Adorno and Art: Aesthetic Theory Contra Critical Theory by James Hellings

By James Hellings

If the development towards the administered international is nearing finishing touch, if spectacularised societies, industrialised cultures, and reified recognition have taken regulate, then, Adorno and Art indicates how radical and progressive Adorno’s aesthetic conception of art’s double personality is still, and the way advanced, imaginitive and oppositional, sorts of artwork supply, maybe, the easiest wish for overcoming broken life.

The caricatures of Adorno, his politics and his aesthetics, are renowned error of judgement—widely repeated either by means of the academy and by way of the Left. Adorno’s aesthetics has been accused of failing to maintain speed with innovative inventive practices and for being socio-politically aloof. regardless of the patience of those caricatures, this booklet exhibits how major photographs and topics in Adorno’s concept stay appropriate to the present scenario of artwork, aesthetics and politics.

The Adorno on convey during this quantity was once no bourgeois mandarin, no boastful aesthete, no esoteric mystic, no depression pessimist, and no educational specialist holed up within the proverbial ivory tower.

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

Sample text

For art, according to Adorno, does not, in-itself, say something, art does not, in-itself, make something evident, art does not, in-itself, make the invisible visible. This is not the function of art, but the function of eloquent and emphatic aesthetic theory, which works of enigmatic and opaque art call forth, and stand in need of. Art does not, in-itself, make things evident, but art may become the site or the terrain for us to make things evident about art, culture and society. Interlocutors attempt to say what art shows, we try to make what art shows speak.

16 But, for Adorno (and for the early Marx), thought and interpretation (experiential (aesthetic) theory) always addresses a ‘practical telos,’17 which may bring about ‘practical effects’ and changes in society (inasmuch as a number of ideas may have entered the general consciousness). May is the key word here, and mediation is its meaning. Interpretation, analysis and (aesthetic or critical) theory cannot know in advance what these practical effects and changes will be in much the same way that artists cannot prescribe or control art’s reception.

I give buoyancy to Adorno’s image by severing it from the dead weight of its traditional, dogmatic, understanding as: (1) the position of the critical intellectual; (2) an (a)political aestheticist standpoint; and (3) a theoretical model for doing and distributing critical theory. 21 This page intentionally left blank 1 Critical Messages in a Bottle and Restoration Performatively, perhaps, both the source and contents of this image remain enigmatic, fragmented, and difficult to read. ’1 In this part, and its two excurses, I focus on a number of these antinomies, showing how this image has been used to support and attack the political dimensions of Adorno’s aesthetic and critical theory before subjecting this instrumentalisation to critique.

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