So I just finished reading this book by Arthur C. Danto.
The painter Paul DeLaroche decreed that “Painting is dead!” And it well should be in the advent of photography. Since art, as Plato and Aristotle determined, was only meant to mimic nature nothing comes closer to depicting visual reality as photography.
Since art only mimics nature it is never truly as powerful as the reality itself. But that is good. Art helps us to make a distinction. Art definitely should not be reality right? Because once art becomes reality it no longer becomes art and we thereby no longer are able to distinguish the two, thus it loses itself in its redundancy. Now you are probably going to refer to Andy Warhols Brillo boxes. Andy’s Brillo boxes are pretty much identical to any Brillo boxes you find in a department store. So what makes Andy’s Brillo boxes art? Instead of answering this question with epistemology we would have to ask ontological questions. What is the meaning of Andy’s boxes? So now that we deal into the realm of conceptual art has art all but lost its dance with the aesthetics? As Danto Says, The point of the work is to subtract the perceptual differences between art and reality. The only things which conceptually change then are not the visible similarities but the invisible differences. We infer meaning, or grasp meaning but meaning is not at all material.
I’m afraid so and so does Arthur C. Danto. Art is this sort of open concept it is subject to so many forces like:
Market: Capitalist economy plays a role in what art becomes popular.
Museum/Academic: An ouvre meets a certain set of standards therefore it can be considered art.
This is known as Institutional art theory. Something becomes are simply because we say it is art.
In this book Danto questions the aesthetics which, for so long, hounded the arts. Aesthetics was a direct outgrowth of ethics which was an outgrowth of logic. However in the early 20th century art began to separate from aesthetics with Duchamps Urinal. Duchamp showed us that something can be art and not beautiful.
It’s a good read for anyone interested in conceptual art and the futile attempts to discovery what makes art “art.”
My notes on this book: