Against Voluptuous Bodies: Late Modernism and the Meaning of Painting

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The aim of this book is to provide an account of modernist painting that follows on from the aesthetic theory of Theodor W. Adorno. It offers a materialist account of modernism with detailed discussions of modern aesthetics from Kant to Arthur Danto, Stanley Cavell, and Adorno. It discusses in detail competing accounts of modernism: Clement Greenberg, Michael Fried, Yve-Alain Bois, and Thierry de Duve; and it discusses several painters and artists in detail: Pieter de Hooch, Jackson Pollock, Robert Ryman, Cindy Sherman, and Chaim Soutine. Its central thesis is that modernist painting exemplifies a form of rationality that is an alternative to the instrumental rationality of enlightened modernity. Modernist paintings exemplify how nature and the sociality of meaning can be reconciled.