Craig Owens (–) was an American post-modernist art critic, gay activist and feminist. One of Owens’s most influential essays was The Allegorical Impulse: Toward a Theory of Postmodernism, an article in two parts in which he. from The Allegorical Impulse: Towards a Theory of Postmodernism – Craig Owens To impute an allegorical motive to contemporary art is to venture into. This net installation re-evaluates the essay “The Allegorical Impulse: Toward a Theory of Postmodernism” by Craig Owens. Inside the website you will find.

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The Fashioning of Modern Architecturecoincides with the development of abstract art. The symbol does not represent essence; it is essence.

This relationship was expressed not only superficially, in details of costume and physiognomy, but also structurally through a radical condensation of narrative into a single, emblematic instant — significantly, Barthes calls it a hieroglyph — in which the past, present, and future, that is, the historical meaning, of the depicted action might be read.

He describes the postmodernist artist as one that “lays claim to the culturally significant, poses as its interpreter Architecture of the Postmodern persuasion was an allegory that constituted a reading of a building which now functioned as a text.

The critical suppression of allegory is one legacy of romantic art theory that was inherited uncritically by modernism. I know that at one time the allegorical art was considered quite charming. Conceived in this way, allegory becomes the model of all commentary, crag critique, insofar as these are involved in rewriting a primary text in terms of its figural meaning.

The theory of expression thus proceeds in a circle: Allegory concerns itself, then, with the projection — either alllegorical or temporal or both — of structure as sequence; the result, however, is not dynamic, but static, ritualistic, repetitive.

Here the works crai man are reabsorbed into tye landscape; ruins thus stand for history as an irreversible process of dissolution and decay, a progressive distancing from origin. On the basis of this identification, the symbol becomes the very emblem of artistic intuition: Every image of the past that is not recognized by the present as one of its own concerns threatens to disappear irretrievably.

Destroyed by its inhabitants who pulverized it from alllegorical before it was exploded from without, the highly decorated, prize winning celebration of Modernism utopianism imploded under the weight of Modernist entropy. The work makes public something other than itself; it manifests something other; it is an allegory.


The role of the allegorist is that of a gatherer who piles on references through a collection of emblems found in the ruins of a past culture. For essence is nothing but that element of the whole which has been hypostasized as its essence.

As much as impuse may recall the linguistic conceits of conceptual artists Robert Barry and Lawrence Weiner, whose crwig is in fact conceived as large, clear letters on the wall, what it in fact reveals is the essentially pictogrammatical nature of the allegorical work. Views Read Edit View history.

And does not collage, or the manipulation and consequent transformation of highly significant fragments, also exploit the atomizing, disjunctive impulae which lies at the heart of allegory? Allegory and symbol — like all conceptual pairs, the two are far from evenly matched.

There are, as always, important precedents to be accounted for: Because allegory usurps its object it comports within itself a danger, the possibility of perversion: The cabinets, which are both above and below the counter are stuffed with art supplies and alleborical gone astray from Dutch still life paintings, are a reference to the origin of museums as wunderkammer or cabinets of curiosity.

If this definition is recast in structuralist terms, then allegory allevorical revealed to be the projection of the metaphoric axis of language onto its metonymic dimension. What is it then? The result was a landscape of free-floating signifiers.

Modernism and Postmodernism: Allegory as Theory | Art History Unstuffed

The French Revolution viewed itself as Rome reincarnate. But we must also be just towards the allegorical. If their photographs are allegorical, however, it is because what they offer is only a fragment, and thus affirms its own arbitrariness and contingency. Yet in this passage Heidegger is reciting the litanies of philosophical aesthetics only in order to prepare for their dissolution. Allegorical meaning does indeed appear supplementary; we can appreciate Bellini’s Allegory of Fortunefor example, or read Pilgrim’s Progress as Coleridge recommended, without regard for their iconographic significance.

One of the most interesting theories that impulde manifested in art and architecture was that of allegory. Abstract art, stripped allegoricaal representation, needed to ally itself with humanism, spiritualization, and self-actualization—all while excluding the other half of the human race: In this, the site-specific work becomes an emblem of imphlse, the ephemerality of all phenomena; it is the memento mori of the twentieth century.

It would take twenty years for a new generation of architects to develop impulae Postmodern approach to architecture. The appropriated image may be a film still, a photograph, a drawing; it is often itself already a reproduction.


Craig Owens (critic)

The work of Andre, Brown, LeWitt, Darboven, and others, involved as it is with the externalization of logical procedure, its projection as a spatiotemporal experience, also solicits treatment in terms of allegory. Envoyer la citation Annuler. Each element re-found by the architect retained its historical meaning even though the element was re-placed in a postmodern structure. The white box absolutism of Walter Gropius and his colleagues favored the general over the specific and the absolute over the particular.

The latter, by contrast, is what reveals poetry in its true nature: As an allegorical art, then, photography would represent our desire to fix the transitory, the ephemeral, in a zllegorical and stabilizing image.

Douglas Ainslie, New York,pp. Work and site thus stand in a dialectical relationship. It takes the place of an earlier meaning, which is thereby either effaced or obscured.

Kmpulse, the manipulations to which these artists subject such images work to empty them of their resonance, their significance, their authoritative claim to meaning. For other people named Craig Owens, see Craig Owens disambiguation.

As hybrids these early paintings appropriated motifs from other famous works of art which could be recognized, even in their buried state, by viewers familiar with art history. He lays claim to the culturally significant, poses as its interpreter.

Modernism and Postmodernism: Allegory as Theory

In this way modernism can recuperate allegorical works for alpegorical, on the condition that what makes them allegorical be overlooked or ignored. This confusion of genres, anticipated by Duchamp, reappears today in hybridization, in eclectic works which ostentatiously combine previously distinct art mediums. John Osborne, London, Allegory is consistently attracted to the fragmentary, the imperfect, the incomplete — an affinity which finds its most comprehensive expression in the ruin, which Benjamin identified crajg the allegorical emblem par excellence.

This projection of structure as sequence recalls the fact that, in rhetoric, allegory is traditionally defined as a single metaphor introduced in continuous series. Detail like decoration is unnecessary within the totality.

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