Radical, like in the 80s

White, Luke (2011) Radical, like in the 80s. Radical philosophy, 168 . pp. 56-58. ISSN 0300-211X

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Official URL: http://www.radicalphilosophy.com/reviews/168-revie...

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Abstract

Book review: Gail Day, Dialectical Passions: Negations in Postwar Art Theory (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011). Day's book concerns the presence and the valences of dialectic thought in leftist postwar art discourse, especially that of the eighties, discussing theorists including TJ Clark, Manfredo Tafuri, Craig Owens, Paul de Man, Fredric Jameson and Hal Foster. Her work poses the 'negative' in recent theory as offering on the one hand a fundamental gesture of refusal on which the very possibility of radical or progressive change can rest. However, she notes, tarrying with the negative also leaves one prone to a certain nihilist melancholia which serves as an attachment to the present status quo. I read her book as an archaeology of continuing dialectic practices during a period – the 'long 1980s' – in which they may seem marginalised by the ('postmodern') theoretical orthodoxies of the day. Such an archaeology amounts to a redemption of thought from the period for a continuing tradition of radical theoretical, artistic and political endeavour. My interest in Day's book relates to larger concerns in my research with the continuing histories of Marxist and leftist art theory and practice in the postwar era, and my particular interest in the art of the 1980s, and with the critique of capitalist culture.

Item Type:Article
Keywords (uncontrolled):art theory, art criticism, Marxism, radical thought, capitalism, negation, dialectics, postmodernism, modernism
Research Areas:School of Art and Design > Art & Design
ID Code:8505
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Deposited On:30 Mar 2012 08:35
Last Modified:06 Feb 2013 10:33

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