Representation or Sensation? A Critique of Deleuze’s Philosophy of Painting

Sympsium. Canadian Journal for Continental Philosophy 13 (1):59-73 (2009)
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Abstract

In this paper I shall present an argument against Deleuze’s philosophy of painting. Deleuze’s main thesis in Logic of Sensation is twofold: [1] he claims that painting is based on a non-representational level; and [2] he claims that this level comes out of the materiality of painting. I shall claim that Deleuze’s theses should be rejected for the following reasons: first, the difference between non-intentional life and the representational world is too strict. I submit that the non-intentional relation that painting opens up is itself part of and emerges out of the representational force of painting. If this would not be the case, then the criterion for differentiating between paintings and other objects cannot be developed. Indeed, Deleuze fails to give us a criterion. Second, Deleuze’s way of dealing with materiality in painting remains unsatisfactory, insofar as he is unable to take into account how materiality is charged with an “attitude towards the world.” In sum, materiality can only be painting’s materiality if we understand it as being formed and disclosed in representation.

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Christian Lotz
Michigan State University

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