What Art Is by Arthur C. Danto

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Synopsis

What is it to be a work of art? Renowned author and critic Arthur C. Danto addresses this fundamental, complex question. Part philosophical monograph and part memoiristic meditation, What Art Is challenges the popular interpretation that art is an indefinable concept, instead bringing to light the properties that constitute universal meaning. Danto argues that despite varied approaches, a work of art is always defined by two essential criteria: meaning and embodiment, as well as one additional criterion contributed by the viewer: interpretation. Danto crafts his argument in an accessible manner that engages with both philosophy and art across genres and eras, beginning with Plato’s definition of art in The Republic, and continuing through the progress of art as a series of discoveries, including such innovations as perspective, chiaroscuro, and physiognomy. Danto concludes with a fascinating discussion of Andy Warhol’s famous shipping cartons, which are visually indistinguishable from the everyday objects they represent.

Throughout, Danto considers the contributions of philosophers including Descartes, Kant, and Hegel, and artists from Michelangelo and Poussin to Duchamp and Warhol, in this far-reaching examination of the interconnectivity and universality of aesthetic production.

 

About Arthur C. Danto

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Arthur C. Danto is Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Columbia University and former art critic for The Nation. He is the author of numerous books, including Andy Warhol (Yale), Unnatural Wonders: Essays from the Gap Between Art and Life, and After the End of Art.
 
Published March 19, 2013 by Yale University Press. 189 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference, Arts & Photography, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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A distinguished art critic, academic and philosopher distills his views into a compact volume that is likely to provoke more debate than it resolves.

Jan 27 2013 | Read Full Review of What Art Is

Publishers Weekly

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Bucking the critical trend, Danto, an influential critic and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Encounters and Reflections, attempts to offer something like a succinct and clear defi

Mar 01 2013 | Read Full Review of What Art Is

Publishers Weekly

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Bucking the critical trend, Danto, an influential critic and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Encounters and Reflections, attempts to offer something like a succinct and clear defi

Mar 04 2013 | Read Full Review of What Art Is

Kirkus Reviews

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A distinguished art critic, academic and philosopher distills his views into a compact volume that is likely to provoke more debate than it resolves.

Mar 05 2013 | Read Full Review of What Art Is

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