Marnin Young at nonsite:
In early 1995, Michael Fried delivered the Una’s Lectures at the University of California, Berkeley. The Alumni Hall was packed for “Some Thoughts on Caravaggio” and “Caillebotte’s Impressionism,” and the spillover audience carried into the panel discussion with T. J. Clark and Richard Wollheim some days later on March 15. For many of us at the time, the appeal of Fried’s writing and lectures was primarily, as Clark put it, his “remarkable descriptions.”1 And remarkable they were. No one, I think, could ever look at Caravaggio or Gustave Caillebotte the same way after encountering his close reading of them (to say nothing of Chardin, Courbet, Eakins, Manet, or Menzel). But equally, there was a sense of engaged curiosity about Fried’s status as a by-then legendary art critic. Or at least, the possible link between the art historian and the art critic prompted what, for me, has remained the most interesting question posed at the panel discussion. How, Anne Wagner asked from the audience, might we understand the relation between these new accounts of Caravaggio and Caillebotte on the one hand and on the other hand the analysis of Minimalism in “Art and Objecthood”?
In part, Wagner’s question flowed from her work on the introduction to the 1995 edition of Gregory Battcock’s Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology.2 Taking its title from an essay by Wollheim, the book had long offered the most widely available, unexpurgated reprinting of “Art and Objecthood” since its original publication in the June 1967 issue of Artforum.3 The succinct editorial summary of the argument probably did as much as anything to determine the contours of its later reception.