Long, Christopher P. “Art’s Fateful Hour: Benjamin, Heidegger, Art and Politics,” New German Critique 83 (2001): 89-115.
In 1935 Walter Benjamin wrote that “art’s fateful hour has struck” and that he had “captured its signature” in his essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Technical Reproduction.” Less than a month after these words were written, Martin Heidegger gave a lecture entitled “The Origin of the Work of Art” in Freiburg. These two philosophical reflections on the nature of art, written in the lengthening shadow of European fascism, are brought into relation with one another in this essay in order to draw out the relationship between art and politics in the thinking of Benjamin and Heidegger.
By focusing on Benjamin’s conception of the “aura” of the work of art, the article juxtaposes Benjamin’s attempt to locate the critical and emancipatory dimensions of art with Heidegger’s attempt to reinvigorate the aura in order to establish an authentic relation to the origin that might serve as fertile ground for a new vision of politics.
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Art’s Fateful Hour: Benjamin, Heidegger, Art and Politics by Christopher Long