Art & Its Time: Theories and Practices of Modern Aesthetics

Art & Its Time: Theories and Practices of Modern Aesthetics

Art & Its Time: Theories and Practices of Modern Aesthetics

Art & Its Time: Theories and Practices of Modern Aesthetics


Art In Its Time takes a close look at the way in which art has become integral to the everyday 'ordinary' life of modern society. It explores the prevalent notion of art as transcending its historical moment, and argues that art cannot be separated from the everyday as it often provides material to represent social struggles and class, to explore sexuality, and to think about modern industry and our economic relationships.


In writing this book I have depended greatly on the work of many people, inadequately represented in my footnotes, with whom I have discussed over the years the issues treated here. I thank in particular Jeffrey Barnouw, Annie Becq, Timothy J. Clark, Susan Denker, Judith Goldstein, Valerie Jaudon, Richard Kalina, Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Sally Markowitz, Joseph Masheck, Maureen Ryan, Richard Shiff, and Barry Schwabsky. Two art historians have been of special importance: Meyer Schapiro gave me, along with an example combining immense learning with a flexible and sensitive language for the description of works of art, the single most important piece of advice I received when I began my study of art: to draw everything I wanted to look at seriously. And Alan Wallach, who first gave me the idea that I could try to understand my reaction to a picture, in terms both of its physical form and of my historical relation to it, was for years a companion in my attempts to understand a domain of experience in which he is also deeply involved.

I have been privileged to encounter art not only as a set of finished objects but as process; I owe much to the artists who have discussed their work and ideas about art, history, and society with me. In particular, Rochelle Feinstein first led me into the world of contemporary art, and I am honored to acknowledge the pleasure and stimulation of years of friendship with the late Sidney Tillim, whose brilliance as an artist combined depth and subtlety of thinking with formal inventiveness steeped in history and so critically alive to the present moment. Long ago, Frans Brüggen helped me see and hear the relation of art, as a mode of action, to the social worlds in which it is produced and consumed.

Katy Siegel read the entire manuscript, offering criticisms and suggestions both material and formal that considerably improved the book. She has also considerably improved my life as a whole.

I acknowledge two sources of funds that made it possible for me to take time off from teaching for research and writing: the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Dedalus Foundation. Regina Di Pietro helped with production of the manuscript. Muna Khogali was an encouraging and otherwise exemplary editor. Claire L'Enfant is at the source of this project.

Finally, I am grateful to schools and editors who invited me to prepare earlier

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