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Philosophy of Art

I know it must have been difficult for you to hear that about art. You have pursued to become an artist and then you hear of such appalling statements. But if you truly want to become an artist and if you love art as it is, then you have nothing to worry about. I have read that article and it discusses many main points which are convincing and in such perspectives, true. It was written by Arthur Danto and it talks about the end of art. Let me explain. First of all, to clear things out a bit, Danto talks about the future of art not the art of the future.

He is quick to say that it doesn’t necessarily mean that there would be no more works of art or that art would just stop existing. It certainly would be very difficult to imagine what art would be like in say 10 or 20 years. Some may have tried but the very means that they have depicted art in the future is actually a representation of the current time that they were living in. I think he talked about some work that had flying vehicles and airborne restaurants but the people in it wore top hats and bustles for the women. Now that’s a very distinctive point. There is simply no way of being able to predict what the future works of art would be.

It is therefore necessary that we look at things in a way that is not so deterministic of the art of the future; meaning Danto only talks of the perspective that art has no future; that it has ended, as so your colleagues say. It doesn’t mean though that it has completely died and ceased to exist. It only means that the history of art isn’t any more relevant to our history; that art has lost any historical direction. It once did, yes. But today it is just a mere representation of what it had become and there is nothing more to explore. In his essay Danto spoke of two main models, the progressive model and the expressionist model.

The progressive model talks about how art has progressed towards its aim. If you see art as a way of representing things in actual life, then don’t you think that we can clearly conclude that it has evolved? Just think of the past and how their craggy paintings seemed to represent a woman or a pasture or whatever it is they wanted to relay to their audience. Before they used sculptures and drawings, now we have movies and cartoons. Before they used illusion and a sense of moving depictions, now we can actually see depth and shadows and actual movement.

Nowadays, we are moving from two dimensional to three especially in our animated cartoons. We need not anymore explain what the painting means or whether a certain sculpture intended to throw something or fly or whatever. (Forgive me for vagueness. I am not as adept with the different works of art as you are. ? ) Now we can actually see, hear and even feel representations of life through videos and films, and pictures. Throughout history we have seen how art evolved and the problems of complexity in defining and representing real life was conquered.

There was a conscious effort to overcome the inconveniences of art; of not being able to accurately show that the person has a shadow for example or of not being able to make the audience see what happens next and the next after that. Danto talks about palpability, the tangibility of life represented in art. It has more and more become easy to fell and perceive, so much that we conclude that art has nothing more to accomplish. We are giving more emphasis here to painting and sculpture because whatever they used to represent, it has now become the task of films and cameras and other technology to relay.

If we look at it in that linear way, art has indeed ended. It can no more produce more accurate equivalents of our perceived experiences. In a sense, there really is nothing more left to do. Now one may argue that art doesn’t necessarily mean and aim for a representation of tangible things. It would be evident in the Abstract Expressionism that art can actually evoke feelings in its audience without having to portray pictures of objects or people. This is where the Expression theory comes in. Yes we both know that art is a form of expression; the ultimate symbol of articulating humanity and his history and culture.

But as Danto says, there really is no development in expression. We may have different degrees of expressing things and concepts but that is not credited to the development of it; this would be due to different degrees in freedom. The fact that we can talk about sex today or abortion or divorce doesn’t mean that we could not have expressed those concepts before. This is just a difference in morality. It is a development other than the development of expression. Now I may be talking about development because in having a history, it is necessary.

With expression, it will never be that we would be able to express in the future what we cannot express today. Expression is something that has neither a start nor an end. It’s just there, only in different forms and degrees. It can never be seen as a progressive development. In fact, history has no future if it has become just a sequence of some individual discontinuous and uncorrelated acts. It may be perceived too that art is incommensurable. It can never be defined or measured through one distinct way. What art is in the past is never the same as what art is today. Let’s face it. The world changes and art changes with it.

In this, art can be seen as something that cannot be defined in a linear constructed way, and thus the art of today will not have a future. We can see that in history, where art has become a mere succession of movements. What is a fad today will not be a fad tomorrow and the artist is constricted to a certain technique simply because it is what is demanded at his time. But what is it that art is aiming for? What really is its end? Danto says the history of art is simply a transitional means of achieving an understanding of knowledge. That knowledge Danto sees is simply the knowledge of what art is.

I know it is somehow cyclical but the history of art is intertwined with the nature and definition of it. In a sense, history ends with maturity and like anything that has come to pass, art too has matured and now, it has ended with nothing left but the remnants of a great place in history. To sum up, art is a just a stage towards self alignment and discovery of absolute knowledge. And the fact that there is no more difference with the real perceived objects and the knowledge of it in art, means that art indeed has come to an end. Today, as Danto says, it really doesn’t matter any more what you do.

Art is just entertainment and past time and a means to make people happy. It doesn’t anymore introduce change. It doesn’t anymore conquer great hurdles of expression and representation. There simply is nothing left to do. This is what has become of art. And in that sense, it is indeed the end of art. Now, Pablo, I know he said many things that are wholly and partially faithful to what art had become today, but his claims will not matter if you understand art as it is. If you believe and accept Danto’s claims, and still want to pursue art, then that is an achievement.

Saying that art has ended has an ominous and terminating sense to it and I don’t think that’s what you should focus on. Although I may agree with him in a sense that art does not have anything more to usher in history, that it has reached a plateau, I am absolutely sure that it doesn’t mean that art is and will never be a vitality of life. Art will forever be the enduring symbol of humanity’s creative abilities and talent; something that clearly distinguishes us from any other specie, something that makes us even more special. In that, I actually admire you.

Having the courage to pursue art while knowing that it wouldn’t really be an assurance of livelihood or a means for great and relevant discoveries is something that only true artist’s possess, a passion that you shouldn’t let anyone defeat. We both know that art has long been gone from the limelight. We don’t worship any artist now as they had adored Picasso and Matisse and the many great artisans in the past. I know you have thought of that before going to London. But let it not be what would stop you from achieving the things that your dreams have made you believe. You sound very concerned about art’s future.

Danto says it doesn’t have one. But then again, Pablo, please keep in mind that it doesn’t mean that you don’t have one too. Art does not define you. You define your own work. And as long as there are people you can share that appreciation with, there really is nothing to worry about. Personally, though, and if practicality is what you want, I would encourage you to go to the sciences. Vet school might be a good idea. You love animals, right? Who knows? You might be equally as passionate with veterinary medicine as you are with art. Art is for those who are there for the sake of it.

If you want to earn more money and have the assurance of a good life, you should try considering other professions. But then again, I don’t think that’s what you wanted in the first place. Just stick to what you feel is right and what would make you happy; to what you really want. I am in philosophy and I am enjoying every minute of it. So, cliche as it is, just listen to what your heart tells you and you’ll be fine. No need to stay up all night worrying. ? There. I hope I was able to help you on this. Please tell me what you think okay. I’d support you in whatever you decide on. Good luck! Sincerely, Pablo

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