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Introduction: Aesthetic Capitalism

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Chapter Summary

This introduction chapter of the book deals with aesthetic capitalism, which is a complex and multi-dimensional phenomenon. But the history of art and capitalism is different from the presumptive history of aesthetic capitalism, the history of the future. Aesthetics in the sense of aesthetic capitalism is not the art of the gallery. The central puzzle of aesthetic capitalism is that it is different to the capitalism of the machine, or the railroad, or the car, or the fast-food outlet, or e-commerce. The aesthetics of aesthetic capitalism subtracts the excess from art and concentrates on the dignity, propriety and modesty that the best of art exudes. The 'aesthetic' in aesthetic capitalism serves to remind us of this super-positioning and that the reserve, dignity and self-possession of the best artwork lives in the spirit of the organisations and objects that capitalism produces, alongside all sorts of trashy, vacuous and unbecoming moments.

Keywords: aesthetic capitalism; best artwork; organisations; presumptive history

10.1163/9789004274723_002
/content/books/b9789004274723_002
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