Modernism as the Mobilization and Critical Period of Secular Metaphysics. The Case of Fine/Plastic Art

Jožef Muhovič


Since the term “modernism” appeared as a theoretical reaction to the modernist “state of affairs” in the same way as sight appeared as an evolutionary reaction to the existence of sunlight and not vice versa, the author attempts to explore the nature of the modernist “way of being” and evaluate it to a certain extent in the phenomenal field of fine/plastic art. In doing so he focuses on the period between the mid-nineteenth century, when bourgeois art with its routine realist approaches drifted into the strange state of unresponsiveness to the world around it; on 1960s, when the modernist model of aesthetic idealism found itself in a deep crisis; and on the 1970s and 1980s, when, owing to its inability to continue advancing in the same idealist direction, it became necessary to test the very “seismic stability” of modernist suppositions by demystifying the aesthetic and the sublime. As far as fine/plastic art is concerned, this was the time of a double shift of paradigms, one of which served to mobilize secular metaphysics, and the other of which aimed to verify its foundations in conditions of a globalizing culture. The first case involves the transition of the paradigm of fine art to the paradigm of “pure” plastic art, and the second focuses on the transition from the paradigm of “pure plastic art” to the paradigm of visual art, whose asset is the “secondary semantization” of visual objects, events and contexts. For a precise discussion, a more than century-long time interval seems exaggerated, yet its selection was necessary because the paradigmatic shifts that the author would like to coherently thematize are not visible in thinner temporal slices.

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