From Trust to Body. Artspace, Prestige, Sensitivity

In Felice Masi & Maria Catena (eds.), The Changing Faces of Space. Cham, Switzerland: Springer Verlag. pp. 277-288 (2017)
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What happens to artist and to viewer when painting or sculpture emancipates itself from all physical mediums? What happens to art-world experts and to museum goers and amateurs when the piece of art turns immaterial, becoming indiscernible within its surrounding empty space and within the parergonal apparatus of the exposition site? What type of verbal depiction, of critical understanding and specific knowledge is attempted under these programmed and fabricated conditions? What kind of aesthetic experience–namely embodied and sensitive–is expected when a performative utterance of the artist about his art takes the place of a real piece of artwork seen or perceived, or that may be seen or perceived? For Andy Warhol, «wasted space is any space that has art in it.» In the spring of 1958, in Paris, an artist already well-known among the neo-avantgardes and accredited by the international art-world, shows up empty-handed and presents himself as a painter without paintings in a empty space. In a singular never-wasted space, Yves Klein displays himself as a snob, with an extraordinary showbiz glamour and literally sine-nobilitate, without the traditional marks of artistic manual skills. Against the modernist issues, he writes: «Credit was given to me. The gesture alone was enough. The public had accepted the abstract intention.» What’s the matter with this powerful prestige and its influence on the critic and public? How to understand the public trust in the artist as a producer of an institutional “make-believe” without any objecthood, devoid of any individual artwork presented to the sight or to any other sense? For Modernism and Minimalism, the work of art seems to have an internal coherence, whether formal or expressive, and is thus autonomous from the surrounding world, existing with only the clear opposition to the living space and set as a specialized and situated objection to the enclosing field. Instead, now the object melts into the air and becomes undetectable, confused with the atmosphere of the theory of art and with the stylish and snobbish life of the artist. What type of interpretation is put on regarding this unclassifiable and ambiguous field, simultaneously an-aesthetic and existential, theoretical and sensitive, charismatic and motionless, at same time without a specialized position in the world made by the artist himself? And what kind of embodied experience is performed by the spectatorship? What type of phenomenology and pragmatics of aesthetic relationship is necessary to describe how the body of the beholder absorbs this vacated and boring space via a direct and immediate perception-assimilation? What kind of artistic rhetoric, what kind ontology of art? Until this day, after more than 50 years, Yves Klein’s The Void has not ceased asking these and other questions on aesthetics, philosophy and the history of art.

Author's Profile

Filippo Fimiani
Università degli Studi di Salerno


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