The Picture in Question: Mark Tansey and the Ends of Representation
Mark C. Taylor
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apparently absent, the written word is not far away. Minimalists, as I have noted, are relentlessly theoretical and frequently supplement their art with written texts. Eventually, Conceptualists transform the written text itself into a work of art. Tansey realizes the far-reaching implications of the artistic and literary discussions about the status of writing. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, he began reading Derrida's works and following the debates they provoked. In a later chapter, I
place. Does it take place. Where does it begin. Where does it end. What is its internal limit. Its external limit. And its surface between the two limits."8 These questions frame the first section of Derrida's The Truth in Painting, whose title, which is itself a frame, is borrowed from Cezanne.9 Though seemingly extraneous, the question of the frame is pivotal for the work of art. Indeed, the frame is something like a pivot on which the question of art turns. Derrida associates this pivot with
repeatedly marked text, an eroded surface, a piece of textile, a painting with indexical marks. Texture is the trace of events. (VR 128) The importance of stones and rocks has been evident in some of the paintings we have considered. In this passage, Tansey suggests the reasons for his fascination with geological formations. In the faults and fissures of things that seem as solid as rock, he discerns a strange logic that calls into question the principles of self-referentiality and
thinking always tends and Tansey's painting now is drawn. In the lower cabinet marked "coups... tympan," la Notion is not an Idea or the Concept because the "meta-operation is lost." Here there are no ideal Platonic forms but only shelves stacked with folded canvases, nets, webs, and veils. These are the anamorphic forms that preoccupy Derrida in Spurs. In the question of style there is always the weight or examen of some pointed object. At times this object might be only a quill or a stylus.
incorporate even what is designed to resist them. Accordingly, it was not long before videos of performances were being sold and expensive trips to distant Earthworks were being arranged by art galleries. In the absence of material works of art, some artists went so far as to market their ideas by selling written texts. As I have noted, however, even though the cowboy and his image are shot full of holes, they both remain standing. Painting, it seems, is more resilient than its critics admit.