The Total Work of Art

Cornell University Press
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In this groundbreaking book, David Roberts sets out to demonstrate the centrality of the total work of art to European modernism since the French Revolution. The total work of art is usually understood as the intention to reunite the arts into the one integrated whole, but it is also tied from the beginning to the desire to recover and renew the public function of art. The synthesis of the arts in the service of social and cultural regeneration was a particularly German dream, which made Wagner and Nietzsche the other center of aesthetic modernism alongside Baudelaire and Mallarmé.

The history and theory of the total work of art pose a whole series of questions not only to aesthetic modernism and its utopias but also to the whole epoch from the French Revolution to the totalitarian revolutions of the twentieth century. The total work of art indicates the need to revisit key assumptions of modernism, such as the foregrounding of the autonomy and separation of the arts at the expense of the countertendencies to the reunion of the arts, and cuts across the neat equation of avant-gardism with progress and deconstructs the familiar left-right divide between revolution and reaction, the modern and the antimodern. Situated at the interface between art, religion, and politics, the total work of art invites us to rethink the relationship between art and religion and art and politics in European modernism.

In a major departure from the existing literature David Roberts argues for twin lineages of the total work, a French revolutionary and a German aesthetic, which interrelate across the whole epoch of European modernism, culminating in the aesthetic and political radicalism of the avant-garde movements in response to the crisis of autonomous art and the accelerating political crisis of European societies from the 1890s forward.

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About the author

David Roberts is Professor Emeritus of German at Monash University. He is the author of Art and Enlightenment: Aesthetic Theory after Adorno and coauthor of Dialectic of Romanticism. A Critique of Modernism , among many other books.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Cornell University Press
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Published on
Oct 28, 2011
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9780801461453
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Language
English
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Genres
Art / European
Art / History / Modern (late 19th Century to 1945)
History / Europe / Germany
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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David Roberts
An award-winning author and veteran mountain climber takes us deep into the Southwest backcountry to uncover secrets of its ancient inhabitants.

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Anne-Marie O'Connor
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David Roberts
An award-winning author and veteran mountain climber takes us deep into the Southwest backcountry to uncover secrets of its ancient inhabitants.

For more than 5,000 years the Ancestral Puebloans—Native Americans who flourished long before the first contact with Europeans—occupied the Four Corners region of the southwestern United States. Just before AD 1300, they abandoned their homeland in a migration that remains one of prehistory's greatest puzzles. Northern and southern neighbors of the Ancestral Puebloans, the Fremont and Mogollon likewise flourished for millennia before migrating or disappearing. Fortunately, the Old Ones, as some of their present-day descendants call them, left behind awe-inspiring ruins, dazzling rock art, and sophisticated artifacts ranging from painted pots to woven baskets. Some of their sites and relics had been seen by no one during the 700 years before David Roberts and his companions rediscovered them.

In The Lost World of the Old Ones, Roberts continues the hunt for answers begun in his classic book, In Search of the Old Ones. His new findings paint a different, fuller portrait of these enigmatic ancients—thanks to the breakthroughs of recent archaeologists. Roberts also recounts his last twenty years of far-flung exploits in the backcountry with the verve of a seasoned travel writer. His adventures range across Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado, illuminating the mysteries of the Old Ones as well as of the more recent Navajo and Comanche.

Roberts calls on his climbing and exploratory expertise to reach remote sanctuaries of the ancients hidden within nearly vertical cliffs, many of which are unknown to archaeologists and park rangers. This ongoing quest combines the shock of new discovery with a deeply felt connection to the landscape, and it will change the way readers experience, and imagine, the American Southwest.

David Roberts
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