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

By J. Hellings

A complete, serious and obtainable account of Theodor W. Adorno's materialist-dialectical aesthetic concept of artwork from a latest standpoint, this quantity exhibits how Adorno's serious thought is awash with pictures crystallising techniques to any such 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

Sample text

Concepts of this sort, and especially those of so-called classics of modernism, contribute all too well to the loss of tension in post-World War II art, much of which goes slack the moment it appears. 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.

Critical aesthetic theory is neither a recipe that can be followed nor a philosophy that can be applied. This is the point of speculating, deliberating, reasoning and essaying: all imperfect sciences (and none more so than aesthetics: inferior cognition) – vulnerable to censorship, critique and refutation – whose imperfection is actually a measure of their freedom. 19 Rather than paralysing theory, this uncertainty, vulnerability and imperfection makes it possible for theory to live on because the moment to realise it was missed and the attempt to change the world miscarried (ND 3).

As Wellmer observes, ‘art does not imitate reality but at most that aspect of reality which points beyond reality’ (TSR 202). Art, as Gillian Rose put it, ‘is not “real” in the same way society is “real”’ (MS 124). Art does not copy or imitate, depict or reflect objective reality – limping after it impotently à la Lukács – but, rather, art recollects, reproduces and redeems what is beyond objective reality (the incommensurable, the Other, something more). Adorno’s aesthetics, in opposition to Lukács’s, redeems ‘the importance of illusion in the portrayal of reality’ (MS 124).

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