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Philosophy of the Arts

new art forms

Art is a Practice

In follow-up to a previous post that produced the interim conclusion that art is unsurmountably historical: the circularity we get upon trying to understand when someone is an artist is best accommodated (or rephrased) by conceiving of art as a practice.
It is a practice in the sense of being co-constituted by peculiar attitudes which feed-back into the objects and actions comprising the core of the practice and the intentions with which these are produced. In lay terms: at the heart of art practice we find institutions such as concert halls and museums, which are devoted to presenting art works. The art works are made in such manner as to allow audiences to have a rewarding experience of them—these experiences will depend on the nature of the art form the work is partial to (paintings are such that a viewer will stand opposed to it, at a certain distance, and that the viewer will get the best of the work’s meaning scrutinising its surface qualities, where he may find an image (or not), some or other expression, and a style of painting. For the categories and norms at stake there, read Walton). The artist made his works to accommodate certain intentions he has with his audience. (For the relevance, and nature of artist’s intentions read Wollheim).

…It is also a moral
practice…

Thus, the anticipated appreciative experience motivates the artist; the artist’s realised intentions (toward that anticipated experience) motivate the ones responsible for the presentation of the work (in the institutions); the audience’s experience is structured by the artist and by the conditions in the institutions. In short, all relevant considerations feed-back onto each other. Hence, art is a practice.
It is also a moral practice, and have said something about certain consequences of that fact for the moral assessment of art, and am about to publish a paper on the rise of a peculiar art form dealing with exactly this moral embedding.

– Gerwen, Rob van. 2004. “Ethical Autonomism. The Work of Art as a Moral Agent.” Contemporary Aesthetics, vol. 2.
– Walton, Kendall L. 1970. “Categories of Art.” The Philosophical Review 79:334–67.
Wollheim, Richard. 1993. “Pictorial Style: Two Views.” In The Mind and its Depths, 171–184. Cambridge (Mass.), London (England): Harvard University Press.

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