Citadel Culture

O. K. Werckmeister, Author University of Chicago Press $24.95 (216p) ISBN 978-0-226-89361-7
Citadels protected ancient cities from outside enemies and against rebellions by their own inhabitants. In an often provocative if idiosyncratic assault on the culture of the 1980s, Werckmeister, a Northwestern University art history professor, critiques our ``citadel culture,'' whose seemingly avant-garde art is besieged, fragmented and divorced from history. The author insists that even when ``citadel art'' strives to be political, it aestheticizes experience; as examples, he analyzes painter Robert Morris's Firestorm series, with its muted references to Hiroshima, and comic book artist Enki Bilal's visions of Third World immigrants, decaying London and communist repression in Eastern Europe. Werckmeister sees a fortress mentality at work in the Star Wars film trilogy and in the ``defensive'' Star Wars military shield. Other examples he discusses include Francis Bacon's paintings, rock group Kraftwerk's electronic litanies, James Stirling's post-modern architecture and German thinker Jurgen Habermas's political philosophy. His highly selective choice of topics seems tailor-made to fit his thesis. (May)
Reviewed on: 06/24/1991
Release date: 06/01/1991
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