This essay's focus is on the friendship between the art historian and critic Marisa Volpi and the 'conceptual' artist Giulio Paolini. When curating Paolini's exhibition Vedo in 1970, Volpi was working on texts implying both Russian avantgarde and on American minimal Art. Volpi's approach to Paolini's highly intellectual art was triggered by a range of research fields where Malevich's nihilism and its related command 'less is more' were in the fore. There exists a solid relation between Volpi and Paolini as far as the necessity of keeping in touch with art's historical past is concerned. Volpi reads Paolini's manipulations of photography and collage through the examples of Duchamp, Magritte, and de Chirico's metaphysical 'void' as well. Practical working practices too seem to have been shared. Where Paolini quotes from past iconographies, Volpi constantly cites literary references; in both cases, texts and images are seen as ways of experiencing a brilliant reality, otherwise substantially opaque.