Con-Textos Kantianos 1 (12):209-225 (2020)

Sandra Shapshay
Hunter College (CUNY)
One typically thinks of the relevance of Kant’s aesthetic theory to Western art in terms of Modernism, thanks in large part to the work of eminent critic and art historian Clement Greenberg. Yet, thinking of Kant’s legacy for contemporary art as inhering exclusively in “Kantian formalism” obscures a great deal of Kant’s aesthetic theory. In his last book, Arthur Danto suggested just this point, urging us to enlarge our appreciation of Kant’s aesthetic theory and its relevance to contemporary art, because, for Danto, “Kant had two conceptions of art.” In this essay, I support and build on Danto’s claim that there are really two conceptions of art at work in Kant’s third Critique, and that the second conception offers a non-Modernist/formalist way that Kant’s aesthetic theory remains relevant to post 1960s art. My ultimate aim is to highlight another facet in the continuing relevance of Kant’s aesthetic theory to post-Expressionist contemporary art, namely, the explicit attention to the differential aesthetic values of nature and art respectively. I shall do this by putting it in dialogue with the art practice of Latvian-American artist, Vija Celmins whose illustrious career since 1960s has made her an ‘artist’s artist’ but who has also recently garnered much wider attention with a retrospective titled “To Fix the Image in Memory.” Celmins takes up artistically a problematic that is quite central philosophically to the concerns of the third Critique, and thus her work illustrates another way in which Kant’s aesthetic theory is of great continuing relevance to the artworld today.
Keywords Celmins  Danto  Kant  art  beauty  contemporary art  nature  sublimity
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DOI 10.5281/zenodo.4304079
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References found in this work BETA

The Transfiguration of the Commonplace.Arthur C. Danto - 1974 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 33 (2):139-148.
What Art Is.Arthur C. Danto - 2013 - Yale University Press.
Kant and the Aesthetics of Nature.Alexander Rueger - 2007 - British Journal of Aesthetics 47 (2):138-155.
A Case for Kantian Artistic Sublimity: A Response to Abaci.Robert R. Clewis - 2010 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 68 (2):167-170.

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