The book Art and Objecthood: Essays and Reviews, Michael Fried is published by University of Chicago Press. Michael Fried is an art historian and critic best known for his essay, “Art and Objecthood” first published in in Artforum. He was educated. Much acclaimed and highly controversial, Michael Fried’s art criticism defines the contours of late modernism in the visual arts. This volume contains.
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The emergence of a number of new art forms in the course of the development and spreading of digital media — e. The variety of new forms makes it difficult to give an overall view, let alone that a substantial definition of these new phenomenons in art studies would be even more complicated, since it remains unclear what distinguishes them from former art forms.
Among the things, that are listed as characteristics of interactivity in computer-mediated environments Cf. They are time-based and integrate a back channel into the art work, thus allowing responsivity to be an important characteristic of these new, interactive art forms. Responsivity changes the activity of beholding in the sense that the receiver is understood as a co-author, but not suprisingly there are some doubts about this author-function.
It excludes the producer, because his integration would turn the fdied work into a technically mediated form of interaction. Art discovers obiecthood discloses the positions and activities of its beholders as embedded in the discourse that constitute art and its distributional system, and by this, art explores the impact of the pragmatics of art reception on art itself. Therefore, these art forms can be seen in one line with the development of the techniques of the observer which the art historian Jonathan Crary has examined for the 19th century in physiology, art, and popular culture Cf.
Fried criticized minimal art from a modernist point of view, though in clear distance to his idol and teacher Greenberg. However, his critique has been taken in the theoretical reception to pronounce certain positive definitions of the phenomenons of postmodernist art. The dichotomies Fried developed in this essay — modernism vs. Although Fried sought to invalidate the artistic claim of the minimalists, he gave them and their advocates the chances to formulate some substantial characteristics objecthkod the new art form which allow to demarcate it from the older art forms.
Against the intention of its author it writes art history and this could only happen because the intended aim to desubstantiate minimalism as art went wrong.
The primacy of this relationship is what Fried calls theatricalityand it is by describing its character, that he develops a complete theory objecrhood aesthetic communication and obejcthood media, that this essay shall give a brief description of. What lies between the arts is theatre. Of course he considers them to be realized in the art works of the late modernism. Thus, the problem of theatricality affects art production and its poetics as well as art reception.
It is a question of a general aesthetic sensibility, that can be either modernist or literalist gried theatrical. Rejecting the bluring of the individual arts is part of the modernist programme as it was formulated by its main critic, Objeccthood Greenberg. Against that, he understands modernism frked a process of continous purification from everything unnecessary for the constitution of the aesthetic medium.
In his narration of the permanent progress of modernism, painting is a step by step withdrawal from characteristics painting shares with other arts.
Instead, he developes his own version of artistic modernism, because, as Fried wrote 30 years later Fried a: The problem was that it allowed the bare supporting material to be understood as a painting, thus objechood the minimalistic relief Cf. The essence of painting is not something irreducible. Fried understands this characteristic as a reaction to modernism as he conceives it, especially to its relational character, that is the fact that painting and sculpture consist of an undefinite number of distinguishable elements which are related to one another.
The whole, the gestalt of the work of art, obecthood from the organisation of these elements or shapes. In opposition to that, the minimalist art work emphasizes the whole of the object, it has no or only a few separate parts, that are often organised in repetetive serial patterns that show no hierarchy. For Fried, this goes along with the intention of its producers. He writes about Donald Judd and Robert Morris, two minimalists whose texts he quotes objecthiod many occasions As a result, and, contrary to modernist painting, shape as a medium of expression is no longer independent from the outer form of the art object.
Shape now coincides with the object, with its physical extension.
As Fried puts it For him, objecthood remains alien to art: What especially irritates Fried is the way in which the minimal art object rejects the codification of its visual elements as the modernist art work does. It denies the flatness that Clement Greenberg has pointed out to be the essence of modernist painting. The realistic painting is aiming at an iconic relation: By gradually increasing its iconicity, the painting shares more and more characteristics of the depicted scene itself.
The paradox horizon of the iconic relation would be that the painting becomes the depicted, or — more probable — that the beholder forgets that he or she is in front of a painting and by doing so, also forgetting the code that organizes the representation.
Whereas the realistic painting tends to obliterate the knowledge about its two-dimensionality, the modernist painting is interested in just those qualities the realistic painting wants to obliterate, especially the colours, the shapes, the size, and the way the shapes correspond with the rectangular plane.
Thus, it tends towards a preference of the symbolic. From the great variety of possible perception only the purely visual are selected and codified. Operating in the field of the visual code, it is the aim of the painter to explore the possible syntactic relations of the visual elements and to work on establishing these codifications. By this, the modernist painting also produces an impression of pictorial depht, because it constitutes its arthood not by such qualities as spaciousness, opacity, or extension the colour has besides its chromatic attributes.
It is just the colour as colour, not as pigment, that serves as a medium of painting. The modernist painting does not establish the illusion of a three-dimensional space behind the surface as the realistic does; but by abstracting from the qualities of the pigment, it evokes the illusion that the actual surface of the painting is behind the painting as object. It is by denying this exclusion of the uncodified characteristics that the minimalist object discovers its objecthood.
And this is accomplished by stressing those spacious and physical characteristics that objetchood art work shares with objects of daily life. Consequently, reception includes also the situation in which the minimalistic art work is located.
Though as much as this situation includes the art work, it also contains the viewer. There is nothing within his field of vision — nothing that he takes note of in any way — that, as it were, declares its irrelevance to the situation, and therefore to the experience, in question. MichelsonKraussMeyer As Benjamin Buchloh said to Fried in a discussion: What Fried understood as entirely theatrical was, on the other hand, judged as a proof of the embodiedness of the perceiving self.
It is that understanding of minimal art which was also at work when Hal Foster defined Minimal Art in In this transformation the viewer, refused the safe, sovereign space of formal art, is objcethood back on the here and now. Foster introduces in this quote the motif of the hic et nuncwhich has proved to be one of most haunting ideas in the arts since the ies Cf Finter The objectthood level of perception was thought to be the unbiased experience of the present in its presence, considered to objecthoood before and beyond any communication or even signification.
It was ironically once again Fried who induced the critics of modernism to deal with the subject of presence: Much more he was pointing at what in particular makes the minimal art object theatrical.
And once he is in the room the work refuses, obstinately, to let him alone […]. Here Fried describes a weakening of the work as aesthetic category. It is not self-sufficient any longer, for it misses the properties of completeness and seclusion. As a consequence, the minimal art object is not sheltered from the dynamic activity of the beholder by its own, virtual space.
This virtual space, conventionally established along with the distributional system of art, guarantees for the souvereinity and objecthood of the art object as piece of art, not as object.
By abandoning its own sphere, the art work turns into an object, though a specific, outstanding frifd. It allows objecthoood situation to have all the semantic fullness which is rendered by the activity of the viewer.
Owens understands discourse in opposition to histoirethose two categories Emile Benveniste developed.
Art and Objecthood : Michael Fried :
Besides their art works, they produce texts about their art and intentions which establish an interplay with the art works. This interplay shows the characteristics of discourse, as they were given by Benveniste, such as multi-perspectivity, and pragmatic lbjecthood, e.
But the characteristics of discourse can also be seen in the way the beholder does not confine himself to perceive only the art work, and instead opens semiosis to the situation in which this work is set.
This situation of reception friex be understood as a projection of discourse from what was once within the work onto the relations that constitute the situation.
Space between the subject and the object is implied in such a comparison. However, it is just this distance between object and subject that creates a more extended situation, for physical participation becomes necessary Morris Fried quotes these sections obnecthood concludes Fried More likely, all the characteristics Benveniste has given are rendered by the activity of the beholder, who, facing an art work which has nearly no differentiations within itself, has to make differentiations himself in order to produce meaning.
This is what Fried is hinting at when recurringly stating that the minimal art object distances the beholder, confronts him, refuses to let him alone. According to Foster But presence is not the only mode of theatricality. The strategies, however, by which artists seek to defeat such a theatricality, vary.
The object of his distaste was not exaggeration or caricature or politesse as such but the awareness of an audience, of being beheld, that they implied. Absorption means on the one hand the organization of objevthood elements, of sight angles and emotional involvement of the depicted persons in a way that excludes the beholder as a point of reference.
On the other hand, this seclusion of ar depicted scene can also objecthoof accomplished by allocating to the beholder a position within the picture, thus absorbing him into the scene. This form of imaginary entry into the depicted scene is an outstanding moment, because objecthoov makes forget the relation to the painting as object in favour of an integration into the emotional network of the depicted persons. It is thus a good example for an iconic relation that is so perfect that it makes the beholder forget, that he is just in front of an ensemble of signs that represent the scene.
More fired is the idea of presentness that Fried opposes to presence.
Art and Objecthood
The important section reads as follows:. It was read as an expression of the modernist phantasma of complete self-sufficiency of the beholding subject, which, due to forgetting the bodily relation to what is seen, in a single arrested moment becomes aware of rfied mastery over the site; a longing for pure visuality. Although this arguments, as e. Clarke has developed them, are far from being unjustified, I would like to draw attention to two points that do not fit into this critique: Even more, it can be understood as an ethics of communication that puts Fried into strong opposition to Minimalism.
What is froed the core of this ethics is the believe in the possibility of an absolute understanding, an understanding that is not only a successful deciphering of the message, but also the experience of the full transparency of the moment in which the art work is received.
By no means, Fried conceives aesthetic communication as a bodiless transmission of content from one mind that of the artist to another the spectator. For the minimalists, as well as for Gried, abstractness stands for quality.
The allusiveness of these sculptures is accomplished by recalling the syntax of the bodily elements of human gestures. Although Fried opposes presentness to the durational character of minimal art, he still does not locate it outside history. Rather, these moments of instantaneousness have an outstanding function within the historical logic of modernism. Up to this point ovjecthood follows Greenberg, but he does not objecthiod them as eternal. The artistic media are permanently subjected to the process of self-interrogation and self-renewing that constitutes modernist art.
This process establishes a tradition of its own by refering to the predecessing art works in accepting their formal lbjecthood but rejecting their answers.