During this article I want to investigate the relationship between T.W. Adornos general aesthetic theory and his actual view on contemporary art. Adornos view on art is centered around concepts like praxis, matter and critique: Fine art is supposed to make it obvious that any understanding of matter always in some way is inadequate. Praxis is always grounded on an understanding of matter, but in hiding this fact it becomes ideological and repressive. The fine arts have to make this visible – they have to criticize the given praxis. This leads him to reject very big areas of the actual contemporary art – e.g. the music of Igor Strawinsky. I will show that this rejection springs from Adornos view on matters that turns out to be too narrow: His view on matter is too physicalistic. He focuses on the fact that Strawinskys music on the pure audible level is not as radical as for example Schoenbergs music. In this critique I think he overlooks that the music material is not just the audible sound. Strawinskys music appears as new - but only if one realizes how history is part of its material. Adornos being unaware of this leads to a modification (through Heidegger and Strawinsky) of his (and the general marxist) concept of history: The marxist (romanticist) view on history as being one-dimensional shows to be repressive! Adornos own methodology (the negative dialectics) therefore demands a modication of his own view on history – and also of his view on contemporary arts.
© Philosophia Press 2001