Reflections on the relationship of aesthetics to politics tend to circle, almost compulsively, around a relatively stable set of conceptual oppositions, inherited from German philosophies of the late 18th century. This essay proposes an expansion of the theoretical terms of the debate by extending the field of transcendental aesthetics into the domain of historical temporalization. Fundamental art-historical categories may thereby be incorporated, philosophically transformed, into ‘aesthetics’ as forms of historical temporalization: avant-garde, modern, contemporary. The essay expounds two theses, in (...) particular: 1. The historical subsumption of the temporality of the avant-garde by the temporality of the modern: the modern stands to the avant-garde as the negation of its politics by the repetition of the new –‘the new as the ever–same’; 2. the historical subsumption of the temporality of the modern by ‘the contemporary’: the contemporary stands to the modern as the negation of the dialectical logic – and hence specifically developmentalist futurity – of the new by a spatially determined, but imaginary co-presencing. One effect of this latter subsumption, it is argued, is a particular, regressive ‘repetition of the national’, at the level of cultural representation, on the terrain of the global. (shrink)
In this groundbreaking study, Nina Gurianova identifies the early Russian avant-garde as a distinctive movement in its own right and not a preliminary stage to the Constructivism of the 1920s. Gurianova identifies what she terms an “aesthetics of anarchy”—art-making without rules—that greatly influenced early twentieth-century modernists. Setting the early Russian avant-garde movement firmly within a broader European context, Gurianova draws on a wealth of primary and archival sources by individual writers and artists, Russian theorists, theorizing artists, and German (...) philosophers. Unlike the post-revolutionary avant-garde, which sought to describe the position of the artist in the new social hierarchy, the early Russian avant-garde struggled to overcome the boundaries defining art and to bridge the traditional gap between artist and audience. As it explores the aesthetics embraced by the movement, the book shows how artists transformed literary, theatrical, and performance practices, eroding the traditional boundaries of the visual arts and challenging the conventions of their day. (shrink)
Using the literary work of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, the founder of the Italian Futurist movement and an early associate of Mussolini, the author explores the point of contact between a "progressive" aesthetic practice and a "reactionary" political ideology.
The book presents five philosophical and axiological studies devoted to the relationship between aesthetics and politics. It shows this relationship throughout the works of some avant-gardists, pragmatists, and postmodernists. It is also a voice in the discussion about the meaning of the fine arts and aesthetics in the context of the political aims and norms. This voice claims that the political dimension of art and aesthetics should be studied much more seriously than it has been till today, and needs more (...) courageous re-interpretations and re-readings. (shrink)
Artists and critics regularly enlist theory in the creation and assessment of artworks, but few have scrutinized the art theories themselves. Here, Daniel examines and critiques the norms, assumptions, historical conditions, and institutions that have framed the development and uses of art theory. Spurred by the theoretical claims of Arthur Danto, a leader in the philosophy of the avant-garde, Herwitz reexamines the art and theory of major figures in the avant-garde movement including John Cage, Jean-François Lyotard, Jean Baudrillard, (...) and Andy Warhol. (shrink)
_Five Faces of Modernity_ is a series of semantic and cultural biographies of words that have taken on special significance in the last century and a half or so: _modernity_, _avant-garde_, _decadence_, _kitsch_, and _postmodernism_. The concept of modernity—the notion that we, the living, are different and somehow superior to our predecessors and that our civilization is likely to be succeeded by one even superior to ours—is a relatively recent Western invention and one whose time may already have passed, if (...) we believe its postmodern challengers. Calinescu documents the rise of cultural modernity and, in tracing the shifting senses of the five terms under scrutiny, illustrates the intricate value judgments, conflicting orientations, and intellectual paradoxes to which it has given rise. _Five Faces of Modernity_ attempts to do for the foundations of the modernist critical lexicon what earlier terminological studies have done for such complex categories as _classicism_, _baroque_, _romanticism_, _realism_, or _symbolism_ and thereby fill a gap in literary scholarship. On another, more ambitious level, Calinescu deals at length with the larger issues, dilemmas, ideological tensions, and perplexities brought about by the assertion of modernity. (shrink)
Art, Mimesis and the Avant-Garde explores the relationship between art and philosophy. Andrew Benjamin argues for a reworking of the task of philosophy in terms of the centrality of ontology. It is in relation to this centrality, understood through the differences between modes of being, that art, mimesis, and the avant-garde come to be presented. A fundamental part of this book is the original interpretations of important contemporary painters and their themes: Lucian Freud's self-portraits, Francis Bacon 's use (...) of mirrors, R. B. Kitaj and Jewish identity, Anselm Kiefer and iconoclasm. Apart from painting, Benjamin considers architecture, literature, and the philosophical writings of Walter Benjamin and Descartes in elaborating the various aspects of ontological difference. Benjamin develops the theory of the avant-garde as a philosophical category rather than a historical marker, thus bringing the worlds of contemporary art criticism and contemporary philosophy closer together. (shrink)
I. An introduction -- II. Russian futurism and the related currents -- III. Russian suprematism and constructivism -- IV. The OBERIU circle (Daniil Kharms and his associates) -- V. Russian experimental performance and theater -- VI. Avant-garde cinematography: Sergei Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov.
