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ART IN ITS TIMEArt writing normally contrasts art with “everyday life.” This book explores art asintegral to the everyday life of modern society, providing materials to representclass and class conflict, to explore sex and sexuality, and to think about modernindustry and economic relationships. Art, as we know it, is not common to allforms of society but is peculiar to our own; what art is changes with people’sconceptions of the tasks of art, conceptions that are themselves a part of socialhistory. The history of society does not shape art from the outside, but includesthe attempts of artists to find new ways of making art and thinking about it.The essays in Art in Its Time offer a critical examination of the central categories of art theory and history. They propose a mode of understandinggrounded in concrete case studies of ideas and objects, exploring such topics asthe gender content of eighteenth-century theories of the sublime and beautiful,the role of photography in the production of aesthetic “aura,” the limits of political art, and the paradox by which art, pursued for its own sake with no thoughtof commercial gain, can produce the highest-priced of all objects.Employing an unusually wide range of historical sources and theoretical perspectives to understand the place of art in capitalist society, Art in Its Time showsa way out of many of the cul-de-sacs of recent art history and theory.Paul Mattick is Professor of Philosophy at Adelphi University. He is the authorof Social Knowledge and editor of Eighteenth-Century Aesthetics and the Reconstruction ofArt. He is also editor of the International Journal of Political Economy and has writtencriticism for Arts, Art in America, and Artforum, among other publications.i

ART IN ITS TIMETheories and practices ofmodern aestheticsPaul Mattick

First published 2003by Routledge11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EESimultaneously published in the USA and Canadaby Routledge29 West 35th Street, New York, NY 10001Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis GroupThis edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2003. 2003 Paul MattickAll rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted orreproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic,mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafterinvented, including photocopying and recording, or in anyinformation storage or retrieval system, without permission inwriting from the publishers.British Library Cataloguing in Publication DataA catalogue record for this book is available from the British LibraryLibrary of Congress Cataloging in Publication DataMattick, Paul, 1944–Art in its time: theories and practices of modern aesthetics/Paul Mattickp. cm.Includes bibliographical references and index.1. Art and society. 2. Aesthetics, Modern. I. Title: Art in its time. II. Title.N72.S6 M36 2003700'.1'03—dc21ISBN 0-203-41783-6 Master e-book ISBNISBN 0-203-41931-6 (Adobe eReader Format)01–415–23920–6 (hbk)01–415–23921–4 (pbk)

For Ilse Mattickwith love and admirationand for three friends who should be rememberedSerge BricianerLouis EvrardGherasim Luca

CONTENT SList of illustrationsPrefaceixxi1 Introduction12 Some masks of modernism93 Art and money244 Beautiful and sublime465 The rationalization of art746 Mechanical reproduction in the age of art877 Pork and porcelain1068 The aesthetics of anti-aesthetics1199 The Andy Warhol of philosophy and the philosophy ofAndy Warhol13410 The avant-garde in fashion15211 Classless taste174Index183vii

ILLUSTRATIONS2.1 Pablo Picasso, Demoiselles d’Avignon, June–July 1907, 2003 TheEstate of Pablo Picasso; ARS (Artists Rights Society), New York andDACS (Design and Artists Copyright Society), London. Courtesy ofThe Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/ArtResource, NY2.2 André Derain, Bathers, 1907, 2003 ARS, New York, ADAGP,Paris, and DACS, London. Courtesy of The Museum of ModernArt/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, NY2.3 Édouard Manet, Bar at the Folies-Bergères ( Courtauld InstituteGallery, Somerset House, London)4.1 Joseph Wright, An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump ( NationalGallery, London)4.2 Eugène Delacroix, Death of Sardanapalus, 1827. Courtesy of Réuniondes Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, NY9.1 Andy Warhol, Gold Marilyn Monroe, 1962, The Andy WarholFoundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./ARS, NY and DACS, London2003. Courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed bySCALA/Art Resource, NY9.2 James Rosenquist, Marilyn II, 1962, James Rosenquist/VAGA,New York/DACS, London 2003. Image courtesy of The Museum ofModern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, NY10.1 Cecil Beaton, “Jackson Pollock’s Abstractions,” Vogue, March 1, 1951,p. 159, Vogue, The Condé Nast Publications Inc.10.2 Jackson Pollock, Guardians of the Secret, 1943, Pollock–KrasnerFoundation/ARS, New York and DACS, London10.3 John Rowlings, “Uncluttered Sweater Look,” Vogue, January 1, 1945,p. 46, Vogue, The Condé Nast Publications Inc.ix1417195769146149153157163

