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Aurum ex machina : esthétique de l’or dans l’art contemporain

Abstract : Until very recently, it was believed that gold no longer held a prominent place in the history of art after the Antiquities and the Middle Ages as the paragon of value, beauty and divinity. If Baroque and Art Nouveau displayed several magnificent, golden works, these were purely decorative and offering, sometimes, the opportunity to critique the aesthetics of the period and the style of the time. An objective consideration of artistic production in the modern and contemporary periods shows that, if the display of gold appears incompatible with certain theories of the avant-garde, because of it’s symbolic connotations (principally religious and political) linked to its prestige and value, artists never stopped using it, even though it was used more or less surreptitiously. The goal of this study is to show that, even if part of a specific aesthetic, and sometimes contradictory, program, the recent uses of gold in the world of art share the objective of producing the maximum effect on users (artists and spectators). This is why I use the formulation aurum ex machina because it seems that gold, like the God of antiquity who arrived on scene at the last minute to magically resolve the crisis at hand, deus ex machina, the turn to gold always arrives at a critical moment in the production or the career of an artist who is overcome by the material’s beauty, radiance, intelligence, etc. and who feels overcome by it’s intensity. Exploring numerous examples, I follow the machine like workings of gold and analyze the different ways that gold functions in contemporary art. In an empirical manner, I distinguish between the implications of gold as a concept (gold as a reflecting machine), as a performance (gold as a spectacular machine) and as eroticism (gold as a desiring-machine). For as much as we can tell, the beginning of the 21st century is marked both by a shameless triumph and a profound crisis of capitalism, which offers today’s artists a perspective on gold that is uninhibited but more complicated than ever, still contemporary and always eternal
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Submitted on : Thursday, March 29, 2018 - 1:44:09 PM
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  • HAL Id : tel-01752383, version 1



Frédérique Lecerf. Aurum ex machina : esthétique de l’or dans l’art contemporain. Art et histoire de l'art. Université de Lorraine, 2015. Français. ⟨NNT : 2015LORR0348⟩. ⟨tel-01752383⟩



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