Baudelaire's Philosophical Theory of Beauty


Baudelaire's "Le Peintre de la vie moderne" argues that beauty requires the unity of two elements, the eternal beauty found in old master art and the beauty of images from contemporary life. Baudelaire is responding to the mechanical reproduction of art displayed in the museum. He doesn't explicity explain how these two components of beauty are unified. The best way to explain his theory, I argue, is by analogy to the structure of consciousness. Baudelaire's argument deserves study by art critics, for it suggests new ways of understanding Clement Greenberg's canonical account of modernism and recent theorizing about postmodernism. (DC)

Carrier, David
Release Year:
1995 Spring-Summer; 23(3-4): 382-402