PREFACEIn writing this book I have depended greatly on the work of many people, inadequately represented in my footnotes, with whom I have discussed over the yearsthe issues treated here. I thank in particular Jeffrey Barnouw, Annie Becq,Timothy J. Clark, Susan Denker, Judith Goldstein, Valerie Jaudon, RichardKalina, Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Sally Markowitz, Joseph Masheck, MaureenRyan, Richard Shiff, and Barry Schwabsky. Two art historians have been of special importance: Meyer Schapiro gave me, along with an example combiningimmense learning with a flexible and sensitive language for the description ofworks of art, the single most important piece of advice I received when I beganmy study of art: to draw everything I wanted to look at seriously. And AlanWallach, who first gave me the idea that I could try to understand my reactionto a picture, in terms both of its physical form and of my historical relation to it,was for years a companion in my attempts to understand a domain of experience in which he is also deeply involved.I have been privileged to encounter art not only as a set of finished objects butas process; I owe much to the artists who have discussed their work and ideasabout art, history, and society with me. In particular, Rochelle Feinstein first ledme into the world of contemporary art, and I am honored to acknowledge thepleasure and stimulation of years of friendship with the late Sidney Tillim, whosebrilliance as an artist combined depth and subtlety of thinking with formal inventiveness steeped in history and so critically alive to the present moment. Longago, Frans Brüggen helped me see and hear the relation of art, as a mode ofaction, to the social worlds in which it is produced and consumed.Katy Siegel read the entire manuscript, offering criticisms and suggestionsboth material and formal that considerably improved the book. She has alsoconsiderably improved my life as a whole.I acknowledge two sources of funds that made it possible for me to take timeoff from teaching for research and writing: the J. Paul Getty Trust and theDedalus Foundation. Regina Di Pietro helped with production of the manuscript. Muna Khogali was an encouraging and otherwise exemplary editor.Claire L’Enfant is at the source of this project.Finally, I am grateful to schools and editors who invited me to prepare earlierxi

PREFACEversions of the essays collected here. Chapter 2 was originally given as a lectureto the Department of Art, College of William and Mary. Chapter 3 appeared inPaul Mattick (ed.), Eighteenth-Century Aesthetics and the Reconstruction of Art (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993). Portions of Chapter 4 formed anessay included in Peggy Brand and Carolyn Korsmeyer (eds), Feminism and Tradition in Aesthetics (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995). AGerman version of Chapter 5, “Kunst im Zeitalter der Rationalisierung,” wasincluded in Brigitte Aulenbacher and Tilla Siegel (eds), Diese Welt wird völlig anderssein. Denkmuster der Rationalisierung (Pfaffenweiler: Centaurus, 1995). An early version of Chapter 6 appeared in the September 1990 issue of Arts magazine, nowsadly no more. Chapter 7 came into existence as a talk commissioned by Grantmakers in the Arts for their 1993 annual conference; an edited version appearedin Andrew Patner (ed.), Alternative Futures: Challenging Designs for Arts Philanthropy(Washington: Grantmakers in the Arts, 1994). An ancestor of Chapter 8, “Aesthetics and anti-aesthetics in the visual arts,” was included in the Journal ofAesthetics and Art Criticism 51:2 (1993). Chapter 9 appeared in Critical Inquiry 24(1998). Chapter 10 was first given as a lecture in the Fordham University FineArts Lecture Series, 1998, and Chapter 11 began as a paper read at the 1999annual meeting of the American Society for Aesthetics.xii

