|Abstract||“What would have provoked Duchamp to madness or murder … would be the sight of aesthetes mooning over the gleaming surfaces of the porcelain object he had manhandled into exhibition space: ‘How like Kilamanjaro! How like the white radiance of Eternity! How Arctically sublime!’ (Bitter laughter at the Club des artistes.)”1 Marcel Duchamp, of course, is one of Arthur Danto’s artworld heroes, primarily because Duchamp, through his readymades, most famously the porcelain urinal coyly titled Fountain, managed to throw off art’s “bondage to prettiness”. “I owe to Duchamp the thought that from the perspective of art aesthetics is a danger,” Danto acknowledges.2 But if art is to avoid “prettiness,” what should art seek? According to Danto, Duchamp’s work implies “that art already is philosophy in a vivid form, and has now discharged its spiritual mission by revealing the philosophical essence at its heart”.3 The philosophical essence of art is its “aboutness”.4 Sometimes Danto says that artworks have “semantic character”.5 “To see an artwork without knowing it is an artwork is comparable in a way to what one’s experience of print is, before one learns to read; and to see it as an artwork then is like going from the realm of mere things to a realm of meaning”|
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