- Before 1500 BCE
- 1500 BCE to 500 BCE
- 500 BCE to 500 CE
- Sixth to Tenth Century
- Eleventh to Fourteenth Century
- Fifteenth Century
- Sixteenth Century
- Seventeenth Century
- Eighteenth Century
- Nineteenth Century
- Twentieth Century
- Twenty-first Century
- Geographic Area
- Central America
- Central and North Asia
- East Asia
- North America
- Northern Europe
- South America
- South Asia/South East Asia
- Southern Europe and Mediterranean
- West Asia
- Subject, Genre, Media, Artistic Practice
- African American/African Diaspora
- Ancient Egyptian/Near Eastern Art
- Ancient Greek/Roman Art
- Architectural History/Urbanism/Historic Preservation
- Art Education/Pedagogy/Art Therapy
- Art of the Ancient Americas
- Artistic Practice/Creativity
- Asian American/Asian Diaspora
- Ceramics/Metals/Fiber Arts/Glass
- Colonial and Modern Latin America
- Conceptual Art
- Decorative Arts
- Design History
- Digital Media/New Media/Web-Based Media
- Digital Scholarship/History
- Drawings/Prints/Work on Paper/Artistc Practice
- Fiber Arts and Textiles
- Folk Art/Vernacular Art
- Graphic/Industrial/Object Design
- Indigenous Peoples
- Installation/Environmental Art
- Islamic Art
- Material Culture
- Museum Practice/Museum Studies/Curatorial Studies/Arts Administration
- Native American/First Nations
- Patronage, Art Collecting
- Performance Art/Performance Studies/Public Practice
- Queer/Gay Art
- Sound Art
- Visual Studies
Meyer Schapiro’s choice of subjects in nineteenth- and twentieth-century art was highly selective, focusing on artists and issues, concerned with the relation of art to politics, art to science, and certain kinds of personal expression. Belief in the subjectivity of vision underlies Schapiro’s engagement with modern art. That he drew, painted, and sculpted all his life, works figurative and abstract, may well have confirmed this belief.1
While modern art was not his primary scholarly field, Schapiro’s insights were original and profound, and his impact far and wide. A scholar of medieval art and an interpreter of modern art, his studies in each field informed the other: Schapiro’s writings about Romanesque sculpture have been regarded as a precursor to his work on modern art.2 Schapiro’s criticism reflected some of the major intellectual movements of the twentieth century: Marxism, psychoanalysis, semiotics, and phenomenology. He explored the possibilities and limitations of these theories and approaches, going historically as far as the Abstract Expressionists.3
In this essay I will touch upon the following issues: Schapiro and Marxism; Schapiro’s contributions to the study of modern art; the psychology of perception and some reflections on pyschoanalytic theory; the relation of art and philosophy and Heidegger’s delusion; the unity of Picasso’s art; and issues of art and science.
Schapiro and Marxism
Schapiro was initially sympathetic to the Communist party, though not a member; he was associated with left-wing socialism in the 1930s and 1940s. His concern for the condition of the arts in relationship to the political state led him in 1937 to publish one of his first essays on modern art, “The Nature of Abstract Art,” in the Marxist Quarterly rather than in an art-historical journal. In this essay, Schapiro countered the formalist position of Alfred H. Barr, Jr., who argued in his Cubism and Abstract Art4 that abstract art was cut off from society. The Communist view was not dissimilar on that point. Schapiro thought otherwise, seeking to understand the relationship of abstraction to political realities. Serge Guilbaut pointed out that if Schapiro was correct in his argument that “abstract art was rooted in the social fabric, responding to social conflicts and contradictions, then it was theoretically possible for left-wing artists to use abstraction…without being ashamed of it.”5
Schapiro was an engaged art historian who was concerned with the impact of the politics of culture on the practice of artists. He took issue with the idea that a new freedom was afforded by the detachment from “the world of action” in his lecture, “The Social Bases of Art,” delivered in February 1936 to the American Artists’ Congress. Art, including the development of abstraction, cannot be independent of historical conditions. He wrote that “this freedom of a few individuals is identified largely with consumption and enjoyment; it detaches man from nature, history and society…. Such an art cannot really be called free, because it is so exclusive and private.”6 He reiterated this position in his criticism of Barr, whose conception of an autonomous aesthetic Schapiro regarded as “unhistorical.”7 But Marxist criticism of art had its limitations for Schapiro. In his 1962 essay “Style,” he wrote, “Marxist writing on art has suffered from schematic and premature formulations and from crude judgements imposed by loyalty to a political lines.”8
Contributions to Modern Art
One of Schapiro’s significant contributions to the study of modern art is his recognition of the relationship of “high” and “low” art and culture in his study of “Courbet and Popular Imagery”9 in 1941. In it, Schapiro argued that Gustave Courbet’s “feeling of superiority as an artist was justified for him by his indigenous relation to the masses.”10 He noted the transition in the second half of the nineteenth century from cultured artist of historical painting to the artist who is of his time and who has a taste for contemporary popular images. This connection was later developed by Linda Nochlin in her dissertation, in her later publications on Courbet and popular imagery, and eventually by many other art historians.
