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  Bild-Anthropologie: Entwürfe für eine Bildwissenschaft by Hans BeltingReview by: Christopher S. Wood The Art Bulletin, Vol. 86, No. 2 (Jun., 2004), pp. 370-373Published by: College Art Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3177422. Accessed: 15/09/2013 08:25 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. . College Art Association is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The Art  Bulletin. http://www.jstor.org This content downloaded from 202.41.10.30 on Sun, 15 Sep 2013 08:25:37 AMAll use subject toJSTOR Terms and Conditions  Book Reviews HANSBELTING Bild-Anthropologie:ntwiirfeureineBildwissenschaft Munich: WilhelmFink,2001. 280pp.;180b/wills.25.20EurosHansBelting'srecentcollection ofessaysoneffigies,masks,mummies,ancestorportraits,cultstatues, tattoos,anatomicalmodels,pho-tography,film,videoart,anddigitalartisalsoamanifesto,a set of drafts for a science[Wissenschaft]oftheimage, as the subtitlehasit. The revisionistrhetoricis sharpthroughoutthe book.Beltingisdismissive of the current discourse (p.30), arthistory (p.26), today'stheories (p.87),and to-day'sdebates (p.90).ThebookisBelting'sresponsetothequestionhe himselfposedin1983,namely:Whathappenswhen thehistoryofartcomes to an end?1Bythat he meant:Whither art onceitnolongerbelievesinthenarratives that have sustained it since theRe-naissance? He also meant: What will the aca-demicdisciplineof arthistorydo now that thefinalpagesofart'sonce-suspenseful plothavebeen written?Theanswers are condensedinto thisbook'stitle. The idea ofart,accord-ingtoBelting,mustgive wayto theconceptofBild(besttranslated,forthe timebeing,as image ),andhistorywritingmustgive waytoananthropologicalapproach.WhatdoesBeltingmeanby anthropol-ogy ?In theEnglish-speakingworld,anthro-pologyis anexceptionallyself-sufficient,onemightevensayself-absorbed,academic disci-plinethat deals withsymbolicbehavior,clas-sificationsystems,andpowersharingwithintheframeworkof social life-anaggregationofstructuresandpracticesdescribed as cul-ture. Early anthropologistsconducted re-search almostexclusivelyamong incom-pletely civilizedpeoples,and laterones havespentagreatdeal ofenergy extricatingtheirfield fromtheconceptualtrouble such aprojectinvited.Thatdiscipline's monopolyonthewordanthropology,whichsimplymeans studyofman, iswidely accepted.Ithasbe-comedifficult in theEnglish-speakingworldtouse the termanthropologywithoutrousingthe householdgodsof the academicdisci-plinethat bears itasaname. Arthistory'sopeningsontoanthropologyare limitedmostlytotheso-callednon-Westernfields.InEurope,thewordsAnthropologie,anthro-pologie,antropologia,and soon,are still avail-able forgeneraluse,in much thesamewaythatpsychologyorlogicare forEnglishspeak-ers. Thatis,theyare terms that denoteorga-nized academic fieldsandyetat thesametimeareeasilydetachable from those con-texts.Europeanhistorians,forexample,havedevelopeda historicalanthropology thatfindssymbolicand structuralpatternsinme-dievalorearlymodern societies. Americanhistorians like RobertDarnton,Natalie Ze-monDavis,and CarolineBynumhave con-tributed to thisparadigm.Points ofconver-gencewith arthistoryare rare.Exceptionsareusuallyin themedievalfield,where the workofanthropologicallyminded historians likeBynumorJean-ClaudeSchmittcancloselyresemble work doneby guildarthistorians.Thecomplex scholarly projectofAbyWar-burgmustalsobementioned here.Warburg,acontemporaryof thepioneering anthropol-ogists,soughtmuchasBeltingdoes topryatranshistorical constant outof thegripof thearthistorians,inhiscase,therepresentationofgesture.The