Once More, with Feeling looks at the emergence in the mid-to-late 1980s of art that evokes emotion rather than masking it. In essays on a wide range of artists, including Felix Gonzales-Torres, Hannah Wilke, Sadie Benning, and Mona Hatoum, this book focuses on the return of emotion to contemporary art, which builds on the grammar of the minimal and conceptual art whose flat affect it implicitly critiques. Once More, with Feeling focuses on artists and activists who confronted conservative governments (those of Reagan, Thatcher, Bush, Mulroney, for example) determined to wage a culture war against the radical legacy of the 1960s and 1970s—against the reproductive rights of women, the civil rights of gay men and lesbians, and the multicultural challenges to racist and sexist standards of cultural excellence. The project also engages the longstanding cultural bias against the “sentimental,” as well as attempting to rehabilitate the term following the groundbreaking theoretical project of queer theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick.

David Deitcher is an art historian, critic, and curator whose essays have appeared in ArtforumArt in AmericaParkett, the Village Voice, and other periodicals, as well as in numerous anthologies and monographs on such artists as Felix Gonzales-Torres, Isaac Julien, and Wolfgang Tillmans. He is the author of Dear Friends: American Photographs of Men Together, 1840–1918 (Abrams, 2001) and curator of the exhibition of the same name that appeared at the International Center of Photography in New York. He was guest curator of the exhibition Alan B. Stone and the Senses of Place at the International Center of Photography (2009). He edited The Question of Equality: Lesbian and Gay Politics in America Since Stonewall (Scribner, 1995)Deitcher is on the faculty of the International Center of Photography/Bard College MFA Program as well as the Vermont College of Fine Arts.