The spectator as a subject and as spectacle was a major theme in Schapiro’s 1961 lectures on Impressionism at Indiana University. Going beyond the motif of Charles Baudelaire’s flaneur, Schapiro explored the implications of ways of seeing and considered the complexities of what constitutes perception. The lectures are the basis for his Impressionism: Reflections and Perceptions.11 Robert Herbert’s Impressionism: Art, Leisure, and Parisian Society,12 dedicated to Schapiro, is indebted to the scholar’s approach, as are others. Guy Debord, for example, develops the theme of the spectator from a Marxist perspective in his La Société du Spectacle,13 and Jonathan Crary from technical and theoretical concerns in his chapter “Modernity and the Problem of the Observer” in his Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century.14 (My book, A Human Comedy, Physiognomy and Caricature in Nineteenth-Century Paris,15 is also deeply influenced by Schapiro’s notion of seeing and being seen.) Schapiro understood the relationship between Impressionist motifs and the consumer society that had emerged in nineteenth-century Paris and that comes to particular focus in the motif of the spectator.16
The psychology of perception underlies Schapiro’s insights and observations about Paul Cézanne’s process of perception. Some of his observations, for example, regarding Still Life with Plaster Cupid in the book Paul Cézanne,17 in which he writes about the artist’s successive perceptions underlying his redefinition of pictorial space parallel the phenomenological perspective of Maurice Merleau-Ponty in his essay “Cézanne’s Doubt” and in his book The Phenomenology of Perception.18
Schapiro found psychoanalytic theory—tempered by Marxist cultural theory—useful in understanding an artist’s motives and expression, but not without considerable discretion. Schapiro wrote that we cannot apply psychological concepts “unless we know the state of the individual and his human environment, data that cannot be supplied without historical study.”19 Schapiro was one of the first to apply a psychoanalytic reading to Cézanne, as we see in his Paul Cézanne, Theodore Reff would later apply psychoanalytic methods in closer detail.
Schapiro adopted various theories, including semiotics, before it became fashionable to do so (see Larry Silver’s companion essay). But he was not beholden to a single perspective or method; his approach was inclusive, never arcane or arch. Before the age of deconstruction, Schapiro appreciated the multivalent meanings that could be gleaned through analyses close and wide in an ongoing process of interpretation. Throughout, Schapiro was concerned with the subjectivity and humanity of the artist, a concern that became obsolete in a newer age of Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault, when the author had been declared dead. In “On the Humanity of Abstract Painting,” an address from 1959, first published in 1960 and reprinted in Modern Art, Schapiro wrote:
The humanity of art lies in the artist and not simply in what he represents, although the object may be the congenial occasion for the fullest play of his art. It is the painter’s constructive activity, his power of impressing a work with feeling and the qualities of thought that gives humanity to art; and this humanity may be realized with an unlimited range of themes or elements of form.20
Schapiro’s concern with the historical forces that affect the conditions of production and reception is addressed in “The Nature of Abstract Art,” also found in Modern Art:
All renderings of objects, even photographs, no matter how exact they seem, proceed from values, methods, and viewpoints that somehow shape the image and often determine its contents. On the other hand, there is no “pure art,” unconditioned by experience; all fantasy and formal construction, even the random scribbling of the hand, are shaped by experience and by nonaesthetic concerns.… Nature and abstract forms are both materials for art, and the choice of one or the other flows from historically changing interests.21
In his essay “Chagall’s Illustrations for the Bible,” Schapiro argues that “modern artists have greater resources than modernity allows them to disclose—resources that are often unsuspected by the artists themselves, who would welcome, we may venture to suppose, the prospect of great walls to cover or monuments to erect, and would not be a loss for subjects worthy of this scale, if their art were open to all that they felt or loved.”22 Meyer Schapiro was biblical and Hellenic, moral and aesthetic.
