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Art essay future in madonna pluralistic world

The Madonna of the Future: Essays in a Pluralistic Art World. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000.

Since Marcel Duchamp, nothing about works of art has been self-evident. Anything can be an artwork according to Danto, and in his excellent new book he finds this "pluralism" nothing less than thrilling 19. For only after the "end of art," he emphasizes, do we ask truly inspiring questions about works of art 425. Duchamp's "readymades" prompted us.

Most postmodernist art continues to do the same. How does something become an artwork? If two objects can be identical in appearance and nevertheless belong to very different categories--art and not-art--what distinguishes artworks from objects that could be, but are not, art?

During the last twenty years Danto has distinguished [End Page 198] himself in art criticism and philosophical debates about art by tracking this problem with singular intensity. In The Madonna of the Future he refines the answer that he first developed in The Transfiguration of the Commonplace 1981. Summarizing his earlier argument, he writes here that "works of art are always about something," and must "embody" their "meaning"; they must express their meaning through form xix.

He now regards the property of a general "aboutness" as too vague. Suggesting that works of art tend to be about art itself, Danto strengthens his claim to some degree. But the focus of his new book lies elsewhere.

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It is comprised of review essays written for The Nation--"pieces of disguised philosophy," as he calls them, whose topics range from Vermeer to Nan Goldin. As the introductory essays announce, its Schwerpunkt is a concern with meaning, which is only appropriate for a work of art criticism. Yet Danto quickly demonstrates the philosophical significance of his exegetical orientation.

Most critics try to determine what a work of art is or means; by contrast, however, he asserts that "the being of a work of art is its meaning" x. Here Danto shows that although his philosophy of art has been influential enough to become familiar, its more radical implications have not yet been accepted.

He writes that "the propensity toward monism in art criticism appears to be inexhaustible" 19.

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Artworks are no longer aesthetic objects that can be defined in terms of visual characteristics or formal construction. Duchamp's Fountain 1917 was an everyday urinal, after all.

Danto maintains, accordingly, that "the concept of beauty plays a very small role" in these essays 342.

  1. Duchamp's "readymades" prompted us. While he admires its main figures, e.
  2. But the focus of his new book lies elsewhere.
  3. Essays in a Pluralistic Art World.

While statements like this might sound coldly abstract, even mandarin, nothing could be less true of Danto's prose. He stresses that artworks do not "illustrate" philosophical ideas, but rather develop out of their own logic and in response to particular historical pressures.

Furthermore, he is most critical where he senses a lack of warmth. He sees Lucien Freud's and Richard Avedon's attempts to strip human subjects bare as distressingly "cruel," for example. His attitude toward abstraction in the arts, and abstract expressionism in particular, is more complicated.

While he admires its main figures, e.

  1. If two objects can be identical in appearance and nevertheless belong to very different categories--art and not-art--what distinguishes artworks from objects that could be, but are not, art?
  2. Anything can be an artwork according to Danto, and in his excellent new book he finds this "pluralism" nothing less than thrilling 19. Artworks are no longer aesthetic objects that can be defined in terms of visual characteristics or formal construction.
  3. Since Marcel Duchamp, nothing about works of art has been self-evident. You are not currently authenticated.

Jackson Pollack and Clement Greenberg, its sacerdotal strictures and hermetic self-referentiality trouble him. Abstract Expression is a gracefully written chapter in art's historical narrative, but one that does little to drive the plot forward. Pop art, on the other hand, is for Danto a heroic movement. Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns, among others, revived and radicalized Duchamp's project of creating philosophically challenging art, producing objects that question the criteria by which we designate some things to be art and other things to be just things.

But in so doing they did much more; Danto argues that they "reconnected" art and life, making art meaningful in a new way, even "reenchanting the world" through a "'poetics of.

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