Anteaesthetics: Black Aesthesis and the Critique of Form begins from the proposition that blackness cannot be represented in modernity’s aesthetic regime, but is nevertheless foundational to every representation. The book problematizes the phenomenological and ontological conceits that underwrite the visual, sensual, and abstract logics of modernity. Moving across multiple histories and geographies, artistic mediums and forms, from nineteenth-century painting and early cinema, to the contemporary text-based works, video installations, and digital art of Glenn Ligon, Mickalene Thomas, and Sondra Perry, Anteaesthetics inaugurates a new method for interpretation—an ante-formalism which demonstrates how black art engages in the recursive deconstruction of the aesthetic forms that remain foundational to modernity. Each of these artists foreground the negativity of black art, and disclose the racialized contours of the body, form, and medium, Drawing from black critical theory, Continental philosophy, film and media studies, art history, and black feminist thought, Anteaesthetics asks us to think philosophically with black art, and with the philosophical invention black art necessarily undertakes.

Rizvana Bradley is Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies and Affiliated Faculty in the History of Art at the University of California, Berkeley. She holds a BA from Williams College and a PhD from Duke University. Bradley’s monograph, Anteaesthetics, will be published this year, in 2023, by Stanford University Press. Bradley has published articles in Diacritics: A Review of Contemporary Criticism, Film Quarterly, Black Camera: An International Film Journal, Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture, TDR: The Drama Review, Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge, and Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory.