25 Oktober 2012

Fin de Siècle (Art I)

Die Apotheose, Illustration zu Salome
"All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors. Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself. We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely."  
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray 

This theme of the artistic life, which is so important throughout the nineteenth century, basically rests on two principles. First: art is capable of giving a form to existence which breaks with every other form, a form which is that of the true life. The other principle is that, if the artistic life does in fact have the form of the true life, then this in turn guarantees that every work which takes root in and starts from this life truly does belong to the dynasty and domain of art.

Michel Foucault, (2011) [2008]. The Courage of Truth. Lectures at the Collège de France, 1983-1984. Tr. Graham Burchell. Houndmills and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, p. 187.

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