematization of relative time for a century. Archaeology works well with such material culture-based entities. The problem comes when the attempt is made to link these periods to history, and to absolute dates, and when such a framework then defines and structures the cultural synthesis, and so the editing out of other possibilities, and the creation of the text for the past. For the Aegean Bronze Age the ceramic periods have been linked via interpretation of some exchanges of material or influences to Egyptian history.55 A conventional interpretative synthesis became fact over the course of the twentieth century ad, and this in turn became the basis on which the wider history and art history of the region has been constructed and written. Some fuzziness and caveats are routinely noted, but the past has been viewed and created from this single narrow telescope-like viewpoint. Everything else has been edited out. But our control of time and cultural interrelations is slippery in many cases, as has been occasionally noted.56 Recently radiocarbon dating has fractured the consensus tunnel vision for the mid-second millennium bc: at present the absolute dates applied to some of the relative ceramic periods vary according to different absolute chronologies (derived from different perspectives and interpretations of the evidence) by up to a century or so.57 The radiocarbon chronology is incompatible with the long-held conventional synthesis and requires some radical re-thinking beyond the current framework: a different history, a different art history, and so on. Because the possible new cultural associations, and the revised new timings and tempo of cultural processes, involve a past which has been entirely edited out of scholarship for the last century, the challenge and process is being intensely resisted,58 and undoubtedly will remain so until the alternative is proved beyond all doubt (something inherently challenging in archaeology, where the balance of probabilities is all to which one can usually appeal). A not dissimilar debate is also engulfing the archaeology and history of early Iron Age Israel – as conventional dates and so conventional cultural histories are challenged by new dates and thus radically new (previously edited out) scenarios.59 Such instances highlight the need for flexibility and plurality of viewpoints in writing the past – and the need to resist and deconstruct pervasive editing out. Beyond the constraints of perspective, a common point of tension in all archaeology stems from the slightly absurd question, given the subject deals with fragments from the past at best, of what is sufficient data? One great tradition is to simply keep collecting ‘data’ as if this is an end in itself: Bradley thus criticizes prehistorians working on Britain

40 / Sturt W. Manning for behaving ‘as if the true task of the archaeologist is not to say anything yet – if the subject is to come of age, it must amass more and more primary observations.’60 But data by themselves are meaningless. The situation for the archaeology of Greece is even more extreme: as Snodgrass highlights, the extraordinary richness of data already accumulated for the archaeology of Greece, and the extent of the processing already achieved, means we have more data and analysis thereof than for most other archaeological situations.61 But, paradoxically, these riches and a ‘belief in the uniqueness of Greek culture history as the fountainhead of Western Civilisation’ have not usually led to higher level analysis; there is, instead, ‘a disinclination to generalise.’62 Hence, rather than these data leading to new insights, scholars collect yet more data and concentrate on details in the belief that the mastery of these, and the other arcane lore of the field,63 offer wisdom and explanation in themselves.64 Nor do we necessarily have the correct data, depending upon us, and our questions. Nixon, for example, bemoans ‘the sheer volume of the finds’ and asks: ‘how are we to deal with the masses of pottery, tools, bones, shells, and metal objects, and the number of buildings of many different types?’65 She argues for selectivity and concentration on types of data and questions that are manageable. But, in contrast, writing in the same volume as Nixon, Crawford, in her ‘elegy to an abandoned research project,’ concludes that ‘I might, however, be tempted to continue in this vein with a reconstruction of Minoan society, if it were not for one other overwhelming factor. That is my inability to cope with the inadequacy of the data which are available for the Minoan period.’66 Such contrasting views highlight the silence of ‘data’ and the active role of the individual archaeologist (editor) and their perspectives and circumstances in the creation or noncreation of a text; and a need for, and yet resistance of, editing out to write a story. When one is looking to the core stuff of archaeology – the publication of fieldwork – additional factors operate. The single-minded efforts needed to secure and undertake a major archaeological research fieldwork project (I thus exclude modern developer-funded contract ‘rescue’ work), and the multi-year and often decadal to multi-decadal timescale involved (from the fieldwork itself, through study and writing up and eventual publication) mean that such constitution of the past (texts) often becomes both fossilized and biographical – the project comes to define and justify the scholars involved and the team is a sort of family (with the same personal relations and conflicts). The closure of a project and its publication can thus bring the end of a vital thing validating and contextualizing a

Aegean Prehistory and Its Texts / 41 scholar’s career, and becomes like a bereavement, and yet, at the same time, it is both the obituary that proves it was all worthwhile and which will perpetuate desired status and achievement – a res gestae – and the venue for the exhibition and realisation of scholarly progeny (phd students – and by then usually long former phd students) through their contributions from projects conceived long ago. The reading of the writing of prehistory is therefore far from simple: a classic rich-text endeavour. There is also much unwritten to consider – not so much edited out as never submitted (for many reasons, from circumstances to the personal – including undoubtedly the fear of finishing itself, and also the fear of producing a final publication that will be the subject of criticism): projects and enterprises that languish in the vast unpublished twilight zone from academic and other endeavours;67 and also the much larger ‘grey’ literature of non-academic professional archaeology.68 The prehistoric past is of course surprisingly modern – for the West the prehistoric (pre-Classical) past was effectively only rediscovered a few hundred years ago69 – and this prehistory is very much a product of modernity and its concerns, such as nation states and their citizens. Whether in the antiquarian to culture-historical period/mode of archaeology, or the glory days of positivism and attempted objectivity (archaeology as science or anthropology), or the self-aware funk of extreme post-modern relativism (archaeology as experience or theatre), our access to, and reception of, prehistory is enabled, constrained, and mediated by several editing processes: how an excavation (or survey, etc.) is constructed, what is recorded, how it is studied, how such steps are written up or otherwise presented, and how initial texts are edited into one or more final publications/presentations. The outcome(s) may be minimalist to the point of being almost unhelpful (whether through circumstances, or choice), or narrowly selective/personal and nonexplicit, or expansive and self-reflexive in the modern genre,70 or anywhere in between. The end result is the same: in publications and in museums the past is edited and made into text. Daniel Wilson himself became famous for reorganizing the artefact collections of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland along the lines of the Three-Age system,71 and then, on the basis of this, for writing the first English language synthesis of a prehistoric area.72 Along with the other nineteenth-century pioneers, Wilson created a view and structure of the past that still resonates in public and scholarly perception and work.73 In the case of the invention of the modern public museum (a later eighteenth-century ad invention in Europe, through the later nineteenth century ad in North America),74 the idea that they were for the education

42 / Sturt W. Manning of the public – for the staging and fabrication of preferred views and the establishing of identities, with the aim of structuring the present – was both explicit and implicit, and this critique and contextualisation is now widely observed.75 This applies also to the allied fields invented at the same time, such as archaeology and art history. Classical civilization, in particular, was privileged (and annexed by white Europe-North America) in this process, and in the education system generally.76 Winckelmann imposed the long-lasting romantic view of Classical (Greek) civilization as the perfect state, which could be approached through the study and appreciation of its art.77 Greece was the natural ideal – the foundation from which European culture stemmed.78 We nicely see the mirror of this situation when Hinsley, in his review of the development of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard, notes the challenges faced in the nineteenth century ad because attention (and patrons and money) focused instead on classical antiquities, which were held to ‘increase the standard of our civilization and culture.’79 The use and abuse of the past, and the invention of a tradition as part of the nationalist discourse, has been a common process.80 In Greece, for example, several studies have highlighted the uses made of, and roles of, Classical archaeology in the construction of modern Greek culture and nationalism, and have argued how Greek archaeology has in turn been shaped by this (changing) discourse leading to a view of the past strongly created in the context of present concerns.81 National projects and status were also important driving elements in the modern wave of ‘colonial’ archaeology. Crete, available for excavation after the peace settlement of ad 1898, was thus an immediate national project for several of the major nations of the time. Archaeological missions from Britain, France, Italy, and the United States annexed territories. A well-known letter to the Times calling for support of the British project at Knossos makes it clear that national pride was perceived as the overriding justification likely to attract support (i.e., funds): Meanwhile, Italian and French missions, supported by government aid, had already been in the field for several months. Even to hold our own it was absolutely imperative that British representatives should make a beginning. We had no choice but to embark last spring on an enterprise which, once begun, for the honour of British science must be carried through ... The discoveries made at Knossos last year throw into the shade all the other exploratory campaigns of

Aegean Prehistory and Its Texts / 43 last season in the Eastern Mediterranean, by whatever nationality conducted ... In this field at least, British archaeological enterprise has been fortunate enough to obtain a strong lead, and it rests with the public to see that it is maintained.82

Crete went on to become the prehistoric (original) fulcrum of Said’s ‘Orientalism.’83 Evans called Crete the ‘cradle of European civilisation,’84 and Childe saw Crete as the bridgehead by which Oriental civilization began to irradiate barbarian Europe.85 Like Greece to Winckelmann, Crete thus became the foundation of European (and Western) civilization with Egypt and Mesopotamia and the modern Ottoman world the oriental ‘other.’ By the time a volume was produced to celebrate Evans’s seventy-fifth birthday he was praised as: ‘One who has done more than any in this University [Oxford], we may say more than any in this nation, to reveal and illuminate the ancient European culture of the Mediterranean.’86 Of course, generally, since the post-modern critique transformed the humanities, there is now a widespread realization of the inevitable fact that all archaeologists imbue and impose themselves, and their times, onto and into the data and synthesis they present, whether or not they themselves acknowledge this. The history of scholarship in various areas of archaeology can thus be observed to follow trends in contemporary society,87 and, in general, given that even the basic concept of ‘data’ inherently involves our observations and views, we can agree with Hodder that: ‘... the theories one espouses about the past depend very much on one’s own social and cultural context.’88 Hodder proceeds to argue that recognition of the contemporary and personal social basis of our reconstructed past(s) does not of itself invalidate these reconstructions – rather there is no one ‘truth’ or set of secure knowledges: they are reworked, translated, and edited by each person and their times.89 Hodder argues that this reality makes the discipline more complex and rich, rather than hopelessly difficult.90 The past thus becomes a series of historical texts (and linked hermeneutic circles), as editors, translators, and conservators work at, and reconstitute, their data at various junctures in time. This offers interest and limitations. The role of the original editor is nonetheless a critical contingency that shapes the subsequent text tradition. In the prehistoric Aegean, where the past comprises a series of texts reaching back over a century of modern archaeological endeavour, we must observe especially the role of key founder figures, and in particular Sir Arthur Evans with regard to Minoan Crete. Critical analysis of Evans,

44 / Sturt W. Manning and his fairly obvious and dramatic personal (re-)construction of a Minoan past set within his late Victorian to Edwardian present and personal life, and the political situation of the so-called Eastern Question and Evans’s personal and passionate belief that the West should impose its order and Christian morals (civilization) on the collapsing Ottoman (and Islamic) empire, have become almost a scholarly industry of late.91 Increasingly, we thus have some handle on how, and even why, Evans edited and presented what he did. Of course, this still leaves the much trickier problem – since archaeological excavation destroys and is a one time experience (distinguished from looting only by the care and effort expended in this process and the proper recording thereof for posterity) – of trying to work out and infer what he did not see, or what he cut out, or what he chose to ignore or selectively interpret (or add). One advantage for archaeologists is that fieldwork, especially in the Mediterranean, has an extraordinary ability to produce records and retained material detritus (most especially millions and millions of pot sherds). Much can therefore be done from Evans’s original notes and the records, and those of others working with him (primarily the original notebooks of Evans, the daybooks of Duncan Mackenzie, and the original plans by David Theodore Fyfe), from examining the extant site and structures, and, where possible, through analogy and comparison with the other sites excavated since Evans’s time and by integrating other techniques and approaches, in order to unpick the editing and approach a raw manuscript. For example, such work has provided: original likely contexts of some critical (early) Linear B tablets92 and the setting for another key Linear B group,93 or likely rediscovery of a ‘lost’ portico on the east side of the central court at Knossos,94 or the robust re-definition of the key ceramic sequence at Knossos.95 We thus see nice examples of a hermeneutic (contextual) approach. Although, in the final analysis, we also inevitably remain limited by and to the records (raw and published) that Evans created – the original edit – with all their inherent limitations, since a viewer typically sees what s/he looks for. We cannot now re-see for him, and, as every writer on the topic has noted, the field has not, and cannot, ‘escape’ from Evans and his shadow. The modern field is, of course, just as created and constrained by editing, and by the genre within which this current activity fits, and changes in viewpoint over time. We may acknowledge but not overcome this. Thus whereas personal experience and lots of selected/edited images under the guise of an approach called ‘phenomenology’ are now common occurrences in the archaeology of landscapes,96 other modern work in archaeology often exhibits an almost inverse relationship

Aegean Prehistory and Its Texts / 45 between theory and image.97 Post-modern critiques, and attempts to rethink the field, are today almost commonplace.98 Several now classic reviews or critiques of classical archaeology have highlighted some of the changing and conflicting agendas for this field over the last generation.99 The loss of innocence in archaeology100 calls for first explicit, and then self-aware, writing, and the overall problematization and increased sophistication of the field101 have increasingly seen the attempt to undertake more of a ‘thick description’102 attempt to present the process of the past being made present in the Aegean.103 Less is edited out, but the richness and plurality created causes its own problems for many in the field. Today the individual, in particular, is being reinserted, having previously been edited out of a depersonalized and normative past.104 To close this essay I wish now to consider a different individual critical to the ongoing constitution of Aegean prehistory in the present: the modern archaeological editor in Aegean prehistory. Who today is doing the editing of the cultural texts for the field, and what does this mean? This constituency is the one primarily controlling the edit we and the next generation will receive. Who today is the editor? Concerns with issues of gender equity, in particular, have recently seen several studies consider and critique the participation success and roles of authors in Aegean and Cypriot archaeology.105 These studies usefully offer a starting point for a consideration of who, today, are the editors of the past in these fields, and what this might mean. Not surprisingly, the data indicate a significant gender bias over the last generation (and one assumes it was no better and likely worse beforehand). Although there are fairly equivalent numbers of males and females in the field (fig. 3.1),106 both in terms of academic posts for those in North America (fig. 3.2),107 and in terms of publications in some standard ‘field/area’ journals (American Journal of Archaeology = AJA, and Report of the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus = RDAC), females are conspicuously under-represented. These observations have been noted by all the authors just cited. But there are encouraging signs: as Bolger notes (and see fig. 3.3), the most recent decade of publications she considered in RDAC saw a nearer equal representation (55 per cent to 45 per cent).108 Moreover, if one looks to a ‘new’ journal, Aegean Archaeology, founded in 1994, and published in Europe away from the AngloAmerican ‘core’ of the Aegean field, it is notable that female single or lead authors comfortably out-number males (fig. 3.3).109 But this journal

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Figure 3.1 Gender balance in Aegean prehistory in 1994, by a world (all) sample, and for just the usa. World sample = 295 respondents; usa sample = 112 respondents.

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Figure 3.2 Gender balance in tenured versus non-tenured academic positions (Aegean prehistorians) in North America in 1994. Sample = 61

Aegean Prehistory and Its Texts / 47

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Figure 3.3 Publication rates in percentage terms by sex for three publications by various time intervals. American Journal of Archaeology (AJA); Report of the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus (RDAC); Aegean Archaeology (vols 1–6).

also illustrates a trend highlighted by Bolger: certain areas within the field seem more populated by females – 54 per cent of all articles in Aegean Archaeology fall broadly into the categories of ‘Art/artefact analysis’ and work primarily using ‘text/linguistic evidence.’110 But, still today, the ‘high’ end status holders and gatekeepers of the field are primarily male. Two important recent books illustrate this: 1 Aegean Prehistory: A Review (Cullen) – set to be the standard review of its field for some years – invited ten authors to contribute, and just one of these was female.111 2 Theory and Practice in Mediterranean Archaeology: Old World and New World Perspectives (Papadopoulos and Leventhal) – a perspectives volume with a number of leading names involved – twenty-one authors, and only six female.112 Aegean prehistory is an international field (fig. 3.4).113 However, apart from the strong presence of Greece, North America and Britain dominate as in so many other fields and arenas in the world today (fig.

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Figure 3.4 Aegean prehistorians by nationality in 1994 sample. The sample = 288 respondents, but some reported dual nationalities, leading to a total number of national affiliations of 305.

3.5). (It is worth noting that Turkish involvement, negligible in the 1994 survey, has since started to increase and is much welcomed.) This North American–British domination is even more apparent when one considers the language of publications in the field (fig. 3.6). Moreover, if one compares the data for publications recorded in 1958 versus 1979 versus 1999, it is clear that English language publications have become significantly more dominant over the last four decades.114 It is difficult not to suspect that many non-Anglophones are being, or have been, largely disenfranchised from this field; similarly the modern contextual influences informing writing in Aegean prehistory will (inevitably) primarily stem from the Anglophone imperial enterprise. To return to the two edited volumes noted above,115 we may note that the latter has but two of twenty-one authors from the region (I do not include Stanley-Price, Director General of iccrom in Rome), while the former does have three Greek nationals as authors, but, as Cullen observes, each

Aegean Prehistory and Its Texts / 49

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Figure 3.5 Aegean prehistorians by nationality groupings in 1994 sample (see Figure 3.4).

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Figure 3.6 Percentages for language of publications in the Nestor bibliography listings for Aegean prehistory and related areas for entries in the 1958, 1979, and 1999 listings.

of these three scholars was educated in the United States or the United Kingdom.116 Where are Aegean prehistorians situated within the academic environment? The answer is varied, with the field lying at the intersection of several disciplines (fig. 3.7).117 It is also noteworthy that some

50 / Sturt W. Manning key differences exist between North America and the overall world sample: in particular, whereas on a world basis a significant number (66 per cent of the sample) of Aegean prehistorians are in Archaeology or Prehistory or Anthropology departments/units, in North America this is not the case (32 per cent of sample only), and the majority are instead in Classics and Classics-related departments/units (thus 62 per cent of the North American sample are in Classics, Classical Archaeology, or Ancient History). Art History provides a fairly consistent minority at 16 per cent of the world sample and 19 per cent of the North American sample. Such differentials, allied with Anglophone domination, undoubtedly go a long way to explain some of the quirks and contradictions of the field. In particular, the great tradition and the great divide identified by Renfrew – that is, the difference and gulf between a philological and detail-oriented Classical archaeology and other (especially Americanist) anthropological archaeologies – is thus stronger in North America than elsewhere.118 But, since many of the leading xxxxxxxxxxxxx

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Figure 3.7 Type of academic department in which Aegean prehistorians currently teach in 1994 (where 3 or more respondents for the category). World (all) sample = 202 respondents; North American sample = 99 respondents.

Aegean Prehistory and Its Texts / 51 ‘anthropological’ Aegean prehistorians and Classical archaeologists have been either British-origin and/or British-based/trained (and almost all at, or students of, Cambridge) and writing in English,119 this divide (and an undermining of the North American ‘tradition’) has been made manifest and relevant to the whole field, leading Morris to identify Aegean prehistory as ‘the soft underbelly of Hellenism.’120 Review of the North American universities producing the most phds in the Aegean field, and of the success rate of these graduates in finding tenured or tenure track employment in the 1994 sample available (fig. 3.8),121 reveals a further, not unexpected bias: relatively few, mainly elite, institutions dominate in the production of the next generation in North America (and, for non-Aegeanists, it should be noted that the University of Cincinnati is a special case in this field through its history, the existence of the Semple fund,122 and the Burnam Classics Library – one of the world’s premier collections in the field of classical studies: http://www. libraries.uc.edu/libraries/classics/). Budget cuts and pressures in North American universities, and many other universities elsewhere in the xxxxxxxxx

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Figure 3.8 North American universities producing 4 or more phds in Aegean prehistory as of 1994 in the survey sample (119 respondents), versus the percentage success of those respondents being in a tenured or tenure-track academic position as of 1994.

52 / Sturt W. Manning world, at the start of the third millennium ad are only likely to further narrow the pool and employment opportunities (even allowing for the Baby Boomer retirement bounce). Overall, the editing of the past, and its being made present, is a far from neutral, or democratic, or equal-opportunity process: it is dominated by relatively limited and narrow sectional interests. Recently attention has started to be directed to the different perspectives available on the past, and to how ‘western’ archaeologists and their fieldwork fit into a local perspective.123 In the Aegean, the development of regional pedestrian survey archaeology124 – versus digging at one localized site where non-engagement could be ignored – brought archaeologists very much more into contact with their wider landscapes and potentially the inhabitants of these through time and in the present. The lack of dialogue and the ‘otherness’ between the archaeologists and the modern local populations were emphasized, and have become the subjects of note and criticism125 – Cherry admitting to such work being, despite best intentions, ‘crudely colonialist in character.’126 Aegean prehistory and classical archaeology stem from the imperial/colonial era in which the field, and its subjects, became competitively annexed and subsumed by the major powers – often physically in the case of major artefacts as epitomized by the Elgin marbles (where Elgin for Britain ‘beat’ Fauvel for France – despite the latter being encouraged to ‘Take everything you can, lose no opportunity to loot everything which is lootable in Athens and its surroundings ... Spare neither the dead nor the living’).127 Issues of archaeological ethics, now pressing, were ignored, and largely continue to be.128 Cherry concludes his recent review of regional survey and its future, with the hope that we can develop a less appropriating Mediterranean archaeology.129 Yes. But central to this is the need to expand and pluralize the voices and editors of the field’s texts. Otherwise much will always be edited out. The situation of Aegean prehistory today means that it is the academic process and its resident clique which forms the major editing process: selecting and narrowing the possible pasts into those suitable for the Western discourse, in a generally Hellenizing framework130 still largely determined by, or reacting to, the tyranny of the Renaissance.131


M. Shanks, Classical Archaeology of Greece: Experiences of the Discipline (London: Routledge, 1996), 4.

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5 6 7


9 10




B.G. Trigger, A History of Archaeological Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 83. J.K. Papadopoulos, ‘Archaeology, Myth-history and the Tyranny of the Text: Chalkidike, Torone and Thucydides,’ Oxford Journal of Archaeology 18 (1999): 377–94. As elaborated by A.M. Snodgrass, An Archaeology of Greece: The Present State and Future Scope of a Discipline (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987). See, for example, E.W. Sauer, ed., Archaeology and Ancient History: Breaking Down the Boundaries (London: Routledge, 2004). I. Morris, Archaeology as Cultural History: Words and Things in Iron Age Greece (Malden and Oxford: Blackwell, 2000). Especially in the development of politico-economic models, thanks to pioneering papers such as M.I. Finley, ‘The Mycenaean Tablets and Economic History,’ Economic History Review 10 (1957): 128–41. On the translation process, and the development of Mycenology, see T. Palaima, ‘Archaeology and Text: Decipherment, Translation, and Interpretation,’ in Theory and Practice in Mediterranean Archaeology: Old World and New World Perspectives, ed. J.K. Papadopoulos and R.M. Leventhal (Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, University of California, 2003), 45–73. See, for example, the Institute of Field Archaeologists in the UK: http:// www.archaeologists.net/. For a good general and comprehensive text on archaeology as a field, see C. Renfrew and P. Bahn, Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice, 4th ed. (London: Thames & Hudson, 2004). Y. Hamilakis, ‘La trahison des archéologues? Archaeological Practice as Intellectual Activity in Postmodernity,’ Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 12 (1999): 60–79. Whether ancient, such as the tomb robbing known from ancient Egypt and a likely trade in antiquities in the second millennium bc, e.g., L. Pomerance, ‘The Possible Role of Tomb Robbers and Viziers of the 18th Dynasty in Confusing Minoan Chronology,’ in Antichità Cretesi: Studi in Onore di Doro Levi, i, ed. G. Carratelli and G. Rizza (Catania: Institute of Archaeology, University of Catania, 1977), 21–30; or much more recently, or because of prior human ‘archaeological’ excavations from Nabonidus in the sixth century bc onwards, e.g., A. Schnapp, The Discovery of the Past: The Origins of Archaeology (London: British Museum Press, 1996). See, for example, O.W. Muscarella, The Lie Became Great: The Forgery of Ancient Near Eastern Cultures (Groningen: Styx, 2000), and K. Butcher

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16 17

18 19



and D.W.J. Gill, ‘The Director, the Dealer, the Goddess and Her Champions: The Acquisition of the Fitzwilliam Goddess,’ American Journal of Archaeology 97 (1993): 383–401. See N. Brodie and D. Gill, ‘Looting: An International View,’ in Ethical Issues in Archaeology, ed. L.J. Zimmerman, K.D. Vitelli, and J. HollowellZimmer (Walnut Creek: Altamira Press, 2003), 31–44; C. Chippindale and D.W.J. Gill, ‘Material Consequences of Contemporary Classical Collecting,’ American Journal of Archaeology 104 (2000): 463–511 ; D.W.J. Gill and C. Chippindale, ‘Material and Intellectual Consequences of Esteem for Cycladic Figurines,’ American Journal of Archaeology 97 (1993): 601–59; N. Brodie, J. Doole, and C. Renfrew, eds., Trade in Illicit Antiquities: The Destruction of the World's Archaeological Heritage (Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, 2001); Muscarella, The Lie Became Great. For a now regretted aesthetically driven presentation and appreciation of these Early Cycladic figures using looted museum material, see C. Renfrew, The Cycladic Spirit: Masterpieces from the Nicholas P. Goulandris Collection (London: Thames and Hudson, 1991); cf. C. Renfrew, Figuring It Out. What Are We? Where Do We Come From? The Parallel Visions of Artists and Archaeologists (London: Thames & Hudson, 2003), 56–7. C. Broodbank, An Island Archaeology of the Early Cyclades (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000). Brodie and Gill, ‘Looting: An International View,’ 35; D.W.J. Gill and C. Chippindale, ‘Material and Intellectual Consequences of Esteem for Cycladic Figurines.’ P. Getz-Gentle, Personal Styles in Early Cycladic Sculpture (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2001), 84–91, 161–6. P. Getz-Gentle, N. Herz, Y. Maniatis, and K. Polikreti, ‘Sourcing the Marble of Early Cycladic Objects,’ in Metron: Measuring the Aegean Bronze Age, Proceedings of the 9th International Aegean Conference/9e Rencontre égéenne internationale, New Haven, Yale University, 18–21 April 2002, ed. K.P. Foster and R. Laffineur, Aegaeum 24 (Liège and Austin: Université de Liège and University of Texas at Austin, 2003), 65–73, esp. 65–7. See also D. Gill, review of Personal Styles in Early Cycladic Sculpture, by P. Getz-Gentle, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2002.09.24. Available from: http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/2002/2002-09-24.html. K. Lapatin, ‘Snake Goddesses, Fake Goddesses: How Forgers on Crete Met the Demand for Minoan antiquities,’ Archaeology 54, no. 1 (2001): 33–6; K. Lapatin, Mysteries of the Snake Goddess: Art, Desire, and the Forging of History (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002).

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24 25 26 27

28 29 30




J.K. Papadopoulos, ‘Inventing the Minoans: Archaeology, Modernity and the Quest for European Identity,’ Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 18 (2005): 87–149. I. Hodder and S. Hutson, Reading the Past: Current Approaches to Interpretation in Archaeology, 3rd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), esp. 156–205. Ibid., 195–203. D. Lowenthal, The Past Is a Foreign Country (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985). For example, R. Bradley, The Past in Prehistoric Societies (London: Routledge, 2002). See, for example, J. Boardman, The Archaeology of Nostalgia: How the Greeks Re-created Their Mythical Past (London: Thames & Hudson, 2002). Lowenthal, The Past Is a Foreign Country, 240. J. Baudrillard, ‘Simulacra and Simulations,’ in Selected Writings, J. Baudrillard (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1988), 166–84. For example, R. Knudson, ‘North America’s Threatened Heritage,’ Archaeology 42, no. 1 (1989): 71–3; G.S. Smith and J.E. Ehrenhard, eds., Protecting the Past (Boca Raton: CRC Press, 1991); C.M. Cameron, ‘The Destruction of the Past: Non-renewable Cultural Resources,’ Nonrenewable Resources 3 (1994): 6–24 (reprinted in Exploring the Past: Readings in Archaeology, ed. J.M. Bayman and M.T. Stark, Durham: Carolina Academic Press, 2000); Brodie, Doole, and Renfrew, eds., Trade in Illicit Antiquities; N. Brodie and K.W. Tubb, eds., Illicit Antiquities: The Theft of Culture and the Extinction of Archaeology (London: Routledge, 2002). For example, C. Tilley, A Phenomenology of Landscape: Places, Paths and Monuments (Oxford: Berg, 1994); Tilley, ‘Landscapes and a Sense of Place,’ in Metaphor and Material Culture, ed. C. Tilley (Oxford: Blackwell, 1999), 175–273; R. Bradley, The Significance of Monuments (London: Routledge, 1998); Bradley, The Past in Prehistoric Societies; S.E. Alcock, Archaeologies of the Greek Past: Landscapes, Monuments and Memories (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002); K.H. Basso, Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language among the Western Apache (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1996). H. Mommsen, Exekias, vol. 1 (Mainz-am-Rhein: Verlag P. von Zabern, 1997); J. Boardman, ‘Exekias,’ American Journal of Archaeology 82 (1978): 11–25. For a now classic summation, see C. Bérard, C. Bron, J.-L. Durand, F. Frontisi-Ducroux, F. Lissarrague, A. Schnapp, and J.-P. Vernant, A City of Images: Iconography and Society in Ancient Greece (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989). For discussions of why – the cultural logic –

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34 35 36 37 38 39

40 41 42 43 44

and how this was materialized, see e.g., H. Hoffmann, Sexual and Asexual Pursuit: A Structuralist Approach to Greek Vase Painting (London: Royal Anthropological Institute, 1977); Hoffmann, ‘In the Wake of Beazley. Prolegomena to an Anthropological Study of Greek VasePainting,’ Hephaistos 1 (1979): 61–70; Hoffman, ‘Why Did the Greeks Need Imagery? An Anthropological Approach to the Study of Greek Vase Painting,’ Hephaistos 9 (1988): 143–62; Hoffmann, ‘The Cicada on the Omphalos: An Iconological Excursion,’ Antiquity 62 (1988): 744–9; Hoffmann, Sotades: Symbols of Immortality on Greek Vases (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997); A. Schnapp, ‘Are Images Animated? The Psychology of Statues in Ancient Greece,’ in The Ancient Mind: Elements of Cognitive Archaeology, ed. C. Renfrew and E. Zubrow (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 40–4. J. Whitley, The Archaeology of Ancient Greece (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 264. Whitley, The Archaeology of Ancient Greece. Ibid., esp. 3–59. Ibid., 376–99. Ibid., figs. 9.1, 9.11, and 9.5 respectively. An area christened the archaeology of the senses: e.g., S.D. Houston and K. Taube, ‘An Archaeology of the Senses: Perception and Cultural Expression in Ancient Mesoamerica,’ Cambridge Archaeological Journal 10 (2000): 261–94. For example, J. Berger, Ways of Seeing (London: British Broadcasting Corporation and Penguin, 1972). See, for example, T. Rasmussen and N. Spivey, eds., Looking at Greek Vases (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991). Hodder and Hutson, Reading the Past. Leach, in Hoffmann, Sexual and Asexual Pursuit, v. One thinks of A. Furumark, The Mycenaean Pottery: Analysis and Classification (Stockholm: Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien, 1941); P. Warren, Minoan Stone Vases (London: Cambridge University Press, 1969); K. Branigan, Aegean Metalwork of the Early and Middle Bronze Age (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974); P.A. Mountjoy, Regional Mycenaean Decorated Pottery (Rahden: Leidorf, 1999); The Swedish Cyprus Expedition volumes; the Corpus of Cypriote Antiquities series – where some recent volumes are in fact also notably robust scholarly studies, e.g., D. Frankel and J. Webb, Eight Middle Bronze Age Tomb Groups from Dhenia in the University of New England Museum of Antiquities (Jonsered: Paul Åströms Förlag, 2001).

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For analysis of these two men and their influences, see P. Rouet, Approaches to the Study of Attic Vases: Beazley and Pottier (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001). J.D. Beazley, ‘The Master of the Berlin Amphora,’ Journal of Hellenic Studies 31 (1911): 276–95; D.C. Kurtz and Beazley, The Berlin Painter (Oxford: Clarendon, 1983). Brodie and D. Gill, ‘Looting: An International View,’ 36. For example, M. Vickers, ‘Artful Crafts: The Influence of Metalwork on Athenian Painted Pottery,’ Journal of Hellenic Studies 105 (1985): 108–28; Vickers and D. Gill, Artful Crafts: Ancient Greek Silverware and Pottery (Oxford: Clarendon, 1994). Whitley, The Archaeology of Ancient Greece, 12–15. On the work of Childe, see B.G. Trigger, Gordon Childe: Revolutions in Archaeology (London: Thames and Hudson, 1980). For example, Trigger, A History of Archaeological Thought. Whitley, The Archaeology of Ancient Greece, 15. Ibid., 42–59. A.M. Snodgrass, ‘Archaeology,’ in The Sources for Ancient History, ed. M.H. Crawford (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 137–84. M. Shanks, Classical Archaeology of Greece: Experiences of the Discipline, 156–8; S.W. Manning, ‘From Process to People: Longue durée to History,’ in The Aegean and the Orient in the Second Millennium: Proceedings of the 50th Anniversary Symposium Cincinnati, 18–20 April 1997, ed. E.H. Cline and D. Harris-Cline, Aegaeum 18 (Liège and Austin: Université de Liège and University of Texas at Austin, 1998), 311–25. For example, A. Furumark, The Chronology of Mycenaean Pottery (Stockholm: Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien, 1941); P. Warren and V. Hankey, Aegean Bronze Age Chronology (Bristol: Bristol Classical Press, 1989). See, for example, R.S. Merrillees, ‘Aegean Bronze Age Relations with Egypt,’ American Journal of Archaeology 76 (1972): 281–94; B.J. Kemp and R.S. Merrillees, Minoan Pottery in Second Millennium Egypt (Mainz am Rhein: Philip von Zabern, 1980); A. Leonard Jr., ‘Some Problems Inherent in Mycenaean/Syro-Palestinian Synchronisms,’ in Problems in Greek Prehistory. Papers Presented at the Centenary Conference of the British School of Archaeology at Athens, Manchester, April 1986, eds. E.B. French and K.A. Wardle (Bristol: Bristol Classical Press, 1988), 319–30. P.P. Betancourt, ‘Dating the Aegean Late Bronze Age with Radiocarbon,’ Archaeometry 29 (1987): 45–9; S.W. Manning, ‘The Bronze Age

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61 62

63 64

Eruption of Thera: Absolute Dating, Aegean Chronology and Mediterranean Cultural Interrelations,’ Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 1, no. 1 (1988): 17–82; S.W. Manning, A Test of Time: The Volcano of Thera and the Chronology and History of the Aegean and East Mediterranean in the Mid-Second Millennium BC (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 1999); S.W. Manning and C. Bronk Ramsey, ‘A Late Minoan i–ii Absolute Chronology for the Aegean – Combining Archaeology with Radiocarbon,’ in The Synchronisation of Civilisations in the Eastern Mediterranean in the Second Millennium BC (ii). Proceedings of the SCIEM2000 EuroConference Haindorf, May 2001, ed. M. Bietak, (Wien: Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2003), 111–33; C. Bronk Ramsey, S.W. Manning, and M. Galimberti, ‘Dating the Volcanic Eruption at Thera,’ Radiocarbon 46 (2004): 325–44; S.W. Manning, C. Bronk Ramsey, W. Kutschera, T. Higham, B. Kromer, P. Steier, and E. Wild, ‘Chronology for the Aegean Late Bronze Age 1700–1400 bc,’ Science 312 (2006): 565–9. For example, M. Bietak, ‘Science Versus Archaeology: Problems and Consequences of High Aegean Chronology,’ in Bietak, ed., The Synchronisation of Civilisations, 23–33; M.H. Wiener, ‘Time Out: The Current Impasse in Bronze Age Archaeological Dating,’ in Metron: Measuring the Aegean Bronze Age. Proceedings of the 9th International Aegean Conference/9e Rencontre égéenne internationale, New Haven, Yale University, 18–21 April 2002, ed. K.P. Foster and R. Laffineur, Aegaeum 24 (Liège and Austin: Université de Liège and University of Texas at Austin, 2003), 363–99. See the recent statement and review in I. Finkelstein, ‘Tel Rehov and Iron Age Chronology,’ Levant 36 (2004): 181–8. For a number of papers with further detailed current discussion of the different positions, see also T.E. Levy and T. Higham, eds., The Bible and Radiocarbon Dating: Archaeology, Text and Science (London: Equinox, 2005). R. Bradley, ‘Against Objectivity,’ in Pragmatic Archaeology: Theory in Crisis? ed. C. Gaffney and V. Gaffney, BAR 167 (Oxford: British Archaeological Reports, 1987), 115–19, esp. 119. Snodgrass, An Archaeology of Greece, 14–17. Quotes from J.F. Cherry, ‘Polities and Palaces: Some Problems in Minoan State Formation,’ in Peer Polity Interaction and Socio-political Change, ed. C. Renfrew and J.F. Cherry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 19–45, esp. 20. Even down to the distinctive system of abbreviations: cf. Whitley, The Archaeology of Ancient Greece, xxvi. See also J.F. Cherry, ‘The Emergence of the State in the Prehistoric Aegean,’ Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society 30 (1984): 18–48.

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71 72 73 74


L. Nixon, ‘Changing Views of Minoan Society,’ in Minoan Society, ed. O. Krzyszkowska and L. Nixon (Bristol: Bristol Classical Press, 1983), 237–43, esp. 241. S. Crawford, ‘Re-evaluating Material Culture: Crawling towards a Reconstruction of Minoan Society,’ in Krzyszkowska and Nixon, eds., Minoan Society, 47–53, esp. 51. For example, in the east Mediterranean, see S. Hadjisavvas and V. Karageorghis, eds., The Problem of Unpublished Excavations: Proceedings of a Conference Organized by the Department of Antiquities and the Anastasios G. Leventis Foundation, Nicosia, 25th–26th November, 1999 (Nicosia: Department of Antiquities and Anastasios G. Leventis Foundation, 2000); or in Ireland, see I.W. Doyle et al., Unpublished Excavations in the Republic of Ireland 1930–1997 (Dublin: The Heritage Council, 2002). Here the world wide web is offering a new half-life as some such grey literature is made accessible, e.g., in the United Kingdom, see the reports available via the Archaeology Data Service of the Arts and Humanities Data Service at http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/library/ greylit/. Schnapp, The Discovery of the Past: The Origins of Archaeology; Trigger, A History of Archaeological Thought; J.L. Fitton, The Discovery of the Greek Bronze Age (London: British Museum Press, 1995). With I. Hodder, ed., Towards Reflexive Method in Archaeology: The Example at Çatalhöyük (Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, 2000) and the forthcoming suite of volumes from the Çatalhöyük project perhaps leading the way at present. G. Daniel, The Three Ages: An Essay on Archaeological Method (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1943). D. Wilson, The Archaeology and Prehistoric Annals of Scotland (Edinburgh: Sutherland and Knox, 1851). Trigger, A History of Archaeological Thought. T. Bennett, The Birth of the Museum: History, Theory and Politics (London: Routledge, 1995); A. McClellan, Inventing the Louvre: Art, Politics, and the Origins of the Modern Museum in Eighteenth-century Paris (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994); D. Horne, The Great Museum: The Re-presentation of History (London: Pluto Press, 1984). For example, D. Preziosi, ‘Museology and Museography,’ The Art Bulletin 77, no. 1 (1995): 13–15; D. Preziosi, ‘Archaeology as Museology: Re-thinking the Minoan Past,’ in Labyrinth revisited: rethinking ‘Minoan’ archaeology, ed. Y. Hamilakis (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2002), 30–9; M. Shanks and C. Tilley, Re-constructing Archaeology: Theory and Practice (London: Routledge, 1987), esp. 68–99.

60 / Sturt W. Manning 76

77 78




82 83 84 85 86

I. Morris, ‘Archaeologies of Greece,’ in Classical Greece: Ancient Histories and Modern Archaeologies, ed. I. Morris (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 8–47; M. Bernal, Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization, vol. 1, The Fabrication of Ancient Greece, 1785–1985 (London: Free Association Books, 1987). J.J. Winckelmann, The History of Ancient Art among the Greeks (London: John Chapman, 1850; orig. pub. in German 1764). A. Potts, Flesh and the Ideal: Winckelmann and the Origins of Art History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994). See also Morris ‘Archaeologies of Greece’, 16–18. C.M. Hinsley, Jr, ‘From Shell-heaps to Stelae: Early Anthropology at the Peabody Museum,’ in Objects and Others: Essays on Museums and Material Culture, ed. G.W. Stocking, Jr (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985), 49–74, esp. 55. For example, E. Hobsbawm and T. Ranger, eds., The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983); R. Handler, Nationalism and the Politics of Culture in Quebec (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988); P.L. Kohl and C. Fawcett, eds., Nationalism, Politics and the Practice of Archaeology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995); L. Meskell, ed., Archaeology Under Fire: Nationalism, Politics and Heritage in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East (London: Routledge, 1998). For example, K. Kotsakis, ‘The Powerful Past: Theoretical Trends in Greek Archaeology,’ in Archaeological Theory in Europe, ed. I. Hodder (London: Routledge, 1991), 65–90; Kotsakis, ‘The Past Is Ours: Images of Greek Macedonia,’ in Meskell, Archaeology Under Fire, 44–67; Y. Hamilakis and E. Yalouri, ‘Antiquities as Symbolic Capital in Modern Greek Society,’ Antiquity 70 (1996): 117–29; Hamilakis and Yalouri, ‘Sacralising the Past: The Cults of Archaeology in Modern Greece,’ Archaeological Dialogues 6 (1999): 115–60; K.S. Brown and Y. Hamilakis, eds., The Usable Past: Greek Metahistories (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2003). A. Evans and D. Hogarth, letter to the Times (London), 31 October 1900, p. 10. E.W. Said, Orientalism (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978). A.J. Evans, The Palace of Minos at Knossos, vol. 1 (London: Macmillan, 1921), 24. V.G. Childe, The Dawn of European Civilization (London: Kegan Paul, 1925). Farnell in S. Casson, ed., Essays in Aegean Archaeology Presented to Sir Arthur Evans in Honour of His 75th Birthday (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1927), v.

Aegean Prehistory and Its Texts / 61 87

88 89 90 91



94 95

For example, M. Leone, ‘Time in American Archaeology,’ in Social Archaeology: Beyond Subsistence and Dating, ed. C. Redman et al. (New York: Academic Press, 1978), 25–36; B.G. Trigger, ‘Archaeology and the Image of the American Indian,’ American Antiquity 45 (1980): 662–76; Trigger, A History of Archaeological Thought; R.R. Wilk, ‘The Ancient Maya and the Political Present,’ Journal of Anthropological Research 41 (1985): 307–26. I. Hodder, Reading the Past: Current Approaches to Interpretation in Archaeology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 16. Hodder, Reading the Past. Ibid., 178. For example, R.A. McNeal, ‘The Legacy of Arthur Evans,’ California Studies in Classical Antiquity 6 (1973): 205–20; J. Wilkes, ‘Arthur Evans in the Balkans, 1875–81,’ Bulletin of the Institute of Archaeology 13 (1976): 25–56; J. Bintliff, ‘Structuralism and Myth in Minoan Studies,’ Antiquity 58 (1984): 33–8; J. McEnroe, ‘Sir Arthur Evans and Edwardian Archaeology,’ Classical Bulletin 71 (1995): 3–18; J.C. McEnroe, ‘Cretan Questions: Politics and Archaeology 1898–1913,’ in Labyrinth Revisited: Rethinking ‘Minoan’ Archaeology, ed. Y. Hamilakis (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2002), 59–72; J.A. MacGillivray, Minotaur: Sir Arthur Evans and the Archaeology of the Minoan Myth (London: Jonathan Cape, 2000); Preziosi, ‘Archaeology as Museology: Re-thinking the Minoan Past,’ in Hamilakis, ed., Labyrinth Revisited; L. Hitchcock and P. Koudounaris, ‘Virtual Discourse: Arthur Evans and the Reconstructions of the Minoan Palace at Knossos,’ in Hamilakis, ed., Labyrinth Revisited, 40–58; Papadopoulos, ‘Inventing the Minoans.’ J. Driessen, An Early Destruction in the Mycenaean Palace at Knossos: A New Interpretation of the Excavation Field-notes of the South-east Area of the West Wing (Leuven: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 1990). J. Driessen, The Scribes of the Room of the Chariot Tablets at Knossos: Interdisciplinary Approach to the Study of a Linear B Deposit, Minos Supplement 15 (Salamanca: Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca, 2000). J.W. Shaw and A. Lowe, ‘The “Lost” Portico at Knossos: The Central Court Revisited,’ American Journal of Archaeology 106 (2002): 513–23. For example, N. Momigliano, ‘MMIA Pottery from Evans’ Excavations at Knossos: A Reassessment,’ Annual of the British School at Athens 86 (1991): 149–271; N. Momigliano, ‘On the Early Minoan III and Middle Minoan IA Sequence at Knossos,’ in Pepragmena H' Diethnous Kritologikou Synedriou, Irakleio, 9–14 Septemvriou 1996, vol. A2: Proïstoriki kai Archaia Elliniki Periodos (Irakleio: Etairia Kritikon Istorikon Meleton, 2000), 335–48; N. Momigliano, ‘Knossos 1902, 1905: The Prepalatial and

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100 101 102 103 104

Protopalatial Deposits from the Room of the Jars in the Royal Pottery Stores,’ Annual of British School at Athens 95 (2000): 65–105; N. Momigliano, ed., Knossos Pottery Handbook: Neolithic and Bronze Age (Minion) (London: British School at Athens, 2007); N. Momigliano and D.E. Wilson, ‘Knossos 1993: Excavations Outside the South Front of the Palace,’ Annual of the British School of Archaeology 91 (1996): 1–57. For example, Tilley, A Phenomenology of Landscape; S.M. Fraser, ‘The Public Forum and the Space Between: The Materiality of Social Strategy in the Irish Neolithic,’ Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 64 (1998): 203–24; M. Edmonds, Ancestral Geographies of the Neolithic: Landscapes, Monuments and Memory (London: Routledge, 1999). C. Gamble, ‘Reflections from a Darkened Room,’ Antiquity 66 (1992): 426–31; R. Bradley, ‘“To see is to have seen”: Craft Traditions in British Field Archaeology,’ in The Cultural Life of Images: Visual Representation in Archaeology, ed. B.L. Molyneaux (London: Routledge, 1997), 62–72. In the Aegean context, see for example, M.L. Galaty and W.A. Parkinson, eds., Rethinking Mycenaean Palaces: New Interpretations of an Old Idea (Los Angeles: University of California, 1999); I. Morris, Archaeology as Cultural History: Words and Things in Iron Age Greece; Hamilakis, ed., Labyrinth Revisited; J.K. Papadopoulos and R.M. Leventhal, eds., Theory and Practice in Mediterranean Archaeology: Old World and New World Perspectives (Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, University of California, 2003). For example, C. Renfrew, ‘The Great Tradition versus the Great Divide: Archaeology as Anthropology?’ American Journal of Archaeology 84 (1980): 287–98; A.M. Snodgrass, ‘The New Archaeology and the Classical Archaeologist,’ American Journal of Archaeology 89 (1985): 31–7; S.L. Dyson, ‘From New to New Age Archaeology: Archaeological Theory and Classical Archaeology – a 1990s Perspective,’ American Journal of Archaeology 97 (1993): 195–206; I. Morris, ‘Archaeologies of Greece,’ in Classical Greece: Ancient Histories and Modern Archaeologies, ed. I. Morris (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 8–47; M. Shanks, Classical Archaeology of Greece: Experiences of the Discipline. D.L. Clarke, ‘Archaeology: The Loss of Innocence,’ Antiquity 47 (1973): 6–18. For example, Hodder and Hutson, Reading the Past. C. Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays (New York: Basic Books, 1973), 3–30. For example, Hamilakis, ed., Labyrinth Revisited. J. Bennet, ‘Millennial ambiguities,’ in Hamilakis, ed., Labyrinth Revisited, 214–25, esp. 218.

Aegean Prehistory and Its Texts / 63 105

106 107 108 109

110 111 112 113 114

115 116 117 118

E.g., J.F. Cherry and J.L. Davis, ‘Aegean Prehistory in 1994: Results of the idap Survey Questionnaire,’ distributed with Nestor 21, no. 8 (1994) (available as a downloadable pdf file from http://classics.uc.edu/ nestor/idap/isearch.lasso after selecting idap Preface); J.M. Webb and D. Frankel, ‘Gender Inequity and Archaeological Practice: A Cypriot Case Study,’ Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 8 (1995): 93–112; T. Cullen, ‘Introduction: Voices and Visions of Aegean Prehistory,’ in Aegean Prehistory: A Review, ed. T. Cullen (Boston: Archaeological Institute of America, 2001), 1–18; T. Cullen, ‘Research and Publication in Classical Archaeology in the United States,’ in Engendering Aphrodite: Women and Society in Ancient Cyprus, ed. D. Bolger and N. Serwint (Boston: American Schools of Oriental Research, 2002), 434–6; D. Bolger, Gender in Ancient Cyprus: Narratives of Social Change on a Mediterranean Island (Walnut Creek: Altamira Press, 2003), 199–212. Data from Cherry and J.L. Davis, ‘Aegean Prehistory in 1994: Results of the idap Survey Questionnaire.’ Ibid. Bolger, Gender in Ancient Cyprus, 206. Data from: Cullen, ‘Research and Publication in Classical Archaeology in the United States’; Bolger, Gender in Ancient Cyprus; Webb and Frankel, ‘Gender Inequality and Archaeological Practice: A Cypriot Case Study’; and as compiled by the present author for single or first authors for Aegean Archaeology vols 1–6. Ibid., 207–8; and Webb and Frankel, ‘Gender Inequality and Archaeological Practice. A Cypriot Case Study.’ Cullen, ed., Aegean Prehistory. Papadopoulos and Leventhal, eds., Theory and Practice in Mediterranean Archaeology. Data from Cherry and J.L. Davis, ‘Aegean Prehistory in 1994: Results of the idap Survey Questionnaire.’ These three years were arbitrary choices as near the start, middle, and end of the available Nestor listings from ftp://classics.uc.edu/pub/ nestor/ as accessed June–July 2004, when this paper was originally written. Cullen, ed., Aegean Prehistory; Papadopoulos and Leventhal, Theory and Practice in Mediterranean Archaeology. Cullen, ‘Introduction: Voices and Visions of Aegean Prehistory,’ 15. Data from Cherry and J.L. Davis, ‘Aegean Prehistory in 1994: Results of the idap Survey Questionnaire.’ Renfrew, ‘The Great Tradition versus the Great Divide: Archaeology as Anthropology?’

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120 121 122




For example, Susan Alcock, John Bennet, Cyprian Broodbank, John Cherry, Peter Day, Paul Halstead, Jonathan Hall, Karl Knappett, Ian Morris, Lisa Nevett, Colin Renfrew, Michael Shanks, Anthony Snodgrass, Sofia Voutsaki, Todd Whitelaw, James Whitley. The present author should also declare the same association via a phd at Cambridge. Morris, ‘Archaeologies of Greece,’ 15; on the role of Snodgrass, see 39–40. Data from Cherry and J.L. Davis, ‘Aegean Prehistory in 1994: Results of the idap Survey Questionnaire.’ On the Semple fund, see J.L. Davis, ‘Welcoming Remarks,’ in The Aegean and the Orient in the Second Millennium: Proceedings of the 50th Anniversary Symposium Cincinnati, 18–20 April 1997, ed. E.H. Cline and D. Harris-Cline, Aegaeum 18 (Liège and Austin: Université de Liège and University of Texas at Austin, 1998), 125–6. For example, D. Shankland, ‘The Anthropology of an Archaeological Presence,’ in On the Surface: Çatalhöyük 1993–95, ed. I. Hodder (Cambridge and London: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research and British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara, 1996), 349–57; Shankland, ‘Villagers and the Distant Past. Three Seasons’ Work at Küçükköy, Çatalhöyük,’ in Towards Reflexive Method in Archaeology: The Example at Çatalhöyük, ed. I. Hodder (Cambridge and London: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research and British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara, 2000), 167–76; R. Layton, ed., Who Needs the Past? Indigenous Values and Archaeology (London: Routledge, 1989). J.F. Cherry, ‘Frogs Round the Pond: Perspectives on Current Archaeological Survey Projects in the Mediterranean Region,’ in Archaeological Survey in the Mediterranean Region, ed. D.R. Keller and D.W. Rupp, BAR International Series 155 (Oxford: British Archaeological Reports, 1983), 375–415; J.F. Cherry, ‘Archaeology Beyond the Site: Regional Survey and its Future,’ in Papadopoulos and Leventhal, eds., Theory and Practice in Mediterranean Archaeology, 137–59; P.N. Kardulias, ed., Beyond the Site: Regional Studies in the Aegean Area (Lanham: University Press of America, 1994). For example, M. Fotiadis, ‘Regions of the Imagination: Archaeologists, Local People and the Archaeological Record in Fieldwork, Greece,’ Journal of European Archaeology 1 (1993): 151–70; M. Fotiadis, ‘Modernity and the Past-still-present: Politics of Time in the Birth of Regional Archaeological Projects in Greece,’ American Journal of Archaeology 99 (1995): 59–78; M. Fotiadis, ‘Cultural Identity and Regional Archaeological Projects: Beyond Ethical Questions,’ Archaeological Dialogues 4 (1997):

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130 131

102–13; S.B. Sutton, ed., Contingent Countryside: Settlement, Economy, and Land Use in the Southern Argolid since 1700 (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2000). J.F. Cherry, ‘Archaeology Beyond the Site: Regional Survey and its Future,’ in Papadopoulos and Leventhal, eds., Theory and Practice in Mediterranean Archaeology, 158. Quoted from a letter from Choiseul-Gouffier to Fauvel in A. Schnapp, The Discovery of the Past: The Origins of Archaeology (London: British Museum Press, 1996), 262. For example, P.M. Messenger, ed., The Ethics of Collecting Cultural Property: Whose Culture? Whose Property? 2nd ed. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1999); K.D. Vitelli, ed., Archaeological Ethics (Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press, 1996); L.J. Zimmerman, K.D. Vitelli, and J. Hollowell-Zimmer, eds., Ethical Issues in Archaeology (Walnut Creek: Altamira Press, 2003). Cherry, ‘Archaeology Beyond the Site: Regional Survey and Its Future,’ in Papadopoulos and Leventhal, eds., Theory and Practice in Mediterranean Archaeology, 159. Morris, ‘Archaeologies of Greece,’ in Morris, ed., Classical Greece: Ancient Histories and Modern Archaeologies. C. Renfrew, ‘The Tyranny of the Renaissance,’ Cambridge Review 83 (1962): 219–23.

Postscript: A highly relevant volume appearing after this text was in production, with discussions on a number of topics and issues addressed above, is: Y. Hamilakis and N. Momigliano, eds., Archaeology and European Modernity: Producing and Consuming the ‘Minoans.’ Padua: Bottega d’Erasmo, 2006.

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The Trouble with Painting, the Image (less) Text

I adapt my title ‘The Trouble with Painting’ from the 1955 film The Trouble with Harry, produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock’s farce revolves around a corpse – the body of the murdered Harry – that keeps turning up, refusing to get buried, complicating the lives of the inhabitants of a sleepy New England village. The hero, an easel painter on the verge of being discovered by a wealthy collector, appears ready to replace Harry as husband and father, as soon as the stiffening corpse can be disposed of. Like Harry’s body, painting persists in complicating more recent media and approaches to visual culture. It troubles our understanding of other media, including texts, and theories.1 There is no better example of the trouble with painting than the 2004 Whitney Biennial, where lush and monumental canvases appeared to predominate, in part because their ostentatious display introduced the viewer to the rest of the exhibition, which, however, consisted in the main of moving image media, installation works, and, not incidentally, texts and words with images. It seems that the trouble with painting, like the trouble with Harry, is that it frustrates our efforts to move on with the narrative of the history of art, perhaps even to get to visual culture. Painting is the corpse that cannot be buried; it keeps turning up because it signifies not only its own death, as Yves-Alain Bois has argued, but also something in excess of itself, something more than what we see.2 Where does painting belong if a distinctive aspect of visual culture today is the breakdown of the verbal and the visual, along with ‘the distinction between high art and mass culture’?3 Painting’s characteristics as both the excess in the field of art history, and the mostly absent in the field of visual culture studies, have made it, in my opinion, the medium and practice most in need of a new historiography.

68 / Catherine M. Soussloff This new historiography will be directly related here to the appearance of painting as a topic of theoretical concern and as a medium without ‘visualization’ in the first illustrated books on art and artists that appeared in the Early Modern period in Italy and France. Unlike other media, such as ancient sculpture, drawings, diagrams for making perspective, and figure studies, which were illustrated in or used to illustrate the published treatises and biographies that I will examine here, painting remained the absent present in these books. Thus, painting appears in these books as a major topic of theoretical interest and visual pleasure – at least if we are to go by the attention paid to it by the authors and to descriptions of contemporary paintings found in these books – but it does not appear in a visual form there. The reasons for this absence could indeed be to some extent technological; the reproducibility of the painted image may be said by some to lie beyond the skills and technological means of the illustrators of these Early Modern books on art. However, in large part provoked by Walter Benjamin’s interest in the paintings of Leonardo da Vinci in his essay on the work of art and reproducibility, this essay takes the position that painting’s visual absence in Early Modern texts and its presence in Early Modern art theory presents a case of ‘editing (out)’ the image. The questions raised when this position determines our approach to Early Modern art and theory, and to art books, concern me for the remainder of this essay. By applying pressure first to painting, then to its relationship to the disciplinary formation of art history, including its early textual practices and their relationships to images, and finally to the significance of all of these for today’s visual studies, this essay hopes to understand the significance of the image (less) text in the earliest ‘art books.’ Finally, while painting appears at times as the most ahistorical, or timeless, of all visual media and practices, this is a relic of the critical prejudices of high modernism. While the continuities in the theory and practice of painting have been addressed in some recent literature, the significance of Early Modern discourse to this critical situation has not been recognized.4 In ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility’ Walter Benjamin (1892–1940) cites a judgment of the French poet and critic Paul Valéry (1871–1945) about the status of the painted image: ‘What could be further from us than the strange claim of a Leonardo to whom painting was a supreme goal and the ultimate demonstration of knowledge? Leonardo was convinced that painting demanded universal knowledge [both for the artist and from the viewer] and he did not even shrink from a theoretical analysis which to us is stunning because of its

The Trouble with Painting, the Image (less) Text / 69 very depth and precision ...’5 In four essays on the artist written between 1894 and 1940, Valéry had conceived of the totality of Leonardo’s output as the zenith of intellection. At the same time the poet lamented the disappearance of the conditions that had allowed a universal painting, and a universal man, to exist. In the epigraph to ‘The Work of Art’ essay, Benjamin quotes from this lament, the first paragraph of Valéry’s 1928 essay, ‘The Conquest of Ubiquity’: Our fine arts were developed, their types and uses were established, in times very different from the present, by men whose power of actions upon things was insignificant in comparison with ours. But the amazing growth of our techniques, the adaptability and precision they have attained, the ideas and habits they are creating, make it a certainty that profound changes are impending in the ancient craft of the Beautiful. In all the arts there is a physical component that can no longer be considered or treated as it used to be, which cannot remain unaffected by our modern knowledge and power. For the last twenty years [that is, since 1908] neither matter nor space nor time has been what it was from time immemorial. We must expect great innovations to transform the entire technique of the arts, thereby affecting artistic invention itself and perhaps even bringing about an amazing change in our very notion of art.6

I am interested in how Benjamin uses Valéry’s comment on Leonardo to support a historical argument about disappearance, the disappearance of a cohesiveness at the level of theory in the cogito between painting and the word, which rests on changes in art technologies, techniques, or ‘craft,’ the term Valéry uses. As men of the modern era, as modernists, Valéry and Benjamin could no longer depend upon painting to produce knowledge, as had Leonardo. Valéry’s response to Leonardo must in part have been produced as a result of a felt anxiety at the ‘loss’ of the conceptual status of painting in modern culture. If Leonardo possessed a knowledge now obscured from us, one that pertains to and follows from painting, has it yielded to a regime of visual knowledge, or can it be found in visual culture? Benjamin’s reason for citing Valéry at the beginning of his essay is complex. First, on the factual level, a sea change in the classic hierarchies of media had occurred by the onset of the twentieth century, as a result of technologies of visual reproduction, such as lithography, photography, and film. Second, on the historiographical level, the gradual dissociation of image and text in the production of knowledge did not occur cataclysmically, but rather, gradually over the course of centuries,

70 / Catherine M. Soussloff as Martin Jay has exposed in his investigation of ‘ocularcentrism’ and its critics.7 Benjamin uses Valéry to signal the longue durée – from Leonardo to contemporary film – of the separation of text and image. This separation portends a hierarchy, since text and image enter into relation one to the other, of which ‘separate but equal’ would be only one possibility. Certainly, a situation of historiographical significance both to art history and visual culture studies results when painting becomes something other than intellection. A knowledge related to painting, such as that granted by Valéry to Leonardo, seems the opposite of an ideology related to the visual, such as that attributed by Martin Jay to Barthes, Foucault, Lacan, film theory, etc. This is the same ideology characterized by Lacan when he says: ‘In the matter of the visible everything is a trap.’8 If knowledge resides in books and, indeed, in textuality it follows that the supplements to painting’s intellection in the age of Leonardo, that is, the book and of particular importance for my argument here, published, illustrated treatises on art, deserve attention for their historiographical significance. The averted or downcast gaze found by the time of the Enlightenment is the result of several centuries of interaction between text and image. A re-examination of the forms of textuality that offered a supplement to painting’s intellection in the age of Leonardo and just after, that is, the earliest illustrated treatises and books on art, allows for a broad historical perspective on issues visual culture has sometimes treated as situated in the twentieth century. I propose that the material history of the discipline of art history itself – both in the objects produced by its scholarly procedures, e.g., its books, and in the relationships in the rhetorical structure between images and text found in those books – provides a way of filling in the gaps of duration and evidence indicated by Benjamin’s citation of Valéry. It will become clear, then, that I think that the disciplinary history of art history belongs to the past, present, and future of visual culture studies. To ignore the weight of the discipline in visual culture studies is tantamount to ignoring the body in Hitchcock’s narrative. The trouble with painting for this historiography has remained embedded in the very texts that art historians and other scholars have produced for painting, but has gone uncommented upon as the textuality of these treatises and books seemed dedicated to the centrality of painting, not to its deconstruction. Here we could look to the opening words of the first book (published in 1435) on painting, Leon Battista Alberti’s ‘Dedication to the Prince of Mantua’:

The Trouble with Painting, the Image (less) Text / 71 I wished to present you with these books on painting, illustrious prince, because I observed that you take the greatest pleasure in these liberal arts; to which you will see from the books themselves ... how much light and learning I have brought with my natural talents and learning.9

Two things about this passage merit our attention. First, the ingredients: books, painting theory, and princely patronage appear intertwined from the beginning of a public written discourse on painting. Second, the separation of text and painting in art theory has a long pedigree, extending back to the beginning of early modern art history. The segregation of image from text may be understood as an outcome of the formation of the discipline of art history itself. By the seventeenth century ‘the mode of being of things, and of the order that divided them up before presenting them to the understanding, was profoundly altered.’10 This quotation is Michel Foucault’s punctuation of the end of the ‘Classical age,’ as he called it in Les Mots et les Choses. Foucault argued that this alteration occurred in the late eighteenth century, not in the seventeenth century, as I assert. His description is apt but his periodization too late. For Foucault the Classical age was a time of parity and of cohesion among the domains of representation, language, science, wealth, and value. It persisted into the eighteenth century, the beginning of the modern age.11 Such coherence was epitomized for Foucault by Diego Velazquez’s painting of Las Meninas, dated 1656 (fig. 4.1). This marvellous image allows us to understand the primacy of pittura in Foucault’s argument concerning the chronology of the Classical age. With it we can grasp how the transition to image (less) text was already underway a full century before Foucault would have us believe. This re-assessment of the history is relative to the discipline of art history, founded as it is upon sources that use conventions for art historical discourse and upon textual forms for its dissemination, such as the illustrated ‘art book,’ to which I will turn presently. In one sense, we shall see that art history enfolds whatever discursive distance may exist between the visual and the textual, although earlier media, such as the illustrated manuscript, provided distinctive relationships between the two.12 In another sense, however, these conventions and genres of the emerging discipline posit a new kind of relationship between painting and text by establishing a new textual form whose content relies on its distinctive configuration of text, image, and art theory. To be sure, we can see coherence in painting, at least in Foucault’s famous analysis of this painting in the first chapter of Les Mots et les

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Figure 4.1 Diego Velazquez, Las Meninas, 1656, Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain (Erich Lessing / Art Resource, ny)

Choses, literally translated as ‘words and things.’ This coherence – of composition, perspective, colour, chiaroscuro, figural proportion, gesture, istoria, and, significantly, theory – was, after all, what led Valéry and many others of the late twentieth century to estimate Leonardo’s pittura so highly. The desire for the coherence of image and subject, e.g., the portrait depiction, led Velazquez to Leonardo. Velazquez’s desire for all things Italian, particularly its styles of painting, as reported by his

The Trouble with Painting, the Image (less) Text / 73 contemporary biographer, Antonio Palomino y Velasco (1655–1726), took him to Italy twice, and most certainly to Leonardo da Vinci’s legacy there. Although noted in the seventeenth century literature on art, to my knowledge Leonardo’s importance for Velasquez has not been pursued by art historians in any detail. Travelling in Italy between 1629 and 1631, Velasquez spent time in Venice, Genoa, and Naples, as well as Rome, where he began to paint with a loosened brushwork, associated with Venetian painting, and a certain firming up of his figural compositions, associated with Roman painting, seen in his Forge of Vulcan dated 1630 (fig. 4.2). Both of these characteristics have been found lacking in his earlier bodegones, such as The Waterseller of Seville of ca 1620 (fig. 4.3). Again, between 1648 and 1651 Velazquez made another visit to Italy where, according to Palomino, he went to Rome at the request of King Phillip of Spain ‘to buy original paintings and antique statues and make casts of some of the most famous ones ...’13 On the way to Rome as both a collector and a painter, Velazquez stopped in Milan to study the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci (fig. 4.4).14 At this time, and particularly in Rome, Leonardo’s standing among artists, collectors, and antiquarians was at its height, for underway in a wide circle of classicists, which included the antiquarian Cassiano del Pozzo, the painter Nicolas Poussin, and the historian and biographer Giovanni Pietro Bellori, were plans to assemble, publish, and illustrate for the first time the Treatise on Painting by Leonardo da Vinci (fig. 4.5). This book was published in Paris, in two editions (one in French and the other in Italian), in 1651. The Italian edition was edited by Rafael Trichet du Fresne (1611–61), courtier, diplomat, collector, antiquarian, and, beginning in 1652, librarian for Queen Christina of Sweden in Stockholm to whom the Trattato della Pittura is dedicated. Between 1647 and 1649, when Velasquez was in Rome, Trichet served as secretary to the Marquis de Fontenay-Mareuil, French Ambassador to Pope Innocent x Pamphili.15 At this time Velasquez was engaged in painting the monumental Portrait of Pope Innocent X (fig. 4.6). According to Palomino, Velasquez was befriended by the French painter Poussin, at that time undertaking his self-portrait of 1650 for Paul Fréart de Chantelou, the brother of Roland Fréart Sieur de Chambray, translator of the French edition of Leonardo’s Treatise on Painting, which was dedicated to Poussin (fig. 4.7). Poussin also contributed designs for some of the illustrations for the 1651 Trattato, although these may have been executed as early as 1635.16 Trichet Du Fresne had known Poussin since 1642, after the former became head of the French Royal Publishing House.17 It can be deduced that during his

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Figure 4.2 Diego Velazquez, The Forge of Vulcan, Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain (Scala / Art Resource, ny)

stay in Rome, Velasquez became part of this closely interrelated group of highly educated patrons, artists, and connoisseurs.18 The art historian André Félibien, who would have known both Poussin and Trichet in Paris and in Rome, wrote that Trichet shared his appreciation for the bacchanals of Poussin, considered by them to be the most pleasing and gracious of the artist’s oeuvre.19 According to Félibien, ‘Poussin followed the proportions taken from the most beautiful Ancient Statues and bàs-reliefs,’ demonstrating ‘a perfect knowledge,’ shared by himself, Trichet, and Poussin. Clearly, French, Roman, and Spanish artists and connoisseurs shared a taste for similar models: ancient marble bàs-reliefs depicting Roman history and mythological themes, as well as the painting and theory of Leonardo da Vinci. The antiquarian and man of letters Giovanni Pietro Bellori demonstrated a similar regard for these models when he published in 1672 portions of a Treatise on Art by Poussin, following his biography of the artist with

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Figure 4.3 Diego Velzaquez, The Waterseller of Seville, London, Apsley House, Wellington Museum, Trustees of the Victoria & Albert Museum (Victoria & Albert Museum, London / Art Resource, ny)

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Figure 4.4 Leonardo da Vinci, The Last Supper, S. Maria delle Grazie, Milan, Italy (Alinari / Art Resource, ny)

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Figure 4.5 Title page of the Trattato della Pittura, Paris, 1651

