"The Optical Unconscious" is a pointed protest against the official story of modernism and against the critical tradition that attempted to define modern art according to certain sacred commandments and self-fulfilling truths. Rosalind Krauss tells the story of the optical unconscious, an unruly, disruptive force that persistently haunted the field of modernism from the 1920s to the 1950s and continues to disrupt it today. From Max Ernst's collage novels and Marcel Duchamp's hypnotic "Rotoreliefs" to Jackson Pollock's drip pictures and Eva Hesse's luminous sculptures, she finds artists who offered readymade images of obsessional fantasy in place of modernism's intentionality and unexamined compulsions.
This is critical theory grounded in the viscera and in the libido. A minimum of academic jargon, a satisfying helping of lovely description, a surprising amount of good dirty sex, not to mention an all-star cast of characters-Greenberg, Pollock, Woolf, Warhol, Deleuze, Sartre, Artaud, Madonna, and Jung productively inhabit these pages-which add up to nothing less than a persuasive rewriting of 20th-century culture. * Voice Literary Supplement * Original, fascinating, personal, often brilliant, combative -- Arthur C. Danto * Artforum *