From Trust to Body. Artspace, Prestige, Sensitivity

  • Filippo Fimiani
Part of the Studies in Applied Philosophy, Epistemology and Rational Ethics book series (SAPERE, volume 39)


What happens to artist and to viewer when painting or sculpture emancipates itself from all physical mediums? What happens to art-world experts and to museum goers and amateurs when the piece of art turns immaterial, becoming indiscernible within its surrounding empty space and within the parergonal apparatus of the exposition site? What type of verbal depiction, of critical understanding and specific knowledge is attempted under these programmed and fabricated conditions? What kind of aesthetic experience—namely embodied and sensitive—is expected when a performative utterance of the artist about his art takes the place of a real piece of artwork seen or perceived, or that may be seen or perceived? In the spring of 1958, in Paris, an artist already well-known among the neo-avantgardes and accredited by the international art-world, shows up empty-handed and presents himself as a painter without paintings. Yves Klein displays himself as a snob, with an extraordinary showbiz glamour and literally sine-nobilitate, without the traditional marks of artistic manual skills. Against the modernist issues, he writes: «Credit was given to me. The gesture alone was enough. The public had accepted the abstract intention.» What’s the matter with this powerful prestige and its influence on the critic and public? How to understand the public trust in the artist as a producer of an institutional “make-believe” without any object hood, devoid of any individual artwork presented to the sight or to any other sense? For Modernism and Minimalism, the work of art seems to have an internal coherence, whether formal or expressive, and is thus autonomous from the surrounding world, existing with only the clear opposition to the living space and set as a specialized and situated objection to the enclosing field. Instead, now the object melts into the air and becomes undetectable, confused with the atmosphere of the theory of art and with the stylish and snobbish life of the artist. What type of interpretation is put on regarding this unclassifiable and ambiguous field, simultaneously an-aesthetic and existential, theoretical and sensitive, at same time without a specialized position in the world made by the artist himself? And what kind of embodied experience is performed by the spectatorship? What type of phenomenology and pragmatics of aesthetic relationship is necessary to describe how the body of the beholder absorbs the space via a direct and immediate perception-assimilation? What kind of artistic rhetoric, what kind ontology of art? Until this day, after more than 50 years, Yves Klein’s The Void has not ceased asking these and other questions on aesthetics, philosophy and the history of art.


