History of the Human Sciences 20 (2):141-175 (2007)

This article takes as its provocation Marx's intriguing statement about the disjunction between the flowering of Greek art and the underdeveloped stage of social and economic development made as an epilogue to the Introduction to the Grundrisse in order to ask what are the relations between that which has been considered art and what Marx calls `production as such'. In the elaborated conditions of contemporary capitalist societies, we can ask: Is art still being made? To examine this question I juxtapose what Bauman has called `thinking sociologically' with a proposition that art thinks aesthetically. So how can art historians deal with that challenge of thinking aesthetic practices both socially and historically? I track a genealogy of art historians who have attempted to think socially about artistic practices. This leads into a section about the necessity for both sociological and aesthetic education if we are to avoid totalitarianism or free-market individualism. Finally, thinking sociologically, by taking as a case study the work of Aby Warburg, I explore the technological conditions of art historical production itself particularly in relation to photography and the way this shapes our access to the image. Warburg represents the possibility of another model for art historical thinking about the image as Kulturwissenschaft, a parallel to Sozialwissenschaft in its ambition and relation to the great intellectual revolutions c.1905. Like Marx, Warburg questioned the continuity of the imaginary space of art thinking in the age of technological industrialism. Where art is now, where art history is, are not just sociological questions to which Marx might offer a dismal answer. I conclude that what is necessary is a constructive conversation between thinking sociologically and thinking aesthetically, knowing synthetically and knowing for oneself — curricular issues made more intense by the shared conditions in which all intellectual production is being transformed in contemporary sites of intellectual practice, the university, by `production as such' leading thought to risk the same fate as art in contemporary society, as Marx hypothesized. As a final thought, I suggest that in contemporary art work that confronts trauma and catastrophe, often using new technologies as aesthetic processes, we may find a counter-argument.
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DOI 10.1177/0952695107077109
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La pensée sauvage.Claude Levi-Strauss - 1963 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 18 (1):104-105.
The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers.T. J. Clark - 1985 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 44 (2):203-205.

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