often-cited bookbyDavidFreedberg,ThePowerof Images(1989),mustalsobe mentioned.Freedberg,withoutespe-cially engaging anthropological theory,sur-veyeda vastrangeofmostlynonartistic cul-tural usesofpicturesandstatues,flatteningthehistoricallandscapeinfavor of a universalmodelofalmost instinctual response to theimage.Arthistoriansmighthave even more tolearn fromtheGermanparadigmof literaryanthropology, as invokedinthe subtitle ofWolfgangIser's book The FictiveandtheImag-inary:ChartingLiterary Anthropology(1993).2Bythis term Isermeans not theempiricalstudyof thebookmakingandbooksellingin-dustries orstructuralanalysisof theritualizedbehavior ofliterarysubcultures,but some-thinglikespeculativeanalysisof thedeeppsychologicalandsocialfunctionsofstorytell-ingandlistening, writingandreadingin hu-man life.Literaryanthropologytries to ac-countfor thehistoricalindispensabilityoftextualfictions,notonlyin theirrudimentaryor precivilized forms butalsointheirmost complexand aestheticized forms.Belting'stitleopens upthe wideprospectof acompa-rableinquiryinto the social andpsychologicalmeaningof thepictorialarts.Theforegoing onlybeginstodescribethesrcinalcontextand,as itwere,illocutionaryforceofthis bookinGermany.Bild-Anthro-pologieispresentedas aprogramstatementfor aninterdisciplinaryresearchprojectthatBelting, alongwith ninecolleagues,initiatedin thefallof2000at the Hochschule furGestaltungat Karlsruhe.3 Hesaysinthepref-ace that one of his aims is to win for nativedisciplinesof theimage[Bildwissenschaften]like arthistoryandarchaeologymore ofaprofilewithin thediscourseon media (p.9).Media studies has become a dominantpara-digmwithin theGerman-speakingacademiccosmos to an extent that American art histo-rians canhardly imagine, except perhapsintheirnightmares.EveryGerman arthistorian,itwouldseem,ineverysubfield,hasbeencompelledto deal with theconceptofmedia,onewayoranother,over the last tenyears.Perhapsthishassomethingto do with thepressuretojustify scholarshipin the artswithin a state-controlleduniversitysystem.Perhapsscholarshavebeenconvinced thatMedienwissenschafts thelasthopeforthehu-manities toconnectwith theweightierissuesoftechnology,communication,andglobaliza-tion.IntheGerman-speakingworld,modern-ists are not aloneinworryingaboutapparatustheory,digitality,andcybernetics.Medieval-ists haveadaptedtheir material tothenewmesh ofterminology.4Media-consciousnessnowpermeatestheprogramsandpublica-tionsofmajormuseums.5Thebibliographyatthe back ofBelting'svolume lists dozens ofrecent titlescontainingthe words MediumorMedien,few of them known to American arthistorians.6The new constellation of media studiesinEurope,Ithink,cannoteasilybemappedonto the discourse on medium and media within American arthistory.Continental arthistorians,forexample,are nolongerso trou-bledbythetheoreticalproblemof mediumspecificitywithinmodernism,as Americansstill are.7Inthiscountry,meanwhile,scholarsinthe humanities aremorelikelyto hearinthediscourse of media an echo of commer-cial andgovernmental techno-optimism.At arecentacademicconference on the mediumand media in arthistory,theNew Media the-orist Lev Manovich wasinvitedtospeakalong-side agroupof well-known arthistorians,mostlyspecialistsin themodern fields.Ihadthesense-perhapsIwas mistaken-thatManovichwas looked onbythe art historiansas atbestan eccentricoutsider and at worst anaive anddangerousspokesmanfor invisibleforces ofglobalizationandrationalization.Manovich's references to randomaccess,in-teractivity,and software andhispolitebutprofoundlydisrespectfulobservationson thedisciplineof arthistoryand its obsolete mod-elsofrepresentationandmeaningwereasunintelligibleas thestrangespeechof theTrojan priestessCassandra in the house ofAtreus-merebirdliketwitteringstothe earsof the doomed.The existingdiscourse thatexasperatesboth Manovich andBelting,it wouldseem,isnotsimplythe oldempiricistarthistory,aneasy target,butpreciselythe new arthistorythat has internalizedcriticaltheory (ideologycritique, poststructuralism,psychoanalysis)over the course ofthe 1980s and 1990s. Belt-ing'sargument,were he tospellitout,mightrunsomethinglike this: criticaltheoryis cer-tainlyall about mediation.But it has become This content downloaded from 202.41.10.30 on Sun, 15 Sep 2013 08:25:37 AMAll use subject toJSTOR Terms and Conditions  BOOK REVIEWS 371 a mere rhetoricofmediation,a set ofanalyticroutinesdesignedtodisrupt any possibleex-changeofmeaning.Criticaltheory,hemightsay,has becomeanegative theologythat hasmadean idol of absenceitself;itisaself-contained andtautologicalscholasticismin-creasinglyclosedto theperspectivesof thephysicalsciences,toanytrueinterdisciplinar-ity,to the realities ofpolitics,toexperienceitself.Accordingly,Beltingisunwillingtosub-mit theimagetoanysuch radicaltheoryofmediation(p.31).Bild-Anthropologiemayintruth bepointingto a new intellectualself-satisfaction andnonporousnessof the disci-plineof arthistoryintheEnglish-speakingworld. Asociologist,acyberneticist,orindeedananthropologistwouldhave beenequallyout ofplaceat that recent arthistorical con-ferenceonmedium.Visualculture,forBelting,isgeneratedbycombinationsofthethree elemental terms image,body,andmedium,which serve as theoverallrubric of the researchprojectatKarlsruhe(Bild-Kbrper-Medium).n hisanaly-ses,the rubric becomesa sort ofmysticaltrianglewhoseterms seemperpetuallytotransmuteintooneanother. Images forBeltingare aboveall simulacra of the humanbody;apictorial representationorformalconstruct other than the doubledbodydoesnotquiteconstituteanimage.He oftenspeaksofimagesasiftheywere immaterialentities,somethinglike ideas or souls. Hesays,forexample,that since animagehas nobody,itneeds a mediuminwhich toembodyitself'(p.17).Imagesarelike nomads whoalter their modesinhistorical culturesand thusoccupythe available media asiftheyweretemporarystoppingpoints (p.32);me-dia arelike hosts (p.26).Thesourceof thisratherexotic notionofa disembodiedimagewanderinginsearchof its medium must beeither televisionbroadcastingorthedigitalimagecoursingthe Internet-unlessitisjustPlatoafter all.Belting goesontopointoutthattheimagecannot beperceivedbyotherbodies untilit isembodied,even that theimagedoes notreallybecomeanimageuntilit is animatedbyabeholder(p.30).Bodies,though,can alsoproduceimages internally,indreams, visions,andmemory.Moreover,some bodies are themselvesimages,for exam-ple,inperformances,or as auto-icons, likethe bodies of executedcriminalsortheposed plastinated cadavers of Gunther von Ha-gens's spectacularanddreadfully appealingexhibitionKirperwelten,still unmountableinthe UnitedStates(p.89).Sometimes thebodyisamedium,forexample,withtattoosorbodyart.By images, aswehaveseen,Belting mostlymeansimagesof bodies. Otherimagesare bothofbodiesand stand inforbodies,suchasportraitsoreffigies.Theme-dium can function astheprosthesisof thebody,asMarshall McLuhan showed(p.26).Geneticengineering,finally,convertsimagesintobodies(p. 109).Thepointof all thisconceptualcombinatorics-and,at least forBelting,thepointofmedia studies-is tore-storetomediation itsmaterial, somatic, hu-man dimensions.Bild-Korper-Mediumsa flexible andopen-ended researchprogram.Thechaptersof thisbookopenonto awholenewgalaxyof re-searchtopics.AnexampleisBelting's entirelysrcinal genealogyof the15th-centuryNeth-erlandishpanel portrait, already developedinearlierpublications.Beltingdescribespor-traitsbyJanvanEyckandRogiervan derWeydenas intensified versionsofcoats ofarmspaintedon shieldlike woodenpanels,which were themselvesin turnsomethinglikesocialplaceholdersforthebodyof the noble-man. Thecomparisondisclosesawholedi-mensionofthe historicalmeaningandpowerof thesepaintingsthatmodernityhadlostsightof. To think of the Netherlandishpanelportraitas a substitutebodyistodisplaceallourthinkingabout Renaissancepainting,giventhattheindependentportraitwas oneof the crucialtemplatesfor the modern con-ceptof the autonomousartwork.The newhistorical research that such aparadigmshiftcouldgeneratewillonlycomplementrecentAmericanwork,ina widerangeoffields,around theconceptsof thegaze,attention,spectacle,and embodied vision.Beltingoften defines hisprojectinnega-tional and evenredemptiveterms. WithBild-Anthropologie,hesaysmore thanonce,heseekssimplytorestore theimageto man. Todo this he has to exclude from theimage-body-mediumtriad theconceptof art.Beltingrepeatedlyaccuses art and the artexperts (p.33)ofalienatingtheimagefrom thebody.He evendisapproves,with whatIcanonlydescribeasakindofmock-Philistinism,ofabstractionitself.8Beltingblamesthe workofart,a cultural constructionof16th-centuryEurope,forhavingneutralizedtheonce-pow-erfulimage.Arthistory,anotherchildof theRenaissance,thenprojectedits art idea ontotheimagesof allcultures and allpeoples,favoringthe artlike andmarginalizingthe rest(p.17).ForBelting,art isaneffectgeneratedbyinstitutions andideologydevelopedintheearlymodernperiod,but obsoletealready bythe 19thcenturyandsubjectedto lethalcri-tiqueinthe20th.His own innovative andinfluential art historicalscholarshiphasfo-cused on theimagebefore9 andafter'1the eraofart. He has writtenespecially imagi-nativelyon the 15thandearly16thcenturies,the moment of maximumtorqueinthe shiftfromimageto art. AsBelting explainedintheprefaceto The InvisibleMasterpiece,the eraof art itself,theproperculturalhomeofartinthe 16ththrough18th centuriesinEurope,is dispensable to hisproject.12Itisasif inthisperiodtheinstitutions of art soperfectlyproducedtheir effect thattheyre-quireno furtheranalysis.InearlymodernEurope, supposedly,art wasjustitself.The main aim ofBelting'sproject,then,isthe reactivation of ansrcinaldrama of theimage,liberatedfrom itsparalyzingaestheticconventions,thebienseancesinherited fromtheearlymodernperiod.It is anopenlyahis-torical and evenessentialistproject: thequestionofimagesburststhroughthe bound-aries that divideepochsandculturesfromoneanother....Imagesdo take ontemporalformsinhistoricalmediaandtechnologies,buttheyare nonethelessgenerated bysupra-temporalthemeslikedeath,body,and time (p.23).The boldest idea of thebook,developedover severalchapters,is that the true vanish-ing pointofevery pictureis the deathimage,theTodesbild.The tombeffigy,thememorialportrait,and the death maskapproacha con-dition ofperfect substitutabilityfortheirre-vocablyabsentobject,theonce-living body.Thedeadpersonexchangeshisbodyforanimage;thatimageholdsaplaceforhimamongtheliving (p.29andchap.6).Beltingdescribes thisexchange,enactedinancientcultsofthedead,as thearchetypeof theimage-body-medium triangle(p.29).Thephoto-graph,theperformance,and thestatue,inturn,pointdirectlytowardthat idealexchange-ability. Essentially, every imagewants to be ahome for a lost soul. Withoutthe connectiontodeath, Belting explicitly says, thoseimagesthatmerelysimulate the world oflifequicklyfallintoapointlesscircularityand theprover-bialaccusationofdeceptiveness.... (p.190).Deathguaranteestheimage.Withoutthatstronglinktotheirreversiblyabsentyetsharplydesiredobject,theimagewould be amere work ofart.Thisperspective opensonto acompletelynewmapofthe cultural usesofpicturesandstatues.Beltingofferspreciselynotaplot,a narrative aboutimages,but rather an ahis-torical schema. Theexchange-with-the-deadmodel avoidsanymention of a transcenden-tal referent and sets aside the wholeproblemofsubjectivity.Itbringsreligiousand secularuses oftheimagetoa commondenominator.Yet it isanythingbuta cold structuralist orsystematicmodel ofthe culturalmeaningofpicturing.On thecontrary, Belting'smodel isstrictly anthropocentric,onemightalmostsayexistentialist. Death becomes the all-encom-passinghorizonthatorganizestheexperi-ence oftime andgeneratesall the efforts toovercometime.This horizonproducestheeffect thatimageshave power. Theidealist,bourgeoisideologyof theaesthetic,finally,emergesasnothingmore than aconspiracytodenytheanthropiclimitations of the im-age.Theexchangemodel contains both a the-oryof thesrcinsofpicturemakingandadescriptionon adeep-structurallevelof his-toricalfiguration practices.Italsoimpliesaprogramforcontemporaryculture. So-calledpostmodernistart,especiallyphotographyandvideo,has foryearsplayedasignificantroleinBelting'sthinkingontheimage.Hewelcomes the returnofthe mimeticimage,thesimulacrum,to acultural sceneparalyzedbyabstraction,conceptualism,minimalism,and institutioncritique,whichheevidentlyconsiders to belateanddecadentposturesoftheaestheticideology.Inthisbookandoth-ersBeltingseemsto besuggestingthatimagescreatedbysuch artists asCindySherman,BillViola,GaryHill,JeffWall,HiroshiSugimoto,andThomas Struth are insome sense nolonger art. Workbytheseartists,in thisview,connectsback to apremodernworldwhere theimagehad notyetbeenfed intotheself-propelling,dialecticalmachineryofaestheticism,critique,andmoreaestheticism. This content downloaded from 202.41.10.30 on Sun, 15 Sep 2013 08:25:37 AMAll use subject toJSTOR Terms and Conditions  372 ART BULLETIN JUNE 2004 VOLUME LXXXVI NUMBER2 Theimageafterart,like theimagebeforeart,is asked neither toreflectthe beholder's sub-jectivityback ontoitself,nor to comment onthe conditions of its ownpossibility,nor tocontributeto theprogressofspiritinhistory.Acuriousinconsistencyinthis bookpointsto adeeperfault lineinBelting's argumentaboutimages.All theexamplesofnonartdis-cussedandreproducedinthe book-themasks,effigies,fetishes,anatomicalmodels,and so forth-aredrawn either frompre-20th-century Europeanor from non-West-ern cultures.Themodernperiod,bycon-trast,isrepresentedalmostexclusivelybyworks of art. Theonly exceptionsto this ruleareabaseball card and a fewpurelyillustra-tionalreproductionsofnewspaper clippingsor bookcovers.Moreover,the modern art-worksreproducedinBelting'sbook are allworksbywell-knowncontemporaryartists.If,ashesays,the eraofart isover,whynotopenupto the fullchaotic,demoticrangeof con-temporaryvisual culture?Instead,contempo-raryculture isrepresentedin thisbookbyaselectlist ofhighlyrefined,gallery-based,blue-chipartists.BillViola,to namejustone,canhardlybeperceivedas aradicalthreat totheideaof art.On thecontrary,Viola's acces-sible,pathos-saturatedvideo installations areembraced withincreasingenthusiasmbyamainstreammuseum-goingpublic eagertoreconcilecontemporaryartwith anoldermodel of aesthetic value.Thereis agoodreasonwhy Belting mightturn tosuchartists as Viola orSugimototomakehispoints.Their works areverymuchabout theproblemsthat concern him. Suchworksframe thenostalgiafora morepower-fulimage. Theyaresophisticated diagramsofanimaginedpostartcondition.Conceptualart was abletodiagramthat conditionalreadyinthe1960s,admittedly,butconceptualartwasoftenuglyandalienating. Beltingprefersthecontemporaryartistsjustnamed becausetheir workmanagesto sublate the conflictbetweencritiqueandbeauty.Theseartistsovercomeconceptualismin thesamewaythattheimageovercomesaestheticism,or that anthropology overcomes theory. Is it notpossiblethat boththiscritical,diagramming operationandthesefonddreams of apre-orapostaestheticdirectnessarein fact constitutive features of the art-work? that the artwork neverdoesanythingelse but muse about whatitwouldbe like tobeanimage(ora merething,as another arthistorian who once triedtothink anthropo-logically, GeorgeKubler,hadit'3)?Ifso,then the concerns ofBelting's postmodernistartistssignalthat the artidea is now moredeeplyinstitutionalizedthanever,and thattheimageitselfisnothingotherthan a dia-lecticalmythof art.What sortofimagedoesBeltingclaim tohave extricatedfromtheart idea? Aboveall,itis notanimagethat raisesproblemsofinter-pretationforitsrecipient.Hisconceptualtriadofimage-body-medium collapses figuralorpictorialrepresentationback into a basicanalogicalor mimeticrelationship. Beltingisrighttopointout,followingGeorgesDidi-Huberman,thatthe humanisthistoriographyof art fromGiorgioVasari to ErwinPanofskyfavoredcomplexmodelsofrepresentation,oftengroundedinrhetoricalcriticism,overthe blatantdesignatingforce of the indexicaltrace. Vasari madenoplacefor thedeathmask,thewaxeffigy,or thereliquaryin hisLivesofthe Artists.Beltingis mostengrossingwhen heturns hissearchlightto these mar-ginalzonesofarthistory,darkcorners firstexplored by JuliusvonSchlosser andAbyWarburgat thebeginningofthe20thcenturyandonlynowbeingrevisitedbythe disci-pline,orwhen he ruminatesonthe masksandpaintedskulls ofJericho,atroveofenig-mas nine millennia distant from us. The im-plicationofBelting's thinkingis that the ef-figy,theicon,and the mask areinscribedinevery figuration,eveninso-called works ofart.Belting'simage, though,isnotsimplyanindexical trace. It is also anapparitionthatsetsupanasymmetrical relationshipbetweenarealthingandaless realexperienceof thatthing.The usefulnessofthe termimages thatit canpointineitherdirection,frommattertoideaorthe otherwayaround.Theimageofthebody,forexample,ispresumablyless realthan thephysical body.Plotinus, however,described thebodyitself as an eidolon-asimulacrum orphantom-ofthe soul: forhim,thephysicalbodywas less realthan thesoul,and the soul in turnless real than divineBeing.14Likewise,forBeltingthe remem-beredimageof the deadpersonisless realthan theabsentbody.Yetthephotographicimageof that samepersoncould alsobede-scribed as morerealthanthememory.Belt-ing's imageis therefore adynamicconceptthatalwaysmoves tocompensatefor itsownlack.Initsincompletenessitpreservesthetraditional dualism of matter andspirit,in theform of the movement fromrealto nonrealand backagain.Theincompletenessofappa-ritionpropelsapermanentmovement fromapextoapexof theimage-body-mediumtri-angle.Instressingtheanalogicalandapparitionalaspectsof theimagerather than itspowerstoseduce and tomislead,Beltingineffectisdeproblematizing representation.Hisimageisalwaysanimageofsomething-asifthepreposition of didnotopenontoalaby-rinthofuncertainties and alternatives. Belt-ing's imageis neverrepressed,condensed,projected,orspectacularized.Itsimplymakesitsobjectappear,with nomarginfordoubt,asinstantlyrecognizableas the sinners andpoetswhose shades Dante met in the under-world andinPurgatory (p.189).I