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Metamorphosis pp 129-139 | Cite as

Challenge to a National School at Risk: Mikel Dufrenne’s The Phenomenology of Aesthetic Experience (1953)

  • Linda Stratford
Chapter
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 81)

Abstract

For centuries the arts have played a central role in establishing French identity and reputation worldwide. Because the visual arts have played such a historic role it comes as no surprise that during a period of particular national upheaval and change, from 1945 to 1959, authoritative voices in France would continue to evaluate aesthetic efforts through the lens of artistic nationalism. Over the course of the Fourth Republic, state control over teaching and patronage continued to guide artistic taste and production along the lines of official, classical academic standards as had been true for centuries. Purveyors of a composite classical ideal, practiced in the name of the nation, reigned in the museums, art schools, critical press, administrative offices and even abstract artists’ groups of Fourth Republic France. A distinctly Gallic sociological model prevailed in the field of Aesthetics as well. However, modern developments proved prob­lematic for this national cultural model in the decades following the second world war. Important native painters such as Jean Bazaine, Pierre Soulages, Jean Fautrier, Georges Mathieu, Jean Dubuffet and André Masson pushed abstractionist approaches to a revolutionary edge, leading to violent polemics within the French art world over the course of the 1950’s. Official prejudices in favor of a classical composite French ideal, despite divergent practices, led to numerous instances of “family quarrel” involving heated charges of cultural rupture amidst polarized views over conservative versus progressive stylistic tastes.

Keywords

Aesthetic Experience National School Phenomenological Method Abstract Expressionist Aesthetic Object 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Edward S. Casey in Mikel Dufrenne, The Phenomenology of Aesthetic Experience, trans. Edward S. Casey (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1974), p. xv.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    It is a striking fact that, with the sole exception of Sartre’s Saint Genêt (itself largely an exercise in existential psychoanalysis), phenomenology in its French phase had not taken up the phenomenon of art with the attentiveness it deserved–especially in Paris, where so much of modern art had been born.” Edward S. Casey in Mikel Dufrenne, The Phenomenology of Aesthetic Experience, p. vxi. Casey also notes that Husserl himself neglected this important realm. Ingarden, a student of Husserl, did singularly focus on the phenomenology of aesthetics though he did not present as comprehensive a theory of aesthetics as did Dufrenne.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Maryvonne Saison, “Le tournant esthétique de la phénoménologie,” Revue d’Esthétique 36 (1999), p. 131. Saison refers to a similar claim made by Dominique Janicaud in Le Tournant théologique de la phénoménologie française (Editions de l’Eclat, 1991 ).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Edward S. Casey in Mikel Dufrenne, The Phenomenology of Aesthetic Experience, p. xxi.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Herbert Spiegelberg quoted in Edward S. Casey, Translator’s Foreward, The Phenomenology of Aesthetic Experience, p. xxi.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Herbert Spiegelberg, The Phenomenological Movement. A Historical Introduction. Volume 2 (The Hague, Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff; 1965), pp. 579–585. Spiegelberg notes Sartre paid only “passing attention” to the work of art in his study of the psychological phenomenology of imagination, and Merleau-Ponty wrote only a small number of essays on the subject of phenomenology and art.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Reference to Dufrenne made by Hugh Silverman in a review of Mikel Dufrenne, The Phenomenology of Aesthetic Experience in Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 33 (summer 1975), p. 462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Edward S. Casey, The Phenomenology of Aesthetic Experience, p. xviii.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Mikel Dufrenne, The Phenomenology of Aesthetic Experience, p. 32.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ibid., pp. 286–287.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Edward S. Casey, Translator’s Foreward, Mikel Dufrenne, The Phenomenology of Aesthetic Experience, p. xxii.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Mikel Dufrenne, The Phenomenology of Aesthetic Experience, p. 287.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Museum of Modern Art, New York (MoMA) Archives V.5.1.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Jean Cassou, “Introduction,” in Jackson Pollock et La Nouvelle Peinture Américaine (Paris: Éditions des Musées Nationaux, 1959), MoMA Archives V.35.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Critic Françoise Choay in “Jackson Pollock au pays de Descartes,” France Observateur, January 29,1959, MoMA Archives V.37. MoMA translation.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Critic Jean-Jacques Leveque in “Signification de Jackson Pollock,” L’Information, January 27,1959. MoMA Archives V.37.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Critic Georges Boudaille in “Why do Japanese painters come to Paris?” Cimaise 5 (May–June 1958), p. 45. English translation provided. Cimaise is a Communist weekly.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Critic Pierre Guégen in Aujourd’hui. Art et architecture 21 (March–April 1959). MoMA Archives V.37.Google Scholar
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    Critic Georges Boudaille, “L’art hollandaise depuis Van Gogh,” Cimaise 5 (March–April 1958), p. 33.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Cited by critic Michel Ragon in Cimaise 3 (January–February 1956), pp. 17–21. Ragon complained that while Soulages held one-man shows each year in New York, and exerted tremendous influences on young painters, he had not had a one-man show in France in years.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    It has been suggested that emphasis on the perceiving subject generally accounts for the nature of contemporary art. Joan Catherine Whitman, Intentionality: An Inquiry into Mikel Dufrenne’s Phenomenology of Aesthetics, Ph.D. Dissertation, The American University, 1982.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Mikel Dufrenne, Esthétique et Philosophie, vol.2 (Paris: Klincksieck, 1976), p. 128; Daniel Charles, “Le dernier mot,” Revue d’Esthétique 30 (1996), p. 33.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Mikel Dufrenne, The Phenomenology of Aesthetic Experience, p. 323.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Ibid., p. 44.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Ibid., p. lix.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    For further discussion of Jeunes Peintres de Tradition Française see Laurence Bertrand Dorléac, L’art de la de´faite, 1940–1944. ( Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1993 ).Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Jean Bazaine quoted in Alain Bonfand, L’art en France ( Paris: Nouvelles Editions Françaises, 1995 ), p. 130.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Mikel Dufrenne, The Phenomenology of Aesthetic Experience, p. liii.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Ibid., pp. 284–285.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Ibid., p. 298.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Ibid., p. 57.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Étienne Souriau, “La Place de Charles Lalo dans l’Esthétique Contemporaine,” Revue d’Esthétique 6 (1953), pp. 188–189.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Raymond Bayer, “Le Méthode Socio-Esthétique de Charles Lalo,” Revue d’Esthétique 6(1953)Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    La voie ouverte par Mikel Dufrenne be laisse à mid-chemin entre la philosophie critique et la phenomenologie, entre une attitude ouverte aux enquêtes scientifiques et historiques et un rejet de la positivité...” Maryvonne Saison, “Le tournant esthétique de la phénoménologie,” p. 134. Saison describes this as a path taken solely by Dufrenne at the time.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Dominique Noguez, “Éloge de Mikel Dufrenne,” Revue d’Esthétique 30 (1996), p. 11. Noguez in his eulogy to Dufrenne described his legacy as having transformed the field of Aesthetics from a rigid university discipline caught up in concepts to one free to embrace multiple realities springing forth from contemporary art.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Joan Catherine Whitman, Intentionality: An Inquiry into Mikel Dufrenne’s Phenomenology of Aesthetics, pp. 51–52.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Ibid., p. 78.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Meyer Schapiro, “The Introduction of Modern Art in America: the Armory Show,” in Modern Art, Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Selected Papers ( New York: George Braziller, 1978 ), p. 176.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linda Stratford
    • 1
  1. 1.Asbury CollegeUSA

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