Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-5c569c448b-qj5tk Total loading time: 0.373 Render date: 2022-07-04T22:55:02.961Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

Presenting the Unpresentable: Jean-François Lyotard’s Kantian Art-Sublime

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 October 2021

Rachel Zuckert*
Affiliation:
Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA

Abstract

This article reconstructs Jean-François Lyotard’s theory of the sublime in contemporary art, focusing on his claim that such art ‘presents’ the unpresentable, and tracing its origins in Kant’s account of the sublime. I propose that Lyotard identifies a difficulty concerning Kant’s account: to understand why the disparate elements in the experience of the sublime (idea of reason, sensible representation) should be synthesized to form that experience. Lyotard recasts this difficulty as a pragmatic problem for artistic practice – how to ‘testify’ to the absolute in a non-absolute, sensibly perceivable object (the artwork) – that can be understood to drive avant-garde artistic experimentation.

Type
Article
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Kantian Review

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Böhme, Gernot (1998) ‘Lyotards Lektüre des Erhabenen’. Kant-Studien, 89, 205–15.Google Scholar
Crowther, Paul (1993) Critical Aesthetics and Postmodernism. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
Cunningham, David (2004) ‘How the Sublime Became “Now”: Time, Modernity, and Aesthetics in Lyotard’s Rewriting of Kant’. Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy, 8(3), 549–71.10.5840/symposium20048341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Danto, Arthur (1964) ‘The Artworld’. Journal of Philosophy, 61, 571–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Elkins, James (2011) ‘Against the Sublime’. In Roald, Hoffman and Ian Boyd, White (eds), Beyond the Finite: The Sublime in Art and Science (New York: Oxford University Press), 2042.Google Scholar
Fried, Michael (1967) ‘Art and Objecthood’. Artforum, 5(10), 1223.Google Scholar
Gracyk, Theodore A. (1986), ‘Sublimity, Ugliness, and Formlessness in Kant’s Aesthetic Theory’. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 45(1), 4956.10.1111/1540_6245.jaac45.1.0049CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gratton, Peter (2018) ‘Lyotard’, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/lyotard/ (accessed 17 July 2020).Google Scholar
Kant, Immanuel (2000) Critique of the Power of Judgment. Trans. Guyer, Paul and Matthews, Eric. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lyotard, Jean-François (1984) ‘Answering the Question: What is Post-Modernism?’. In The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Trans. Durand, Regis (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press), 7182. (First published in French in 1979.)Google Scholar
Lyotard, Jean-François (1991a) ‘Newman: The Instant’. In Lyotard, The Inhuman. Trans. Bennington, Geoffrey and Bowlby, Rachel (Cambridge: Polity), 7888.Google Scholar
Lyotard, Jean-François (1991b) ‘The Sublime and the Avant-Garde’. In Lyotard, The Inhuman. Trans. Bennington, Geoffrey and Bowlby, Rachel (Cambridge: Polity), 89107.Google Scholar
Lyotard, Jean-François (1991c) ‘Something like Communication … without Communication’. In Lyotard, The Inhuman. Trans. Bennington, Geoffrey and Bowlby, Rachel (Cambridge: Polity), 108–18.Google Scholar
Lyotard, Jean-François (1991d) ‘Representation, Presentation, Unpresentable’ [originally published in Artforum with the title, ‘Presenting the Unpresentable’]. In Lyotard, The Inhuman. Trans. Geoffrey Bennington and Rachel Bowlby (Cambridge: Polity), 119–28.Google Scholar
Lyotard, Jean-François (1991e) ‘After the Sublime, the State of Aesthetics’. In Lyotard, The Inhuman. Trans. Geoffrey Bennington and Rachel Bowlby (Cambridge: Polity), 135–43.Google Scholar
Lyotard, Jean-François (1994) Lessons of the Analytic of the Sublime. Trans. Rottenberg, Elizabeth, Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press. (First published in French in 1991.)Google Scholar
Lyotard, Jean-François (2009) Enthusiasm: The Kantian Critique of History. Trans. van den Abbeele, Georges. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press. (Originally published in French in 1986.)Google Scholar
Morley, Simon (ed.) (2010) The Sublime: Whitechapel Documents of Contemporary Art. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Rancière, Jacques (2007) The Future of the Image. Trans. Elliott, Gregory. London: Verso.Google Scholar
Ross, Alison (2005) ‘The Art of the Sublime: Lyotard and the Politics of the Avant-Garde’. Philosophy Today, 49(1), 3345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Saunders, Frances Stonor (1999) The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters. New York: New Press.Google Scholar
Schleich, Nora (2020) Zur Bestimmung der Funktion der Einbildungskraft in der ‘Analytik des Erhabenen’: Eine Studie zu Immanuel Kants Kritik der Urteilskraft. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann.Google Scholar
Walton, Kendall (n.d.) ‘Abstraction and Representation’. Unpublished.Google Scholar
Zuckert, Rachel (2019) ‘Kant’s Account of the Sublime as Critique’. Kant Yearbook, 11, 99117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Presenting the Unpresentable: Jean-François Lyotard’s Kantian Art-Sublime
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Presenting the Unpresentable: Jean-François Lyotard’s Kantian Art-Sublime
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Presenting the Unpresentable: Jean-François Lyotard’s Kantian Art-Sublime
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *