Representing a new generation of theorists reaffirming the
radical dimensions of art, Gail Day launches a bold critique of
late twentieth-century art theory and its often reductive analysis
of cultural objects. Exploring core debates in discourses on art,
from the New Left to theories of "critical postmodernism" and
beyond, Day counters the belief that recent tendencies in art fail
to be adequately critical. She also challenges the political
inertia that results from these conclusions.
Day organizes her defense around critics who have engaged
substantively with emancipatory thought and social process: T. J.
Clark, Manfredo Tafuri, Fredric Jameson, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh,
and Hal Foster, among others. She maps the tension between radical
dialectics and left nihilism and assesses the interpretation and
internalization of negation in art theory.
Chapters confront the claim that exchange and equivalence have
subsumed the use value of cultural objects-and with it critical
distance- and interrogate the proposition of completed nihilism and
the metropolis put forward in the politics of Italian operaismo.
Day covers the debates on symbol and allegory waged within the
context of 1980s art and their relation to the writings of Walter
Benjamin and Paul de Man. She also examines common conceptions of
mediation, totality, negation, and the politics of anticipation. A
necessary unsettling of received wisdoms, Dialectical
Passions recasts emancipatory reflection in aesthetics, art,
Subjects: Philosophy, Language & Literature, Art & Art History
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