The city as experience and inspiration. Critical reflections on urbanity in contemporary art


  • Zoltán Somhegyi



art and the city, aesthetics of urban experience, inspiration from the city(life), critiques of urban transformation, city and place


In this paper I am proposing to investigate some possible connecting points between art, aesthetics and the urban experience, more precisely how the perception and experience of the city as well as the features of urban life can inspire artists. At the same time, I am also curious how artworks can be used to understand this urban experience, as well as how they can be interpreted as not only simple descriptions and depictions, but also as active contributions and modes of suggesting solutions to the most pressing issues of contemporary cities and of city life. Hence my primary aim is discussing some approaches towards the aesthetic analyses of urbanity through modern and contemporary examples. In this way I am focusing less on how the city appears as a mere motive in artworks, or how it is used as main object or background element indicating the context in representations; and I am also not aiming to provide a survey analyses of the numerous ideas of the aesthetics of urbanity. Instead of these, here I am concentrating on how urbanity and the experiencing of the city(life) in itself as well as its multifaceted aspects can become a source of inspiration and at the same time a critically analysed subject, i.e. a concept that is examined through the work itself.