Forty Years of a Classic
The re-edition of Simón Marchán’s book culminates an essay that has become a contemporary classic of art and aesthetics of the 20th century. First out in 1972, revised for a second edition in 1974 and a third in 1986, in which a ‘postmodern epilogue’ was added, it made art history of what was happening in a historic present.
Master of historians and professors, himself a top researcher, Simón Marchán took part in experiments and debates surrounding the art currents of the 1960s and 1970s. His studies in Germany enabled him to be a frontline witness of European art, and his Latin American contacts broadened his view of art to take on a global dimension.
When he wrote the essay, he had already completed his thesis Análisis fenomenológico de la pintura moderna. So he analyzes the confrontation between art in Europe and art in America, between abstract expressionism and socialist realism, or between op-art, film art, post-pictorial abstraction and pop art, which paved the way for minimalism, the bridge to conceptual art.
The foreword to this edition addresses aspects that could not yet be analyzed before, and focusses its assessment of conceptual art around three basic position: the linguistic and tautological, the empirical and average, and the ideological. He delves into the ‘death of the author’ and the protagonism of the figure of the spectator, and revises the structuralist method and semiotics, so influential at the time. A book that resists the passage of time, now illustrated with photos Marchán could not publish before.