In The Abuse of Beauty, art critic and philosopher Arthur Danto explains how the notion of beauty as anathema to art arose and flourished and offers a new way of looking at art and beauty. He draws on the thought of artists, critics, and philosophers such as Rimbaud, Fry, Matisse, and Greenberg, to reposition beauty as one of many modes -- along ...
In The Abuse of Beauty, art critic and philosopher Arthur Danto explains how the notion of beauty as anathema to art arose and flourished and offers a new way of looking at art and beauty. He draws on the thought of artists, critics, and philosophers such as Rimbaud, Fry, Matisse, and Greenberg, to reposition beauty as one of many modes -- along with sexuality, sublimity, disgust, and horror -- through which the human sensibility expresses itself. 20 black-and-white illustrations are included.
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For a philosoper Danto displays a surprising degree of visual intelligence. This means that he can be read by even such non-philosophical creatures as practicing art historians. To them, he has however little to say. We all know from our daily experience that art is a matter of form endowed with content (or meaning, or, to quote Danto?s truly beautiful concept of endowed meaning), and that beauty (whatever it may be, as we all have our own individual vision of ?beauty?) is an option and not a necessary condition in a work of art, yet an option ?too humanly significant?to vanish from life?? Having said that I wholeheartedly recommend the book to anyone who truly likes fine arts and would like to have a rather consistent explanation (to be sure, not the only possible one) of some, apparently disturbing, features of the visual arts of the last fifty years or so. Danto writes with gusto and flair (just see his wonderful analysis of the art in a ?resentful world,? pp. 123-124, or of a painting by Joachim Wtewael, yes, spelling is correct, on pp. 139-142) with wit and style. Almost too good to be philosophy. And if you wonder about the title, I wonder if it may not announce a return of beauty.
Publishers Weekly, 2003-05-26 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 "necessary condition for life as we would want to live it." To that end, the veteran art critic and Columbia University philosopher discusses and, at various points, disagrees with Hume, Kant and Hegel, building a view of beauty as one among many modes through which artworks may present thoughts to human sensibility. He distinguishes between natural and artistic beauty, between beauty and sublimity, and between beauty internal to an artwork and external to it. Although Danto clearly defines an artwork as an "embodied meaning," he does not as clearly define what he means by beauty, making much of his discussion unnecessarily vague. It is also unnecessarily meandering, too often feeling like notes from assorted lectures, which is how most of the chapters originated. "Read it as an adventure story," he says, "with a few philosophical arguments and distinctions [brought back] as trophies." But good adventure stories need a strong narrative, and there isn't one here. Still, there are trophies: philosophical insights of genuine value to anyone interested in beauty, art or the connections between the two. (July) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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