Art Today and Philosophical Aesthetics

A Missing Dialogue

in Culture and Dialogue
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The demise of grand narratives of art, and the emergence of “post-historical art,” have produced a chasm between the tradition of philosophical aesthetics and the production and reception of contemporary art, a divide that has deprived philosophy of the fundamental role it had played, arguably, until the end of the Modern period. The goal of this paper, which focuses primarily on art after 2000, is to investigate possible venues and directions in the current production and reception of art that might lead to a reconciliation of these two poles and to the advancement of new philosophical strategies for the analysis of art. Specifically, I will concentrate on three aspects of the experience of art today: first, the emphasis, in the production and reception of artworks, on enactive accounts of artistic experience; secondly, the importance given to the ethical content of artworks and to their ability to trigger ethical, social, and political reflection; and, lastly, the growing role of the art market and its structures in the overall appreciation of the arts.




Arthur Danto, After the End of Art: Contemporary Art and the Pale of History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997).


Ibid., 10.


Noël Carroll, “The End of Art?,” History and Theory 37, 4. Theme Issue: 37. Danto and His Critics: Art History, Historiography, and After the End of Art (Dec. 1998): 17-29.


Jesse Prinz, Gut Reactions. A Perceptual Theory of Emotions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).


Terry Smith, “Contemporary Art and Contemporaneity,” Critical Inquiry 32, 4 (Summer 2006): 703.


Doris Von Drathen, Vortex of Silence. Propositions for an Art Criticism Beyond Aesthetic Categorities (Milano: Charta, 2004).


Ibid., 19.


Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics (Dijon: Les Presses du réel, 2002).


Kwame Anthony Appiah, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (New York: W.W. Northon & Company, 2006), 85.


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