The Assassination of Experience by Painting, Monory
Lyotard met Jacques Monory in 1972, and the text on him published at that time was the first that Lyotard dedicated to contemporary art since Discourse, Figure. Lyotard's interest in the plastic arts thus fits fully within the setting of his political preoccupations. The artist-protagonist stages the recurring motifs that fascinate Lyotard: the scene of the crime, the revolver, the woman, the victim, glaciers, deserts, stars. The atmosphere of the essays on Monory is "Californian." Monory's imaginary repertoire goes well beyond the masters of modernity and is in line rather with a "modern contemporary surrealism."
Both Lyotard and Monory live the “dilemma of Americanization,” the America represented by cinema, fashion, novels, music. It is in this atmosphere that Lyotard and Monory will finally evoke their supreme experience of difference: desire and fear, exultation and a profound malaise. The plastic universe of Monory and the aesthetic meditations of Lyotard are in perfect symbiosis. Sarah Wilson's epilogue thoroughly outlines both the history of a friendship and, at the same time, the intellectual and artistic climate of the 1970s.
Sarah Wilson is Professor of Modern Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London.
"An intelligent and beautifully written examination of the 'melting pot' as taken up in the work of four modernist writers: Henry James, James Weldon Johnson, Willa Cather, and Gertrude Stein."—Christopher Douglas, University of Victoria