Éric Michaud

Éric Michaud is Directeur d'études at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris, and a 2018–2019 Fellow at the Italian Academy at Columbia University.

  • The Barbarian Invasions

    The Barbarian Invasions

    A Genealogy of the History of Art

    Éric Michaud

    How the history of art begins with the myth of the barbarian invasion—the romantic fragmentation of classical eternity.

    The history of art, argues Éric Michaud, begins with the romantic myth of the barbarian invasions. Viewed from the nineteenth century, the Germanic-led invasions of the Roman Empire in the fifth century became the gateway to modernity, seen not as a catastrophe but as a release from a period of stagnation, renewing Roman culture with fresh, northern blood—and with new art that was anti-Roman and anticlassical. Artifacts of art from then on would be considered as the natural product of “races” and “peoples” rather than the creation of individuals. The myth of the barbarian invasions achieved the fragmentation of classical eternity.

    This narrative, Michaud explains, inseparable from the formation of nation states and the rise of nationalism in Europe, was based on the dual premise of the homogeneity and continuity of peoples. Local and historical particularities became weapons aimed at classicism's universalism. The history of art linked its objects with racial groups—denouncing or praising certain qualities as “Latin” or “Germanic.” The predominance of linear elements was thought to betray a southern origin, and the “painterly” a Germanic or Nordic source. Even today, Michaud points out, it is said that art best embodies the genius of peoples. In the globalized contemporary art market, the ethnic provenance of works—categorized as “African American,” “Latino,” or “Native American”—creates added value. The market displays the same competition of “races” that was present at the foundation of art history as a discipline.

    • Hardcover $35.00 £28.00
  • Utopia Post Utopia

    Configurations of Nature and Culture in Recent Sculpture and Photography

    Fredric Jameson, Alice Jardine, Abigail Solomon-Godeau, Éric Michaud, Elisabeth Sussman, and David Joselit

    Much of the art and art theory of the 1980s has addressed the question Abigail Solomon-Godeau asks in her essay for this book: whether "the art object can carve a place for itself outside the determinations of the already-written, the already-seen, the sign." Utopia Post Utopia takes up the debate on this issue which has crystallized around the theoretical opposition between nature and culture, or more specifically the analysis of a nature (human and otherwise) which is culturally produced. Utopia Post Utopia approaches the nature-culture opposition from both the point of view of the lingering nostalgia for an essential nature, as well as the aggressive replacement of "reality" with simulations of both the natural and man-made environment. It documents two shows: a sculptural installation conceived by Robert Gober including work by himself, Meg Webster, and Richard Prince; and an exhibition of photography by James Welling, Oliver Wasow, Dorit Cypis, Lorna Simpson, Jeff Wall, and Larry Johnson. In addition to Abigail Solomon-Godeau's contribution, essays by Fredric Jameson, Alice Jardine, Eric Michaud, Elisabeth Sussman and David Joselit critically examine such issues as the problematic nature of utopian impulses in recent art (Jameson); the question of authenticity (Jardine); the shifting relationship between the represented and real worlds (Michaud); the phenomenon of collaboration and ensemble in recent art production (Sussman); and meaning of photographic serialization and superimposition (Joselit). Distributed for the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston where Elisabeth Sussman is Chief Curator and David Joselit Curator.

    • Paperback $13.95