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Kandinsky and the Meaning of the Work of Art by Michel Henry

October 24, 2008
Composition V, 1911 by Wassily Kandinsky

Composition V, 1911 by Wassily Kandinsky

I’ve been reading a lot of work by the French phenomenologist Michel Henry these past few weeks, and have tried tackling the linguistic contortions so as to make a readable translation or two. Here i am posting the translation of a talk he gave at Oxford in 1986 entitled Kandinsky et la signification de l’œuvre d’art. I used the revised version found in volume III of Phénoménologie de la vie. A slightly different version of the original French text can be found online here.

Download PDF (60kb). Comments and suggestions are welcome, please let me know if you find any typos or other mistakes.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 25, 2008 2:42 am

    Great work, Michael. It’s very readable. Webber has made a case for using “irreality” in his translation of Sartre. What do you think of that?

  2. October 25, 2008 10:18 am

    Thanks Fido! Glad it passes muster. Thanks too, for suggesting Webber’s “irreality,” i found his Notes on Translation in Sartre’s The Imaginary a very worthwhile and informative read. Consequently i have made one change in my translation and replaced the PDF with this revised version. Specifically, in the first paragraph of page 2 i have replaced “unreality” with “irreality” in the phrase “this principal dimension of irreality” for “cette dimension d’irréalité principielle.” Note however that two paragraphs later in the last line i have retained “the true status of a work of art as unreal” which i feel more accurately reflects Henry’s original ” le statut véritable de l’œuvre d’art en tant que non-réelle.”
    In the next few days i should be able to post another talk Henry gave entitled The Living Body.

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