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Arthur C. Danto

Related: art criticism - American academia


Arthur Coleman Danto (b. 1924) is an American art critic, professor and philosopher. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Danto [Jun 2005]


Born: 1/01/24
Birthplace: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Philosophy professor at Columbia University (196687) whose major works include Nietzsche as Philosopher (1965) and Connection to the World: The Basic Concept of Philosophy. A painter before he was a philosopher, Danto is also known for his philosophical consideration of modern art. His contributions to art criticism include numerous reviews and books, namely The State of the Art (1987) and Robert Mapplethorpe (1992).

"Making Choices" : the beginnings of modern art

Beneath the dazzle of individual exhibitions with which it is celebrating the year 2000, the Museum of Modern Art is setting in place a philosophy of Modernism that will define its agenda for the century just begun. MoMA has divided the history of modern art into three forty-year segments, to each of which it is dedicating a cycle of exhibitions. Just now, an amazing array of twenty-five exhibitions opens equally as many perspectives on the choices made by artists in the period 1920-60. MoMA has, indeed, given the name "Making Choices" to this phase of its extraordinarily ambitious year-and-a-half-long program. It was preceded by "Modern Starts," which drew on work done roughly between 1880 and 1920, and is to be followed, from September through early next year, by "Open Ends," which will take modern art from 1960 to the present moment. It is extremely important to the philosophy of art history that MoMA is eager to defend that these are merely stretches of time rather than distinctive historical periods; and that the divisions are therefore entirely arbitrary.

The date 1880 cannot be defended as the beginning of modern art, nor is there any consensus as to when modern art began. Nor can that question be separated from the deeper question of how Modernism is to be defined. The art historian T.J. Clark recently proposed that modern art began with The Death of Marat, completed by Jacques-Louis David in October 1793--but that is because he construes Modernism politically, as art "no longer reserved for a privileged minority." Clement Greenberg thought it began with Manet, whose flat, thinly shadowed forms were derived from photographs--a modern technology of representation. MoMA, for its own reasons, is talking not about Modernism as such at all but about modern art, toward whose history it is taking an exceedingly nominalist stance. Modern art is simply the art made in the years 1880 to the present, whether it was in any further sense Modernist, and whether there was modern art before that or not. Indeed, it is the thesis of perhaps the most important component exhibition in "Making Choices" that art can be modern despite not being Modernist. This effort to bracket Modernism as a movement or style is connected with a metaphysical thesis toward history itself: that history is entirely plastic, in the sense that it can be given any shape whatever. Thus the twenty-five separate exhibitions in "Making Choices" merely exemplify different ways in which works from 1920 to 1960 can be grouped. MoMA means in particular to imply that there is no grand narrative of modern art. The substance of art history is simply that of individual artists making individual choices.[...] --http://www.thenation.com/docprint.mhtml?i=20000717&s=danto

After the End of Art (1998) - Arthur C. Danto

After the End of Art (1998) - Arthur C. Danto [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Art is still dead, according to Arthur Danto, professor at Columbia University and art critic for The Nation. After the End of Art: Contemporary Art and the Pale of History is a collection of Danto's 1995 Mellon Lectures on the Fine Arts. Famous for his radical critiques of the nature of art--he dates the death of art to around 1964 and declares the art museum has replaced the church for the masses--Danto continues to question traditional notions of aesthetics and philosophy in regard to contemporary art. While touching on a variety of art-related topics, the focus of tehse lectures remains the deviation of contemporary art from the great narrative that has defined art throughout history. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly
Columbia philosophy professor and Nation art critic Danto has always claimed that there have been three great events in the history of art. First, in the 15th century, art was born when Vasari redescribed what had been the craft of relic- and icon-making as a quest for more and more perfect representations of beauty. Then, in the 1880s, art was reborn: purity, "truth to materials," replaced illusionistic beauty as the progressive artist's Holy Grail. Finally, in 1964, the quest ended with... read more --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description
Over a decade ago, Arthur Danto announced that art ended in the sixties. Ever since this declaration, he has been at the forefront of a radical critique of the nature of art in our time. After the End of Art presents Danto's first full-scale reformulation of his original insight, showing how, with the eclipse of abstract expressionism, art has deviated irrevocably from the narrative course that Vasari helped define for it in the Renaissance. Moreover, he leads the way to a new type of criticism that can help us understand art in a posthistorical age where, for example, an artist can produce a work in the style of Rembrandt to create a visual pun, and where traditional theories cannot explain the difference between Andy Warhol's Brillo Box and the product found in the grocery store. Here we are engaged in a series of insightful and entertaining conversations on the most relevant aesthetic and philosophical issues of art, conducted by an especially acute observer of the art scene today.

Originally delivered as the prestigious Mellon Lectures on the Fine Arts, these writings cover art history, pop art, "people's art," the future role of museums, and the critical contributions of Clement Greenberg--who helped make sense of modernism for viewers over two generations ago through an aesthetics-based criticism. Tracing art history from a mimetic tradition (the idea that art was a progressively more adequate representation of reality) through the modern era of manifestos (when art was defined by the artist's philosophy), Danto shows that it wasn't until the invention of Pop art that the historical understanding of the means and ends of art was nullified. Even modernist art, which tried to break with the past by questioning the ways of producing art, hinged on a narrative.

Traditional notions of aesthetics can no longer apply to contemporary art, argues Danto. Instead he focuses on a philosophy of art criticism that can deal with perhaps the most perplexing feature of contemporary art: that everything is possible. --via Amazon.com

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