used to think that Bild asBeltingused itinhis historicalwritingswas best translated as picture. That wordcapturedthe artifactualnature of thepainted paneland the statue.Thepicture,withitsrootsin the Latinpingere, topaint, wasin the firstplacesomethingmade.Itsuggestedthe radical subordinationofreferential ambitionsto theexigenciesofmaterial andtechnique,tothehistorical sed-imentationofconvention,andto the internallogicsof format andtropology. Picture inthis sense wasthecounterpartof text ;itnamed anaggregationofformsperceivedasanarticulatedsystemand as aninvitationtointerpretation.The word picture suggestedthat thequestionabout reference to the realcould neverprecedethequestionoffigura-tion.It turns outthatBelting'sBildis infact besttranslated as likeness, as it was in thetitleoftheEnglishversion of his bookBildundKult.HisBild,liketheGreektermseidolon(simula-crum)and eikon(copy), putsits stress onsimilitude orresemblance.The word recon-figuresall ofpicturemakingasasetof playsonthepsychologyof theperceptionof resem-blance. Resemblance is neitherarhetoricalnor alogical categorybut anoperationof theminddesignedto securerecognition.Recog-nition is motivatedbyfear orlonging.We arequickesttorecognizethe faces and bodies ofour families and ourpredators; theyarethedensestpointsin our visual field. No matterhowfarthepicturemaystrayfromresem-blance-intoabstraction,or intotropology-the mindalwayswantstopullit back into astateof likeness. Thisschema overturns thedominant theoretical tendencies of the lastdecades,which havepreferredeither to dis-integrateiconicityintojustanothersemiotic,convention-boundsigning operationortoex-poseitas thedangerous naturalizingstrategyofrepressive, spectacularizingforces,whetherpsychicor societal.Beltinghasrejectedthose recentcritiquesoftheicon infavorof what onemightcallan orthodox conceptionofeikonandeidolon,thatis,an icon exonerated from the Protes-tant(orgenerallyiconoclastic)imputationofitsappearancequality,thatis,itscapacitytodelude. This historicalcritiquestillechoesinthe modernEnglishwords icon andidol,butless sointhe German Bild.And,asBeltingmadeclearin theclosing chapterof Bild undKult,theiconoclasticcritiquewascomplicitwith theearlymodernideologyofart. Protes-tantimagetheologytriedtoforcethe iconoutofpublic religionand intotheprivatesphere,where it was retheorized as art. ForBeltingall theories of art retainasecondary,provisional,andspuriousflavor. HisconceptofBild,close to the words eikon andeidolon,isalso Greek in the sense thatitnever connectswith theLatin termfigura, shape or fig-ure, surroundedbyitscognates figment and fiction. Whereaseikon andeidolon putthe stress on the viewer'sabilitytorecognizethe referent behind theimage, figuraputsthestress on theshapedartifactitself and theviewer's efforts tointerpretit. The entiremodernconceptionofart,whether textualorpictorial,derives,Iwouldargue,from theLatinChristianmodel offigurationas a trans-figurationwhose truth valueisfoundpreciselyin itsdislocationfrom the real-art as a kindofallegoricalrevelation,inother words.WhereasforBeltingartremains,in true Pla-tonicfashion,contaminatedbyitswillingnessto traffic infigurationandvirtuality.Belting'smodel of theimageas existentialexchangeisintelligible onlyas a desired des-tination,somesortofescapefrom thecoilsofrepresentationand illusion.Heperceivescor-rectlybutdeploresthe essentialnegativityofart. He sees that art amountstonothingmore This content downloaded from 202.41.10.30 on Sun, 15 Sep 2013 08:25:37 AMAll use subject toJSTOR Terms and Conditions
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