Although it is more than sixty years since Georges Bataille undertook his philosophical development of the term informe, only in recent years has the idea of the "formless" been deployed in the theorizing and reconfiguring of twentieth-century art. In Formless: A User's Guide, Yve-Alain Bois and Rosalind Krauss present a rich and compelling panorama of the formless. They chart its persistence within a history of modernism that has always repressed it in the interest of privileging formal mastery, and they assess its destiny within current artistic production. In the domain of practice, they analyze it as an operational tool, the structural cunning of which has repeatedly been suppressed in the service of a thematics of art. Neither theme nor form, formless is, as Bataille himself expressed it, a "job." The job of Formless: A User's Guide is to explore the power of the informe. A stunning new map of twentieth-century art emerges from this reconceptualization and from the brilliantly original analyses of the work of Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Lucio Fontana, Cindy Sherman, Claes Oldenburg, Jean Dubuffet, Robert Smithson, and Gordon Matta-Clark, among others.
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Yve-Alain Bois studied at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes under the guidance of Roland Barthes and Hubert Damisch. A founder of the French journal Macula, Bois is currently a professor in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ.
Rosalind E. Krauss, University Professor at Columbia University and an editor and cofounder of October magazine, is the author of The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths (1985), The Optical Unconscious (1993), The Picasso Papers (1999), and Bachelors (1999), all published by the MIT Press, and coauthor (with Yve-Alain Bois) of Formless: A User's Guide (Zone Books, 1997).
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French
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