The Question of Painting: Rethinking Thought with Merleau-Ponty

Andrews, Jorella G.. 2018. The Question of Painting: Rethinking Thought with Merleau-Ponty. London: Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 9781472574282 [Book]

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The Question of Painting brings today’s much debated concerns about the socio-cultural and political potential of painting into contact with the question of painting in philosophy.

Since the latter half of the 20th century, committed art has been associated with conceptual, critical and activist practices. Painting, by contrast — despite its significance as a site for continued artistic experimentation — has all too often been dismissed as an outmoded, reactionary, market-led venture; an ineffectual medium from the perspective of social and political engagement. How can painting change the world today?

The question of painting, in particular, fuelled the investigations of a major 20th-century philosopher: the French phenomenologist, Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908-61). Merleau-Ponty was at the forefront of attempts to place philosophy on a new footing by contravening the authority of Cartesian dualism and objectivist thought — an authority that continues to limit present-day intellectual, imaginative, ethical, and indeed scientific possibilities. Taking an approach that moves between the fields of philosophical and visual culture research, The Question of Painting provides a closely focused, chronological account of Merleau-Ponty's unfolding project and its relationship with art, clarifying how painting, as a paradigmatically embodied and situated mode of investigation, helped him to access the fundamentally “intercorporeal” basis of reality as he saw it, and to articulate its lived implications — implications that have untapped relevance for the personal, ethical and political challenges facing us today. Historical and contemporary art practices, ranging from those of El Greco, Pieter de Hooch, Philips Koninck, Paul Cezanne, Paul Klee. Matisse and Wols to those of Leah Durner, Katharina Grosse, Charline von Heyl, Rashid Johnson, Barbara Kapusta, and Ellard & Johnstone, working today, are activated not merely to illustrate or evidence arguments but primarily to assist in forumulating them.

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Merleau-Ponty, Painting, Philosophy, Phenomenology

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Visual Cultures


29 November 2018

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Date Deposited:

30 Sep 2015 10:48

Last Modified:

07 Jan 2021 09:26


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