The contradictions and tensions in Carl Einstein’s last art publication are evident already in its title, Georges Braque. For as he wrote a friend, “The Braque book is of course not a book about Braque.” Yet, with illustrations of 102 works by Braque, a separate luxury edition with two original etchings signed by the artist, Georges Braque certainly looked like a monograph, and a fancy one at that. But its contents validate Einstein’s remark—the book is in truth a patchwork affair that sends mixed messages about the fate of art in modernity. Janus-faced, it comprises both the final statement of Einstein’s utopian vision and intimations of its imminent collapse.
Charles W . Haxthausen is Robert Sterling Clark Professor of Art History, Emeritus, at Williams College, USA. He is the author of numerous articles on modern and contemporary art and art criticism with a focus on Germany. Publications include Berlin: Culture and Metropolis (1990, with Heidrun Suhr), The Two Art Histories: The Museum and the University (2002), and Sol LeWitt: The Well-Tempered Grid (2012). His translations of selected art criticism by Carl Einstein, A Mythology of Forms, will be published in spring 2019.
Part of the conference Deep Time and Crisis, c. 1930