This article explores an often overlooked, broadly realist aspect of Weiss’s engagement with visual art in The Aesthetics of Resistance. Analysis of the role played in the novel by painted depiction usually focuses on dramatic stagings of figures engaged in violent struggle. The focus here is on a different kind of art depicting generic situations rather than singular events, one that closely echoes aesthetic and ideological priorities evident in the conception of Weiss’s novel. The pictorial realism that particularly drew his attention consisted both of modern social realism, where a politics of class resonated with his powerfully committed and richly articulated Marxism, and the “epic” realism of the early modern artist Pieter Brueghel the Elder. The way in which in the latter, concrete, rationally graspable realities would merge into phantasmagoria and monstrous deformations spoke perhaps more forcefully to his politically activist aesthetics of resistance.

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