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Works by
Arthur C. Danto
(AKA Arthur Colman Danto)
(Writer)
[1924 - ]

Eacd1 at columbia dot edu
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Profile created October 15, 2009
Updated November 19, 2009
Essays
  • Unnatural Wonders: Essays from the Gap Between Art and Life (2007)
    Arthur C. Danto's essays not only critique bodies of work but reflect upon art's conceptual evolution as well, drawing for the reader a kind of "philosophical map" indicating how art and the criteria for judging it has changed over the twentieth century. In Unnatural Wonders the renowned critic finds himself at a point when contemporary art has become wholly pluralistic, even chaotic-with one medium as good as another-and when the moment for the "next thing" has already passed. So the theorist goes in search of contemporary art's most exhilarating achievements, work that bridges the gap between art and life, which, he argues, is now the definitive art of our time.

    Danto considers the work of such young artists as John Currin and Renee Cox and older living masters including Gerhard Richter and Sol LeWitt. He discusses artists of the New York School, like Philip Guston and Joan Mitchell, and international talents, such as the South African William Kentridge. Danto conducts a frank analysis of Matthew Barney's The Cremaster Cycle, Damien Hirst's skeletons and anatomical models, and Barbara Kruger's tchotchke-ready slogans; finds the ghost of Henry James in the work of Barnett Newman; and muses on recent Whitney Biennials and art influenced by 9/11. He argues that aesthetic considerations no longer play a central role in the experience and critique of art. Instead art addresses us in our humanity, as men and women who seek meaning in the "unnatural wonders" of art, a meaning that philosophy and religion are unable to provide.

  • The Philosophical Disenfranchisement of Art (2005) by Arthur C. Danto and Jonathan Gilmore
    In this acclaimed work, first published in 1986, world-renowned scholar Arthur C. Danto explored the inextricably linked but often misunderstood relationship between art and philosophy. In light of the book's impact -- especially the essay "The End of Art," which dramatically announced that art ended in the 1960s -- this enhanced edition includes a foreword by Jonathan Gilmore that discusses how scholarship has changed in response to it. Complete with a new bibliography of work on and influenced by Danto's ideas, The Philosophical Disenfranchisement of Art continues to be of interest to anyone who thinks seriously about art, as well as to philosophers, aestheticians, and art historians.

  • Philosophizing Art: Selected Essays (2001)
    Arthur Danto's work has always affirmed a deep relationship between philosophy and art. These essays explore this relationship through a number of concrete cases in which either artists are driven by philosophical agendas or their art is seen as solving philosophical problems in visual terms. The essays cover a varied terrain, with subjects including Giotto's use of olfactory data in The Raising of Lazarus; chairs in art and chairs as art; Mel Bochner's Wittgenstein drawings; the work of Robert Motherwell, Andy Warhol, and Robert Irwin; Louis Kahn as "Archai-Tekt"; and visual truth in film. Also featured are a meditation on the battle of Gettysburg; and a celebration of the Japanese artist Shiko Munakata, an essay that is partly autobiographical.

  • The Body/Body Problem: Selected Essays ( 2001)
    The overall subject of the essays in The Body/Body Problem is the traditional one of what our ultimate makeup is, as creatures with minds and bodies. The central thesis is that we are beings who represent--and misrepresent--actual and possible worlds. Addressing philosophical questions of mental representation, Danto presents his distinctive approach to some of the most enduring topics in philosophy. He is concerned with the nature of description, the status of the external world, action theory, the philosophy of history, and the philosophical status of psychoanalytic explanation. Representation is a central concept in philosophy, says Danto, with differences among philosophers arising in the ways they account for how representations connect to the world or to the individuals possessing them, and how they connect with one another to form systems of beliefs, feelings, and attitudes. In these essays Danto's own voice, with his arguments and speculations, provides rich philosophical pleasures that will endure, to borrow from Santayana, "under whatever sky."

  • The Madonna of the Future: Essays in a Pluralistic Art World (2001)
    The Madonna of the Future finds Danto at the point where all the vectors of the art world intersect: those of traditional painting, Pop art, mixed media, and installation art; those of art and philosophy; those of the specialist who brings theory to bear on the work and the viewer who appreciates it primarily visually.

