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Art as Appearance: Two Comments on Arthur C. Danto's after the End of Art
History and Theory
Vol. 37, No. 4, Theme Issue 37: Danto and His Critics: Art History, Historiography and After the End of Art (Dec., 1998), pp. 102-114
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2505398
Page Count: 13
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In his latest book about art Arthur Danto claims that aesthetic appearance-visuality in the visual arts-has become more and more irrelevant for most of contemporary art. This essay first immanently critiques the distinction between the aesthetic and artistic properties underlying this claim. Danto's claim about the irrelevance of the aesthetic is not compatible with the spirit of his own writings: what Danto denies in After the End of Art has been a cornerstone of his theoretical work since The Transfiguration of the Commonplace, namely, that the aesthetic is indeed both an elementary and a defining property of art. Examples ranging from Duchamp's Fountain to a recent installation by the Art & Language group are discussed to support this critique. Second, the essay defends Danto's contention that developing a "definition of art" is a sensible enterprise. But it turns out that Danto's (self-ascribed) "essentialism" concerning art has no essentialist implications in any specific sense.
History and Theory © 1998 Wesleyan University