Philosophy of Art

imageAuthor: Courtney Hall

Link: The Philosophy of Art – Arthur Danto talks about art in America, the rise of pluralism and how The Nation changed his life.

Arthur Danto (American art critic and philosopher) announced that the “end of art” was in 1984. By making this statement, he didn’t mean that artists were no longer making art, but that it was the end of art history. Throughout much of history, art began as Hellenistic sculptors to realist painters of nineteenth-century France, and they all sought to realistically depict the natural world. Then, realism developed into abstraction, color became expressive rather than authentic, and figures became sketchy and crude. Does this type of change in art mean that art history has come to an end? Is realism the only true type of art?

A specific feature of art that I admire is that the artist expresses his/her own intellectual world, his/her own intrinsic individuality. Is art individualistic, or can it be universal? Is art relative? Does everyone have to collectively agree upon a piece of artwork in order for it to be classified as art? Does art have to follow/fit into specific parameters?

Link: The Beauty of Ugly Painting

In this article, the author claims that what exactly is deemed ugly remains in the eye of the beholder. But, they say that what unifies ugly paintings is its defiance of the obviously attractive or lifelike. It serves as a reminder that art isn’t a branch of mortuary science, and it has the potential to be mind-altering, it exists to cause trouble and show that there are other ways to see.

I think it is important to ask these questions because, in the past few decades, art has taken new forms, whether that be abstract, conceptual, or graphic design. Museums display different types of art and the eras they were most prominent in, but is there a point in which a piece of art is “less or worse” than another piece? Does art have a determined definition, and does it have to? What do you think art is?

One thought on “Philosophy of Art

  1. Good start to the reflection.

    One important distinction to make in this discussion is the following.

    1) Over the past many years in Western culture, works of art that are considered art by the general public can be described as “realist” or “representational.” This means that objects typically deemed to be “art” look-like or resemble objects in the real world. And therefore, it is a factual claim that art for most of its past in the West has included a field of objects (e.g. paintings of persons) that visually resemble non-artistic objects (persons).

    2) However, the above factual claim is not the same claim as the following claim: The characteristic of an object which determines it its aesthetic being is the object’s representational character. Just because paintings have tended to be realist, doesn’t mean that their realism is essential to their ARTISTIC character. In other words, simply because a portrait resembles a person’s visage might not be a sufficient reason for the portrait being an art object. It is very possible, and indeed some would say phenomologically the case, that we only experience the aesthetic character of a work of art when we move beyond the mere accuracy of the resemblance of the portrait, and get at some other set of qualities which make it art. In this view, the fact that paintings have tended to be realist in “style” may be no more important to uncovering the essence of art, than the fact that paintings have tended to on rectangular canvases. Rectangularity is not essential to a painting being a work of art – even if it is predominant across paintings made in the last thousand years.

    3) With this distinction in mind, perhaps some of what abstract art, formalism, impressionism bring to the fore is something essential to aesthetic experience that was part of the aesthetic experience all through history, even if it was never the style in which something was presented.

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