Philosophy of Art: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy) Hardcover – 16 Sep 1999
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"The book's strength is its concise and straightforward deciphering of a variety of representations in a dense manner."
-Choice, May 2000
From the Back Cover
Philosophy of Art is a textbook for undergraduate students interested in the topic of philosophical aesthetics. It introduces the techniques of analytical philosophy in addition to a selection of major topics in the field. These include the representational theory of art, formalism, neo-formalism, aesthetic theories of art, neo-Wittgensteinism, the Institutional Theory of Art, as well as historical approaches to the nature of art. Throughout the book, abstract philosophical theories are illustrated by examples from theatre, architecture, painting, music, the decorative arts and photography. These references to both traditional and contemporary art forms, including the avant-garde, enriches the reader's understanding of art theory as well as the appreciation of art. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
Carroll's Philosophy of Art: A Contemporary Introduction is an easy-to-read, non-patronising, highly thoughtful, reflective look at the major positions in the field. It left me feeling I wanted to find out more. It left me feeling I'd been led through the territory by a friend. I felt more intelligent for having read it. And yes, I completed my Phd. I'd thoroughly recommend it. Five stars, without hesitation.
There are many introductory texts in this area, but I think that this is one of the more substantial. The author is a Professor of the Philosophy of Art, and a well-known figure in the area. His book is aimed primarily at undergraduate students of the arts, or of philosophy. Nonetheless, it should be accessible to any intelligent adult reader with a genuine interest in the subject who is willing to read carefully and is not intimidated by line-by-line argumentation. Its strength is not so much that it argues for any given approach - though obviously the author favours his own - as that it forces the reader to see how complex the apparently simple process of art appreciation really is, and why easy definitions continue to elude us.
For instance, the author rejects the representational theory of art with the argument, that some art isn't representational. Therefore, the representational theory must be wrong. Easy, right?
Wrong. The whole point of the representational theory is that non-representational art *isn't* art. Carroll's argument is therefore a non sequitur. Essentially, he just says: "YES, IT IS". To which the representationalist will respond: "NO, IT ISN'T". Quite a debate!
Carroll assumes what needs to be proven: that the avantgarde is art. Duchamp's ready-mades and "Two Minutes of Silence" are art. Why? No idea. Because Carroll and modernist art critics say so, presumably. Therefore, definitions of art which would exclude Duchamp and the Silent Guy cannot be correct. QED.
That's an argument?
When the chips are down, Carroll cannot even present a definition of his own, at least not a coherent one. Carroll believes that design isn't art. Why not? Many people would disagree. But perhaps they aren't part of the cognoscenti Art Circle. He further believes that a traffic sign used as a wall decoration wouldn't be art. Again, why not?
What is art? Perhaps the question cannot be given a clear answer. And then, perhaps it can. How come the public after 100 years of modernist indoctrination still doesn't consider the modernist monstrosities to be "art"? Carroll implies that such people are simply silly and philistine. Another possibility is that modern and postmodern art simply doesn't appeal to some kind of aesthetic, symbolic or ritual instincts deeply embedded in our psyches. In plain English: no, Noël, it really isn't "art" after all!
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