Owens,’Craig.”“The’Allegorical’Impulse:’Toward’a’Theory’of’Postmodernism.””The $. Art$of$Art$History:$A$Critical$Anthology.$$New’York:’Oxford’Press,”. from The Allegorical Impulse: Towards a Theory of Postmodernism – Craig Owens To impute an allegorical motive to contemporary art is to venture into. Modernism and Postmodernism: Allegory as Theory . art historian Craig Owens () wrote “The Allegorical Impulse: Toward a Theory.

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In the name of ‘justice,’ then, and in order to preserve the intuitive character of every work of art, including the allegorical, allegory is conceived as a supplement, ‘an expression externally added to another expression.

from The Allegorical Impulse: Towards a Theory of Postmodernism – Craig Owens | ART THEORY

Work and site thus stand in a dialectical relationship. This association of the symbol with aesthetic intuition, and allegory with convention, was inherited uncritically by modern aesthetics; thus Croce in Aesthetic:.

If their photographs are allegorical, however, it is because what they offer is only a fragment, and thus affirms its own arbitrariness and contingency. He does not restore an original meaning that may have been lost or obscured; allegory is not hermeneutics. And, in his turn, Craig Owens noted that Modernist literary theory had also rejected allegory. If he adds, however, he does so only to replace: The user can choose from the menu bar tabs which form the sentences through a total of 11 pages.

To bring together is, in Greek, sumballein. What need to pass through Thermopylae and go backward twenty-three centuries to reach the heart of Frenchmen? In explaining how allegory is writing which is a text that must be read, Owens wrote, If allegory is identified as a supplement, then it is also aligned with writing, insofar as writing is conceived as supplementary to speech.


There are, as always, important precedents to be accounted for: Retrieved from ” https: The Detail was the unassailable Other and had to be banished. In modern aesthetics, allegory is regularly subordinated to the symbol, which represents the supposedly indissoluble unity of form and substance which characterizes the work of art as pure presence. The intent of Walter Benjamin was to revive the reputation of Baroque allegory.

As an allegorical art, then, photography would represent our desire to fix the transitory, the ephemeral, in a stable and stabilizing image. Xi Benedetto Croce, Aesthetic, trans.

Craig Owens (critic)

As hybrids these early paintings appropriated motifs from other famous works of art which could be recognized, even in their buried state, by viewers familiar with art history. Owens continued by linked appropriation and hybridity to allegory: The theory of expression thus proceeds in a circle: The first is where he defines allegory in relationship to modernism: Allegory concerns itself, then, with the projection — either spatial or temporal or both — of structure as sequence; the result, however, is not dynamic, but static, ritualistic, repetitive.

In order to recognize allegory in its contemporary manifestations, we first require a general idea of what in fact it is, or rather what it represents, since allegory is an attitude as well as a technique, a perception as well as a procedure.

The result was not a revival, nor was it eclecticism, nor was this strategy a mere homage to the ghosts of architecture past. The theories that would support Postmodern art preceded the art and were then applied to the works of art in a mix and match fashion.


Allegory is consistently attracted to the fragmentary, the imperfect, the incomplete — an affinity which finds its most comprehensive expression in the ruin, which Benjamin identified as the allegorical emblem par excellence.

It has to use this repertoire, however, whatever the task in hand because it has nothing else at its disposal. Allegory and symbol — like all conceptual pairs, the two are far from evenly matched.

These impulses can be seen, respectively, in site-specific artphotomontage and art that follows a mathematical progression for instance Sol LeWitt. Yet in this passage Heidegger is reciting the litanies of philosophical aesthetics only in order to prepare for their dissolution.

Nevertheless, establishing pairs of opposites allowed Postmodern thought to distinguish itself from its owejs ancestor before the new generation could go forward on its own terms.

from The Allegorical Impulse: Towards a Theory of Postmodernism – Craig Owens

One of the most interesting theories that was manifested in art and architecture was that of allegory. I know that at one time the allegorical art was considered quite charming. Wolfe as a graduate and Venturi as a member of the architecture faculty. Because Postmodernism always attends to history, unlike Modernism, which broke firmly with the past, Postmodernism looks back and accumulates the fragments of the past and recombines the shards, rebuilding out of ruins.

The result was a landscape of free-floating signifiers.