A sketch for an ideal textbook of modern and postmodern art, and why it can't be written.

One of the book's English-language covers.

Covers for the Italian and Spanish editions.

North American Art History and Its Alternatives

Chapter 6: An Ideal Text, and Why it Can't Be Written

The book Art Since 1900 is the de facto textbook of modernism and post-modernism for the next generation. It is currently being translated into Chinese and Farsi, among other languages. Many historians would like to see a book that is less centered on the North Atlantic, less faithful to North American practices of art history centered on the journal October, and more interested in interpretive methods other than formalism, psychoanalysis, the Frankfurt School, and poststructuralism.  

This is a proposal I wrote, with three colleagues, for a book that might answer Art Since 1900. We gave up on our proposal, mainly because it would take so much time. But there are deeper problems standing in the way of writing a book that would give alternate views of the twentieth century art.

This essay reproduces our proposal, and then ponders the impossibility of writing a 1,000 page textbook of the "other" modernisms and postmodernisms.


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