Arthur C. Danto, “Farewell to Lao-Tzu,” 1963. Woodcut
Nietzsche as Philosopher (1965)
What Philosophy Is (1968)
Analytical Philosophy of Action (1973)
Analytical Philosophy of Knowledge
The Transfiguration of the Commonplace (1981)
Narration and Knowledge (1985) - Including earlier book Analytical Philosophy of History (1965)
The Philosophical Disenfranchisement of Art (1986)
Mysticism and Morality: Oriental Thought and Moral Philosophy (1987)
Beyond the Brillo Box: The Visual Arts in Post-Historical Perspective (1992)
Connections to the World: The Basic Concepts of Philosophy (1997)
After the End of Art (1997)
The Abuse of Beauty (2003)
Red Grooms (2004)
Andy Warhol (2009)
What Art Is (2013)
The Artworld 1964
Socrates and Shakespeare
Hamlet and Socrates both spoke of art as a mirror held to nature.
Socrates: art yields idle accurate duplications: no cognitive benefit
Hamlet: mirrors reveal us to ourselves, and are of some cognitive utility.
Danto Vs. Socrates: if a mirror image is an imitation and art is imitation then mirror images are art, and they are not.
“is an imitation” is not a sufficient condition for “art”
Photography shows this. [It is not sufficient for something to be a realistic photograph to be a work of art.]
Imitation was then discarded as a necessary condition for art, i.e. with Kandinsky. Next. Kandinsky “On White II” 1923
“mimetic features” then go to the periphery of art, and some [realistic art] narrowly escapes demotion to illustration. [as in Bell’s theory.]
In socratic discussion all participants must already master the concept up for analysis. [It is hard to know why Danto believed this since it was clearly wrong about Socrates…I think Danto is talking about a Wittgenstein-influenced way of understanding socratic discussion popular in the 1960s called Ordinary Language Philosophy.]
The people listening to Socrates presumably knew what art was.
A theory of art then (a real definition of “Art”) would not be able to help us recognize instances of art.
The idea is just to make explicit what they already know, “our use of the term”
Danto here quotes from William Kennick “to separate those objects which are works of art from those which are not…” from his essay “Does Traditional Aesthetics Rest on a Mistake” 1958. Danto is basically saying that Kennick is wrong in his interpretation of what art theories are supposed to do.]
Theories on this view are wordy reflections of factual linguistic practice.
But telling artworks from other things is not so simple.
Artistic theory theory tells us…
The terrain is constituted in virtue of artistic theories.
One use of theory is to make art possible.
Think of a discovery of a whole new class of artworks as like discovery of a new class of facts for the theoretician to explain.
In science we often use auxiliary hypotheses to explain such new facts.
And auxiliary hypotheses can shore it up against purported counterinstances.
But what if the hypotheses fail and a new theory is needed, one that captures what it can of the old theory and the new facts?
Postimpressionist art: could not be accepted as art under IT
So a theoretical revision of considerable proportions is needed.
Postimpressionist: Paul Gauguin The Siesta 1892
CEZANNE Paul, Apples & Oranges, c. 1899
Cezanne “Grandes Bagnieuses” 1905
Van Gogh Potato Eaters
Raphael Transfiguration 1518-1520
Fang mask used for the ngil ceremony. Wood, Gabon, 19th century.
The new theory allowed masks for example to be transferred from anthropology museums to art museums.
Nothing had to be moved out of the art museums, although some things may have gone into storage rooms.
Paradigms for teaching “work of art” changed since Edwardian times. [Edwardian era: 1900-1910]
I will talk as if there was only one replacing theory for IT. I will speak of one real one that has been offered, i.e. Reality Theory.
Postimpressionists were not unsuccessfully imitating real forms but successfully creating new forms…quite as real as the things imitated.
Postimpressionists are genuinely creative, producing, as Roger Fry [friend of Bell] thought, “not an illusion but reality.”
This is Reality Theory (RT)
George Rouault “The Old King” 1936
Next image Dufy
Raoul Dufy Le Cavalier arabe (Le Cavalier blanc), 1914
Van Gogh, Cezanne, Rouault, Dufy, Gauguin, the Fauves, drew attention to the fact that their works were non-imitations, intended not to deceive.
This is a new area between real objects and real facsimiles of real objects.
Van Gogh’s “Potato Eaters” turns out to b a non-facsimile of real life potato eaters, a non-imitation, and hence a real object.
RT allows art to reenter the thick of things, as real as the carpenter’s bed in Plato.
This [they believe] is a victory in ontology. [But Danto rejects RT]
Popeye Roy Litchtenstein 1961
Lichtenstein’s paintings are “reasonably faithful projections onto a gigantesque scale of the homely frames from the daily tabloid [newspaper]”
It is the scale that counts here.
"The Star Jockey", script by Robert Kanigher; pencil and inks by Irv Novick, All American Men of War 89, 1962, page 21
Roy Lichtenstein, "Whaam!", 1963, Acrylic and oil on canvas support: painting:
“What implications can be unveiled from a culture that values Lichtenstein’s appropriations as paradigmatic examples of pop culture, and still denies most serious artistic recognition to specific comic book artists?” Ernest Priego “The Comic Grid” blog. April 4, 2011 http://blog.comicsgrid.com/2011/04/whaam-becoming-a-flaming-star/
Access date 11/17/14
Danto: “A photograph of a Lichtenstein is indiscernible from a photograph of a counterpart panel from Steve Canyon..” [but judging from what we just saw…this is not true.]
But the photograph fails to capture the scale.
Lichtensteins are not imitations but new entities.
Barnett Newman - Vir Heroicus Sublimis
o/c 7'11" x 17'9" 1950-51
“Be I (second version),“
For Jasper Johns the question of scale is irrelevant yet his objects cannot be imitations since a copy of this class of things is automatically a member of that class. A copy of a flag is a flag, a copy of a map is a map.
Jaspar Johns, “Three Flags,” 1958
Jasper Johns,Map, 1961
Robert Rauschenberg and Claes Oldenburg have made genuine beds.
One could sleep in them.
Imagine a character named Testadura [Spanish for pig-headed] a philistine [“a person who is hostile or indifferent to culture and the arts, or who has no understanding of them.”]
He is not aware that these are art, takes them for reality.
These would be mistakes of an odd kind: like a bird mistaking painted shapes by Zeuxis for grapes.
But, according to RT, it was meant to be reality. [This story then refutes RT]
Here native speakers are poor guides to analyzing the concept.
d) first, the paintstreaks are part of the object, which is not a mere bed but a paint-bed, just as a person is not just a material body but a complex entity, a conscious-body: persons are irreducible to parts of themselves, they are primitive [in the sense of basic]
e) not every part of an artwork A is part of a real object R when R is part of A and can, moreover, be detached from A and seen merely as R.