Re: Grids by Rosalind Krauss (1979)


Rosalind Krauss: “Grids” October 9, Summer 1979. [Reprinted in: The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1985, pp. 9-22.

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Working in art and design school, I started to touch on projects with heavy design elements and principles. Grid becomes one of my interest to explore from a historical, design and art perspective, artists such as Piet Mondrian and Sol Lewit have been exploring the aesthetics of simple geometry and basic 2D element.

Rosalind Krauss discussed the operation and character of grid within the general field of modern art, where structures and functions of both grids as aesthetic objects and myths.

Here with some notes from Krauss:

“There are two ways in which the grid functions to declare the modernity of modern art. One is spatial; the other is temporal. In the spatial sense, the grid states the autonomy of the realm of art. Flattened, geometricized, ordered, it is antinatural, antimimetic, antireal. ”

“The grid’s mythic power is that it makes us able to think we are dealing with materialism (or sometimes science, or logic) while at the same time it provides us with a release into belief (or illusion, or fiction). ”

“grids are not only spatial to start with, they are visual structures that explicitly reject a narrative or sequential reading of any kind. But the notion of myth I am using here depends on a structuralist mode of analysis, by which the sequential features of a story are rearranged to form a spatial organization.”

“For us, as human perceivers, there is an unbreachable gulf between “real” color and “seen” color. We may be able to measure the first; but we can only experience the second. And this is because, among other things, color is always involved in interaction-one color reading onto and affecting its neighbor. Even if we are only looking at a single color, there is still interaction, because the retinal excitation of the afterimage will superimpose on the first chromatic stimulus that of a second, which is its complementary. The whole issue of complementary colors, along with the whole edifice of color harmonics that painters constructed on its basis, was thus a matter of physiological optics. ”

“By virtue of the grid, the given work of art is presented as a mere fragment, a tiny piece arbitrarily cropped from an infinitely larger fabric. Thus the grid operates from the work of art outward, compelling our acknowledgement of a world beyond the frame. ”


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September 5, 2012