The Politics of Seeing

Art and the Violence of Aesthetics
  • Anthi TrifonasEmail author
  • Peter Pericles Trifonas
Living reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


The measure of art is the ability to induce modes of sensibility that create new forms of intelligibility. In Les Desmoiselles d’Avignon and Guernica, Pablo Picasso enables the viewer to see what was not there before and in a different way. The paintings politicize aesthetic acts as moments of a questioning and reflection on subjectivity toward an emancipation of the image from past experience. Art no longer becomes a witness signifying the timeless truths of life, but is a battleground triggering nostalgia and disillusionment mourning the loss of meaning. The politics of seeing depends on the violence of aesthetics. That is, the extent to which artistic regimes impact the production of what is knowable and what is visible are reproduced and resisted in a work of art.


Aesthetics Semiotics Art history Structuralism Modern art Painting 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.York UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Ontario Institute for Studies and EducationUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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