Peter de Bolla

Peter de Bolla is working on a film about Bonnard. He chairs the English faculty at Cambridge.

At the Royal Academy: Abstract Expressionism

Peter de Bolla, 15 December 2016

Among​ the many fascinating questions raised by Abstract Expressionism, on show at the Royal Academy until 2 January, is this: if I renounce depiction, refuse representation and fully embrace abstraction what the hell am I going to paint? The show gives the answers arrived at by 24 painters, not all of them American but all of whom worked in the United States between 1930 (Jackson...

In the Butcher’s Shop: Deleuze on Bacon

Peter de Bolla, 23 September 2004

In the technical literature on aesthetics a distinction is often made between the empirical inquiry into beauty (what it is, which objects have it and so forth), and the investigation of sensory cognition. The former became subsumed in the 18th century into the theory of taste and has ever since been in the ascendant, while the latter (what Alexander Baumgarten called ‘the science of...

Why We Weep: Looking and Feeling

Peter de Bolla, 6 March 2003

What are experiences of artworks like? Kant’s Critique of Judgment is relatively clear on this point: aesthetic judgments prompt what he calls an ‘agitation of the mind’. How agitated should it be? Is one kind of agitation, say frustration at not being able to understand a work, equivalent to another, say a feeling of joy or wonder? Does the absence of agitation signal...

Bloom’s Giant Forms

Mark Edmundson, 1 June 1989

One way to think of Harold Bloom is as a professor and scholar of Romantic poetry who has Romantic aspirations of his own. He writes in the passionate style of Emerson and Shelley, and he has a...

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