They have much to tell one another about the arts since the advent of modernism soon after 1900—the nontonal music, for example, of the Second Vienna School, the chance-directed music and dance of John Cage and Merce Cunningham, the in-your-faceness of such diverse visual artists as Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso, Willem de Kooning, Egon Schiele, Otto Dix, and Damien Hirst.
They demonstrate as well a long tradition of discomforting art stretching back many centuries, for example, in the Last Judgments of innumerable Renaissance painters, in Goya’s so-called “black” paintings, in Wagner’s Tristan chord, and in the subtexts of Shakespearean works such as King Lear and Othello.
Aesthetics of Discomfort provides original insights both into particular art forms and into individual works within these forms. Among other matters, it demonstrates how recent work in neuroscience may provide insights in the ways that consumers process difficult and discomforting works of art.
Aesthetics of Discomfort contributes to current aesthetic theory by charting the dialogue that goes on—especially in aesthetically challenging works—between creator, artifact, and consumer.