Free
Description: What Art Is
Table of Contents
Free
Description: What Art Is
It is widely accepted that Plato defined art as imitation, though whether this was a theory or merely an observation is difficult to say, since there was nothing else by way of art in Athens in his time. All that seems clear is that imitation in Plato meant pretty much what it means in English: looks like the real thing but isn’t the real thing. But Plato was mainly negatively interested in art, since he was attempting to design an ideal society—a Republic!—and was eager to get rid of the …
Description: What Art Is
Early in the twentieth century, beginning in France, the visual arts were revolutionized. Up until that point, they—which, unless otherwise indicated, I shall simply designate art—had been dedicated to copying visual appearances in various media. As it turned out, that project had a progressive history, which began in Italy, in the time of Giotto and Cimabue, and culminated in the Victorian era, when visual artists were able to achieve an ideal mode of representation, which the …

To access and start reading this content, sign in to your institutional VPN. Please note that the A&AePortal is currently only open to Institutional Subscribers. For questions or to learn more about the A&AePortal contact us

Description: What Art Is
These judgments—that the Sistine ceiling was basically a drawing and that it was essentially monochrome, like the sepia panels painted by Daumier—are reports from the past that tell us how the ceiling looked in the 1930s, when the two men spent time in Rome with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. They tell us what the ceiling looked like before the most recent cleaning, which was approved in 1994. I visited Rome in 1996 as a guest of the American master Cy Twombly, who was enthusiastic about the …

To access and start reading this content, sign in to your institutional VPN. Please note that the A&AePortal is currently only open to Institutional Subscribers. For questions or to learn more about the A&AePortal contact us

Description: What Art Is
It has twice happened to me that a piece of philosophy which I was developing about the body seemed to have a significance very different from that which had engaged my interest in the first place. The result in both instances was somewhat comical. In the 1960s, for example, I got involved with the philosophy of action. I was interested in working out the differences between two kinds of action—actions we perform by doing something else, which causes the first action to happen, and actions we …

To access and start reading this content, sign in to your institutional VPN. Please note that the A&AePortal is currently only open to Institutional Subscribers. For questions or to learn more about the A&AePortal contact us

Description: What Art Is
The paragone—Italian for “comparison”—was used in the Renaissance to claim the superiority of one of the arts over the others. Leonardo, for example, drew up a paragone between painting and the other arts, like poetry, music, sculpture, and architecture. The upshot was that painting emerges as superior to all the rest. The whole point of the exercise was to enhance the circumstances, social and material, of actual painters like Leonardo himself. In a way, painting was in fact the dominant art …

To access and start reading this content, sign in to your institutional VPN. Please note that the A&AePortal is currently only open to Institutional Subscribers. For questions or to learn more about the A&AePortal contact us

Description: What Art Is
Although Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Judgment is incontestably the great Enlightenment text on the aesthetic values of that era, dealing as it does with taste and the judgment of beauty, it must for that reason seem to have little to say about art today, where good taste is optional, bad taste is artistically acceptable, and “kalliphobia”—an aversion to if not a loathing for beauty—is at least respected. Clement Greenberg claimed that Kant’s book is “the most satisfactory basis for aesthetics …

To access and start reading this content, sign in to your institutional VPN. Please note that the A&AePortal is currently only open to Institutional Subscribers. For questions or to learn more about the A&AePortal contact us

Description: What Art Is
A few years ago, the American Society for Aesthetics published two “call for papers” announcements on its web page, each for a conference on aesthetics as a neglected topic in the treatment of art. They were issued by two disciplines that do not ordinarily share a perspective—art history and philosophy. The organizers of each of the conferences appeared to agree that aesthetics is more central to art than either discipline had recently recognized. Art historians, according to the first call, …

To access and start reading this content, sign in to your institutional VPN. Please note that the A&AePortal is currently only open to Institutional Subscribers. For questions or to learn more about the A&AePortal contact us

Description: What Art Is
Bibliography

To access and start reading this content, sign in to your institutional VPN. Please note that the A&AePortal is currently only open to Institutional Subscribers. For questions or to learn more about the A&AePortal contact us

Free
Description: What Art Is
Acknowledgments
Free
Description: What Art Is
Index
What Art Is
Next chapter