In recent years, the theory of art’s autonomy appears to have been confined to the annals of Modernism.
If contemporary history, political interventions and critiques of Eurocentrism have shown us anything, it is that art and its institutions are thoroughly socially determined, that art no longer operates in a separate or protects sphere of its own.
Researched and authored by Sven Lütticken, an art historian and critic who teaches at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, this ambitious study seeks to test such assumptions, arguing that autonomy, far from a romantic naiveté, retains its conceptual and political purchase.
Bringing together a wide range of thinkers – from Theodor W. Adorno to Aimé Césaire, Friedrich Schiller to Andrea Fraser, Peter Bürger to Elizabeth Povinelli – and covering a broad set of themes – from German Idealism to institutional history, media theory to political sovereignty – this critical reader foregrounds autonomy as something dynamic and shifting, something to be critically struggled and fought over lest it be relinquished.
Art and Autonomy offers an essential theoretical introduction to the field while leading the debates in new directions.