Informed by both structuralism and poststructuralism, these essays by art critic and historian Yve Alain Bois seek to redefine the status of theory in modernist critical discourse. Warning against the uncritical adoption of theoretical fashions and equally against the a priori rejection of all theory, Bois argues that theory is best employed in response to the specific demands of a critical problem. The essays lucidly demonstrate the uses of various theoretical approaches in conjunction with close reading of both paintings and texts.
Yve-Alain Bois, widely recognized as an expert on twentieth-century art, is the coauthor (with Rosalind E. Krauss) of Formless: A User's Guide and the author of Painting as Model (the MIT Press), and an editor of October. His other publications include Ellsworth Kelly: Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Reliefs, and Sculpture, vols. 1 and 2 and Art Since 1900 (with Benjamin Buchloh, Hal Foster, and Rosalind E. Krauss). Currently Professor in the the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, he has taught at Johns Hopkins and Harvard universities and has curated or cocurated exhibitions worldwide.
A remarkable book, an excellent and innovative example of bow the major experiences of modern painting, from Matisse and Picasso to Mondrian, Newman, or Ryman require a specific use of theory to be correctly interpreted. A genuinely original contribution, in both style and approach, to a 'new history' of art which reconciles critical theory to historical research.
Louis Marin, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris