In Abject Performances Leticia Alvarado draws out the irreverent, disruptive aesthetic strategies used by Latino artists and cultural producers who shun standards of respectability that are typically used to conjure concrete minority identities. In place of works imbued with pride, redemption, or celebration, artists such as Ana Mendieta, Nao Bustamante, and the Chicano art collective known as Asco employ negative affects—shame, disgust, and unbelonging—to capture experiences that lie at the edge of the mainstream, inspirational Latino-centered social justice struggles. Drawing from a diverse expressive archive that ranges from performance art to performative testimonies of personal faith-based subjection, Alvarado illuminates modes of community formation and social critique defined by a refusal of identitarian coherence that nonetheless coalesce into Latino affiliation and possibility.
This collection examines key aesthetic avant-garde art movements of the twentieth century and their relationships with revolutionary politics. The contributors distinguish aesthetic avant-gardes —whose artists aim to transform society and the ways of sensing the world through political means—from the artistic avant-gardes, which focus on transforming representation. Following the work of philosophers such as Friedrich Schiller and Jacques Rancière, the contributors argue that the aesthetic is inherently political and that aesthetic avant-garde art is essential for political revolution. In addition to analyzing Russian constructivsm, surrealism, and Situationist International, the contributors examine Italian futurism's model of integrating art with politics and life, the murals of revolutionary Mexico and Nicaragua, 1960s American art, and the Slovenian art collective NSK's construction of a fictional political state in the 1990s. Aesthetic Revolutions and Twentieth-Century Avant-Garde Movements traces the common foundations and goals shared by these disparate arts communities and shows how their art worked towards effecting political and social change.
Contributors. John E. Bowlt, Sascha Bru, David Craven, Aleš Erjavec, Tyrus Miller, Raymond Spiteri, Miško Šuvakovic
Edited by Dieter Mersch, Sandro Zanetti, and Sylvia Sasse Diaphanes, 2019 Library of Congress BH39.A78413 2019
Theodor Adorno’s famous aesthetic theory was not merely a theory of the aesthetic; it also made a wider claim about the aesthetic implications of all theory. At the same time we have to deal with aesthetic objects and events in which an aesthetic theory is inherent, which show themselves as art. From both sides—theory and aesthetics—a link can be made to the etymological meaning of theōria, which understands the theoretical as a seeing or perspective. Featuring lucid essays by major thinkers, the book examines this link, focusing equally on the aesthetic implications of theory and the theoretical implications of aesthetic events.
Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Judgment, Thierry de Duve argues in the first volume of Aesthetics at Large, is as relevant to the appreciation of art today as it was to the enjoyment of beautiful nature in 1790. Going against the grain of all aesthetic theories situated in the Hegelian tradition, this provocative thesis, which already guided de Duve’s groundbreaking book Kant After Duchamp (1996), is here pursued in order to demonstrate that far from confining aesthetics to a stifling formalism isolated from all worldly concerns, Kant’s guidance urgently opens the understanding of art onto ethics and politics.
Central to de Duve’s re-reading of the Critique of Judgment is Kant’s idea of sensus communis, ultimately interpreted as the mere yet necessary idea that human beings are capable of living in peace with one another. De Duve pushes Kant’s skepticism to its limits by submitting the idea of sensus communis to various tests leading to questions such as: Do artists speak on behalf of all of us? Is art the transcendental ground of democracy? Or, Was Adorno right when he claimed that no poetry could be written after Auschwitz?
Loaded with de Duve’s trademark blend of wit and erudition and written without jargon, these essays radically renew current approaches to some of the most burning issues raised by modern and contemporary art. They are indispensable reading for anyone with a deep interest in art, art history, or philosophical aesthetics.
On January 5, 1845, the Prussian cultural minister received a request by a group of six young men to form a new Physical Society in Berlin. In fields from thermodynamics, mechanics, and electromagnetism to animal electricity, ophthalmology, and psychophysics, members of this small but growing group—which soon included Emil Du Bois-Reymond, Ernst Brücke, Werner Siemens, and Hermann von Helmholtz—established leading positions in what only thirty years later had become a new landscape of natural science. How was this possible? How could a bunch of twenty-somethings succeed in seizing the future?