  1. Belting, H. (2005). Image, medium, body: A new approach to iconology. Critical Inquiry, 31(2), 302–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bruno, G. (2001). Atlas of emotion: Journeys in art, architecture, and film. New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  3. Buchloh, B. H. D. (1998). Plenty of nothing: From Yves Klein’s Le Vide” to Arman’s Le Plein”. In B. Blistène, A. M. Gingeras, & A. Guiheux: (Eds.), Premises: Invested spaces in visual arts, architecture & design from France 1958–1998 (pp. 56–99). New York: Guggenheim Museum.Google Scholar
  4. Cabañas, K. M. (2010). Ghostly Presence. In K. Brougher (Ed.), Yves Klein: With the void, full powers (pp. 172–189). Minneapolis-Washington, DC: Walker Art Center-The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.Google Scholar
  5. Cabañas, K. M., & Acquaviva, F. (Eds.). (2012). Espectros de Artaud: Lenguaje y arte en los años cincuenta/ Specters of Artaud: Languages and the arts in the 1950s. Madrid: Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.Google Scholar
  6. Cometti, J.-P. (1999). L’Art sans qualité. Paris: Farrago.Google Scholar
  7. Danto, A. C. (1964). The artworld. Journal of Philosophy, 61(19), 571–584.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. De Duve, T. (2009). La Nouvelle donne: remarques sur quelques qualifications du mot ‘art’. In C. Genin, C. Leroux & A. Lontrade (Eds.), Juger l’art? (pp. 166–176). Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne.Google Scholar
  9. Dickie, G. (1974). Art and the aesthetic: An institutional analysis. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Dubois, P. (1983). L’Acte photographique. Paris-Bruxelles: Nathan & Labor.Google Scholar
  11. Elkins, J. (1996). The object stares back: On the nature of seeing. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  12. Everaert-Desmedt, N. (2006). Interpréter l’art contemporain. Bruxelles: De Boeck & Larcier.Google Scholar
  13. Fimiani, F. (2009). Traces de pas. Atmosphères, affects, images. In B. Rougé (Ed.) L’Index (pp. 177–188). Pau: Presses Universitaires de Pau.Google Scholar
  14. Fimiani, F. (2011). L’espace qui nous habite, Faces. Journal d’Architecture, 69, 28–31.Google Scholar
  15. Fimiani, F. (2012a). Fantasmi dell’arte. Napoli: Liguori.Google Scholar
  16. Fimiani, F. (2012b). Pour une poïétique de l’autre. Atmosphères, Art, Croyances. In C. Doumet, B. Clément & D. Bertrand (Ed), Croyance, créance, crédit. Autour de l’œuvre de Jean-Michel Rey (pp. 73–98). Paris: Hermann.Google Scholar
  17. Fimiani, F. (2017). Azul pintado de azul. Leyendas de artistas sin obras. Boletin de Arte, 38, 35–43.Google Scholar
  18. Heinich, N., & Shapiro, R. (Eds.). (2012). De l’artification. Enquêtes sur le passage à l’art. Paris: Editions de l’EHESS.Google Scholar
  19. Klein, K. (2003). Le dépassement de la problématique de l’art et autres écrits. M. A. Sichère & D. Semin (Eds.). Paris: École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts.Google Scholar
  20. Lähnemann, I. (2011). Inside and outside the white cube. Hamburg: disserta Verlag.Google Scholar
  21. McEvilley, T. (2005). The triumph of anti-art: Conceptual and performance art in the formation of post-modernism. New York: McPherson & Company.Google Scholar
  22. Moller, D. (2014). The boring. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 72(2), 181–191.Google Scholar
  23. Musil, R. (1933). The man without qualities, two: The like of it now happens (E. Wilkins and E. Kaiser, Trans.). London: Picador.Google Scholar
  24. Naukkarinen, O. and Saitin, Y. ed. (2012). Artification, contemporary aesthetics 4. Digital edition here:
  25. O’Doherty, B. (1999). Inside the white cube: The ideology of the gallery space (expanded edition). Berkeley-Los Angeles: California University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Ran, F. (2009). A history of installation art and the development of new art forms: Technology and the hermeneutics of time and space in modern and postmodern art from cubism to installation. New York: Peter Lang.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Reiss, J. H. (1999). From margin to center: The spaces of installation art. London-Cambridge, Mass.: MIT University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Riout, D. (2004). Yves Klein: Manifester l’immatériel. Paris: Gallimard.Google Scholar
  29. Riout, D. (2009). Exaspérations 1958. In M. Copeland (Ed.), Vides. Une Rétrospective (pp. 37–46). Paris-Zurich: MNAM-JRP Ringier.Google Scholar
  30. Van Den Haag, E. (1956). Snobbery. The British Journal of Sociology, 7(3), 212–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Vischer, R. (1873). On the optical sense of form: A contribution to aesthetics. (H.F. Mallgrave and E. Ikonomou, Trans.). In H. F. Mallgrave & E. Ikonomou (Eds.) Empathy, form, and space: Problems in German aesthetics, 1873–1893 (pp. 89–123). Santa Monica: Getty Center 1994.Google Scholar
  32. Warhol, A. (1975). The philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and back again. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanich.Google Scholar
  33. Wigley, M. (1995). White walls, designer dresses: The fashioning of modern architecture. London-Cambridge, Mass.: MIT University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political and Social Sciences and CommunicationUniversity of SalernoFiscianoItaly

Personalised recommendations