In Art as Information Ecology, Jason A. Hoelscher offers not only an information theory of art but an aesthetic theory of information. Applying close readings of the information theories of Claude Shannon and Gilbert Simondon to 1960s American art, Hoelscher proposes that art is information in its aesthetic or indeterminate mode—information oriented less toward answers and resolvability than toward questions, irresolvability, and sustained difference. These irresolvable differences, Hoelscher demonstrates, fuel the richness of aesthetic experience by which viewers glean new information and insight from each encounter with an artwork. In this way, art constitutes information that remains in formation---a difference that makes a difference that keeps on differencing. Considering the works of Frank Stella, Robert Morris, Adrian Piper, the Drop City commune, Eva Hesse, and others, Hoelscher finds that art exists within an information ecology of complex feedback between artwork and artworld that is driven by the unfolding of difference. By charting how information in its aesthetic mode can exist beyond today's strictly quantifiable and monetizable forms, Hoelscher reconceives our understanding of how artworks work and how information operates.
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.
A profound book of essays from a celebrated master of the form.
“Darkness is not empty,” writes Teju Cole in Black Paper, a book that meditates on what it means to sustain our humanity—and witness the humanity of others—in a time of darkness. One of the most celebrated essayists of his generation, Cole here plays variations on the essay form, modeling ways to attend to experience—not just to take in but to think critically about what we sense and what we don’t.
Wide-ranging but thematically unified, the essays address ethical questions about what it means to be human and what it means to bear witness, recognizing how our individual present is informed by a collective past. Cole’s writings in Black Paper approach the fractured moment of our history through a constellation of interrelated concerns: confrontation with unsettling art, elegies both public and private, the defense of writing in a time of political upheaval, the role of the color black in the visual arts, the use of shadow in photography, and the links between literature and activism. Throughout, Cole gives us intriguing new ways of thinking about blackness and its numerous connotations. As he describes the carbon-copy process in his epilogue: “Writing on the top white sheet would transfer the carbon from the black paper onto the bottom white sheet. Black transported the meaning.”
What happens when the body becomes art in the age of biotechnological reproduction? In Chinese Surplus Ari Larissa Heinrich examines transnational Chinese aesthetic production to demonstrate how representations of the medically commodified body can illuminate the effects of biopolitical violence and postcolonialism in contemporary life. From the earliest appearance of Frankenstein in China to the more recent phenomenon of "cadaver art," he shows how vivid images of a blood transfusion as performance art or a plastinated corpse without its skin—however upsetting to witness—constitute the new "realism" of our times. Adapting Foucauldian biopolitics to better account for race, Heinrich provides a means to theorize the relationship between the development of new medical technologies and the representation of the human body as a site of annexation, extraction, art, and meaning-making.
These days, we take for granted that our computer screens—and even our phones—will show us images in vibrant full color. Digital color is a fundamental part of how we use our devices, but we never give a thought to how it is produced or how it came about.
Chromatic Algorithms reveals the fascinating history behind digital color, tracing it from the work of a few brilliant computer scientists and experimentally minded artists in the late 1960s and early ‘70s through to its appearance in commercial software in the early 1990s. Mixing philosophy of technology, aesthetics, and media analysis, Carolyn Kane shows how revolutionary the earliest computer-generated colors were—built with the massive postwar number-crunching machines, these first examples of “computer art” were so fantastic that artists and computer scientists regarded them as psychedelic, even revolutionary, harbingers of a better future for humans and machines. But, Kane shows, the explosive growth of personal computing and its accompanying need for off-the-shelf software led to standardization and the gradual closing of the experimental field in which computer artists had thrived.
Even so, the gap between the bright, bold presence of color onscreen and the increasing abstraction of its underlying code continues to lure artists and designers from a wide range of fields, and Kane draws on their work to pose fascinating questions about the relationships among art, code, science, and media in the twenty-first century.
Communities of Sense argues for a new understanding of the relation between politics and aesthetics in today’s globalized and image-saturated world. Established and emerging scholars of art and culture draw on Jacques Rancière’s theorization of democratic politics to suggest that aesthetics, traditionally defined as the “science of the sensible,” is not a depoliticized discourse or theory of art, but instead part of a historically specific organization of social roles and communality. Rather than formulating aesthetics as the Other to politics, the contributors show that aesthetics and politics are mutually implicated in the construction of communities of visibility and sensation through which political orders emerge.
The first of the collection’s three sections explicitly examines the links between aesthetics and social and political experience. Here a new essay by Rancière posits art as a key site where disagreement can be staged in order to produce new communities of sense. In the second section, contributors investigate how sense was constructed in the past by the European avant-garde and how it is mobilized in today’s global visual and political culture. Exploring the viability of various models of artistic and political critique in the context of globalization, the authors of the essays in the volume’s final section suggest a shift from identity politics and preconstituted collectivities toward processes of identification and disidentification. Topics discussed in the volume vary from digital architecture to a makeshift museum in a Paris suburb, and from romantic art theory in the wake of Hegel to the history of the group-subject in political art and performance since 1968. An interview with Étienne Balibar rounds out the collection.
Contributors. Emily Apter, Étienne Balibar, Carlos Basualdo, T. J. Demos, Rachel Haidu, Beth Hinderliter, David Joselit, William Kaizen, Ranjanna Khanna, Reinaldo Laddaga, Vered Maimon, Jaleh Mansoor, Reinhold Martin, Seth McCormick, Yates McKee, Alexander Potts, Jacques Rancière, Toni Ross
The past fifteen years have seen an important shift in the way scholars look at socialist realism. Where it was seen as a straitjacket imposed by the Stalinist regime, it is now understood to be an aesthetic movement in its own right, one whose internal logic had to be understood if it was to be criticized. International specialists remain divided, however, over the provenance of Soviet aesthetic ideology, particularly over the role of the avant-garde in its emergence.
In The Cultural Origins of the Socialist Realist Aesthetic, Irina Gutkin brings together the best work written on the subject to argue that socialist realism encompassed a philosophical worldview that marked thinking in the USSR on all levels: political, social, and linguistic. Using a wealth of diverse cultural material, Gutkin traces the emergence of the central tenants of socialist realist theory from Symbolism and Futurism through the 1920s and 1930s.
Developing a perspective on Victorian culture as the breeding ground for early theories of the unconscious and the divided psyche, The Demon and the Damozel: Dynamics of Desire in the Works of Christina Rossetti and Dante Gabriel Rossetti offers a new reading of these eminent Victorian siblings’ literature and visual arts.
Suzanne M. Waldman views well-known poems and artworks such as Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market and Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s The Blessed Damozel and Venus Verticordia in new ways that expose their authors’ savvy anticipation of concepts that would come to be known as narcissism, fetishism, and the symbolic and imaginary orders, among many others. Waldman makes a strong case for the particular psychoanalytic importance of the Rossettis by looking at how the two Rossetti siblings’ own psyches were divided by conflicts between the period’s religious scruples and its taste for gothic sensationalism.
The Demon and the Damozel is a close and contextualized reading of their writings and artwork that displays, for the first time, continuity between the medieval cosmologies these Pre-Raphaelites drew upon and the psychoanalytic theories they looked ahead to—and locates the intricate patterns of proto-psychoanalytic understanding in the rich tapestry of Pre-Raphaelite aestheticism.
"In her lucid and persuasive study, Kate Fullbrook shows bow women writers from Edith Wharton to Toni Morrison have used their fiction to help restructure our ethical landscape. Her book insists on the useful truth that feminism, with its moral centre, has still much to offer the late twentieth century."
--Janet Todd, University of East Anglia
In this sensitive and incisive study of eleven major twentieth-century women novelists, Kate Fullbrook traces the ethical and aesthetic impulses that have shaped their fiction. The result is a profoundly important way of reading women writers in the light of a new ethics for women.
This book captures the sweep of women's literary achievement in the modern period and the impact of the radical new moral principles outlined in their fiction. The novelists included here are Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, Zora Neale Hurston, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf, Dorothy Richardson, Djuna Barnes, Christina Stead, Doris Lessing, Margaret Atwood, and Toni Morrison. Fullbrook treats them not only as major literary figures in their own right but also as part of a tradition of women's writing that has as its project nothing less than an attempt to shift the moral ideas of the modern world.
"This is an exciting, original, and informative study of twentieth-century women's fiction. It brings a vast amount of material together, yet manages never to lose or confuse the reader--always there is a clear line of argument. The approach is genuinely interdisciplinary in the best spirit of feminist inquiry and [Fullbrook's] readings are fresh and illuminating. Fullbrook's argument that these women writers restructure the ethical landscape by devising new patterns for measuring moral success or failure is persuasive. Her discussion of the way they rebuild from the philosophical rubble of relativism, the way they intervene at a moment of cultural disjunction to propose alternative futures, is convincing and important."
--Gayle Green, Scripps College
The German volume Gadamer Lesebuch [A Gadamer Reader] (1997), selected and edited by Jean Grondin in consultation with Hans-Georg Gadamer himself, contains a set of essays that present a cross section of writings by one of the twentieth century's greatest philosophers. The volume begins with an autobiographical sketch and culminates in a conversation with Jean Grondin that looks back over a lifetime of productive philosophical work. The essays not already available in English have here been translated by Richard E. Palmer, a respected translator of Gadamer's writings. The sixteen essays contained in the Lesebuch are augmented here by three other essays: Gadamer's last essay on Derrida, "Hermeneutics Tracking the Trace" (1994) and two essays on practical philosophy. The Gadamer Reader: A Bouquet of the Later Writings richly conveys the scope and depth of Gadamer's thought, covering the range of his work in hermeneutics, aesthetics, practical philosophy, and essays on Plato, Hegel, and Heidegger. In addition, Palmer offers introductory remarks before each essay that explain its importance in the context of Gadamer's writings and define its key terms. Throughout, in both his translation and commentary, his aim is to make this critically important philosopher as clear and accessible as possible to an English-speaking audience.
