The word "aestheticism" calls to mind Oscar Wilde, Walter Pater, Gabriele D'Annunzio, that is, a specific period of Europe culture comprising the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. This volume aims to show that aestheticism was not only a specific historical period, but also a way of living aesthetic experiences, of understanding art and life. The author investigates essential aspects of thought on aestheticism, dating back to before the term was coined (such as the aesthetic life of Kierkegaard), and reviews important, "typical" figures of aestheticism: the dandy, the art connoisseur, the musical virtuoso, the "art bachelors" mentioned in Proust's novel. The basic idea underlying the essay is that aestheticism has not faded away at all; indeed, it represents an up-to-date tool for understanding how people currently relate to art and aesthetic experience. With an expert blend of literature and art history, philosophy and the history of ideas, this text offers the reader an unconventional, complete history of art reception in the contemporary world.
Paolo D'Angelo teaches Aesthetics in the Third University of Rome.