After the End of Art: Contemporary Art and the Pale of History

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Princeton University Press, 1997 - Art - 239 pages
11 Reviews

Over a decade ago, Arthur Danto announced that art ended in the sixties. Ever since this declaration, he has been at the forefront of a radical critique of the nature of art in our time. After the End of Art presents Danto's first full-scale reformulation of his original insight, showing how, with the eclipse of abstract expressionism, art has deviated irrevocably from the narrative course that Vasari helped define for it in the Renaissance. Moreover, he leads the way to a new type of criticism that can help us understand art in a posthistorical age where, for example, an artist can produce a work in the style of Rembrandt to create a visual pun, and where traditional theories cannot explain the difference between Andy Warhol's Brillo Box and the product found in the grocery store. Here we are engaged in a series of insightful and entertaining conversations on the most relevant aesthetic and philosophical issues of art, conducted by an especially acute observer of the art scene today.

Originally delivered as the prestigious Mellon Lectures on the Fine Arts, these writings cover art history, pop art, "people's art," the future role of museums, and the critical contributions of Clement Greenberg--who helped make sense of modernism for viewers over two generations ago through an aesthetics-based criticism. Tracing art history from a mimetic tradition (the idea that art was a progressively more adequate representation of reality) through the modern era of manifestos (when art was defined by the artist's philosophy), Danto shows that it wasn't until the invention of Pop art that the historical understanding of the means and ends of art was nullified. Even modernist art, which tried to break with the past by questioning the ways of producing art, hinged on a narrative.

Traditional notions of aesthetics can no longer apply to contemporary art, argues Danto. Instead he focuses on a philosophy of art criticism that can deal with perhaps the most perplexing feature of contemporary art: that everything is possible.

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Review: After the End of Art: Contemporary Art and the Pale of History

User Review  - Maximus - Goodreads

Epitome of modern academia... too much classification and long-winded 'intellectual' bloviation, not enough critical, artistic insight. Also virtually every hypothesis is either wrong, or treated in the wrong light. Read full review

Review: After the End of Art: Contemporary Art and the Pale of History

User Review  - Bill Gusky - Goodreads

Seminal. You need this book. Read full review

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About the author (1997)

Art critic and philosopher Arthur C. Danto was born in 1924. He received a B.A. from Wayne State University in 1948 and a M.A. and a Ph.D. from Columbia University, in 1949 and 1952, respectively. He began teaching at Columbia University in 1951 and has been a professor since 1966. He has received many fellowships and grants including two Guggenheims, ACLS, and Fulbright, and has served as Vice-President and President of the American Philosophical Association, as well as President of the American Society for Aesthetics. His book Encounters and Reflections: Art in the Historical Present, a collection of art criticism, won the 1990 National Book Critics Circle Prize for Criticism. He is also the art critic for The Nation and an editor for the Journal of Philosophy.

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