The Power Institute Foundation for Art and Visual Culture

In Visible Touch


Edited by Terry Smith

Two tendencies in recent art writing converge in In Visible Touch: Modernism and Masculinity. A renewed sense of the visual image as no longer seeking pure opticality but as alive with the energies of embodiment. And fresh responses to the representation of heterosexual masculinity, itself newly understood as a formation among other sexualities within modernity.

The outline of a first history of masculinity within modernism may be found in these essays. T.J. Clark reads Cézanne's horror of touch through Freud, while Tamar Garb explores Caillebotte's male figures, Roger Benjamin Matisse's female nudes, Virginia Spate Boccioni's images of mother and son, and Lisa Tickner examines Wyndham Lewis' Vorticist picturing of sex as a violent exchange. Mary Kelly demonstrates how, in times of crisis such as the Gulf War, femininity is obliged to adopt a masculine masquerade.

Modernism itself as a style category is questioned by Bernard Smith. Richard Shiff and W.J.T. Mitchell trace the consequences for art theory of recognising the physical presence of modernist artworks and the agency of imagery in our encounters with contemporary art. Terry Smith draws these threads together in an introduction to the qualities of intensity in modernism's 'phallic aesthetic'.


T.J. Clark, Tamar Garb, Roger Benjamin, Virginia Spate, Lisa Tickner, Mary Kelly, Bernard Smith, Richard Schiff, W.J.T. Mitchell.

257 pages, paperback, 79 black and white images.

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