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Figure 4.6 Diego Velzaquez, Portrait of Pope Innocent X, Gelleria Doria Pamphili, Rome, Italy (Alinari / Art Resource, ny)

which his series of Lives of the modern artists concludes. As I have argued elsewhere, the figure of the ancient sculpture of Antinous, which illustrates part of this treatise, supports a program of scoltura in the thrall of painting and its theory.20 Art historians universally accept Leonardo’s influence on Poussin’s art theory. In summary, the many links and

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Figure 4.7 Nicolas Poussin, Self-Portrait, 1650, Louvre, Paris, France (Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, ny)

associations between these living artists and the dead Leonardo take place around a text, the publication of the Trattato della Pittura. This illustrated book contains both a theory of painting and a biography of

80 / Catherine M. Soussloff the artist, Leonardo. In addition, the book also contains the treatises On Painting and On Sculpture by Leon Battista Alberti, together with his biography, following the Leonardo materials. My brief discussion of the pictorial and literary heritage of Leonardo da Vinci in the seventeenth century shows what Foucault saw as a continuation of the Classical style in Las Meninas, painted after Velasquez’s return from his second trip to Rome. This style surely exhibits cohesiveness in a variety of pictorial strategies, including composition and the use of sfumato, gained from a close study of Leonardo’s Last Supper fresco in Santa Maria della Grazia, Milan, as a comparison of the two paintings shows, and from his theory on painting as presented in the first edition of the Trattato. In Las Meninas cohesiveness extends to a ‘combinatory interaction,’ as Victor Stoichita writes, between the viewer and the painting that perfectly assimilates ‘the paintings’s moral function’ with ‘the fact that it is inherently a representation.’21 In other words, pittura in Las Meninas gives us Valéry’s ‘ultimate demonstration of knowledge.’ There appears to be a coherence in the painting by Velasquez or the paintings by Leonardo at the moral, or instructional, level, independent of narrative and embedded within painting itself. Inasmuch as this painting may be said to be a narrative, that, too, arises in order to serve a moralizing function. Importantly, in Rome in the seventeenth century painting may be said to speak, but silently, as in the idea of ‘painting as mute poetry.’22 The contradiction in the theory is historical and does not elicit commentary on its situation qua contradiction. However, using a historiographical method it is possible to see in this exact cultural context a clear dissociative principle already at work between text and image and their ensuing relationship to knowledge. I base my historiography of the operation of the image on the way that other media – the arts of sculpture, architecture, and design, among them – represent painting. I am particularly interested here in the medium of the ‘art book,’ the nomination used by art historians for a genre of book that began to flourish in the middle of the seventeenth century at precisely the very moment when Classical cohesiveness is so abundantly in evidence to Foucault in painting, and yet where the pressures of fragmentation can also be discerned.23 Historians of the art book also call this the baroque luxury book. Two prime examples of this type of book are Trichet’s edition of Da Vinci’s Trattato della Pittura and Bellori’s Lives of the Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, published in 1672. According to Armando Petrucci: ‘The new model was distinguished by its spectacular and visual use of script, its

The Trouble with Painting, the Image (less) Text / 81 impressive page size, its unusual arrangement of text and illustration, and the very close relationship it displayed between figurative sign and graphic sign. Furthermore, its functions and the ways in which it was displayed and preserved were all quite new.’24 As far as concerns the scripts used in these texts, two trends may be identified: (1) the continual alternating of many different letter sizes and styles in the texts and titles, as if to emphasize the visual expressiveness of letter signs through the varying forms; and (2) the inclusion of engraved, rather than typographical, lettering in the illustrations and decoration. The result, as Petrucci notes, is that this new medium of the letter created ‘a freer, more intimate and direct relationship between figurative design and letter design.’25 It is this type of illustrated book that I propose we should accept as the material object and historiographical symptom of European culture’s changing treatment of the relationship between text and image, where the moral function of the image shifts to the text from the image. By the middle of the eighteenth century the book, any book, had unquestionably already assumed its status as ‘the ultimate demonstration of knowledge,’ to use Valéry’s words again. This significant historical point rests on the concept of the book delineated in Diderot’s Encyclopédie (1751–72). It states: [A book in general is] a writing composed by some intelligent person about some issue of knowledge [science], for the instruction and amusement of the reader. One can still define a book as a composition by a man of letters, realized to communicate to the public and to posterity something that he has invented, seen, experienced, and assembled, and that must be long enough to make a volume ... The uses of books are no less numerous nor less varied; it is by means of them that we acquire our knowledge: they are the repository of laws, memory, events, usages, mores, customs, etc., the vehicle of all the sciences; even the establishment and preservation of religion is in part owed to them.26

Recent scholars have understood that new ways of thinking emerged with the arrival of the printed book and its particular analytical organization of knowledge.27 The art book has a significant place in this concept of the book. This kind of book differs in profound ways from earlier types of printed volumes. Alberti’s treatise on painting, for example, had not been organized around any idea of pictured figuration. When this type of illustrated text appears, it demonstrates a new approach to the relation between text and image, on the one hand, and

82 / Catherine M. Soussloff to knowledge, on the other. This approach differs from Leonardo’s, Poussin’s, and Velasquez’s approach to painting and adheres quite closely, but avant la lettre, to Diderot’s.28 Although the details of the economic argument cannot, for reasons of space, concern me greatly here, these new functions of the art book fulfilled the needs of an elite class of educated men and women whose interests in the illustrative materials and contents of these books were stimulated by a passion for collecting antiquities, modern art, and, most significantly, books. These were large, expensive, and lavishly produced books. They did not conform to the expansion of the readership of books in Italy by a wider spectrum of society at this time, except inasmuch as they were written in the vernacular.29 In this regard, art books differ from the ‘print culture’ of the time.30 Rome and, later, Paris were the centres of the publication of these books in the seventeenth century.31 Connoisseurs and collectors depended upon and supported the artists, librarians, editors, and publishers to provide the books that produced the images and the information required for their collections. Petrucci calls this type of book an ‘object-product, composed equally of text and image’ in which ‘the compiler of the text played the least important role.’32 In this regard, the art book represents a significant change in the Renaissance notion of authorship. The former coherence of the book fractures, as does the idea of the universal subject/author. The work no longer attests directly to the artist’s knowledge but becomes the vehicle for a traffic in knowledge from elsewhere, from a discipline, for example. What one knows begins to shift to what is known, particularly obvious in the production at this time of numerous art books related to scientific subjects, such as cosmology, cartography, etc.33 Who, we may well ask, is the author of Leonardo’s Trattato della Pittura? Is it Leonardo da Vinci, who wrote about painting in several manuscripts, which were collected, perused, and selected from by a group of collectors and librarians prior to the publication in 1651? Is it Trichet du Fresne, who supposedly assembled the book, ensured its printing in France, and certainly authored the relatively copious front matter and scholarly apparatuses of the volume? This consists of: (1) two Dedications, one to Queen Christina, as I have already noted, and the other to M. Bourdelot (1610–70), a French physician, diplomat, author of books on the science of optics, and Trichet’s predecessor as Christina’s librarian;34 (2) a biography of Leonardo which attempts to correct the mistakes of Vasari’s earlier Life of the artist; (3) a carefully annotated bibliography outlining the state of what is known about painting. Is it Charles Errard,

The Trouble with Painting, the Image (less) Text / 83 the French engraver whose images, some of them based on Poussin, play across the pages of text, often with a serious disregard for their illustrative function in the text? These ambiguities of authorship, editorship, and the relationship between image and text are reinforced by the fact that this book not only contains Leonardo’s Treatise on Painting, but also two other Italian Renaissance texts: the theoretical treatises On Painting and On Sculpture written by the Humanist Alberti. Although chronologically precedent to Leonardo’s writing on painting, these texts (both of which had been published earlier) follow in this volume the material on da Vinci and his Trattato. A biography of Alberti by Trichet precedes these two treatises in the book. In addition, these texts are illustrated. The irrational structure of the book indicates a breakdown in a clear and correspondent relationship between art theory (treatises on painting and sculpture in this case) and biography, patronage, and the image. ‘The logic and economy of sameness for both language and image,’ characterized by Louis Marin, as the Classical idea of painting (and mimesis) in the seventeenth century, do not pertain in the art book.35 Petrucci argues that this kind of chaotic structure, particularly the relationship between the images and the typography and its arrangement, initiates a newfound freedom in book design. Put in historical relationship to the Classical painting of the same era, we could say that this art book and others of its type represent the fragmentation of a cohesion promoted in and by painting. There is no distrust of the image yet, but there is a clear desire to address it, surround it, and supplement it by a discourse that we can recognize as art historical. The divergence of values in regard to the painted and printed image at this time indicates more than a formal difference in the media. If we cannot find structural and theoretical correspondences in purely visual terms between the image and the textual representations addressed to it, it is because that cohesion is not desired. As film director Karel Reisz said of the theoretical justification for editing: In doing this, the director does no more than exercise his elementary right as an artist: namely, to select from a given situation particular aspects which he considers significant and to present them in the manner he feels to be most useful to his purpose. Thus if we can find no parallel in actual experience for certain editing devices, it is simply because the editor and director do not want to reproduce the physical world as one normally sees it.36

84 / Catherine M. Soussloff The structure and design of the art book in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries makes certain that painting is not represented as one would normally see it – isolated, framed, speaking for itself. Images operate more freely in the book than they do on the canvas. The perfect correspondence of knowledge and representation that we found in Velazquez’s painting gives over to various levels of meaning simultaneously at play on the page and in the ordering of the textual, and textual-visual aspects of the text. As Françoise Waquet has argued, the simple, clear, and brief style of writing in this period, like that found in Trichet’s and Bellori’s books, moves erudition to a firm documentary basis in order to convey ‘lessons of fact,’ onto which the complex visual archaeology of the book itself is grafted.37 Thus, the art book may be said to be espousing two very different sorts of exposition: the one verbal and the other visual. At the verbal level these texts amplify the research and evidence gathered by the elite antiquarian-connoisseur. These are displayed carefully in the descriptive prose, which often seeks to correct the mistakes of earlier art historians, such as Giorgio Vasari, and in the amplification in the texts during this period of front and back matter, which organizes the evidence and authorizes the approach: tables of contents, bibliographies, lists of works, etc. expand and proliferate, as in Bellori’s book. The book becomes something of an archive. It begins to resemble modern scholarship. At the visual level, on the other hand, the singular page often reveals a lack of correspondence between image and the contents of the text. There is a variety in the kinds of font and images present on the page, such that the type itself becomes visualized, and an extensive variety in the kinds of illustrations present in any one text, as in Bellori’s book. We have seen, for example, that the book by Bellori contains depictions of antique statuary, but it also has elaborate portraits of the artists, supported by allegorical motifs, and, in addition, depictions that art historians recently have rather infelicitously labeled ‘allegorical headpieces,’ which, like the portraits, precede the individual biographies.38 These two expository means, what might be called the archival and the emblematic, operating in the art book, are mutually supportive however, at the moral level. The archive provides the image with an apparent foundation in ‘fact.’ This complex heteroglossic array provides distraction from painting itself. In addition, the allegorical illustrations in these books must be related to the ‘emblem book,’ an important Renaissance genre, and sister of the art book. In this regard, Richard

The Trouble with Painting, the Image (less) Text / 85 Gilman’s critique of the seventeenth-century English emblem book pertains. Gilman sees the proliferation of the emblem or the rebus, such as those used so extensively by Bellori, as a dramatization of ‘a radical estrangement of the authentic linguistic self from its visual bond to the world.’39 In its very nature, particularly in the Baroque art book, the visual emblem defies easy legibility. These emblems together with the other imagery found in the Trichet and Bellori volumes indicate a culture that ‘can no longer take for granted a network of correspondences between its speech and the language of imagery.’40 The turn in these seventeenth-century materials to language/ text/book for the knowledge Leonardo had reserved for painting alone reveals the very act of dissociation that Foucault so eloquently describes as characteristic of the late eighteenth-century social formation. This dissonance or fragmentation then is not an error, nor a method, but something closer to a symptom. It is a symptom of the failure to find coherence without painting, or a correspondence between image and knowledge. Later, with the rise of the discipline of art history, the symptom will discover its ‘talking cure’ as textuality assumes a superiority not yet completely resolved in the seventeenth century. Therefore, the disciplinary situation of the image less text, as in the title of the conference for which this paper was originally written, remains to be addressed. It is often said of the elite culture of the seventeenth century that the writers, collectors, and artists valued antiquities, books, and paintings equally. Yet, the theoretical value of painting predominated in this period. Painting theory, and one must assume paintings, affirmed the power of the image to produce knowledge apart from texts, but when the image became integrated into the text in the art book and emblem book with the freedom recognized by Petrucci, a tension arose between art theory and the economic/social values of the elite culture. In the discipline we often call these art books along with the earlier books on art, such as Vasari’s, ‘the early literature of art history.’ While the rhetoric of all of these texts supports an approach to the image as painting that may be consistent with the views of Leonardo, as assumed by Valéry, the whole artifact of the art book indicates a massive shift in the production of meaning assumed for the image. This new relationship to the image in the art book, together with the new technologies of reproduction that came about in the subsequent two centuries, eventually produced the alienation from painting that Benjamin describes in his essay. Again, I should stress that this alienation stems not from painting’s loss, but rather from its earlier ascendancy as a repository of the imaginary cohesion of knowledge

86 / Catherine M. Soussloff gained without written language, which the archeology of the art book and the behaviors of the elite culture began to deny. To use Benjamin’s words on photography, ‘the mere idea of it, acquires remarkable and specific importance for it introduces into these venerable disciplines a new condition, perhaps a new uncertainty, a new kind of reagent whose effects have certainly not as yet been sufficiently explored.’41 Perhaps ironically then, the autonomy and liberation from ‘aura’ or context of the image today, which is the hallmark of our digital culture, rests on seventeenth-century books that sought to elaborate in textual and visual forms upon the supremacy of painting, without illustrating it. By acknowledging this history and understanding that it is painting that affirms and subtends an understanding of the image as universal, and that it is the art book that launches a process of, perhaps, inadvertently eroding this universality, we may begin to see how the dissociation of text and image – and the inverted hierarchy that results – commences in the seventeenth century, not within the corpus of painting itself – in this Foucault was clearly correct – but in these textual forms neglected by Foucault and many others. These art books sought to preserve, explicate, celebrate, and edit the images whose status they, in the same gesture, irrevocably transformed.42 To write about the image, even in celebration of it, would seem to subordinate the image, and to deny it the sense of a direct access to knowledge Leonardo assumed. The suspicious view of the image in much of the theory that has provided a foundation for the study of visual culture intensifies this subordination. The trouble with painting remains. As it did at the 2004 Whitney Biennial, painting ushers us toward that which is ‘in excess of itself’ in the discipline, but no other visual medium has truly come in its stead, rather the visual has more usually been said to proliferate, licentiously. At the Whitney Biennial other media forms outnumbered painting, but very large paintings were displayed in the first part of the exhibition and privileged in the curators’ narrative. However, to bury painting with mass culture, new media, or other technologies only makes the problem for a new disciplinary formation, if that is what visual culture studies will be, even more dependent on a material history that has yet to be fully exposed, and therefore understood as capable of being transformed in the future. If, as Valéry said, painting’s function in the Renaissance was the demonstration and production of knowledge, where, we might ask, in the visual archive claimed by visual culture studies, might we find that function today? To agree with Walter Benjamin, and to deny the claims of many new media theorists and authors of visual culture textbooks,

The Trouble with Painting, the Image (less) Text / 87 the historical account I have given here does not assert for any contemporary technology the status of the ‘knowledge function.’ But it does insist, and hopefully expose, that the loss of painting’s power began when the imposition of the texts that support painting’s theoretical advantages and its disciplinary prominence in art history were put into the hands of a privileged, educated, and wealthy elite. This may well be a point for future builders of programs of visual culture, visual studies, and new media studies to ponder seriously.




Some of the ways that art and artists function in film has been discussed by Bruce Barber, ‘Art History’s Significant Other ... Film Studies,’ in The Subjects of Art History: Historical Objects in Contemporary Perspective, ed. Mark A. Cheetham, Michael Ann Holly, and Keith Moxey (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 262–87. The Trouble with Harry does not appear in the filmography. I am grateful to Mark Cheetham, Elizabeth Legge, Fred Unwalla, and the students in the department of History of Art at the University of Toronto for their comments on this essay. A version of this essay was delivered as a lecture at the University of California, Berkeley on 9 April 2004 in the conference entitled Show and Tell: The Current State of Visual Culture Studies, organized by Whitney Davis and Martin Jay, and it appeared in Journal of Visual Culture, 4 (Summer 2005): 203–36. I thank Bill Nichols for his editorial advice at that time. In all of the texts cited here I have given English editions wherever possible. The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute provided me with the opportunity to study the rare seventeenthcentury books discussed in this essay, including Leonardo da Vinci’s Trattato della Pittura of 1651. I first began to consider the archaeology of early modern art historical texts some twenty years ago in a seminar on scholarly editing conducted by Thomas Tanselle at Columbia University Rare Book School. I have never forgotten his remarkable erudition on the subject of the book. Yves-Alain Bois, ‘Painting: The Task of Mourning,’ in Painting as Model (Cambridge, ma and London: The mit Press, 1990; first published in 1986), 245–57. W.J.T. Mitchell, ‘What Is Visual Culture?’ in Meaning in the Visual Arts: Views from the Outside. A Centennial Commemoration of Erwin Panofsky (1892–1968), edited by Irving Lavin (Princeton: Institute for Advanced Study, 1995), 207.

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See Thierry de Duve, Look: 100 Years of Contemporary Art, translated by Simon Pleasance and Fronza Woods (Ghent: Ludion, 2001); As Painting: Division and Displacement, ed. Philip Armstrong, Laura Lisbon, Stephen Melville (Columbus, oh: Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio State University and Cambridge, ma: mit Press, 2001); and Painting at the Edge of the World, ed. Douglas Fogle (Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 2001). Paul Valéry, ‘Autour de Corot,’ in Pièces sur l’art, quoted in Walter Benjamin, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,’ in Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, tr. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken), 249. Paul Valéry, ‘The Conquest of Ubiquity,’ in Aesthetics, tr. Ralph Mannheim (New York: Bollingen Foundation, 1964), 225. Martin Jay, Downcast Eyes: The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-Century French Thought (Berkeley and London: University of California Press, 1993). Jacques Lacan, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-analysis, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, tr. Alan Sheridan (New York: Norton, 1998), 93. Leon Battista Alberti, ‘Dedication of De Pictura To Giovan Francesco Illustrious Prince of Mantua,’ in On Painting, tr. Cecil Grayson (London: Penguin, 1991), 36. Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (New York: Random House, 1970), xxii. Foucault, The Order of Things, xxiii. See Michael Camille, Image on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art (London: Reaktion Books, 1992). Antonio Palomino, Lives of the Eminent Spanish Painters and Sculptors, tr. Nina Ayala Mallory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 156. Palomino, Lives, 157. Jacques Thuillier, Nicolas Poussin (Paris: Flammarion, 1994), 162–3, citing a manuscript in Bib. Municipal de Chartres, Nouv. Acq. Nos. 15–19. The complicated history of Poussin’s drawings for the edito princeps of Leonardo’s Trattato della Pittura is carefully laid out by Juliana Barone, ‘Seventeenth-century Illustrations for the Chapters on Motion in Leonardo’s Trattato,’ in The Rise of the Image: Essays on the History of the Illustrated Art Book, ed. Rodney Palmer and Thomas Fragenberg (Hants: Ashgate, 2003), 24. These complicated interconnections among Leonardo’s legacy in Rome, Poussin, the French and Italian literati and diplomats have yet to be

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satisfactorily delineated, making my argument regarding the situation of Velasquez in Rome less clear than it should be. A good summary of the interconnections may be found in Elizabeth Cropper and Charles Dempsey, Nicolas Poussin: Friendship and the Love of Painting (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), 156–7. See also, Charles Jouanny, Correspondance de Nicolas Poussin (Paris: F. de Nobele, 1968). Martin Clayton provides excellent information on the relationship of Poussin’s drawings to the Leonardo project, see Martin Clayton, Poussin: Works on Paper: Drawings from the Collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (London: Merrell Holberton, 1995). Palomino, Lives, 158–9. André Félibien, Entretiens sur les Vies et sur les ouvrages des plus excellens Peintres anciens et modernes avec la vie des architects (Trevoux, S.A.S., 1725), 4: 146–7: ‘Y a-t-il rien de plus plaisant & de plus gracieux que les Baccanales qu’il a peintes? Dans cel qu’il fit pour Mr. Du Fresne, l’on voit une femme enjouée, qui semble chanter & danser en touchant des castagnettes, pendant qu’un jeune homme joue de la flute. C’est un des tableaux où il a pris plus de soin, & où il a suivi des proportions tirées des Statues & des plus beaux bàs-reliefs antiques. Ceux qui en ont une parfaite connaissance, n’ont pas de peine à découvrir de quelle sorte il a observé ce qu’on y remarque de plus élégant; & comment il a souvent imité avec beaucoup d’adresse & de bonheur, ce qu’il y a de plus agréable dans le bàs-relief des danseuses, dans les vases de Medicis & de Borghese, dans celui que l’on voit encore dans une Église de Gaiété au Royaume de Naples, dont il fasoît une estime particulière. Ces restées antiques sont des chef-d’oeuvres de l’art, qui lui ont paru bien plus dignes d’être pris pour modèles que des hommes malfaits, & des femmes telles qu’on les trouve, dont plusieurs Peintres moins habiles se sont contentez.’ It should be noted that between 1649–50 Félibien served as Historiographe du Roi. Catherine M. Soussloff, ‘Like a Performance: Performativity and the Historicized Body, from Bellori to Mapplethorpe,’ in Acting on the Past: Historical Performance Across the Disciplines, ed. Mark Franko and Annette Richards (Hanover and London: Wesleyan University Press, 2000), 69–98. Victor Stoichita, The Self-Aware Image: Insight into Early Modern MetaPainting, tr. Anne-Marie Glasheen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 16. The allegorical engraving illustrating the ‘Life of Agostino Carracci’ in Bellori’s Le Vite de’ Pittori, Scultori et Architetti Moderni of 1672 shows the personification of painting as ‘Mute Poetry.’

90 / Catherine M. Soussloff 23


25 26


28 29


Scholars disagree about the date of the birth or origin of the art book, e.g., Francis Haskell has a difficult time defining the art book and its beginnings, see Francis Haskell, The Painful Birth of the Art Book (London: Thames and Hudson, 1987), 7. So too, the most recent book on the topic does not define the term ‘art book,’ nor does it attempt to pinpoint its birth other than as being in Italy, see Rodney Palmer, ‘Introduction,’ in The Rise of the Image: Essays on the History of the Illustrated Art Book, ed. Rodney Palmer and Thomas Fragenberg (Hants: Ashgate, 2003), 1–2. See now my essay on the topic, ‘Publishing Paradigms in Art History,’ Art Journal, 65 (Winter 2006): 36–40. Armando Petrucci, Public Lettering: Script, Power, and Culture, tr. Linda Lappin (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1993; originally published in 1980), 56. Petrucci, Public Lettering, 57. ‘Livre,’ in L’encyclopédie ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, ed. Denis Diderot and Jean d’Alembert, vol. 9 (Neufschastel: Samuel Faulche, 1765), 601, 605, quoted in Terry Cochran, Twilight of the Literary: Figures of Thought in the Age of Print (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001), 16. On this complex point, one that prompts part of my argument here, see the excellent overview by Brian Richardson, Printing, Writers and Readers in Renaissance Italy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 122–57. Arguments made in the following three studies have been instrumental in the acceptance of form as both indicator and producer of changes in intellection in regard to texts: Elizabeth Eisenstein, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change: Communications and Cultural Transformations in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979); Walter Ong, Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word (London: Methuen, 1982); Alvin Kernan, Printing Technology: Letters and Samuel Johnson (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987). Petrucci, Public Lettering, 55–6. Richardson, Printing, Writers and Readers in Renaissance Italy, 157, does not make the exception that I do here to the argument that a wider spectrum of society was reading at this time. I am taking my understanding of the dominant idea of book culture and the attendant expectations of the general readership of books from the excellent study by Adrian Johns, The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making (Chicago and London: University of Chicago

The Trouble with Painting, the Image (less) Text / 91


32 33



36 37 38

Press, 1998), 1–57. On page two the author asserts as false that ‘print culture’ was based on ‘a technological order of reality’ that established the modern idea of knowledge. Rather, he argues, these views prevent ‘a truly historical understanding of print and any cultural consequences it may foster.’ On page five Johns writes: ‘... early modern printing was not joined by any obvious or necessary bond to enhanced fidelity, reliability, and truth. That bond had to be forged.’ I am grateful to my colleague Jody Greene for bringing this study to my attention. For a useful, general survey of seventeenth-century Italian books and book culture, see Dennis E. Rhodes, ‘Printing in Italy in the Seventeenth Century,’ Studies in Early Italian Printing (London: Pindar Press, 1982), 295–301. Petrucci, Public Lettering, 56. For an excellent illustrated survey of this type of book, see A Continental Shelf: Books across Europe from Ptolemy to Don Quixote (Oxford: Bodleian Library, 1994). On Pierre Michon, known better as M. Bourdelot or Abbé Bourdelot, see Jean Lemoine and André Lichtenberger, Trois familiers du grand Condé: L’Abbé Bourdelot, le Père Talon, le Père Tixier (Paris: H. Champion, 1909), 1–138. Louis Marin, ‘Mimesis and Description,’ in On Representation, tr. Catherine Porter (Stanford: Stanford University Press: 2001), 254. This essay by Marin has been of great value to me in thinking through this paper. I am grateful to my colleague Mark Franko for suggesting Marin’s work to me. Karel Reisz, The Technique of Film Editing (London and New York: Focal Press, 1963), 215. Françoise Waquet, Parler comme un livre: L’oralité et le savoir (XVIe–XXe siècle) (Paris: Albin Michel, 2003), 50. See Claire Pace and Janis Bell, ‘The Allegorical Engravings in Bellori’s Lives,’ in Art History in the Age of Bellori: Scholarship and Cultural Politics in Seventeenth-Century Rome, ed. Janis Bell and Thomas Willette (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 191–223. Some of the conclusions reached by Bell and Pace were first suggested by me in an unpublished paper delivered at the American Academy in Rome in November 1996 and in two later manuscript versions of this lecture, both of which Bell read prior to publishing the volume cited here. I am most grateful to the comments made at the time of the conference by Jennifer Montagu and Matthias Winner. See also, Soussloff, ‘Like a Performance,’ cited above.

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40 41


Ernest P. Gilman, ‘Word and Image in Quarles’ Emblemes,’ in The Language of Images, ed. W.J.T. Mitchell (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), 83. Gilman, ‘Word and Image in Quarles’ Emblemes,’ 84. Cited in David MacDougall, Transcultural Cinema, ed. Lucien Taylor (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), 63–4 from Walter Benjamin, ‘The Centenary of Photography,’ a lecture given at the Sorbonne on 7 January 1939 and published and translated in Occasions (Princeton University Press, 1970). Marin, On Representation, 254.

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Concealing Spectacles: Childbirth and Visuality in Early Modern France

This chapter explores how the scene of birth was produced, reshaped, and censored in French obstetrical treatises published between 1550 and 1730. These treatises discussed conditions ranging from sterility to postpartum complications, addressing an audience of medical men, female midwives, pregnant women, lay people, and even readers in search of a sex manual.1 Attending to editing reveals the books did far more, however, than provide medical information. Writers, publishers, and artists carefully selected the written as well as visual material in obstetrical treatises, aiming to cultivate an image of respective authors as sophisticated birth assistants. Shaping a particular vision of practitioners and their activities in the lying-in chamber furthermore involved the suppression of certain representations. It is striking that only a few treatises featured illustrations of the female genitals, for example, which were for the most part deemed inappropriate and excluded from the publications. Considerations of editing thus highlight both what was made visible and rendered invisible in relation to childbirth. An early modern image of the lying-in chamber alludes to the relationship between revelation and concealment, portraying the labouring woman assisted by a male midwife with a sheet tied around his neck (fig. 5.1). This sheet covers her lower body, making it impossible for him to see what his hands are doing. The female attendants gathered around the parturient woman are likewise unable to gaze at her body. Instead they look toward each other, while the birthing woman directs her eyes upward, as if appealing to the heavens for relief. None of the women looks directly at the seated male figure, who is almost entirely hidden from their view. The sheet falls across his shoulders and upper back in a manner echoing the bed draperies that frame the scene. These visual features highlight the themes of covering and uncovering in the image, while enhancing the theatricality of the event taking place.

96 / Lianne McTavish

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Figure 5.1 Woman in labour assisted by man-midwife, from Louise Bourgeois’s Het begin en ingang van alle menschen in de wereld, Dutch trans. of Observations diverses sur la stérilité, perte de fruict, foecondité, accouchements et maladies des femmes et enfants nouveaux naiz, 1707, Leyden (National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, md)

Childbirth and Visuality in Early Modern France / 97 During the early modern period, the drama of childbirth included the labouring woman, her female attendants and midwife, as well as the man-midwife called if things went horribly awry. His entry launched fraught negotiations about who would be looked at and what would remain hidden. Though sometimes female clients revealed themselves, for the most part he was unable to see the pregnant woman’s lower body, concealed beneath linens both to prevent his looking and for reasons of social convention. In contrast, his clothed body was usually on display, despite the covered man-midwife pictured in the engraving. The female audience gathered in the lying-in chamber scrutinized him for signs of an appropriate appearance and demeanour. In order to gain the confidence of these women, the male midwife strove to convey desirable qualities, while disguising negative displays of fear and potentially dangerous surgical instruments. According to obstetrical treaties, the early modern French birthing chamber was a complex arena permeated with exchanges of visual information as well as deliberate acts of concealment. My discussion of how birth was disclosed sheds light on visuality, a term which, in distinction from strictly biological vision, encompasses historically and culturally specific ways of seeing the world.2 It designates visual practices informed by conceptions of gender, status, and authority. Visuality also includes what remained hidden from view. In the lying-in room, vision was not simply endowed with positive qualities, but was regularly linked with shame. Nor was vision exclusively associated with information acquired by the eyes. It could also be produced by the hands of birthing assistants, or accessed through the reports of other observers. Studying the complicated realm of childbirth encourages a broad understanding of the vagaries of early modern vision, while undermining a restricted emphasis on the activities performed by eyes. A fuller conception of vision furthermore extends beyond the attention paid by scholars to male looking in the birthing room. Drawing on philosopher and historian Michel Foucault’s theory of the medical gaze, feminist critics in particular argue that men-midwives contributed to the medicalization of childbirth by objectifying the exposed and vulnerable bodies of women.3 Though such accounts significantly emphasize the gendered dynamics of birthing practices, I contend they overestimate men’s prerogative in the lying-in chamber. Neglecting Foucault’s arguments about the continual resistance to power, scholars minimize references to how early modern women both refused to be seen by men and looked back at medical practitioners. Contemplating women’s evaluation of men lends support to recent arguments by

98 / Lianne McTavish historians Adrian Wilson and Hilary Marland that early modern European women were not passive victims of male midwives, but rather actively participated in their employment.4 Regarding Women The engraving mentioned above was added to the 1707 Dutch translation of the famous obstetrical treatise by Louise Bourgeois, royal midwife to Queen Marie de Médicis from 1601 to 1609, and the first French woman to produce a midwifery text.5 The three volumes of her book, Observations diverses sur la stérilité, perte de fruict, foecondité, accouchements et maladies des femmes et enfants nouveaux naiz [Various observations on sterility, miscarriage, fertility, childbirth and diseases of women and newborns], were originally published in 1609, 1617, and 1626 respectively. Like obstetrical treatises written by male physicians and surgeons, the midwife’s book includes theories of conception, sterility, and the diagnosis of pregnancy, but focuses on the means to remedy difficult labours. Initially containing only a portrait of Bourgeois, subsequent editions and translations were altered to include an image of her patron, the Queen, as well as the occasional scene of childbirth. Visual depictions of the lying-in chamber are unusual in early modern French obstetrical treatises, which tend to feature both author portraits and representations of unborn figures awkwardly positioned in the womb.6 Such images do not illustrate the written contents of treatises, but rather contribute to arguments about who was best able to assist at complicated labours – female midwives or male practitioners. Though the creators of the engraving for the 1707 edition of Bourgeois’ book are unknown, the image was clearly not meant to transform the midwife’s medical beliefs into a visual format. Nor was it designed to flatter the author, who had died in 1636, having no role in the continual reproduction of her treatise. In the text, Bourgeois drew attention to her ability to maintain control of the lying-in chamber even when the Queen herself gave birth.7 In contrast, the engraving depicts a female midwife – identifiable as the mature woman dressed in widow’s garb – standing behind her female client, relegated to the background by the man displacing her.8 This scenario is at odds not only with Bourgeois’s insistence that she and other skilled midwives could handle challenging labours but also with women’s continuing management of childbirth throughout the early modern period. For the most part, surgeons were called to act as male midwives only after days of unproductive labour, when the child was likely dead and the life of the

Childbirth and Visuality in Early Modern France / 99 woman in peril. They began, however, to attend even the normal deliveries of wealthy, urban clients in the northern parts of France by the middle of the eighteenth century.9 Even when summoned to the lying-in chamber, men did not obtain visual access to women’s bodies. The 1707 engraving alludes to this situation by emphasizing the sheet covering the labouring woman, and by providing her with an identifying label (‘B’) in case she is unrecognizable to the viewer. According to obstetrical treatises written by both male and female authors, women could eschew male looking. Surgeon man-midwife Guillaume Mauquest de La Motte reported, for example, that when he was called to attend a labouring aristocratic woman in 1697 she was afraid he would use his eyes as well as his hands to examine her. She consented to his assistance only after the male practitioner affirmed he could see no part of her body, including her feet.10 Other women went even further to protect their modesty. Bourgeois claimed that a widowed female client suffering from venereal disease obstinately refused to ‘lift her veil of honour’ and be seen by a man. The woman’s daughters were desperate, and finally arranged for an elderly surgeon to marry their mother, curing her afterward within the bounds of social convention.11 Though some male authors criticized women’s ‘false modesty’ when they refused to be seen by men, most men sanctioned the traditional practice of covering women throughout their labours.12 In 1561 Pierre Franco advised fellow surgeon men-midwives to ‘take a warm double sheet, and put it on the patient,’ a custom endorsed well into the eighteenth century.13 Surgeon man-midwife Jacques Duval explained in 1612 that neglecting to cover a labouring woman’s buttocks and knees would bring shame to the female birthing assistants as well as to the woman herself, while in 1729 Mauquest de La Motte advocated covering women’s thighs both to warm them and for decency’s sake.14 According to male practitioners, the indiscriminate exposure of the female body could have a negative effect on everyone in the lying-in chamber. Such invocations of shame reinforce representations of the female body as sinful, dirty, and potentially obscene. According to literary critic Gail Kern Paster, in early modern England childbirth was considered a base bodily evacuation comparable to urination and defecation.15 She argues that even as maternity was a source of female empowerment, it was in patriarchal interests to portray childbirth as a shameful secret requiring containment in a regulated birthing room.16 In France, the situation was not dissimilar, with childbirth associated with an apparent loss of bodily control, and labouring women reluctant to expose their

