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Hardcover | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780262110938 | 319 pp. | 6.875 x 9 in | January 1985
Paperback | $39.95 Trade | £29.95 | ISBN: 9780262610469 | 319 pp. | 6.875 x 9 in | July 1986

Instructor Resources

The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths


Co-founder and co-editor of October magazine, a veteran of Artforum of the 1960s and early 1970s, Rosalind Krauss has presided over and shared in the major formulation of the theory of postmodernism.

In this challenging collection of fifteen essays, most of which originally appeared in October, she explores the ways in which the break in style that produced postmodernism has forced a change in our various understandings of twentieth-century art, beginning with the almost mythic idea of the avant-garde. Krauss uses the analytical tools of semiology, structuralism, and poststructuralism to reveal new meanings in the visual arts and to critique the way other prominent practitioners of art and literary history write about art. In two sections, "Modernist Myths" and "Toward Postmodernism," her essays range from the problem of the grid in painting and the unity of Giacometti's sculpture to the works of Jackson Pollock, Sol Lewitt, and Richard Serra, and observations about major trends in contemporary literary criticism.

About the Author

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).


“All of her observations are unfailingly original and provocative.”—Art Documentation


“Krauss's essays, for their erudition, for their interpretations (particularly of artists whose work we thought we knew well), and for their siting of the art within the fullest possible range of discourses, stand as paradigmatic models for contemporary criticism."”
J. T. Paoletti, Wesleyan University