The Body in Pieces: The Fragment as a Metaphor of Modernity by Linda Nochlin
The text is taken from The Walter Neurath Memorial Lecture. In this study, the author demonstrates how, from the end of the 18th century to the present day, the obsessive representations of the human figure fragmented, mutilated, and fetishized, consitute a distinctively modern view of the world, the essence of modernity itself. Beginning with artists such as Fuseli, the representation of the fragmented image and of the body express the shattering of classical ideas and a sense of nostalgia for the loss of a vanished utopian wholeness; the grandeur of a heroic past could no longer fit into the present. During the period of the French Revolution representations of the fragmented human figure abound, but there is also a tendency by Neo-classical artists to repair, at least allegorically and metaphorically, the broken link with the perceived wholeness of the past. Illustrating and analyzing the work of artists from Neo-classicism to the present day, from Fuseli to Robert Mapplethorpe, this book traces the origins and developments of what is perhaps the essential characteristic of modern art.