100 / Lianne McTavish ‘shameful parts,’ as the female genitals were then called. Male practitioners may therefore have reinforced the concept of feminine shame by ensuring that women’s bodies remained covered. Yet shielding the female genitals from view could also serve women’s interests. Female midwives retained the right to see the bodies of labouring clients throughout the early modern period. Bourgeois, for example, drew on notions of shame and modesty to defend such visual access as her exclusive domain. Despite recognizing that male intervention was occasionally required in complicated labours, the royal midwife was reluctant to admit men into the birthing room, arguing that male looking would assault female modesty.17 In this instance, the concept of shame augmented the midwife’s authority, lending support to her gendered identity and unique status in the lying-in chamber while limiting the role of men. Authorized to examine women’s bodies, female midwives would describe the genital parts of women to men in legal cases that included rape and determinations of pregnancy, as well as within the birthing room.18 In his obstetrical treatise of 1650, physician Charles SaintGermain argued that female midwives should be trained in anatomy to facilitate this delivery of information to men.19 Established female midwives such as Marguerite de La Marche agreed. In her treatise of 1677, she claimed that every midwife needed to be familiar with the location and function of the external orifice of the womb in case a client’s modesty prevented her exposure to a man. According to La Marche, female midwives served as the ‘eye’ of physicians by offering them accurate accounts of women’s bodies.20 Though potentially placing women in a position subservient to men, La Marche simultaneously associated female midwives with a direct visual perception and understanding of women’s bodies. In contrast to female midwives, male practitioners could only acquire a secondary, mediated conception of the female anatomy. Male practitioners urged female midwives to be forthcoming with information about the female body, but denied depending on women’s reports. Surgeon men-midwives argued that even when labouring women’s bodies were covered, they could ‘see’ them by performing manual examinations. The dark and mysterious realm of the womb was enlightened by the men’s perceptive hands, which ‘looked for’ the malpresenting child and ‘observed’ its posture.21 In his treatise of 1694, surgeon man-midwife Philippe Peu explained how to recognize the parts of an unborn child exclusively by touch. The head could be identified by its round, hard skull, the eyes by the cavity of their sockets,

Childbirth and Visuality in Early Modern France / 101 the nose by its eminence between the eyes and above the mouth, and so on.22 Peu insisted that surgical hands could enable vision, a point made even more directly in 1707 by the master surgeon Le Duc who asserted ‘the eyes of the man-midwife are the ends of his fingers.’23 With eyes displaced to fingers, the male practitioner’s hands permitted seeing without engaging in socially proscribed looking. Whereas La Marche had located the physician’s eye in the body of a female midwife, surgeons argued that male bodies could achieve visual perception. They thus associated themselves with the immediate comprehension of childbirth traditionally associated with women. At the same time, surgeon men-midwives argued that assisting at difficult labours was a legitimate surgical practice, one requiring special skills and training. Surgeon men-midwives participated in a longstanding effort to elevate the status of their ‘lowly’ manual interventions, linking them with the visual diagnoses performed by physicians officially superior to surgeons in the medical hierarchy of early modern France.24 Portraying hands as eyes relied on the conflation of seeing and knowing prized in medical circles, and recently identified with the epistemological foundations of modern science.25 Even as surgeons strategically claimed their hands replaced vision, they desired unmediated visual access to the female body. The value of seeing with the eyes themselves is expressed in surgeon men-midwives’ accounts of opening the bodies of women who had died while pregnant or suffering from gynaecological conditions. Autopsies were performed to determine the cause of death, especially at the Hôtel-Dieu in Paris, a public hospital delivering poor women free of charge.26 Surgeon manmidwife Paul Portal saw an autopsy undertaken at the Hôtel-Dieu in 1653, on the body of a woman who had died after giving birth. The procedure revealed a dangerous condition – parts of the afterbirth remained in the womb – but the physician present surprised everyone by blaming the patient’s melancholy temperament instead of the female midwife who had delivered her.27 Peu claimed both to have witnessed autopsies and opened dead women himself to discover what had gone wrong during their labours.28 In one case, the surgeon man-midwife’s incision revealed a dead child remaining in the woman’s womb in an awkward position, legs askew. Male physicians and surgeons saw fewer anatomical demonstrations, designed to display the organs of the female body systematically instead of searching for abnormalities. The dissection of the female body, especially the pregnant female body, was rare because corpses were difficult to obtain.29 Authors of obstetrical treatises nevertheless argued

102 / Lianne McTavish that those who practised midwifery required extensive anatomical knowledge. Surgeon man-midwife François Mauriceau began his influential treatise of 1668 with a discussion of female anatomy, claiming it was impossible to understand his subsequent teaching without a perfect comprehension of the reproductive parts.30 The engravings accompanying his anatomical chapter resemble those found in contemporary anatomical treatises, portraying female trunks with their viscera peeled back to expose clearly defined internal organs.31 The chapter also includes an external view of the female genitalia, labeled la partie honteuse [the shameful part], magnified to achieve legibility instead of accuracy32 (fig. 5.2). Widely spread legs reveal an open vagina, with drapery pushed back over the woman’s pregnant belly to frame her lower body rather than shield it from view. At odds with the 1707 engraving of childbirth, this representation severs the woman’s genitals from the rest of her body as well as the social context of the lying-in chamber. Mauriceau admitted the image in his book might be considered indecent, but insisted it necessarily displayed what normally remained hidden.33 With secret parts uncovered, the figure in Mauriceau’s book confirms the link between seeing the female body and having knowledge of it. This engraving objectifies the female body, opening it to a penetrating gaze. It would seem to confirm that early modern man-midwifery depended on the exhibition of women’s bodies. This interpretation is nevertheless partial because a mere four of the twenty-five obstetrical treatises published in France between 1550 and 1730 contain anatomical images, with Mauriceau’s the only one depicting the female genitalia. His image was considered so shocking during the early modern period that when English man-midwife Hugh Chamberlen produced a translation in 1673, he excluded Mauriceau’s anatomical chapter, arguing ‘here and there a passage ... might offend a chaste English Eye.’34 Insisting the spectacle of the exposed female body was a French convention, Chamberlen associated chastity and refinement with an English temperament.35 Other readers apparently agreed that it was necessary to edit Mauriceau’s book, for many surviving copies of the treatise lack this image. The ‘shameful part’ has been ripped out of the publication, though it is unclear whether the action was meant to prevent others from inappropriate looking or to facilitate the censor’s private enjoyment. In any case, the image does not document men’s powerful looking during the early modern period. Instead of reflecting what men ordinarily saw, Mauriceau’s engraving portrays the kind of visual access xxxxxxxxx

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Figure 5.2 Female genitalia, from François Mauriceau’s Des maladies des femmes grosses et accouchées, 1668, Paris (Edward G. Miner Library, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, ny)

104 / Lianne McTavish men were denied, except when women cooperated or were subject to autopsy after death. The plate can be considered both another method of compensating for the limited nature of men’s observations, and a representation of male desire for unimpeded visual access to the modestly covered female body.36 The complex status of male looking in the lying-in chamber cannot be described, however, with exclusive reference to men’s thwarted or mediated desire to see. After all, their lack of visual access to women could also have positive connotations. Surgeon men-midwives linked their inability to see with heightened manual abilities. Furthermore, when male practitioners covered female clients, or refused to display images of the female genitalia, they reinforced conceptions of female shame while aligning themselves with the preservation of moral tradition, potentially leading to an increase in prestige and reputation. Clearly, conceptions of the penetrating medical gaze cannot fully account for the increased practice of male midwives. Regarding Men Recent scholars of early modern childbirth tend to focus on the exhibition of the female body in the lying-in chamber, assuming women were the only ones looked at. Male practitioners realized, however, that they too were subject to the gaze. Like women, men sought to control the circumstances under which they would be seen, offering advice to colleagues about how to present an appealing spectacle to the largely female audience in the birthing room, while hiding negative displays. Such advice was necessary because the appearance of the male midwife remained controversial throughout the early modern period. The covered man-midwife featured in the 1707 translation of Bourgeois’s treatise suggests some of the ambivalence surrounding his visible presence in relation to childbirth. He operates on a woman who is covered by both a sheet and his body positioned before her. Even as his long, curly hair replaces an image of the female genitals, it alludes to them. This suggestion of impropriety is exacerbated by the drapery disguising his apparently offensive manipulations. The surgeon manmidwife is in fact doubly concealed because he faces away from the viewer, revealing only a back adorned with an explanatory label (‘A’), which corresponds to an identifying text on the next page. Male authors of obstetrical treatises debated the ideal image of the surgeon man-midwife. Mauriceau noted that some people urged surgeons to grow long, dirty beards in order to repulse women while reassuring their potentially jealous husbands.37 The French practitioner

Childbirth and Visuality in Early Modern France / 105 strongly disagreed with these instructions, arguing that an unkempt surgeon would only frighten those ‘poor women’ requiring his assistance. Apparently more concerned with pleasing women than their husbands, Mauriceau insisted surgeon men-midwives display an agreeable appearance, being clean-shaven, strong, robust, and sober. Fellow practitioners Pierre Dionis and Jacques Mesnard affirmed that male midwives should dress modestly and be equipped with wellformed bodies able to withstand lengthy labours.38 They described the physical characteristics of an ideal male practitioner, paying particular attention to his hands. According to Dionis ‘a large, short hand is an essential defect in an accoucheur [man-midwife].’39 Surgeon men-midwives were additionally urged to be virtuous, prudent, honest, compassionate, and able to keep secrets.40 Many of the characteristics praised in male midwives were typically associated with femininity, especially modesty, patience, and charity; indeed the latter attribute was often conflated with maternity itself.41 Given the sensitive nature of their practices, a delicate demeanour was deemed indispensable to male practitioners. Dionis explicitly recognized the unique position of the surgeon man-midwife, insisting he had to display politeness far exceeding that of the army or hospital surgeon.42 In 1671, Viardel, the royal surgeon to French Queen María Teresa, similarly stressed the surgeon man-midwife’s sensitivity, asserting that he ‘should be gentle in his words and agreeable in his conversation in order to cheer the sick woman.’43 Given the predominance of physiognomical theory during the early modern period, the character of men working in the lying-in chamber was revealed by their appearance as well as their words and gestures.44 Though authors of obstetrical treatises urged men to possess small hands, dress well, and adopt a pleasant demeanour able to comfort women, they provided few other details. Elaborate representations of surgeon men-midwives have survived, however, in the engraved author portraits regularly included as frontispieces in the publications. In contrast to the covered man-midwife featured in Bourgeois’s Dutch treatise, many French books opened with idealized images of authors who directly faced viewers, inviting their scrutiny. Such portraits were strategic displays in keeping with the wider goals of obstetrical treatises to present their authors as cultivated and skilled experts in childbirth. A conventional author portrait of surgeon man-midwife Pierre Amand, for example, appeared in the 1715 edition of his Nouvelles observations sur la pratique des accouchemens [New observations on the practice of childbirth], first published in 1714 (fig. 5.3). Engraver Pierre

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Figure 5.3 Author portrait, from Pierre Amand’s Nouvelles observations sur la praticque des accouchemens, 1715, Paris (Edward G. Miner Library, University of Rochester Medical Centre, Rochester, ny)

Childbirth and Visuality in Early Modern France / 107 de Rochefort depicted the well-groomed midwife adorned with an expensive cravat and cuffs, as well as an elaborate wig associated with the aristocracy.45 The portrait makes no reference to the manual labour Amand performed, and he is recognizable primarily because of the French script identifying him as a surgeon belonging to the guild in Paris.46 The surgeon man-midwife gently holds a volume in his small, well-manicured hands. Presumably advancing a copy of his own book, the image of Amand is associated with both writing and theoretical knowledge. References to manual labour are nevertheless featured throughout the actual treatise, especially in images of Amand’s invention, the tire-teste or head-puller designed for those demanding cases when the head of an unborn child became detached and remained in the womb (fig. 5.4). One engraving shows how this mechanism slips over the surgeon’s fingers, enabling him to grasp the severed head and then tighten the mesh around it before applying traction by means of the ribbons. Though Amand’s head-puller was rarely used and apparently rather ineffective, the image was meant to demonstrate both his intellectual and manual abilities.47 Obstetrical treatises presented male midwives to a diverse audience, but men were not always on display in the birthing room itself. The cloaked man-midwife pictured in the translation of Bourgeois’s treatise evokes some of the arguments made in the original French edition. In one case study, the royal midwife explained that she allowed a man to enter the room only after arranging the bed curtains to ensure her female client would neither see him nor be aware of his presence. Claiming the sight of a male practitioner would terrify her female client, Bourgeois required the surgeon man-midwife to remain invisible in the lying-in chamber, while asserting her own visible presence and continuing to speak even as he performed a manual examination.48 In this way, the midwife prevented the male surgeon from being visibly associated with the positive outcome of the birth. According to historian Adrian Wilson, demonstrations of ability were crucial to the increasing practice of early modern English men-midwives, notably once they began delivering live children with forceps instead of extracting dead children with surgical hooks.49 Historian Lisa Forman Cody extends such claims, arguing that when English male midwives lectured publicly, appeared in coffeehouses, and advertised their services, they increased their visibility as well as their authority.50 Yet concealment could also be beneficial to male midwives, particularly if they were required to use instruments to perform craniotomies, a procedure that entailed crushing the dead infant’s head and extracting

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Figure 5.4 Head-puller, from Pierre Amand’s Nouvelles observations sur la praticque des accouchemens, 1715, Paris (Edward G. Miner Library, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, ny)

Childbirth and Visuality in Early Modern France / 109 its body piece by piece. Surgeon men-midwives realized their surgical hooks and sharp knives could frighten female clients and their friends. They encouraged colleagues to avoid using instruments, especially when the death of the unborn child was uncertain. Mauriceau rhetorically asked: ‘what a horrible spectacle would it be if he brought [out] ... a poor child that was still alive after having cut off its arms?’51 Dionis affirmed that removing a child piece by piece terrified both female clients and their friends, while other authors recommended hiding hooks in order to preclude an unpleasant display for those gathered in the lying-in chamber.52 In difficult cases, the draperies covering women’s bodies could assist male practitioners’ attempts to conceal both their horrifying instruments and destructive operations. At the same time, coveted inventions could be protected by the opaque sheets covering women. Members of the Chamberlen family, for instance, reputedly safeguarded knowledge of their lucrative invention, the forceps, by preventing visual access to the tools, and in some cases resorted to blindfolding labouring clients.53 Male authors of obstetrical treatises insisted that surgeon menmidwives should furthermore disguise their emotions when called to assist at difficult deliveries. Expressions of fear and anxiety were especially forbidden. Displaying a carefully controlled demeanour, the ideal male practitioner was encouraged to remain calm at all times in order to comfort rather than frighten his clients and their assistants. Dionis argued that a surgeon man-midwife should not display a long, sad face, while Mauquest de La Motte provided examples of how he had concealed his own fear in dire circumstances, noting that he had seen younger surgeons flee from a client’s bedside after being overcome with fear.54 These authors insisted that the surgeon man-midwife maintain an impassive facade during deliveries, echoing Bourgeois’s account of her controlled behaviour at the birth of the Dauphin in 1601. Though the King expected the royal midwife to cry out with joy, she both impressed him and proved her midwifery skills by remaining expressionless after seeing the sex of the future King for the first time.55 Being looked at was crucial to the production of the reputation of male and female midwife alike, and practitioners were routinely scrutinized in the lying-in chamber – likely to a greater extent than labouring women. Appearing to be capable, attractive, seemly, and in control of one’s emotions could lead to an increase in midwifery practice. Visual evaluation also carried risks, however, for if birthing assistants exhibited fear or caused the pain and suffering of clients, their reputations could decline. Surgeon men-midwives were aware of these dangers, and

110 / Lianne McTavish strove to fashion an ideal image to be presented within the birthing room. Their attempts to manage the perceptions of clients portray the complex visual exchanges occurring in relation to childbirth, while suggesting that women and their families had a role to play as observers who could either accept or reject male midwives. Carefully edited early modern French obstetrical treatises offer diverse accounts of vision and the meanings attached both to looking and being looked at. Attending to these sources undermines the conflation of looking with male medical power in historical accounts of childbirth. Though vision was associated with reliable knowledge and authority, it could also have negative connotations within the lying-in chamber. Even as male midwives strove to see women’s bodies, refusing to look was a significant act that could reinforce the gendered status quo. Nor was it necessarily disempowering to be looked at. Being seen was requisite to the increasing practice of midwives, though it could also provide visual evidence of inadequacy. Considering the complex visual practices occurring in the birthing room and represented in obstetrical treatises reveals the meaning of vision as shifting, paradoxical, and dependent on context – particularly on who was looking and under what circumstances. While emphasizing display and dissembling in relation to childbirth, this chapter offered a richer understanding of early modern visuality, in keeping with historian Martin Jay’s efforts to thicken understandings of modern vision by historicizing its practices and resistances.56 Clearly, early modern visuality was no less complex than modern visuality, being alternately linked with shame, learning, status, and impropriety. It was also a subjective experience according to French obstetrical treatises. Rarely described as a neutral or detached act, looking was instead situated in particular bodies that engaged with other bodies. Both male and female midwives portrayed authority in childbirth achieved by means of the body as well as the eyes. Whether acquired by eyes or hands, however, vision was always imbricated with arguments about rank and privilege. It was produced, managed, promoted and protected in negotiations between men and women, as well as in the written and visual contents of treatises.


For an extended discussion of the audience for French obstetrical treatises see chapter 1 of my book, Childbirth and the Display of Authority in Early Modern France (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005).

Childbirth and Visuality in Early Modern France / 111 2 3







Mieke Bal, ‘Visual Essentialism and the Object of Visual Culture,’ Journal of Visual Culture 2, 1 (2003): 5–32. See, for example, Lynne Tatlock, ‘Speculum Feminarum: Gendered Perspectives on Obstetrics and Gynecology in Early Modern Germany,’ Signs 17, 4 (1992): 725–60 , and Roberta McGrath, Seeing Her Sex: Medical Archives and the Female Body (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002). For the medical gaze see Michel Foucault, The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception, A.M. Sheridan Smith, trans. (New York: Vintage, 1975). Adrian Wilson, The Making of Man-Midwifery: Childbirth in England, 1660–1770 (London: ucl Press, 1995), 191–2, and Hilary Marland, ‘Introduction,’ in The Art of Midwifery: Early Modern Midwives in Europe, ed. Hilary Marland (London: Routledge, 1993), 8. For publications on Bourgeois, see Philip A. Kalisch, Margaret Scobey, and Beatrice J. Kalisch, ‘Louyse Bourgeois and the Emergence of Modern Midwifery,’ Journal of Nurse-Midwifery 26, no. 4 (1981): 3–17; Wendy Perkins, Midwifery and Medicine in Early Modern France: Louise Bourgeois (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1996), and François Rouget, ‘De la sage-femme à la femme sage: réflexion et réflexivité dans les Observations de Louise Boursier,’ Papers on French Seventeenth-Century Literature 25, no. 49 (1998): 483–96. For a more thorough discussion of the images in early modern French obstetrical treatises see my Childbirth and the Display of Authority in Early Modern France, chapters 4 and 6. For Bourgeois’s account of her role at the birth of the future King Louis xiii see François Rouget and Colette H. Winn, eds, Récit véritable de la naissance de messeigneurs et dames les enfans de France (Geneva: Droz, 2000), 57–96. For the ideal age and status of midwives in early modern Europe see Hilary Marland, ‘’Stately and Dignified, Kindly and God-fearing’: Midwives, Age and Status in the Netherlands in the Eighteenth Century,’ in The Task of Healing: Medicine, Religion and Gender in England and the Netherlands 1450–1800, ed. Hilary Marland and Margaret Pelling (Rotterdam: Erasmus Publishing, 1996), 277; Mary Lindemann, Health and Healing in Eighteenth-Century Germany (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), 206; and Merry Weisner, ‘Early Modern Midwifery: A Case Study,’ International Journal of Women’s Studies 6, no. 1 (1983): 30. Mireille Laget, Naissances: L’accouchement avant l’âge de la clinique (Paris: Seuil, 1982), 211, and Jacques Gélis, La sage-femme ou le médecin: une nouvelle conception de la vie (Paris: Fayard, 1988), 305 and 325.

112 / Lianne McTavish 10 11

12 13 14


16 17 18 19 20


22 23 24


Guillaume Mauquest de La Motte, Traité complet des accouchemens (Paris, 1729; orig. 1721), 110. Louise Bourgeois, Observations diverses sur la stérilité, perte de fruict, foecondité, accouchements et maladies des femmes et enfants nouveaux naiz, ed. Françoise Olive (Paris: Côté-Femmes, 1992; orig. 1652), 179. Philippe Peu, La pratique des accouchemens (Paris, 1694), 168. Pierre Franco, Chirurgie, ed. E. Nicaise (Geneva: Slatkine, 1972; orig. 1561), 234. Jacques Duval, Traité des hermaphrodits, parties génitales, accouchemens des femmes (Rouen, 1612), 195, and Mauquest de La Motte, Traité complet des accouchemens, 107. Gail Kern Paster, The Body Embarrassed: Drama and the Disciplines of Shame in Early Modern England (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993), 180, 186. Ibid., 189–90. Bourgeois, Observations diverses, 187. Erwin H. Ackerknecht, ‘Midwives as Experts in Court,’ Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine 52 (1976): 1224–8. Charles de Saint-Germain, L’eschole méthodique et parfaite des sages-femmes (Paris, 1650), 4. Marguerite de La Marche [du Tertre], Instruction familière et très utile aux sages-femmes pour bien pratiquer les accouchemens (Paris, 1710; orig. 1677), 15. Peu, La pratique des accouchemens, 408, Paul Portal, La pratique des accouchemens (Paris, 1685), 2, 5, 53, 79, and Pierre Amand, Nouvelles observations sur la pratique des accouchemens (Paris, 1714), 163–4. Peu, La pratique des accouchemens, 54. M. Le Duc, ‘Observation d’une flâme sortie du ventre d’une femme en couche,’ in Le Progrès de la médecine, ed. Claude Brunet (Paris, 1709), 77. For the ongoing struggle between physicians and surgeons for status see Jeanne Rigal, La communauté des maîtres-chirurgiens jurés de Paris au XVIIe et au XVIIIe siècle (Paris: Vigot Frères, 1936), 25–72; François Millepierres, La vie quotidienne des médecins au temps du Molière (Paris: Hachette, 1964), 169–87; Toby Gelfand, Professionalizing Modern Medicine: Paris Surgeons and Medical Science and Institutions in the 18th Century (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1980), 21–57; and Laurence Brockliss and Colin Jones, The Medical World of Early Modern France (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), 170–229, 553–621. See, for example, Ludmilla Jordanova, Sexual Visions: Images of Gender in Science and Medicine between the Eighteenth and Twentieth Centuries (New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1989), 90–2.

Childbirth and Visuality in Early Modern France / 113 26


28 29

30 31


33 34

35 36 37 38 39 40

For midwifery at the Hôtel-Dieu see Henriette Carrier, Origines de la Maternité de Paris. Les maîtresses sages-femmes et l'office des accouchées de l'ancien Hôtel Dieu (1378–1796) (Paris: Steinheil, 1888). Portal, La pratique des accouchemens, 87–8. For other autopsies he had either undertaken himself or attended see 103, 128, 148, 178, 190 , and 324–5. Peu, La pratique des accouchemens, 340. For the role of anatomy in medical education see Mary Lindemann, Medicine and Society in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 71–5, and 86–7, and Gelfand, Professionalizing Modern Medicine, 52–4. For more general discussions of anatomy see Andrea Carlino, Books of the Body: Anatomical Ritual and Renaissance Learning (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999); Andrew Cunningham, The Anatomical Renaissance: The Resurrection of the Anatomical Projects of the Ancients (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1997); and K.B. Roberts and J.D.W. Tomlinson, The Fabric of the Body: European Traditions of Anatomical Illustrations (Oxford: Clarendon, 1992). François Mauriceau, Des maladies des femmes grosses et accouchées (Paris, 1668), 1. Anatomical treatises with similar plates include Charles Estienne, La dissection des parties du corps humain (Paris, 1546), and Adriaan van den Spieghel, De humani corporis fabrica (Venice, 1627). Ludmilla Jordanova, ‘Gender, Generation and Science: William Hunter’s Obstetrical Atlas,’ in William Hunter and the Eighteenth-Century Medical World, ed. W.F. Bynum and Roy Porter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 385–412, undermines the traditional narrative of increasing accuracy in anatomical illustration. Mauriceau, Des maladies des femmes grosses et accouchées, 26. Hugh Chamberlen, tr., Accomplisht Midwife, Treating of the Diseases of Women with Child, and in Child-bed, (London, 1673), unpaginated preface. I thank Lisa Forman Cody for suggesting this interpretation to me. Jordanova, Sexual Visions, 87–110, argues the modestly covered body incited male desire to expose it. Mauriceau, Des maladies des femmes grosses et accouchées, 267. Pierre Dionis, Traité général des accouchemens (Paris, 1718), 413, and Jacques Mesnard, Le guide des accoucheurs (Paris, 1743), 5. Dionis, Traité général des accouchemens, 414. Jacques Bury, Le propagatif de l’homme (Paris, 1623), 84; Peu, La pratique des accouchemens, 85; Dionis, Traité général des accouchemens, 416; and Mesnard, Le guide des accoucheurs, 4–5.

114 / Lianne McTavish 41

42 43 44

45 46

47 48 49 50

51 52 53 54 55 56

The allegorical figure of Charity was conventionally represented as a robed female figure breastfeeding a child, with older children standing on either side of her. See, for example, Caesar Ripa, Iconologia, tr. P. Tempest (London, 1709; orig. 1593), 12. Dionis, Traité général des accouchemens, 413. Cosme Viardel, Observations sur la pratique des accouchemens naturels, contre nature & monstrueux (Paris, 1671), 280. For a popular and much reproduced manual of physiognomy see Charles Le Brun, Conférence de M. Le Brun sur l’expression générale et particulière (Paris, 1698), and Jennifer Montagu, The Expression of the Passions: The Origin and Influence of Charles Le Brun’s ‘Conférence sur l’expression générale et particulière’ (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994). See also Peter Harrison, ‘Reading the Passions: The Fall, the Passions, and Dominion over Nature,’ in The Soft Underbelly of Reason: The Passions in the Seventeenth Century, ed. Stephen Gaukroger (London: Routledge, 1998), 49–78. Emmanuel Bénézit, Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des peintres, sculpteurs, dessinateurs et graveurs (Paris: Gründ, 1966), vol. 7, 294. For Amand’s biography see Nicolas-François-Joseph Éloy, Dictionnaire historique de la médecine ancienne et moderne, 1 (Mons: H. Hoyois, 1778), 105. Amédée Dechambre, ed., Dictionnaire encylopédique des sciences médicales (Paris: Masson, 1869), vol. 3, 483. Bourgeois, Observations diverses, 187. Wilson, The Making of Man-Midwifery, 97. Lisa Forman Cody, Birthing the Nation: Sex, Science, and the Conception of Eighteenth-Century Britons (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 162–5, 186, 281–9. Mauriceau, Des maladies des femmes grosses et accouchées, 315. Dionis, Traité général des accouchemens, 294, and 305. See also Portal, La pratique des accouchemens, 21, and Peu, La pratique des accouchemens, 99. Peter M. Dunn, ‘The Chamberlen Family (1560–1728) and Obstetric Forceps,’ Archives of Disease in Childhood 81, no. 3 (1999): 232. Dionis, Traité général des accouchemens, 415, and Mauquest de La Motte, Traité complet des accouchemens, preface, 169, 310, and 367. Bourgeois, Récit véritable, 72. Martin Jay, ‘Scopic Regimes of Modernity,’ in Vision and Visuality, ed. Hal Foster (Seattle: Bay Press, 1988), 3–23.



Edit In ... Edit Out: A Performance/Intervention

‘The body believes in what it plays at: it weeps if it mimes grief. It does not represent what it performs, it does not memorize the past, it enacts the past, bringing it back to life.’1

For our performance/intervention at the ‘Editing (Out?) the Image’ conference, we had each written a series of questions to the other but kept them secret before our presentation. In performative terms, our interview/performance was meant to function as embodied spontaneous speech. As such, it was dislocated and ‘out of place’ since most the spontaneous ‘events’ at academic conferences exist only in the ‘q & a’ following the prepared texts of the presenters. This reversal of the format presented the audience with the prepared ‘text’ in the form of a projected videotape, and a simultaneous live performance in which we each tried to unmask the other through the process of an interview. The projected videotape, ‘We’re Getting Younger All the Time’ (2001), presents the image of us, the artists, now doubled, in a naked head and shoulders shot heavily manipulated by digital technology, taking on the camera in a battle of wills. The power of this silently flickering image to distract the viewer was significant. Meanwhile, in the interview, we asked questions that were potentially embarrassing; questions that we did not know beforehand. In this format, we were able to discuss examples of ‘editing in’ and ‘editing out’ through our own paths as visual artists. We presented ourselves not as models, but as lived – and living – experience. (Unremarked in the conference were the references that each of us made to ‘editing out’ parts of our own practice; the abandonment of a painting practice, or the change from photography to video to digital media. In the past, this kind of change has been viewed with some suspicion, as if the artist lacked ‘commitment.’ This is less true today with a more tolerant attitude towards interdisciplinary art practices, but an underlying distrust remains.)

116 / Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak We saw this ‘intervention’ as interesting and valuable in the context of the more scholarly structure of the conference. We saw it as a reflection on the position of living, practicing artists in relation to the many framing devices that affect their (our) work, especially in terms of exhibition and critical recognition. While we often alluded to these effects in our answers to each other’s questions, it was the unpredictability, the ‘liveness’ of the artists themselves (us, in this case) that was on display in this presentation. This intervention/performance might be said to re-vivify, or resurrect (depending upon how long the discussion has been dormant), some of the exchanges about the idea of the artist in relation to the frames and frameworks of the contemporary art marketplace. Ultimately, we constructed this form of intervention because we thought it would be funny, that it would act as a rupture in the continuity of the form of the conference and allow for a kind of reflection back on how art historians, curators, and critics talk about the work of living artists.

The Intervention Our Introduction We have worked together since 1983. We work together on all of our projects; there is no division of labour. As artists, we will pose ourselves as living examples of our hypotheses. For these purposes, we will talk about the effect that the critic, the curator, and, to a certain extent, the academy has on creating and perpetuating the ‘canon’ of an artist’s work, and how that differs, at times radically, from the artist’s own perception of his or her practice. We will discuss the ways in which the critic, the curator and the scholar act as ‘editors’ of the artist’s work. The Interview Question from K.T.: In 1979 or ’80 we met on a Canada Council jury. At that time your video entitled The Gloria Tapes was omnipresent, it was being screened everywhere, in galleries, classrooms, and museums; but the earlier work you are now known for (I’m thinking of works from the seventies like Birthday Suit, and A Very Personal Story) were very rarely being shown in 1980. Can you reflect on this change in interest in your work? How can work that was viewed as important become virtually invisible a few years later?

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Figure 6.1 ‘The Gloria Tapes,’ by Lisa Steele, videotape, 52:00, 1979–80

L.S.: The first thing to remember is that The Gloria Tapes (a four-part narrative in soap opera format of a young single mother on welfare) was made in the context of identity politics and feminism as they played themselves out in the visual arts in the early 1980s. At that time, the earlier works from the seventies were seen to be ‘old and tired,’ since they were in black and white and they were less overtly political and more subtle in their investigations of feminism. Lately these works – a lot of the black and white performance-for-thecamera style videos – have come back into fashion. This might be because they are so obviously historical, they are easier to teach and consequently have come to be used in universities and art schools. And from there, they get curated into exhibitions that are examining the impulses of, say, feminism, or approaches to the body, or the use of technologies in storytelling. Also, there is the fact that the seventies are now a point of reflection for a lot of curatorial practice. In the eighties, the seventies were deeply repellent to audiences, and that would include curators and teachers. When I was first teaching in the eighties, it was impossible to show the work from the seventies in class. You had to

118 / Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak

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Figure 6.2 ‘Birthday Suit: With Scars and Defects,’ by Lisa Steele, videotape, 13:00, 1974

show work that was created very recently – preferably just yesterday. Now, it’s changed again. The early work from the seventies has become easier to discuss because it’s more iconic. The real-time performance-forthe-camera technique plays really well now, perhaps because of the rise of ‘reality TV.’ It has become less ‘foreign’ and boring, and more familiar as a methodology. The complex narrative structures artists were producing in the eighties, combined with what has been called ‘bad acting’ makes them a harder sell now – especially for students. These works can look like cheap television, which is ironic, since at the time they looked like television itself. Everybody loves the black-and-white look of the seventies work now but I am waiting for a re-examination of that colour work from the eighties. Question from L.S.: You had a show, curated by Philip Monk in 1982, that was quite controversial. It was part of his series ‘Language and Representation’ that was presented at A Space (Toronto artist-run gallery). Was the piece you produced for that show ever exhibited anywhere else? If not, can you speculate why not?

