Theodor W. Adorno

Theodor W. Adorno (1903-1969) was a student of philosophy, musicology, psychology, and sociology at Frankfurt where he later became Professor of Philosophy and Sociology and Co-Director of the Frankfurt School. During the war years he lived in Oxford, in New York, and in Los Angeles, continuing to produce numerous books on music, literature, and culture.

  • Hegel

    Hegel

    Three Studies

    Theodor W. Adorno

    This short masterwork in twentieth-century philosophy provides both a major reinterpretation of Hegel and insight into the evolution of Adorno's critical theory. The first study focuses on the relationship of reason, the individual, and society in Hegel, defending him against the criticism that he was merely an apologist for bourgeois society. The second study examines the experiential content of Hegel's idealism, considering the notion of experience in relation to immediacy, empirical reality, science, and society. The third study, "Skoteinos," is an unusual and fascinating essay in which Adorno lays out his thoughts on understanding Hegel. In his reflections, which spring from his experience teaching at the Goethe University in Frankfurt, questions of textual and philosophical interpretation are intertwined. Rescuing the truth value of Hegel's work is a recurring theme of the critical theory of the Frankfurt School, and nowhere is this goal pursued with more insight than in these three studies. The core problem Adorno sets for himself is how to read Hegel in a way that comprehends both the work and its historical context, thereby allowing conclusions to be drawn that may seem on the surface to be exactly opposed to what Hegel wrote but that are, nevertheless, valid as the present truth of the work. It is the elaboration of this method of interpretation, a negative dialectic, that was Adorno's underlying goal. Adorno's efforts to salvage the contemporaneity of Hegel's thought form part of his response to the increasingly tight net of social control in the aftermath of World War II. In this, his work is related to the very different attempts to undermine reified thinking undertaken by the various French theorists. The continued development of what Adorno called "the administered world" has only increased the relevance of his efforts.

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  • Prisms

    Prisms

    Theodor W. Adorno

    Prisms, essays in cultural criticism and society, is the work of a critic and scholar who has had a marked influence on contemporary American and German thought. It displays the unusual combination of intellectual depth, scope, and philosophical rigor that Adorno was able to bring to his subjects, whether he was writing about astrology columns in Los Angeles newspapers, the special problems of German academics immigrating to the United States during the Nazi years, or Hegel's influence on Marx.

    In these essays, Adorno explores a variety of topics, ranging from Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and Kafka's The Castle to Jazz, Bach, Schoenberg, Proust, Veblen's theory of conspicuous consumption, museums, Spengler, and more. His writing throughout is knowledgeable, witty, and at times archly opinionated, but revealing a sensitivity to the political, cultural, economic, and aesthetic connections that lie beneath the surfaces of everyday life.

    Prisms is included in the series, Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought, edited by Thomas McCarthy.

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  • Utopias

    Utopias

    Richard Noble

    Utopian strategies in contemporary art seen in the context of the histories of utopian thinking and avant-garde art.

    Throughout its diverse manifestations, the utopian entails two related but contradictory elements: the aspiration to a better world, and the acknowledgement that its form may only ever live in our imaginations. Furthermore, we are as haunted by the failures of utopian enterprise as we are inspired by the desire to repair the failed and build the new. Contemporary art reflects this general ambivalence. The utopian impulse informs politically activist and relational art, practices that fuse elements of art, design, and architecture, and collaborative projects aspiring to progressive social or political change. Two other tendencies have emerged in recent art: a looking backward to investigate the utopian elements of previous eras, and the imaginative modeling of alternative worlds as intimations of possibility. This anthology contextualizes these utopian currents in relation to political thought, viewing the utopian as a key term in the artistic lineage of modernity. It illuminates how the exploration of utopian themes in art today contributes to our understanding of contemporary cultures, and the possibilities for shaping their futures.

    Artistis surveyed include Joseph Beuys, Paul Chan, Guy Debord, Jeremy Deller, Liam Gillick, Antony Gormley, Dan Graham, Thomas Hirschhorn, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Bodys Isek Kingelez, Paul McCarthy, Constant A. Nieuwenheuys, Paul Noble, Nils Norman, Philippe Parreno, Pil and Galia Kollectiv, Superflex, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Mark Titchner, Atelier van Lieshout, Jeff Wall, Andy Warhol, Wochenklauser, Carey Young.

