Aisthesis: Scenes from the Aesthetic Regime of Art

Aisthesis: Scenes from the Aesthetic Regime of Art

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 1781680892

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Composed in a series of scenes, Aisthesis–Rancière’s definitive statement on the aesthetic–takes its reader from Dresden in 1764 to New York in 1941. Along the way, we view the Belvedere Torso with Winckelmann, accompany Hegel to the museum and Mallarmé to the Folies-Bergère, attend a lecture by Emerson, visit exhibitions in Paris and New York, factories in Berlin, and film sets in Moscow and Hollywood. Rancière uses these sites and events—some famous, others forgotten—to ask what becomes art and what comes of it. He shows how a regime of artistic perception and interpretation was constituted and transformed by erasing the specificities of the different arts, as well as the borders that separated them from ordinary experience. This incisive study provides a history of artistic modernity far removed from the conventional postures of modernism.


















reflection of light and water upon popular works and entertainments, as Greek freedom in classical art fashioned the serenity of gods. Yet it not that easy to distinguish the joyful insouciance that characterizes the paintings of free Holland from the kind that spreads across the genre scenes of the Flemish people still under Spanish domination. It is even less simple to understand how the freedom of the heroic and industrious Dutch can be conferred upon the young beggars of Seville, these

Magnificent Cuckold) in young Soviet Russia, Meyerhold transformed a plot of jealousy and adultery into a collective sporting event, and Lyubov Popova turned the ‘scenery’ of a windmill into a gymnastic device with a toboggan, stairs and tackles that could be used both to display the actors’ virtuosity and to symbolize the flight of a new society in which man is the master of space. This Marxist marriage of Taylor and Columbine was possible because the popular art that revolutionary stage

the tensions, overlaps and distortions this divergence could produce. More than anyone else, Meyerhold illustrated the experimentations of theatrical art, continually travelling between the attempt to immobilize drama into a painting and the effort to increase its sensible energy. In his wake, the art of mise en scène capitalized upon the exploration of opposites in formulae of perpetually renewed reconciliation or rupture, without ever eradicating the suspicion that such success was merely the

collective project. First, it implies the renunciation of the individual will. And the design of stylized objects must make this disindividualization enter everyone’s consciousness through the habits of everyday life. The proper form of useful stylized objects no longer synthesizes the organic forms of nature, as it does in Ruskin. It is the ‘abstract’ line through which the will of art is imposed on nature, the ‘gothic’ line theorized in the same period by an art historian, Worringer, as a

of Showing and Veiling’, as they call it, is so great a spiritual force that it plays the larger part in their religion. We may learn from it somewhat of the power and the grace of courage, for it is impossible to witness a performance without a sense of physical and spiritual refreshment.1 It is useless to look for an account of this initiatory encounter in Herodotus. The scene only ever existed in Edward Gordon Craig’s imagination. He included this detour through antique myth to expose the

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