Hegel and the Arts
Stephen Houlgate Northwestern University Press, 2007 Library of Congress B2949.A4H445 2007 | Dewey Decimal 111.85092
That aesthetics is central to Hegel's philosophical enterprise is not widely acknowledged, nor has his significant contribution to the discipline been truly appreciated. Some may be familiar with his theory of tragedy and his (supposed) doctrine of the "end of art," but many philosophers and writers on art pay little or no attention to his lectures on aesthetics. The essays in this collection, all but one written specifically for this volume, aim to raise the profile of Hegel's aesthetic theory by showing in detail precisely why that theory is so powerful. Writing from various perspectives and not necessarily aligned with Hegel's position, the contributors demonstrate that Hegel's lectures on aesthetics constitute one of the richest reservoirs of ideas about the arts, their history, and their future that we possess.
Addressing a range of important topics, the essays examine the conceptual bases of Hegel's organization of his aesthetics, his treatment of various specific arts (architecture, sculpture, painting, music, and tragedy), and several of the most famous issues in the literature--including the "end of art" thesis, the relation between art and religion, and the vexed relationship between Hegel and the romantics. Together they shed light on the profound reflections on art contained in Hegel's philosophy and also suggest ways in which his aesthetics might resonate well beyond the field of philosophical aesthetics, perhaps beyond philosophy itself.
The first English collection of writings by Henry van de Velde, one of the most influential designers and theorists of the twentieth century.
Belgian artist, architect, designer, and theorist Henry van de Velde (1863–1957) was a highly original and influential figure in Europe beginning in the 1890s. A founding member of the Art Nouveau and Jugendstil movements, he also directed the Grand-Ducal Saxon School of Arts and Crafts in Weimar, Germany, which eventually became the Bauhaus under Walter Gropius.
This selection of twenty-six essays, translated from French and German, includes van de Velde’s writings on William Morris and the English Arts and Crafts movement, Neo-Impressionist painting, and relationships between ornament, line, and abstraction in German aesthetics. The texts trace the evolution of van de Velde’s thoughts during his most productive period as a theorist in the artistic debates in France, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Katherine M. Kuenzli expertly guides readers to see how van de Velde’s writings reconcile themes of aesthetics and function, and expression and reason, throughout the artistic periods and regions represented by these texts. With introductory discussions of each essay and full annotations, this is an essential volume for a broad range of scholars and students of the history of fine and applied arts and ideas.
When capitalism is clearly catastrophically out of control and its excesses cannot be sustained socially or ecologically, the ideas of Herbert Marcuse become as relevant as they were in the 1960s. This is the first English introduction to Marcuse to be published for decades, and deals specifically with his aesthetic theories and their relation to a critical theory of society.
Although Marcuse is best known as a critic of consumer society, epitomised in the classic One-Dimensional Man, Malcolm Miles provides an insight into how Marcuse's aesthetic theories evolved within his broader attitudes, from his anxiety at the rise of fascism in the 1930s through heady optimism of the 1960s, to acceptance in the 1970s that radical art becomes an invaluable progressive force when political change has become deadlocked.
Marcuse's aesthetics of liberation, in which art assumes a primary role in interrupting the operation of capitalism, made him a key figure for the student movement in the 1960s. As diverse forms of resistance rise once more, a new generation of students, scholars and activists will find Marcuse’s radical theory essential to their struggle.
Can subjective, individual taste be reconciled with an objective, universal standard? In Homo Aestheticus, Luc Ferry argues that this central problem of aesthetic theory is fundamentally related to the political problem of democratic individualism.
Ferry's treatise begins in the mid-1600s with the simultaneous invention of the notions of taste (the essence of art as subjective pleasure) and modern democracy (the idea of the State as a consensus among individuals). He explores the differences between subjectivity and individuality by examining aesthetic theory as developed first by Kant's predecessors and then by Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, and proponents of the avant-garde. Ferry discerns two "moments" of the avant-garde aesthetic: the hyperindividualistic iconoclasm of creating something entirely new, and the hyperrealistic striving to achieve an extraordinary truth. The tension between these two, Ferry argues, preserves an essential element of the Enlightenment concern for reconciling the subjective and the objective—a problem that is at once aesthetic, ethical, and political.
Rejecting postmodern proposals for either a radical break with or return to tradition, Ferry embraces a postmodernism that recasts Enlightenment notions of value as a new intersubjectivity. His original analysis of the growth and decline of the twentieth-century avant-garde movement sheds new light on the connections between aesthetics, ethics, and political theory.
Impossible Presence brings together new work in film studies, critical theory, art history, and anthropology for a multifaceted exploration of the continuing proliferation of visual images in the modern era. It also asks what this proliferation—and the changing technologies that support it—mean for the ways in which images are read today and how they communicate with viewers and spectators.
Framed by Terry Smith's introduction, the essays focus on two kinds of strangeness involved in experiencing visual images in the modern era. The first, explored in the book's first half, involves the appearance of oddities or phantasmagoria in early photographs and cinema. The second type of strangeness involves art from marginalized groups and indigenous peoples, and the communicative formations that result from the trafficking of images between people from vastly different cultures. With a stellar list of contributors, Impossible Presence offers a wide-ranging look at the fate of the visual image in modernity, modern art, and popular culture.