  • Wake of Art: Criticism, Philosophy, and the Ends of Taste (1998)
    Since the mid-1980s, Arthur C. Danto has been increasingly concerned with the implications of the demise of modernism. Out of the wake of modernist art, Danto discerns the emergence of a radically pluralistic art world. His essays illuminate this novel art world as well as the fate of criticism within it. As a result, Danto has crafted the most compelling philosophy of art criticism since Clement Greenburg. Gregg Horowitz and Tom Huhn analyse the constellation of philosophical and critical elements in Danto's new- Hegelian art theory. In a provocative encounter, they employ themes from Kantian aesthetics to elucidate the continuing persistence of taste in shaping even this most sophisticated philosophy of art.

  • Playing With the Edge: The Photographic Achievement of Robert Mapplethorpe (1995)
    Arthur Danto's assessment of the achievement of Robert Mapplethorpe is a lucid and graceful introduction to a controversial artist by the most distinguished philosophical critic of the arts in our time. While fully addressing the most public dimensions of Mapplethorpe's careerthe branding of his work as pornography and the legal and censorship issues that surround the exhibition of his photographsDanto's essay breaks with common responses by offering a fascinating and deeply sympathetic account of Mapplethorpe's aesthetics. In Playing with the Edge, Arthur Danto returns the discussion of Mapplethorpe to a consideration of his artistic legacy. He refuses to retreat from the sexual content of Mapplethorpe's images, claiming that the content and the artistic character of the photographs simultaneously invite and deflect the charges of pornography and together define the importance of Mapplethorpe's work. Danto discerns the images' uniqueness in the relation of trust between the photographer and his subjects. Through a fascinating exploration of the relation of Mapplethorpe's images to those of other artists (Titian, Sherman, Winogrand, Cartier-Bresson, Golub) Danto presents a compelling argument for Mapplethorpe's enduring position in the history of art, no less than the history of our times. FROM THE BOOK:"There is a tension at the heart of Robert Mapplethorpe's art, verging on paradox, between its most distinctive content and its most distinctive mode of presentation. The content of the work is often sufficiently erotic to be considered pornographic, even by the artist, while the aesthetic of its presentation is chastely classicit is Dionysiac and Apollonian at once. The content cannot have been a serious possibility for a major artist at any previous moment in history. It is particular to America in the 1970s, a decade Mapplethorpe exemplifies in terms of his values, his sensibilities, and his attitudes."

  • Beyond the Brillo Box: The Visual Arts in Post-Historical Perspective   (1992, 1998)
    In this collection of interconnected essays, Arthur C. Danto argues that Andy Warhol's Brillo Box of 1964 brought the established trajectory of Western art to an end and gave rise to a pluralism which has changed the way art is made, perceived, and exhibited. Wonderfully illuminating and highly provocative, his essays explore how conceptions of art and resulting historical narratives differ according to culture. They also grapple with the most challenging issues in art today, including censorship and state support of artists.

  • Encounters and Reflections: Art in the Historical Present   (1990, 1997)
    Since 1984, when he became art critic for The Nation, Arthur C. Danto, one of America's most inventive and influential philosophers, has also emerged as one of our most important critics of art. As an essayist, Danto's style is at once rigorous, incisive, and playful. Encounters and Reflections brings together many of his recent critical writings on artists such as Andy Warhol, David Hockney, and Robert Mapplethorpe; and on the significance of issues like the masterpiece and the museum. The result is a spirited brief from the front lines of current aesthetic and philosophical debate.

  • The State of the Art (1987)

Non-fiction
  • Analytical Philosophy of Action (2009)
    A study of the philosophical problems associated with the concept of action. Professor Danto is concerned to isolate logically the notion of a 'basic action' and to examine the way in which context and intention, for example, can convert physiological movements into significant actions. He finds many suggestive parallels between the concepts - the logical architecture - of action and cognition and in developing this theme he becomes involved in and proposes new approaches to various long-standing problems connected with causality, determinism and materialism. As in his earlier books, Analytical Philosophy of History and Analytical Philosophy of Knowledge, Professor Danto places the discussion in a broad historical and philosophical perspective and brings to it a wide reading and an unusual range of interests. He is always prepared to venture novel ideas to stimulate further debate and research and the book as a whole is presented as an original contribution to a subject which is attracting increasing attention from philosophers and from psychologists with an interest in the conceptual assumptions behind their work.

