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Art and Autonomy

'Art and Autonomy: Past, Present, Future' (2018) is a book that asks what artistic autonomy might mean at a time when art is fully commercialized and aesthetics has become the guiding principle of economic production and policymaking.

What does it mean to speak of artistic autonomy at a time when art is fully commercialized and aesthetics has become the guiding principle of economic production and policymaking? This book takes a fresh look at this question by summoning three heroes of the aesthetic revolution to confront the challenges artistic practice faces today. Turning Kant into a campaigner for the Anthropocene, Schiller into a creative entrepreneur and Schelling into a political activist, it lays the groundwork for a critique that identifies the contemporary itself as contemporary art’s greatest challenge. Only by taking up a struggle against the contemporary, it argues, can art reinvent its autonomy and regain its relevance to society.

Sebastian Olma is a professor of autonomy in art, design and technology at Avans University of Applied Sciences in Breda and Den Bosch, the Netherlands. Alongside his academic work, he has advised policymakers throughout Europe on the facts and fictions of the creative economy. He lives in Amsterdam, where he edits the subcultural magazine Amsterdam Alternative and tries to help keep the spirit of cultural activism alive. His book In Defence of Serendipity: For a Radical Politics of Innovation was published in 2016.

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