The essays in Modern Art span five decades. They are against the grain of formalist criticism, though he never directly attacked Clement Greenberg.23 Schapiro saw modern art from the perspective of a humanist, concerned with the expression of self from the unconscious to the political.
Essay vs. Lecture
Schapiro’s lectures, both published and unpublished, were eloquent and compelling; they revealed his vast knowledge and range of reference. But can the particular texture and dynamic of his way of thinking be captured in articles based on his lecture notes? Schapiro was hesitant to publish his lectures in his lifetime; he felt there was always more work to be done on them. The articles based on direct transcriptions of recorded lectures raise the issue of the annotations used in their publication form. Are they Schapiro’s endnotes, or those of the editors? Does one bring in references to works published long after the original lecture to make the articles more useful to contemporary scholarship? Different editors of Schapiro’s posthumous work have dealt variously with these matters. Should we distinguish between the ways Schapiro might be understood today, by means of lectures edited by others, and how he was regarded in his time, when we had the living presence of a passionate and erudite teacher?
There are still some previously published essays that have not been included in recent Schapiro anthologies, such as “Matisse and Impressionism” (1932), “Seurat and ‘La Grande Jatte’ ” (1935), and the lecture “The Social Basis of Art” (1936), in which his Marxist position is most clearly stated. There is also his review in The Art Bulletin24 of Joseph Sloane’s French Painting between the Past and the Present: Artists, Critics, and Traditions from 1848 to 1870,25 in which he criticized Sloane for taking insufficient care in the analysis and interpretation of new subject matter:
If he ignores the specific content of the historical subjects, he is also blind to the meanings of the subjects that replace them. The concept of history was itself changing during this time…. To say, as Professor Sloane does, that themes which are not overtly moralizing and religious reflect an artist’s indifference to human values is absurd…. He ignores the intense contemporaneity of so many of Manet’s themes and his positive interest in the refractory, the independent, the marginal and the artistic in life itself, (the world of performers and spectacle).26
Henri Zerner, professor of art history at Harvard University, informs me that there is an unpublished article by Schapiro on Courbet and death that was submitted to the Journal of the Warburg and Courtlauld Institutes. It was intended as a sequel to the article “Courbet and Popular Imagery” but was rejected by the journal, whose publications on modern art at the time were very limited. Characteristically, Schapiro retained the article for further revisions and it never came to light.
Art and Philosophy: Heidegger’s Delusion
In “The Still Life as a Personal Object—A Note on Heidegger and van Gogh” from 1968,27 Schapiro took issue with Martin Heidegger for his essay “The Origins of the Work of Art,”28 in which the German philosopher interpreted a painting of Vincent van Gogh, in Schapiro’s words, “to illustrate the nature of art as a disclosure of truth.”29 Schapiro pointed out that although Heidegger was aware that van Gogh painted shoes several times, he did not identify the painting he had in mind, as if the different versions were interchangeable. In fact, three of the eight paintings might fit his description. In any case, they are “more likely pictures of the artist’s own shoes, not the shoes of a peasant.”30 Heidegger, Schapiro claimed, deceived himself, for his associations with peasants and the soil were “not sustained by the picture itself. They are grounded rather in his own social outlook with its heavy pathos of the primordial and earthy…. [Heidegger] has experienced both too little and too much in his contact with the work.”31 Heidegger’s projection took the place of close attention to the work, and his “concept of the metaphysical power of art remains here a theoretical idea.”32 Schapiro wrote that Heidegger failed to see “the artist’s presence in the work…. [He] has overlooked the personal and physiognomic in the shoes.” Rather, van Gogh has made of the shoes “a piece from a self-portrait…. For Van Gogh, the shoes were a memorable piece of his own life, a sacred relic.”33
“Cézanne and the Philosophers”34 is a transcribed recording of a lecture given on October 11, 1977, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, in conjunction with the exhibition Cézanne: The Late Work. Here, the reader experiences something of Schapiro’s associative network and the fluidity of his thought. Characteristically, he wove numerous strands in the course of this lecture, tracing various philosophies one might link to the thought and practice of the artist. More generally, he discussed the relationships and distinctions between art and philosophy, including the philosophy of science.