  • Analytical Philosophy of Knowledge (2009)
    A central theme of this book is that the main problems of philosophy and certainly the main traditional problems in the theory of knowledge, concern the space between language and the world. Professor Danto distinguishes between descriptive concepts, concerned with saying how the world is and semantic concepts, which have to do with the application of descriptions of the world. Failure to make these distinctions is responsible for a class of seemingly irresolvable disputes over the foundations of knowledge; but when the distinction is appreciated, a plausible philosophical theory of what it is to know the world can be framed which is free from the standard scepticisms.

  • Andy Warhol (2009)
    In a work of great wisdom and insight, art critic and philosopher Arthur Danto delivers a compact, masterful tour of  Andy Warhol’s personal, artistic, and philosophical transformations. Danto traces the evolution of the pop artist, including his early reception, relationships with artists such as Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, and the Factory phenomenon. He offers close readings of individual Warhol works, including their social context and philosophical dimensions, key differences with predecessors such as Marcel Duchamp, and parallels with successors like Jeff Koons. Danto brings to bear encyclopedic knowledge of Warhol’s time and shows us Warhol as an endlessly multidimensional figure—artist, political activist, filmmaker, writer, philosopher—who retains permanent residence in our national imagination.

    Danto suggests that "what makes him an American icon is that his subject matter is always something that the ordinary American understands: everything, or nearly everything he made art out of came straight out of the daily lives of very ordinary Americans. . . . The tastes and values of ordinary persons all at once were inseparable from advanced art."

  • Before the Revolution: Arthur C. Danto on the 1968 Student Revolt at Columbia University (2009)
    An article from: Artforum International by Arthur C. Danto. Digital - HTML

  • George Deem - 1932-2008 (2009) by Arthur C. Danto, Charles Molesworth, and George Deem

  • House in Use: Arthur C. Danto on Steven Holl's New York University Department of Philosophy (2009)
    An article from: Artforum International by Arthur C. Danto, Digital - HTML

  • Garry Knox Bennett: Call Me Chairmaker (2006) by Arthur C. Danto, Glenn Adamson, Matthew Kangas, and Stefano Catalani
    The chair holds an enduring fascination as the ultimate design challenge. Artists, craftspeople, designers, and architects have relentlessly sought the perfect solution: an ideal chair blending ergonomic, aesthetic, and material considerations - all in the hope of enticing us to sit. Never one to shy from challenges, Garry Knox Bennett has for more than 30 years been one of America's most important and influential furniture makers. This full color, 96 page catalogue is a beautiful companion to the exhibition Garry Knox Bennett: Call Me Chairmaker , which debuted at the Bellevue Arts Museum, and featured 52 chairs which exemplify Bennett's boisterous bravado and professed disdain for validated technical and artistic practices. The works in Call Me Chairmaker also reveal the essence of Bennett's artistic personality and his passion for pursuing the many possibilities the chair presents. Inspired by past and present famous architects and designers of chairs, Bennett lets his raucous humor, sly wit, and visual puns dance with full abandonment. His free-spirited, irreverent oeuvre forsakes not only conventional principles of art and design but, even more, the canons of furniture craftsmanship.

    Includes essays by Deputy Head of Research from Victoria and Albert Museum, Glenn Adamson, art critic and philosopher Arthur C. Danto, and independent art critic and curator Matthew Kangas. Also included is an interview with Garry Knox Bennett conducted by curator Stefano Catalani.

  • Steven Montgomery: Broken (2005) by Arthur C. Danto and Steven Montgomery

  • The Color of Time: The Photographs of Sean Scully (2004) by Arthur C. Danto, Edward Lucie-Smith, Mia Fineman, and Sean Scully
    Illustrated.  Essays by Arthur C. Danto and Mia Fineman. Interview by Edward Lucie-Smith.

  • The Abuse of Beauty: Asthetics and the Concept of Art (2003)
    In The Abuse of Beauty, art critic and philosopher Arthur Danto explains how the notion of beauty as anathema to art arose and flourished and offers a new way of looking at art and beauty. He draws on the thought of artists, critics, and philosophers such as Rimbaud, Fry, Matisse, and Greenberg, to reposition beauty as one of many modes - along with sexuality, sublimity, disgust, and horror - through which the human sensibility expresses itself. 20 black-and-white illustrations are included.

  • Sean Scully: Light and Gravity (March 8 - April 28, 2001) (2001) by Arthur C. Danto and Sean Scully
    See essay "Painting Earns Its Stripes"

  • After the End of Art (1997)

  • Connections to the World: The Basic Concepts of Philosophy (1997)
    Arthur C. Danto's lucid introduction to the central topics of Western philosophical thought remains an unparalleled guide to problems in metaphysics and epistemology that have engaged philosophers for several millennia. Examining the work of Plato, Berkeley, Descartes, Hume, and Wittgenstein, Danto explores debates about empiricism, the mind/body problem, the nature of matter, and the status of language, consciousness, and scientific explanation. In a new preface to this edition he considers the current relationship between philosophy and the humanities.

  • The Art of John Cederquist: Reality of Illusion (1997)

  • Mapplethorpe (1992)
    Essay

  • Mark Tansey: Visions and Revisions (1992)

  • Mysticism and Morality: Oriental Thought and Moral Philosophy (1987)

  • Narration and Knowledge# Playing With the Edge: The Photographic Achievement of Robert Mapplethorpe # Playing With the Edge: The Photographic Achievement of Robert Mapplethorpe ortant;" /> (1985)
    Narration and Knowledge is a classic work exploring the nature of historical knowledge and its reliance on narrative. Analytical philosopher Arthur C. Danto introduces the concept of "narrative sentences," in which an event is described with reference to later events (for example, "the Thirty Years' War began in 1618") and discusses why such sentences cannot be understood until the later event happens (no one could have said in 1618 that "the Thirty Years' War began today"). Danto compares narrative and scientific explanation and explores the legitimacy of historical laws. He also argues that history is an autonomous and humanist discipline incapable of being reduced to scientific descriptions.

  • The Transfiguration of the Commonplace: A Philosophy of Art (1981)
    Mr. Danto argues that recent developments in the artworld, in particular the production of works of art that cannot be told from ordinary things, make urgent the need for a new theory of art and make plain the factors such a theory can and cannot involve. In the course of constructing such a theory, he seeks to demonstrate the relationship between philosophy and art, as well as the connections that hold between art and social institutions and art history. The book distinguishes what belongs to artistic theory from what has traditionally been confused with it, namely aesthetic theory and offers as well a systematic account of metaphor, expression, and style, together with an original account 0f artistic representation. A wealth of examples, drawn especially from recent and contemporary art, illuminate the argument.

  • Analytical Philosophy of Action (1973)
    A study of the philosophical problems associated with the concept of action. Professor Danto is concerned to isolate logically the notion of a 'basic action' and to examine the way in which context and intention, for example, can convert physiological movements into significant actions. He finds many suggestive parallels between the concepts - the logical architecture - of action and cognition and in developing this theme he becomes involved in and proposes new approaches to various long-standing problems connected with causality, determinism and materialism. As in his earlier books, Analytical Philosophy of History and Analytical Philosophy of Knowledge, Professor Danto places the discussion in a broad historical and philosophical perspective and brings to it a wide reading and an unusual range of interests. He is always prepared to venture novel ideas to stimulate further debate and research and the book as a whole is presented as an original contribution to a subject which is attracting increasing attention from philosophers and from psychologists with an interest in the conceptual assumptions behind their work.

  • Jean-Paul Sartre (1975)

  • What Philosophy Is: A Guide to the Elements (1971)

  • Analytical Philosophy of History (1965)

  • Nietzsche as Philosopher (1965)
    Nietzsche As Philosopher (1965, 2005)
    First published in 1965, Danto's study argues that Nietzsche offers a systematic and coherent philosophy, anticipating many of the questions that define contemporary philosophy. Danto's commentaries helped canonize Nietzsche as a philosopher and continue to illuminate subtleties in Nietzsche's work as well as his immense contributions to the philosophies of science, language, and logic. This new edition, which includes five additional essays, not only further enhances our understanding of Nietzsche's philosophy; it responds to the misunderstandings that continue to muddy his intellectual reputation.

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