The Frame and the Mirror: On Collage and Postmodernism

If the postmodern is a collage — as some critics have suggested — or if collage is itself a kernel of the postmodern, what does this mean for our way of understanding the world? The Frame and the Mirror uses this question to probe the distinctive character of the postmodern situation and the philosophical problem of representation. Brockelman’s work is itself a collage of sorts, using juxtapositions of critics and art historical figures to conduct a debate between such figures as Karsten Harries, Gianni Vattimo, Rosalind Krauss, Immanuel Kant, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Slavo Žižek, and Le Corbusier about issues such as truth in art, perspectivism, theatricality, the sublime, psychoanalytic theory, politics, and urbanism. More than an introduction to the postmodern, The Frame and the Mirror advances our understanding of the contemporary world by relating its features to the peculiar characteristics of collage. Ultimately, Brockelman shows how collage demands that we reinterpret modernity, conceiving of it as suspended between a loss of certainty and a new kind of knowledge about the human condition. In doing so, his work challenges many of the claims made in the name of postmodernism — and offers in their place a new and ironic view of the cultural space in which contemporary and historical events occur.

Brockelman examines cubist collage as the subject of what he terms “a philosophical investigation of aesthetic phenomena.” To this end, he provides a critique of the theoretical texts of Karsten Harries, Gianni Vattimo, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Slavoj Žižek, and Rosalind Krauss. In addition to the collages made by Bracques, Picasso, and Schwitters, he also considers Peter Greenaway’s film , and two urban design proposals based on collage by Koetter and Rowe and Koolhaus.

Book News, Portland, OR

Tom Brockelman is Professor of Philosophy at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY. He is the former Director of the Core Curriculum and Interim Provost there.

Books by Tom Brockelman

Translations by Tom Brockelman

Cover of book Language and the Unconscious: Lacan's Hermeneutics of Psychoanalysis
Language and the Unconscious: Lacan's Hermeneutics of Psychoanalysis