In The Dialectic of Decadence, Kuspit disentangles misconceptions of decadence generated by the notion of advance in art. He asserts that any attempt in modern art to renounce expressionism and the pursuit of meaning in figurative art is in itself a result of discontentment and decadence—a loss of faith in history to tell its own story. Using a psychoanalytic approach, Kuspit topples Minimalist decrees most forcefully expressed by Donald Judd. Kuspit demonstrates that the "decadent" pursuits of artists like Sandro Chia and Georg Baselitz are rooted in the avant-garde unconscious. He demonstrates how modern art's internal battle with decadence is in fact a battle with itself, its own cause for existence. The Dialectic of Decadence is a work of insight into the way modernity and, for that matter, postmodernity try to extinguish the past, only to fuel its power further, and how the dialectic between them—between advance and decadence—is essential to creation.
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Donald Kuspit, a professor of art history and philosophy at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, is the author of more than twenty books and numerous essays. He has earned fellowships from, among others, the Ford Foundation, the Fulbright Commission, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He lives in New York.Review:
"Overall, The Dialectic of Decadence shines a bright light on the fragmented state of art." -- Chicago Artists' News
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