The pragmatism of Charles Peirce and William James and John Dewey exists as it moved, absorbing and absorbed. Conclusions remain provisions, time riding on, perpetually unsettled, nocturnal, opaque. Many questions and conditions remain. They will recur. The future has not eased. In our own lifetime there have been stakes, some old, some new, in continuing to write about the time and place and point of art. It is important to mark them. Pragmatism is above all a way of working, it starts from the present.
The Pragmatism in the History of Art traces the questions that modern art history has used to make sense of the changes overtaking both art and life. A genealogy emerges naturally, elliptically. Several generations cross back and forth over the Atlantic. The questions combine with case studies as a story unfolds: the work of Meyer Schapiro, Henri Focillon, Alexander Dorner, George Kubler, Robert Herbert, T. J. Clark and Linda Nochlin is scrutinized; the philosophy of Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze and the films of Chris Marker and Jean-Luc Godard show distinctly pragmatic effects; artists discussed include Vincent Van Gogh, Isamu Noguchi, Lawrence Weiner and Gordon Matta-Clark. The relevance of this material for the art and art-writing of our own time becomes increasingly clear.
Molly Nesbit is Professor in the Department of Art, Vassar College, and a contributing editor of Artforum. Her books include Atget’s Seven Albums (1992) and Their Common Sense (2000). Since 2002, together with Hans Ulrich Obrist and Rirkrit Tiravanija, she has curated Utopia Station, an ongoing book, exhibition, seminar, website and street project.
NY Art Book Fair September 19–22
Molly Nesbit’s new book,The Pragmatism in the History of Art, will be available throughout the 2013 NY Art Book Fair at PS1 in Queens at table D04 Project Projects / Paper Monument. She will be signing books on Saturday, September 21, at 1pm.
The Pragmatism in the History of Art
Cloth, 128 pp, 32 ills, notes, index
Design by Project Projects
Published by Gutenberg Periscope, Ltd.