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Figure 6.3a ‘Museum of Man,’ by Kim Tomczak, installation, glass chalices, excrement, urine, meat, blood, glass case, fluorescent fixture, handkerchiefs, audio tape, 1981

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Figure 6.3b ‘Museum of Man’ (same as above, detail)

120 / Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak K.T.: No, it wasn’t shown anywhere else. This installation, Museum of Man, featured three large glass structures encasing crystal vessels that contained blood, excrement, and meat. When some local politicians read a review describing it in The Globe & Mail, they attacked the show and cut the funding to the gallery. Then the controversy snowballed and the politicians began to debate what was art and what should be funded and as a result other Toronto arts centres were affected and had their funding cut also. But the politicians had gotten mixed up, confusing a performance at the Art Gallery of Ontario where Marie Chouinard peed into a bucket with a performance by Elizabeth Chitty at Trinity Square Video and as a result Trinity’s funding was also cut at the same time. The gallery (A Space) was very supportive; the exhibition actually attracted quite a large and diverse audience, anti-war groups, religious groups, people who would not have otherwise gone to A Space went to see what the controversy was about. But the work was never shown again. There was not even an inquiry about it. This seemed peculiar since the exhibition was quite popular and my piece was very well reviewed. In this case, you might say that the work was ‘edited out’ by politicians. No other gallery would take a chance and show it after all the fuss. L.S.: When an incident occurs and something is censored – or threatened with censorship – it is generally thought that this will be really good for an artist’s career, that he or she will really ‘take off’ as a result of the publicity generated by the discussion. In Canada, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Things may be different in the U.S. or the U.K. but in Canada, censorship and public controversy tend to ‘edit out’ an artist’s work in a fairly dramatic way. A good case in point is that of Eli Langer, the young Toronto artist whose paintings and drawings were confiscated by the police in 1993, charged with being child pornography and brought to trial in 1994. It was said again and again throughout the trial that he was going to somehow benefit from all the publicity that this generated. Even though the paintings were subsequently cleared of this charge and returned to Eli, he didn’t show in Toronto for several years afterwards, nor were these paintings ever exhibited again publicly in Toronto. K.T.: Things may not be that different in the U.S. When Hans Haacke did the MoMA poll in 1970 asking visitors to the museum to answer the question ‘Would the fact that Governor Rockefeller has not denounced President Nixon’s Indochina policy be a reason for you not to vote for him in November?’ there was an outcry from the Museum’s Board of

Edit In ... Edit Out: A Performance/Intervention / 121 Governors (which, of course, included the Governor’s brother, David). Haacke was not invited to show at the MoMA again for thirty years. Question from K.T.: You were featured in an anthology of women’s art about six years ago in a book called Canadian Women Artists. Has this inclusion edited you in or out of contemporary art history? L.S. I think that you’re asking if the designation of being a woman artist helped or hindered my career. It helped for a certain point because there were many shows specifically for ‘women artists’ throughout the late seventies and early eighties and I was included in lots of them. I also benefited from being designated as a ‘video artist’ at this same time because it was a new medium and my work circulated widely within that framework also. But the designation of ‘woman artist’ was a political one in the seventies – and perhaps still is. The work I was doing then raised questions that were also being discussed in the academic arena and in the social/political arena under the heading of feminist discourse. Not everyone is comfortable in this arena. Not all artists who are women would then or will now describe themselves as ‘women artists’; they consider the term to be restrictive. I suspect they might be right. It is another of those times when the artist – not the academic and not the critic and not even the curator – decides on the label and sticks with it. Once you have declared yourself to be a ‘woman artist’ or a ‘queer artist’ or allowed or accepted any other identity-based label, there are those critics, curators and writers who will step aside and not consider your work any longer. This might be the reason that some artists want their work to exist outside of any boundaries or labels. In this way, they feel it remains open to many interpretations and doesn’t close any doors to the gatekeepers active within the visual arts. Question from L.S.: Your tape Paradise Lost, made in 1980, is one of the few works done by a male artist that brought the ‘gender wars’ into the art scene. It featured a great argument between a young man who is an activist and his girl friend who doesn’t want to make the coffee any more. This tape was the subject of a recent ‘critical re-assessment’ written by a pair of young curators. I know that you had some problems with what they said about this tape – particularly a comment about the still images of the young men being ‘inexplicable.’ K.T. The tape is set during the Vietnam War era which was also the beginning of the gender-centred debates. At one point in the work, I put in a series of still photographs of young men in uniform. These

122 / Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak

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Figure 6.4 ‘Paradise Lost,’ by Kim Tomczak, videotape, 21:00, 1981

images – a record of all the soldiers killed a particular week in Vietnam – were regularly published in magazines and newspapers at that time. The death toll during Vietnam was major news (unlike the current war in Iraq which denies access to that information to the general public). The publishing of the pictures was important so that the lives of these soldiers could be marked by some notice, at least. It was terrible that these young curators didn’t know this or couldn’t be bothered to ask me about it and instead talked about how inexplicable the images were. After all, I’m still alive so it wouldn’t have been hard to phone me and find out what was going on in the tape. But even if I weren’t alive, it wouldn’t have been that hard to find out where the images came from. I think we are used to the popular press ‘getting it wrong’ in terms of visual art but it is strangely unsettling when an older work is re-presented in a friendly setting and the context is misinterpreted. This becomes a kind of ‘editing out’ since the curators haven’t bothered to provide the present day viewer with the information that might have assisted them with understanding the older work. Question from L.S.: As a living artist whose work changes over time, do you think your work – or our work – has been stereotyped?

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Figure 6.5 ‘We’re Getting Younger All the Time,’ projected video installation, 20:00, 2001

K.T.: Yes, over and over again. We will always be considered to be ‘political’ and there comes to be a certain expectation of us as political artists. There is also the strange perception that we make documentaries. We have never made documentaries but that is the stereotype. And why is our work called ‘activist’ when, if anything it is research-driven historical re-examinations of social constructions? L.S.: When we are actually doing the research, the collaborative process – which can be quite difficult to describe – really comes into play. We have to decide at every point what to include in the finished work and what to exclude, what line of research to pursue and what to abandon. We can only do that by actually fighting it out. When you collaborate, you have to have the bloody battles right up front. By the time the work is ready to be shown, it has already been discussed and analysed by the two of us quite extensively. The work that is done has been developed and produced by this third entity that is the

124 / Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak collaboration. With any of our works produced together, it would be impossible to identify a single shot or word or decision that belonged to only one of us. I don’t think that writers and curators are always comfortable with that; it contradicts the myth of ‘creative genius’ as a mantle that can only be borne by individuals. It’s too messy when it’s a collaboration. Of the projected video We’re Getting Younger All the Time that played throughout the conference performance/intervention, British artist and writer Catherine Elwes said: The Canadian artists Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak pursue the last glories of youth in a wry video installation of reverse aging. The artists gaze back at the viewer, bare-shouldered and impassive, their vigilance replayed in reverse as a gesture of defiance towards their own mortality. We’re Getting Younger All the Time plays against the temporal march of our viewing – as we grow older, their images, like electronic Dorian Grays, retrieve time lost. They remain suspended in a delicately diminishing present which will last as long as the mechanism of electronic illusions will sustain them.2


Pierre Bourdieu, The Logic of Practice, tr. Richard Nice (Stanford, ca: Stanford University Press, 1992), 73. Catherine Ewes, Concerning Memory ... (London; Camberwell College of Arts, the London Institute, 2000), 3.

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Editing Armageddon

During the early years of the Cold War, Canada was a military power with some heft.1 In the aftermath of the Second World War, it possessed seasoned air and ground forces and the fourth largest navy in the world. This made it a significant ally of the United States and Britain, both of which took steps to secure its involvement in military partnerships. One darkly shrouded partnership, which remained classified and out of the public eye until recently, proposed turning northern Manitoba into a nuclear test site, a proving ground for Britain’s nascent atomic weapons program. Ground zero was to be located at the mouth of the Broad River on Hudson Bay, one hundred kilometres south of Churchill, about the same distance that Las Vegas lies to the south of the Nevada Test Site. The idea for a nuclear alliance between Canada and Britain was devised in a 1949–50 report, which described the proposed test area as a valueless ‘wasteland,’ terra nullius. In the end, the plan did not materialize. Britain chose Australia over Canada as a proving ground, in part because of its distance from the Soviet Union and in part because of its climate. Ice and snow, it seems, saved Canada from a clandestine atomic experiment – and from the necessity of having to establish a classified archive of documents and photographs recording the nuclear blasts.2 Fifty years later, as the United States has begun to develop a new generation of nuclear weapons and to withdraw from nuclear arms treaties it negotiated during the Cold War, Canada’s proposed misadventure on Hudson Bay is worth reflecting upon. The protocols worked out during the Cold War by the Eastern and Western blocs to contain the possibility of nuclear annihilation no longer pertain. A new nuclear age has arrived, characterized by the proliferation of nuclear capabilities, a new nuclear arms race, and only slightly re-jigged forms of official insanity.

128 / John O’Brian Even before the attacks of 11 September 2001, and the Iraq invasion of March 2003, that intense span of super-patriotism in the United States, the Bush administration had begun revising the American policy on nuclear weapons. Three months after the suicide bombings of the World Trade Center towers, the United States withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the landmark agreement it signed with the Soviet Union in 1972 to formalize the principle of ‘Mutual Assured Destruction’ (mad) as a means of inhibiting nuclear war. At the same time, it campaigned to erase ethical distinctions between nuclear and conventional weapons, never secure at the best of times, advocating the use of nuclear weapons in both preventive and preemptive attacks.3 The Nuclear Posture Review leaked in 2002 called for the development of low-yield nuclear weapons, so-called mini-nukes, such as the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, to burrow deep into the ground before detonating, for use in war against rogue states such as Iran, North Korea, Syria and the now-rehabilitated Libya. A sum of $19 billion was assigned to the Department of Energy to develop the weapons.4 At the time of the discussions on nuclear testing between Canada and Britain, the protocols for representing the Cold War visually were also being worked through. Nuclear blast postcards and photographs made during the first two decades of the Cold War, especially blasts reproduced on American colour postcards published in the 1950s, form the central interest of this essay. The postcards surfaced from oblivion when I was assembling an archive on shifting American responses to nuclearization. Although I am wary of these postcards and photographs, unsure of their excesses and of their logic, I am convinced they have something to say about post–Cold War developments as well as about Cold War ideologies and anxieties at the time of their making. There is a substantial literature on atomic imagery and its dissemination, but nothing on the postcard’s supporting role in underwriting a public image of the bomb. The lacuna has consequences for how the ‘editing’ of nuclear representation should be understood. The atomic postcard is a product of tourism – in this case of memories constructed in miniature – and its modes of address and reception differ from those of mass circulation magazines or photographs exhibited in art galleries. Categories of atomic photography may overlap, but the fit from one category to the next is not precise. In this essay, I hope to bring the atomic postcard within the orbit of nuclear visibility, and at the same time to discuss some of the ways that particular visibility was controlled, shaped, and edited. Are there historical meanings which can be attributed to atomic postcards, for

Editing Armageddon / 129 example, but that cannot be attributed to other forms of nuclear imagery? To what degree was the imagery of atomic postcards controlled (or edited) by American authorities for public circulation? Did the deployment of colour, notably the intense chromatic properties of Kodakchrome, alter how the images were read at the time of their initial distribution? What themes were inscribed in the handwritten messages on the backs of the cards carried from sender to receiver? In short, what were the conditions under which atomic postcards were produced and received? My discursive answers to these questions draw on a range of visual and textual material from the 1940s to the 1960s, in particular a 1955 photograph taken not far from the Nevada Test Site by Robert Frank. The Nuclear Landscape While the British were dropping nuclear warheads on Australia in the mid-1950s, the uprooted Swiss photographer Robert Frank was producing a black and white photograph of a souvenir postcard rack, set on a worn plywood shelf outside a store near the Hoover Dam in Nevada (fig. 7.1). The photograph shows nine sets of colour postcards on a triangular revolving rack, of which the fronts of only three are visible. The cards are selling for ten cents apiece, the cost of top-of-the-line colour cards at the time, registered on a price tag faintly discernible at the upper edge of the image, just to the left of the rack’s curved metal handle. In ranked descending order, the three cards offer a generic view of the Grand Canyon, the Hoover Dam itself – pictured with the American flag at the dead center of the image – and an atomic explosion mushrooming over ground zero to the west of the canyon and the dam (fig. 7.2). On the left side of Frank’s photograph, fragments of words and numbers struggle to announce the cost of a ‘Pictorial Tour of the Dam,’ and in the background an automobile, no less a symbol of American industrial progress than the Hoover Dam, is parked at an angle on the tarmac.5 The automobile’s right front light and license plate are obscured by the postcard rack, making it seem one-eyed – not unlike the camera recording it – and stateless – again, not unlike the camera. Frank executed the photograph in 1955 while travelling across the United States in an automobile on a Guggenheim Foundation grant, an excursion that resulted in his 1958 book The Americans.6 He photographed other postcard stands during his journey, but was so drawn to the Hoover Dam rack that he shot five negatives of it from slightly xxxxxxxxxx

130 / John O’Brian

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Figure 7.1 Robert Frank, Hoover Dam, Nevada, 1955. Silver gelatin print. Courtesy of Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York

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Figure 7.2 Atomic Explosion: Frenchman’s Flat, or Yucca Flats, Nevada, ca 1955. Kodachrome postcard, published by Mike Roberts Color Production, San Francisco, 3 1/2 x 5 1/2". jo’b Atomic Archives

different viewpoints.7 He did not print any of the five for inclusion in the book, though he had originally considered them. He edited them out, possibly because he considered their connotations too emphatic, and therefore inconsistent with what he wished to convey in the volume. I am not sure that he would have been correct in that assessment. The Americans is underwritten by the signs and signage of everyday life, not unlike the work of Walker Evans before him and William Eggleston after, and the photographs are redolent with both. They are what the photographer and critic Nathan Lyons has described as ‘social landscapes,’ which is to say, photographs that take a self-consciously ironic and critical approach to documentary material.8 They even include the aforementioned flag, the bunting of American patriotism, which is a recurrent motif in The Americans. Since it was first published in 1972, Frank’s Hoover Dam, Nevada and its variations have attracted substantial commentary.9 This may be in part because the photographs are photographs of other photographs, sequenced in a way that invites narrative interpretation. It is possible that Frank altered the sequence, and hence the narrative, himself.

132 / John O’Brian Although the postcard sequence looks random, the photographer may have re-shuffled the deck, changing its order by sleight of hand. What looks like a chance arrangement may be carefully deliberated. But even if the arrangement were carefully deliberated – which is to say, carefully edited – it remains difficult to find a single, stable narrative in the photographs. Instead, the sequencing tells many narratives; the photographs are plural representations.10 The published stories and readings that have been given to the images attest to their unfixity, and extend from the historical to the sublime to the apocalyptic. According to several readings, the photographs are an encapsulation of the changing American West in the 1950s. They represent the impact of postwar modernity on the contemporary uses of the landscape, in which the sequential organization of the cards puts forward a commodified touristic panorama, a source of energy for human consumption, and ‘the figurehead of the exuberant new Atomic Age.’11 Another reading sees them as representations that combine the imagery of nature worship, patriotism and mushroom cloud symbolism to produce the ‘atomic sublime.’12 In this reading, the manufactured destructive force of the bomb and the material histories that accompany it are subsumed beneath the colours and shapes of the mushroom cloud. Yet another understands them as a metaphor of the United States – its hopes, realities, nightmares – that offers viewers a choice between unadulterated nature, industrial advancement and nuclear catastrophe.13 And a further reading views them as an elliptical narrative of potential catastrophe, turned comically upside down.14 The comedy identified in Frank’s photograph strikes me as leaning in the right direction. By having the story of nuclear annihilation played out by postcards on a stage made of plywood, a roadside stand, it seems to me that Frank’s images situate themselves as prime expressions of postwar absurdity. Samuel Beckett’s Vladimir and Estragon would not be out of place waiting and watching at this American roadside stand. What we see is a flimsily mounted nuclear drama presented for the pleasure of tourists who may not come, and if they do come may not appreciate the absurdity of what has been staged for them. The small built-in archive of postcards in the photographs was, of course, assembled in the shadow of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a tragedy only ten years past, while down the road at the Nevada proving grounds atomic weapons many times more powerful than those detonated in Japan were being tested. Here in the American southwest, as Marx commented about the Second Empire, history was repeating itself as farce.

Editing Armageddon / 133 The photograph derives part of its complexity from the juxtaposition of postcard imagery and residual war imagery. The tension is between the ‘wish-you-were-here’ and the ‘glad-you-are-not-here.’ In the sense that a postcard connects a receiver-subject to an object-sender, Jacques Derrida observes in his book The Post Card, it is a materialized form of a Lacanian screen.15 The image on the front of a card comes in the form of a proposition, according to Derrida, deciphering the receiver in advance of its arrival. The pre-existing group of symbols of nature, engineering and atomic force that constitutes the ‘screen’ projected onto viewers in Frank’s photograph, by this reading, deciphers viewers before they encounter it. Above all, they are construed by the mushroom cloud. It is worth remembering that mushrooms can be either nutritious or poisonous and the spores they throw, like the radioactive isotopes emitted by atomic explosions, are invisible. By shooting with monochromatic film, Frank converts the compulsively overheated Kodachrome palette of the postcards into the tonal properties of a black and white photograph. Or, to put it in terms of the photographic aesthetics, he converts the high-chroma imagery of the American consumerist vernacular into the monochrome contrasts and shadings demanded by art photography in his era. Whatever else it was in the 1950s, art photography was not rainbow-coloured and Frank had no desire to contravene the dominant aesthetic of black and white. Even Walker Evans, who sometimes deployed colour in his photographic work for Fortune magazine after the war, decried the ‘screeching hues’ that in his opinion debased most colour photographs. They were, he said, a ‘bebop of electric blues, furious reds, and poison greens.’16 In the years leading up to the war, colour had become coded as the photographic medium particular to Madison Avenue and popular magazines. It was associated with a commercialized vision of modernity, and such a vision was anathema to serious photography.17 Colour television, after it was introduced in 1954, was also associated with a commercialism mistrusted by serious photographers. The corporations involved in developing the medium, which included General Electric and Westinghouse, were the same corporations receiving defense contracts to develop the American nuclear program. As Joyce Nelson points out, ‘the twinned ideological interests’ of the corporations intersected where television sets and warheads met.18 Both devices emitted massive levels of ionizing radiation, levels denied by both the corporations and the government. Some television sets manufactured by General Electric gave off one hundred thousand times

134 / John O’Brian the recommended standard.19 Corporations also commissioned madefor-television films on the benefits of nuclear power, which they then provided free of charge to domestic television stations. In the decade or so after President Eisenhower’s ‘Atoms for Peace’ speech in 1953, which promoted ‘the sunny side of the atom,’ nuclear postcards and films such as The Atom Comes to Town (1957) and The Atom and Eve (1965) were common fare. The latter film promoted nuclear-generated electricity for the home by following a housewife through the now-made-easy tasks of her electrified day, all of it presented in living colour.20 Atomic Visibilities ‘Black and white is the vision of hope and despair,’ Robert Frank wrote. ‘This is what I want in my photographs.’21 In a peculiar way, Hoover Dam, Nevada draws colour and monochrome photography together, just as it draws popular and art photography together. The image critically appropriates three postwar colour postcards, commonly known in the trade as chromes, as signifiers of the present. In a parallel spirit of critical appropriation, the postcards can be reclaimed for contemporary purposes. Writing shortly after the Cuban missile crisis, Marshall McLuhan observed in Understanding Media that, ‘If the cold war in 1964 is being fought by informational technology, that is because all wars have been fought by the latest technology available.’22 Colour photography is as much a medium of informational technology as monochrome photography, and it is important to recognize that both participated in the ideological conflicts of the time. Photography symptomatically engages the technological with the social.23 You would be hard pressed, however, to discern any acknowledgement of such a symptomatic engagement in reviews of a 2003 book of photographs devoted to nuclear test explosions. This is partly because the book presents itself as a coffee-table volume, notwithstanding the useful information it contains. Entitled 100 Suns, and written by the artist Michael Light, the book reproduces one hundred photographs of atomic test detonations, many in double-page spreads, conducted from 1945 to 1962 on the atolls of the South Pacific and in the deserts of New Mexico and Nevada. Of the 216 atmospheric tests conducted by the United States, 100 Suns documents sixty-nine of them. The photographs have been drawn from the U.S. National Archives and the archives of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and include formerly classified material taken by a secret unit of film directors, cameramen and still photographers based at Lookout

Editing Armageddon / 135 Mountain Air Force Station in Hollywood.24 The startling revelation that Hollywood was ‘at work in the fields of the Bomb,’ to borrow Robert Del Tredici’s evocative phrase, demonstrates that from the outset the American entertainment machine was training its cameras not only on fictive but also on actual weapons of mass destruction.25 Working with the U.S. Army and the Atomic Energy Commission, Hollywood helped to mediate how atomic tests were received visually. As one might expect, Hollywood performed its task with an emphasis on cinematic production values and with a flair for the melodramatic. The photographs, or at least those edited down for inclusion in the book, frame the nuclear age in terms of grand spectacle. A notice on the book in the New Yorker follows the lead suggested to it by 100 Suns. It gives a whole page to one of the most aesthetically compelling photographs, Climax, 61 Kilotons, Nevada, 1953, but only a few sentences to the book itself (fig. 7.3). The illustrated photograph represents the blast shortly after detonation, showing the white cloud of the mushroom cap about to meet its orange-gray stem. The rising smoke trails on the left are from rockets fired for the purpose of making photographic measurements of shock waves. The magazine notice comments that, ‘The apocalyptic visual narrative in “100 Suns” escalates ... to the overthe-top splendor of Wagnerian nuclear sunsets on the Enewetak and Bikini atolls.’26 The New Yorker’s linking of visual apocalypse to Wagnerian Sturm und Drang is part of a narrowly circumscribed tradition of atomic visibility. The photographic spectacle is the main story, the text a sidebar. If it were not for the elevated prose style of the New Yorker article, it could be mistaken for a Life magazine article on the same subject from 12 September 1949, entitled ‘Biggest Atomic Explosions,’ in which blast photographs, including a full-page colour spread, are accompanied by a brief notice on measurable force of the latest A-Bombs. Frank’s Hoover Dam, Nevada breaks with that tradition, as does the work of a small number of other photographers and photo-based artists such as Peter Goin, Emmet Gowin, Richard Misrach, and the members of the Atomic Photographers Guild.27 The same can be said for Harold E. Edgerton’s rapatronic photographs of nuclear explosions, many of which have been published and exhibited only recently.28 But the conventions of how atomic weapons are represented are deeply entrenched. As Scott Kirsch demonstrates in his article ‘Watching the Bombs Go Off,’ the ‘flash and bang’ of atomic photographs separates the spectacle from the socially produced environment in which it occurs. It takes ‘place out of the landscape’ (Kirsch’s emphasis).29

136 / John O’Brian

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Figure 7.3 New Yorker, 6 October 2003, pages 89–90. Courtesy of Condé Nast, New York

The iconography of atomic explosions began with the first detonation, at the Trinity test site in Alamogordo on 16 July 1946. Approximately 100,000 photographic exposures were taken of the explosion, and all but a few of those that survived were in black and white. Those in colour blistered and solarized from the heat and light. The only colour images to escape immolation were made by Jack Aeby, a technician in a Los Alamos research group charged with setting up radiation detectors near the detonation tower, who subsequently gave a symbolic copy of his most successful print to Enrico Fermi, the Italian-born physicist responsible for obtaining the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction in Chicago in 1942.30 Aeby’s photograph was released to the media shortly afterwards. It was published as the front cover of the New York Sunday Mirror tabloid, with the following caption: ‘Atomic Bomb Burst That Changed the World: First Color Photo!’ (fig. 7.4). At least the tabloid recognized that something historical had occurred, which was not always the case at the time. A sizeable contingent of commentators preferred the kind of rhetoric favored by Robert Oppenheimer and William L. Laurence.

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Figure 7.4 Front page, New York Sunday Mirror, 7 October 1945. Jo’b Atomic Archives

After witnessing the explosion, Oppenheimer, head of the Manhattan laboratory in Los Alamos and practiced prose stylist, quoted from the Bhagavad Gita: ‘If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst forth at once in the sky, that would be like the splendor of the Mighty One.’31 And Laurence, the New York Times science reporter who flew on the Nagasaki mission and became known as ‘Atomic Bill’ for his devotion to the nuclear beat, said it was ‘like being present at the moment of creation when God said, “Let there be light.”’32 As I.F. Stone has observed, such references to God were an indication that ‘Faith in an overwhelming force [was] being made into [the United States’] real national religion.’33

138 / John O’Brian Nuclear tests are almost always presented and received as spectacles of transcendent nature – sometimes divine, sometimes malign, sometimes benign – rather than as planned events that include scientific evaluations of manufactured weapons produced by human engineering. The desire for transcendence is, it seems to me, consistent with the American pursuit of Manifest Destiny in the nineteenth century, when the sublime gave visual form to the political agenda of westward expansion while effacing acts of dispossession. The so-called atomic sublime represented in blast photographs is an extension of Manifest Destiny carried into the politics of the Cold War, into the agenda for capitalist expansion under the protection of the Pax Americana, though it is rarely stated in such blunt terms. Relatively few images circulate of the extensive preparations leading up to a detonation or of the aftermath on the ground once the clouds have dispersed. Like photographs of flagdraped coffins of American soldiers returning from Iraq, they have been edited out of atomic visibility by government censors. The meta-symbol of the nuclear spectacle is ‘the mushroom cloud.’ It is the logo of logos in the nuclear age. The shape of the cloud, which comprises vapor, steam, soot, smoke and at the crest ice crystals, was sometimes referred to at the beginning as a ‘cauliflower cloud,’ as well as a mushroom cloud.34 The cauliflower metaphor did not stick. How the photographic iconography of the mushroom cloud became ‘firmly embedded in the consciousness (or, more accurately unconscious) of an age’ has been examined by Peter B. Hales.35 As the mushroom cloud became iconic, Hales argues, photographers began timing their exposures ‘to produce the most spectacularly moody and impressive skies.’36 While Hales’s main argument is sound, he is mistaken about the procedures followed by photographers. Tens of thousands of photographic exposures were taken of each test explosion as a means of verifying the scientific stages of the blast, and only a tiny fraction of them were of grandiose skies. It was the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and not the photographers that decided mushroom-cloud images would be released to the national media as the recurrent symbol of the nuclear program.37 Nuclear testing and the development of increasingly sophisticated camera and film equipment to document what otherwise could not be recorded went hand in hand. Operation Crossroads in 1946, the first Bikini Atoll tests and a staged media event with the world press in attendance, was mounted to dispel reports about the dangers of radiation. Seven hundred and fifty cameras were deployed. Among them were the world’s largest still camera, with a forty-eight-inch focal

Editing Armageddon / 139 length telephoto lens, and an ultra high-speed motion camera capable of shooting 10,000 frames per second. ‘The multiplicity of cameras was necessary to insure full records of results,’ the Office of the Historian, Joint Task Force One stated, ‘particularly damage results.’38 A sizeable number of these photographs were released for public consumption; there was even an ‘official pictorial record,’ containing several hundred before-and-after images, in the form of a widely circulated book.39 The two colour photographs reproduced in the book, one as the dust jacket and the other as the frontispiece, are of mushroom clouds. It was the last time the Atomic Energy Commission was so free with its photographs. In the future, the few – the very few – photographs selected for general release tended to be of ‘moody and impressive skies.’ Such images helped to secure the spectacle as safe and iconic. The Second Nuclear Age The past does not reorder itself into words, Walter Benjamin once remarked, but breaks down into images that flash up at moments of danger. Since the turn of the millennium, images of nuclear explosions that had for a time receded into an invalid region have been flashing up in the global mind. Hence the publication of 100 Suns and the New Yorker’s notice about the book, and perhaps the desire to aestheticize the danger represented by the images in the volume. The acceleration of a new nuclear arms race, along with the American plan to conventionalize nuclear weapons, has been designated ‘the second nuclear age’ by Bill Keller, in a New York Times Magazine article of the same name.40 The nuclear genie has escaped the bottle for a second time, and it is unclear how and when it will be re-corked. John Bolton, American undersecretary of state for arms control and international security in the first Bush administration, was the official initially charged with driving the agenda for conventionalizing atomic weapons. His appointment was endorsed by Senator Jesse Helms, who stated at the time of his nomination in 2001 that, ‘John Bolton is the kind of man with whom I would want to stand at Armageddon ... for the final battle between good and evil.’41 The American penchant for viewing nuclear holocaust as an egress to spiritual redemption, in which the sheep will be sorted from the goats and sinners consumed by fire, was alive and well in Washington, dc. Helms’s invocation of Armageddon did not raise many eyebrows within the Bush administration. Condoleeza Rice, President Bush’s National Security Advisor at the time, supported Bolton’s policy

140 / John O’Brian initiatives and hard-line stance on North Korea and other rogue states by commenting that ‘We don’t want to wait for the mushroom cloud.’42 Even though photographs of American atmospheric tests producing the mushroom cloud all date from before 1963 and the signing of the Limited Test Ban Treaty on 10 October, no one misunderstood the drift of Rice’s comment. Nor did they misunderstand the visual iconography it evoked, an iconography that remains frozen, strangely contained by Cold War conditioning. This is not to say that the attitudes of the American public to nuclear weapons have been unchanging. On the contrary, they have been highly unstable over the past sixty years, swinging wildly between the extreme of loving the bomb as a guardian shield and of fearing it as an apocalyptic avenger.43 What has not altered is nuclear iconography. ‘Photography is a system of visual editing,’ John Szarkowski has observed.44 Mass media photographic representations of nuclear detonations have entailed visual editing with a vengeance. Less vengeful editing is possible, of course, as indicated by the self-reflexive work of the photographer William Eggleston, about whom Szarkowski was writing when he made his remark. Eggleston’s Los Alamos series of photographs, produced between 1964 and 1974, calls up radioactive thoughts without referring to the sublime or the transcendental or even the Los Alamos National Laboratory and its part in the production of atomic weapons. In one of the photographs, now collected in a book of the same name as the series, there is a painted sign warning passing motorists of a school zone.45 The sign is part red text, part black-andwhite startled child, and it is placed in shadows cast by trees falling across an empty sidewalk. It gives one pause: the sign blocks the beholder’s view down the street, but to what purpose? Where, one might ask, have all the children gone? In another, stains disfigure the freshly tarmacked surface of a parking lot, streaking from beneath a car. They may be from an over-flowing, leaky radiator, or maybe not; perhaps the staining fluid is more toxic. The frontispiece is an untitled photograph of rising cumulus clouds set against a deep blue sky, an innocent skyscape so it appears, except that the shape of the clouds conjures up the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Postcards at the Edge of Danger The regulation of photographic meaning is controlled by framing devices. Sometimes such devices are deployed with historical rigour, more often they are not. By pairing ‘framing devices’ with ‘historical

Editing Armageddon / 141 rigour,’ I mean to emphasize the photographer’s (or editor’s or publisher’s) critical engagement with the varied practices of the medium, not excluding the selection of subject matter, such as nuclear landscapes. Processes of enframement encompass not only the selection and visual editing of individual images, but also the selection and arrangement of groups of photographs that are presented in books, such as The Americans by Frank or Los Alamos by Eggleston, or in exhibition spaces, such as those of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, or in popular magazines, such as Life. Ways of seeing the bomb shape ways of knowing it. The variations on the mushroom-cloud form reproduced on postcards during the 1950s helped Americans to know the bomb as a spectacle rather than as an agent of destruction. The postcards on the metal rack photographed by Robert Frank were manufactured in Berkeley, California, by Mike Roberts Color Production, using a Kodachrome process, and were distributed by the Desert Supply Company, Las Vegas. The information is printed on the reverse side of the atomic card, which is no longer in production but may be purchased with persistence on eBay, under the category ‘Militaria.’ The postcards come in two sizes, regular and jumbo.46 The bottom card on the rack is the jumbo card Atomic Explosion: Frenchman’s Flat, or Yucca Flats, Nevada, and customers of the time who wanted to reorder it were supplied with the stock number j563 printed on the reverse side, in which the ‘J’ stands for jumbo. A small textual slice on the back of one of the cards is just legible in Frank’s photograph. Squeezed between the concrete buttress of the Hoover Dam in the middle card and the nuclear fireball in the bottom card are the words ‘Natural Color Card from Kodak ...’ The legend on the postcard reads: ‘One of the many atomic detonations that have been released in the large Atomic weapons testing area of Southern Nevada.’ Nowhere on the postcard is there any information about which atomic test is represented or which official body released the image for public use. This heightens the image’s detachment from reality, its removal from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, its distance from the American program of building a larger and deadlier arsenal of nuclear weapons than that possessed by the Soviet Union. The image was almost certainly sold to Mike Roberts Color Production by the U.S. Army Photographic Signal Corps under the aegis of the Atomic Energy Commission, but even now the particular test represented remains unidentified. The authorities refused even to say whether the explosion was at Frenchman Flat or Yucca Flats, Nevada. The emphasis is on spectacle at the expense of information and discussion. This was part of the Atomic Energy

142 / John O’Brian Commission’s stated strategy in 1950 ‘to make the atom routine in the continental United States and make the public at home with atomic blasts and radiation hazards.’47 The postcard is unlikely to have been an image from Operation Ranger, undertaken on 27 January 1951, which consisted of the first five tests conducted on the American continent since the Trinity test at Alamagordo in 1945. Two days after completion of the tests snow fell on the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, New York, depositing a white radioactive blanket on its film manufacturing plant. Stock was ruined.48 The company traced the fallout to Operation Ranger, more than 3000 kilometres away to the southwest. Eastman Kodak considered suing the government, but instead struck a deal that provided it with privileged information about future tests. There are no postcards of the plant at the time of contamination or of the individuals working at the plant during the snowfall. And there are no officially approved postcards of the tests themselves. Atomic blast postcards were produced in sizeable quantities. What can be said about the hopes and desires they fulfilled for their objectsenders and receiver-subjects? Here is a beginning: the atomic jumbo postcard was suitable for framing, or so a handwritten message on the back of one of the cards indicates: Dearest Freda, Knowing you like I do, I know that you will have this picture framed. That is why I am sending it to you. I have said most of what I wanted to say in a letter. Suffice it to say that we miss you and the rest of the family. God bless and keep you all. Love & kisses Fiord & family

This note to Dearest Freda from Fiord & family represents a codified act of intimacy the meaning of which is not easily deciphered.49 A postcard mailed to family and friends requires a handwritten message to be complete, for without a supplemental written narrative it is a homeless object rather than an item of memory and desire capable of marking an experience. But what does the message on this card convey? That the picture should be framed as a source of pleasure, or that it should be framed as a source of caution? Even though it may have been the former, there is no way of ascertaining that, for the letter referred to in the postcard message could have instructed otherwise. Another message, on the back of a second eBay card of the same subject refers obliquely to the

Editing Armageddon / 143 community of soldiers, workers, scientists and photographers employed in the vicinity of ground zero: ‘where this was set off is where Elmo use [sic] to work when they were here in Las Vegas.’ In atomic photography we rarely see Elmo, unless he is a mannequin or a soldier with his back turned to the explosion or the camera. Images are not released of generals pressing the red button to set off the bomb – a fantasy device that retains its currency in the popular imagination because no other images contradict it – or of scientists and workers designing and manufacturing the device. Like the bomb’s potential victims and the radiation produced by it, they too are invisible. It is characteristic of the two messages that they are written in the approved language of their medium, the postcard. Messages on the backs of cards are almost invariably positive, like the photographic images on the front of them, not excluding those picturing nuclear detonations. Rectos and versos, fronts and backs, tend to reinforce one another’s reassuring tone. Were Elmo sick with ‘A-bomb disease’ and seeking compensation for maladies caused by nuclear testing in Nevada, as some soldiers and civilians were doing at the time, it is unlikely the message would have mentioned it.50 Even postcards mailed at the edge of danger rarely stray from a lingua franca of mandated cheerfulness. As Susan Stewart has observed, souvenirs and postcards speak in the nostalgic language of longing.51 They provide a miniaturized, hold-inthe-hand, coloured spectacle that domesticates what is pictured, even if the pictured is implicated in traumatic historical events. If the authority of the state is identified with vastness, the bourgeois subject is associated with miniaturization. Here pleasure displaces anxiety. Photographs of nuclear explosions released by the Atomic Energy Commission were intended to make ‘you think all the world’s a sunny day,’ in the melancholy phrasing of the song Kodachrome by Simon and Garfunkel. If the public wished to frame them for display, then the agency’s program of ‘making the atom routine’ was succeeding. One of the most widely circulated mushroom-cloud postcards from the 1950s was Atomic Bomb Explosion, Mushroom Cloud, Yucca Flats, Nevada, published by H.S. Crocker Co. Inc., San Francisco, one of the largest printing companies in California at the time. The back of the card states where the test took place and also that the colour photograph was supplied to the company by the U.S. Army. As with the previous card, however, there is no information on which test is represented. (By chance, I have been able to narrow the test down to one that occurred in 1951 or 1952, and have learned that the photograph was taken by the Signal Corps from Camp Mercury.)52 A handwritten message on the

144 / John O’Brian back of this chrome, mailed by Betty to her sister, Miss Agnes Julian of Kansas City, on 16 August 1954, says: ‘Dear Sis, Having a wonderful time with Bud and Emma – really swell to be here.’ The sentiments of the message and the picture would seem to run together. The trademark Mirro-Krome reproduction of a spectacularized atomic explosion matches Betty’s assurances to her sister that she and Bud and Emma are having a swell time. Just in case senders and recipients of the card might misunderstand the message of the image, the publishers produced a version of it with greetings emblazoned in red letters across the top of the image: ‘Greetings from Los Alamos, New Mexico’ (fig. 7.5). This is not an image of the atomic sublime. Like Robert Frank’s photograph, it is a representation of the ludicrously improbable, of the farcical inversion of tragedy, though in this case the farce and the tragedy are unintended. The greetings might just as well say, ‘Greetings from Hudson Bay’ or ‘Greetings from Hiroshima.’ Absurdity is rarely absent from popular images of nuclear explosions, as yet another atomic chrome demonstrates. Las Vegas, a new type of urban form constructed in the name of postwar commerce and tourism, as the authors of Learning from Las Vegas point out, is no more than sixty-five miles south of Yucca Flats, the principal atomic test site.53 The spectacle of ‘watching the bombs go off’ was one of the attractions Las Vegas offered tourists from 1951, when above-ground testing resumed in the United States, until 1962, when it stopped. A 1957 travel guide informed its readers that ‘the Atomic Energy Commission’s Nevada test program ... extend[s] through the summer tourist season, [and] the AEC has released a partial schedule, so that tourists interested in seeing a nuclear explosion can adjust their itineraries accordingly.’54 Sights and itineraries attract not only tourists, but also markers of what has been seen. Benny Binion’s Horseshoe Club, a casino-saloon-restaurant in ‘downtown Las Vegas’ known for the gimcrackery of its marketing schemes, commissioned a postcard in the early 1950s depicting an atomic blast in five serial stages, photographed from the top of Mount Charleston not far from the city.55 It was a courtesy card, manufactured in Boston using the ‘ShiniColor’ process – more shiny than colourful, which is perhaps why the process failed commercially – given away free to customers (fig. 7.6). At Benny Binion’s, the spectacle of recurring nuclear detonations took its place at the same table as eating, drinking, and gambling. If the conditions of modernity have brought about a fragmentation of the human sensorium, in which the senses have become increasingly isolated from one another, Benny Binion’s must count as a prime xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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Figure 7.5 Atomic Bomb Explosion: Mushroom Cloud, Yucca Flats, Nevada, ca 1952. MirroKrome postcard, published by H.S. Crocker Co., Inc., San Francisco, 5 1/2 x 3 1/2". jo’b Atomic Archives

146 / John O’Brian

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Figure 7.6 Atom Bomb Blasts, ca 1951. ShiniColor postcard, distributed by Benny Binion’s Horseshoe Club, Las Vegas, 3 1/2 x 5 1/2". jo’b Atomic Archives

Editing Armageddon / 147 instance of the phenomenon at work.56 Accompanying such fragmentation has been the compartmentalization of information amassed in technocratic societies. The secrecy and ultimate success of the Manhattan Project depended upon it. The ‘self-alienation’ of mass audiences under these conditions, Walter Benjamin observed in 1936, with an eye on the rise of fascism and the likelihood of war, ‘has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order.’57 The mix of pleasures offered at Benny Binion’s does nothing to contradict Benjamin’s observation. In an article entitled ‘Nagasaki was the Climax of the New Mexico Test,’ ‘Atomic Bill’ Laurence drew on the properties of colour to describe his reaction to the explosions. ‘[B]luish-green light’ illuminated a sky in which there were ‘white smoke rings’ and ‘a pillar of purple fire.’ ‘As the first mushroom cloud floated off into the blue,’ he continued, ‘it changed its shape into a flowerlike form, its giant petal curving downward, creamy-white outside, rose-colored inside.’58 The chrome postcards I have been discussing, and the editing to which they have been subjected, are the pictorial equivalent of Laurence’s purple prose. They facilitate disavowal, substituting bathos for whatever else might be said or pictured.59 They are visually excessive. They smooth the way for madcap schemes, such as turning the shores of Hudson Bay into a proving ground for nuclear testing. They offer up an unchanging spectacle of the bomb as nature, caught in a pacifying web of visual containment where time and history are collapsed. In the face of recent nuclear developments, these postcards from the past are flashing red with danger.


