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Kant’s “Free Play” in Light of Minimal Art

Kant’s “Free Play” in Light of Minimal Art

(p.163) 9 Kant’s “Free Play” in Light of Minimal Art
Aesthetics at Large
Thierry de Duve
University of Chicago Press

In section 9 of the Critique of Judgment, Kant asks himself whether in aesthetic experience pleasure precedes judgment or judgment precedes pleasure, and although he knows that judgment must precede pleasure, he is unable to demonstrate it. He then asks whether it is through sensation or intellectually that we are informed of the free play or our imagination and our understanding (the very free play which would make the judgment precede the pleasure), and resolutely answers: through sensation. This chapter takes permission from Kant’s answer to submit to an empirical test the claim made by antiformalists and postmodernists according to which, from minimal art on, Kant’s aesthetics don’t apply to works of contemporary art. Robert Morris’s Untitled (Three L-Beams) of 1965 is our test case, and its poststructuralist interpretation by Rosalind Krauss is the discourse whose anti-Kantian purport is here critically examined.

Keywords:   judgment, free play imagination/understanding, imagination, Immanuel Kant, minimal art, Robert Morris, understanding

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