Art as Performance (New Directions in Aesthetics) by Dave Davies

By Dave Davies

During this richly argued and provocative publication, David Davies elaborates and defends a extensive conceptual framework for puzzling over the humanities that finds vital continuities and discontinuities among conventional and sleek paintings, and among assorted creative disciplines.

  • Elaborates and defends a huge conceptual framework for pondering the arts.
  • Offers a provocative view concerning the forms of issues that artistic endeavors are and the way they're to be understood.
  • Reveals vital continuities and discontinuities among conventional and sleek art.
  • Highlights middle issues in aesthetics and artwork conception, together with conventional theories concerning the nature of paintings, aesthetic appreciation, inventive intentions, functionality, and inventive meaning.

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Two objects with identical manifest properties might possess different artistic properties and warrant very different judgments of artistic value if assigned to different artistic categories. Walton offers the following example. We are to imagine a culture with a category of artworks called guernicas. What is standard for a guernica is that a work, when viewed at right-angles to its frame, should have the pictorial (or perhaps design) properties of Picasso’s painting of that name. What is variable is the topology of the work, guernicas being understood to be three-dimensional entities whose artistic value depends crucially upon their topological features.

One explanation for the difference in ascribed artistic value is indeed that there is some artistic property, whose specific bearing on a work’s artistic value is generally acknowledged, which G1 possesses but G2 lacks. A competing explanation, however, is that there is no difference in artistic properties, but only a difference in the weight accorded to different artistic properties in arriving at an overall evaluation of a work. In this case, while we might look to more general cultural and historical differences – perhaps different conceptions of achievement – to explain the differences in weighting, the moderate empiricist’s conception of artistic properties would be unchallenged.

To offer an “ontology of art” not subject to the pragmatic constraint would be to change the subject, rather than answer the questions that motivate philosophical aesthetics. 20 This point is controversial to the extent that there are clear examples of “theories of art” that seem quite prepared to maintain, in violation of the pragmatic constraint, that most of what we call “art” is actually not art at all. Tolstoy (1960), for example, having defined “art” in terms of the communication of felt emotions, proceeds to dismiss, as non-art, most of the accepted works of “high art” of his time.

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