ARHT Masterpieces and Metapictures Essay
In Jean Baudrillard’s publication, “Absolute Merchandise”, Baudrillard explores French poet and art critic, Charles Baudelaire’s, ideas on the modern art, supporting these with Andy Warhol’s Pop Art. By doing so, Baudrillard discusses the essence of modern art and addresses the orthodox notion that art is rapidly being corrupted and degraded by “a commercial, vulgar, capitalist, advertising society” (Baudrillard, 1988, pp. 18). Through Baudelaire, Baudrillard implies that this is not necessarily the case, the traditional art concept being outdated within the context of modern society. In fact, he suggests, the salvation of art is embedded within the alienation of the aesthetic values traditional artwork concepts were founded on. Baudrillard refers to this as the “relentless pursue (of) the indifference and equivalence of mercantile value” (Baudrillard, 1988, pp.18), which, in effect, transforms the artwork into what he calls “absolute merchandise” (Baudrillard, 1988, pp.18).
Baudrillard begins this article by indicating that art is “caught up in the process of its own disappearance” (Baudrillard, 1988, pp.18). To Baudrillard, much of modern art is based on
The concept of value ironically being accentuated by its own omission in modern art. Baudrillard condemns Benjamin"tms ideas as having turned "modernity into melancholy" (Baudrillard, 1988, pp 20), praising Baudelaire for have the more modern approach. disappearance, in particular, the disappearance of meaning; as the acknowledgement of the "nothing" is essential for the virtue of modern art. However, one must also remember that, as with any translation ("Absolute Merchandise" was translated from French to English), some of the author"tms intentions in interpretation could have been lost between the languages, adding greater complexity to an already difficult, highly contested, topic. As an art object, the merchandise only acquires a seductive power when it becomes absolute, as, in its common form, it can only yield a world of production. Ironically, it is this disappearance, or emptiness of the modern art object that defines modern art. The modern hero is no longer the hero of the artistic sublime: he is the hero of the objective irony of the merchandise world, as embodied by art in the objective irony of its own disappearance" (Baudrillard, 1988, pp. In his acclaimed text, The System of Objects, Baudrillard devotes his conclusion to the modern definition of consumption, which, he believes is an essential characteristic of our modern society. With Warhol, the modern obsession for "art"tms disappearance" is broadened to the artist, the destruction of the subject of art expanding to the destruction of the artist. 18), Baudrillard argues, with respect to Baudelaire that art cannot seek to revive itself in the "critical posture of denial" (Baudrillard, 1988, pp. The modern strife for perfection, as was Warhol"tms goal, is therefore contested as being both attainable and unattainable, simply because perfection, and "nothing", cannot logically be understood in isolation. The modernity of art is therefore a multifaceted system of disappearances, overlapping each other so that the absolute can be defined with purity in isolation, but cannot itself exist in isolation. Baudrillard denotes that the modern world is "a jungle, where objects turn into fetishes" (Baudrillard, 1988, pp.