Reflections from the Bottom of a Brillo Box: A Theological Inquiry into the End(s) of Art

in Religion and the Arts
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Abstract

This article asks after the theological import of the two end of art theses proposed by Arthur Danto and Donald Kuspit respectively. In tribute to the coming thirtieth anniversary of Arthur Danto’s essay “The End of Art” and the tenth anniversary of Donald Kuspit’s book The End of Art, I take up here their respective theories in an attempt to go beyond the surface of their ideas and to ask after the depth of the end(s) of art. Their theses point to a crisis of reflexivity in the respective artworlds they describe and that this crisis is the result of the loss and failed recovery of spiritual depth. Danto’s end of art thesis offers a truth that tells a lie—that there was never depth there to begin with—while Kuspit’s offers a lie that tells the truth—that that depth can be recovered. Danto’s thesis speaks to early postmodern art’s loss of spiritual depth while Kuspit’s addresses late postmodern art’s failure to recover that depth. Taken together, their ends of art present the lying-truth of an irretrievably lost sacred and the true-lie that the sacred in the arts can be recovered.

Reflections from the Bottom of a Brillo Box: A Theological Inquiry into the End(s) of Art

in Religion and the Arts

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