Stanford Presidential Lectures and Symposia in the Humanities and Arts

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Beatriz Sarlo on Art

Art's Freedom

"Ever since modernity, art has been an independent sphere," Beatriz Sarlo, essayist and cultural scholar, said to the Clarín. "Since the nineteenth century, art has been defined in the West by its formal and conceptual freedom. In the twentieth century, art is justly defined by the deviant use of the materials with which it works. I mean, a use that doesn't respond to the logic nor the norms of spheres like religion or morality." Asked about the relation between art and the historic truth or faith, Sarlo added, "Institutions as a whole tend to cut off art's possibilities of creating deviant uses for materials because they think that ideas can only be worked one way. But art does not lend itself to a literal reading. Modern art has in its foundation the right to deviate. Furthermore, twentieth century art considers transgression to be a virtue, meaning maximum deviation."

(translated by Ryan Max Steinberg)

© Clarín Digital, Buenos Aires, Sept. 20, 1996


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