Merleau-Ponty and the Visual Arts, Session at CAA Conference, Boston 2006


Merleau-Ponty and the Visual Arts

Merleau-Ponty’s major tenet, that subjective vision is dialectically engaged in constructing and being constructed by the physical world, has had a direct influence on the way art is created and discussed. During the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, critics and artists responded to Merleau-Ponty’s demand that the viewing eye be situated in a moving, empirical body. Currently, approaches inspired by Merleau-Ponty’s aesthetics are enjoying a renewed vogue. Yet Merleau-Ponty can be best understood when recontextualized within the philosophy, linguistics, and politics of his period. He was a reader of Husserl, Heidegger, Saussure, and Levi-Strauss. His phenomenological approach to painting was developed in part to contest the semiotics of Sartre’s What is Literature? Questions to consider: What work is Merleau-Ponty now doing for art history? What dimensions of his thought are being left out? Papers should address intersections between aesthetics, anthropology, semiotics, literature, or philosophy.

The 2006 CAA Annual Conference took place February 22-25, in Boston. Please address further inquiries with regard to this session to:
Carrie Noland
Dept. of French and Italian
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA, 92697-2925

See for further information on the 2006 CAA Conference.