In the space of some thirty years, T. J. Clark's art writing has moved from the social history of art—something arising in reaction to formalist and “iconological” disciplines of the previous generation, with their characteristic claim of political and ideological neutrality—to a new defense of aesthetic distance directed against the current “regime of visual flow” and its comfortable assumptions about the artwork's necessary ideological bearing and belonging to the world. Remaining constant in his work through the years is not only a method of intensive close reading of visual images but a wide-ranging and engaged theory of modernism, one keyed to the question of mimesis in (a technological) modernity. Picasso is for Clark the representative modern painter, “the artist of the century,” whose constantly experimenting production influenced virtually all the other realms of modern art: with its radically ambiguous disposition of image space, cubism is the prototypical “theme of modernism.” Picasso and Truth focuses on the particular structure of spatiality that lends a deep-seated unity of concern to Picasso's oeuvre through all its manifest variation in style during his long career. This structure is termed “room-space.” Clark traces the development of Picasso's concern with interior and exterior space, with the problematic relation of proximity and alterity, surface and depth, in the postcubist phase of his painting, when the obsession with monster figurations of the nonhuman in humanity leads to the apocalyptic realism of Guernica.
Howard Eiland; Mimesis and Monstrosity: T. J. Clark's Picasso and Truth. boundary 2 1 November 2016; 43 (4): 127–145. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-3653755
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