On the Iconoclasm of Modern Art by HANS ULRICH OBRIST
The crisis of representation began at the historical moment when painting
lost under the pressure of photography and the praise of its unprecedented, truthful representation; its interest in presenting reality and took instead
from paint to brush, from canvas to frame; the means of expressing
representation as the subject of representation. With Van Gogh the color
began no longer to be bound to the object. With his pure, absolute
suprematist color painting, Malevich banished the object from the picture. At
the same time the represented object vanished by being replaced through a real
object: the ready-made of Marcel Duchamp. In 1921 Rodchenko painted three monochromes as the "last paintings" and in 2003 ubermorgen "painted" [coded] 2 monochromes online.

HTTP://WWW.UBERMORGEN.COM/THE_WHITE_WEBSITE/ HTTP://WWW.UBERMORGEN.COM/THE_BLACK_WEBSITE/ The self-dissolution of painting or any visual surface can be explained in three steps: first, by a shift of accent the color is analyzed as the medium of painting and becomes the main element, above form, i.e. in Impressionism and Expressionism. Second, color becomes independent, leaves behind the laws of local colors and receives its own absolute status, see, for example, Suprematism and monochromes. Third, paint is replaced by other materials, such as white by aluminum. Surface design without painted color allowed for the making of "unpainted" paintings, allowed mere surfaces of wood, metal, marble, or cardboard to hang or lean on the wall as paintings. In this dialectics of liberation, which consists of declaring progressively historical elements of easel painting independent (from color and canvas up to the frame) and making them absolute, not only were objects repressed from the abstract image but finally the picture itself became repressed and destroyed (empty canvases, empty frames), in the end leading to the departure from the picture. The paint-less or monochrome easel painting could be - as was shown by artists from Lucio Fontana to Yves Klein - cut or drilled or torn, attacked by fire or acid. Finally only the empty frames of paintings or just the backs of paintings, were shown. Even the surface of the canvas could be replaced by the surface of the skin. Naked bodies covered with paint became the instruments for color application or became the canvas itself. Painting as the arena of action (Action Painting) became a bodily action on the canvas and finally a painting on the body, an action without canvas. Centered on the artist's body, even the products of this body [like feces] could find the social consensus to be accepted as an artwork. From the empty image to the empty gallery, from the white painting to the "white cube" (O'Doherty), we see the iconoclastic gesture of modern art. In this iconoclastic tradition we also see the substitution of painted images with texts. The material-bound, object-like paradigm was replaced by insight into the linguistic nature of all artistic expressions. HTTP://WWW.HANSBERNHARD.COM Yet by leaving the picture and the mediation, modern art has also produced a way out of the crisis of representation. Especially the Neo-Avantgarde after World War II and movements like Kinetics, Fluxus, Happening, Actionism, Body Art, Process Art, Land Art, Arte Povera, Concept Art,, Corporate Art (ubermorgen 1999-2001, etoy) and above all the development of Media Art‹from Expanded Cinema to Virtual Reality, from closed circuit video installations to interactive computer installations - prepared social practices as open art forms, by making the pure spectator a participating and interacting user. Thus began the farewell to the idea of modernism (T. J. Clark), that was determined by the iconoclastic gesture. These practices, in forms of intervention, interaction, institutional critique and contextualization took art beyond the White Cube, where questions of gender, race, class, power, colonialism had not been asked. With the end of the epoch of modern art, which announced the end of art, new practices beyond the crisis of representation began in the form of corporate representation [etoy 1994-97, ubermorgen] or social networking and activism [,]. From mathematics to medicine, from computer-supported proof methods to computer tomography, we see a triumphant return of the image to the natural sciences. While modern art turned more and more into an iconoclastic strategy, in a critique of representation, we see the advent of an iconophilic science trusting the representative power of the image ( HTTP://WWW.HANSBERNHARD.COM / HTTP://WWW.HELMUTLANG.COM ). We live in a period where art, as the former monopolist of the representative image, has abandoned this representative obligation. Yet science, in contrast, fully embraces the options which technical machine-based images offer for the representation of reality. Therefore, it could be the case that mankind will find the images of science more necessary than the images of art. To be able to maintain its significance up against the sciences and their picture-producing procedures, art must look for a position beyond the crisis of representation and beyond the image wars straight into the blind spaces of the black black and the white. Hans Bernhard im Gespräch mit Hans-Ulrich Obrist, November 2002 Black Black and White, ubermorgen 1:1 Monochrom, Ton, 156 min DVD (Foriginal Video AND Text) Courtesy Hans Bernhard
Hans-Ulrich Obrist and Peter Weibel