The Power Institute Foundation for Art and Visual Culture

Refracting Vision


Edited by Jill Beaulieu, Mary Roberts and Toni Ross

From his early career as an art critic during the sixties to his art historical writings of recent decades, Michael Fried has remained one of the most controversial and fascinating art writers of the late twentieth century. The theoretical and historical after-effects of Fried's art criticism continue to be played out in contemporary art and criticism, while his art historical studies impinge on many of the most pressing recent debates in art history and theory. Refracting Vision: Essays on the Writings of Michael Fried brings together for the first time a range of scholarly responses to Fried's art criticism, art history and poetry. It illuminates Fried's distinguished contribution to the study of art, while taking his work in exciting new directions. This book will be of significant interest to art historians, those engaged in contemporary art and criticism as well as critical and visual theory.

First published in 2000 and now reprinted in 2012, this volume was the first, and is still the only, anthology devoted to analysis of the work of this prodigious scholar.

T. J. Clark says, in a note on the jacket of Refracting Vision: Essays on the Writings of Michael Fried, that Fried’s influence on art and art criticism is immense but still…'incompletely acknowledged.' I agree with him that this volume will go a long way to improving the situation, and think this will be not least because the best essays in it are sensitive to the differences between Fried’s earlier and more recent thinking.
– Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe, CAA Reviews online

[This anthology] is essential reading for all art historians who are interested in the theoretical and methodological basis of their discipline…The collection contextualises Fried’s practice, draws out some of his more recondite terms and themes, and takes his work into areas that he could never have anticipated…The extraordinary range of Fried’s work is well represented by this collection, which includes discussions of his poetry, his art criticism, his art history and his literary criticism…This anthology should convince those who still harbour the view that Fried can be pigeonholed in the past as a representative of American formalism that they will have to think again. His historical conception of beholding, and its implications for thinking about the ethics of vision, so ably demonstrated by this anthology, bring his work to the forefront of current research.
– Susan Best, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art

407 pages, paperback, black and white images.

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