In the present paper, the author looks at the political dimension of some trends in the visual arts within twentieth-century avant-garde groups through George Santayana’s idea of vital liberty. Santayana accused the avant-gardists of social and political escapism, and of becoming unintentionally involved in secondary issues. In his view, the emphasis they placed on the medium and on treating it as an aim in itself, not, as it should be, as a transmitter through which a stimulating relationship with the (...) environment can be had, was accompanied by a focus on fragments of life and on parts of existence, and, on the other hand, by a de facto rejection of ontology and cosmology as being crucial to understanding life and the place of human beings in the universe. The avant-gardists became involved in political life by responding excessively to the events of the time, instead of to the everlasting problems that are the human lot. (shrink)
Fascism, modernism and modernity -- The Jew as anti-artist : Georges Sorel and the aesthetics of the anti- Enlightenment -- La Cité française : Georges Valois, Le Corbusier and fascist theories of urbanism -- Machine primitives : Philippe Lamour and the fascist cult of youth -- Classical violence : Thierry Maulnier and the legacy of the Cercle Proudhon.
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. (shrink)
Against arbitrariness -- The plastic word -- The simultaneous vision -- Each of us tracks his own toad -- The bed in the background : the erotics of chance in the discourses of Czech surrealism -- The poet and the hangman.
Decentring the Avant-Garde presents a collection of articles dealing with the topography of the avant-garde. The focus is on different responses to avant-garde aesthetics in regions traditionally depicted as cultural, geographical and linguistic peripheries. Avant-garde activities in the periphery have to date mostly been described in terms of a passive reception of new artistic trends and currents originating in cultural centres such as Paris or Berlin. Contesting this traditional view, Decentring the Avant-Garde highlights the importance (...) of analysing the avant-garde in the periphery in terms of an active appropriation of avant-garde aesthetics within different cultural, ideological and historical settings. A broad collection of case studies discusses the activities of movements and artists in various regions in Europe and beyond. The result is a new topographical model of the international avant-garde and its cultural practices. (shrink)
Last Spring two important German books on aesthetics finally appeared in English: Adorno's unfinished Aesthetic Theory, intended to summarize his philosophy and sociology of modern culture, and Büger's Theory of the Avant-Garde, in many ways a dialogue with Adorno and critical theory. Peter Bürger, a professor of French and comparative literature at the university of Bremen, has published extensively on a broad spectrum of classical to avant-garde literature, generally trying to combine an outline of a sociology of culture (...) with detailed socio-historical anaylses of specific works. Bürger sees himself as a mediator between hermeneutics and critical theory. He is an avowed disciple of the Frankfurt School in that the recognizes the cognitive and potentially moral function of art, bound up with art's necessary aloofness from practice in bourgeois society. (shrink)
Modernism remains a complex and complicated term, contested not only with regard to its historical meaning or period boundaries but also with regard to its relevance for aesthetics and, more broadly, for the contemporary understanding of art. Is modernism the culmination of modernity, its crowning moment or perhaps its tipping point toward the purported postmodernity/postmodernism, or is the radical challenge instigated by modernism’s artistic inventiveness—what I call its avant-garde momentum—still extant and current beyond the apparent succession of modernism by (...) postmodernism? This essay approaches these questions through a discussion of various approaches to artworks in modernism and the avant-garde: Adorno, Rancierè, Heidegger, and Lyotard in order to explore the extent to which aesthetics remains both the precondition and the optics for modernism. At the same time, it assesses the implications of the avant-garde’s challenge to the very idea of art. The divergence in the discussions of the split between modernism and avant-garde, as well as the contention between proposals for a new aesthetic and the critique of the notion of art, pivot on the issue of freedom and the role of the human. In its challenge to art, the avant-garde calls into question the centrality of the human and the idea that freedom is a human possession. In doing so, it rethinks