“The Catastrophe of My Existence”: facing death in roger de la fresnaye's self-portraiture

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This article considers the relationship between subjectivity and representational form. More specifically, it discusses the transformation in self-representation between life and death by the artist Roger de la Fresnaye, reflecting his modernist articulations of life to pre-modern, classicist figurations of death. For the artist, modernity could not bear the demands that dying made upon representation, as unable to fully accord death a sign. Modernity's dissolution of the subject annihilated the very permanence of identity and presence that death guaranteed, but without its covenant of ritual and history. Instead, classicism provided a coherent anterior body, another face from which he could speak after death: “one” would always be present to speak for him. The face therefore addresses culture through its specific appeal to, and demand of, time, space, and history.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-198
Publication statusPublished - May 2011


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