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Mignon Nixon

Mignon Nixon is Professor of Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London.

Titles by This Author

Louise Bourgeois and a Story of Modern Art

The art of Louise Bourgeois stages a dynamic encounter between modern art and psychoanalysis, argues Mignon Nixon in the first full-scale critical study of the artist's work. A pivotal figure in twentieth-century art, Louise Bourgeois (b. 1911, France) emigrated to New York in 1938 and is still actively working and exhibiting today. From Bourgeois's formative struggle with the "father figures" of surrealism, including Andre Breton and Marcel Duchamp, to her galvanizing role in the feminist art movement of the 1970s, to her subsequent emergence as a leading voice in postmodernism, this book explores the artist's responses to war, dislocation, and motherhood, to the predicament of the "woman artist" and the politics of sexual and social liberation, as a dialogue with psychoanalysis.

Convinced that she could express "deeper things in three dimensions," Bourgeois abandoned painting for sculpture in the 1940s, founding her art in one of the twentieth century's most radical and controversial accounts of subjectivity, the object relations psychoanalysis of Melanie Klein. Rejecting the Oedipal narratives of Freud and the dream imagery of surrealism for the object world of the infantile drives, Bourgeois turned to the child analysis pioneered by Klein, the figure Julia Kristeva has called "the boldest reformer in the history of modern psychoanalysis." With Klein, Bourgeois thinks the negative—fragmentation, splitting, and formlessness—where we might least expect to find it, in the corporeal fantasies of mother and child. This turn to the mother and the death drive at once in child psychoanalysis, Nixon contends, not only finds powerful expression in Bourgeois's art, but is echoed in the work of other artists, including Marcel Duchamp, Jasper Johns, Yayoi Kusama, and Eva Hesse, and in a return to Klein in recent art.

"Fantastic reality," Bourgeois calls the condition of her art. Starting from Bourgeois's investigation, through a multiplicity of forms and materials, of the problem of subjectivity on the very threshold of emergence, this book argues for a new psychoanalytic story of modern art.


This expanded edition of the fall 1994 special issue of October includes new essays by Sarat Maharaj and by Molly Nesbit and Naomi Sawelson-Gorse. It also includes the transcript of an exchange between T. J. Clark and Benjamin Buchloh which presents new responses to the problems raised by this immediately popular (and now out of print) issue of the journal.

The Duchamp Effect is an investigation of the historical reception of the work of Marcel Duchamp from the 1950s to the present, including interviews by Benjamin Buchloh (with Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol, and Robert Morris), Elizabeth Armstrong (with Ed Ruscha and Bruce Conner), and Martha Buskirk (with Louise Lawler, Sherrie Levine, and Fred Wilson) and a round-table discussion of the Duchamp effect on conceptual art.

Contents

Introduction · Benjamin H. D. Buchloh
What's Neo about the Neo-Avant-Garde? · Hal Foster
Typotranslating the Green Box · Sarat Maharaj
Three Conversations in 1985: Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol, Robert Morris · Benjamin H. D. Buchloh
Interviews with Ed Ruscha and Bruce Conner · Elizabeth Armstrong
Echoes of the Readymade: Critique of Pure Modernism · Thierry de Duve
Concept of Nothing: New Notes by Marcel Duchamp and Walter Arensberg · Molly Nesbit and Naomi Sawelson-Gorse
Interviews with Sherrie Levine, Louis Lawler, and Fred Wilson · Martha Buskirk
Thoroughly Modern Marcel ·, Martha Buskirk
Conceptual Art and the Reception of Duchamp · October Round Table
All the Things I Said about Duchamp: A Response to Benjamin Buchloh · T. J. Clark
Response to T. J. Clark · Benjamin Buchloh


Titles by This Editor

Edited by Mignon Nixon

Eva Hesse's distinctive process-based art exerted a powerful influence on minimalist artists of the 1960s and continues to inspire artists today. Using industrial materials such as latex and fiberglass, she exploited their flexibility to produce works with an unsettling psychic and corporeal resonance. Hesse, who was born in Germany in 1936 and raised in New York City, died of cancer in New York in 1970.

Eva Hesse focuses on the body of criticism that has developed since the last major retrospective of Hesse's work, at the Yale University Art Gallery in 1992. The book's publication coincides with a major exhibition organized jointly by the San Francisco Museum of Art and the Wiesbaden Museum. Eva Hesse contains a 1970 interview by Cindy Nemser, a discussion between Mel Bochner and Joan Simon, and essays by Briony Fer, Rosalind Krauss, Mignon Nixon, and Anne M. Wagner.