CultureLab • Permanent Seminar

Active objects. The ontology of the contemporary artwork between super-existence and impermanence

Fabrizio Desideri (Università degli Studi di Firenze)

Starting from Adorno’s definition (in his Aesthetic Theory) of the notion of form as “the blind spot of aesthetics”, I will present an idea of the ontology of the artwork as active object, a “quasi-agent” in the sense developed by Alfred Gell in Art and Agency. Compared to Gell’s theses, my proposal differs in that it enhances Goodman’s theory on the symbolic function of the work of art and, consequently, defends the idea of symbolic property as an “internal relationship” in Wittgenstein’s sense. The constitutive properties of the artwork will finally be defined in the dynamic tension between the notion of super-existence and that of impermanence. In relation to this tension, I will propose a revision of the notion of form appropriate to the phenomenology of contemporary art.


Fabrizio Desideri is full Professor of Aesthetics at the Department of Lettere e Filosofia, University of Florence. He is member of the scientific board of the journals: «Nouvelle Revue d’Esthétique», «Paragrana», «Rivista di Estetica», «Boletìn de Estetica», «Estetica. Studi e ricerche». Since 2008, he is Editor in Chief of the peer-reviewed and Scopus indexed online journal «Aisthesis. Pratiche, linguaggi e saperi dell’estetico» (published by Firenze University Press). Since September 2015, he is co-editor of the journal «Atque. Materiali tra filosofia e psicoterapia». For the Publisher Mimesis (Milan) he directs the editorial series «Estetica/Mente/Linguaggi». In recent years, he has been the scientific director of several national and international conferences. From 1980 to today he edited works of Benjamin, Kant, Novalis, Nietzsche, Rang, Scheerbart, Simmel and wrote several books, articles and essays on these issues. Read more here.

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