On the Institutional Theory of Art

Prolegomena 7 (2):181-203 (2008)
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The topic of the article is George Dickie’s institutional theory of art as one of contemporary art theories which purport to answer the “what is art?” question by defining the concept of art in terms of its necessary and sufficient conditions. Introductory part of the article brings a brief review of so-called functionalist theories, as well as of their shortcomings when compared to theories to which institutional theory belongs. Also included is a short survey of theories and arguments that significantly influenced institutional theory, e.g. Danto’s “theory of meaning”. Next are presented the basics of the institutional theory. It is shown that advantages of this theory over other functionalist theories became especially visible after the appearance of art practices of the 20th century which rendered the difference between artistic and non-artistic objects extremely complex.



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