Art and Enlightenment: Aesthetic Theory after Adorno

Art and Enlightenment: Aesthetic Theory after Adorno

Art and Enlightenment: Aesthetic Theory after Adorno

Art and Enlightenment: Aesthetic Theory after Adorno

Synopsis

The crisis of tradition early in the twentieth century-signaled by the collapse of perspective in painting and tonality in music and evident in the explosive ferment of the avant-garde movements-opened a new stage of modern art, which aesthetic theory is still struggling to comprehend. David Roberts situates the current aesthetic and cultural debates in a wider historical frame which extends from Hegel and the German Romantics to Lukács and Adorno, Benjamin and Baudrillard. Art and Enlightenment: Aesthetic Theory after Adorno is the first detailed analysis in English of Theodor Adorno's seminal Philosophy of Modern Music, which can be seen as a turning point between modern and postmodern art and theory.

Adorno's diagnosis of the crisis of modernist values points back to Hegel's thesis of the end of art and also forward to the postmodernist debate. Thus the paradoxes of Adorno's negative aesthetics return to haunt the current discussion by representatives of the second generation of the Frankfurt School, Anglo-American Marxism, and French poststructuralism. Going beyond Adorno's dialectic of musical enlighten-ment, Roberts proposes an alternative model of the enlightenment, of art applied to literature and exemplified in the outline of a theory of parody. In its critique of Adorno, Art and Enlightenment clears the way for a reconsideration of twentieth-century artistic theory and practice and also, in offering a model of postmodern art, seeks to disentangle critical issues in the discussion of the avant-garde, modernism, and postmodernism.

Excerpt

The dialectic of art and enlightenment has been an open question for art since the Enlightenment. the emergence of aesthetic theory in the second half of the eighteenth century signaled a new stage in the historical self-reflection of modern art. This reflection is critical in a double sense: on the one hand it registers that art itself has become theoretical; on the other, precisely this transformation of art into theory announces the crisis and end of art. This first critical turn of aesthetic modernity appears in the opposed versions of the enlightenment of art we find in the German romantics and Hegel.

The second critical turn arises from the general crisis of tradition in the first decades of the twentieth century, signaled by the collapse of perspective in painting and tonality in music and evident in the explosive ferment of the avant-garde movements. This crisis opens a new stage of modern art, which aesthetic theory is still struggling to comprehend. Here Theodor Adorno's Philosophy of Modern Music can be seen as playing a seminal role. the dialectic of enlightenment it unfolds renews Hegel's conclusions on the fate of art in modernity. At the same time Adorno's polemical analysis of the opposed paths of the new music anticipates in important respects the debates on postmodernism.

The critical continuity of reflection on the dialectic of art and . . .

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