The aesthetic contract: statutes of art and intellectual work in modernity

Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press (1997)
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Ambitious in scope and innovative in concept, this book offers an overview and critique of the conventions surrounding artistic creativity and intellectual endeavour since the outset of 'the broader modernity', which the author sees as beginning with the decline of feudalism and the Church. As a work of intellectual history, it suggests that art and the conventions associated with the artistic constitute a secular institution that has supplanted pre-Reformation theology. Beginning with Luther, Calvin, and Shakespeare and culminating with the Kantian notion of the artist as an 'original genius,' the author reconstructs the steps by which art and creative activity were installed as the redemptive values of a modernity. In the process, the author reads passages from Plato, Proust, Donne, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kleist, Rousseau, Melville, Wittgenstein, Benjamin, as well as the graphic works of Holbein, Dürer, Mondrian, and Rothko.



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