The aestheticization of the world

por Valéria Midena em June 22, 2015

Zin Lim :: #ID 11.1 (fragment from a photo by SaatchiArt)







We are no longer at a time when industrial production and culture referred to separate, radically irreconcilable universes; we are at a time when production, distribution and consumption systems are impregnated, penetrated and remodeled by operations which are fundamentally aesthetic. The style, the beauty, the mobilization of tastes and senses are imposed every day as strategic imperatives of the brands: this is an aesthetic mode of production that defines hyper-consumption capitalism.

In his latest book, ‘The artistic capitalism’ (co-written with the art critic Jean Serroy), the philosopher Gilles Lipovetsky suggests an innovative look at the relationship between the liberal economy and the contemporary aesthetic life. In a little over 400 pages, Lipovetsky brilliantly writes about one of the great paradoxes of consumer capitalism: while, on the one hand it produces undeniably disastrous effects on moral, social and economic fields, on the other hand, by exploring aesthetic-imaginary features in a rational and generalized manner (aiming at profit and market share), it enhances the creative, intuitive and emotional dimensions, thus stylizing the everyday universe.

According to Lipovetsky, this contemporary capitalism seeks to build an artist image for its authors: “gardeners have become landscapers; hairdressers, hair designers; cooks, culinary creators…”. Unlike the Fordist era, when the focus was on material production, this new model focuses on the immaterial – the intangible, the imaginary, the dream. This way, by appealing to the sensitivity of consumers, art and aesthetics would be put to the service of the market, resulting in the creation of what the author calls “artist capitalism”.

With a didactic and simple language, Lipovetsky makes a brief history connection (from Classical Antiquity to the present day) and then exposes his great analysis on contemporary relations among industry, consumption, brand, art and design. Elegant and provocative, he points out the hyper-individualism boosted by network sharing of aestheticized lives as the key link in this chain of complementary and interdependent interactions.

Considered one of the most important thinkers of our time, especially with regards to the sociology and philosophy of consumption, fashion and luxury, Lipovetsky expands our understanding on this world where “everything follows the logic of fashion: it is ephemeral and alluring”, and questions one of our most primitive instincts: the eternal search for beauty and the pleasure it brings to our souls.

The same author also published in English ‘The Empire of Fashion: Dressing Modern Democracy’ (by Paperback) and ‘Hypermodern Times’ (by Polity).