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A Hunger for AestheticsEnacting the Demands of Art$
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Michael Kelly

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231152921

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231152921.001.0001

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The Dewey Effect

The Dewey Effect

(p.1) Introduction The Dewey Effect
A Hunger for Aesthetics

Michael Kelly

Columbia University Press

This book examines the critiques that have been applied to the idea of aesthetics and have often focused on art's treatment of beauty or the autonomy of art, giving rise to an anti-aesthetic stance that is now prevalent in the contemporary art world. The book considers the aesthetics of Susan Sontag, who argues in On Photography (1977) that a photograph of a person who is suffering only aestheticizes the suffering for the viewer's pleasure. It also considers Sontag's claim in Regarding the Pain of Others (2003) that such a photograph can have a sustainable moral-political effect precisely because of its aesthetics. The book sees this change as a reflection of a cultural shift in our understanding of aesthetics, ethics, and politics, and explores these issues in connection with the art of Gerhard Richter and Doris Salcedo. In this introduction, the so-called Dewey Effect—a combination of moral and political demands involving apprehension, recognition, and satisfaction—is discussed.

Keywords:   aesthetics, anti-aesthetic stance, contemporary art, Susan Sontag, photograph, ethics, politics, Gerhard Richter, Doris Salcedo, Dewey Effect

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