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By Catherine M. Soussloff

This can be the 1st ebook to research the artist's biography as a rhetorical shape and literary style instead of as an unassailable resource of truth and information.

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He reaches for a glass of wine. Abruptly, the bar server, a young, attractive woman in a man's white shirt and bow tie, an employee of the gallery, puts a hand on his arm and then withdraws it just as quickly. LIONEL: What was that? WOMAN: I wanted to touch you ... for good luck. LIONEL: For me? WOMAN: For me. (smiling winningly, shyly) Maybe some of it'll rub off. LIONEL: (warming) Are you an artist? WOMAN: You're an artist... I'm a painter . . I mean, I'm trying ... I'm not saying .. ,49 On the Threshold of Historiography 7 3 7 Whether in the text of a biography of Michelangelo or in Life Lessons, "the artist" has a cultural presence that heretofore has seemed beyond speech or discourse.

The constructedness of the name in the discourse on the Nicodemus, for example, cannot be questioned, only recognized as a mark of the "act" of the sculpture itself. Names and naming in the biographies of artists and the discourse of art history become performative of the process of art making itself. Thus, at the end of the biography of the artist, when the performance ends in death, it is the body, rather than the name of the artist, that becomes emphasized. Michelangelo's body looms large in the second edition of Vasari's biography (15 6 8).

1 I On the Threshold of Historiography: Biography, Artists, Genre To write the body. Neither the skin, nor the muscles, nor the bones, nor the nerves, but the rest: an awkward, fibrous, shaggy, raveled thing, a clown's coat. ROLAND BARTHES, Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes A coherent field of study, for the time being parceled out among semanticists and literary critics, sociolinguists and ethnolinguists, philosophers of language and psychologists, thus demands imperiously to be recognized; in it, poetics will give way to the theory of discourse and to the analysis of its genres.

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Absolute Artist. The Historiography of a Concept by Catherine M. Soussloff


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