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Adorno’s Aesthetic Constellation from Shudder to Fashion

A Form of Life in the Age of Globalization?

Matteucci, Giovanni

Zeitschrift für Ästhetik und Allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft, Bd. 62 (2017), Iss. 1: S. 42–56

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Matteucci, Giovanni


By taking seriously an Adornian suggestion, according to which art should be understood as something that “has become what it is”, the main purpose of this essay is to provide an essential reconstruction of Adorno’s aesthetic program. The latter places art within a curve, or constellation, that has the experience of the “shudder” as its anthropological beginning and an ending corresponding to the current context, characterized by the widespread diffusion of the aesthetic dimension (thanks to the “logic” of fashion). Our reconstruction aims to suggest that critical theory is fatally inclined towards this aesthetic constellation as a whole, and therefore it deserves today special attention by virtue of a parallelism with the aestheticizing developments of late-capitalism. As a consequence, Adorno may be considered a (critical) philosopher of globalization, insofar as his theory is aesthetic in a pregnant sense. His aesthetic constellation might in fact encompass the constitutive elements, or at least some essential elements, which are useful to bring the “aesthetic form of life” to the fore.