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View of “Joachim Bandau,” 2016. Photo: Conradin Frei.

Joachim Bandau

Galerie Mark Müller

View of “Joachim Bandau,” 2016. Photo: Conradin Frei.

Theodor Adorno, your illustrator is here.

Walking into this recent show of Joachim Bandau’s work, one could not help but recall how Adorno’s thinking, and that of some of his Frankfurt School colleagues, was characterized by axioms of exuberant pessimism: Humanity is deformed by a military-industrial cage; sexuality has been harnessed by the culture industries; our senses have been dulled by the media machine; our consumer society is nothing other than a cultural mausoleum, richly decked out with grave goods. Adorno dispensed his inexhaustible despair in aphorisms; he defined modern music—one of the few arts he loved—as “the surviving message of despair from the shipwrecked.”

If the philosophical weight and media savvy of the Frankfurt School have a counterpart in the arts, they might be found in the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf of the 1960s, a school that produced not only

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