Realist by Nature, by Nature Abstract: Personalist Aesthetics in Mounier and Henry

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In the “sketch for a personalist aesthetic” in Le Personnalisme (1949), Emmanuel Mounier cautioned that the tendency towards abstraction in modern art was a sign of nihilism; but he also saw in it a promise to reveal a reality which transcends our habitual view of the world. To Mounier, there is a paradox in the nature of art: it is both realist and abstract; it deals with the reality of beings while attempting to communicate transcendence. If abstract art can avoid esotericism, it can make the personal communal and speak to the common man. This paper argues that such a personalist aesthetic is realized in Michel Henry’s later phenomenology—in his monograph on Kandinsky, Voir l’invisible (1988), and his subsequent Christological meditations—which treats the possibilities to express the mystery of subjectivity in a communal personhood. Theologically, this is revealed in incarnation; aesthetically, in abstraction. For Henry, the inner life of emotions cannot be communicated by representation, but only by a radical expression of human reality in abstract art. Thereby human subjectivity is joined with the person of Christ, for the essence of art, revealed in abstraction, is the “resurrection of eternal life.”


  • Jonnie Eriksson
Enheter & grupper

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Idé- och lärdomshistoria


Antal sidor7
StatusUnpublished - 2013
Peer review utfördJa
Evenemang12th International Conference on Persons - Lund, Sverige
Varaktighet: 2013 aug 62013 aug 10


Konferens12th International Conference on Persons