Art as Performance

Art as Performance

Language: English

Pages: 292

ISBN: 1405116676

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In this richly argued and provocative book, David Davies elaborates and defends a broad conceptual framework for thinking about the arts that reveals important continuities and discontinuities between traditional and modern art, and between different artistic disciplines.

  • Elaborates and defends a broad conceptual framework for thinking about the arts.
  • Offers a provocative view about the kinds of things that artworks are and how they are to be understood.
  • Reveals important continuities and discontinuities between traditional and modern art.
  • Highlights core topics in aesthetics and art theory, including traditional theories about the nature of art, aesthetic appreciation, artistic intentions, performance, and artistic meaning.

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normally cite in justifying our judgments of artistic value on a painting are not in any obvious sense manifest properties of the design – its being a particular arrangement of pigment on canvas – but, rather, more traditional “aesthetic” qualities such as balance, symmetry, grace, and expressiveness. According to what may be termed sophisticated pure aesthetic empiricism, the artistic properties of a painting are indeed distinct from its manifest pictorial properties, but the two kinds of

art-historical conditions – say, 20 years later. In fact, our critical practice incorporates very few modal judgments of this sort, since we are rarely interested in how a given work might have been, but only in how it is. Many philosophers, however, have taken our modal intuitions about artworks very seriously, assuming that these intuitions serve as an indication of the sorts of principles that guide us in our actual critical and appreciative practice. Certainly an appeal to our modal

work-constitutive features of provenance can be overlooked when we ask about the essential properties of a work. The problem with this strategy, however, is that sometimes slight differences in the constitutive features of works are relevant to work identity, as the examples discussed above may demonstrate. The proposed strategy lacks the resources to provide us with principled constraints on our willingness to be flexible in our judgments of sameness and difference. 114 Provenance, Modality,

constitutive and essential features of a work’s history of making that cannot owe this status to their bearing on the work’s focus of appreciation, the contextualist lacks an explanation of why this should be so. As a further step in my cumulative argument for the performance theory, therefore, I suggest that we can best accommodate the workrelativity of modality if we avail ourselves of a strategy that identifies works with generative performances of some sort, rather than with their

visual arts, and especially in much late modern visual art, it is unhelpful, at best, to think of the artistic vehicle as a structure. In elaborating the performance theory, therefore, we should talk not of “discovering a structure” but of “specifying a focus of appreciation,” and characterize artworks as performances whereby such focuses are specified. The notion of “specifying a focus of appreciation” is broader than 150 Art as Performance that of “discovering a structure” in two important

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