A Voyage on the North Sea: Art in the Age of the Post-Medium by Rosalind E. Krauss

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By Rosalind E. Krauss

In line with the 1999 Walter Neurath Memorial Lecture, this ebook makes use of the paintings of the Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers to argue that the specifity of mediums, even modernist ones, can by no means be easily collapsed into the physicality in their help.

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Additional resources for A Voyage on the North Sea: Art in the Age of the Post-Medium Condition (Walter Neurath Memorial Lecture)

Sample text

And so must it be with art. For Rothko, then, art aspires to a loftier goal than commentary, and it needs to speak to the essentially human in us if it is to succeed. In the chapter “Emotional and Dramatic Impressionism” he identifies the core of the content that the artist must address to make his art meaningful in the human realm. In short, that crucial content is the tragic. The chapter is a fascinating pre-echo of the famous statement he and Adolph Gottlieb were to make in the New York Times in 1943, but it goes much further in elucidating the role of the tragic in art.

The questions he wrestles with here, both from within and without, are the questions he will face in the next three decades as he charts his course through the realm of pure abstraction. He will encounter the same bewildered responses to his art, and he will struggle to ensure that his apparently vacuous paintings are filled with meaning and content. At the same time, it is important to step back and consider exactly what Rothko meant by abstraction and how this related to his own painting during this time.

There is also something to be learned, however, from the stances he takes and the way he presents himself in his text. The first of these is as a teacher. While not a podium from which he consistently speaks in the book, this identification as a teacher of art infuses the text and appears at key places in his arguments. He presents himself as an expert on the art of children and holds up their work as keys to understanding the process of artistic creation. He is also keenly aware of the social responsibilities of the teacher, and thus when discussing cultural stances on art (as in the “Indigenous Art” chapter) he quickly moves to education as a prime area for consideration.

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