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

By James Hellings

If the development towards the administered international is nearing of entirety, if spectacularised societies, industrialised cultures, and reified awareness have taken keep an eye on, then, Adorno and Art exhibits how radical and innovative Adorno’s aesthetic thought of art’s double personality continues to be, and the way complicated, creative and oppositional, sorts of artwork provide, possibly, the easiest wish for overcoming broken life.

The caricatures of Adorno, his politics and his aesthetics, are renowned blunders of judgement—widely repeated either via the academy and by way of the Left. Adorno’s aesthetics has been accused of failing to maintain velocity with innovative creative practices and for being socio-politically aloof. regardless of the endurance of those caricatures, this publication exhibits how major photos and subject matters in Adorno’s idea stay suitable to the present state of affairs of paintings, aesthetics and politics.

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

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

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Art cannot say what it shows, because an address is not a judgement, and a question mark cannot answer itself. Art must resist becoming an instrument of making things visible. Schafhausen and Müller, and much that counts in current aesthetic theories of art,70 misidentify art works with speech acts – they conflate an object’s address with a subject’s decision or non-decision, and showing Anti-Introduction: Paint It Black 19 with doing. In too much contemporary art theory, art must do, say or perform, what it shows or renders visible to fulfil a socio-political function.

20 If the students had not occupied Adorno’s Institute and refused reasonable dialogue (repressive and regressive measures), then, it followed for Adorno – as effect follows cause – that he would not have Excursus II – The Prevalence of a View 43 been obligated to call the police (an equally repressive and regressive measure). Adorno’s logic is uncomplicated even if his reaction appears exaggerated to contemporary sensibilities: rational anti-authoritarian ends cannot be achieved through irrational authoritarian means.

69 This paradox is entirely necessary; art gets nowhere if it is either too engaged (committed), or too dis-engaged (autonomous). Art must not allow this dialectical tension to lapse. Must we say what art shows? As Wellmer has astutely noted, ‘it is no coincidence that the imagery of “showing” and “making visible” is effortlessly bound up with that of “saying” and “giving expression to”’ (TSR 217), in much contemporary art and theory. What, one may well ask, is artistic practice if not an effort toward making things visible?

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