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- DescriptionBertolt Brecht once worried that our sympathy for the victims of a social problem can make the problem's beauty and attraction invisible. In The Beauty of a Social Problem, Walter Benn Michaels explores the effort to overcome this difficulty through a study of several contemporary artist-photographers whose work speaks to questions of political ecomy. Although he discusses well-kwn figures like Walker Evans and Jeff Wall, Michaels' focus is on a group of younger artists, including Viktoria Binschtok, Phil Chang, Liz Deschenes, and Arthur Ou. All born after 1965, they have always lived in a world where, on the one hand, artistic ambition has been synymous with the critique of automous form and intentional meaning, while, on the other, the struggle between capital and labor has essentially been won by capital. Contending that the aesthetic and political conditions are connected, Michaels argues that these artists' new commitment to form and meaning is a way for them to portray the conditions that have taken US ecomic inequality from its lowest level, in 1968, to its highest level today. As Michaels demonstrates, these works of art, unimaginable without the postmodern critique of automy and intentionality, end up departing and dissenting from it in continually interesting and invative ways.
- Author BiographyWalter Benn Michaels is professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the author of several books, including, most recently, The Shape of the Signifier and The Trouble with Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality.
- Author(s)Walter Benn Michaels
- PublisherThe University of Chicago Press
- Date of Publication18/08/2015
- SubjectFine Arts / Art History
- Place of PublicationChicago, IL
- Country of PublicationUnited States
- ImprintUniversity of Chicago Press
- Content Note8 colour plates, 28 halftones, 4 line drawings
- Weight408 g
- Width152 mm
- Height203 mm
- Spine20 mm
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