Phenomenology and the Imagination of Modernism

Jennifer Gosetti-Ferencei

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Modernist isual art and literature are charged with reflection on the processes of perception highly relevant to the project of phenomenology. In this essay I will demonstrate how phenomenology as developed by Merleau-Ponty can contribute to a novel understanding of imagination as reflectively manifest in modernist art. Merleau-Ponty’s involvement with modernism includes Cézanne and other painters who afford phenomenological examination of the relations between perception and expression. An analysis of these relations demonstrate Merleau-Ponty’s radical, if often implicit, revision of traditional conceptions of imagination, both borrowing and diverging from his phenomenological predecessor Husserl, and offering a striking alternative to Sartre’s account. Offered here is a reconception of imagination in light of Merleau-Ponty’s account of embodied and expressive perception. To what extent Merleau-Ponty’s modernist imagination can relate forms of abstraction that predominate in the wake of Cézanne will be addressed in conclusion.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnderstanding Merleau-Ponty, Understanding Modernism
EditorsAriane Mildenberg
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
ISBN (Electronic)9781501302725
ISBN (Print)9781501302718
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2018

Publication series

NameUnderstanding Philosophy, Understanding Modernism


  • Merleau-Ponty
  • Modernism
  • modernism
  • Imagination
  • imagination
  • phenomenology
  • Phenomenology
  • Cézanne
  • Cezanne
  • Husserl
  • visual art
  • literature
  • painting
  • Literature


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