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From Leo Steinberg

Author(s): Leo Steinberg and Carol Duncan

Source: Art Journal, Vol. 49, No. 2, Depictions of the Dispossessed (Summer, 1990), p. 207
Published by: College Art Association
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Accessed: 23-05-2017 08:51 UTC

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Van Wagner,
Lines Williamson, Sue. Resistance Art in Youngs, Susan, ed. The Work of Angels:
of Vision:
Vision:Drawings Contemporary South Africa. New York: St. Martin's
DrawingsbybyContemporary Masterpieces of Celtic Metalwork, 6th-
Women, exh. cat. New York: Hudson 9th Centuries AD, exh. cat. Austin:
Press, 1989. 159 pp.; many color ills.,
Hills Press, 1989. 174 pp.; 39 color ills.,
some black-and-white. $35.00 University of Texas Press with British
96 black-and-white. $37.50 Museum Publications for the National
Wilmerding, John, et al. American Light:
Weaver, Mike, ed. British PhotographyThe Luminist Movement, 1850-1875, Museum of Ireland, 1989. 223 pp.; 40
in the Nineteenth Century: The Fine Artexh. cat. Princeton: Princeton Univer- color ills., 160 black-and-white. $27.95
Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge Uni- sity Press for the National Gallery ofpaper
versity Press, 1989. xiii + 304 pp.; many Art, Washington, D.C., 1989. 330 pp.;Zweite, Armin, et al. The Blue Rider in
black-and-white ills. $44.50 32 color ills., many black-and-white. the Lenbachhaus, Munich. Trans. John
Weir, Shelagh. Palestinian Costume. $19.95 paper Ormrod. Munich: Prestel-Verlag, 1989.
Austin: University of Texas Press with Yellin, Jean Fagan. Women and Sisters: Distr. te Neus Publishing, New York.
British Museum Publications, 1989. 288 Antislavery Feminists in American Cul- 288 pp.; 121 color ills., 77 black-and-
white. $50.00
pp.; 200 color ills., 100 black-and-white.ture. New Haven: Yale University Press,
$39.95 1989. xxi + 226 pp.; 33 black-and-white
ills. $25.00
Wilkins, David G., and Bernard Schultz.
Art Past/Art Present. New York: Harry Yorke, Malcolm. The Spirit of Place:
N. Abrams, 1990. 543 pp.; 210 color Nine Neo-Romantic Artists and Their
ills., 360 black-and-white. $49.50 Times. New York: St. Martin's Press,
1988. 366 pp.; 10 color ills., 103
black-and-white. $35.00

Letters to the Editor

From Leo Steinberg:

I am sorry to learn that Carol Duncan
at last
last by
by the
the rectified
rectified version,
tricity. Perhaps
thinks my reading of Picasso's Les regret
regret that
that the
the former
former alone
to make
make aa new
Demoiselles designed for men only around in Art Journal footnotes: 47 different
different from
("The MoMA's Hot Mamas," Art (Winter 1988): 274 n. 1, 322 n. 15; and power.
power. Let
Let him
thereis is
Journal 48 [Summer 1989]: 178 n. 48 11).
(Summer 1989): 178 n. 11. about those obscene and degraded
Where I had sensed "a similitude of -The writer is professor of art history, "demoiselles" that might repel and
sexual energy" in the picture, and "a
University of Pennsylvania. anger a woman.
visual metaphor of penetration," her -The writer is professor of art history,
reaction is to feel out of it. "The Carol Duncan responds: Ramapo College of New Jersey.
implication," she writes, "is that women
Everything about the Demoiselles, and
most of all the brothel situation it forces From Harry Rand:
are anatomically unequipped to experi-
ence the work's full meaning." But on the viewer, designates that viewer as In April 1976 I first published my
I had written that the Demoiselles male. To pretend, metaphorically or research on Gorky with an article ("The
"sorties and overwhelms and impales
otherwise, that women can play the Calendars of Arshile Gorky," Arts
customer-in that brothel in particu-
itself"; since I had posited a "reciprocity Magazine) that commenced with the
of engulfment and penetration," lar-or that as gendered subjects they following sentence: "Robert Reiff's ma-
wouldn't it follow, in Duncan's logic, can relate to the work on terms equal to jor work on Arshile Gorky began: 'From
that "to experience the work's full men denies the intensity, force, and 1943 until the time of his death, Gorky
meaning" the sexes must, as it were, vehemence with which Picasso differen- concentrated most of his creative efforts
pool their anatomic resources (or at tiated and privileged the male as viewer. making pictures composed of forms
least put their heads together)? But in I note a tendency among some art which are non-representational.' " I went
fact my piece was written for people historians, transparent in Steinberg's on to demonstrate that assertion false
whose imagination is undeterred by dearth letter, to try to save art-historical (along with the basic premises of his
of equipment. I have myself, on occasion, "greats" whose phallic obsessions have dissertation on Gorky written for Colum-
fantasized the life of a billionaire, though I lately gotten embarrassing by fitting
bia University). When, several years
lack the financial instruments. them out with new, androgynous psy-later, my monograph of the subject
And while I have your attention: My ches or secret female identities or byappeared (Arshile Gorky [New York:
original 1972 publication on the Demoi-applying to their work new, postmodernAbner Schram & Co.; London: Prior,
selles d'Avignon was a mangled affair, "readings" that shore up or restore their
1980, 2d printing, 1981]; rev. and
straddling two issues of Artnews, with a eroding universality. expanded paperback edition, University
change midway of format and manage- Leo Steinberg's brilliant 1972 essay of California Press, forthcoming), who
ment. The article was reprinted (with about the Demoiselles was, as I have did the Art Journal (Spring 1982)
corrections, decent-size pictures, and a written, ground-breaking precisely be-choose to review my book? Robert Reiff.
new "Retrospect") in October, no. 44 cause it uncovered and detailed so fully, Among the faults Reiff found in my
(Spring 1988), 7-74. It had been my albeit uncritically and with little appar- work was, "Never does Rand give us
hope to see the botched printing ousted ent self-awareness, the work's phallocen-tracings on the illustrations which help

Summer 1990 207

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