• Agents of Change

    • While differentiating the pre-artistic, artistic and post-artistic periods, Danto highlighted some profound philosophical queries.

    Arthur C. Danto, an art critic that will allow us to understand the contemporary scene / 

    Arthur C. Danto (1924-2013) used his philosophy to postulate the idea that art has perished and that we have entered a post-artistic era. The arguments that support this idea surround the decay of stories that legitimise art. Danto presented points that art lovers and experts have widely debated, but his arguments remain characterised by depth and responsibility. The latter made him a perfect candidate to be considered an authentic rebel.

    For this American philosopher, art lost the essence that allowed it to redefine humanity's accomplishments —with the exception of film, since this sphere continued to present significant technical, aesthetic and artistic achievements. Danto witnessed the development of artists like Warhol, Pollock, de Kooning and of other creators that altered the second half of the twentieth century, and whose artistic essence has permeated this sphere today. His reflections surrounding art began their gestation in the Sixties, and two decades later their theories seemed to fit perfectly within the artistic reality of their time.

    When the era of the great vanguard manifestos ended, the anti-art movements began, perceived as a consecution of the vanguards. The interests of their creators however, were different. In the nineteenth century, when the artist could not become more autonomous, after freeing himself from religious and political institutions, the prophecy foretelling the death of art became true. Since postmodernity, art is what artists, merchants and curators want it to be, so that the only thing that ended with Danto, is the traditional way of judging art, meaning, the canonical way of judging art.

    Nowadays art requires us to reflect on objects which are reputed as artistic, that are not art because they do not belong to a tradition, but which do embody, philosophically, the concept of contemporary art. For example, Brillo Box, by Andy Warhol, is an idea that criticises the statute of works of art using wooden boxes, which are identical to solely utilitarian products, and that nonetheless become works of art by being placed in a museum.

    Danto’s essays have profoundly influenced the way we criticise art today, and while he never says that art is impossible under current circumstances, he does state that it is not evident to anybody.

    With his contributions Danto has bravely faced the need to divide art into pre-artistic, artistic, death and posthumous art. And precisely for this reason, he established himself as an agent of change whose ideas are crucial to the understanding of contemporary art and philosophy. 

    Tagged: Arthur C. Danto, philosophy, philosophy of art, contemporary art