Investigates links between avant-garde art and the aesthetics of crime in order to bridge the gap between high modernism and mass culture, as emblematised by tabloid reports of unsolved crimes. Throughout Jean-Michel Rabate is concerned with two key questions: what is it that we enjoy when we read murder stories? and what has modern art to say about murder? Indeed, Rabate compels us to consider whether art itself is a form of murder. The book begins with Marcel Duchamps fascination for trivia and found objects conjoined with his iconoclasm as an anti-artist. The visual parallels between the naked woman at the centre of his final work, Etant Donnes, and a young woman who had been murdered in Los Angeles in January 1947, provides the specific point of departure. The text moves onward to Steven Hodel, the 'Black Dahlia' murder; Walter Benjamins description of Eugene Atgets famous photographs of deserted Paris streets as presenting the scene of the crime; and Ralph Roffs 1997 exhibition, which implied that modern art is indissociable from forensic gaze and a detectives outlook, a view first advanced by Edgar Allan Poe.
Jean-Michel Rabate has been a professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania since 1992. He is a managing editor of the Journal of Modern Literature and a senior curator of Slought Foundation. He has authored or edited more than twenty books on Modernism, literary theory, psychoanalysis and contemporary art. Recent titles include: The Future of Theory (2002); Ed. The Cambridge Companion to Jacques Lacan (2003), The Palgrave Guide to Joyce Studies (2004); and forthcoming: Logiques du Mensonge.
The Esthetics of Murder: Of Sirens, Traces and Auras; Freud's Da Vinci Code: Interpretation as Crime; Duchamp's fait-divers: Murder as a "Read-Made"; Scene of the Crime: Nothing to See!; Scalpel and Brush, Pen and Poison: The Ekphrasis of Murder; Who Killed Bergotte? The Patch and the Corpse; Surrealist Esthetics of Murder: From Hysteria to Paranoia; Murder as Kitsch, Abstraction and Ritual; Conclusion - How to Think "Not Abstractly"; Index.