Monday, November 09, 2009

The Restless Medium

By Jed Perl @ The New Republic

Michael Fried,who shot to intellectual stardom in 1967 with an essay in Artforum called "Art and Objecthood," is an intimidating writer. He looks very closely. He has passionate feelings about what he sees. And he shapes his impressions into a theory that fits snugly with all the other theories he has ever had. Whatever his chosen subject--Diderot, Courbet, Manet, Kenneth Noland--he comes up with an interpretation that is as smoothly and tightly constructed as a stainless-steel box. His writing amounts to a set of matching stainless-steel boxes. He puts potential critics on notice that the best they can hope to do is leave a few fingerprints or scratches on these perfectly polished surfaces. And so many people back away. Fried wants us to feel that we could as easily demolish the Great Pyramid of Giza with a pick-axe as successfully question his interpretations of his chosen themes--which now include the art of the camera, in his new book, Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before.


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