Cultural Studies

Art and the Human Adventure: André Malraux's Theory of Art by Derek Allan

By Derek Allan

André Malraux used to be an incredible determine in French highbrow lifestyles within the 20th century. A key section of his suggestion is his concept of artwork which offers a chain of primary demanding situations to standard causes of the character and function of paintings constructed by way of post-Enlightenment aesthetics. For Malraux, paintings - no matter if visible artwork, literature or song - is way greater than a locus of attractiveness or a resource of "aesthetic pleasure"; it truly is one of many methods humanity defends itself opposed to its basic feel of meaninglessness - one of many methods the "human adventure" is affirmed. the following for the 1st time is a entire, step-by-step exposition, supported by means of illustrations, of Malraux's conception of paintings as offered in significant works akin to The Voices of Silence and The Metamorphosis of the Gods. compatible for either rookies to Malraux and extra complicated scholars, the learn additionally examines severe responses to those works by means of figures corresponding to Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Maurice Blanchot, Pierre Bourdieu, and E. H. Gombrich, and compares Malraux's considering with features of up to date Anglo-American aesthetics. The learn unearths that an account of paintings which Gombrich as soon as pushed aside as "sophisticated double-talk" is in fact a completely coherent and hugely enlightening approach of notion, with progressive implications for a way we predict approximately artwork.

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Extra info for Art and the Human Adventure: André Malraux's Theory of Art (Faux Titre, Volume 341)

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The argument to be advanced here is that the works in question, such as Les Voix du silence and La Metamorphose des dieux, make an extremely valuable contribution to our understanding of the significance of art, and, more broadly, of the contemporary human predicament. If the present study succeeds in giving some sense of the importance of this contribution, and in dispelling some of the misunderstandings, it will have amply served its purpose. 27 See page 236. option=com_content&view=article&id=30 8:malraux-l-art-est-une-conquete&catid=1:ils-ont-ecrit&Itemid=35&lang=fr Confirmed in correspondence from André Brincourt, 25 April 2006.

This limitation is vividly illustrated in La Condition humaine by the powerfully drawn figure of the terrorist, Tchen, the key feature of whose character is, precisely, a refusal to accept it. Central to Tchen’s character is an attempt to divorce action from its ineradicable quality of transience, to force it go beyond the immediate situation and compel it to speak of “life as a whole” – of what is true not just here and now but at all times and all places. Portrayed – significantly – as someone who received a religious education but who has subsequently lost his faith,34 Tchen is unable to rest content with a reality bounded by the limits of the particular collective event of which he is a part, thirsting instead for the meaning of life as an all-embracing unity.

Henri Godard (Paris: Gallimard, 2004), 34. As Malraux commented in his interview with Suarès, the idea is banal now, but it was not so then. Suarès, Malraux, celui qui vient, 16. (As indicated in the selected list of titles of Malraux’s works on page 13 of this study, La Métamorphose des dieux was subsequently entitled La Métamorphose des dieux: Le Surnaturel to distinguish it from the second two volumes. ) 9 THE YEARS BEFORE 1934 35 cultures and histories, each viewed as a distinct entity. 11 Moreover, Malraux’s interest, as the quotation above suggests, was much less in history per se than in the implications of this new outlook for what he calls an “understanding of man”.

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