Professor Krauss' attempts to understand the phenomenon of modernist art, in its historical, theoretical, and formal dimensions, have led her in various directions. She has, for example, been interested in the development of photography, whose history-running parallel to that of modernist painting and sculpture-makes visible certain previously overlooked phenomena in the "high arts," such as the role of the indexical mark, or the function of the archive. She has also investigated certain concepts, such as "formlessness," "the optical unconscious," or "pastiche," which organize modernist practice in relation to different explanatory grids from those of progressive modernism, or the avant-garde.
In Under Blue Cup, Rosalind Krauss explores the relation of aesthetic mediums to memory--her own memory having been severely tested by a ruptured aneurysm that temporarily washed away much of her short-term memory. (The title, Under Blue Cup, comes from the legend on a flash card she used as a mnemonic tool during cognitive therapy.) Krauss emphasizes the medium as a form of remembering; contemporary artists in what she terms the "post-medium" condition reject that scaffolding. Krauss explains the historical emergence of the post-medium condition and describes alternatives to its aesthetic meaninglessness, examining works by "knights of the medium"--contemporary artists who extend the life of the specific medium.