Following the German thinker Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling’s statement in System des transcendentalen Idealismus shortly after 1800 that “art is the only true and eternal organ of philosophy and at the same time its chief document,”35 Merleau-Ponty noted that all painting contains a metaphysics, that “underlying every work of art is a sense of reality.”36 In his discussion of philosophy and the formulation of a worldview, Schapiro turned to Johann Joachim Wincklemann, who argued that to understand Greek sculpture one must read Plato, and to José Ortega y Gasset, who criticized contemporary art as dehumanized because it, like certain philosophies, is “absorbed entirely in what the mind can spin from its inner resources of thought and feeling.”37 Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s philosophy of art maintained that, as Schapiro summarized it, “The history of art and the nature of art as a process in time in which various stages in the development of mind and of reasoning are manifest also in works of art of the same epoch…. The process of matching a philosophy and a style in art has become so common.”38
Schapiro noted that in 1913, Fritz Bürger first “undertook to show how Cézanne could be understood better through the philosophers.”39 Bürger attempted to show that the painter is like Immanuel Kant in regarding “the conditions of experience in general and the conditions of knowledge.”40 He argued that we recognize formed objects “not by sensations, but rather according to built-in structures of thought and reason.”41 Beyond “a mystical strain” and connection with Kant, Bürger connected Cézanne with Edmond Husserl and Henri Bergson. Schapiro noted that that was “part of the Expressionist pathos, which sought and found in certain contemporary philosophers a strong commitment to the primary place of spirit or mind in the constituting of reality of the world.”42
The discussion continues with reference to Fritz Novotny’s Cézanne und das Ende der wissenschaftlichen Perspective,43 of which Schapiro wrote that he owed a great deal. Schapiro noted the quality of “detachment and soulessness” that Novotny saw in Cézanne’s work and which, he argued, established his common ground with Kant. Novotny was concerned with “the problem of representing the world not in its becoming or in its action, but as it is reconstituted in its appearance for the eye, with a rigor of form and a cohesion that are not present in sensation.”44 Novotny, following Kant, saw Cézanne as “painted epistemology, painted theory of knowledge.”45
There are many other references along the way in “Cézanne and the Philosophers.” Schapiro took issue with some psychoanalysts’ views of Cézanne as schizoid, as well as other simplistic psychological interpretations of the painter’s work. (And he argued with Merleau-Ponty’s reading of Cézanne, citing what he adopted from Novotny regarding perception and dismissing the philosopher’s notion of temperament in Cézanne, which had made use of Freud’s theories as well.)
According to Schapiro, Kurt Badt’s effort to find “a single principle of Cézanne’s thought and feeling”46 was fortified in 1935 by Pablo Picasso’s claim that “what forces our interest is Cézanne’s anxiety.”47 Schapiro challenged Badt’s notion of Cézanne as a religious painter. Schapiro referred again to Badt and Heidegger, both of who found “an existentialist commitment in Cézanne,”48 musing on Cézanne’s statement “C’est effrayant la vie.” Though as Schapiro explained, it referred in fact to the artist’s horror of his landscape being desecrated by industry, a feeling Heidegger shared about technology.
Schapiro then asked “What did Cézanne himself think about philosophy, what did he say that has in itself a philosophical import and employs philosophical terms?”49 He refers to Emile Bernard’s conversations with Cézanne. To Bernard’s queries about religion and philosophy, the painter responded, “I know only two things: sensations and logic.”50 What did Cézanne mean by “sensations”? Schapiro goes on to discuss theories of sensation, mentioning Ernst Mach, Etienne Bonnot De Condillac, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz, and Hippolyte Taine.
A last instance of Cézanne’s awareness of the philosophy and psychology of his time, whether direct or indirect, is his famous statement about treating nature “ ‘by the cylinder, the sphere, the cone,’ everything in proper perspective so that each side of an object or a plane was directed toward a central point.”51 Shapiro wrote that the artist “represents a commitment to scientific perspective, to geometrical perspective”52 and noted that Cézanne was a very good student of science in the lycée. Schapiro cited Thomas Read, founder of the so-called Scottish common sense school of philosophy, who observed similar ideas about the cone, cylinder, and sphere. (Read was translated into French in the 1830s.)
Schapiro concluded that Cézanne’s ideas were not consonant with the modern philosophies of Bergson or Heidegger, but rather shared a framework with the French tradition that absorbed, to some extent, ideas of British philosophy of John Locke and David Hume. Schapiro recognized that Cézanne “holds also to a belief in the fundamental importance of theory for practice and the testing of theory in practice.”53
What do we come away with from this essay? An eagerness and appetite for ideas that laud both the rational and the sensate in Cézanne’s work. Avoiding the extremes of religious or metaphysical positions and resisting any hint of a philosophical equivalent of formalism, Schapiro emphasized “the activity of the individual as a constructive one in which sensations are shifted and correlated and the world of objects, solid and flat, is put into an ordered form.”54
Students now might find such breadth and enthusiasm alien, and the play of this master organist of ideas suspect. It may not be a methodology emulated today, but it is exemplary as a lecture that elicits thought and debate.
By contrast with the broad associative network found in “Cézanne and the Philosophers,” the essay “The Apples of Cézanne: An Essay on the Meaning of Still Life,” first published in 1968 and reprinted in Modern Art, is more closely argued with extensive annotation. But even here, one of the basic points—Cézanne’s association of apples with the Judgment of Paris—is arguable, as Richard Schiff of the University of Texas at Austin pointed out in a recent conversation. Schapiro countered the then-prevailing formalist idea of Cézanne by exploring layers of meaning from the classical and iconographic to the psychoanalytical:
The central place given to the apples in a theme of love invites a question about the emotional ground of his frequent painting of apples. Does not the association here of fruit and nudity permit us to interpret Cézanne’s habitual choice of still-life—which means, of course, the apples—as a displaced erotic interest?55
In his discussion of the meaning of still life for Cézanne, Schapiro considered Jean-Siméon Chardin’s still lifes, the Cubist still life, the writings of Baudelaire, and the works Cézanne studied at the Louvre, as well as the artist’s own poems. Schapiro wrote:
In this carefully arranged society of perfectly submissive things the painter could project typical relations of human beings as well as qualities of the larger visible world—solitude, contact, accord, conflict, serenity, abundance and luxury—and even states of elation and enjoyment…. [In] the self-chastening process, the painting of still life—as latent symbol and intimate tangible reality—was, perhaps more than his other themes, a bridge between his earlier and later art.56
Schapiro not only deepens our understanding of the meanings of still life, and Cézanne’s motifs in particular, but he also provides a means for understanding the continuity of Cézanne’s work from the early charged paintings to the later, more detached representations of objects.
The Unity of Picasso’s Art
“The Unity of Picasso’s Art,” an essay reprinted in the book of the same name,57 is drawn with broad strokes that suggest the major lines of force in Picasso’s artistic trajectory in humanistic terms, rather than surveying his art in biographical layers, as so many studies have done. In lectures from 1969 and 1973, and in a video based on a lecture in 1985, Schapiro demonstrated his extraordinary ability to read drawings and paintings and to intuit the artist’s processes. The essay recalls Schapiro’s lucid and perceptive general introduction in his Paul Cézanne,58 which is followed by finely wrought descriptions of individual works.
Picasso’s art displays unparalleled diversity of styles. But is there a unity? Schapiro suggested that certain modes of form that appear discrepant “may disclose a deeper consistency on another level.”59 Picasso’s ability to work in divergent styles, for example, both neoclassical and Cubist works within the same day, is phenomenal. Picasso “acquired a conviction about the nature of art…and that is the confidence in art as a process of radical transformation.”60
Another essay in The Unity of Picasso’s Art, “Guernica: Sources, Changes” is based on a lecture given in 1966. Here, Schapiro performed a close formal and iconographical analysis within a political framework. He argued that the creation of Guernica in May 1937 was inseparable from the ways the Spanish Civil War was regarded in France at the time. The Popular Front, which viewed the situation as hopeless, casted the war as a struggle of light and darkness rather than confronting the specific political realities. Picasso’s symbolism, drawing both on mythology and personal experience, focuses on the theme of struggle and death. Schapiro’s reading of Picasso’s depiction of pain, by “a new proportioning of the inwardly sensed body”61 is a powerfully insightful analysis of the ways the suffering body could speak for the state of suffering at large.
Art and Science
The relationship of art, science, and technology is explored in a range of essays on nineteenth- and twentieth-century art. For example, Schapiro understood Georges Seurat as “an engineer of his paintings, analyzing the whole into standard elements…and exposing in the final form, without embellishment, the working structural members.”62 He compared Seurat’s process with the constructive principles of the Eiffel Tower.
