Throughout the twentieth century, critical art history often chose to ally itself with a restrictive brand of formalism. As a result, representation- and ideology-critical analyses regularly reduced the artwork to the bare bones (Hegel) of the material signifier in its social use. By contrast, in the texts assembled here, elements of a critical materialism are combined with an effort to reevaluate the meta-physical implications of modern abstraction and art since the 1960s. Taking Gilles Deleuze
Throughout the twentieth century, art history has been too narrowly focused on formalism. As a result, analyses regularly reduced works of art to their materials, texture, and composition. By contrast, art historian Sebastian Egenhofer takes Gilles Deleuze's readings of Spinoza, Nietzsche, and Bergson as the basis for a new resistance to the overly reductive account of art history. After laying out his argument for a new aesthetics of production in introductory chapters that discuss the work of Spinoza, Nietzsche, and Bergson, as well as Heidegger and Kant, Egenhofer applies this theoretical framework to case studies on Michael Asher, Marcel Duchamp, Thomas Hirschhorn, and Piet Mondrian. An aesthetics of production does not, he argues, imply a nostalgia for the artisanal or for a work of art's singularity, but a way to bring together elements of critical materialism with a thorough reevaluation of the modern art and abstraction.
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