Destroy, She Said: Remarks on Yve-Alain Bois’ ‘An Oblique Autobiography’
"It is a cliché to refer to the long economic boom in France that followed the Second World War—the three decades between 1945 and 1975—as les trente glorieuses. The phrase has no satisfying translation, though 'golden' hints at the éclat thrown off by the final adjective. Adopting this terminology for our ends, we might refer to the 1980s as Yve-Alain Bois’ décennie glorieuse, a splendid ten years during which the now-celebrated art historian simply could not miss. After spending the decade’s first few years in a research post funded by the French state, Michael Fried invited Bois to take a visiting professorship at Johns Hopkins in 1983, as a temporary replacement for the departing Nancy Troy; within a month, he was offered a position as an associate professor. Firmly ensconced in the American academy, he would publish over the next several years a series of magisterial studies which established his reputation. As the 1980s ended, and tenure review loomed, everything was bundled into a book: in a way, the only one he would write. The rest is history. Harvard, then the Institute for Advanced Study; a three-volume edition of the Barnes’ Matisse collection; Ellsworth Kelly’s catalogue raisonnée; exhibitions on Mondrian, Picasso/Matisse, and 'L’informe' at esteemed institutions. And so on."
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