CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

About History Press Release Sessions Schedule Activities Participants Venue Discussion Registration Closed


NUNES, Sofia
The Autonomy of art and its critical potentiality

Session 5 Self-Awareness or Self-Affirmation

Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa

and Université Paris 1 - Panthéon Sorbonne



The concept of the autonomy of art seems to have no validity within the predominant European and Anglo-Saxon contemporary art discourses. Mainly informed by post-structuralism, those discourses tended to read it as a conceptual tool that, due to its idealist roots, situates art in a pure separated sphere preventing the understanding of its historical and cultural relations as well as a truly critical interpretation of its practice. However, as the philosopher Theodor Adorno stated, if we simple reject the concept we come to annihilate the difference between art and its other, i.e, capitalist rationality, through where its criticality may exactly appear. This presentation seeks to analyse how in adornian aesthetics the notion of art’s autonomy unlinks itself from idealism and obtains a political strength unlike what happens in Clement Greenberg’s theory that have motivated the main suspicions released by post-structuralist Art History. 


NUNES, Sofia 

Sofia Nunes is developing her PhD thesis in Art History and Theory / Aesthetics at Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa together with Université Paris 1 – Panthéon Sorbonne. She won a fellowship from Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia and she is a member of the Instituto de História da Arte/ FCSH, Lisbon. She is also an art critic and member of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA).