St paul's conversion: The aesthetic organization of labour

  • Sørensen B
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Abstract

This paper compares the Italian Renaissance painter Caravaggio's two versions of the Conversion of Saint Paul (1600/1601) with two modern models of organization. These comparisons show how organization is produced in art through 'aesthetic landscaping' (Gagliardi 2006), and in particular how these artistic reproductions convey certain images of the appropriate modern, entrepreneurial self and regimes of organization. The painting was originally commissioned by the Catholic Church, but it rejected the first and accepted the second version. The paper claims that this strategy strengthens the given organization of the Church and the Church's strategic influence on the believers that adore the painting. But this all comes with a price, namely, the production of a number of strict divisions: in the accepted version, Paul becomes a pure transcendent spirit. Isolated from his surroundings, his servant and his horse, he is cut off from the very event of conversion. The rejected version harbours radically different, transgressive images of subjectivity, collectivity and entrepreneurship. By identifying these images, the paper contributes to the development of a critical approach to organizational aesthetics. © The Author(s), 2010.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Organizational aesthetics
  • Renaissance art
  • St Paul
  • Theology
  • Worker subjectivity

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