1INTRODUCTIONThe ten chapters that follow this introduction were first written, over about asmany years, as lectures and essays for a variety of audiences and occasions.Assembled to form a book they present at once the problem of disjointednessand a tendency to repetition. I have left the latter alone, for the most part, in thehope of diminishing the effect of the former. Reading them through to revisethem for the present publication, I was pleased to discover to what extent theyare bound together by the recurrence of a small number of artists and writers onart: Eugène Delacroix, Marcel Duchamp, Piet Mondrian, Barnett Newman,Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Joshua Reynolds, and Andy Warhol; along withCharles Baudelaire, Walter Benjamin, Pierre Bourdieu, Clement Greenberg,Immanuel Kant, Karl Marx, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Friedrich Schiller,among others. The fabric created by the warp and woof of the works of thesefigures displays, if not an overall design, a coherent set of basic themes: theeighteenth-century origin of the modern practice of art; the nature of modernityas a period of social history and the place of art in it; the salience of gender categories in the theory as well as the practice of art; the conceptual opposition ofart and commerce; the dynamic character of the social category of art, changingtheoretically and practically along with the society in which it has its life.By emphasizing the intimate relation between art and other historically specific features of modern society, I am violating a fundamental aspect of the ideaof art, the contrast with what art writers generally call “everyday” or “ordinary”life (a common variant is exhibited in the title of Arthur Danto’s first booklength contribution to aesthetics, The Transfiguration of the Commonplace1). While itsunderlying conception is seldom made explicit, it is clear that the contrast ismeant to signify a radical separation of art from the social (and individual) circumstances in which it is produced and enjoyed, which then can only appear asits historical “context.”21 Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990.2 See P. Mattick, “Context,” in Robert S. Nelson and Richard Shiff (eds), Critical Terms for Art History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996).1

INTRODUCTIONArt, in the first place, is supposed to transcend its historical moment: the category unites products from all epochs and areas, a unity represented physicallyby museum collections and intellectually by art history as a study of productsfrom every human society. The museum physically separates art from the hustleand bustle of modern life, creating an apparently independent universe inwhich—in the words with which Gurnemanz in Parsifal describes the ritual ofthe Grail that Wagner no doubt identified with the mystic power of art—timehas become space. Similarly, art history presents an autonomous narrative structured by such categories as tradition, influence, style, medium, and technique, adomain of relations between artworks.In the second place, art represents a mode of value—aesthetic value—independent of practical interest. From the eighteenth century, when Kantcharacterized the aesthetic attitude to an object (in contrast with the moral orinstrumental point of view) as marked by disinterest in its existence, to the twentieth, when the US Supreme Court defined “obscenity” in terms of the absenceof artistic value, art’s significance has been distinguished from other modes ofsocial importance.With no apparent use-value, the work of art seems to acquire its exchangevalue simply by the expression in money of the art-lover’s desire. The miracle isthat these objects can achieve prices higher than those of any other humanproducts. This well-known paradox suggests a problem with the distinction ofthe aesthetic realm from that of the everyday. And a moment’s thought suggeststhat art as actual thing exists nowhere but within the “everyday life” from whichits cultural construction separates it. The artist must pay rent on the studio, buypaint, seek dealers and buyers; his or her product, if it succeeds in entering thestream of art, will find a place in a home, a museum, a reproduction in a bookor postcard. The work of art, to have a chance of entering that stream, mustshow its kinship to other things called art and so to the social world in whichartists and art have their places.That moment’s thought, however, has not as a rule disrupted the flow of aesthetics, art theory, and criticism from the eighteenth century until quite recently.This fact itself is evidently a key to the nature of art, and must be central to anengagement with the literature of art that wishes to provide a path to understanding this social reality constituted, like others in most societies, by activitiesboth represented and misrepresented by the concepts and theories evolved todescribe them. To put the same point in other words, these essays are meant aselements of a critical analysis of the ideology of art.To call a discourse ideological is to read it differently than did its originators:in particular, to identify at its basis a set of assumptions not explicitly reco