This issue examines the writings of art critic David Sylvester, and the relationship of artist Mira Schendel and the philosopher Vilém Flusser. Eduoardo Paolozzi’s blend of brutalism and Pop is discussed, and new readings of photography and the American West and of contemporary Chinese art are proposed.

In this issue

John Beck

John Beck argues that Edgar Allan Poe’s story ‘The Purloined Letter’ (1844) about a secret hidden in plain sight offers insights into the relationship between Western US landscape photography and the restructuring of the terrain by military-industrial interests after the Second World War.

Paul Gladston

Reviewing international and indigenous perspectives on the significance of contemporary Chinese art, Paul Gladston argues for the necessity of new theoretical paradigms.

Lee Hallman

Lee Hallman considers how David Sylvester’s role in the rehabilitation of David Bomberg’s reputation in the 1950s and 1960s illuminates as much about the critic and his cultural and historical milieu as about the painter’s then-neglected work.

Rothenstein Lecture
Alex Potts

In its engagement with mass media and modern industry, the work of Eduardo Paolozzi combined pop tendencies with the logic of new brutalism, as Alex Potts explores.

Brendan Prendeville

It has become almost routine to dismiss direct and ‘unmediated’ analyses of artworks but in this essay Brendan Prendeville argues that David Sylvester’s strength as a writer on art lay precisely in his willingness to be guided by direct response, as made evident from his earliest critical writing. Affinities between Sylvester’s approach and phenomenology are also discussed.

Nancy Ann Roth

In his theory of communication, philosopher and writer Vilém Flusser (1920–1991) referred to art often, yet unsystematically. This article proposes that Mira Schendel, with whom he had an extended dialogue in the 1960s, was a point of reference for him, substantially informing many aspects of his thinking about art. Also included is a new translation of an essay on Schendel by Flusser.