In Aesthetics, Industry, and Science M. Norton Wise answers these questions not simply from a technical perspective of theories and practices but with a broader cultural view of what was happening in Berlin at the time. He emphasizes in particular how rapid industrial development, military modernization, and the neoclassical aesthetics of contemporary art informed the ways in which these young men thought. Wise argues that aesthetic sensibility and material aspiration in this period were intimately linked, and he uses these two themes for a final reappraisal of Helmholtz’s early work. Anyone interested in modern German cultural history, or the history of nineteenth-century German science, will be drawn to this landmark book.
Through a series of provocative conversations, Frederick Luis Aldama and Herbert Lindenberger, who have written widely on literature, film, music, and art, locate a place for the discomforting and the often painfully unpleasant within aesthetics. The conversational format allows them to travel informally across many centuries and many art forms. They have much to tell one another about the arts since the advent of modernism soon after 1900—the nontonal music, for example, of the Second Vienna School, the chance-directed music and dance of John Cage and Merce Cunningham, the in-your-faceness of such diverse visual artists as Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso, Willem de Kooning, Egon Schiele, Otto Dix, and Damien Hirst. They demonstrate as well a long tradition of discomforting art stretching back many centuries, for example, in the Last Judgments of innumerable Renaissance painters, in Goya’s so-called “black” paintings, in Wagner’s Tristan chord, and in the subtexts of Shakespearean works such as King Lear and Othello. This book is addressed at once to scholars of literature, art history, musicology, and cinema. Although its conversational format eschews the standard conventions of scholarly argument, it provides original insights both into particular art forms and into individual works within these forms. Among other matters, it demonstrates how recent work in neuroscience may provide insights in the ways that consumers process difficult and discomforting works of art. The book also contributes to current aesthetic theory by charting the dialogue that goes on—especially in aesthetically challenging works—between creator, artifact, and consumer.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than half of the world's population will have a depressive disorder at some point in their lifetimes. In The Aesthetics of Disengagement Christine Ross shows how contemporary art is a powerful yet largely unacknowledged player in the articulation of depression in Western culture, both adopting and challenging scientific definitions of the condition. Ross explores the ways in which contemporary art performs the detached aesthetics of depression, exposing the viewer's loss of connection and ultimately redefining the function of the image. Ross examines the works of Ugo Rondinone, Rosemarie Trockel, Ken Lum, John Pilson, Liza May Post, Vanessa Beecroft, and Douglas Gordon, articulating how their art conveys depression's subjectivity and addresses a depressed spectator whose memory and perceptual faculties are impaired. Drawing from the fields of psychoanalysis as well as psychiatry, Ross demonstrates the ways in which a body of art appropriates a symptomatic language of depression to enact disengagement - marked by withdrawl, radical protection of the self from the other, distancing signals, isolation, communication ruptures, and perceptual insufficiency. Most important, Ross reveals the ways in which art transforms disengagement into a visual strategy of disclosure, a means of reaching the viewer, and how in this way contemporary art puts forth a new understanding of depression.
Heavy makeup, gaudy jewelry, dramatic hairstyles, and clothes that are considered cheap, fake, too short, too tight, or too masculine: working-class Black and Latina girls and women are often framed as embodying "excessive" styles that are presumed to indicate sexual deviance. In Aesthetics of Excess Jillian Hernandez examines how middle-class discourses of aesthetic value racialize the bodies of women and girls of color. At the same time, their style can be a source of cultural capital when appropriated by the contemporary art scene. Drawing on her community arts work with Black and Latina girls in Miami, Hernandez analyzes the art and self-image of these girls alongside works produced by contemporary artists and pop musicians such as Wangechi Mutu, Kara Walker, and Nicki Minaj. Through these relational readings, Hernandez shows how notions of high and low culture are complicated when women and girls of color engage in cultural production and how they challenge the policing of their bodies and sexualities through artistic authorship.
In his Berlin lectures on fine art, Hegel argued that art involves a unique form of aesthetic intelligibility—the expression of a distinct collective self-understanding that develops through historical time. Hegel’s approach to art has been influential in a number of different contexts, but in a twist of historical irony Hegel would die just before the most radical artistic revolution in history: modernism. In After the Beautiful, Robert B. Pippin, looking at modernist paintings by artists such as Édouard Manet and Paul Cézanne through Hegel’s lens, does what Hegel never had the chance to do.
While Hegel could never engage modernist painting, he did have an understanding of modernity, and in it, art—he famously asserted—was “a thing of the past,” no longer an important vehicle of self-understanding and no longer an indispensable expression of human meaning. Pippin offers a sophisticated exploration of Hegel’s position and its implications. He also shows that had Hegel known how the social institutions of his day would ultimately fail to achieve his own version of genuine equality, a mutuality of recognition, he would have had to explore a different, new role for art in modernity. After laying this groundwork, Pippin goes on to illuminate the dimensions of Hegel’s aesthetic approach in the path-breaking works of Manet, the “grandfather of modernism,” drawing on art historians T. J. Clark and Michael Fried to do so. He concludes with a look at Cézanne, the “father of modernism,” this time as his works illuminate the relationship between Hegel and the philosopher who would challenge Hegel’s account of both modernity and art—Martin Heidegger.
Elegantly inter-weaving philosophy and art history, After the Beautiful is a stunning reassessment of the modernist project. It gets at the core of the significance of modernism itself and what it means in general for art to have a history. Ultimately, it is a testament, via Hegel, to the distinctive philosophical achievements of modernist art in the unsettled, tumultuous era we have inherited.
After the Crisis offers a platform for discussions between some of today’s leading artists, writers, theorists, curators, and historians aimed at questioning the very status of photography today. Contributors come from the realms of critical theory, fiction, performance art, fashion photography, and museums, as well as film and design, and their conversations bring together history and the contemporary. Comparing the current situation of photographic images with the crisis experienced by representation at the time of the birth of photography, they set our relationship with photographic images in the digital era in perspective. Through these discussions, we come to sense the existential burden of being surrounded by images, while also beginning to grasp the historical depth of a questioning of images that started long before the current generation and engages with crucial political and cultural issues of our time.
Reconsiders exceptionalism between aesthetics and politics
Here, Arne De Boever proposes the notion of aesthetic exceptionalism to describe the widespread belief that art and artists are exceptional. Against Aesthetic Exceptionalism challenges that belief by focusing on the sovereign artist as genius, as well as the original artwork as the foundation of the art market. Engaging with sculpture, conceptual artwork, and painting by emerging and established artists, De Boever proposes a worldly, democratic notion of unexceptional art as an antidote to the problems of aesthetic exceptionalism.
Forerunners: Ideas First
Short books of thought-in-process scholarship, where intense analysis, questioning, and speculation take the lead
In Always More Than One, the philosopher, visual artist, and dancer Erin Manning explores the concept of the "more than human" in the context of movement, perception, and experience. Working from Whitehead's process philosophy and Simondon's theory of individuation, she extends the concepts of movement and relation developed in her earlier work toward the notion of "choreographic thinking." Here, she uses choreographic thinking to explore a mode of perception prior to the settling of experience into established categories. Manning connects this to the concept of "autistic perception," described by autistics as the awareness of a relational field prior to the so-called neurotypical tendency to "chunk" experience into predetermined subjects and objects. Autistics explain that, rather than immediately distinguishing objects—such as chairs and tables and humans—from one another on entering a given environment, they experience the environment as gradually taking form. Manning maintains that this mode of awareness underlies all perception. What we perceive is never first a subject or an object, but an ecology. From this vantage point, she proposes that we consider an ecological politics where movement and relation take precedence over predefined categories, such as the neurotypical and the neurodiverse, or the human and the nonhuman. What would it mean to embrace an ecological politics of collective individuation?
Going beyond photography as an isolated medium to engage larger questions and interlocking forms of expression and historical analysis, Ambivalent gathers a new generation of scholars based on the continent to offer an expansive frame for thinking about questions of photography and visibility in Africa. The volume presents African relationships with photography—and with visibility more generally—in ways that engage and disrupt the easy categories and genres that have characterized the field to date. Contributors pose new questions concerning the instability of the identity photograph in South Africa; ethnographic photographs as potential history; humanitarian discourse from the perspective of photographic survivors of atrocity photojournalism; the nuanced passage from studio to screen in postcolonial digital portraiture; and the burgeoning visual activism in West Africa.
As the contributors show, photography is itself a historical subject: it involves arrangement, financing, posture, positioning, and other kinds of work that are otherwise invisible. By moving us outside the frame of the photograph itself, by refusing to accept the photograph as the last word, this book makes photography an engaging and important subject of historical investigation. Ambivalent‘s contributors bring photography into conversation with orality, travel writing, ritual, psychoanalysis, and politics, with new approaches to questions of race, time, and postcolonial and decolonial histories.
Contributors: George Emeka Agbo, Isabelle de Rezende, Jung Ran Forte, Ingrid Masondo, Phindi Mnyaka, Okechukwu Nwafor, Vilho Shigwedha, Napandulwe Shiweda, Drew Thompson
Discussing an aspect of the European avant-garde that has often been neglected-its relationship to the embodied experience of food, its sensation, and its consumption-Cecilia Novero exposes the surprisingly key roles that food plays in the theoretical foundations and material aesthetics of a broad stratum of works ranging from the Italian Futurist Cookbook to the magazine Dada, Walter Benjamin's writings on eating and cooking, Daniel Spoerri's Eat Art, and the French New Realists.
Starting from the premise that avant-garde art involves the questioning of bourgeois aesthetics, Novero demonstrates that avant-garde artists, writers, and performers have produced an oppositional aesthetics of indigestible art. Through the rhetoric of incorporation and consumption and the use of material ingredients in their work, she shows, avant-garde artists active in the 1920s and 1930s as well as the neo-avant-garde movements engaged critically with consumer culture, memory, and history.
Attention to food in avant-garde aesthetics, Novero asserts, reveals how these works are rooted in a complex temporality that associates memory and consumption with dynamics of change.
In this landmark collection, world-renowned theorists, artists, critics, and curators explore new ways of conceiving the present and understanding art and culture in relation to it. They revisit from fresh perspectives key issues regarding modernity and postmodernity, including the relationship between art and broader social and political currents, as well as important questions about temporality and change. They also reflect on whether or not broad categories and terms such as modernity, postmodernity, globalization, and decolonization are still relevant or useful. Including twenty essays and seventy-seven images, Antinomies of Art and Culture is a wide-ranging yet incisive inquiry into how to understand, describe, and represent what it is to live in the contemporary moment.
In the volume’s introduction the theorist Terry Smith argues that predictions that postmodernity would emerge as a global successor to modernity have not materialized as anticipated. Smith suggests that the various situations of decolonized Africa, post-Soviet Europe, contemporary China, the conflicted Middle East, and an uncertain United States might be better characterized in terms of their “contemporaneity,” a concept which captures the frictions of the present while denying the inevitability of all currently competing universalisms. Essays range from Antonio Negri’s analysis of contemporaneity in light of the concept of multitude to Okwui Enwezor’s argument that the entire world is now in a postcolonial constellation, and from Rosalind Krauss’s defense of artistic modernism to Jonathan Hay’s characterization of contemporary developments in terms of doubled and even para-modernities. The volume’s centerpiece is a sequence of photographs from Zoe Leonard’s Analogue project. Depicting used clothing, both as it is bundled for shipment in Brooklyn and as it is displayed for sale on the streets of Uganda, the sequence is part of a striking visual record of new cultural forms and economies emerging as others are left behind.
Contributors: Monica Amor, Nancy Condee, Okwui Enwezor, Boris Groys, Jonathan Hay, Wu Hung, Geeta Kapur, Rosalind Krauss, Bruno Latour, Zoe Leonard, Lev Manovich, James Meyer, Gao Minglu, Helen Molesworth, Antonio Negri, Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie, Nikos Papastergiadis, Colin Richards, Suely Rolnik, Terry Smith, McKenzie Wark
Antony Gormley on Sculpture
Antony Gormley University of Chicago Press, 2015 Library of Congress NB497.G65A35 2015 | Dewey Decimal 730.92
One of the most exciting sculptors of our time, Antony Gormley is the creator of breathtaking public installations. Even casual fans will recognize Event Horizon, a collection of thirty-one life-size casts of the artist’s body that have been installed atop buildings in places like London’s South Bank and New York’s Madison Square, and Field, formed by tens of thousands of standing clay figurines overflowing across a room’s floor. Projects like these demonstrate Gormley’s ongoing interest in exploring the human form and its relationships with the rest of the material world, and in Antony Gormley on Sculpture, he shares valuable insight into his work and the history of sculpture itself.
Combining commentary on his own works with discussions of other artists and the Eastern religious traditions that have inspired him, Gormley offers wisdom on topics such as the body in space, how to approach an environment when conceiving an installation, bringing mindfulness and internal balance to sculpture, and much more. Lavishly illustrated, this book will be of interest to not only art lovers, curators, and critics, but also artists and art students. Dynamic and thought-provoking, Antony Gormley on Sculpture is essential reading for anyone fascinated by sculpture and its long and complex history as a medium.
