June 4–July 2, 2022
One of the most-explored niche terms in art-historical writing since the 1980s has been Georges Bataille’s concept of the formless. Theorized after the fact as an operational force in the work of artists such as Alberto Giacometti in the 1930s, Lucio Fontana in the 1950s, and Cy Twombly in the 1960s, the formless has been carried through decades to describe that which simultaneously gives and takes away form, as though a visual metaphor is not to be taken for granted. “What it designates has no rights in any sense and gets itself squashed everywhere, like a spider or an earthworm.”1 1 - Georges Bataille, Visions of Excess: Selected Writings 1927 — 1939, trans. Allan Stoekl (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press), 31.
The formless has been established with implications of base materialism, entropy, isotropy, and the space between life and death. Bataille expertly synthesized the fascination with the abject in his work, being unafraid to offer up the soft underbelly of philosophy.