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Critique of art. Walter Benjamin and Theodor W. Adorno on art and art criticism

07 June 2012

PhD ceremony: Mr. T.E. Lijster, 12.45 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Dissertation: Critique of art. Walter Benjamin and Theodor W. Adorno on art and art criticism

Promotor(s): prof. R.W. Boomkens

Faculty: Philosophy

In Lijster’s ‘Critique of Art’ the question of art’s raison d’être in society is dealt with through a discussion and comparison of the work of the German philosophers and critics Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) and Theodor W. Adorno (1903-1969), whose writings have heralded in some of the key debates of modern aesthetics. Their writings allow us to conceive of art as a form of social critique, without turning it into political propaganda. Both of them attribute great importance to art criticism, which digs out the historical experience lying dormant in the work of art. Focusing on the similarities between Benjamin and Adorno rather than on their differences, Critique of Art casts new light on much commented texts, such as Benjamin’s famous essay ‘The work of art in the age of its technological reproducibility’.

Apart from the historical-philosophical research into the work of Benjamin and Adorno, Lijster seeks to determine the relevance of their work for issues in present-day aesthetics. In three ‘excurses’, Benjamin and Adorno are confronted with contemporary thinkers such as Arthur C. Danto, Gianni Vattimo and Fredric Jameson, and with problems such as the ‘end of art’, the meaning of art’s history, and the social function of the art critic.

Last modified:15 September 2017 3.41 p.m.
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