4. On the Powers of the False

Foucault's Engagements with the Arts

  1. Christopher Falzon2,
  2. Timothy O'Leary3 and
  3. Jana Sawicki4
  1. Joseph J. Tanke

Published Online: 5 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118324905.ch4

A Companion to Foucault

A Companion to Foucault

How to Cite

Tanke, J. J. (2013) On the Powers of the False, in A Companion to Foucault (eds C. Falzon, T. O'Leary and J. Sawicki), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118324905.ch4

Editor Information

  1. 2

    University of Newcastle, Australia

  2. 3

    University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

  3. 4

    Williams College, USA

Author Information

  1. University of Hawaii, Mānoa, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 5 FEB 2013
  2. Published Print: 12 MAR 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444334067

Online ISBN: 9781118324905



  • archaeology;
  • art;
  • falsity;
  • Foucault;
  • mimesis;
  • philosophy;
  • truth


This essay is concerned with some of Michel Foucault's writings on art. The author talks about the analyses of painting Foucault conducted during the period in which Foucault was developing the philosophical methodology known as archaeology. Despite archaeology's strong epistemological orientation, that methodology gives rise to a form of seeing that suspends the imperatives for the production of meaning that accrue around works of art. Some of the consequences of this suspension are explored in the final section of this essay where the author describes archaeology as giving rise to an artistic-philosophical thought that operates outside of the bounds of truth and falsity. The author contends that it is particularly well suited for approaching the artistic products created during and after the breakup of mimesis, the European cultural paradigm that articulated strong connections between art – considered as representation – and reality.