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An aesthetics of artistic production - the describable and the indescribable.

Sissi Makovec
Research Grantee Academy of Fine Arts Vienna | Dissertation Completion Fellowship  2016|17


Western aesthetics in its main tradition focuses on the artwork and on its reception. Examinations of the artistic production are rarely to be found. This is not solely, but in essence, due to Kant's decisive influence on the development of modern aesthetics: the autonomy of art postulated by him, which completely separates art, and thus also artistic action, from epistemological questions. Art and, above all, the process of art production follows exclusively internal criteria and can not be understood by means of knowledge nor can it therefore be described adequately in epistemological terms.

This has not always be seen that way: Just 40 years before Kant published his Critique of Judgment Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten, who founded modern aesthetics as a philosophical discipline describes art as a particular form of knowledge, as sensual cognition, which together with rational cognition forms the human cognitive faculty. Art production, as a special kind of knowledge production, thus plays a central role in his theory. The innovative power of Baumgarten's concept of sensual cognition has not yet been satisfactorily worked out for it is embedded in a metaphysical theory, which today is considered to be outdated and obsolete.

I start from the hypothesis that a contemporary interpretation of Baumgarten's theory is possible, since the concepts developed there, can be understood as a formal theory of aesthetics that can be detached from its metaphysical context without essential loss. In a second step, the concepts obtained are applied to an aesthetics of production.