Fred R. Myers
Hugh J. Silverman
Inquiry into the Picturesque
Sidney K. Robinson University of Chicago Press, 1991 Library of Congress BH211.P53R62 1991 | Dewey Decimal 111.85
The aesthetic mode of the picturesque has undergone so many transformations since its initial discussion in eighteenth-century England that it is hard to say just what it is. In these probing essays, Sidney K. Robinson re-examines the picturesque in its late eighteenth-century phase.
Christine Buci-Glucksmann’s The Madness of Vision is one of the most influential studies in phenomenological aesthetics of the baroque. Integrating the work of Merleau-Ponty with Lacanian psychoanalysis, Renaissance studies in optics, and twentieth-century mathematics, the author asserts the materiality of the body and world in her aesthetic theory. All vision is embodied vision, with the body and the emotions continually at play on the visual field. Thus vision, once considered a clear, uniform, and totalizing way of understanding the material world, actually dazzles and distorts the perception of reality.
In each of the nine essays that form The Madness of Vision Buci-Glucksmann develops her theoretical argument via a study of a major painting, sculpture, or influential visual image—Arabic script, Bettini’s “The Eye of Cardinal Colonna,” Bernini’s Saint Teresa and his 1661 fireworks display to celebrate the birth of the French dauphin, Caravaggio’s Judith Beheading Holofernes, the Paris arcades, and Arnulf Rainer’s self-portrait, among others—and deftly crosses historical, national, and artistic boundaries to address Gracián’s El Criticón; Monteverdi’s opera Orfeo; the poetry of Hafiz, John Donne, and Baudelaire; as well as baroque architecture and Anselm Kiefer’s Holocaust paintings. In doing so, Buci-Glucksmann makes the case for the pervasive influence of the baroque throughout history and the continuing importance of the baroque in contemporary arts.
"This collection of essays, many of which were previously available only in German, traces the trajectory of Gumbrecht's scholarship from 1975 to 1990. Gumbrecht is a brilliant theoretician whose work can be read from cover to cover or selectively since his twelve essays treat subjects ranging from the medieval to postmodern eras and include analyses of texts from Latin, French, English, Spanish and German literatures." --Southern Humanities Review
"The translation of these essays by Gumbrecht on literary theory and history marks the appearance in English of one of Europe's most learned, productive, and inventive scholars. Their range is extraordinary. They show that Gumbrecht is not only a sophisticated theorist and historian of literature, but a master practitioner of cultural studies." --Hayden White, University of California, Santa Cruz
Modernism and Hegemony was first published in 1990. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
In Modernism and Hegemony, Neil Larsen exposes the underlying political narratives of modernist aesthetic theory and practice. Unlike earlier Marxist critics, Larsen insists that modernist ideology be approached as a "displaced politics" and not simply as an aesthetic phenomenon. In this view, modernism is broadly ideological project comprising not only the literary-artist canon but also a wide array of theoretical discourses from aesthetics to philosophy, culture, and politics. Larsen gives postmodernism some credit for the apparent breakup of modernism, and for exposing the philosophical and political nature of its aesthetic stance. But he parts company with its ideological and epistemological notions, proposing to change the terms, and thus the framework, of the debate.
For Larsen, modernism is intimately linked to a crisis of representation that affected all aspects of life in the late nineteenth century - a period when capitalism itself was undergoing transformation from its "classical" free market phase into a more abstract, monopolistic and imperialistic stage. Larsen finds the resultant loosening of ties between individuals and society - the breakdown of social and historical agency - behind the growth of modernism. He employs speculative cross-readings of key texts by Marx and Adorno, an examination of Manet's "The Execution of Maximilian," and an analysis of modernism in a Third World setting to explain why modernism made special claims upon the aesthetic, and how it ultimately ascribed historical agency to "works of art."
A compelling reclamation of the place of aesthetics in postcolonial literature.
"Literature" though it may be, postcolonial literature is studied and understood largely--and often solely--in social and political terms. In neglecting its aesthetic dimension, as this book forcefully demonstrates, we are overlooking not only an essential aspect of this literature but even a critical perspective on its sociopolitical function and value. In Native Intelligence, Deepika Bahri focuses on postcolonial literature's formal and aesthetic negotiations with sociopolitical concerns.
How, Bahri asks, do aesthetic considerations contest the social function of postcolonial literature? In answering, her book takes on two tasks: First, it identifies the burden of representation borne by postcolonial literature through its progressive politicization. Second, it draws on Frankfurt School critical theory to reclaim a place for aesthetics in literary representation by closely engaging works of Rohinton Mistry, Salman Rushdie, and Arundhati Roy. Throughout, Bahri shows how attention to the aesthetic innovations and utopian impulses of postcolonial works uncovers their complex and uneven relationship to ideology, reanimating their potential to make novel contributions to the larger project of social liberation.
Deepika Bahri is associate professor in the Department of English at Emory University and coeditor, with Mary Vasudeva, of Between the Lines: South Asians and Postcoloniality (1996).
An innovative exploration of early twentieth-century avant-garde poetry’s relationship to the public sphere
“It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet men die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there,” as the poet William Carlos Williams memorably declared. In Omnicompetent Modernists: Poetry, Politics, and the Public Sphere, Matthew Hofer examines, through a multilayered literary critique of interwar modernist poetry, what it might mean to get the news, and more, from a poet.
