Phenomenological and aesthetic epoché: painting the invisible things themselves

Rudolf Bernet

in The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Phenomenology

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199594900
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Phenomenological and aesthetic epoché: painting the invisible things themselves

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Relying on Husserl as well as on the reflections by Merleau-Ponty on Cézanne, Henry on Kandinsky and Deleuze on Bacon, this essay sketches some basic problems that arise in a phenomenological account of non-figurative painting. An investigation of the distinction between phenomenological and pictorial perception, of the transposition of the painter’s mode of perception into a painted image, and of the expressive force of paintings inevitably confronts one with the enigma of the appearing of something invisible. The essay proceeds in three steps. The first step describes pictorial perception in terms of a ‘seeing according to’. Such a mode of perception pays attention to visual ambiguities, to the ‘gaze of things’ and to the conditions of visibility that are ordinarily overlooked. The second step moves on to the issue of the transposition of a pictorial perception in a painted image. Deleuze’s account of “manipulated chance” proves to be very helpful here. In the final step, Henry’s and Deleuze’s emphasis on the painting’s expression of totally invisible ‘forces’ is discussed.

Keywords: visual perception; phenomenological epoché; aesthetic perception; painting; invisible; E. Husserl; M. Merleau-Ponty; M. Henry; G. Deleuze; Cézanne; Kandinsky; Francis Bacon

Article.  10106 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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