the notion of the artwork with regard to the non-human or inhuman. Against the backdrop of this rift between modernism and the avant-garde, the essay discusses the works of Wallace Stevens and Gertrude Stein. While Stein’s avant-garde writing is intensely engaged in its practice with drafting a new poetic rigor of writing and experience, the modernist Stevens uses aesthetic paradigms and reflection to trigger the liminal state at the end of the imagination or the mind. This brief study of Stevens and Stein illustrates the fact that modernism and the avant-garde inhabit the same historical moment yet part ways with regard to aesthetics. As the avant-garde elaborates its new rigor in order to work in tune with the non-human reach of the event, it moves beyond the metaphysical determination of art and aesthetics. In the avant-garde, what is ‘proper’ to humankind comes to be “inhabited by the inhuman,” to paraphrase Lyotard, and is “celebrated” as such. This fissure means also that the momentum of the avant-garde extends beyond the historical boundaries of, for many already closed, chapter of modernism. (shrink)
Almost all of us would agree that the experience of art is deeply rewarding. Why this is the case remains a puzzle; nor does it explain why many of us find works of art much more important than other sources of pleasure. Art and Knowledge argues that the experience of art is so rewarding because it can be an important source of knowledge about ourselves and our relation to each other and to the world. The view that art is a (...) source of knowledge can be traced as far back as Aristotle and Horace. Artists as various as Tasso, Sidney, Henry James and Mendelssohn have believed that art contributes to knowledge. As attractive as this view may be, it has never been satisfactorily defended, either by artists or philosophers. Art and Knowledge reflects on the essence of art and argues that it ought to provide insight as well as pleasure. It argues that all the arts, including music, are importantly representational. This kind of representation is fundamentally different from that found in the sciences, but it can provide insights as important and profound as available from the sciences. Once we recognise that works of art can contribute to knowledge we can avoid thorough relativism about aesthetic value and we can be in a position to evaluate the avant-garde art of the past 100 years. Art and Knowledge is an exceptionally clear and interesting, as well as controversial, exploration of what art is and why it is valuable. It will be of interest to all philosophers of art, artists and art critics. (shrink)
This book offers an original approach to avant-garde art and its transformative force. Presenting an alternative to the approaches to art developed in postmodern theory or cultural studies, Ziarek sees art's significance in its critique of power and the increasing technologization of social relations. Re-examining avant-garde art and literature, from Italian and Russian Futurism and Dadaism, to Language poetry, video and projection art, as well as transgenic and Internet art, this book argues that art's importance today cannot be (...) explained simply in aesthetic or cultural terms but has to take into consideration how artworks question the technological character of modern power. To emphasize the transformative character of art, the book redefines art as a force field, in which forces drawn from historical and social reality come be to formed into an alternative relationality. Through discussions of such key avant-garde figures as Marinetti, Duchamp, Khlebnikov, and Vertov, and innovative contemporary artists like Viola, Wodiczko and Kac, The Force of Art counters the pessimism about art's social function by recovering and redefining art's transformative role in modernity. (shrink)
This interview is inspired the most important working-hypothesis presented in the volume Aesthetic Revolutions and the Twentieth-Century Avant-Garde Movements, edited by Aleš Erjavec, that questions the legitimacy of the distinction between aesthetic and artistic avant-gardes, supported by the relationship of each concept with the modern revolutionary politics. The relevance of this contrast for determining modernity both in its ideological shape and its continuity, in the terms of postmodernity will be criticized in our discussion with professor Erjavec, reflecting on the (...) manner in which the artistic communities representative for Surrealism, Russian constructivism, Situationist International, Dadaism, Italian Futurism, 1960s American Art, as well as for Slovenian, Mexican or Romanian artistic movements of the 20th century opened the path for different democratic or totalitarian political attitudes, practices and ambitions. (shrink)