By J. Hellings
A complete, serious and available account of Theodor W. Adorno's materialist-dialectical aesthetic idea of artwork from a modern standpoint, this quantity indicates how Adorno's severe thought is awash with photographs crystallising techniques to this type of measure that it has each cause to be defined as aesthetic.
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Additional info for Adorno and Art: Aesthetic Theory Contra Critical Theory
For Adorno, then, what was needed was not less theory but even more, constructed artistically or aesthetically. The model or image of messages in a bottle, as a form of splendid isolation, is neither an apolitical standpoint nor a strategy of hibernation. The prevalent view mistakes indirectness for inexistence and inertia. ‘For the intellectual,’ as for the artist and the aesthetician, ‘inviolable isolation is now the only way of showing some measure of solidarity. All collaboration, all the human worth of social mixing and participation, merely masks a tacit acceptance of inhumanity’ (MM 26).
Abstaining from praxis, art becomes the schema of social praxis: Every authentic artwork is internally revolutionary’ (AT 228). There simply could not be, for Adorno (and Marcuse), an ‘unmediated translation of theory into praxis’ (GSM 125). Mediation was and is key. ‘In my writings,’ Adorno unequivocally stated, ‘I have never set up any kind of model for practical action. I am a man of theory, and feel theoretical thought to be extremely close to the purposes of the artist’ (BIT 63). Adorno speculated that (aesthetic) theory ‘may have practical effects inasmuch as a number of ideas may have entered the general consciousness’ (BIT 63).
11 Adorno’s model or image of messages in a bottle as a form of (non-)communication allows for no such immediate detailed reflection on politics. 12 That society (and its politics) appears refracted in art and aesthetics is an idea Jay Bernstein’s book The Fate of Art unfolds: From Adorno’s perspective, it is evident that art’s political moment resides in its refusal of immersion in given political programmes for cultural reform. Indeed, Adorno’s defense of this refusal, and his dismissal of engage art, has been the most criticized element of his theory.