High Art

Charles Baudelaire and the Origins of Modernist Painting

By (author) David Carrier

Hardback - £69.95

Publication date:

29 May 1996

Length of book:

244 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271015279

The great poet Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867) was also an extremely influential art critic. High Art relates the philosophical issues posed by Baudelaire's art writing to the theory and practice of modernist and postmodernist painting. Baudelaire wrote in an age of transition, David Carrier argues, an era divided by the Revolution of 1848, the historical break that played for him a role now taken within modernism by the political revolts of 1968. Moving from the grand tradition of Delacroix to the images of modern life made by Constantin Guys, this movement from "high" to "low," from the unified world of correspondences to the fragmented images of contemporary city life, motivates Baudelaire's equivalent to the post-1968 turn away from formalist art criticism. Viewed from the perspective of the 1990s, Carrier argues, the issues raised by Baudelaire's criticism and creative writing provide a way of understanding the situation of art writing in our own time.

“David Carrier brings together the two disciplines of art writing and philosophy and uses one to illuminate and deepen the understanding of the other in an organic cyclical exchange that seems to have no limits. With his ambitious writing he has built a domain outside narrow thinking, where horizons are wide and open, as befits an authentic explorer.”

—Sean Scully