Using pragmatist ideas about the public sphere as a tool, Hofer reveals how Langston Hughes, Ezra Pound, and Mina Loy sought to use literature to both express and enable thought. In Hughes, Pound, and Loy, Hofer attends to poets whose work vigorously imagined possible new relationships between language, thinking, and public society. Each poet had different goals and used different methods, but all found both inspiration and encouragement in popular political theory. Hughes advocated for a more just vision of color and class in the United States. Pound sought to condemn those whom he associated with public harm, linguistically, socially, economically, and politically. Loy championed the “psycho-democratic” representation of women, in both public and private life.
Although Hughes, Pound, and Loy are rarely considered together, what unites these three writers is how each reconceived the public realm, and revolutionized aesthetic form to articulate those visions. Hofer combines sharp intellectual historiography with rigorous literary criticism and the result is a study that reinvigorates both the poems and poets under consideration and speaks to the immense power of language in manipulating public opinion—with pertinent implications for the politics of the present.
A thought-provoking examination of beauty using three works of art by Manet, Gauguin, and Cézanne. As the discipline of art history has moved away from connoisseurship, the notion of beauty has become increasingly problematic. Both culturally and personally subjective, the term is difficult to define and nearly universally avoided. In this insightful book, Richard R. Brettell, one of the leading authorities on Impressionism and French art of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, dares to confront the concept of modern beauty head-on. This is not a study of aesthetic philosophy, but rather a richly contextualized look at the ambitions of specific artists and artworks at a particular time and place.
Brettell shapes his manifesto around three masterworks from the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Édouard Manet’s Jeanne (Spring), Paul Gauguin’s Arii Matamoe (The Royal End), and Paul Cézanne’s Young Italian Woman at a Table. The provocative discussion reveals how each of these exceptional paintings, though depicting very different subjects—a fashionable actress, a preserved head, and a weary working woman—enacts a revolutionary, yet enduring, icon of beauty.
In this study of modernist aesthetics, Beryl Schlossman reveals how for such writers as Marcel Proust, Gustave Flaubert, and Charles Baudelaire, the Orient came to symbolize the highest aspirations of literary representation. She demonstrates that through allegory, modernism became a style itself, a style that married the ancient and the modern and that emerged as both a cause and an effect, both an ideal construct and an textual materiality, all symbolized by the Orient—land of style, place of plurality, and site of the coexistence of holy lands. Toward the end of Remembrance of Things Past, the narrator describes the act of creating a work of art as a conversion of sensation into a spiritual equivalent. By means of such allegories of “conversion,” Schlossman shows, the modernist artist disappeared within the work of art and left behind the trace of his sublime vocation, a vocation in which he was transformed, in Schlossman’s words, “into a kind of priest kneeling at the altar of beauty before the masked divinity of representation.” The author shows how allegory—the representation of the symbolic as something real—was adapted by modernist writers to reflect subjectivity while masking an authorial origin. She reveals how modernist allegory arose, as Walter Benjamin suggests, at the crossroads of history, sociology, economics, urban architecture, and art—providing a kind of map of capitalism—and was produced through the eyes of a melancholic gazing at a “monument of absence.”
The zany, the cute, and the interesting saturate postmodern culture. They dominate the look of its art and commodities as well as our discourse about the ambivalent feelings these objects often inspire. In this radiant study, Sianne Ngai offers a theory of the aesthetic categories that most people use to process the hypercommodified, mass-mediated, performance-driven world of late capitalism, treating them with the same seriousness philosophers have reserved for analysis of the beautiful and the sublime.
Ngai explores how each of these aesthetic categories expresses conflicting feelings that connect to the ways in which postmodern subjects work, exchange, and consume. As a style of performing that takes the form of affective labor, the zany is bound up with production and engages our playfulness and our sense of desperation. The interesting is tied to the circulation of discourse and inspires interest but also boredom. The cute's involvement with consumption brings out feelings of tenderness and aggression simultaneously. At the deepest level, Ngai argues, these equivocal categories are about our complex relationship to performing, information, and commodities.
Through readings of Adorno, Schlegel, and Nietzsche alongside cultural artifacts ranging from Bob Perelman's poetry to Ed Ruscha's photography books to the situation comedy of Lucille Ball, Ngai shows how these everyday aesthetic categories also provide traction to classic problems in aesthetic theory. The zany, cute, and interesting are not postmodernity's only meaningful aesthetic categories, Ngai argues, but the ones best suited for grasping the radical transformation of aesthetic experience and discourse under its conditions.
In The Poetics of Political Thinking Davide Panagia focuses on the role that aesthetic sensibilities play in theorists’ evaluations of political arguments. Examining works by thinkers from Thomas Hobbes to Jacques Rancière, Panagia shows how each one invokes aesthetic concepts and devices, such as metaphor, mimesis, imagination, beauty, and the sublime. He argues that it is important to recognize and acknowledge these poetic forms of representation because they provide evaluative standards that theorists use in appraising the value of ideas—ideas about justice, politics, and democratic life. An investigation into the intertwined histories of aesthetic and political accounts of representation—such as Panagia presents here—sheds light on how modes of poetic thinking delimit the questions of unity and diversity that continue to animate contemporary political theory.
