Aesthetics

Download PDF by J. Hellings: Adorno and Art: Aesthetic Theory Contra Critical Theory

By J. Hellings

A complete, serious and obtainable account of Theodor W. Adorno's materialist-dialectical aesthetic concept of artwork from a modern standpoint, this quantity exhibits how Adorno's serious concept is awash with pictures crystallising recommendations to the sort of measure that it has each cause to be defined as aesthetic.

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Extra resources for Adorno and Art: Aesthetic Theory Contra Critical Theory

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Interlocutors attempt to say what art shows, we try to make what art shows speak. Subjects may well make the invisible visible, but works of art do not. In his book on the German aesthetic tradition, Kai Hammermeister puts the problem succinctly: [A]rt lets us see something that remains hidden from view in our quotidian life. The work allows us a new perspective on our existence and our world. ) Therefore, the work not only lets us see those things that have remained hidden so far; it also makes visible the world in which these individual objects occur.

They comfortably adapt to the model of an epoch that likes to call itself the atomic age. (AT 182) In the more recent years of our post-atomic age, Adorno’s aesthetic theory, as Wellmer observed above – especially with its emphasis on art’s autonomy and art’s principle or law of form – has seemingly fallen from favour. In 2003, to mark the centenary of Adorno’s birth, Nicolaus Schafhausen and Vanessa Joan Müller co-curated an exhibition entitled, Adorno: The Possibility of the Impossible, which was held at Frankfurt Kunstverein.

For the intellectual,’ as for the artist and the aesthetician, ‘inviolable isolation is now the only way of showing some measure of solidarity. All collaboration, all the human worth of social mixing and participation, merely masks a tacit acceptance of inhumanity’ (MM 26). For, ‘[i]n the abstract conception of universal wrong,’ Adorno argued in Minima Excursus II – The Prevalence of a View 41 Moralia, ‘all concrete responsibility vanishes’ (MM 25). So, when one is faced with this crazy ‘dispersion of responsibility’ (DE 66), and absurd social relations (the inhumanity of alienation and reification), Adorno’s choice for (dis-)engagement and non-participation focussed on the work of art and aesthetics – determinate negation of the empirical or good hating of late-capitalist society – looks at lot less like an article of faith (negative theology), and much more like a practical philosophy (aesthetics as an ethics).

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