“Einstein and Cubism: Science, and Art,” an essay in The Unity of Picasso’s Art, was edited by Joseph Masheck from “a great mass of competing draft sheets, revision, supplements and notes that had grown out of the lecture.”63 The lecture was part of a symposium in Jerusalem in 1979 commemorating the centenary of Albert Einstein’s birth. (In the audience and contributing to the volume of papers from the occasion were, among others, Isaiah Berlin, P. A. M. Dirac, Roman Jakobson, Erik Erikson, and Gerald Holton, who coorganized the symposium.) Schapiro’s one-hundred-page essay includes an abundance of sources, ranging from Alois Riegl on alchemy to the scientist Werner Heisenberg’s complementarity theory. Schapiro stated that Johannes Kepler’s idea of the analogy of stages in art and science, with its foundation in Lucretius and Vitruvius, and his relation to Galileo and Tycho Brahe were more effective linkages than the Cubists’ effort to appropriate the idea of the “fourth dimension” of physics. Schapiro also cited early-twentieth-century associations of art and science among philosophers of science, such as Alfred North Whitehead’s analogy of art and science in his book Science and the Modern World.64 In it, for example, Whitehead ascribes to English romantic poets an outlook on nature that anticipates evolutionary biology and atomic physics.
Schapiro’s erudition is impressive, and one gets a good sense of his discursive way of thinking, but the path is circuitous. Schapiro argues that “painters, critics and historians of art were finding in physics analogies to Cubist forms.”65 But he is skeptical of broad analogies and makes a clear distinction between the aims and methods of artists and those of scientists. Science is concerned with results. The “cogency” of the artist’s work depends on a feeling of order, harmony, and expressiveness that is not of a logical or empirical order. Still, art is analogous in some respects to logic and scientific knowledge—a felt “rightness” and “consistency.”66
Underlying the pursuit of parallels between art and science is a conception “that somehow art pictures the world and not just single features or objects and relationships.”67 As representation gave way to abstraction, “the concept of painting as a way of knowing the world was interpreted by some artists and critics as a search for elementary relations of forms comparable as universals of nature to the most abstract relations in mathematics and physics.”68
Schapiro traced the relationship of space and time in early modern movements, noting that the Futurists isolated figures in motion, or in moving machines, as attempts to symbolize relativity space-time relations. But there is no evidence of such efforts in the work of Picasso or Georges Braque. (Schapiro suggested we examine in some detail how artists of earlier centuries treated time and space.69 The notion of movement over time can be seen in fifteenth-century painted narrative scenes, in which there is a conception of events as the displacements of participants in motion within an environment, in extended time as well as space.)
In rejecting the mathematical perspective of Renaissance art, Braque and Picasso did not seek to replace it with another system that represented a different form of real or imaginary space. They aimed, rather, to create a whole out of elements of painterly operation or construction that had been acquired in the previous process of veristic representation and composition—tangible brushstrokes, textures of pigment, and elementary shapes, points, lines, planes, volumes, edges, and articulated contours—in such a way that the objects, most often still-life objects, are discernible through free construction.70
Schapiro insisted that to make analogies meaningful, we need to be more precise about the terms of discourse. We have seen in the efforts to connect relativity theory with Cubism and Futurism and to link abstract art with quantum theory. We have also witnessed how the analogy rests on the disregard of the differing meanings of the terms space, time, and simultaneity, unlike, say, the meaning of perspective as projective geometry and painting. But the common features of modern science and art are more likely to be found in the individual character of scientific imagination and discovery, in the inventive processes, in the ongoing collective activity, in the critical openness to the new, and in the models science offers of sustained searching, questioning, and freedom of thought.71 In other words, it is not science as a model but science as metaphor with which art can engage, rather than by close analogies of procedures and proofs.
The range of Schapiro’s associations in his lectures, when coupled with the lack of documentation in the footnotes acknowledging subsequent research, makes the “usefulness” of Schapiro’s studies of a different order. The distinction between model and metaphor in the way we perceive Schapiro may be particularly apt now, when the complexity, or the multiplicity of perspectives, is part of the poststructural mentalité. We can read Schapiro’s associations as metaphor in a number of the lectures-turned-essays. But does Schapiro still serve as a model? I would argue yes, in the sense of a model of intellectual curiosity and of a passion for art as well as in the acknowledgement, now controversial, of the importance of individual sensibility and vision, within an understanding of historical context.
