Aesthetic Theory (Bloomsbury Revelations) by Theodor W. Adorno

By Theodor W. Adorno

Theodor Adorno (1903-69) was once definitely the most important philosopher of the Frankfurt institution, the influential staff of German thinkers that fled to the U.S. within the Nineteen Thirties, together with such thinkers as Herbert Marcuse and Max Horkheimer. His paintings has proved tremendously influential in sociology, philosophy and cultural concept. Aesthetic conception is Adorno's posthumous magnum opus and the end result of a lifetime's research. Analysing the chic, the gruesome and the attractive, Adorno exhibits how such thoughts body and distil human adventure and that it's human adventure that finally underlies aesthetics. In Adorno's formula 'art is the sedimented heritage of human misery'.

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That which the categories of intellect can express only in a contradictory and highly incomplete fashion is here artistically accomplished: the figures’ living process of becoming what they are has been shaped into a purely visual representation without any literary or nonartistic association. The depiction of the immediately observable is absorbed into the temporality of a long life course according to its power and rhythm without the temporal sequence being destroyed by the spatial sequence, or vice versa.

His artistry as such lifted him — and here most evidently –– in equal measure above the reality of his subjectivity and above that of his models. Thus, that which his portraits represented was no longer a corporeality abstracted out of a whole life, but rather his vision was from the start this whole life in the unity, or as the unity, of all its elements. ARTISTIC PROCREATION With this discussion culminating in the problem of the self-portrait, I approach a deep, but in no way yet elucidated, aspect of artistic creation.

In the last instance, however, both are located on the same level: both are external or internal linkages between parts that are understood as separate and do not capture the unity that lies beyond each division as the work of art presents itself in its pure and consummate essence. Perhaps both of these conceptual principles do not behave differently with respect to the problem of life. Perhaps a living creature as such is also a unity that our reflection breaks down into parts and then, in mechanistic or teleological fashion, attempts to weld together again, whereas no such method proceeding from the parts is capable of reaching the primary indivisibility of the thing.

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