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Palgrave Macmillan

Adorno and Art

Aesthetic Theory Contra Critical Theory

ISBN 9780230347885
Publication Date May 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (PDF) Ebook (EPUB) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

If the advancement toward the administered world is nearing completion, if spectacularised societies, industrialised cultures, and reified consciousness have taken control, then, Adorno and Art shows how radical and revolutionary Adorno's aesthetic theory of art's double character remains, and how complex, imaginative and oppositional, forms of art offer, perhaps, the best hope for overcoming damaged life. The caricatures of Adorno, his politics and his aesthetics, are well known errors of judgement - widely repeated both by the academy and by the Left. Adorno's aesthetics has been accused of failing to keep pace with progressive artistic practices and for being socio-politically aloof. Despite the persistence of these caricatures, this book shows how significant images and themes in Adorno's theory remain relevant to the current situation of art, aesthetics and politics. The Adorno on show in this volume was no bourgeois mandarin, no arrogant aesthete, no esoteric mystic, no melancholy pessimist, and no academic expert holed up in the proverbial ivory tower.

James Hellings is Senior Lecturer in Fine Art (Theory and Context) at the School of Art, Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, Birmingham City University, UK. He researches, writes and lectures about modern and contemporary art and the thought that accompanies it. Originally educated as an artist, James worked in the Department of Prints and Drawings at The British Museum, before receiving full AHRC Scholarships for both his MA and PhD studies in contemporary art theory at Goldsmiths College, University of London.

Acknowledgements
Abbreviations
Anti-introduction: Paint it Black
PART I: MESSAGES IN A BOTTLE: AESTHETIC THEORY CONTRA CRITICAL THEORY
1. Introduction
2. Critical Messages in a Bottle and Restoration
3. Excursus I: The Prevalence of a View: Being Uncompromisingly Critical at the Grand Hotel Abyss
4. Excursus II: The Prevalence of a View: 'Don't participate:' The Politics of Social Praxis
5. Aesthetic Messages in a Bottle and Progress
6. Messages in a Bottle as the Work of Art
PART II: ART ITSELF THINKS: THE POLITICS OF AESTHETIC (MIS-)EDUCATION
7. Introduction
8. The Politics of Artistic Practice: 'What artist isn't socially engaged?'
9. The Politics of Spectatorship: Shocking Spectators
10. The Politics of Aesthetic (Mis-)Education
11. Contemporary Art Itself Thinking: Making the Invisible Visible?
Anti-conclusion: The Russian Ending
Notes and Bibliography
Index

Reviews

"[O]ne senses throughout that Hellings is testing his own ideas and critical persuasions through, and with, Adorno, which is illuminating in the light of his rather good discussion of subjectivity and objectivity within both aesthetic theory and art making in general."
"[Hellings] makes Adorno's thought vivid for the present, especially in his attempts to think through contemporary artistic and political practices."
-David Ryan, Art Monthly
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