Après la crise établit une plateforme de conversation entre protagonistes de l’art, de l’écriture, de la théorie, de l’exposition, et de l’histoire, afin d’interroger le statut de la photographie aujourd’hui. Les contributeurs viennent des domaines de la théorie critique, de la fiction, de la performance, de la photographie de mode, des musées, du cinéma et du design, et leurs discussions réunissent l’histoire et le contemporain. Ces échanges établissent des parallèles entre la situation actuelle des images photographiques et la crise vécue par la représentation au temps de la naissance de la photographie ; ils mettent en perspective notre relation aux images photographiques à l’ère numérique, et nous permettent de voir en la photographie un médium, une voie pour explorer la politique, l’esthétique, les émotions de nos vies. Au travers de ces conversations vivantes, et des introductions sagaces qui les précèdent, nous en venons à ressentir le fardeau existentiel d’être entouré par des images, tout en commençant à saisir la profondeur historique d’un questionnement des images qui s’ouvrit bien avant la génération actuelle, et qui se confronte aux sujets politiques et culturels cruciaux de notre temps. Avec les contributions de Philippe Artières, Osei Bonsu, Emma Bowkett, Elisabeth Bronfen, Emanuele Coccia, Russell Ferguson, Dominique de Font-Réaulx, Marc Fumaroli, Leigh Ledare, Kieran Long, Roxana Marcoci, Renzo Martens, Paul McCarthy, Tom McCarthy, Pascale Montandon-Jodorowsky, ORLAN, Alice Rawsthorn, Jeff Rosenheim, Elisa Schaar, Bruno Serralongue, Devika Singh, Abdellah Taïa, Oliviero Toscani, Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, Wim Wenders, Richard Wentworth.
Art & Money
Marc Shell University of Chicago Press, 1995 Library of Congress N8600.S53 1995 | Dewey Decimal 701.03
In our age of art as investment and of skyrocketing prices at the gallery and the auction house, the study of art and money has become urgent—at least for investors and cultural critics. At the same time, crises in finance have disrupted economic and credit institutions and in turn assumptions about the value of art. Art & Money is a frank, provocative, and entirely unconventional look at two worlds in tandem, focusing on what binds together and drives apart the realms of art and money. Profusely illustrated, it investigates how money becomes (or is) artwork and how artwork comes to assume some of the characteristics of money.
Unlike traditional approaches to the topic, Art & Money is not a study of money and exchange as an artistic "theme." It is also not a study of economics as a context for the history of art. Rather, it is a path-breaking exploration of the internal logic—the set of meanings and values—common to both money and art.
Art & Money provides striking insight into current matters of art collection, counterfeiting, and problems of attribution, into the general relation between word and image, and into controversies over taxation and crises or scandals in the financial world. Shell's historical range is immense, and he fills this study with amusing anecdotes and insights ranging from the relic of the Holy Foreskin to the state's arrest of J. S. G. Boggs, a conceptual artist who draws money. Illustrated with over one hundred halftones and eight color plates, this stunning volume will force a rethinking of our old presumptions about where money ends and art begins.
Art and Anarchy
Edgar Wind Northwestern University Press, 1985 Library of Congress N7445.2.W546 1985 | Dewey Decimal 701.1
Will works of the imagination ever regain the power they once had to challenge and mould society and the individual? This was the question posed by Edgar Wind's influential Reith Lectures delivered in 1960 and later expanded into his book Art and Anarchy. The book examines the various forces that have fashioned the modern view of the art, from mechanization and fear of intellect to connoisseurship and--perhaps the fundamental weakness of our age--the dispassionate acceptance of art. In the course of his discussion, Wind surveyed a wide range of topics in the history of painting, literature, music, and the plastic arts from the Renaissance to modern times.
Much acclaimed and highly controversial, Michael Fried's art criticism defines the contours of late modernism in the visual arts. This volume contains twenty-seven pieces, including the influential introduction to the catalog for Three American Painters, the text of his book Morris Louis, and the renowned "Art and Objecthood." Originally published between 1962 and 1977, they continue to generate debate today. These are uncompromising, exciting, and impassioned writings, aware of their transformative power during a time of intense controversy about the nature of modernism and the aims and essence of advanced painting and sculpture.
Ranging from brief reviews to extended essays, and including major critiques of Jackson Pollock, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Frank Stella, and Anthony Caro, these writings establish a set of basic terms for understanding key issues in high modernism: the viability of Clement Greenberg’s account of the infralogic of modernism, the status of figuration after Pollock, the centrality of the problem of shape, the nature of pictorial and sculptural abstraction, and the relationship between work and beholder. In a number of essays Fried contrasts the modernist enterprise with minimalist or literalist art, and, taking a position that remains provocative to this day, he argues that minimalism is essentially a genre of theater, hence artistically self-defeating.
For this volume Fried has also provided an extensive introductory essay in which he discusses how he became an art critic, clarifies his intentions in his art criticism, and draws crucial distinctions between his art criticism and the art history he went on to write. The result is a book that is simply indispensable for anyone concerned with modernist painting and sculpture and the task of art criticism in our time.
First published in Spanish in 2010, Art beyond Itself is Néstor García Canclini's deft assessment of contemporary art. The renowned cultural critic suggests that, ideally, art is the place of imminence, the place where we glimpse something just about to happen. Yet, as he demonstrates, defining contemporary art and its role in society is an ever more complicated endeavor. Museums, auction houses, artists, and major actors in economics, politics, and the media are increasingly chummy and interdependent. Art is expanding into urban development and the design and tourism industries. Art practices based on objects are displaced by practices based on contexts. Aesthetic distinctions dissolve as artworks are inserted into the media, urban spaces, digital networks, and social forums. Oppositional artists are adrift in a society without a clear story line. What, after all, counts as transgression in a world of diverse and fragmentary narratives? Seeking a new analytic framework for understanding contemporary art, García Canclini is attentive to particular artworks; to artists including Francis Alÿs, León Ferrari, Teresa Margolles, Antoni Muntadas, and Gabriel Orozco; and to efforts to preserve, for art and artists, some degree of independence from religion, politics, the media, and the market.
When is an artistic work finished? When the copyeditor makes the final correction to a manuscript, when the composer writes the last note of a symphony, or when the painter puts the last brushstroke on the canvas? Perhaps it's even later, when someone reads the work, when an ensemble performs, or when the painting is hung on a gallery wall for viewing?
Art from Start to Finish gathers a unique group of contributors from the worlds of sociology, musicology, literature, and communications—many of them practicing artists in their own right—to discuss how artists from jazz musicians to painters work: how they coordinate their efforts, how they think, how they start, and, of course, how they finish their productions.
Specialists in the arts have much to say about the works themselves, which are often neglected by scholarsi n other fields. Art from Start to Finish takes a different tack by exploring the creative process itself and its social component. Any reader who makes art or has an interest in it will value this book.
From the European revolutions of 1848 through the Italian independence movement, the American Civil War, and the French Commune, the era Albert Boime explores in this fourth volume of his epic series was, in a word, transformative. The period, which gave rise to such luminaries as Karl Marx and Charles Darwin, was also characterized by civic upheaval, quantum leaps in science and technology, and the increasing secularization of intellectual pursuits and ordinary life. In a sweeping narrative that adds critical depth to a key epoch in modern art’s history, Art in an Age of Civil Struggle shows how this turbulent social environment served as an incubator for the mid-nineteenth century’s most important artists and writers.
Tracing the various movements of realism through the major metropolitan centers of Europe and America, Boime strikingly evokes the milieus that shaped the lives and works of Gustave Courbet, Edouard Manet, Émile Zola, Honoré Daumier, Walt Whitman, Abraham Lincoln, and the earliest photographers, among countless others. In doing so, he spearheads a powerful new way of reassessing how art emerges from the welter of cultural and political events and the artist’s struggle to interpret his surroundings. Boime supports this multifaceted approach with a wealth of illustrations and written sources that demonstrate the intimate links between visual culture and social change. Culminating at the transition to impressionism, Art in an Age of Civil Struggle makes historical sense of a movement that paved the way for avant-garde aesthetics and, more broadly, of how a particular style emerges at a particular moment.
The various lenses—ethical, political, sexual, religious, and so forth—through which we may view art are often instrumental in giving us an appreciation of the work. In Art in Context: Understanding Aesthetic Value, philosopher David Fenner presents a straightforward, accessible overview of the arguments about the importance of considering the relevant context in determining the true merit of a work of art.
Art in Context is a systematic, historically situated, and historically evidenced attempt to demonstrate the importance of considering contexts that will, in the vast majority of cases, increase the aesthetic experience. While focusing on distance, detachment, aestheticism, art for art’s sake, and formalism can at times be instructive and interesting, such approaches risk missing the larger and often central issue of the piece.
