David Quigley

 “K geht über K hinaus. L’art comme partie et fonction du réel”

Carl Einstein and the Experimental Humanities

Throughout most of his career, Carl Einstein published work in and edited journals that were central to the development of experimental art and literature. This study looks at Die Aktion, Der blutige Ernst, Die Pleite and Documents as examples of transdisciplinary collective practice. As media of communication and as institutions but also as works in their own right, these magazines became a space where communities of practice met to develop a common ground for literature, the visual arts, humanities research and political activism. Building upon and expanding Rosalind Krauss’s claim that the surrealist magazines “more than anything else are the true objects produced by surrealism,” this study reexamines the significance of artists’ magazines (both surrealist and other), focusing on important figures directly involved with their production, while at the same time attempting to draw parallels to contemporary theory, addressing especially the relationship between art and what I would like to call the “experimental humanities.”

Art and the experimental humanities

Variations of what Paul Ricoeur called the “hermeneutics of suspicion” played a constitutive role in artistic practice throughout the 20th century. As Michel Foucault stated in a discussion in 1964, “Marx, Nietzsche and Freud have confronted us with a new possibility of interpretation, they have founded a new possibility for hermeneutics.” This “new possibility” of interpretation represents a new approach to knowledge exploring “techniques of interpretation that concerned ourselves” that, as I argue, stand at the beginning of a new appreciation of artists’ relationship to representation—with “representation” here understood as the difficult to delineate common ground of art, consciousness, identity and representative political order. This study follows how the “experimental humanities” developed along with the visual arts, where hermeneutic techniques were formulated as a CRITIQUE of and subsequent INTERVENTION in given symbolic orders with the explicit goal of actively TRANSFORMING the mediated world of signs, symbols and texts constituting the individual and social cosmos.


David Quigley hat an der Akademie der bildenden Künste und an der Universität Wien studiert. Er ist Professor für Kulturtheorie an der Merz Akademie, Stuttgart. Er hält regelmäßig Vorträge, die vorher auf Schallplatten aufgezeichnet sind, zuletzt The History of Art on Record #1 in der Galerie 5020, Salzburg, The History of Art on Record #3 im Rahmen der Sommerakademie Salzburg, und Werner Würtinger: 7 Scenes, ein Projekt des “Skulpturinstituts” der Universität für angewandte Kunst Wien, sowie diverse Vorträge und „expanded lectures“ im Museo Nacional de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; an der University of London; im Kunstverein Hamburg; Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart; und im Künstlerhaus Salzburg. Er publizierte eine Monografie über Carl Einstein (Carl Einstein: A Defense of the Real (2007)), sowie Zeitschriftenbeiträge für Afterall, Spike Art Quarterly, Multitudes und diverse Katalog- und Buchbeiträge. David Quigley lebt in Wien.