Culture Industry: A Contemporary Revision of the Term of Theodor Adorno

Culture Industry: A Contemporary Revision of the Term of Theodor Adorno

Claudia Sandoval Romero (University of Applied Arts and Academy of Fine Arts, Austria)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5023-5.ch001

Abstract

This chapter examines some of the ideas that Theodor Adorno elucidated around the term culture industry, compiling mainly the ideas published in the text Aesthetic Theory of 1970. The term culture industry is also contextualized in the chapter with the reflections that Adorno previously exposed in 1947. A dialog is created with the proposal of the North American theoretician and artist Martha Rosler to understand the chronological development of art before, during, and after Adorno. Regarding the relation between art and autonomy, the ideas of Adorno offer elements to understand contemporary art production. This way, the author also discusses contemporary new media art manifestations, which are analyzed in key terms such as autonomy/culture industry in relation to the proposals of the Brazilian theoretician Arlindo Machado. Lastly, the chapter offers an approach to the artistic institution analyzing the museum in relation with Adorno's ideas.
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Culture Industry Inside The Aesthetic Theory Of 1970

In the first section some of the historical conceptions of the culture industry will be brought together in order to create a compilation of the ideas that illustrate the complexity of the term proposed by Theodor Adorno.

This way, the idea of culture industry will be described as a factor that made possible for art to become a consumer good, understanding this process also in key of a commercialization of the catharsis in the reception of an art piece.

Culture Industry and Consumer Goods

Theodor Adorno explains in A Critic to the Culture industry, section of the book Aesthetic Theory published in 1970, that as far as art corresponds to a social manifested necessity, it transforms itself mostly in a business governed by the profit, which persists as long as it is profitable. By doing so, art makes itself aside, confirming being nothing but something already dead (Adorno, 1970, p. 34).

Adorno exposes the means used by the culture industry in order to transform art pieces into commodities when he makes clear that the ‘naïve’ people of the culture industry, avid of commodities, locate themselves closer to art, perceiving how art is inadequate to accompany the process of social life. Adorno argues that the creation of this proximity to art only intensifies the culture industry, as well as, at the same time, here the idea of the immediatism of art to the society is planned to deceive (Adorno, 1970, p. 376). On the other hand, the culture industry defends that art suffered a process in which it ceased being what it is and lost its specificity, becoming consumer goods in the shape of catharsis and art pieces themselves (Adorno, 1970, p. 34).

In the following paragraphs we will then explain how for Adorno the art and its catharsis became consumer goods.

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