The initial version of this paper was delivered at the ‘Editing (Out) the Image’ symposium, University of Toronto, on 7 November 2003. Subsequent versions have been presented at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, the University of Washington, Seattle, Presentation House Gallery, Vancouver, and the University of California, Berkeley. While undertaking research for the essay, I benefited from discussions with Claudia Beck, Iain Boal, Richard Cavell, Carol Payne, and Jeremy Borsos, as well as the editors of this volume. Jeremy Borsos also located many of the images. For some years, I have taught courses on postwar photography at the University of British Columbia, and I am indebted to students for contributions to my ideas, especially Juan A. Gaitán, Angela Johnston, Peter Mintchev, and Kate Steinmann.

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6 7

8 9


The information contained in this paragraph is from John Clearwater and David O’Brien, ‘O Lucky Canada,’ Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July/August 2003: 61–5. The Bush administration’s preparedness to use nuclear weapons in war is consistent with the policies, stated or unstated, of all post–1945 administrations. In 1954, Vice-President Richard Nixon summarized the policy: ‘Rather than let the Communists nibble us to death all over the world in little wars, we would rely in the future primarily on our massive mobile retaliatory power, which we could use at our discretion against the major source of aggression at times and places that we could choose.’ Quoted in Gwynne Dyer, War, rev. ed. (Toronto: Random House, 2004), 300. George Monbiot, ‘Playing the Tin Soldier,’ Guardian Weekly, 23–9 October 2003, 13. Monbiot calculated that the u.s. federal government in 2003 would spend $553 billion on the military and war machinery, equal to the total spending on ‘education, public health, housing, employment, pensions, food aid and welfare.’ For Joan Didion, the Hoover Dam has an emotional resonance other dams lack. She refers to ‘a plaque dedicated to the 96 men who died building the first of the great high dams.’ The plaque states: ‘They died to make the desert bloom.’ Joan Didion, The White Album (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1979), 198. Robert Frank, The Americans (New York: Scalo, 1995). The book was first published in 1958 in France, and then a year later in the United States. Sarah Greenough, ‘Fragments that Make a Whole: Meaning in Photographic Sequences,’ in Robert Frank: Moving Out, ed. Sarah Greenough and Philip Brookman (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1994), 96–7. Nathan Lyons, ed., Toward a Social Landscape (New York: Horizon Press, 1966). Hoover Dam, Between Nevada and Arizona was published in Robert Frank, The Lines of My Hand (Tokyo: Kazuhiko Motomura, 1972), and Hoover Dam, Nevada in the English version of the book, published by Lustrom Press, New York, later the same year. Even though the archive is, as Pierre Nora says in ‘Between Memory and History,’ Representations (Spring 1989), 8, ‘the deliberate and calculated secretion of lost memory ... a secondary memory, a prosthesismemory,’ I am conscious of Allan Sekula’s warning that archival memory insistently reproduces dominant cultural norms, even when broken up and reordered (‘The Body and the Archive,’ October 39, Winter 1986).

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13 14

15 16 17

18 19 20

21 22 23



See, for example, Sandra S. Phillips, ‘To Subdue the Continent: Photographs of the Developing West,’ Crossing the Frontier: Photographs of the Developing West, 1949 to the Present (San Francisco: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1997), 39. Peter B. Hales, ‘The Atomic Sublime,’ American Studies 32 (Spring 1991): 5–31. Hales does not refer to Hoover Dam, Nevada directly, but he is certainly aware of it. He draws on the work of Vincent Leo, ‘The Mushroom Cloud Photograph: From Fact to Symbol,’ Afterimage 13 (Summer 1985): 6–12, which devotes several paragraphs to the photograph. Leo, ‘The Mushroom Cloud Photograph,’ 11. W.T. Lhamon, Jr., Deliberate Speed: The Origins of a Cultural Style in the American 1950s (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1990), 125. Lhamon stopped short of transforming the shelf on which the postcard rack stands into a theatre stage, as I am inclined to do. Jacques Derrida, The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond, tr. Alan Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987). Walker Evans, ‘Test Exposures: Six Photographs from a Film Manufacturer’s Files,’ Fortune, July 1954, 80. Sally Stein, The Rhetoric of the Colorful and the Colorless: American Photography and Material Culture between the Wars, unpublished phd thesis, 1991. A revised version of Stein’s study is in press. Joyce Nelson, The Perfect Machine: TV in the Nuclear Age (Toronto: Between the Lines, 1987), 118. Nelson, The Perfect Machine, 134. Stephen Hilgartner, Rory O’Connor, and Richard Bell, Nukespeak: Nuclear Language, Visions, and Mindset (San Francisco: Sierra Club, 1982), 75. Frank, quoted in Greenough and Brookman, Robert Frank: Moving Out, 54. Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964), 339. Scott McQuire, Visions of Modernity: Representation, Memory, Time and Space in the Age of Cinema (London: Sage, 1998), is insightful on the relationship of photography to modernity. Michael Light, 100 Suns: 1945–1962 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003), n.p. All but twenty-two of the photographs in the book were made by photographers in the u.s. Army Signal Corps, and most were the work of the 1352nd Photographic Group of the u.s. Air Force. Robert Del Tredici’s book, At Work in the Fields of the Bomb (Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1987), contains documentation, photographs and interviews of the kind that Hollywood rarely provides.

150 / John O’Brian 26 27


29 30

31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43

Sharon DeLano, ‘On Photography: Darkness Visible,’ New Yorker (6 October 2003), 90. See Peter Goin, Nuclear Landscapes (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991); Jock Reynolds et al., Emmet Gowin: Changing the Earth (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2002); Richard Misrach with Myriam Weisang Misrach, Bravo 20: The Bombing of the American West (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990); and The Atomic Photographers Guild: Visibility and Invisibility in the Nuclear Era (Toronto: Gallery tpw, 2001), an exhibition catalogue that includes the work of 13 photographers. The Edgerton estate released the photographs for an exhibition in New York City, After and Before: Documenting the A-Bomb, in 2003. James Elkins’s essay for the catalogue is republished as an article, ‘Harold Edgerton’s Rapatronic Photographs of Atomic Tests,’ History of Photography 28, no. 1 (Spring 2004): 74–81. Scott Kirsch, ‘Watching the Bombs Go Off: Photography, Nuclear Landscapes, and Spectator Democracy,’ Antipode 29, no. 3 (1997): 229. Jack Aeby was at base camp, about nine kilometres from ground zero, when he made four photographs of the blast. Three of the photographs, shot with a 35-millimetre camera and using the Anscochrome color process, turned out successfully. Joy Mitchell, ‘The Legacy of the Bombs,’ Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 1997. http://www.abc. net.au/science/slab/radiation/story.htm. Robert Oppenheimer, as quoted by Light, 100 Suns, n.p. William L. Laurence, quoted by Spencer R. Weart, Nuclear Fear: A History of Images (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1988), 101. I.F. Stone, The Haunted Fifties (New York: Vintage, 1969), 120. Office of the Historian, Joint Task Force One, Operation Crossroads: The Official Pictorial Record (New York: Wm. H. Wise & Co., Inc., 1946), 215. Hales, ‘The Atomic Sublime,’ 5. Hales, ‘The Atomic Sublime,’ 8. Kirsch, ‘Watching the Bombs Go Off,’ 236–7. Operation Crossroads: The Official Pictorial Record, 73. Operation Crossroads: The Official Pictorial Record. Bill Keller, ‘The Second Nuclear Age,’ New York Times Magazine (4 May 2003), 48–53, 84, 94, 101–2. Jesse Helms quoted by John Pilger, ‘Brothers at Armageddon,’ web article posted by [email protected], 14 August 2003. Condoleeza Rice quoted by Pilger, ‘Brothers at Armageddon.’ Weart, Nuclear Fear, exhaustively charts nuclear debates and ‘mentalities’ in the United States from 1945 to the mid-1980s.

Editing Armageddon / 151 44 45

46 47

48 49



52 53

54 55



John Szarkowski, William Eggleston’s Guide (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1976), 6. William Eggleston, Los Alamos, ed. Thomas Weski (Scalo: Zurich, 2003), 61. For an extended account of the book and the exhibition that generated it, see Shep Steiner, ‘Where World View and World Lines Converge: William Eggleston’s Los Alamos,’ Fillip 1 (summer and fall 2005): 1, 6–7. Jumbo cards produced by Mike Roberts Color Production were 6 x 9" and regular cards were 3 1/2 x 5 1/2". ‘Public Relations Conference Concerning Mercury,’ 20 December 1950, Office memorandum, u.s. Government, Doe 29360, quoted in Kirsch, ‘Watching the Bombs Go Off,’ 231. The incident is related in Nelson, The Perfect Machine, 128. A postcard is never readily decipherable. A postally used card is a complex semiotic carrying a surplus of imagery – recto picture, verso postage stamp – combined with textual legends and handwritten messages. The signs are often at odds with one another. See Thomas H. Saffer and Orville E. Kelly, Countdown Zero (New York: Putnam, 1982). At some of the Nevada tests in the 1950s, soldiers were positioned less than three miles from ground zero. Susan Stewart, On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1993), 132–9. My colleague Jeremy Borsos found the image on eBay, stamped with a Signal Corps stock number (C-7047). Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour, Learning from Las Vegas: The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form (Cambridge, Mass.: mit Press, 1972). Reported by Gladwen Hill in an article, ‘Watching the Bombs Go Off,’ for the travel section of the New York Times, 9 June 1957, 43. Binion’s Horseshoe, www.binions.com/index1.htm, 15 January 2004. Among Benny Binion’s customers were a sizeable number of gis from the Second World War. See, for example, Martin Heidegger, ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ in The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays (New York: Harper and Row, 1997); Walter Benjamin, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,’ Illuminations (New York: Schocken Books, 1969); McLuhan, Understanding Media; and McQuire, Visions of Modernity. Benjamin, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,’ 242.

152 / John O’Brian 58 59

William L. Laurence, ‘Nagasaki was the Climax of the New Mexico Test,’ Life, 24 September 1945. James Elkins has a favorable interpretation of Laurence’s descriptions of atomic explosions, which is at odds with my reading of them (‘Harold Edgerton’s Rapatronic Photographs of Atomic Tests,’ 77).



Editing the Image: Two On-site/Online Exhibitions

The amount of free information easily available through the Internet has altered user expectations of public domains, both on- and offline. What is generally referred to as the explosion of the web has put increasing pressures on museums to recreate themselves in cyber and real space. The result is a recalibration of the split personality of Western museums, which traditionally construct their public image in terms of the aura of the collection rather than information and education or research. In this essay, I want to assess how two temporary exhibitions, both in their in situ and online manifestations, negotiate or edit the interplay between exhibiting an art object as information and displaying the art work as an icon. Both are research exhibitions, which, by definition, involve the presentation of artwork with information yet both find ways, on- and offline, of maintaining the artwork’s auratic status. A second theme is a plea for museums to include installation photographs in their web archives so images of exhibitions are not edited out of the writing of exhibition histories. Installing an exhibition can be described as a form of editing images. Placing the art object in space, designing its surround, ordering the sequence in which it is encountered, adding supplemental material, all are choices that contribute to the experience and interpretation of an exhibition and the construction of a museum’s identity. An easy way of assessing the differences between how museums edit images on site and on a website is to look at exhibitions based on a single artwork. In Frida Kahlo’s ‘Intimate Family Picture,’ on view at the Jewish Museum in New York from 5 September 2003 until 4 January 2004, guest curator Gannit Ankori used Kahlo’s 1936 painting My Grandparents, My Parents and I (Family Tree) as a vehicle to explore ‘Kahlo’s hybrid identity as the offspring of a multicultural and interracial marriage.’ The painting

154 / Reesa Greenberg itself is owned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York where it is usually exhibited as part of the permanent collection, displayed with other Kahlo paintings, or those of Mexican or women avant-garde artists. At the Jewish Museum, in this temporary exhibition, a different editing concept is used: Kahlo’s German-Jewish roots become the linking principle for an ethnographic analysis of My Grandparents, My Parents and I, both in the museum and the online exhibition. The museum exhibition is divided into two relatively small rooms, spatially separating, or editing, support material from artwork.1 The background documents in the first gallery include photographs, reproductions of artworks, books, and text panels, divided into themes such as The Drawing, Paternal Grandparents, Nazi Genealogical Tree, Rousseau, and Casa Azul. Exhibition materials are placed in a wide, white zone running along the middle of the walls in green-grey painted rooms. In the larger information gallery, the white band sets up a scroll analogy and a linear reading mode enhancing the sense that what is on display is linked data. In the adjacent room, accessible only from the information gallery, the white grounds behind Kahlo’s My Grandparents, My Parents and I (Family Tree) and the drawing for it function differently: the light surround frames the artworks and expands their ‘aura,’ focusing attention on what are small objects (the painting is 12 1/8 x 13 5/8" or 30.7 x 34.5 cm) that otherwise would have been lost on such a large wall. The effect is enhanced by spot lighting the artworks. Even the possibility of reading the white grounds behind the artworks as analogous to a page and the artworks as worthy of being illustrated in art books does not reduce them to information. Editing the presentation results in edited or transformed perceptions of the painting. The temporal delay before actually seeing Kahlo’s work enhances anticipation (for some, frustration), creates a narrative structure to the exhibition, and adds an element of theatricality to the presentation. Spatially isolating and reframing the painting removes it from the realm of document, enhances the artwork’s status as cultural icon, and encourages a contemplative response rather than an inquisitive or intellectual exploration. The web exhibition (http://www.thejewishmuseum.org/kahlo/) begins as many real exhibitions do with an unillustrated curator’s statement at the entry point.2 On all subsequent pages on the site, some form of image of Kahlo’s painting is integral to the presentation. In the web version, the image is an entry point rather than a destination. According to Emily Hartzell, then assistant curator for web-projects at

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Figure 8.1 Installation views of Frida Kahlo’s Intimate Family Picture at the Jewish Museum, 5 September 2003–4 January 2004. © Jewish Museum

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Figure 8.2 Installation views of Frida Kahlo’s Intimate Family Picture at the Jewish Museum, 5 September 2003–4 January 2004. © Jewish Museum

156 / Reesa Greenberg the Jewish Museum, and co-designer with Ankori of the on-line feature,3 Kahlo’s painting was used as the interface for the virtual version, an approach that fit with the curator’s examination of the symbolism of a single artwork and its geneological content.4 Curators of on-site exhibitions are rarely as involved as Ankori in designing the online version and Ankori’s ‘hand’ is evident when comparing her web exhibition to others on the Jewish Museum site. Image as interface elicits a different editing approach than image as icon. Simultaneity replaces sequence. Rhizome replaces linear narrative. How is this done? Rollover, hypertext, and design. On the Kahlo site, the entry screen is divided into various zones or registers. At the top, there is a schematic drawing of the painting accompanied by a legend instructing us to move the mouse over details of the reproduction of the painting positioned below. When we do so, other images appear in the empty, small square or tabula rasa to the right of the reproduction of the painting and large coloured text appears beneath it. The square functions as an intermediary between the web image of the painting and, to the right of the screen, a text template with a list of ten themes and two resource items on a bright red ground. Similarly, when we move the mouse over the text template, images appear in the square and large text below. But only momentarily, because if we keep moving the mouse, the rollover is rapid. Rollover, in the words of Sean Cubitt, ‘generates possibility … that dialectical moment in which becoming other is key.’5 In the dynamic visual introduction to the Jewish Museum’s web presentation of Kahlo’s painting, information and ideas are in flux, literally suggesting the mobility of thought, the transformation of concepts, the sense of life or animus in intellectual work, the possibility of something becoming other. As a visual model for envisioning the writing of art history, the rollovers embody the opposite of a single, authoritative text or image and the temporality associated with interpretation. The rapidity and number of the rollovers on the Kahlo site act as a spur to consider others. The rollover, especially as used here, signals multiple readings, a trait particularly suited to a reinterpretation of an artwork recording the mixed cultural background of the artist. In the museum exhibition of My Grandparents, My Parents and I (Family Tree), the supporting material is also multifocal but it is spread along the walls in a static, closed presentation surrounding the viewer. The impression is research rather than revelation. On the website, when users go beyond the rollovers, the design of individual pages may be as fixed as the wall arrangements but there is a greater sense of agency.

Two On-site/Online Exhibitions / 157 Users see what is available in the index and choose the amount and order of the information they wish to see. Layering information behind the viewer’s screen suggests a more open structure rather than a fait accompli. Building on archeological and psychological metaphors, layering information suggests depth rather than surface, focus rather than panorama, the possibility of more rather than a closed construct. Layers of hypertext also allow a non-linear, aleatory approach to knowledge. Segments can be accessed in random order, in part or all, in single or repeat visits. The presence of the schematic rendering of Kahlo’s My Grandparents, My Parents and I (Family Tree) at the top of each theme page is very similar to devices used to facilitate identification of sitters in group photographs.6 Here, the schema is a visual reminder that all the support material below links to the painting. Creating an iconic sign for the artwork posits the image as a take-off point or working model for research: it is an outline waiting to be filled in, not a reproduction of an icon. At the same time, the stylized rendering of the painting relates to computer icons and their cuing function as links to additional images or information. By contrast, an artwork as an icon in the traditional sense is always self-contained. The use of the ghost-like drawing of Kahlo’s painting also alludes to the host role of the Jewish Museum which, in this instance, cannot construct its online image in the aura of a painting that is not in its collection. The in situ and online versions of Frida Kahlo’s ‘Intimate Family Picture’ are complementary rather than mirrored exhibitions. Each exists as an independent entity. The web version is neither promotion nor archive but a creative interpretation and presentation of material used in the actual exhibition. The Jewish Museum has retained the virtual version on its site giving the exhibition a life independent of the dates of the museum presentation. In the current web version, however, the visual appearance of the in situ installation has been edited out. Unless installation photographs are added somewhere on the Jewish Museum’s website, all trace of the on-site exhibition will disappear from the public domain, leaving us with an edited history of what were complementary but very different presentations. The visual life of exhibitions in images has always been difficult to access. Installation photographs exist but, until the recent interest in the history of exhibitions, were rarely published in art history texts. Before, during, and after its duration, an exhibition tends to be represented by an iconic artwork rather than an installation view. The same is true of the exhibition web archives of most museums. Usually, there is a text

158 / Reesa Greenberg description, often a scanned press release or a list of works; sometimes a photograph of the artist or an artwork in the exhibition; occasionally images of all the works; and, rarely, an installation photograph or a few, let alone full coverage or a video mapping the sight-lines. Why does the exclusion of installation photographs in exhibition archives matter? Quite simply, without them, the history of exhibitions as part of the history of art becomes harder to establish and elements of visual and popular culture get lost. Without easily available installation photographs, building and interpreting histories of exhibition installation is made unnecessarily difficult, overly dependent on the ability to travel extensively, memory, and privileged access to a museum’s archives. One reason the history of exhibitions remains rudimentary and exclusionary is because, without access to images of exhibitions, researchers cannot establish links between them. At the risk of being anecdotal, here is a small example. In the Jewish Museum, Frida Kahlo’s ‘Intimate Family Picture’ is introduced with a banner printed with an enlarged reproduction of a black and white photograph of Kahlo seated, painting the portrait of her father that figures in the exhibition. The banner is suspended from the ceiling and hovers above the floor. It is white and much larger than any of the other elements in the display. In the 1998 Royal Academy presentation of ‘Charlotte Salomon: Life or Theatre?’ the exhibition was introduced with a freestanding white bunker wall with an enlarged black and white photograph of Charlotte Salomon seated in front of the landscape she is painting.7 To my knowledge, neither image has been published. A comparison of the installation photographs of the entrances to the Kahlo and Salomon exhibitions suggests the obvious: there are marked formal similarities. What is of interest is the use of an installation device in both exhibitions that confronts visitors with an enormous image of a working woman artist. In their exhibition texts, the curators, Monica Bohm-Duchen and Norman Rosenthal for the Salomon exhibition and Gannit Ankori for the Kahlo, claim that each artist and her work have been misrepresented and underrated. To counter these misconceptions, both Kahlo and Salomon are presented in heroic scale, almost as a form of visual compensation for the way women artists have been underrepresented in art history. To see the artists’ work, visitors must go around and behind the image of the working artist the curators portray. In this comparison, the existence of and access to installation photographs enables an iconographic reading of the design of recent feminist exhibitions, an under-written and under-theorized area of art history editing practices.

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Figure 8.3 Entrance view of Frida Kahlo’s Intimate Family Picture at the Jewish Museum, 5 September 2003–4 January 2004. © Jewish Museum

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Figure 8.4 Entrance View of Charlotte Salomon’s Life or Theatre? at the Royal Academy, London, 22 October 1998–17 January 1999. © Reesa Greenberg

160 / Reesa Greenberg A second example demonstrates the importance of maintaining open, online access to web archives of installation photographs for, even if installation photographs exist online, there is no guarantee they will be there forever. In April 1997, the Centre Pompidou opened one of a number of exhibitions in French museums of art still unclaimed after the Second World War.8 The exhibitions were launched in conjunction with the Mattéoli Commission struck by the French Government in March of that year to re-examine the state of restitution. The Pompidou exhibition, ‘Présentation des oeuvres récupérés après la Seconde Guerre mondiale confiés á la garde du Musée nationale d’art moderne,’ contained thirty-eight modern works in the safe keeping of the Musées nationaux récupération (mnr) now under the care of the Centre Pompidou. The curator of collections at the Pompidou, Didier Schulmann, used the exhibition as an opportunity to update research on the unclaimed works as well as to rethink the presentation mode of this type of exhibition, both in the museum and, rather unprecedentedly, on the web.9 Photographs of the exhibition convey the radicality of the installation. The museum utilized a unilinear hang with ample space between works, each of which was accompanied by a panel giving a detailed provenance and exhibition history as well as a description of inscriptions and labels. Where relevant, a photograph of the back of the canvas was positioned beside the painting. Unlike the Kahlo exhibition at the Jewish Museum, documentary material was placed within close range of the artwork to form a visually related, highlighted, arrangement. Each painting and its documentation was treated as an island unto itself, with its only link to the others the fact that they too were stolen by Hitler and remained unclaimed. The halo effect created by spotlighting each work indicates that the Centre Pompidou felt a need to convey the work’s aura and, like the Jewish Museum, chose focused light as the vehicle to construct an iconic effect. The distinctive Pompidou installation format served a number of purposes. First, the inclusion of visual and textual documentation ensured that the works were not presented in the treasure display genre used for earlier presentations of reclaimed art in Paris such as the triumphal ‘Les Chefs-d’oeuvre des Collections Françaises Retrouvées en Allemagne par la Commission de Récuperation Artistique et les Services Alliés,’ at the Orangerie from June until November of 1946, which displayed the art in rooms lined with velvet wall hangings. By reformulating the art-as-treasure display genre for stolen art, the Pompidou

Two On-site/Online Exhibitions / 161 assimilated the unclaimed art into its broad, postmodern, exhibition installation rhetoric of experimentation with presentation.10 Second, the use of curved walls as background and support for a display of art is striking. Usually, curved walls are found in dioramas or in science or anthropology displays. The allusions to a display genre associated with imparting information invoke an art museum role often downplayed in the public arena in the era of blockbuster exhibitions – the museum as an initiator in a scientific search for knowledge. The display of research in the exhibition conveyed that, even decades after the end of the war, the Centre Pompidou continued to make every effort to ascertain the identity of owners of the modern works in its care.11 Four works actually were restituted to heirs of their original owners as a result of new research undertaken in conjunction with the exhibition. In comparison with other European countries where some national museums, notably in Austria, contest claims for art in State collections with shaky provenance during the Nazi era, the Centre Pompidou could present itself as exemplary in initiating research and restitution. Third, the use of the 1942 photograph of what is known as the Salle des martyrs – the room at the Jeu de Paume where ‘degenerate’ art stolen in France by the Nazis was displayed for them – on the Pompidou catalogue cover and as a key image on the web site, demonstrated the difference between Nazi and post-war French presentations of modernist, avant-garde art, particularly as Fernand Léger’s Femme en rouge et vert, 1914, figured in both displays. The Pompidou installation with its unusual, gently curved walls built to embrace and shelter the art on display graphically conveyed the care the French government, and especially the Centre Pompidou, continues to take of the unclaimed works of art in its possession. This same care was seen in the elaborate website for the exhibition that included sections on the individual works, relevant texts, a chronology, press reviews and a full set of installation photographs (www.centre pompidou.fr/musee/mnr/index.htm).12 There are a number of notable elements to such comprehensive coverage. First, in 1997, at the time of the exhibition, the web itself was relatively new and most art museums, even the Pompidou, were hesitant to allocate such extensive resources to ongoing, online presentations and documentation. Second, the mnr site is an early and rare example of both documenting the appearance of an entire temporary exhibition online and programming hyper-links to images of and detailed information about selected artworks when they are selected from the installation photograph. The online image of

162 / Reesa Greenberg the mnr exhibition remains an anomaly, both within the Centre Pompidou online archives, which rarely include installation images, and when compared to other exhibition archive websites, which, like the dia Center, may provide a space for ‘images of the exhibition’ within its archives but limits the number and provides no hyperlinks. Third, instead of choosing an installation format with all the views on a single page, each free floating, isolated in a grid, and requiring a click to enlarge (the standard snap to grid template for presenting many photographs online), a separate screen was used for each installation photograph. The mnr exhibition installation photographs are arranged in sequence, seen one at a time, beginning at the entrance to the exhibition and continuing along the walls. They are seen at a pace determined by the user’s mouse clicking, in an effort to document both the appearance of the installation and a viewer’s experience of it in time and space.13 As comprehensive as the web coverage of the installation is, it is anachronistic. The mnr installation photographs are relatively small and black and white, more reminiscent of World War II photographs than contemporary photographic practices. The black and white palette can be seen as a distancing device relegating the genre of exhibitions of unrestituted art, and images of them, to the past and documentary evidence – in other words, information. At the same time, the presence of coloured reproductions of each of the thirty-eight artworks in the exhibition found on the site and, in one path, reached through the black and white installation photographs suggests another dynamic is in play. The suddenness with which the tiny black and white images of the artworks in the installation photographs expand and become coloured has a magical, transformational quality. The setting literally slips away and all that remains is the artwork, luminous thanks to the computer screen. On the Pompidou site, the hierarchy of small, black and white installation photographs and larger, coloured reproductions of artworks creates the information/icon split. Editing out the colour of context (the architectural surround) but editing in colour for reproductions of artworks ensures an image of the museum as custodian of an atemporal aura of the artworks in their collections.14 One last thought. We may live in the era of digital reproduction and manipulation but, just as in the era of mechanical reproduction, museums have managed to maintain the image of the art object as masterpiece. Masterpiece ideology edits out other images of the artwork, images of art as part of socio-political and economic frameworks and other art histories.

Two On-site/Online Exhibitions / 163 Post Script and Apologia The publication of this essay has involved numerous problems with regard to the inclusion of illustrations, all touching on different aspects of the editing of art history in print. Obtaining reproduction rights from the various stakeholders in the Kahlo estate has been frustrating and fruitless, resulting in the decision to provide only installation views from the in situ exhibition in an attempt to limit liability.15 The absence of screen shots from both online exhibitions is a response to the four illustration limit imposed by the editors and publisher of this essay and the availability of the visual material discussed on the web – at least for now. Ideally, then, the press would provide an online version of the text to enable coherent, integrated access to images it cannot include in print form. Compensating for editing out by editing in using different and multiple formats for the same material might well be an interim solution to the conundrum.


3 4 5

6 7

The dimensions of the galleries are 27' x 16' 8" (Bloomberg) and 8' 10" x 16' 8" (Hurst). The difference is that bypassing the web text is harder here than in real space as there is no quick way to skip it: users must scroll down the page to the bottom to continue. The online feature was co-designed with the curator and PerimetreFlux, designers of the 2002 Jewish Museum website. Telephone conversation with the author, 20 October 2003. Visual and Audio-visual: from image to moving image, Journal of Visual Culture 1, no. 3, (December 2002): 367. ‘In the perspective of emergence, it generates possibility through its becoming at the point of its supercession, that dialectical moment in which becoming other is key.’ My thanks to Joyce Zemans and Carol Zemel for pointing out the photographic source of the device. None of the other venues on the tour of ‘Life or Theatre?,’ including the Art Gallery of Ontario, used the Royal Academy introductory format and, to date, as far as I know, no installation photographs of the entrances to the exhibitions have been published. I was allowed to photograph the Royal Academy exhibition for a conference presentation in conjunction with the exhibition, which explains why the image is in my possession. Installation photographs of the Kahlo exhibition

164 / Reesa Greenberg

8 9


11 12




were sent to me over the web when I expressed interest in conjunction with research for this paper. Exhibitions were held at the Louvre, Orsay, Versailles, and Sèvres. The online presentation of the artworks in the exhibition and related research findings allowed viewers and possible claimants the opportunity to access the contents long after the exhibition closed. In 1954, an earlier semi-permanent display of unrestituted art was set up at the Chateau de Compiègne outside Paris in the hopes that owners would recognize and claim their property. Viewers travelled to the exhibition. With the Pompidou web presentation, thanks to the Internet, the exhibition travels rather than visitors and the potential for more people to see and study images of the unclaimed art over a longer period of time is exponential. For more on the display of stolen art, see the author’s ‘From Wall to Web: Displaying Art Stolen from Jews by Hitler,’ in Obsession, Compulsion, Collection, Banff Centre for the Arts, ed. Anthony Kiendl (Banff: The Banff Centre Press, 2004), 92–109. Didier Schulmann. Private communication. The path to finding the exhibition is as follows: after accessing the home page, click on archives in the left list and choose the dates 1995–7, then scroll down until the mnr exhibition appears. A cautionary note: the archive is usually accessible only on the French language site. My thanks to Karen Stanworth for pointing out the importance of the effects of the sequence. For a discussion of the importance of conveying the exhibition route and layout on the web, see Elitza Dulguerova, ‘L’Exposition et la Fantique,’ http://www.cecri.ca/jeu4/elitza/ conference.html A similar device is used in the 1996 ‘A Passion for Art: Renoir, Cézanne and Dr Barnes,’ documenting the Barnes Foundation Galleries. Here though, unlike the Pompidou Centre, which used separate black and white photographs for the installation shots and colour for reproductions of artwork, a composite style with coloured artwork seen in a black and white gallery was used. The result makes no pretence of verisimilitude. The cd was reissued in 2003. My thanks to David Carrier for bringing the cd Rom to my attention. Christopher Lyons has outlined the problems of copyright for art publications in greater detail in ‘Permissions Purgatory,’ Art in America (September 2006): 51.

Institutions of Art and Editorial Practices

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The Art Museum as Installation: An Interpretation of the Place of Matisse’s The Joy of Life in the Barnes Foundation

‘America is ... the country of the future, and its world-historical importance has yet to be revealed in the ages which lie ahead ... It is a land of desire for all those who are weary of the historical arsenal of old Europe.’ Hegel1

Narrative sentences are the hidden scaffolding holding together the public art museum.2 In the Museum of Modern Art, New York, for example, a decade ago you walked in an installation described by Clement Greenberg’s canonical account of Modernism.3 I do not think it exaggerated to say that Pollock’s 1946–50 manner really took up Analytical Cubism from the point at which Picasso and Braque had left it when, in their collages of 1912 and 1913, they drew back from the utter abstractness for which Analytical Cubism seemed headed. But it took a long time for the Modern to adopt his way of thinking. ‘Everyone learned a lot at the museum,’ Greenberg wrote in 1957,4 ‘but you did not feel at home in it. In the 1930s Alfred Barr was betting on a return to “nature,” and a request of the American Abstract Artists to hold one of their annuals in the Museum was turned down with the intimation that they were following what had become a blind alley.’ Compared with the single-minded Greenberg, Alfred Barr, the most influential American curator of Modernism, made some dubious claims and sometimes had shaky taste.5 Without Barr’s curatorial skills and Greenberg’s theorizing, the history of American art would be very different. Together they established ways of thinking that gave essential support to the Abstract Expressionists and their successors. But before Greenberg published criticism or the Museum of Modern Art was created, Albert Barnes was a major champion of modern art. The first

168 / David Carrier American, apart from Duncan Phillips, to create a great permanent Modernist collection, he wrote books on Cézanne, Matisse, and Renoir.6 He published a treatise on aesthetics, The Art in Painting, and The French Primitives and Their Forms: From Their Origin to the End of the Fifteenth Century, organized a journal, and worked out an original conception of the Modernist museum.7 A provincial nouveau riche Philadelphian who started by collecting William Glackens, Barnes had the energy and skill to become a great champion of Soutine. His collection focused on Impressionism, early Picasso, and Matisse – after that period, he didn’t respond to the best new art. ‘According to him, Picasso in his Cubist days was pulling people’s legs.’8 Fascinated by African-American culture, in 1925 Barnes said: ‘the white man in the mass cannot compete with the Negro in spiritual endowment.’9 He supported some African-American painters and left his collection to a Black university.10 By all accounts Barnes was a very difficult, extremely wilful man, sociable only on his own terms. Had he been less independent, probably he would not have assembled so spectacular a collection. Like his judgments of taste, his writing is dogmatic – Barnes mentions other critics only to dismiss their claims. But when Matisse visited Merion, he found Barnes’s installations infinitely preferable to the hangings of the more respectable Philadelphia collectors.11 Quite apart from the very high quality of much that was on show, he was delighted by the candor and the straightforwardness with which it was installed. Matisse even liked the promiscuity with which great works of art were shown out of context and in the company with objects that differed from them both in kind and in date. This was ‘the only sane place’ for the display of art that Matisse had as yet seen in America. And Barnes was the only collector anywhere who had the vision to commission a mural from Matisse, and the skill and determination (and money) to persuade the artist to execute that commission. Ruthless in his pursuit of the best, unlike most collectors Barnes also had a serious interest in visionary politics. The contention of his Foundation, he wrote, has been that ‘art is no trivial matter, no ... upholstery for the houses of the wealthy, but a source of insight into the world, for which there is and can be no substitute, and in which all persons who have the necessary insight may share.’12 This is surprising statement for a wealthy man. Barnes used his collection for educational purposes. And his foundation took a strong stand on one great issue of the day. ‘As knowledge of the great art achievements of the Negro becomes more generally diffused there is every reason to look for an

The Place of Matisse’s The Joy of Life in the Barnes Foundation / 169 abatement of both the superciliousness on the part of the white race and of the unhappy sense of inferiority in the Negro himself, which have been detrimental to the true welfare of both races.’13 In his dedication address at the Foundation, John Dewey said: ‘I know of no more significant, symbolic contribution than that which the members of this institute have made to the solution of what sometimes seems to be not merely a perplexing but a hopeless problem – that of race relations.’14 Barnes believed that his collection could serve this political goal. Barnes’s formalism inspired ahistorical displays projecting a modernist aesthetic onto the old masters. In his Foundation old and new art from Africa and Europe enters into a dialogue on equal terms. There are no names or titles in this aesthetic hanging, and high art is alongside humble decorative objects.15 Matisse’s ‘Notes of a Painter’ (1908) explains how he responded to old master frescoes: ‘A work of art must carry within itself its complete significance and impose that upon the beholder even before he recognizes the subject matter. When I see the Giotto frescoes at Padua I do not trouble myself to recognize which scene of the life of Christ I have before me, but I immediately understand the feeling that emerges from it, for it is in the lines, the composition, the color. The title will only serve to confirm my impression.’16 This formalist way of viewing is exemplified by the Foundation. Barnes’s Foundation is both forward and backward looking. He believed Modernism created aesthetic harmony. ‘Variety in color, which is exemplified in the highest degree in Giorgione and Renoir, depends for its aesthetic effect on a controlling sense of harmony: without that variety becomes clash and chaos ... In Matisse, colors which taken in isolation might seem harsh, crude and displeasing merge into an ensemble which is extremely rich ...’17 But he also looked back to the community life associated with Renaissance frescoes and to churches like the Orvieto Duomo (1290): ‘In walking down the nave, each column, almost six feet in diameter, is so sited as to overlap the beginning of the corresponding apse. The column being closer to the eye, the apparent diameters of the two forms almost coincide, so that the convex curve runs smoothly on into its concave counterpart.’18 And his Foundation anticipates installation art, fashionable in the 1980s when Barbara Kruger, Robert Gober, and Paul McCarthy created room-filling assemblages of objects. ‘Something could be contributed by the spectator within the structure established by the artist ... The visitors helped to create the work, to complete it. The situation provided an active experience for the viewer.’ 19 Giotto, Barnes claims, is said to mark ‘the beginning of the Florentine tradition ... His use of perspective opened up a world of values possible only by the

170 / David Carrier ingenious utilization of deep space; his modeling added lifelike threedimensional qualities to figures and endowed them with conviction; he replaced the over-decorative static Byzantine linear pattern of light in folds of draperies by a few simple folds preponderantly vertical ...’20 Like the Orvieto architect and installation artists, Barnes created a total work of visual art. The dedication of the most famous American treatise on aesthetics reads, ‘To Albert C. Barnes, in gratitude.’ In the Preface of Art as Experience, after thanking Meyer Schapiro, John Dewey says that ‘my greatest indebtedness is to Dr. A.C. Barnes ... I have had the benefit of conversations with him through a period of years, many of which occurred in the presence of the unrivaled collection of pictures he has assembled ... I should be glad to think of this volume as one phase of the widespread influence the Foundation is exercising.’21 This is not merely a polite reference to a friend (and financial supporter). Dewey repeatedly mentions Barnes’s publications and Barnes, in turn, dedicated The Art in Painting to ‘John Dewey, whose conceptions of experience, of method, of education, inspired the work of which this book is a part.’22 Elsewhere he wrote: ‘It is universally acknowledged that, throughout his career, Dewey’s supreme interest has been in the operation of intelligence to free human powers and enrich human experience ... My topic ... is the application of this method to aesthetics ...’23 In 1926 Barnes and Dewey looked at art together in Madrid, Paris, and Vienna. ‘Pictures can express every object and situation,’ Dewey wrote, ‘capable of presentation as a scene.’24 Philosophers of art take Dewey very seriously, but have almost nothing to say about Barnes.25 Barnes’s and Dewey’s ideas about art are similar enough that when composing this account, turning back and forth from Art as Experience to The Art in Painting, often I found myself momentarily uncertain which author I was reading. Barnes’s aesthetic is dated, but in historical context he, like Heinrich Wölfflin and Roger Fry, secularized old master Christian art by means of formal analysis. Dewey’s goal, ‘to restore continuity between the refined and intensified forms of experience that are works of art and the everyday events, doing, and sufferings that are universally recognized to constitute experience,’26 also speaks to this concern. And when he goes on to note that we give ‘domestic utensils’ and similar utilitarian things ‘places of honor in our art museums,’ it is natural to recall that Barnes placed craft implements around paintings in his museum.27 For Barnes, ‘from an aesthetic point of view, a painting was to be engaged with as an experienced object, not primarily to be thought about as a social or historical product.’28 Dewey’s desire to eliminate the

The Place of Matisse’s The Joy of Life in the Barnes Foundation / 171 usual barriers between ‘art’ and ‘life,’ which made him so critical of traditional art museums, shows his sympathy with the physical arrangement of Barnes’s Foundation. ‘Our present museums and galleries to which works of fine art are removed and stored illustrate some of the causes that have operated to segregate art instead of finding it an attendant of temple, forum, and other forms of associated life.’29 He rejects the idea that only experts can respond intelligently to art. ‘The dream of America is community, is communication, is art – the American dream is an exacted relationship.’30 Dewey sought ‘a conception of fine art that sets out from its connection with discovered qualities of ordinary experience ...’31 His aesthetic and his politics gave him reason to find Barnes an invaluable ally. A 1913 photograph of the apartment of Leo and Gertrude Stein, 27 Rue de Fleurs, Paris, shows Henri Matisse’s Joy of Life (1905–6).32 In 1914 Leo and Gertrude Stein divided their collection and Leo took Joy of Life. After being resold it was purchased by Barnes. Today the painting is in Merion.33 It seems destined to remain even more deeply hidden away than the rest of the extraordinary collection in the Barnes Foundation, for it has been relegated to a passageway, or rather a dark and narrow stairwell, where it is almost impossible to view it properly. This is hardly a subtle point. Joy of Life is in the worst viewing position of any picture in the museum. Coming up the stairs, as you turn up to see to see it, the people descending block your view. Then when you ascend to look down on it from the top of the stairs on the second floor, you must look across from a distance in awkward lighting. No photograph illustrates this effect, which is nicely displayed on a cd-rom prepared by the museum.34 Every detail in a major painting is significant because an artist seeks to control what he makes. Most museums, by contrast, grow by accretion, depending upon a succession of curators. But the Foundation is a relatively small collection organized solely by its creator. And so it is reasonable to ask whether the odd position of Joy of Life is intentional. Barnes was determined to alienate the art world, and all too effectively succeeded. Given that he was impossibly difficult, it seems appropriate that he perversely placed Joy of Life in an impossible viewing position. For many years that was my unthinking supposition. But upon reflection, this presupposition seems unconvincing. Barnes took great care with his installation. The lighting and the relationships of paintings and works on paper are very nicely calculated. When Barnes cannot sleep, a reporter wrote in 1928, ‘he puts on his dressing gown ... and in the gallery he studies his pictures and sometimes spends hours arranging one to suit his taste.’35 This, surely, is what we would expect

172 / David Carrier of an obsessive connoisseur. And so it cannot be mere happenstance that Joy of Life is on the stairs, as if Barnes had been too lazy to find some more suitable setting. Until recently Joy of Life was available only in black and white reproductions. Had the painting been more accessible, perhaps it would have become more familiar. As it is the picture has a certain mystique. Whatever art writers say about its sources, Joy of Life remains extremely hard to understand.36 His slightly later, well-known masterworks unpack this composition, which is too rich to be fully satisfying. When acquired by Barnes in 1927 it was hung downstairs. But by the time Matisse visited in 1930 it was already was on the stairwell.37 The painting must therefore have moved to this awkward site just before Matisse arrived. Barnes knew that Joy of Life was a masterpiece so why did he put it there? To answer that question we must look back to Matisse’s most important earlier installation. In 1910 the Russian collector Sergey Shchukin hired Matisse to make three paintings for his house. Matisse described his plan: ‘I have to decorate a staircase. It has three floors. I imagine a visitor coming in from the outside. There is the first floor. One must summon up energy, give a feeling of lightness. My first panel represents the dance, that whirling round on top of the hill. On the second floor one is not within the house; in its silence I see a scene of music with engrossed participants; finally the third floor is completely calm and I paint a scene of repose ...’38 Unfortunately he made a very serious miscalculation – Shchukin’s house had only two floors. Dance, painted for the first floor, and Music, made for the second, remain in the Hermitage. Matisse radically repainted the picture originally intended for the third floor. Now retitled Bathers by the Stream, it is in the Art Institute of Chicago but a work on paper preserves the original image intended for the third floor.39 Anticipating this installation, Joy of Life also brings together three distinct spaces. In the center, at the far distance, is the ring of dancers; in the middle layer, lovers and a musician; and at the front reclining figures. For Shchukin that richly condensed conception has in effect been unpacked into three pictures. Barnes could not have envisaged the intended arrangement of the three panels. But he was aware that Matisse painted Arcadian scenes. And so he knew enough to move Joy of Life from downstairs to its present position. To put this point in the terms of this conference, which for my purposes are felicitous, Barnes edited his installation in a way that revealed the intended original qualities of this painting. Like the writer, the curator projects an interpretation by the way that works of art are installed. In preserving something of Shchukin’s installation, Barnes was a visually sensitive editor.40

The Place of Matisse’s The Joy of Life in the Barnes Foundation / 173 Imagine that Moscow installation constructed as Matisse planned. Walking up that imaginary three-story staircase, you would begin on the ground floor looking at the top of the hill shown in Dance. Going up one floor, you would seem to come down the represented hill seeing in Music the edge of the hill near the top of the painting. And finally as you came to the top of the stairs, you would seem to arrive at the bottom of that hill. As you physically moved upward, you would seem to be descending the depicted hill. Showing an ideal place far apart from our conflict-filled life, Matisse reveals utopia by means of the content of his images.41 This is not just an ideal place, but somewhere far from our world. Literally speaking the illusionistic space in any painting is unreal. In the subtle Shchukin installation the illusionistic picture spaces are visible from, but far away from our world. ‘How could we be walking up when the successive images appear as if we were moving down a hill?’42 We must be looking into another world! Picasso’s and Braque’s Cubism was much imitated but Matisse’s concern with utopian space was not the source for ongoing Modernist tradition. And so we may better understand his ways of thinking by scrutiny of Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire, which also links real and fictional worlds. That novel contrasts so-called reality, where the commentator Charles Kinbote lives and writes, with the deliberately unreal world created by the poet John Shade. Reality and illusion – the poem and commentary – are related. Things, people, and also literary texts move from one world, reality, to another, fictional place. And so if you follow the notes, you learn that in Arcadia the crown jewels are hidden, as Kinbote’s commentary says, ‘in a totally different – and quite unexpected – corner of Zembla,’ that is, reality.43 The solution of that literary puzzle helps explain Matisse’s similar way of thinking. Just as reality and fiction are subtly linked in Pale Fire, so too in Matisse’s Shchukin installation the real stairs that you climb and the imaginary hill depicted in the painting are related. (What of course is very Nabokovian is that this installation never existed.) Nabokov and Matisse think about Arcadia in similar ways because they are interested in the logical relationship between appearance and reality. There is no causal connection between their utopias, but solving the puzzle in Pale Fire helps you understand Matisse’s installation.44 Dewey discusses The Joy of Life in a way that supports my analysis. ‘The experience which is its source,’ he remarks, ‘is highly imaginative; no such scene ever occurred. It is an example as favorable to the dreamlike theory of art as can be found. But ... to become the matter of a work, it had to be conceived in terms of color as a medium of expression; the floating image and feeling of a dance had to be translated into

174 / David Carrier the rhythms of space, line, and distributions of light and colors.’45 And Barnes devotes a four-page formal analysis to Joy of Life. ‘The outstanding feature ... is an all-pervasive feeling of color-movement.’46 This movement and pattern are appropriate to the subject-matter – an Arcadian scene of nudes dancing, playing music and reclining at ease in a landscape. After contrasting the central triangle, the yellow ground with the dancers and reclining nudes with the triangles above at left and right, he notes that ‘taken together these two enframing triangles seem like an open stage-curtain hanging from the top of the picture and drawn aside to reveal a vista of landscape.’ In this ‘decorative colorpattern,’ ‘background, middle ground and foreground are united on equal terms to yield a total effect not unlike that of a poster or brightlypatterned banner.’ Once Barnes intuited Matisse’s interest in Arcadian scenes, he acknowledged this discovery by installing Joy of Life in its seemingly awkward position. How pleased Matisse must have been to see that Barnes had placed his picture on the stairs! Barnes does not say this. But his installation does. Either he moved Joy of Life because he intuited something like my analysis, or its peculiar permanent positioning of his very meticulously planned museum was merely an afterthought. After you go up the stairs past The Joy of Life, on the second floor you look across to the top of that mural. In the installation for Shchukin Joy of Life is unpacked. Dance Mural continues that unpacking one stage further. In The Joy of Life and Dance the dancers move in a closed circle. In his mural Matisse focuses close in on that line of figures. The dancers in Joy of Life are in the distance; in the Mural, the much larger dancers remain distant. Either you view them looking up from the floor of the Hall or, after walking up the stairwell, you see them at your own level across the open space. In the 1930s, some Marxist critics thought that easel painting was obsolete.47 Barnes’s commission was very challenging. Compared with the great Matisses installed nearby, The Dance is a minor painting.48 Who, turning to see The Joy of Life, would compare The Dance with that masterpiece? Disappointed by the mural, Barnes did not describe his difficulties with Matisse in his book on the artist.49 He does tactfully explain why he gave the artist this commission, and how he evaluated it. ‘Matisse ... is by temperament primarily interested in the decorative aspects of things ... This bent and practice involves a sacrifice of the more profound interpretative values, both human and plastic, characteristic of the greatest artists ...’50 After offering substantial criticism, Barnes describes Matisse as ‘far and away the foremost painter of the day ... a very great artist, a man of keen sensitiveness, vigorous intelligence, and

The Place of Matisse’s The Joy of Life in the Barnes Foundation / 175 enormous erudition; he is intensely alive and adventurous ...’51 Given their recent difficulties, this seems high praise indeed. In 1934 he told Matisse that he was coming to appreciate the mural more. Barnes deserves credit both for holding his temper and for his good judgment. It must have been awkward to live with a painting that he did not entirely admire which, unlike his others, could not be moved. Barnes had created some of these problems. He refused to remove the two large paintings by Matisse and a Picasso on the wall underneath, take off the sculpted frieze directly under the mural or replace the frosted glass above the doors with clear glass, so that the outdoor greenery could be visible.52 Still, Matisse thought his mural a great success. ‘It is of a splendor that one cannot imagine until one sees it.’53 What he desired, his drawings show, was that the mural structure the large two-storey gallery space. That requires an essentially blank background because the viewer must not be distracted. Looking at the mural reproduced in isolation from the present context or as displayed when the Barnes foundation collection toured, is misleading. Matisse wanted that his dancers seem to go across the edges of the mural, moving freely over the walls, creating a decorative effect. But because of an error in reading the blueprint, he had to redo this composition completely.54 The design Barnes desired seemed to him to accord with his Giottoesque ideals. In it, as in Le bonheur de vivre, the circling dancers were joined to one another in a collective activity; they were participating in a notion of community, a concept central to Barnes’s educational ideas. The final design eschews these qualities. The need to rework the original composition created insuperable problems. These problems with The Dance point to larger difficulties with the Foundation. Barnes was passionately interested in education, but in the end he was not the right person to run a school. He wrote extensively about art, but not in a way that encouraged intellectual intercourse. And his commission for Matisse yielded limited results because the two men were not effective collaborators. In the end, Barnes’s Foundation had surprisingly little effect upon either the development of museums or American art. Barr’s Museum of Modern Art provided the much-emulated model. Barnes’s hanging now seems old-fashioned, a throwback to the aesthetic hangings of pre-modern private collections. And when Greenberg’s dialectical theory of Modernism became the position everyone read and rejected, no attention was paid to Barnes’s writings.55 When the Philadelphia establishment turned against him, he, in return, restricted admission to his collection. Believing that great art belongs to the public, we find Barnes’s possessive attitude off-putting. In a sad but not entirely

176 / David Carrier unpredictable way, Barnes’s aggressive refusal to engage in dialogue has had posthumous consequences. The Foundation is about to be dismantled and moved to Philadelphia. Were the Gardner Museum folding or the Frick being absorbed by the Metropolitan, distinguished defenders of these institutions would come forward. Were a real estate developer destroying the Vence chapel, then art historians would protest. But because Barnes so effectively alienated the art world, his institution has few champions. There is little interest in preserving his installation. Barnes professed a paternalist interest in black culture, but willing his precious collection to a small, intellectually provincial African-American university with no history of interest in visual art, effectively guaranteed that his legacy would not be adequately protected. The destruction of Barnes’s museum is unnecessary, for all that is required for its preservation is some practical way to accommodate visitors. Might this history have been different? Probably not, for looking back the problems inherent in Barnes’s way of thinking are obvious. Museums had long organized their old art in historical hangings, and so when they added modernist painting and sculpture, naturally it was displayed in the same way. His Foundation is a throwback. Barnes’s books are no longer read, but his collection remains fascinating. Because he was so aggressive, the fate of his museum is not entirely surprising. He loved art but showed this love in ways that were unhappily possessive. Unwilling to enter into dialogue, he has not inspired commentators to evaluate his achievement. How odd that a man who so often professed to believe in tradition was so aggressively self-destructive! For historians of museums, failures can be as revealing as the successes. When recently the Museum of Modern Art opened its new building, that institution attempted to create part of the effect of Shchukin’s installation by hanging Matisse’s Dance upon a stairway.56 Here the curators, like Barnes, were sensitive to the need for appropriate editing. But in Philadelphia, although Matisse’s painting will be preserved, the destruction of Barnes’s foundation will destroy a setting, which should be preserved. That is singularly unfortunate, for proper editing of a museum collection can reveal much about a work of art.57

NOTES This essay is for Jennifer Samet and Steven Harvey. 1 Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of World History. Introduction: Reason in History, tr. H.B. Nixet (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975), 170.

The Place of Matisse’s The Joy of Life in the Barnes Foundation / 177 2 3 4




8 9

10 11

12 13

14 15

Narrative sentences are defined, and their role in museums explained in my Writing About Visual Art (New York: Allworth Press, 2003), ch. 4. Clement Greenberg, Art and Culture: Critical Essays (Boston: Beacon, 1961), 218. Clement Greenberg, The Collected Essays and Criticism, vol. 4, Modernism with a Vengeance 1957–1969 (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1993), 20. See Sybil Gordon Kantor, Alfred H. Barr, Jr. and the Intellectual Origins of the Museum of Modern Art (Cambridge, MA and London: mit Press, 2002). He wrote in collaboration with Violette de Mazia but since it is impossible to identify her independent role and Barnes was her employer, I will speak of Barnes’s books. Thomas Munro, ‘The Aesthetics of Bernhard Berenson,’ Journal of the Barnes Foundation 1, no. 2 (May 1925): 48–53 concludes: ‘his taste is attracted chiefly by what is conventional, weak and sentimental.’ From our present perspective, Barnes’s analysis (and his taste) seems similar to Fry’s; but see Laurence Buermeyer (‘The Aesthetics of Roger Fry,’ Art and Education, by John Dewey, Albert C. Barnes et al. [Merion: Barnes Foundation, 1929), 273–87, esp. 287] which speaks of ‘how grave are the consequences of error in fundamental aesthetic and psychological principles.’ Pierre Cabanne, The Great Collectors (New York: Farrar, Straus, 1963), 173. Albert C. Barnes, ‘Negro Art and America,’ The Survey Graphic Harlem Humber (March 1925) at http://etext.librigrinia.edu/harlem/Bar HegrT.html. See Christa Clark, Review, ‘African Art. The Barnes Foundation,’ African Arts 30, 1 (Winter 1997): 77–8. John Russell, Matisse: Father & Son (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1999), 61. Russell, who titles this chapter ‘Dr. Barnes: Patron or Pest?’ writes in support of the family, using the Pierre Matisse Archives. Art and Education, by John Dewey, Albert C. Barnes, et al. (Merion, pa: Barnes Foundation, 1929), vi. Paul Guillaume and Thomas Munro, Primitive Negro Sculpture (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1926), 8. According to Barnes, Africans are closer to nature than white Americans. But he also generously proposes that whites should acknowledge the artistic gifts of blacks. John Dewey, ‘Dedication Address,’ Journal of the Barnes Foundation 1, no. 2 (May 1925): 5. The old master paintings in his collection are not of the same quality as his modernist masterpieces.

178 / David Carrier 16 17

18 19

20 21 22 23

24 25

26 27 28 29 30

31 32

33 34

Matisse on Art, ed. Jack D. Flam (New York: Dutton, 1978), 41–2. Albert C. Barnes and Violette de Mazia, The French Primitives and Their Forms: From Their Origin to the End of the Fifteenth Century (Merion, PA: Barnes Foundation, 1931), 7. John White, Art and Architecture in Italy 1250 to 1400, 2nd ed. (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1987), 50. Julie H. Reiss, From Margin to Center: The Spaces of Installation Art (Cambridge, ma and London: mit, 1999), 14. As she notes, although many installation artists originally were hostile to museums, soon enough their art was incorporated into these institutions. Albert Barnes, The Art in Painting (Merion, PA: Barnes Foundation, 1937), 115. John Dewey, Art as Experience (New York: Capricorn, 1958), viii. Barnes, The Art in Painting, v. Albert C. Barnes, ‘Method in Aesthetics,’ The Philosopher of the Common Man: Essays in Honor of John Dewey to Celebrate His Eightieth Birthday (New York: Greenwood Press, 1968), 89. Dewey, Art as Experience, 235. Albert William Levi, ‘The Art Museum as an Agency of Culture,’ Journal of Aesthetic Education 19, no. 2 (1985): 23–40 examines the relationship of Barnes and Dewey. He thinks it paradoxical that Dewey could both attack museums and dedicate his book on aesthetics to Barnes. But Barnes’s Foundation was just the sort of museum which Dewey’s aesthetic demanded. Dewey, Art as Experience, 3. Ibid., 6. Alan Ryan, John Dewey And the High Tide of American Liberalism (New York and London: W.W. Norton, 1995), 254. Dewey, Art as Experience, 8. Joli Jensen, Is Art Good for Us?: Beliefs about High Culture in American Life (Lanham, Boulder, New York, Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002), 178. She links this way of thinking with Barnes’s collection, 193n38. Dewey, Art as Experience, 11. See the photographs Four Americans in Paris: The Collections of Gertrude Stein and Her Family, exhibition catalogue (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1970), 87–95. My discussion draws on Hilary Spurling, The Unknown Matisse: A Life of Henri Matisse: The Early Years, 1869–1908 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998). Pierre Schneider, Matisse, tr. Michael Taylor and Bridget Strevens Romer (New York: 1984), 241. A Passion for Art: Renoir, Cézanne, Matisse and Dr. Barnes (Bellevue, wa: Corbis, 1996).

The Place of Matisse’s The Joy of Life in the Barnes Foundation / 179 35 36 37

38 39

40 41




A.H. Shaw, ‘Profiles: De Medici in Merion,’ New Yorker, 22 September 1928, 32. See Jack Flam, Matisse. The Man and His Art 1869–1918 (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1986), ch. 5. Jack Flam, ‘Notes,’ Great French Paintings from the Barnes Foundation (Alfred A. Knopf with Lincoln University Press, New York: 1993), notes (on Le Bonheur de vivre); John Russell and the Editors of Time-Life Books, The World of Matisse: 1869–1945 (New York: 1969), 144. Matisse on Art, 49. See John Neff, ‘Matisse and Decoration: The Shchukin Panels,’ Art in America July/August 1975: 59–63. See also Beverly Whitney Kean, French Painters, Russian Collectors: The Merchant Patrons of Modern Art in Pre-Revolutionary Russia (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1983), ch. 7. An argument for understanding curating as editing in this way is given in my Writing About Visual Art (New York: Allworth, 2003), ch. 4. See Margaret Werth, The Joy of Life. The Idyllic in French Art, circa 1900 (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2002), ch. 2. See my High Art: Charles Baudelaire and the Origins of Modernism (University Park and London: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996), 144. Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire (New York: Vintage, 1989), 244. To discover this follow the index, which leads from ‘Crown Jewels’ to ‘Hiding Place’ to ‘Potaynik, taynik’ to the definition of ‘Taynik, Russian, secret place; see Crown Jewels.’ For full analysis see my ‘Pale Fire Solved,’ in Acting & Reflecting, ed. Wilfrid Sieg (Dordrecht: Reidel, l990), 75–87. He also follows Baudelaire, whose poem provided the title for his earlier Utopian painting, Luxe, calme et volupté. My child, my sister, just imagine the happiness of voyaging there is spend our lives together, to love to our hearts’ content, to love and die in the land which is the image of yourself. ‘The Invitation to the Voyage’ tells of a world, certainly far from ours, where ‘everything ... is order and beauty, luxury, calm, voluptuousness.’

45 46

Charles Baudelaire, The Poems in Verse, tr. F. Scarfe (London: Anvil Press, 1989), 125. Dewey, Art as Experience, 276–7. Barnes and de Mazia, The Art of Henri Matisse (Merion, PA: Barnes Foundation, 1933), 369–73, esp. 369, 370, 372.

180 / David Carrier 47


49 50

Diego Rivera’s ill-fated commission for Rockefeller Center was but one attempt to create a new public art. The most famous French muralist of the previous generation was Pierre-Cécile Puvis de Chavannes. After the Barnes project was completed, Matisse gave his impression of Chavannes. ‘My aim has been to translate paint into architecture, to make of the fresco the equivalent of stone or cement. This, I think, is not often done any more. The mural painter today makes pictures, not murals ... (Chavannes) approaches it, yes, but does not arrive perfectly in that sense. The walls of the Pantheon, for example, are of stone. Puvis’ paintings are too soft in feeling to make the equivalent of that medium’ (Jack Flam, Matisse on Art, 2nd ed. [Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1995], 109–10). The problem, he added two decades later when working on the Vence chapel, is that ‘a work of art is never made in advance, contrary to the ideas of Puvis de Chavannes, who claimed that one could never visualize the picture one wanted to paint too completely before starting. There is no separation between the thought and the creative act. They are completely one and the same’ (Matisse on Art, 211). Puvis de Chavannes presents the past using in-focus linear images within deep illusionistic spaces. He sought to link his art to tradition by making images of antiquity, as if showing subjects from the past would suffice to maintain his relationship with the old master muralists. See Brian Petrie, Puvis de Chavannes, ed. Simon Lee (Aldershot, Hants, England: Ashgate: 1997) and also the visual evidence assembled in Marie-Christien Boucher, Catalogue des dessins et peintures de Puvis de Chavannes (Paris: Musée du Petit Palais, 1979) and the exhibition catalogue, Puvis de Chavannes au musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon (Lyons: Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1998). Matisse, a deeper visual thinker, recognized the impossibility of representing the past in that literal manner. He realized that only by painting in an entirely modern manner was it possible to reconnect. A recent commentator writes: ‘If the Merion Dance Mural falls a bit short of our highest expectations – as it apparently did for Barnes – this is in part because the figures are not quite integrated with the wall’ (Jack Flam, Matisse: The Dance (Washington: National Gallery of Art, 1993), 71). Flam, Matisse: The Dance, 63. Barnes and de Mazia, The Art of Henri Matisse, 21. Alfred H. Barr, Jr, Matisse: His Art and His Public, 220, in describing the installation of the Barnes murals, also mentions Giotto: ‘Both Matisse and Dr. Barnes were pleased. But Matisse was also exhausted by the long strain. When he returned to Europe he went to Abano Bagni near Venice to take the

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51 52 53 54 55

56 57

cure. While there he once again visited the Giottos at Padua.’ The first sentence is wrong: neither Matisse nor Barnes was pleased. But the connection to Giotto, alluded to so casually as if Matisse’s choice of what to see merely depended upon his choice of spa, is important. Barnes and de Mazia, The Art of Henri Matisse, 210–11. Flam, Matisse: The Dance, 60. Quoted in John Russell, Matisse. Father & Son (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1999), 76. John O’Brian, Ruthless Hedonism: the American Reception of Matisse (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1999), 76. See my Rosalind Krauss and American Philosophical Art Criticism: from Formalism to beyond Postmodernism (Westport, Connecticut and London: Greenwood/Praeger, 2002). See my review ‘MoMA Renovation,’ ArtUS 7 (March–April 2005): 192–3. When this essay was written, the fate of Barnes’s Foundation was as yet unclear. Now it seems almost certain that his installation will be dismantled and thus his sensitive sense of how to edit Matisse’s art will be lost.

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Editing In vs. Editing Out: World Art Studies and the Pathologies of Academe

The history of the word ‘edit’ well illustrates the problematic mentality of the academic world. A concept that once was only positive has acquired increasingly negative overtones. An activity once associated with openness now suggests narrowness. What should have been a resource has tended to become a constraint. The original Latin meaning of the word was ‘to give out,’ ‘produce,’ in the literary context ‘to publish,’ a sense it retains in other European languages. The term thus suggested the opening up of a field, the enlargement of a horizon. Only recently, and especially in the English-speaking world, has it acquired its negative connotations, referring less to the positive act of publication than to the negative act of exclusion. The reason for the change was not in itself bad. It followed the introduction of printing, which made it desirable for a person preparing a manuscript for multiple distribution to make the master copy as clean as possible. Hence the word ‘edit’ increasingly came to refer, not to the act of publishing something, but to the exclusion of errors in its preparation. It was then only a small further step for it to refer also to exclusion from publication as such. The editor is now the person who not only weeds out errors from a few accepted manuscripts, but who turns down many more. Indeed it is to these actions above all that the term editing now refers. Editing, as the organizers of the conference suggest, often implies editing out, and it is on this editing out, both in the literal sense, in the context of publication, and in the metaphorical sense, in intellectual life in general, that I want to concentrate. As I will argue, we have become so proud of editing as an activity that we have allowed it to give rise to a dangerous condition, a disease undermining the health of everything we do. Editing has become part of the pathology of our academic world, a pathological inclination to exclude, and it is as a contribution to the understanding and remedying of that pathology that this paper is presented.

