Art is doing philosophy? . . .
An interesting set of ideas about art, its context and its relation to philosophy comes from the American philosopher and art critic Arthur Danto. What makes something a work of art is not, says Danto, to be found by looking at its obvious properties. Danto believes that what "makes the difference between a Brillo box and a work of art consisting of a Brillo box is a certain theory of art. It is the theory that takes it up into the world of art, and keeps it from collapsing into the real object which it is."
What are we, however, doing when we ask about the difference between a Brillo box in a supermarket and a Brillo box in an art gallery? Danto's answer is that we are asking a philosophical question. Art now prompts us to do philosophy. Much of art today is about boundary testing of 'art': "Can this object be considered art?", "What is art?" Danto argues that art is doing philosophy; art is collapsing into philosophy.
G.W.F. Hegel in the nineteenth century declared that art would in future no longer be a predominant mode of expression for human beings. Danto seems to agree: Art has nothing left to do. It has run itself out, and has as its only project a philosophical one, the definition of art. And that would much better be left to the philosophers.
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