By the end of the eighteenth century a sense of anxiety and crisis began to preoccupy European writers and artists in their relationship to a heroic past. The grandness of that history no longer fit into the framework of the present, and artists felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of past heroic accomplishment. This was soon reflected in artistic representation, from Fuseli on. The partial image, the “crop,” fragmentation, ruin, and mutilationall expressed grief and nostalgia for the loss of a vanished totality, a utopian wholeness. Often such feelings were expressed in deliberate destructiveness, which became the new way of seeing: the notion of the modern. In The Body in Pieces, the noted critic and art historian Linda Nochlin traces these developments by looking at work produced by artists from Neoclassicism and Romanticism to Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Surrealism, and beyond. 59 illustrations.
Linda Nochlin was the Lila Acheson Wallace professor of modern art emerita at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. Her publications include The Body in Pieces: The Fragment as a Metaphor of Modernity; Women, Art and Power and Other Essays; The Politics of Vision: Essays on Nineteenth-Century Art and Society; Courbet; Mise`re: The Visual Representation of Misery in the 19th Century; and Women Artists: The Linda Nochlin Reader. Her essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” is considered one of the most in influential texts in modern art history.