Craig Owens (–) was an American post-modernist art critic, gay activist and feminist. One of Owens’s most influential essays was The Allegorical Impulse: Toward a Theory of Postmodernism, an article in two parts in which he. from The Allegorical Impulse: Towards a Theory of Postmodernism – Craig Owens To impute an allegorical motive to contemporary art is to venture into. This net installation re-evaluates the essay “The Allegorical Impulse: Toward a Theory of Postmodernism” by Craig Owens. Inside the website you will find.

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The role of the allegorist is that of a gatherer who piles on references through a collection of emblems found in the ruins of a past culture. The preference for the ordinary and this attention to the unartistic world surrounding the building stood in stark contrast to the stance of Modernist architecture, also called The International Style, which had come to a sterile and corporate dead end.

Las Vegas is the new Rome, centrally planned and precisely laid out for a specific purpose. Conceived in this way, allegory becomes the model of all commentary, all critique, insofar as these are involved in rewriting a primary text in terms of its figural meaning.

Yet in this passage Heidegger is reciting the litanies of philosophical aesthetics only in order to prepare for their dissolution. Yet they are rarely dismantled but simply abandoned to nature; Smithson consistently acknowledged as part of his works the forces which erode and eventually reclaim them for nature.

If he adds, however, he does so only to replace: Because of its impermanence, moreover, the work is frequently preserved only in photographs. Site-specific works are impermanent, installed in particular locations for a limited duration, their impermanence providing the measure of their circumstantiality. The appropriated image may be a film still, aolegorical photograph, a drawing; it is often itself already a reproduction.

Craig Owens (critic)

The latter, by contrast, is what reveals poetry in its true nature: Thus to Robespierre ancient Rome was a past charged with the time of the now which he blasted out of the continuum of history. It is this metatextual aspect that is invoked whenever allegory is attacked as interpretation merely appended post facto to a work, a rhetorical ornament or flourish. These inclinations can be seen in works such as oil-barrels of Belgian artist Wim Delvoye and bullets of a gun by French artist Philippe Perrin.


Because allegory usurps its object it comports within itself a danger, the possibility of perversion: Detail like decoration is unnecessary within the totality. Croce found it ‘monstrous’ precisely because it encodes two contents within one form. Rosemond Tuve describes the viewer’s ‘experience of a genre-picture – or so he had thought it — turning into It is thus the epitome of counter-narrative, for it arrests narrative in place, substituting a principle of syntagmatic disjunction for one of diegetic combination.

Craig Owens was a senior editor of Art in America[3] a contributor to such scholarly journals as Skyline and Octobera graduate of Haverford Collegeand a professor of art history at Yale University and Barnard College.

A conviction of the remoteness of the past, and a desire to redeem it for the present — these are its two most fundamental impulses.

from The Allegorical Impulse: Towards a Theory of Postmodernism – Craig Owens

Not only did Venturi and Scott Brown not turn their backs on architectural draig, they used the past to explain and validate their analysis of Vegas. Originally published inCambridge. In this way modernism aloegorical recuperate allegorical works for itself, on the condition that what makes them allegorical be overlooked or ignored. Albert Hofstadter, New York, pp. The work makes public something other than itself; it manifests something other; it is an allegory.

Here the works of man are reabsorbed into the landscape; ruins thus stand for history as an irreversible process of dissolution and decay, allegoical progressive distancing from origin.

The site-specific work often aspires to a prehistoric monumentality; Stonehenge and the Nazca lines are taken as prototypes. For other people named Craig Owens, see Craig Owens disambiguation. Thus we should also seek allegory in contemporary works which deliberately follow a discursive model: Xi Benedetto Croce, Aesthetic, trans.


The allegorical work is synthetic; it crosses aesthetic boundaries. In the work of art something other is brought together with the thing that is made.

The former method produces allegory, where the particular has status merely as an instance, an example of the universal. Rosemond Tuve, Allegorical Imagery: Work and site thus owfns in a dialectical relationship.

Modernism and Postmodernism: Allegory as Theory | Art History Unstuffed

Sometimes it is altogether harmless. It would take twenty years for a new generation of architects to develop a Postmodern approach to architecture.

Like a Roman military camp, Las Vegas is laid out in an orderly grid which keeps in check the blazing lights constantly jumping and jiving to their own internal rhythms.

By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. In order to recognize allegory in its contemporary manifestations, we first require a craiig idea of what in fact it is, or rather what it represents, since allegory is an attitude as well as a technique, a perception as well as a procedure.

from The Allegorical Impulse: Towards a Theory of Postmodernism – Craig Owens | ART THEORY

It was however always used with reference to some extraneous movement: Thomas Middleton Raysor, Cambridge, Mass, p. The work is a symbol. In modernism, however, the allegory remains in potentia and cdaig actualized only in the activity of reading, which suggests that the allegorical impulse that characterizes postmodernism is a direct consequence of its preoccupation with reading.

The architects have the Baroque tradition in architecture in mind: This association of the symbol with aesthetic intuition, and allegory with convention, was inherited uncritically by modern aesthetics; thus Croce in Aesthetic:.

This association of the symbol with aesthetic intuition, and allegory with convention, was inherited uncritically by modern aesthetics; thus Croce in Aesthetic: