The Abuse of Beauty by Arthur C. Danto
The Paul Carus Lectures 21

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Danto simply and entertainingly traces the evolution of the concept of beauty over the past century and explores how it was removed from the definition of art. Beauty then came to be regarded as a serious aesthetic crime, whereas a hundred years ago it was almost unanimously considered the supreme purpose of art. Beauty is not, and should not be, the be-all and end-all of art, but it has an important place, and is not something to be avoided.
Danto draws eruditely upon the thoughts of artists and critics such as Rimbaud, Fry, Matisse, the Dadaists, Duchamp, and Greenberg, as well as on that of philosophers like Hume, Kant, and Hegel. Danto agrees with the dethroning of beauty as the essence of art, and maintains with telling examples that most art is not, in fact, beautiful. He argues, however, for the partial rehabilitation of beauty and the removal of any critical taboo against beauty. Beauty is one among the many modes through which thoughts are presented to human sensibility in art: disgust, horror, sublimity, and sexuality being among other such modes.

About Arthur C. Danto

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Art critic and philosopher Arthur C. Danto was born in 1924. He received a B.A. from Wayne State University in 1948 and a M.A. and a Ph.D. from Columbia University, in 1949 and 1952, respectively. He began teaching at Columbia University in 1951 and has been a professor since 1966. He has received many fellowships and grants including two Guggenheims, ACLS, and Fulbright, and has served as Vice-President and President of the American Philosophical Association, as well as President of the American Society for Aesthetics. His book Encounters and Reflections: Art in the Historical Present, a collection of art criticism, won the 1990 National Book Critics Circle Prize for Criticism. He is also the art critic for The Nation and an editor for the Journal of Philosophy.
Published February 1, 2003 by Open Court. 224 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Arts & Photography, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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Charting the disappearance of beauty as a primary artistic value in the 20th century, Danto (The Transfiguration of the Commonplace, etc.) offers a hot-and-cold mix of philosophical musings and autobiographical reflections that attempt to restore a place for beauty as an "option for art" and a "n...

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