There is growing debate about what is the correct methodology for research in the ontology of artworks. In the first part of this essay, I introduce my view: I argue that semantic descriptivism is a semantic approach that has an impact on meta-ontological views and can be linked with a hermeneutic fictionalist proposal on the meta-ontology of artworks such as works of music. In the second part, I offer a synthetic presentation of the four main positive meta-ontological views that have (...) been defended in philosophical literature about artworks and of some criticisms that can be lodged against them: Amie Thomasson’s global descriptivism, Andrew Kania’s local descriptivism, Julian Dodd’s folk-theoretic modesty, and David Davies’ rational accountability view. In the conclusion, I show the advantages of my view. (shrink)
In this paper, with reference to Vito Acconci’s Following Piece (1969) and Sophie Calle’s Take care of yourself (2007), I show that some works of conceptual art rely on exemplification to convey ideas, and I defend the following claims about those works. In the first place, I argue that the kinds of events and of objects they present us with are relevant for appreciating the views the works convey. In the second place, siding with Elisabeth Schellekens (2007) and Peter Goldie (...) (2007), I argue, contra James Young (2001), that those artworks can yield experiential knowledge. In the third place, I argue that those artworks also possess probatory value. Finally, I maintain that those artworks can be valuable instruments for the education of the emotions. (shrink)
The starting point of this paper are two views: on the one hand, two general claims about street art – a broad art category encompassing works of spray painting as well as of yarn bombing, paste ups as well as sculptural interventions, tags as well as stickers, and so on – and, on the other hand, a much more specific view about certain contemporary tags produced, roughly, over the past twenty years. The two general claims are, first, that all works (...) of street art are subversive (see, e.g., Bacharach 2015; 2018; Chackal 2016; Baldini 2015; 2016; 2017; 2018; Willard 2016), second, that works of street art are the result of acts of self-expression (Riggle 2016). The specific view about certain contemporary tags is that they are artworks, although they are not presented, mainly, for appreciation of aesthetic properties grounded in their perceptual properties, because they are works of conceptual street art (see Lewisohn 2010; JAK 2012). The key question of the paper concerns, however, not contemporary tags, but “very early tags” (VETs) – a term that I shall use to designate the extremely simple, unadorned tags that first appeared in the late 1960s and that some scholars consider as the historical predecessors of the various practices that today we group under the category “street art” (see, e.g., Young 2014; Gastman et al. 2015): should we regard VETs as artworks? On the one hand, VETs writers tend to answer this question in the negative, since they stress that they didn’t cast themselves as artists and often identify the first tags that are artworks with the graphically elaborated tags that begun to be seen around New York City and Philadelphia just a few years after the appearance of the first tags. On the other hand, already in the early 1970s, artists and intellectuals such as Norman Mailer and Gordon Matta-Clark seemed to hold the view that it was appropriate to regard both VETs and later tags as art, although they didn’t defend this thesis with argument. The view that some contemporary tags that are not presented, mainly, for appreciation of their aesthetic properties might be candidates for appreciation as works of conceptual art suggests a strategy for assessing the issue whether VETs are candidates for art appreciation: can we defend the claim that the extremely simple, unadorned VETs were presented for appreciation as works of conceptual street art? I argue that we have good reasons to hold this view. (shrink)
L’arte contemporanea è caleidoscopica: può catapultarci in ambienti complessi o minimali richiedendo la nostra attiva partecipazione, ancorarsi a luoghi particolari, porci di fronte a opere apparentemente indistinguibili da oggetti ed eventi della vita quotidiana, appropriarsi illegalmente degli spazi pubblici, e così via. Questo volume muove dalla premessa che uno dei compiti della filosofia dell’arte sia prestare attenzione a specifiche pratiche artistiche e a teorie sull’arte avanzate in altri ambiti di ricerca, per poi organizzare in maniera perspicua la molteplicità dei dati (...) raccolti. I filosofi possono così costruire teorie quanto più generali possibile per cercare di spiegare ciò che emerge da tali dati. Le ricerche qui presentate si concentrano su alcuni fenomeni, accuratamente scelti nell’ampio panorama dell’arte contemporanea: l’installation art e i suoi rapporti con l’installazione espositiva, l’arte sito-specifica e la sua appartenenza alla più ampia tradizione dell’arte situata, il ruolo delle idee nell’arte concettuale e il carattere sovversivo della street art. Sfruttando l’efficacia esplicativa del concetto di medium artistico, nonché della individuazione di forme e generi d’arte, le analisi qui presentate indagano le ragioni per cui in queste pratiche artistiche sono centrali l’esperienza dello spazio, l’interazione fra opere e pubblico, i luoghi d’installazione delle opere e gli oggetti come portatori di significati. (shrink)
This chapter illustrates through the analysis of some examples how philosophical research can illuminate the improvisational aspects of installation art. There is little philosophical research on improvisation in the visual arts. Similarly, there is little philosophical research on installation art – in section 2, I mention some key claims that have been put forward. Not surprisingly, then, philosophers have not yet focussed – at least to my knowledge – on improvisation in installation art. The issue, though, is timely. Not only (...) some installation artists have explored improvisation in their practice, both solo and collaboratively (see section 3) but, as I shall argue, it can be claimed that some works of installation art represent or express improvisation (section 4), that some invite the public to engage in improvisation (section 5), and that curatorial teams responsible for the displays of certain installation artworks have the opportunity to introduce improvisational elements in their practice, if they so wish (section 6). (shrink)
La categoría ‘arte conceptual’ se aplica a una gran cantidad de obras de arte contemporáneo. El artista Sol LeWitt introdujo el término en la jerga del arte al describir obras de arte donde “la idea o el concepto es el aspecto más importante de la obra” (LeWitt 1967: 79, traducción mía). Inicialmente, el término se utilizó para referirse a obras producidas entre finales de los años sesenta y principios de los setenta por artistas como Sol LeWitt, Robert Barry, Lawrence Weiner, (...) On Kawara, Joseph Kosuth, John Baldessari, el grupo Art & Language y otros (véase Lippard 1973). En España fueron relevantes el Grup de Treball, Zaj o Esther Ferrer entre otros. Más tarde se hizo evidente no solo que obras como Fuente (1917) de Marcel Duchamp – un urinario de porcelana, que fue firmado “R. Mutt” y presentado para una exposición de la Sociedad de Artistas Independientes – tenían mucho en común con aquellas producidas a finales de la década de 1960 y principios de la de 1970, sino también que obras de arte conceptual continuaron siendo producidas a lo largo de la década de 1970 y las décadas siguientes, hasta el punto de que podría argumentarse que gran parte del arte contemporáneo es, en cierta medida, conceptual. -/- Es característico de los primeros autores conceptuales el uso del lenguaje natural en obras que son en principio visuales o plásticas, como las frases de Weiner, las definiciones de Kosuth o los ensayos de Art&Language. Se trata de un interés por el significado y el lenguaje heredado de la semiótica y la filosofía analítica de la época. También señala el énfasis (a menudo exclusivo) de todas las obras de arte conceptual en el elemento conceptual, como ocurre en los dibujos y pinturas murales de LeWitt, donde el artista produjo las instrucciones para su ejecución, luego las realizó en colaboración con otros, o transfirió completamente a otros esta tarea. Otra característica de las primeras obras de arte conceptual es que los artistas no manipularon ningún material para producir un objeto (como en Fuente de Duchamp) o usaron materiales excéntricos como el lenguaje natural, su propio cuerpo -como en I am the locus (# 1) (1975) de Adrian Piper, una performance en la que la artista se pegó un bigote en la cara, se puso una peluca Afro y anteojos redondos con montura de alambre y caminó en las calles actuando como un hombre-, o el chocolate con el que Anya Gallaccio revistió las paredes de un viejo edificio agrícola en Stroke (2004), dejando que el público las tocara y que el chocolate se pudriese. -/- Debido a sus características inusuales, el arte conceptual plantea muchas preguntas filosóficas: sobre la definición de arte, sobre la ontología y los medios de las obras de arte y sobre nuestra experiencia apreciativa de ellas. En lo que sigue, presentaré brevemente cada uno de estos temas. (shrink)
An analysis of three pictorial works by Ugo Nespolo is put forward: "Barbe posticce" (1977); "Guardar Manzoni" (1974); "Il museo: Fontana" (1975). It is claimed that such works embody meditations on the concept and the varieties of representation, that they prompt critical reflections on the role of museums in art-making, and that they suggest an alternative route to that of the 'dematerialization' of the art object for the understanding of contemporary art.
Este capítulo presenta dos versiones de la teoría según la cual deberíamos centrarnos en ciertas acciones realizadas por los artistas para comprender qué tipo de objetos son las obras de arte: la propuesta de Gregory Currie (An Ontology of Art, 1989) y la de David Davies (Art as Performance, 2004). Si bien estas teorías no están exentas de problemas, es cierto que estas proporcionan una guía completa de algunos de los temas en los que uno debería meditar al evaluar y (...) desarrollar teorías sobre qué son las obras de arte. Además, Currie y Davies presentan algunos de los argumentos más refinados contra los puntos de vista contextualistas y estructuralistas sobre la metafísica de las obras de arte, así como contra el empirismo estético. (shrink)
Several contemporary architects have designed architectural objects that are closely linked to their particular sites. An in-depth study of the relevant relationship holding between those objects and their sites is, however, missing. This paper addresses the issue, arguing that those architectural objects are akin to works of site-specific art. In section (1), I introduce the topic of the paper. In section (2), I critically analyse the debate on the categorisation of artworks as site-specific. In section (3), I apply to architecture (...) the lesson learned from the analysis of the art debate. (shrink)
Ernst H. Gombrich criticized abstract painting with several remarks scattered around his wide oeuvre. I argue that his view of abstract paintings is coherent with the account of pictorial representation he put forward in Art and Illusion, show some limits of such view, and maintain that, although several of Gombrich’s criticisms of abstract painting should be rejected, some of his remarks are insightful and worthy of consideration.
I put forward an analysis of Beeple's "Everydays: The First 5000 Days" (2021), a set of digital images that attracted much attention when an NFT attached to it was sold for over $69 at a Christie's auction in March 2021. I submit that, developing on the tradition of conceptual art, Beeple presented for intellectual appreciation the performance of selling for a very high price an NFT attached to a set of digital images with peculiar ontological status, rather than the images (...) themselves. In so doing, Beeple produced an artwork that can be appreciated without direct acquaintance with it, exploring, among other things, a brilliant solution for bringing art to the public during pandemic time. (shrink)
As Peter Lamarque explains in "Work and Object", the claim that artworks are not identical with their vehicles lies at the core of a variety of art-ontological accounts, including Jean-Paul Sartre’s one. In chapter 10, Lamarque gives us an insightful read-ing of Sartre’s art-ontological proposal: works of art in themselves do not exist, while what exists is their ‘material analogue’ which, when perceived, arouses in us certain imaginings. What we call ‘artwork’ is the object of such imaginings – an object (...) that doesn’t exist. Although Lamarque does not embrace Sartre’s view, others might find Sartre’s proposal at least prima facie promising. In particular, to those inclined to be skeptical about the genuine theoretical weight of debates about the existence of some kinds of objects, artworks qua ontologically distinct from their vehicles might look like a case where there is no fact of the matter to be right or wrong about and continuing to engage in ontological disputes is futile. Those scholars might then be sympathetic towards a proposal, inspired by Sartre as well as by Stephen Yablo’s analysis of folk number statements, according to which when we talk about artworks we are merely pretending that certain objects of our imagination exist. In the first part of this paper, I rapidly explore this meta-ontological view. In the concluding section, I argue against the proposal previously outlined. (shrink)
Focussing on some claims by Richard Wollheim and Clement Greenberg, I investigate how the concepts of depicted figure, background of a pictorial scene and ground of a picture are relevant for an understanding of the relation between figurative and abstract pictures, especially when it comes to considering whether abstract pictures can be said to represent pictorially.
