What Art Is

What Art Is

Arthur C. Danto

Language: English

Pages: 192

ISBN: 0300205716

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

What is it to be a work of art? Renowned author and critic Arthur C. Danto addresses this fundamental, complex question. Part philosophical monograph and part memoiristic meditation, this book challenges the popular interpretation that art is an indefinable concept, instead bringing to light the properties that constitute universal meaning.















that of which Adam and Eve were ashamed. Frederick Hart, an art historian, writes of the “total and explicit male and female nudity” in Michelangelo’s ceiling, “unprecedented and un-followed in Christian visual narrative, thus declaring the essential purpose of the instruments of generation through which the will of the Creator is fulfilled.” I don’t see that, especially, once again, because of the significance of Noah’s genital nakedness and its consequences for history. I cannot see it as

not have been art in the age of the Rococo. Someone could have painted them, of course. But what he or she would have painted could not have been paintings of commonplace objects—packages that everyone in Königsberg would be familiar with, as everyone in America was familiar with the soup cans in 1961. They would not have been Pop art in 1761. They could not, in 1761, have the meaning they were to have in 1961. Art is essentially art historical. It was destined to be preserved in art museums. It

Saul agreed to take the task on as long as he did not have to work too hard. He was not entirely certain what aesthetics was, but rather than attempting to explain its meaning, I had the staff at the Journal of Æsthetics and Art Criticism mail him a few issues so he could get a sense of what aestheticians think about. That was a lot to ask of someone who did not want to work very hard, but in the end, true to his character, Saul was much more fascinated by the diphthong Æ on the cover of the

of art, what is the point of aesthetics? This is too swift. I don’t want to deny that there may be art, the point of which is aesthetic. I’m not sure that I want to furnish examples of this yet, but I can say that most of the art being made today does not have the provision of aesthetic experience as its main goal. And I don’t think that was the main goal of most of the art made in the course of art history. On the other hand, there is unmistakably an aesthetic component in much traditional and

know. That is, they tell them what they are to believe as true. Beauty has nothing to do with it, though the capable carver presents the Queen of Sheba as the great beauty she was. It is possible that she looked that way. But it can be art without being beautiful at all. Beauty was an eighteenth century value. “By defining Abstract Expressionist painting as a psychological event, it denied the aesthetic efficacy of painting itself and attempted to remove art from the only sphere in which it can

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