Modernist Criticisms and Development of Social Knowledge
This chapter is about the complex relationship between art, culture and politics. The example I discuss is modernist art, which appeared in the early 1900s, and the criticism it made of modern society. I have chosen modernist art because it represents an extreme position in the discussion between art and society. Modernist art, I argue, has an unclear relationship with modern society, partly because it provoked and challenged society itself. The purpose of the chapter is to emphasise various dilemmas with modernist criticism and how it has been interpreted. The thesis is that the criticism presented by modernist art exposes dilemmas and internal contradictions that have had an impact on knowledge development and that still have some relevance in contemporary society. I argue that this is part of the discourse and understanding of modern society, that the core of this dilemma is the autonomy of art and that art is an integrated part of society. My question is: based on what we can learn from the history and debates of modernist art, how can the balance between art as autonomous and art as influencing and criticising society be understood?