Panagia not only illuminates the structure of much contemporary political theory but also shows why understanding the poetics of political thinking is vital to contemporary society. Drawing on Gilles Deleuze’s critique of negation and his privileging of paradox as the source of political thought, Panagia suggests that a non-teleological concept of difference might generate insight into pressing questions about foreignness and citizenship. Turning to the liberal/poststructural debate that dominates contemporary political theory, he compares John Rawls’s concept of justice to Rancière’s ideas about political disagreement in order to demonstrate how, despite their differences, both thinkers comprehend aesthetic and moral reasoning as part and parcel of political writing. Considering the writings of William Hazlitt and Jürgen Habermas, he describes how the essay has become the exemplary genre of what is considered rational political argument. The Poetics of Political Thinking is a compelling reappraisal of the role of representation within political thought.
The period from 1780 to 1850 witnessed an unprecedented explosion of philosophical creativity in the German territories. In the thinking of Kant, Schiller, Fichte, Hegel, and the Hegelian school, new theories of freedom and emancipation, new conceptions of culture, society, and politics, arose in rapid succession. The members of the Hegelian school, forming around Hegel in Berlin and most active in the 1830’s and 1840’s, are often depicted as mere epigones, whose writings are at best of historical interest. In Politics, Religion, and Art: Hegelian Debates, Douglas Moggach moves the discussion past the Cold War–era dogmas that viewed the Hegelians as proto-Marxists and establishes their importance as innovators in the fields of theology, aesthetics, and ethics and as creative contributors to foundational debates about modernity, state, and society.
Kolb discusses postmodern architectural styles and theories within the context of philosophical ideas about modernism and postmodernism. He focuses on what it means to dwell in a world and within a history and to act from or against a tradition.
"Poetry does not impose, it exposes itself," wrote Paul Celan. Werner Hamacher's investigations into crucial texts of philosophical and literary modernity show that Celan's apothegm is also valid for the structure of understanding and for language in general. "Subject position" is widely invoked today, yet Hamacher is the first to thoroughly investigate the premises for this invocation. He demonstrates that the promise of a subject position is not only unavoidable--and thus produces more and more fundamentalisms--but is also unattainable and therefore always open to innovation, revision, and unexpected transformation. In a book that is both philosophical and literary, Hamacher gives us the fullest account of the vast disruption in the very nature of our understanding that was first unleashed by Kant's critique of human subjectivity.
In light of the double nature of every premise--that it is promised but never attainable--Hamacher gives us nine decisive themes, topics, and texts of modernity: the hermeneutic circle in Schleiermacher and Heidegger, the structure of ethical commands in Kant, Nietzsche's genealogy of moral terms and his exploration of the aporias of singularity, the irony of reading in de Man, the parabasis of language in Schlegel, Kleist's disruption of narrative representation, the gesture of naming in Benjamin and Kafka, and the incisive caesura that Paul Celan inserts into temporal and linguistic reversals.
There is no book that so fully brings the issues of both critical philosophy and critical literature into reach.
About the origins of Anglo-American poetic modernism, one thing is certain: it started with a notion of the image, described variously by Ezra Pound as an ideogram and a vortex. We have reason to be less confident, however, about the relation between these puzzling conceptions of the image and the doctrine of literary positivism that is generally held to be the most important legacy of Imagism. No satisfactory account exists, moreover, of what bearing these foundational principles may have on Pound's later engagement with fascism. Nor is it clear how figures such as the vortex and the ideogram might contribute generally to our understanding of modern visual culture and its compulsive appeal.
Radio Corpse addresses these issues and offers a fundamental revision of one of the most powerful and persistent aesthetic ideologies of modernism. Focusing on the necrophilic dimension of Pound's earliest poetry and on the inflections of materiality authorized by the modernist image, Daniel Tiffany establishes a continuum between Decadent practice and the incipient avant-garde, between the prehistory of the image and its political afterlife, between what Pound calls the "corpse language" of late Victorian poetry and a conception of the image that borrows certain "radioactive" qualities from the historical discovery of radium and the development of radiography. Emphasizing the phantasmic effects of translation (and exchange) in Pound's poetry, Tiffany argues that the cadaverous--and radiological--properties of the image culminate, formally and ideologically, in Pound's fascist radio broadcasts during World War II. Ultimately, the invisibility of these "radiant" images places in question basic assumptions regarding the optical character of images--assumptions currently being challenged by imageric technologies such as magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography.
Surveying a wide range of cultural controversies, from the Mapplethorpe affair to Salman Rushdie's death sentence, from canon-revision in the academy to the scandals that have surrounded Anthony Blunt, Martin Heidegger, and Paul de Man, Wendy Steiner shows that the fear and outrage they inspired are the result of dangerous misunderstanding about the relationship between art and life.
"Stimulating. . . . A splendid rebuttal of those on the left and right who think that the pleasures induced by art are trivial or dangerous. . . . One of the most powerful defenses of the potentiality of art."—Andrew Delbanco, New York Times Book Review
"A concise and . . . readable account of recent contretemps that have galvanized the debate over the role and purposes of art. . . . [Steiner] writes passionately about what she believes in."—Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
"This is one of the few works of cultural criticism that is actually intelligible to the nonspecialist reader. . . . Steiner's perspective is fresh and her perceptions invariably shrewd, far-ranging, and reasonable. A welcome association of sense and sensibility."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Steiner has succeeded so well in [the] task she has undertaken. The Scandal of Pleasure is itself characterized by many of the qualities Steiner demans of art, among them, complexity, tolerance and the pleasures of unfettered thought."—Eleanor Heartly, Art in America
"Steiner . . . provides the best and clearest short presentation of each of [the] debates."—Alexander Nehamas, Boston Book Review
"Steiner has done a fine job as a historian/reporter and as a writer of sophisticated, very clear, cultural criticism. Her reportage alone would be enough to make this a distinguished book."—Mark Edmundson, Lingua Franca
“Let us agree,” Federico Garcia Lorca wrote, “that one of man’s most beautiful postures is that of St. Sebastian.”
“In my ‘Saint Sebastian’ I remember you,” Salvador Dali replied to Garcia Lorca, referring to the essay on aesthetics that Dali had just written, “. . . and sometimes I think he is you. Let’s see whether Saint Sebastian turns out to be you.”
This exchange is but a glimpse into the complex relationship between two renowned and highly influential twentieth-century artists. On the centennial of Dali's birth, Sebastian’s Arrows presents a never-before-published collection of their letters, lectures, and mementos.
Written between 1925 and 1936, the letters and lectures bring to life a passionate friendship marked by a thoughtful dialogue on aesthetics and the constant interaction between poetry and painting. From their student days in Madrid's Residencia de Estudiantes, where the two waged war against cultural “putrefaction” and mocked the sacred cows of Spanish art, Dali and Garcia Lorca exchanged thoughts on the act of creation, modernity, and the meaning of their art. The volume chronicles how in their poetic skirmishes they sharpened and shaped each other’s work—Garcia Lorca defending his verses of absence and elegy and his love of tradition while Dali argued for his theories of “Clarity” and “Holy Objectivity” and the unsettling logic of Surrealism.
Christopher Maurer’s masterful prologue and selection of letters, texts, and images (many generously provided by the Fundacion Gala-Salvador Dali and Fundacion Federico Garcia Lorca), offer compelling and intimate insights into the lives and work of two iconic artists. The two men had a “tragic, passionate relationship,” Dali once wrote—a friendship pierced by the arrows of Saint Sebastian.
Sidney's Poetics is essential reading not only for students and scholars of Renaissance literature and literary theory but also for all who want to understand how human beings write and read creatively.
This collection gathers new essays by critics and scholars who are currently reshaping our sense of the function and nature of seventeenth-century poetry. Contributors return to the New Critical canon of Renaissance poetry with fresh perspectives that emphasize considerations of gender, ideology, power, and language.
In the first group of essays, David Norbrook, Annabel Patterson, John Guillory, Rosemary Kegl, and Stephen Orgel explore the various ways in which a text can be "political." Next, Arthur Marotti, Jane Tylus, and Jonathan Goldberg consider the circumstances of textual production and reception in the seventeenth century. Finally, Stanley Fish, Gordon Braden, Michael C. Schoenfeldt, and Maureen Quilligan discuss the particular forms of anxiety that result when seventeenth-century poets modify the traditional rhetoric of sexual desire to serve what seem to be erotic or religious purposes.
These essays, accompanied by an extensive editors' introduction, intersect less in their shared enthusiasm for particular authors or interpretative methods than in a common interest in particular critical issues. They present the most exciting work by critics redefining Renaissance studies.
In this major study of a flexible and multifaceted mode of expression, Linda Hutcheon looks at works of modern literature, visual art, music, film, theater, and architecture to arrive at a comprehensive assessment of what parody is and what it does.
Hutcheon identifies parody as one of the major forms of modern self-reflexivity, one that marks the intersection of invention and critique and offers an important mode of coming to terms with the texts and discourses of the past. Looking at works as diverse as Tom Stoppard's Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Brian de Palma's Dressed to Kill, Woody Allen's Zelig, Karlheinz Stockhausen's Hymnen, James Joyce's Ulysses, and Magritte's This Is Not a Pipe, Hutcheon discusses the remarkable range of intent in modern parody while distinguishing it from pastiche, burlesque, travesty, and satire. She shows how parody, through ironic playing with multiple conventions, combines creative expression with critical commentary. Its productive-creative approach to tradition results in a modern recoding that establishes difference at the heart of similarity.
In a new introduction, Hutcheon discusses why parody continues to fascinate her and why it is commonly viewed as suspect-–for being either too ideologically shifty or too much of a threat to the ownership of intellectual and creative property.
Christian Gauss Award Shortlist Winner of the ASAP Book Prize A Literary Hub Book of the Year
“Makes the case that the gimmick…is of tremendous critical value…Lies somewhere between critical theory and Sontag’s best work.” —Los Angeles Review of Books
“Ngai exposes capitalism’s tricks in her mind-blowing study of the time- and labor-saving devices we call gimmicks.” —New Statesman
“One of the most creative humanities scholars working today…My god, it’s so good.” —Literary Hub
“Ngai is a keen analyst of overlooked or denigrated categories in art and life…Highly original.” —4Columns
“It is undeniable that part of what makes Ngai’s analyses of aesthetic categories so appealing…is simply her capacity to speak about them brilliantly.” —Bookforum
“A page turner.” —American Literary History
Deeply objectionable and yet strangely attractive, the gimmick comes in many guises: a musical hook, a financial strategy, a striptease, a novel of ideas. Above all, acclaimed theorist Sianne Ngai argues, the gimmick strikes us both as working too little (a labor-saving trick) and working too hard (a strained effort to get our attention).
When we call something a gimmick, we register misgivings that suggest broader anxieties about value, money, and time, making the gimmick a hallmark of capitalism. With wit and critical precision, Ngai explores the extravagantly impoverished gimmick across a range of examples: the fiction of Thomas Mann, Helen DeWitt, and Henry James; the video art of Stan Douglas; the theoretical writings of Stanley Cavell and Theodor Adorno. Despite its status as cheap and compromised, the gimmick emerges as a surprisingly powerful tool in this formidable contribution to aesthetic theory.
Throughout the twentieth century, art history has been too narrowly focused on formalism. As a result, analyses regularly reduced works of art to their materials, texture, and composition. By contrast, art historian Sebastian Egenhofer takes Gilles Deleuze’s readings of Spinoza, Nietzsche, and Bergson as the basis for a new resistance to the overly reductive account of art history.
After laying out his argument for a new aesthetics of production in introductory chapters that discuss the work of Spinoza, Nietzsche, and Bergson, as well as Heidegger and Kant, Egenhofer applies this theoretical framework to case studies on Michael Asher, Marcel Duchamp, Thomas Hirschhorn, and Piet Mondrian. An aesthetics of production does not, he argues, imply a nostalgia for the artisanal or for a work of art’s singularity, but a way to bring together elements of critical materialism with a thorough reevaluation of the modern art and abstraction.
In a manufacturing metropolis in south China lies Dafen, an urban village that famously houses thousands of workers who paint van Goghs, Da Vincis, Warhols, and other Western masterpieces for the world market, producing an astonishing five million paintings a year. To write about work and life in Dafen, Winnie Wong infiltrated this world, first investigating the work of conceptual artists who made projects there; then working as a dealer; apprenticing as a painter; surveying wholesalers and retailers in Europe, East Asia and North America; establishing relationships with local leaders; and organizing a conceptual art exhibition for the Shanghai World Expo. The result is Van Gogh on Demand, a fascinating book about a little-known aspect of the global art world—one that sheds surprising light on the workings of art, artists, and individual genius.
Confronting big questions about the definition of art, the ownership of an image, and the meaning of originality and imitation, Wong describes an art world in which idealistic migrant workers, lofty propaganda makers, savvy dealers, and international artists make up a global supply chain of art and creativity. She examines how Berlin-based conceptual artist Christian Jankowski, who collaborated with Dafen’s painters to reimagine the Dafen Art Museum, unwittingly appropriated the work of a Hong Kong-based photographer Michael Wolf. She recounts how Liu Ding, a Beijing-based conceptual artist, asked Dafen “assembly-line” painters to perform at the Guangzhou Triennial, neatly styling himself into a Dafen boss. Taking the Shenzhen-based photojournalist Yu Haibo’s award-winning photograph from the Amsterdam's World Press Photo organization, she finds and meets the Dafen painter pictured in it and traces his paintings back to an unlikely place in Amsterdam. Through such cases, Wong shows how Dafen’s painters force us to reexamine our preconceptions about creativity, and the role of Chinese workers in redefining global art.
Providing a valuable account of art practices in an ascendant China, Van Gogh on Demand is a rich and detailed look at the implications of a world that can offer countless copies of everything that has ever been called “art.”
What Is Contemporary Art?
Terry Smith University of Chicago Press, 2009 Library of Congress N6497.S65 2009 | Dewey Decimal 709.05
Who gets to say what counts as contemporary art? Artists, critics, curators, gallerists, auctioneers, collectors, or the public? Revealing how all of these groups have shaped today’s multifaceted definition, Terry Smith brilliantly shows that an historical approach offers the best answer to the question: What is Contemporary Art?
Smith argues that the most recognizable kind is characterized by a return to mainstream modernism in the work of such artists as Richard Serra and Gerhard Richter, as well as the retro-sensationalism of figures like Damien Hirst and Takashi Murakami. At the same time, Smith reveals, postcolonial artists are engaged in a different kind of practice: one that builds on local concerns and tackles questions of identity, history, and globalization. A younger generation embodies yet a third approach to contemporaneity by investigating time, place, mediation, and ethics through small-scale, closely connective art making. Inviting readers into these diverse yet overlapping art worlds, Smith offers a behind-the-scenes introduction to the institutions, the personalities, the biennials, and of course the works that together are defining the contemporary. The resulting map of where art is now illuminates not only where it has been but also where it is going.