Katharina Grosse’s It Wasn’t Us was on show at the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum in Berlin, between 14 June, 2020 and 10 January 2021. In the main hall of this nineteenth century train station, now a museum, stood massive, abstractly sculpted, kaleidoscopically painted Styrofoam blocks; parts of the main hall floor, of the outdoor space behind the building, and of the façade of the museum’s extension were also painted kaleidoscopically. Here I shall examine three aspects of this work: its relationship with (...) pictorial, sculptural and architectural works; its links with the Hamburger Bahnhof building; and its interactive character. (shrink)
In this paper, I put forward a philosophical analysis of some works by Martin Creed. I suggest that all the works under consideration are works of conceptual art as well as of installation art, and that they display significant expressive properties. The paper is structured as follows: in the first section, I claim that the works are ontologically similar and that they all appear problematic, because it is not very clear how they should be appreciated as artworks; in the second (...) section, I argue that the works belong to the genre conceptual art, that they are presented for intellectual appreciation, and that this is compatible with the fact that they also have expressive properties; in the third section, I submit that the works also belong to the category installation art and I explain what expressive properties they display. In the conclusion, I remark briefly on the interaction between the intellectual and aesthetic appreciation of Creed’s works. (shrink)
This work is an investigation into the analytical debate on pictorial representation and the theory of pictorial art. My main concern are a critical exposition of the questions raised by the idea that it is resemblance to depicted objects that explains pictorial representation and the investigation of the phenomenon of abstract painting from an analytical point of view in relation to the debate on depiction. The first part is dedicated to a survey of the analytical debate on depiction, with special (...) attention to the fortunes and misfortunes of the resemblance theory of depiction. In the first chapter I give an outline of the main contemporary theories on offer, contextualised within an historical background that stretches from Plato to Descartes. I have decided to focus on the theory of resemblance more than on other approaches on depiction, because much of my research is dedicated to an analysis and implementation of one of the theories that have recently sought to re-discover the resemblance paradigm, although with certain important modifications. Namely, the second chapter is dedicated to the exposition of John Hyman’s basic resemblance theory of depiction, to the elucidation of its presuppositions and to the discussion of some criticisms and objections that the theory has raised. The third and the fourth chapter are dedicated to the implementation of Hyman’s theory in relation to the phenomenon of abstract painting. There are two peculiarities about Hyman’s theory: first, it is in counter-tendency in comparison with all the other accounts of depiction on offer, in that it does not need to conceive of pictorial representation as of representation of particulars or kinds of objects that we can easily identify. Second, it is a theory that gives art a prominent role: Hyman illustrates his claims with many examples taken from the history of figurative art. The second part of my work is inspired by the idea that the basic resemblance theory can be applied to abstract paintings as well. Developing an analysis of abstract painting from an analytical point of view is a task that very few authors have tried to accomplish so far – as far as I am aware. However, it is evident that the task abstract painters have set themselves is interestingly akin to the task philosophers try to accomplish when arguing about depiction. It is widely agreed that one of the main topics of contemporary art is art itself and that one of the main topics of abstract painting is the art of painting itself, the art of producing pictures, the exploration of its limits and its conventions. With these considerations in mind, I have sought to sketch my proposal for a basic resemblance theory of abstract painting, critically engaging with philosophers such as Richard Wollheim, Kendall Walton, Lambert Wiesing and with art-critics and historians such as Clement Greenberg and Ernst Gombrich. (shrink)
Che cosa vediamo quando vediamo un’immagine? Con Arte e illusione, pubblicato nel 1960, Ernst H. Gombrich è stato il primo a indagare a fondo l’effetto che hanno su di noi le immagini figurative. Alla sua indagine, concepita nell’ambito della storia delle arti pittoriche, si sono successivamente affiancati molti studi in vari contesti di ricerca, dalla psicologia della visione all’estetica analitica, dalla semiotica ai visual studies. Questo studio si concentra su quei nuclei teorici della proposta di Gombrich che suscitano l’interesse dei (...) filosofi e sulla fortuna di alcune idee di Gombrich, specialmente nel dibattito di area analitica. (shrink)
