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Artists and authorship: the case of Raphael
Artists and authorship: the case of Raphael

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1.1.2 From subject to subjectivity

Expanding on these thoughts it can be said that two central problems plagued the new art history as it developed during the 1970s and 1980s:

  • Structuralism is notoriously unable to account for change – focusing on synchronic systems (structure), rather than the diachronic dimension (historical development). Change in ‘style’ and even the definition of ‘art’ is central to art history, so the static structuralist approach brings with it considerable problems.
  • It introduced an aporia (unsolvable riddle) into conceptualisations of the artist-subject.

It is this second point that we are going to focus on, and it has two dimensions:

  • How can subjects act critically or independently?
  • How can the ideology of the subject be challenged?