Writing About Art
“Things I dislike: sleeping in an apartment alone, cold weather, couples, football games, swimming, anchovies, mustaches, cats, umbrellas, being photographed, the taste of licorice, washing my hair (or having it washed), wearing a wristwatch, giving a lecture, cigars, writing letters, taking showers, Robert Frost, German food.” - Susan Sontag
Annie Leibovitz, Susan Sontag in a bear Suit











In the Name of Picasso
Krauss begins by criticizing those art historians who are overly hung up on the autobiographical content. These paintings, she says, are in the same style; it shouldn’t matter that one is supposed to be a portrait of Olga Picasso and the other of Marie-Therese Walter. There is more to Picasso’s work than simply the proper name attached to it.
Pablo Picasso, Seated Bather, 1930.
Pablo Picasso, Bather with Beach Ball, 1932.











Olga Picasso
Marie-Therese Walter












Krauss identifies the 1967 identification of a portrait of the Spanish painter, Casagemas in La Vie as the moment that biography began to be used nearly exclusively to interpret Picasso's works.
Pablo Picasso, La Vie, 1903.











Krauss argues that "Autobiographic Picasso" is problematic because it leaves out elements that are ambiguous or that have fluctuating meaning.
Pablo Picasso, The Old Guitarist, 1903 - 1904.











"Interpretation, we insist, must be made to stop somewhere. And where more absolutely and appropriately than in an act of what the police call "positive identification"?
Pablo Picasso, La Vie, 1903.











Krauss points to essays by Linda Nochlin and Robert Rosenblum as examples of the methodology of the proper name.
= France = Picasso
Pablo Picasso, The Scallop Shell, 1912.











Krauss reviews Saussure's function for the linguistic sign:
sign = signifier + signified
signifier = material constituent
signified = immaterial concept
Pablo Picasso, Violin, 1912.











Condition of absence
"This opposition between the registers of the two halves of the sign stresses that status of the sign as substitute, proxy, stand-in, for an absent referent."
f-shaped sound holes = violin
Pablo Picasso, Violin, 1912.











"There is almost no case from among these collages in which the two fs mirror each other across the plane surface. Time and again their inscription involves a vast disparity between the two letters."
Pablo Picasso, Violin Hanging on Wall, 1912 - 1913.
Pablo Picasso, Violin and Grapes, 1912.











"With this simple, but very emphatic size difference, Picasso composes the sign, not of the violin, but of foreshortening."
Pablo Picasso, Violin, 1912.
Mantegna, Lamentation of Christ, c. 1480.