ARTS & SOCIETIES
 

LETTER OF SEMINAR 20

Centre d’Histoire de Sciences Po

 
 
 

GENIUS


Bruno Moysan
Genius, Talent, and Reputation:
Construction of the Experience of Lack and of Debt?

Pierre-Michel Menger
Artistic Genius and its Analysis by the Social Sciences:
An Application to the Case of Beethoven

 


Editorial Director: Laurence Bertrand Dorléac
Editorial Assistant: Elodie Antoine
Translator: David Ames Curtis

PREVIOUS LETTER

THE INFLUENCE OF THE SAINT-SIMONIANS AND THE IDEA OF ART IN THE VANGUARD OF THE SOCIAL REFORM

BODY MORALITY

DANDIES

The Model Child

THE BEAUTIFUL AND THE USEFUL

Photographs by amateurs

The market, at the start

art in the republic

the voyage of the avant-gardes

Major exhibitions

WHAT IS SOCIAL ART ?

PRIMITIVISMS

realisms

Joseph Beuys : A shaman's factory

the Artist and the philosopher

appropriations

THE OPACITIES OF THE TECHNOLOGY

Alternatives to the art market in new york




 
EDITORIAL


    
 
        Jean Starobinski sees the eighteenth century as the stage upon which an unprecedented freedom movement lit up and exploded in a tragic flash. This was the moment when Diderot made of the genius a personal, secret, and indefinable kind of soul, in the absence of which nothing beautiful or very great could be accomplished. The genius would be an exceptional calculator who attracts notice in things great and small. He is a sort of prophetic spirit.

        The genealogy of creative genius has been quite rich since ancient times. For the Greeks, the daimon, a “personal god,” watched over men, places, and things, uniting the human with the divine. In the modern world, where God is absent, it is the individual creator who can take His place. One need only read and listen to some discourses on contemporary art to grasp how a Romantic conception of this exceptional being with superhuman powers, whose mission is modeled on a religious one, continues into the present.

        We have asked the sociologist Pierre-Michel Menger to review the different types of explanation that make it possible to apply the notion of genius to artists. Using the case of Beethoven, he offers us an answer to the antinomies found in the human sciences. Bruno Moysan, a musician and musicologist, responds to him with a reflection on the virtuosic brilliance of Liszt in nineteenth-century society on its path of democratization. There, the artistic genius maintains equal distance from a rejection of the logic of democratic egalitarianism and from the essentialism of aristocracy and absolutism.

Laurence Bertrand Dorléac




Letter published with the support of the Foundation of France

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