In his writings Wittgenstein has touched upon some key aspects of aesthetic experience, of the experience of art, and of the dynamics of culture. Moreover, several lines of research in these fields have emerged and are still emerging from the roots of Wittgenstein's thought. This volume collects a number of essays on these topics by renowned international scholars (such as H.-J. Glock, J. Hyman, S. Majetschak, J. Schulte, A. Voltolini, and W. Vossenkuhl) and younger researchers. Our aim is to document (...) the presence of aesthetics across the development of Wittgenstein's thought and to present Wittgenstein's point of view, as well as new views inspired by Wittgenstein, on music, literature and poetry, the visual arts, and architecture. (shrink)
A caricature can reveal an aspect of its subject that a more faithful representation would fail to render: by depicting a slow and clumsy person as a monkey one can point out such qualities of the depicted subject, and by depicting a person with quite big ears as a person with enormous ears one can point out that the depicted person has rather big ears. How can a form of representation that is by definition inaccurate be so representationally powerful? Figurative (...) language raises a similar puzzle. Metaphors, taken at face value, are usually false: men are not wolves. The same goes for hyperbolic talk: Putnam did not change his position one billion times in his career. Still, figurative language is expressively powerful: by saying that human beings are wolves or that Putnam changed his position one billion times in his career one conveys, in a very vivid way, some true information about the world (something concerning the facts that human beings are cruel and that Putnam frequently changed opinion). Kendall Walton (1993) provides an elegant explanation of the expressive utility of figurative language by linking metaphor and prop oriented make-believe. We explore the hypothesis that the theory of prop oriented make-believe can also explain the representational efficacy of caricatures. (shrink)
Suzanne Lacy introduced the term ‘New Genre Public Art’ (NGPA) to refer to art practices that depart from those traditional of public art (such as installing works in parks and plazas) and focus instead on the direct engagement of artists with audiences to deal with pressing socio-political issues. In this paper, I argue that some works of NGPA should be valued for the intellectual value grounded in their artistic features, not dissimilarly to works of conceptual art. In developing my argument, (...) I take distance from Vid Simoniti’s recent account of ‘Socially Engaged Art’, offer a thorough analysis of Thomas Hirschhorn’s Bataille Monument (2002) and Kathrin Bohm’s and Stefan Saffer’s Mobile Porch (1999), and submit that both such works qualify as good works of NGPA. (shrink)
Wittgenstein’s remarks on “seeing-as” have influenced several scholars working on depiction. They have especially inspired those who think that in order to understand depiction we should understand the specific kind of visual experience depictions arouse in the viewer (e.g. Gombrich , Wollheim [1968; 1987]). In this paper I would like to go a different way. My hypothesis is that certain of Wittgenstein’s claims both in the Tractatus and in his later writings resonate well within the context of an objective resemblance (...) account of depiction (Hyman, 2006). (shrink)
This volume collects fifteen essays debating the value of museums, the ontology and epistemology of exhibited objects, and museum ethics. The essays stem from talks originally given at a conference at the University of Glasgow in 2013 by philosophers working both within and outside the analytic tradition, museum scholars, and museum practitioners. The collection succeeds in showing that we need a philosophy of museums to improve our understanding of such institutions.
Le immagini sono rappresentazioni visive: quello che mostrano ai nostri occhi è rilevante per la comprensione di ciò che rappresentano. Le rappresentazioni pittoriche sono immagini che rappresentano visivamente aspetti visibili di altri oggetti: per questo motivo, ci sembra spesso che queste immagini assomiglino agli oggetti che rappresentano, ci sembra di riconoscere tali oggetti guardando le immagini che li rappresentano e può anche capitarci che ci sembri di avere un'esperienza degli oggetti rappresentati attraverso l'immagine che li rappresenta. Potrebbe però anche darsi (...) che ci sbagliamo e che queste nostre intuizioni non siano affidabili. Questo contributo è un'introduzione alle principali teorie della rappresentazione pittorica, che mirano a comprendere la natura della modalità di rappresentazione che distingue le immagini che rappresentano visivamente aspetti visibili di altri oggetti. Dopo alcune considerazioni preliminari, presento cinque concetti centrali per la comprensione della natura delle rappresentazioni pittoriche: proprietà prospettiche, riconoscimento, esperienza, somiglianza, struttura. Secondo alcuni, la natura della rappresentazione pittorica si può comprendere considerando certe particolari proprietà degli oggetti che chiamiamo "rappresentazioni pittoriche" (come le proprietà prospettiche, di somiglianza, o strutturali), secondo altri la si può comprendere indagando le peculiarità dell'esperienza di visione di una rappresentazione pittorica, o individuando quali abilità cognitive sono mobilitate quando afferriamo il contenuto di una rappresentazione pittorica. Talvolta più strategie esplicative sono adottate nel contesto della stessa teoria. (shrink)