    Writers include Theodor Adorno, Jennifer Allen, Catherine Bernard, Ernst Bloch, Yve-Alain Bois, Nicolas Bourriaud, Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, Alex Farquharson, Hal Foster, Michel Foucault, Alison Green, Fredric Jameson, Rosalind Krauss, Hari Kunzru, Donald Kuspit, Dermis P. Leon, Karl Marx, Jeremy Millar, Thomas More, William Morris, Molly Nesbit, Hans Ulrich Obrist, George Orwell, Jacques Rancière, Stephanie Rosenthal, Beatrix Ru.

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  • Beauty

    Beauty

    Dave Beech

    Key texts on beauty and its revival in contemporary art.

    Beauty has emerged as one of the most hotly contested subjects in current discussions on art and culture. After more than half a century of suspicion and interrogation, beauty's resurgence in visual practice and discourse since the late 1980s has engaged some of the most influential artists and writers on art. From the avant-garde to the conceptual era, anti-aesthetic strategies have resisted beauty because of its perceived complicity with dominant systems and ideologies. Thus politicized and opened to critique, beauty, invoked in relation to contemporary art, no longer sustains a singular or universal meaning but is always contentious. Spanning a range of positions on beauty—both for and against—this anthology assembles the key texts on the controversy and situates the debate over the revival of beauty in the broader context of the history of ideas and artistic practice. Artists survyed include: Vito Acconci, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Gustave Courbet, Marcel Duchamp, Marlene Dumas, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Adolph Gottlieb, Hans Hofmann, Gary Hume, Asger Jorn, Alex Katz, Willem de Kooning, Joseph Kosuth, Paul McCarthy, Édouard Manet, Robert Mapplethorpe, Agnes Martin, Robert Morris, Barnett Newman, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Gerhard Richter, Mark Rothko, Robert Smithson, Nancy Spero, Frank Stella, Clyfford Still, Andy Warhol. Writers include: Theodor Adorno, Alexander Alberro, Rasheed Araeen, Art & Language, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, T. J. Clark, Mark Cousins, Arthur C. Danto, Jacques Derrida, Thierry de Duve, Fredric Jameson, Christoph Grunenberg, Dave Hickey, Suzanne Perling Hudson, Caroline A. Jones, John Roberts, Elaine Scarry, Wendy Steiner, Paul Wood.

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  • Colour

    Colour

    David Batchelor

    Writings on color from modernism to the present, by writers from Baudelaire to Baudrillard, surveying art from Paul Gauguin to Rachel Whiteread.

    Whether it is scooped up off the palette, deployed as propaganda, or opens the doors of perception, color is central to art not only as an element but as an idea. This unique anthology reflects on the aesthetic, cultural, and philosophical meaning of color through the writings of artists and critics, placed within the broader context of anthropology, film, philosophy, literature, and science. Those who loathe color have had as much to say as those who love it. This chronology of writings from Baudelaire to Baudrillard traces how artists have affirmed color as a space of pure sensation, embraced it as a tool of revolution or denounced it as decorative and even decadent. It establishes color as a central theme in the story of modern and contemporary art and provides a fascinating handbook to the definitions and debates around its history, meaning, and use.

    Artists surveyed include: Joseph Albers, Mel Bochner, Daniel Buren, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Robert Delaunay, Sonia Delaunay, Jimmie Durham, Helen Frankenthaler, Paul Gauguin, Donald Judd, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Yves Klein, Kazimir Malevich, Piero Manzoni, Henri Matisse, Henri Michaux, Beatriz Milhazes, Piet Mondrian, Barnett Newman, Kenneth Noland, Hélio Oiticica, Paul Signac, Ad Reinhardt, Gerhard Richter, Aleksandr Rodchenko, Bridget Riley, Mark Rothko, Yinka Shonibare, Jessica Stockholder, Theo van Doesburg, Vincent van Gogh, Victor Vasarely, Rachel Whiteread

    Writers include: Theodor Adorno, Roland Barthes, Charles Baudelaire, Jean Baudrillard, Walter Benjamin, Charles Blanc, Jacques Derrida, Thierry de Duve, Umberto Eco, Victoria Finlay, Joris-Karl Huysmans, Johannes Itten, Julia Kristeva, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Jacqueline Lichtenstein, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, John Ruskin, Adrian Stokes, Ludwig Wittgenstein

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