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Luxury, voluptuousity, Levinas: on Jan Steen and Giovanni Segantini

Luxury, voluptuousity, Levinas: on Jan Steen and Giovanni Segantini
Luxury, voluptuousity, Levinas: on Jan Steen and Giovanni Segantini
This article deals with the concepts of luxury and voluptuousity, the abundant and the sensual, and their position in the history of art, for luxury and voluptuosity are rarely mentioned in single works of art by name. The article is an encounter with the history of art, particularly as it is manifested in two paintings that do at least reference luxury, the Golden Age Dutch artist Jan Steen’s Beware of Luxury (1633), and the Symbolist stateless artist Giovanni Segantini’s The Punishment of Luxury (1891). To understand Steen’s and Segantini’s conceptions of luxury and voluptuosity, and thus to build a foundation for an interpretation of their most important ideas regarding profligate and often exaggerated subjects and objects, it is argued that researchers can usefully explore Steen’s and Segantini’s engagement with luxury and voluptuousity from the perspective of French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas’ phenomenological explanations of art, knowledge, and ontology where these two concepts are appreciated not as aesthetic categories but as aspects of desire and happiness, need, the untouchable in human contact, and as the future in the present. Deliberating the wider philosophical implications of why luxury and voluptuosity are not continually invoked by artists and writers on art history, the article emphasizes their significance for contemporary American artists such as Jeff Koons and for contemporary art history whilst concluding that, whereas Levinas’ theorizations and interpretations of the relationship between luxury and voluptuousity are intellectually stimulating, they are also problematic because, it is suggested, luxury and voluptuousity are a continuum.
Luxury, Voluptuosity, Emmanuel Levinas, Jan Steen, Giovanni Segantini
1-21
Armitage, John
19639b0b-0399-4dc6-9369-4d8c1ed77480
Armitage, John
19639b0b-0399-4dc6-9369-4d8c1ed77480

Armitage, John (2022) Luxury, voluptuousity, Levinas: on Jan Steen and Giovanni Segantini. Luxury: History, Culture, Consumption, 9 (1), 1-21. (doi:10.1080/20511817.2022.2117665).

Record type: Article

Abstract

This article deals with the concepts of luxury and voluptuousity, the abundant and the sensual, and their position in the history of art, for luxury and voluptuosity are rarely mentioned in single works of art by name. The article is an encounter with the history of art, particularly as it is manifested in two paintings that do at least reference luxury, the Golden Age Dutch artist Jan Steen’s Beware of Luxury (1633), and the Symbolist stateless artist Giovanni Segantini’s The Punishment of Luxury (1891). To understand Steen’s and Segantini’s conceptions of luxury and voluptuosity, and thus to build a foundation for an interpretation of their most important ideas regarding profligate and often exaggerated subjects and objects, it is argued that researchers can usefully explore Steen’s and Segantini’s engagement with luxury and voluptuousity from the perspective of French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas’ phenomenological explanations of art, knowledge, and ontology where these two concepts are appreciated not as aesthetic categories but as aspects of desire and happiness, need, the untouchable in human contact, and as the future in the present. Deliberating the wider philosophical implications of why luxury and voluptuosity are not continually invoked by artists and writers on art history, the article emphasizes their significance for contemporary American artists such as Jeff Koons and for contemporary art history whilst concluding that, whereas Levinas’ theorizations and interpretations of the relationship between luxury and voluptuousity are intellectually stimulating, they are also problematic because, it is suggested, luxury and voluptuousity are a continuum.

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Accepted/In Press date: 24 August 2022
e-pub ahead of print date: 20 September 2022
Published date: 20 September 2022
Additional Information: John Armitage is Visiting Professor of Media Arts at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton, UK. He is the co-editor, with Joanne Roberts, of The Third Realm of Luxury: Connecting Real Places and Imaginary Spaces (2020) and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Visual Culture. j.armitage@soton.ac.uk
Keywords: Luxury, Voluptuosity, Emmanuel Levinas, Jan Steen, Giovanni Segantini

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 469714
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/469714
PURE UUID: 394c7fd6-868c-4f3a-bf3f-89844782b905
ORCID for John Armitage: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-5533-197X

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Date deposited: 22 Sep 2022 16:49
Last modified: 02 Nov 2022 02:44

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