Based on the findings of philosophers and critics, and on artwork throughout
history, Art in Context provides a solid foundation for understanding and valuing a work of art in perspective as well as within the particular world in which it exists.
Art has the power to affect our thinking, changing not only the way we view and interact with the world but also how we create it. In Art in Mind, Ernst van Alphen probes this idea of art as a commanding force with the capacity to shape our intellect and intervene in our lives. Rather than interpreting art as merely a reflection of our social experience or a product of history, van Alphen here argues that art is a historical agent, or a cultural creator, that propels thought and experience forward.
Examining a broad range of works, van Alphen—a renowned art historian and cultural theorist—demonstrates how art serves a socially constructive function by actually experimenting with the parameters of thought. Employing work from artists as diverse as Picasso, Watteau, Francis Bacon, Marlene Dumas, and Matthew Barney, he shows how art confronts its viewers with the "pain points" of cultural experience-genocide, sexuality, diaspora, and transcultural identity-and thereby transforms the ways in which human existence is conceived. Van Alphen analyzes how art visually "thinks" about these difficult cultural issues, tapping into an understudied interpretation of art as the realm where ideas and values are actively created, given form, and mobilized. In this way, van Alphen's book is a work of art in itself as it educates us in a new mode of thought that will forge equally new approaches and responses to the world.
Art in Progress
Maarten Doorman Amsterdam University Press, 2004 Library of Congress BH39.D654 2003 | Dewey Decimal 100
In this challenging essay, Maarten Doorman argues that in art, belief in progress is still relevant, if not essential. The radical freedoms of postmodernism, he claims, have had a crippling effect on art, leaving it in danger of becoming meaningless. Art can only acquire meaning through context; the concept of progress, then, is ideal as the primary criterion for establishing that context. The history of art, in fact, can be seen as a process of constant accumulation, works of art commenting on one another and enriching one another's meanings. It is these complex interrelationships and the progress they create in both art and its observers that Doorman, in a display of great philosophical erudition, defends.
The question whether or not seventeenthcentury painters such as Rembrandt and Rubens created the paintings which were later sold under their names, has caused many a heated debate. Much is still unknown about the ways in which paintings were produced, assessed, priced, and marketed. For example, did contemporary connoisseurs expect masters such as Rembrandt to paint their works entirely by their own hand? Who was credited with the ability to assess paintings? How did a painting’s price relate to its quality? And how did connoisseurship change as the art market became increasingly complex? The contributors to this essential volume trace the evolution of connoisseurship in the booming art market of the seventeenth- and eighteenth centuries. Among them are the renowned Golden Age scholars Eric Jan Sluijter, Hans Van Miegroet and Neil De Marchi. It is not to be missed by anyone with an interest in the Old Masters and the early modern art market.
In Art to Come Terry Smith—who is widely recognized as one of the world's leading historians and theorists of contemporary art—traces the emergence of contemporary art and further develops his concept of contemporaneity. Smith shows that embracing contemporaneity as both a historical concept and a condition of the globalized world allows us to grasp how contemporary art exists in a fluid space of increasing interdependencies, multiple contemporaneous modernities, and persistent inequalities. Throughout these essays, Smith offers systematic proposals for writing contemporary art's histories while assessing how curators, critics, philosophers, artists, and art historians are currently doing so. Among other topics, Smith examines the intersection of architecture with other visual arts, Chinese art since the Cultural Revolution, how philosophers are theorizing concepts associated with the contemporary, Australian Indigenous art, and the current state of art history. Art to Come will be essential reading for artists, art students, curators, gallery workers, historians, critics, and theorists.
People all over the world make art and take pleasure in it, and they have done so for millennia. But acknowledging that art is a universal part of human experience leads us to some big questions: Why does it exist? Why do we enjoy it? And how do the world’s different art traditions relate to art and to each other?
Art Without Borders is an extraordinary exploration of those questions, a profound and personal meditation on the human hunger for art and a dazzling synthesis of the whole range of inquiry into its significance. Esteemed thinker Ben-Ami Scharfstein’s encyclopedic erudition is here brought to bear on the full breadth of the world of art. He draws on neuroscience and psychology to understand the way we both perceive and conceive of art, including its resistance to verbal exposition. Through examples of work by Indian, Chinese, European, African, and Australianartists, Art Without Borders probes the distinction between accepting a tradition and defying it through innovation, which leads to a consideration of the notion of artistic genius. Continuing in this comparative vein, Scharfstein examines the mutual influence of European and non-European artists. Then, through a comprehensive evaluation of the world’s major art cultures, he shows how all of these individual traditions are gradually, but haltingly, conjoining into a single current of universal art. Finally, he concludes by looking at the ways empathy and intuition can allow members of one culture to appreciate the art of another.
Lucid, learned, and incomparably rich in thought and detail, Art Without Borders is a monumental accomplishment, on par with the artistic achievements Scharfstein writes about so lovingly in its pages.
Arthur Dove: Always Connect
Rachael Z. DeLue University of Chicago Press, 2016 Library of Congress ND237.D67D45 2016 | Dewey Decimal 759.13
Arthur Dove, often credited as America’s first abstract painter, created dynamic and evocative images inspired by his surroundings, from the farmland of upstate New York to the North Shore of Long Island. But his interests were not limited to nature. Challenging earlier accounts that view him as simply a landscape painter, Arthur Dove: Always Connect reveals for the first time the artist’s intense engagement with language, the nature of social interaction, and scientific and technological advances.
Rachael Z. DeLue rejects the traditional assumption that Dove can only be understood in terms of his nature paintings and association with photographer and gallerist Alfred Stieglitz and his circle. Instead, she uncovers deep and complex connections between Dove’s work and his world, including avant-garde literature, popular music, meteorology, mathematics, aviation, and World War II. Arthur Dove also offers the first sustained account of Dove’s Dadaesque multimedia projects and the first explorations of his animal imagery and the role of humor in his art. Beautifully illustrated with works from all periods of Dove’s career, this book presents a new vision of one of America’s most innovative and captivating artists—and reimagines how the story of modern art in the United States might be told.
With Artist as Author, Christa Noel Robbins provides the first extended study of authorship in mid-20th century abstract painting in the US. Taking a close look at this influential period of art history, Robbins describes how artists and critics used the medium of painting to advance their own claims about the role that they believed authorship should play in dictating the value, significance, and social impact of the art object. Robbins tracks the subject across two definitive periods: the “New York School” as it was consolidated in the 1950s and “Post Painterly Abstraction” in the 1960s. Through many deep dives into key artist archives, Robbins brings to the page the minds and voices of painters Arshile Gorky, Jack Tworkov, Helen Frankenthaler, Kenneth Noland, Sam Gilliam, and Agnes Martin along with those of critics such as Harold Rosenberg and Rosalind Krauss. While these are all important characters in the polemical histories of American modernism, this is the first time they are placed together in a single study and treated with equal measure, as peers participating in the shared late modernist moment.
In this bold interdisciplinary work, Geoffrey Galt Harpham argues that asceticism has played a major role in shaping Western ideas of the body, writing, ethics, and aesthetics. He suggests that we consider the ascetic as "the 'cultural' element in culture," and presents a close analysis of works by Athanasius, Augustine, Matthias, Grünewald, Nietzsche, Foucault, and other thinkers as proof of the extent of asceticism's resources. Harpham demonstrates the usefulness of his findings by deriving from asceticism a "discourse of resistance," a code of interpretation ultimately more generous and humane than those currently available to us.
In Autonomy Nicholas Brown theorizes the historical and theoretical argument for art's autonomy from its acknowledged character as a commodity. Refusing the position that the distinction between art and the commodity has collapsed, Brown demonstrates how art can, in confronting its material determinations, suspend the logic of capital by demanding interpretive attention. He applies his readings of Marx, Hegel, Adorno, and Jameson to a range of literature, photography, music, television, and sculpture, from Cindy Sherman's photography and the novels of Ben Lerner and Jennifer Egan to The Wire and the music of the White Stripes. He demonstrates that through their attention and commitment to form, such artists turn aside the determination posed by the demand of the market, thereby defeating the foreclosure of meaning entailed in commodification. In so doing, he offers a new theory of art that prompts a rethinking of the relationship between art, critical theory, and capitalism.
What can Roger Rabbit tell us about the Second Gulf War? What can a woman married to the Berlin Wall tell us about posthumanism and inter-subjectivity? What can DJ Shadow tell us about the end of history? What can our local bus route tell us about the fortification of the West? What can Reality TV tell us about the crisis of contemporary community? And what can unauthorized pictures of Osama Bin Laden tell us about new methods of popular propaganda? These are only some of the thought-provoking questions raised in Avoiding the Subject, which highlights the feedback-loops between philosophy, technology, and politics in today's mediascape.