184 / John Onians The claims I will make at the beginning will be fairly general in their application, relating to all aspects of academia, especially the humanities, but, as I become more engaged, I will move to talk more personally of my own attempts to combat what I regard as a disease and to bring back at least a corner of academic life to a more rosy health. Throughout, in defiance of academic propriety, I deliberately stress the personal, hoping in this way to remind ourselves of a fundamental danger, that in our attempt to establish and meet impersonal institutional standards, whether in the role of a real editor of the work of others or more generally in the dissemination of our own ideas, whether in speech or writing, we easily forget that, ultimately, the highest human qualities are embodied not in institutions but in individuals. To illustrate what I mean, I would like to suggest that many of the more positive qualities of human beings, from moral attributes, such as courage, to intellectual properties, such as originality, only really manifest themselves at the level of the individual. Institutions simply cannot be courageous or original, and since the standards of the good editor are institutional they cannot be either. For example, the editor who acts on behalf of a discipline is always liable to be constrained by his or her consciousness of the prejudices of many of its practitioners. The more an editor is aware of current objections to this or that approach the more cautious is likely to be his or her editorial policy. Only by abandoning an institutional for an individual perspective can an editor, whether in the strictly professional or in the metaphorical sense, operate at the highest level. First, then, I want to throw into relief the omnipresence of what I call the editing syndrome in the humanities. I do so well aware that many people would say that it is precisely in the activity of editing, whether of others or ourselves, that the distinctive merit of the humanities is based. Nor do I want to disagree with this point of view. There is no doubt that there are more lies, more confusions, more deceptions in the outside world, where cultural production is less subject to sieving and checking, than in the academic world. My point is that getting rid of defects is not a very lofty goal, and, more seriously, that sieving and checking is likely to lead to the exclusion, not only of the bad, but of the very good. So what do I mean by this editing syndrome? I suppose it begins early in our lives with examinations. As we grow up, ‘k through ba,’ we submit ourselves to endless tests, all of which are designed above all to teach us to avoid making mistakes. The tests to which we are later submitted at graduate level may seem to have greater elasticity, but they are also more omnipresent and intrusive. For example, the insistence on students familiarizing themselves with the bibliography

World Art Studies and the Pathologies of Academe / 185 relating both to the field in general and to the particular topic on which they are working subtly infuses them with the idea that there are works that are authorized and others that are effectively censored. It also develops in students the idea that what they are going to write has to build on existing methods and on the existing literature on the topic. It certainly discourages them from embarking on an entirely new field or developing a new approach. The student thus learns to edit out the seeds of ideas that are theirs alone. Pressures of a similar sort come both from dissertation committees, and from committees giving out funding. The student is reminded again and again that, since each member of each committee has some approaches and materials to which he or she is unsympathetic or hostile, proposals should be drafted to attract as little potential criticism as possible, preferably relating to the orthodoxy already embodied in the bibliographies they have been instructed to digest. These constraining pressures only intensify when students submit their first articles and then their first books for publication. By now the editor they have in their heads as they prepare their text or proposal is unlikely to be somebody who takes risks and the readers to whom they imagine the manuscript being sent for review are also likely to be people who prefer the reliably uncontentious to the bold and the experimental. The eventual public, which, because it is far larger, is liable to be more hospitable, is by now forgotten. Instead the student has one overriding concern, to find a safe passage past the serried ranks of editorial guards who are effectively institutional gatekeepers. Sadly, too, this situation will be at its worst with a university press, where readers and editorial committees replicate and so reinforce the constraints already inherent in the academic world’s other institutions. At least at a private publisher, such as Reaktion or Phaidon, you may find a real person with the courage to accept or even commission a genuinely original work. At least in England such presses successfully continue the tradition represented by Penguins in the 1960s when two independent and independent-minded scholars, John Fleming and Hugh Honour, contributed to the substantial transformation of art history by commissioning the ‘Style and Civilisation’ series. Unfortunately, though, because it is in the academic world that most young scholars seek advancement, they prefer to submit to the asphyxiating demands of academic publishers; so it is they who set the tone of the field. The negative consequences for all the humanities, including art history, are in my view apparent everywhere. You may think this point of view is too negative. I think it understates the problem. Remember that Heinrich Wölfflin published his brilliant

186 / John Onians PhD Towards a Psychology of Architecture when he was twenty-two and his fundamental Habilitationschrift, Renaissance and Baroque, when he was twenty-four. What responsible university today would tolerate such temerity in one so young? Or just imagine what the chances might be that the likes of Marx or Darwin would have got their ideas past a dissertation committee or grant-giving foundation, let alone the readers used by journals and university presses. There is no question that the work published by such organs is good. In my view there is equally no question that little of it is truly excellent in the way that much of the literature of the nineteenth century was, before the institutional structures we live with today acquired their rigidity. It was the much freer climate of German-speaking Europe a hundred years ago that produced the Panofskys and Gombrichs who set up art history in Britain and North America. The Anglo-Saxon world has not been able to replicate that generous environment. I would say that it has been edited out. As a result, while the cloning of humans is banned, in the humanities it is virtually mandatory. This at least is my conviction after over forty years spent in the academic world as student and teacher. Indeed it is because the different activities I have been involved in have again and again confronted me with that world’s editorial pathology that again and again it will be to them that I refer. The first activity I will describe is setting up and editing a new journal, Art History. The second is helping to reshape an established art history department at the University of East Anglia. The third is editing a new Atlas of World Art. The fourth is setting up a Library of World Art. The fifth, driven by the need to find a new approach to the study of art as a worldwide phenomenon, is that of formulating a new research method. It is because each of these activities seemed to require me to choose decisively between editing out and editing in that I have thought it worthwhile in the context of the present discussion to rehearse in each case the reasons for the choice I made. Editing a Journal: Art History The first time I became conscious of the extent of the cloning problem was thus when, in 1976, I was offered the opportunity of setting up a journal for the newly founded British Association of Art Historians, a responsibility no properly constituted committee would ever today entrust to a thirty-four-year-old. Before defining the new publication’s mission I set out to explore the then current situation. More particularly, in order to find out what the field most needed, I went round my friends

World Art Studies and the Pathologies of Academe / 187 and senior colleagues asking them what they thought of the current journals, which at that stage meant principally, in the English-speaking world, the Art Bulletin, the Burlington Magazine, the Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, and Art Quarterly, which was soon to cease publication. Few people spoke of them with enthusiasm. Typical reactions were: ‘When the latest issue arrives I feel no excitement about picking it up,’ ‘Even the titles of the articles are boring,’ and, especially damning, ‘All the articles look as if they are written by the same person.’ The most depressing thing is not that individuals felt that way. Much more disturbing to me was the realization that it was the very people I was talking to who were filling the same journals. Implicitly, what they really wanted to write they were editing out. In order to please the journals’ editors they were publishing articles they didn’t themselves want to read. I suspect that the situation is not so different today. This little survey made me conscious of the dangers besetting even – and perhaps above all – the best journals and, when, in 1978, Art History was launched, I tried to give it as much air to breathe as possible. However, it was not easy to keep the oxygen flowing. Soon colleagues tried to cut off the supply. At first, following correct practice, I had articles read by specialists of my acquaintance. Soon, however, I noticed that even those I respected most were either telling me to reject articles I loved or at least advising me to get the authors to remove many of their most exciting ideas. So I simply stopped sending articles out. I just made up my own mind. Of course, even then, in the laissez-faire 1970s, it was impossible to announce that this was editorial policy without damaging the publication.1 Had it been known that Art History was not a refereed journal even the boldest spirits would have been less inclined to send me their work. As it was, sensing a more open policy whose basis was never spelt out, they did, and, although I hesitate to say so, my sense is that the quality of the articles that appeared in those first years is now generally thought superior to that of those published by my more scrupulous and responsible successors, who sometimes have had articles read by two readers as well as other members of the editorial board. Can it be that the one of the worst things for a journal and a field is an editor following the best editorial policies? Can it also be that one of the worst things for an art history journal is for it to have good illustrations? I have not yet said much about editing in relation to images, but one of the points I made in my first proposal both to the Association of Art Historians and to potential publishers was that I wanted the illustrations to be small. The reason I gave was that I wanted people to see immediately that the principal reason for taking

188 / John Onians the journal was the quality of the text. The journals I wanted to distance myself from by this policy were principally the Burlington and the Art Bulletin. I didn’t want to attract many of the types of articles that they published and I was delighted when Michael Hirst wrote in a review of the first issue in the Times Literary Supplement that no scholar would want to publish his discoveries in a journal whose photographs looked like postage stamps. You may well think that the policy was absurd in a field devoted to the study of art, but I wanted to draw attention away from the art itself towards the ideas it expressed or stimulated. I still shake my head over the increasing quality of the illustrations in art history journals and for that reason regret that, following in the steps of the Art Bulletin and the Burlington, even Art History now has an image on its cover. So far discussion has focused on editing in the technical sense in the context of academic publishing, but it is also possible to discuss the more metaphorical editing that is widespread in the academic world. One of its principal manifestations is through the maintenance of canons. The tradition of the canon goes back a long way in the European tradition. It begins in Alexandria, where, in the third and second century bc, literary scholars who had the task of preparing the editions of Greek texts decided which authors were going to be enkrithentes, that is, ‘chosen in,’ and which would, by contrast, be excluded. The concept then became further established in the Roman world through the concept of authors being designated classici. This Latin term comes from the word for ‘class’ and refers originally to the members of the class of tax-payers. Just as it was worth ‘taxing’ the wealthy because they had so much to give, so it was worth reading the ‘classic’ books. It was not long before works of art were assessed in a similar way, with the most admired works being those produced in periods when the literature was already thought to be the best. This is why, already in Antiquity, the only art that was really respected was that produced in Greece between the sixth and the fourth centuries bc, the period during which the best literature was thought to have been produced. A similar canon was revived in Renaissance Italy, when the writer Dante was thought to have his equivalent in the artist Giotto. It had been pagan editors in the Hellenstic period who came up with the first literary canon and it was Early Christian editors who came up with a canon that was even narrower, that of the approved Christian texts, so reinforcing canonical exclusiveness. It was an easy step to see Classic texts as comparable to approved religious texts, so strengthening the tendency to ‘edit out.’ Over the following centuries, in both literature

World Art Studies and the Pathologies of Academe / 189 and art, the canon now acquired a halo and an artist such as Michelangelo could become ‘divine,’ a sort of saint, superior to ordinary artists. The only substantial compensation for this introduction of a further layer of exclusiveness was that canonical works of art were now treated like canonical religious texts, being meditated on with a new intensity, preparing the way for the Mona Lisa to be treated with the reverence and concentration due to a Madonna. In this way canonical works of art, whether or not their subjects were Christian, were treated as differently from those that were excluded from the canon as were the few texts authorized by the established religion, thus providing a rare positive example of the type of transfer of editorial approach from text to image that the organizers of this conference refer to in their introduction. The damage caused by the transfer to the world of art of the exclusiveness associated with the two canonical literary traditions, the Classical and the Christian, was limited as long as the study of paintings and sculpture was largely an informal activity. The full extent of the negative influence of the assimilation only emerged with the establishment of art history as a discipline in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Institutionalized in universities, the canonical approach now had debilitating consequences, and it soon became clear that the implicit correlation of the canons of Christian literature and of European art, was a fundamental obstacle to the expansion of the latter’s range. This is most obvious in the marginalization of the vast body of art which most naturally would have been compared with the European, that produced in the region that overlaps with ‘European’ art, stretching from Southern Spain to Indonesia from the seventh century ad to the present. The decision to define this art, in terms not of geographical region or language group but of religion, as Islamic, placed it in clear opposition to the Christian tradition, so making it automatically ineligible for equal treatment. Still, Islamic art was, through its designation, at least accorded some equivalence to the art of Christian Europe because of its shared dependence on Jewish tradition. The art of most of Africa and the islands of the Pacific did not benefit from this defence. So when missionaries came across this marvellous material they made sure that it was usually seen as alien and even evil. As such they either destroyed it, mocked it, or preserved it as a testimony to the savagery of primitive religion. It was edited out in much the same way that pagan literature and art had been edited out by the Church Fathers fifteen hundred years earlier. Without this editorial exclusion, these traditions, like those represented by the art of India, China, and Japan, would have found a far more rapid acceptance.

190 / John Onians Another negative influence adopted from Christianity was the inclination to provide the discipline with founding texts, analogous to the Evangelists. As the discipline developed its modern branches, each was given a founding author: Vasari for art history, Winckelmann for Classical archaeology, Boas for the anthropology of art, Barthes for a visual semiology, and so on. Without such revered and priest-like founders the fields could all have been far more open. As it is, it has been difficult for anyone to try and renew the discipline without taking them as their starting point. The need to take them as the foundations even for a critical position only enhanced their status. So-called Western culture has strangely failed to realize just how fundamentalist it is in the authority it accords to founding texts. Indeed there are ways in which European intellectual fundamentalism is far more dangerous than the fundamentalism of Islam. Islamic fundamentalists are happy to admit to the exclusiveness and intolerance of their approach, while European and American cultural fundamentalists often pretend to encourage freedom and openness even as they seek to preserve and promote their orthodoxies. And in all of this the apparatus of the academic world, from curricula and bibliographies to the editorial policies of journals and university presses, plays the central repressive role. Editing an Institution: The School of World Art Studies All of the above explains why I and my colleagues at the University of East Anglia have for the last twelve years been developing a new disciplinary frame, one we call World Art Studies.2 Since 1965 we had unreflectively grown as a traditional art history department, dealing only with European art, until in 1975 we discovered that we had been given the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection containing art from all over the world, dating from prehistory to the present. Soon the objects in the Collection started to work on us. As we walked through it each day in search of a cup of coffee, we realized that we were confronted with a large body of material that had been simply edited out of our experience as art historians. And, when we appointed archaeologists and anthropologists to help us teach the unfamiliar material, we found that they too had been blinkered in different but parallel ways, each group treating the art that was not their province as beyond the pale. What we were all forced to acknowledge was that there was simply no intellectual framework large enough to allow us to understand art as a worldwide phenomenon, with a forty thousand year history. For those of us who were art historians trained in Europe, where virtually all of the hundreds of art history departments only studied the art of our own

World Art Studies and the Pathologies of Academe / 191 continent, this lack was particularly obvious. Had we been trained in North America, where other traditions have been routinely studied for some time, it would have been less apparent. We would have been better prepared, but we would still have found it difficult to treat all art as equally interesting. Even in the United States and Canada European art is still treated as implicitly superior to all other traditions. Survey courses may bring in the arts of other areas, but only as supplementary materials and all of the textbooks on which such courses are based betray their origins as textbooks of European art. It was to break the intellectual impasse found on both sides of the Atlantic that we found it helpful to talk of World Art Studies. For a start, tying the concept of art to the concept of the world made it much more difficult to maintain the canonical perspective. If art is seen as an activity which is present throughout the world and implicitly throughout history it cannot be seen as particularly associated with a single area, such as Europe, or a select group of ‘Classic’ periods. Nor is it possible to continue to view the European media of painting, sculpture, and architecture as normative. What we had to come up with was a definition of art which would include everything from body-painting and textiles to installation and video art, and among the ones we work with the most popular is probably ‘material that has been modified in visually interesting ways.’ We also had to avoid the exclusive associations of relative value that the term ‘art’ acquired in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, ranging from the Kantian notion of ‘disinterestedness’ to the idea that art follows a ‘progress.’ This last idea, which is rooted both in ancient Greek ideas that art grows toward a perfect state and in Christian ideas that a message is progressively revealed, has never been more dangerous than in the last hundred years. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a period which has seen the culture of modernity becoming increasingly viewed as both politically and morally superior, we have flattered ourselves and our students by presenting those who live in the modern world and accept its values as members of an elite. As a result students often study little else. The celebration of the Modern matches the celebration of the European in its implicit editing out of the majority of the visually interesting things that the majority of people have made over the last forty thousand years. The use of the concept World Art does not prevent people arguing for the superiority either of the European or the Modern, but it reduces the risk that such views will become easy and implicit assumptions, and requires that they are argued against a multitude of others. Similarly, the use of the concept of ‘Studies’ is also designed to liberate us from the constraining assumptions of existing disciplinary frame-

192 / John Onians works, whether those of art history, of archaeology, of anthropology, of Marxist or Freudian art history, of cultural studies, of critical theory, of feminist art history, of post-colonialist art history, etc. It reminds us that it may be unhelpful to treat such disciplines and approaches as discrete reified entities, each rooted in one or more sacred founding texts, and equally unhelpful to talk in terms of the ‘interdisciplinary,’ because that too perpetuates the reification of the separate approaches. The use of the term ‘Studies’ allows all these existing approaches to continue to be practised, but makes it much less likely that any of them, or indeed any discipline or approach still to be developed, will be assumed to be the best or the only approach to any particular artistic phenomenon. It implicitly requires each discipline or approach to test itself against those that compete with it and it makes it much less likely that a student will end up with the assumption that one is inherently superior. The term ‘Studies’ is also helpful in allowing us to free ourselves from the baggage associated with history, with its favouring of the evidence of texts and other written documents and its fondness for chronicling as an activity. ‘Studies’ by contrast implies only that we give something intense attention and think about it, acknowledging the existence of a plurality of viewpoints. If there was a journal called World Art Studies its editor could not turn an article down because he or she found its method too innovative, or thought the visual material to which it was applied was unimportant, or thought it reflected an ignorance of bibliography. He or she could only turn it down because the attention given to some form of material that had been modified in a visually interesting way was not interesting or persuasive. The reader may here be thinking that it sounds as if I am now myself writing some founding text, and, at a minimal level, he or she is right. But the use people make of such a founding text will be unlike that they make of others. Some years ago I wrote a piece in the Art Bulletin in which I said that ‘perhaps the greatest single advantage of the concept of World Art Studies is that, since no-one knows what it is, everyone can contribute to its definition.’3 Nothing has surprised and pleased me more than that when students write essays about how to approach art as a worldwide phenomenon they often quote that text with evident approval. A founding text may offer nothing but limitless possibilities. Editing a Reference Work: The Atlas of World Art But of course you can’t build an academic course around such an airy notion, so I want to end by giving more concrete examples of what the

World Art Studies and the Pathologies of Academe / 193 real founding texts of World Art Studies might indeed look like. One is the recently published Atlas of World Art.4 Instead of representing in map form the traditional separate narratives of archaeologists, anthropologists, and art historians, the Atlas sets out only to plot and analyse the visually interesting modification of materials from prehistory until the present, turning the globe seven times through seven periods. The maps avoid cultural terms such as Roman art, Islamic art, or Modern art, and give no place or region a predominant role. In the overall structure there are no centres and no peripheries. This does not mean that the sixtyeight contributors who made the different two-page spreads are prevented from talking in such terms, only that they have to argue the case for doing so in the context of the particular period or place they are dealing with. The explanatory merits of their attempt can then be evaluated against the arguments and methods adopted by other authors when dealing with other periods and places. As a result the voices heard in the Atlas are less those of methods or disciplines, than those of individuals. Editing a Research Resource: The World Art Library Even more multi-vocal is another foundation stone of World Art Studies, designed to help researchers combat the ‘editorial’ activities of a group that I have not referred to so far, librarians. Most university libraries throughout the world, from Australia to Japan, from Berlin to Vancouver, contain the same sorts of books because they are built up on similar principles. The good art librarian typically asks: is the book by a good scholar, is it in an accessible language, does it relate to teaching, does it relate to research? All good art librarians ask the same questions and tend to give more or less the same answers. As a result, students of art, as of the other humanities, have great difficulty finding out about the wealth of literature on art that fails to satisfy these requirements. To help them round this obstacle we got funding from the Getty Grant Program to develop a new type of World Art Library. This has been put together by sending two individuals round the world several times to collect materials, including ephemera, from as many places as possible, and by soliciting donations from chance contacts from Timbuktu to Tashkent. The library is made up of textbooks, guidebooks, museum catalogues, handbooks on art, and course materials from as many different institutions in as many different countries as possible, in all sorts of languages. There is no goal except to document the variety of human interest in art. By now it is possible to find in the Library material not

194 / John Onians just from at least seventy countries, but from many regions within each country, from the States of Brazil to those of India, and both from small communities, such as the shanty towns of South Africa, and ambitious capitals, such as Tokyo. Although the Library is not large, compared to the great art history libraries, it houses a much wider range of publications, offering the user an extraordinarily kaleidoscopic overview of current interests in art around the world. As with the Atlas the intention is to prevent either members of faculty or students from coming to any easy conclusion about what material, what approach, what region, what period is of the greatest importance. In so doing it seeks to further contribute to their liberation from the set of constraints that I have called metaphorically and literally ‘editorial.’ Editing an Approach: A Natural History of Art The last potential founding text to which I want to refer is the one that I have been working on myself for some years and some fragments of which have already appeared.5 This is a study of the biological basis of artistic activity, which I call A Natural History of Art.6 Essentially it is an attempt to find out whether modern science, and especially evolutionary theory, neurobiology, and neuropsychology, can help us to understand why Homo Sapiens Sapiens has the tendency to make, look at, use, talk about, and preserve art, and help us to explain why humans do these things in such different ways at different times. This is not the place to outline any of its theories or to give any examples of how they may be applied, but it is appropriate in the context of a meditation on ‘editing in’ and ‘editing out’ to draw attention to two discoveries I have made that relate to those issues. One is that taking account of the brain means considering 100 billion neurons, each of which may have up to 100,000 connections to other neurons, connections that are formed and broken every second of our lives in response to a myriad of experiences. Taking account of the brain draws attention to the enormous complexity of our neural activity and reminds us of the vast number of factors which may influence each and every mental operation. As we look for explanations of art-related behaviours, a neuroscientific approach evidently requires us to ‘edit in’ a much wider range of possible human experiences than we usually do, taking account of both their potential short and long term effects. A neuroscientific approach is thus much less ‘deterministic’ than one that assumes the predominance of a limited set or economic, political, or social factors. The other discovery is the hostility that the enterprise elicits both within art history and in the humanities in

World Art Studies and the Pathologies of Academe / 195 general. This hostility has several roots. One is fear of the idea that the soft and sensitive humanities might acknowledge any debt to the hard sciences. Another is the notion that biological explanations of behaviour are reductive and determinist, a notion made ludicrous by the data on the brain given above. Yet another is the memory of the use of biology by the Nazis, although there is no overlap between fascist biology and modern neuroscience. Still, such is the power of this hostility that I have often been told that I should not have even thought of using biology to explain culture. Indeed, an illustration of the ‘editing out’ this involves is provided by the two friends at two different major U.S. universities who, in the not so distant past, told me they would love me to come and give a lecture at their institution, but that it could not be on this topic! Fortunately, since then, I have been asked to do precisely that; so the resistance is diminishing, but only slowly, as people realize that the exciting ‘editing in’ it involves should override any instinctive desire to ‘edit it out.’ The editing of others just referred to is bad enough, but from my point of view the more dangerous form of editing is the editing of oneself, as I might have edited myself by agreeing with my critics and abandoning this line of enquiry. It is certainly hard to understand, except in terms of self-editing, why so few people in the humanities are interested in studying the biological basis of human nature. Indeed it is particularly hard to understand that reluctance today, when the science of genes and neurons offers myriad paths for exploring the nature that sustains all cultural activity, and when neuroscientists, such as Ramachandran and Zeki, have no hesitation in following them.7 Although scholars in the humanities like to think of themselves as particularly free, they are evidently much more subject to the constraints of self-editing than their scientific colleagues. All people in universities, though, are more subject to such constraints than the general public, who prefer self-understanding to self-editing, as witness the range of popular books on the scientific basis of human nature. It is to combat this distinctively academic pathology that I have been so concerned to contribute to the development of World Art Studies and it is to contribute to its analysis that I have written this paper. NOTES 1

The issues discussed here were the subject of a correspondence between Michael Fried and myself that was published in 1988 in the last issue I edited.

196 / John Onians 2

3 4


6 7

This approach is finding increasing resonances in the wider academic world. Leiden University’s art history department, under the leadership of Kitty Zijlmans, has for several years been developing a program of World Art Studies that integrates the teaching of specialists in the art of different areas of the world and has recently appointed someone to pull the whole field together, a specialist in world aesthetics, Wilfried van Damme. The relevance of the concept in an anthropological context has also been discussed in ‘Conceptualising World Art Studies: An Introduction’ by Eric Venbrux and Pamela Rosi, the editorial to a special issue of International Journal of Anthropology 18 (2003): 191–200. John Onians, ‘World Art Studies and the Need for a New Natural History of Art,’ Art Bulletin, lxxviii (1996): 206. John Onians, editor, Atlas of World Art (London: Laurence King Publishing and New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), German edition also 2004, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish editions, 2005. John Onians, ‘The Biological Basis of Renaissance Aesthetics,’ The Renaissance Idea of Beauty, ed. Francis Ames-Lewis and Mary Rogers (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1998), 2–27; ‘The Nature of Art in Lin Fengmian's China: A Neuropsychological Perspective,’ in The Centenary of Lin Fengmian (Shanghai, 1999), 690–715; ‘The Biological and Geographical Bases of Cultural Borders: The Case of the Earliest Palaeolithic Art,’ in Borders in Art: Revisiting Kunstgeographie, ed. Katarzyna MurawskaMuthesius (Warsaw: Instytut Sztuki pan, 2000), 27–33; ‘Alberti and the Neuropsychology of Style,’ in Leon Battista Alberti e il Quattrocento, Studi in Onore di Cecil Grayson e Ernst Gombrich (Florence: Leo Olschki, 2001), 239–50; ‘Architecture and Painting: The Biological Connection,’ in The Built Surface, vol. 1, Architecture and the Pictorial Arts from Antiquity to the Enlightenment, ed. Christy Anderson and Karen Koehler (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002), 1–14; ‘The Greek Temple and the Greek Brain,’ in Body and Building: Essays on the Changing Relation of Body and Architecture (Cambridge, ma and London: mit, 2002), 44–63; ‘Inside the Brain: Looking for the Roots of Art History’ in Subjectivity and the Methodology of Art History, ed. Margareta Rossholm Lagerlof (Stockholm: Stockholm University, 2003); ‘A Natural Anthropology of Art,’ International Journal of Anthropology 18 (2003): 259–64. See John Onians, Neuroarthistory: From Aristotle and Pliny to Baxandall and Zeki. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2007. Vilayanur S. Ramachandran and William Hirstein, ‘The Science of Art: A Neurological Theory of Aesthetic Experience,’ Journal of Consciousness Studies 6 (1999), and Semir Zeki, Inner Vision: An Exploration of Art and the Brain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).


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‘Editorial’ Afterthoughts

The visual – one has to admit – presents very particular ‘editing’ problems. As the brave coordinators of this book (and of the conference which engendered it), Mark Cheetham and Elizabeth Legge strategically defined the notion of visual editing broadly enough to provoke artists, art critics, museum curators, and art historical scholars to think through what this term, usually considered a purely textual one, could mean in their world. But they also provoked a textually based critical theorist (myself) to do the same. The long history of debates about the interrelations between the image and the word (of which Catherine Soussloff writes in this issue) has shadowed my own thinking over the years about rhetorical tactics like irony or generic subversives like parody – for these manifestly function in both realms. This historical shadowing was made inevitable, I now realize, by the postmodern, self-reflexive artists whose work I was studying in order to ‘theorize’ the functioning of irony and parody in actual practice. What I had not considered until the provocation offered by the challenge of what editing could mean in a visual context was the fact that these artists were also editors. Among my first instructors in the intricacies of the verbal and the visual was Barbara Kruger, a master-editor of both word and image through her tantalizingly enigmatic juxtapositions. Echoing Russian constructivism and Heartfield’s photomontages, her (usually large) black and white works brought to the fore the politics of both representation and appropriation. (Why I call them ‘usually’ large is that they appeared in various formats and sizes, from billboards to postcards and T-shirts, but in a gallery setting, the images were large and framed in red.) Kruger’s borrowing (or stealing) of massmedia images used their formal complicity with capitalist and patriarchal representational strategies to foreground conflictual elements, often through ironic contradictions with the verbal text.

200 / Linda Hutcheon

Image Not Available

Figure 11.1 Barbara Kruger, Untitled (Your gaze hits the side of my face), Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation, Toronto. Courtesy Mary Boone Gallery, New York.

This kind of work was quite literally photo-graphy – image and graphic text brought together to make material the contradictions of ideology. The appropriation work of German artist Hans Haacke was considerably more didactic in intent, but it also used juxtapositions of the verbal and visual to comment critically on, for instance, multinational corporations like Alcan or Exxon. He too managed to inter-

‘Editorial’ Afterthoughts / 201

Image Not Available

Figure 11.2 Hans Haacke, Painting for a Boardroom. Hans Haacke/sodrac (2006).

pellate the viewer of his art as complicitous in making meaning in a capitalist context. Among his most effective techniques was the editing together of text and image – for example, by providing visual and verbal information about the disastrous consequences of Alcan’s involvement in South Africa within the physical context of the company’s own advertisement format. This was one way of making room for what he felt modernism had exiled from the aesthetic realm: the politics of representation and the representation of politics. Postmodern artists ‘edited’ in many different ways, of course, and not all of them involved this visual and verbal confrontation. Jim Stone’s parodic editing in of a price code bar into Ansel Adams’ famous photograph of ‘Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico’ didn’t really need its title (‘Pricerise’) to make its point about the astronomical rise in the

202 / Linda Hutcheon value of modern photography – and, by implication, about modernism’s role in canonizing (and perhaps mystifying) photography in America. But what is clear in retrospect is that, in the postmodern years, artists often worked primarily with the photographic image. Today, the situation has changed again: video and electronic technology has blurred even further the line between what some would call ‘original artistic creation,’ on the one hand, and the ‘editing’ of pre-existing images or texts, on the other. But is it, in fact, true that this technological shift to new media has really blurred this line? Other art forms might offer a possible answer. For example, early in his career, the legendary Canadian pianist Glenn Gould abandoned the concert stage for the recording studio, where he could ‘edit’ – that is, record – but more important, re-record, splice in, and remove, until he had captured the most technically perfect recording of his own playing. Are those recordings of ‘original Gould performances’ in the usual sense of the word? Or is this something else entirely? To offer another technologically driven example: in a 1950s recording of Richard Wagner’s opera, Tristan und Isolde, high Cs sung by Elisabeth Schwarzkopf were ‘edited’ into Kirsten Flagstad’s rendition, when the famous soprano could no longer hit the high notes.1 Michael Ondaatje’s The Conversations offers a series of interviews with Walter Murch, the gifted editor of films like The English Patient and Apocalypse Now. From eavesdropping on these conversations, readers have a much better sense of the usually invisible and certainly underappreciated art of editing both sound and image in film. What is just as fascinating, however, given the question being considered here, is Ondaatje’s comparison of his work as a writer with Murch’s work as an editor.2 Creating anew? Editing? Is there really a difference? In quite another sense, of course, literary works, like films, are edited before being published as books. But, as Cheetham and Legge provocatively asked us all, is there any way we can speak of editing in relation to an autographic art like, say, painting? There are at least two ways we could at least make the attempt. The first is by considering the question: Can paintings edit? And the second is by turning this around and looking at how the space of exposition of paintings might serve an editing function. First: can paintings edit? The argument could be made that Jim Logan, in what he calls his ‘Classical Aboriginal Series’ of paintings, both edits in and edits out: parodying canonical western art works from Michaelangelo’s ceiling in the Sistine Chapel to Matisse’s The Joy of Life, he edits in the absented aboriginal presence. In the process, he edits out

Image Not Available

Figure 11.3 Jim Logan, The Diners Club (No Reservation Required), Thunder Bay Art Gallery.

204 / Linda Hutcheon certain aspects of the dominant white culture, while retaining enough to make his parody discernable. His pointed titles do some of the satirical work for him: his gender- and race-reversed revisiting of Manet’s Déjeuner sur l’herbe is called The Diners Club (No Reservation Required). Paintings like this can be said to edit, in this sense. But can they be edited? The etymological root of the word ‘edit’ – edere or e-dare – means to give forth, to give out, as in to ‘give to the world’ an edition of a literary text. The visual arts are ‘given to the world’ in both public and private ways, however. Privately, they are displayed in people’s homes but also in books to be looked at by individual viewers; publicly, they appear in the museum or gallery space. The issue of how context can edit in or out is central to the question of editing the image, as John O’Brian’s remarks on the postcard format in this issue make clear. Part of my personal conviction about this centrality comes from the fact that I recently experienced an interesting example of how recontextualizing in a gallery space can function as a complex site of what I think we can call editing. In the Wexner Centre for the Arts in Colombus, Ohio, I recently found myself looking at three ‘paintings’ – monochromatic gold-hued works – onto which were being projected three moving video images. The piece was a recent work (2002) by Donald Moffett called What Barbara Jordan Wore. The central video-painting consisted of a video close-up film of African American Congressperson Barbara Jordan in a bright pink suit reading a statement to the House Judiciary Committee proceedings on the impeachment of Richard Nixon on 25 July 1974. The audio track offers her statement – one that indicts more than Nixon when heard with today’s ears. (When I walked into the space I thought she was talking about George Bush.) The panel on the right shows the judiciary committee. The one on the left, the people observing the proceedings. The worked metallic surfaces of the paintings blur specific details of the faces – except for Barbara Jordan’s where her race becomes the visual focus. This rich and beautiful work warrants much more analysis, but in this context what interested me was the impact of seeing a projection-artist’s video installation in a gallery – and looking not at the usual television or movie screen but at what I can only call a ‘moving painting.’ Just as the pixel is ‘edited’ onto the paint – each brushstroke visible beneath the video image – so too does the gallery space not only frame but also ‘edit’ the multiple ‘texts’ of this visual and aural representation of Barbara Jordan’s speech.

‘Editorial’ Afterthoughts / 205 This book, like the conference, addresses all these issues and more – and in the varying contexts of museums and collections (David Carrier), film (John Greyson), and the web (Reesa Greenberg). The limits and extent of editing in a broader sense of the word are explored by Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak, as they query the editing in – and out – of various of their collaborative works in the video canon, as well as by John Onians in his advocacy of a more inclusive ‘editing’ category called World Art Studies. Rather than accepting that a term like ‘editing’ may be too bound to the textual to be of use to the visual arts, these articles show us how to explode the very concept of editing, how to bring to those textual denotations (and connotations) the visual arts’ own complex and intricate ways of thinking through not only the nature of visual editing but also the larger issue of image-text relations.


Rupert Christiansen, Prima Donna: A History (1984; rev. ed. London: Pimlico, 1995), 150. Michael Ondaatje, The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film (Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2002), xviii.

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Envoi What Remains: The Nachleben of the Invisible

The soul of Osiris is immortal and incorruptible, but his body is dismembered and blotted from ~ µ" B@8sight over and again (FT ~ 8V64H *4"FB"< 6"Â •N"