Skip to main content
Beyond the Sovereign Self: Aesthetic Autonomy from the Avant-Garde to Socially Engaged Art

Beyond the Sovereign Self: Aesthetic Autonomy from the Avant-Garde to Socially Engaged Art

Current price: $27.95
Publication Date: December 12th, 2023
Duke University Press
The MIT Press Bookstore
1 on hand, as of Apr 16 5:20pm
On Our Shelves Now


In Beyond the Sovereign Self Grant H. Kester continues the critique of aesthetic autonomy begun in The Sovereign Self, showing how socially engaged art provides an alternative aesthetic with greater possibilities for critical practice. Instead of grounding art in its distance from the social, Kester shows how socially engaged art, developed in conjunction with forms of social or political resistance, encourages the creative capacity required for collective political transformation. Among others, Kester analyzes the work of conceptual artist Adrian Piper, experimental practices associated with the escrache tradition in Argentina, and indigenous Canadian artists such as Nadia Myre and Mich le Ta na Audette, showing how socially engaged art catalyzes forms of resistance that operate beyond the institutional art world. From the Americas and Europe to Iran and South Africa, Kester presents a historical genealogy of recent engaged art practices rooted in a deep history of cultural production, beginning with nineteenth-century political struggles and continuing into contemporary anticolonial resistance and other social movements.

About the Author

Grant H. Kester is Professor of Art History at the University of California, San Diego, author of The Sovereign Self: Aesthetic Autonomy from the Enlightenment to the Avant-Garde and The One and the Many: Contemporary Collaborative Art in a Global Context, and coeditor of Collective Situations: Readings in Contemporary Latin American Art, 1995-2010, all also published by Duke University Press.