Aesthetics of Discomfort: Conversations on Disquieting Art by Frederick Luis Aldama

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By Frederick Luis Aldama

Via a chain of provocative conversations, Frederick Luis Aldama and Herbert Lindenberger, who've written extensively on literature, movie, song, and paintings, find a spot for the discomforting and the usually painfully disagreeable inside aesthetics. The conversational layout permits them to shuttle informally throughout many centuries and lots of artwork varieties. they've got a lot to inform each other concerning the arts because the creation of modernism quickly after 1900—the nontonal tune, for instance, of the second one Vienna institution, the chance-directed song and dance of John Cage and Merce Cunningham, the in-your-faceness of such varied visible artists as Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso, Willem de Kooning, Egon Schiele, Otto Dix, and Damien Hirst. They show besides a protracted culture of discomforting artwork stretching again many centuries, for instance, within the final Judgments of innumerable Renaissance painters, in Goya’s so-called “black” work, in Wagner’s Tristan chord, and within the subtexts of Shakespearean works equivalent to King Lear and Othello. This booklet is addressed instantaneously to students of literature, artwork heritage, musicology, and cinema. even though its conversational layout eschews the traditional conventions of scholarly argument, it presents unique insights either into specific artwork kinds and into person works inside of those kinds. between different concerns, it demonstrates how fresh paintings in neuroscience could provide insights within the ways in which shoppers procedure tricky and discomforting artistic endeavors. The e-book additionally contributes to present aesthetic concept by way of charting the discussion that is going on—especially in aesthetically not easy works—between author, artifact, and buyer.

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FLA: Suum cuique pulchrum est—­right, Herbie? We will necessarily also need to consider how the use of the disquieting as the dominant shaping device in a given art object can be destroyed by its opposites: boredom and laughter. For all its aims to discomfort, the blank canvas in the museum can be boring. For me, it’s not disturbing like Picasso’s Guernica or Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. HL: Not necessarily, Frederick. In the mid-­twentieth century there was a lot of experimenting with monochrome paintings—­like the black paintings of Reinhardt or the white, or off-­white, ones of Robert Ryman, which teased you into looking hard for subtleties in texture underneath the paint surface (looking for subtle differences among black or white paintings has the same interest for me as looking for differences between Renaissance Madonna-­and-­child pictures).

I recently attended a Scottish play, Gregory Burke’s Black Watch, whose soldier characters used the word in virtually every sentence—­as soldiers, the audience was to assume, actually do in real life. It’s getting increasingly hard to find limits that artists can push against. FLA: Perhaps we should consider how artists can push thresholds by eliciting a whole range of other negative feelings. HL: Yes, we’ve talked about anger, fear, and disgust, among other unpleasant feelings that art can awaken.

FLA: Perhaps our book will help answer this question and many others for us as well as our readers. Are we overreaching in our hope that this book might provide a framework—­a model, a seedbed—­for our readers in their analysis of just how we experience real, discomforting emotions in our encounter with aesthetic objects that also include emotions of admiration? one | Digging Deeper at a Possible Theory for an Aesthetics of Discomfort Frederick Luis Aldama: Herbie, we are so used to teaching and writing about art that ultimately pleases, I wonder if our focus on art that discomforts will in fact be a possible mapping out of an anti-­Western art tradition?

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