What is the work of art? How does art work as art? Andrew Benjamin contends that the only way to address these questions is by developing a radically new materialist philosophy of art, and by rethinking the history of art from within that perspective.
A materialist philosophy of art starts with the contention that meaning is only ever the after effect of the way in which materials work. Starting with the relation between history, materials and work (art’s work), this book opens up a highly original reconfiguration of the philosophy of art. Benjamin undertakes a major project that seeks to develop a set of complex interarticulations between art history and an approach to art’s work that emphasizes art’s material presence. A philosophy of art emerges from the limitations of aesthetics.
Acknowledgments / Illustrations / Opening / Part One:Relationality and the Work of Art / 1. Mattering, Particularity and the Work of Art / 2. Othering Relationality: Warburg, Benjamin and the Presence of Dürer / 3. On Hands / Part Two: Engaging Philosophy’s Art / 4. Matter and Movement’s Presence: Notes on Heidegger, Francesco Mosca and Bernini / 5. Art’s Work: Derrida and the Work of Art / 6. Coloring Philosophy: Appel, Lyotard and Art's Work / 7. And Color? Sallis on Art’s Coloring / 8. Endless Touching: Herder and Sculpture / Bibliography / Index
Andrew Benjamin is professor of philosophy and Jewish thought at Monash University and Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and the Humanities at Kingston University. His many publications include Towards a Relational Ontology. Philosophy’s Other Possibility (2015), Working with Walter Benjamin (2013), Of Jews and Animals (2010), Place, Commonality and Judgment (2010) and Style and Time: Essays on the Politics of Appearance (2006).
Animated by a very real philosophical imagination and informed by an impressive knowledge of the history of art, Andrew Benjamin's Art's Philosophical Work engages and illuminates the fascinating questions that arise when philosophizing confronts the strange material and historical presence at work in art. This is a significant work, full of insight and originality.
Andrew Benjamin’s new book opens a new philosophical space for understanding the ways art matters. Situating his inquiry in the relational and historical nature of the work of art, Benjamin offers consistently original interpretations of key paintings and sculptures and their relation to the long historiography of the history of art. His account is lucid, wide-ranging and innovative as well as constantly affectionate about the object of his exploration.
This book puts art to work as a fine attention to the artwork's particular qualities gives rise to an exciting investigation of the processes of the artwork's 'coming into relation', the book shows how art history can be productively included in philosophical thought and how the consideration of art's history can expand philosophy.