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Formless: A User's Guide Hardcover – October 15, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0942299434 ISBN-10: 0942299434 Edition: First

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Zone Books; First edition (October 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0942299434
  • ISBN-13: 978-0942299434
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 7.2 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,003,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review



"A challenging and possibly seminal discussion of meaning in creative production."
Creative Review



"A marvellous book."
Richard Pickup, Art Book --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Alexei Kourbanovsky on April 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
Georges Bataille was a provocative thinker. Associated freely with the Surrealists, playing around with the fascists, Gnostics, psychoanalysis and eroticism, he managed to create a highly explosive cultural blend which proves influential in our times, like a real time-bomb should. Was he really that quasi-Postmodern thinker some interpreters try to make him look? Anyway, he wrote some of the most intellectually challenging texts and supplied exquisitely enjoyable concepts which present-day artists still can not truly exhaust. The book "Formless" provides an equally provocative reading of Bataille projected against some Modern and Postmodern artifacts, which the French thinker never really saw. It is anachronistic, it is puzzling, sometimes quite enjoyable. Problem is, it does not add to our understanding of neither Bataille, nor, for example, Andy Warhol. It shows that Rosalind Krauss and Yve-Alain Bois can write complicated and intricate pieces on virtually anything, citing from Bataille and/or the so-called "French theory" to interesting effect. But this is not an art history book, it is rather a kind of artifact of its own right. Personally I do not regret that I bought it, but I can imagine people who would be disappointed.
I think in Thomas Pynchon's "V" there is a passage where two thugs planning to steal Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus" from the Uffizi go to the museum and stare at the painting. They see a nude woman, a maid who is trying to cover her up with a cloak, and an excited male god at the left who is trying hard to blow the cloak away and keep Venus nude. Well, this does not add to our understanding of Botticelli, but provides amusing reading and serves Pynchon's point nicely. Something similar happens with "Formless": it is entertaining but tells us mostly about personal excitements and idiocyncrazies of the two intellegent people who wrote this collection.
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51 of 74 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 18, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book claims to introduce a whole new perspective of 20th- century art which has so far been repressed. We are led to believe that it is necessary to add a third and foreign element into the conceptualization of art. The basis on which this whole endeavour is anchorred is the philosophical "Informe" of Georges Bataille. However, the arguments presented by the authors are weak as the whole book is stuffed with analyses purporting to reveal the operational tool of "informe". Any attempt at explaining the original intentions of Bataille's "informe" is so brief and convenient so as to get the reader lost in its adjectival superfluity. There is never any attempt to explain the introduction of "informe" into art and its necessity. The authors make claims to be liberating our thinking from the semantic and that this project is only the beginning. I am only too happy to wish for a clearer and thoroughly convincing argument the next ti! me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Megan J Walch on October 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After years of searching I found this affordable copy of a key text in contemporary art history. It is an indispensable component of my library.
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By Erika Suderburg on August 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book is a brave experiment in art history. It throws down the gauntlet in terms of innovative form and the boundless possibilities of thought. It is an expansive and rigorous journey.
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10 of 56 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
One should re-name this book: Useless - a Form Guide.
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