1 See Meyer Schapiro, Meyer Schapiro: His Painting, Drawing, and Sculpture (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2000).
2 See Willibald Sauerlaender, “The Great Outsider,” The New York Review of Books, 2 February 1995.
3 See “Archille Gorky” and “The Liberating Quality of Avant Garde Art,” ARTnews 56, no. 4 (summer 1957): 36–42.
4 New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1936.
5 Serge Guilbaut, How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), 25.
6 Schapiro, “The Social Bases of Art,” in Worldview in Painting—Art and Society: Selected Papers (New York: George Braziller, 1999), 127–28.
7 Schapiro, “The Nature of Abstract Art,” in Modern Art: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Selected Papers (1979; reprint, New York: George Braziller, 1982), 187.
8 Schapiro, “Style,” in Theory and Philosophy of Art: Style, Artist, and Society (New York: George Braziller, 1994), 100.
9 “Courbet and Popular Imagery,” in Modern Art, 47–85. It originally appeared in Journal of Warburg and Courtauld Institutes IV (1941).
10 “Courbet and Popular Imagery,” 52.
11 New York: George Braziller, 1997.
12 New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988.
13 Paris: Buchet-Chastel, 1967.
14 Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1990.
15 London: Thames and Hudson, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982.
16 This subject is discussed by Thomas Crow in “Modernism and Mass Culture in the Visual Arts,” Modernism and Modernity: The Vancouver Conference Papers, ed. Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Serge Guilbaut, and David Solkin (Nova Scotia: The Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, 1983).
17 New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1952.
18 See Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phénoménologie de la perception (Paris: Gallimard, 1945). I will not discuss this complicated issue further here, as the book is not among those recently republished.
19 “Freud and Leonardo: An Art Historical Survey,” in Theory and Philosophy of Art, 187.
20 “On the Humanity of Abstract Painting,” in Modern Art, 228.
21 “The Nature of Abstract Art,” 196.
22 “Chagall’s Illustrations for the Bible,” in Modern Art, 134.
23 See Crow on the parallelisms and distinctions in their approaches.
24 Schapiro, review of French Painting between the Past and the Present: Artists, Critics, and Traditions from 1848 to 1870, by Joseph Sloane, The Art Bulletin 36, no. 2 (1954): 163–65.
25 Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951.
26 The Art Bulletin, 164.
27 “The Still Life as a Personal Object—A Note on Heidegger and van Gogh,” Theory and Philosophy of Art, 135–42.
28 Presented as a lecture in 1935–36 and published in 1950.
29 “The Still Life as a Personal Object—A Note on Heidegger and van Gogh,” 135.
30 Ibid., 136.
31 Ibid., 138.
32 Ibid., 139.
33 Ibid., 141.
34 The essay was edited by Irene Gordon and Paul Mattick in Worldview in Painting, 75–105.
35 Merleau-Ponty, Phénoménologie de la perception, 3.
36 Ibid., 11.
37 “Cézanne and the Philosophers,” Worldview in Painting, 79.
38 Ibid., 79.
39 Ibid., 81.
40 Ibid., 81.
41 Ibid., 82.
43 Vienna: Anton Schroll, 1938.
44 “Cézanne and the Philosophers,” 83.
45 Ibid., 84.
46 Ibid., 91.
47 Ibid., 91.
48 Ibid., 93.
49 Ibid., 94.
50 Ibid., 95–96.
51 Ibid., 99.
52 Ibid., 99.
53 Ibid., 102.
55 “The Apples of Cézanne: An Essay on the Meaning of Still-Life,” Modern Art, 5.
56 Ibid., 31, 33.
57 “The Unity of Picasso’s Art,” in The Unity of Picasso’s Art (New York: George Braziller, 2000), 1–47.
58 New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1952.
59 “The Unity of Picasso’s Art,” 9.
60 Ibid.,, 41.
61 “Guernica: Sources, Changes” in The Unity of Picasso’s Art, 165.
62 “Seurat,” in Modern Art, 108.
63 “Preface,” in The Unity of Picasso’s Art, vii.
64 New York: Free Press, 1967.
65 “Einstein and Cubism: Science and Art,” in The Unity of Picasso’s Art, 102.
66 Ibid., 119.
67 Ibid., 122.
68 Ibid., 123.
69 Ibid., 66.
70 Ibid., 116.
71 Ibid., 125–26.
Please send comments about this review to email@example.com.