What is a theory in art

Aesthetic Theory of Art and Art as Aesthetic Theory - The Politics of Taste and Style

The research field “Aesthetic Theory of Art and Art as Aesthetic Theory - The Politics of Taste and Style” is intended to close a desideratum that is particularly evident with regard to the increased interdisciplinarity between the arts, humanities and cognitive sciences: the evident importance of classical art and art theoretical fields of taste and style. With renewed attention to the importance of the senses, emotions and sensual faculties for cognitive science issues, faculties that traditionally belong to the 'fine arts' or the humanities become more topical. However: When the cognitive and neurosciences investigate the interaction of sensory faculties with regard to conscious and unconscious perceptual processes, when the classic distinction of the senses is questioned and more comprehensive sensory functions and concepts are favored, when El Buri is exhibited as a work of art at documenta 11 and cooking is thus an artistic process, then it is also important to analyze aesthetic categories and emphasize their relevance for a contemporary culture. It seems that the categories of taste and style, in particular, need to be accentuated both in their historicity and in their contemporary significance. Since the Enlightenment, taste and style have developed parallel to the questioning of such authorities as tradition and institution. The emancipatory content of both aesthetic categories lies in the importance of individual responsibility for value decisions in general and thus both go far beyond the mere importance of a sense of the 'objectively' aesthetic beautiful, rather it is about recognizing that different types of a habitus are in create coherent lifestyles. In addition to the connection to the palate, there is also the importance of taste and style, especially with regard to judgment, sensibility as the 'sentiment', the 'politeness' as well as a moral and ethical faculty and thus constitute a completely new aesthetic subject. The distinction between an expert taste and a collective style and an individual style or private taste must also be re-analyzed under the current conditions. This seems to promise particular gains in knowledge, because not only can the - classic - concepts of production and reception aesthetics be subjected to a revision, but also the phenomenological meaning of taste and style can be analyzed. Much more than that. If it can be assumed that art history in particular is able to make significant statements about the historicity and timeliness of taste and style, investigations can be made here, in particular, of whether taste should be understood as a sense and whether taste - in the sense of Gadamer's' truth and Method 'can actually still or again apply as a humanistic guiding concept.


Project leader:

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Sabine Flach, Institute for Art History, University of Graz