Quoting Caravaggio

Contemporary Art, Preposterous History

Mieke Bal

Quoting Caravaggio
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Mieke Bal

328 pages | 62 color plates, 25 halftones | 8-3/4 x 9-1/2 | © 1999
Cloth $59.00 ISBN: 9780226035567 Published August 1999
As period, as style, as sensibility, the Baroque remains elusive, its definition subject to dispute. Perhaps this is so in part because baroque vision resists separation of mind and body, form and matter, line and color, image and discourse. In Quoting Caravaggio, Mieke Bal deploys this insight of entanglement as a form of art analysis, exploring its consequences for both contemporary and historical art, as well as for current conceptions of history.

Mieke Bal’s primary object of investigation in Quoting Caravaggio is not the great seventeenth-century painter, but rather the issue of temporality in art. In order to retheorize linear notions of influence in cultural production, Bal analyzes the productive relationship between Caravaggio and a number of late-twentieth-century artists who "quote" the baroque master in their own works. These artists include Andres Serrano, Carrie Mae Weems, Ken Aptekar, David Reed, and Ana Mendieta, among others. Each chapter of Quoting Caravaggio shows particular ways in which quotation is vital to the new art but also to the source from which it is derived. Through such dialogue between present and past, Bal argues for a notion of "preposterous history" where works that appear chronologically first operate as an aftereffect caused by the images of subsequent artists.

Quoting Caravaggio is a rigorous, rewarding work: it is at once a meditation on history as creative, nonlinear process; a study of the work of Caravaggio and the Baroque; and, not least, a brilliant critical exposition of contemporary artistic representation and practice.


"[A] profoundly enlivening exercise in art criticism, in which the lens of theory magnifies rather than diminishes its object. . . . [A] remarkable book. . . . The power of Quoting Caravaggio resides in the intelligence and authority of the writer."—Roger Malbert, Times Literary Supplement
Contents
Contents
List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Preposterous History
"Quoting ..."
Re-Visioning the Baroque
"... Caravaggio" (and Those Who Quote Him)
Meta-Baroque
Theoretical Objects and the Life of Ideas
1. Skin-Deep: A Baroque Point of View
A History by Default/The Fold
The Body Inside Out: Baroque Point of View
Folds That Matter
2. White History
White and the Mirror
Death and the Body
Nostalgia Isn't What It Used to Be
3. Reading Caravaggio: Basic Instincts and Their Discontents
Misfiring
Inside the Readable
Interpellation and Identity
4. Sighting Time
Time's Spurts of Blood
Tombstones, Gossip, and Stories of Origin
Visual Poetics
A Poetics of Vision
Playing the Game
Art Writing
5. Space, Inc.
The Matter with Semiosis
Killing Mirrors
The Index and Psychic Space
Deixis: A Special Pleading for the Orientation of the Index
Light and the Black Body
6. Second-Person Narrative
Sticky Images
Time Out
Nonfigurative Narrative
First Person, Second Person, Same Person
Time, in Two Episodes
Engaging Caravaggio
Light-Writing
The Sense of Not-Ending
Is That Narrative?
7. Mirrors of Nature
A Mirror with a Twist
Mirroring Constructivism
A Mirror with a Stain
A Mirror That Cuts
A Mirror with a Crack
Presences
Naturally Yours
8. Narcissus Now
Beyond Mapping
The Landscape in the Corner of Your Eye
Narcissus's Vision
The Mirror Cracked
Framing Vision
Afterword
References
Indexes

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