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Reviews199 of all time into inseparable twinship. There are moments of overreductiveness, and an avoidance of the parlance which in the past served an understanding of ontological issues. For Blake, if we take his word, every action was symbolic, a word eschewed in this study, along with a sense for what the Germans call Gemüt, equivalent to ingenium. Without the symbolon and the ceaseless striving of the soul, compacted in Gemüt, both Goethe and Blake's worlds, I fear, lack the momentum to spin them into an orbit accessible to philosopher and poet alike. University of QueenslandWalter Tonetto The State ofthe Art, by Arthur C. Danto; ? & 228 pp. New York: Prentice Hall, 1987, $19.95. Arthur Danto many years ago abandoned art for philosophy. In moving from the studio to the university, Danto's career follows die Hegelian trajectory by which art comes to its end by turning into philosophy. Given his personal allegiance to the Hegelian conception of history, it is thus ironic to find Danto progressively reverting to the subject of art. The State ofthe Art is Danto's third book devoted to art. But it is his first foray into criticism. This excursion began in 1984 when the author, who isJohnsonian Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University, accepted an assignment as art critic for The Nation. TL· State oftL· Art collects the author's first two seasons in this occupation. With The Nation reviews, the volume includes a prologue and a closing essay, "Approaching the End of Art." The latter represents a revised version of a 1985 lecture originally delivered at the Whitney Museum. The change in genre from the philosophy book, with its timeless generalizations and reflection, to the art column tied to the exigencies of word counts, weekly deadlines, and current fashion, matters less than one might expect. In The State of tL· Art, as in TL· Transfiguration of the Commonplace (1981) and The Disenfranchisement of Art (1986), Danto successfully crosses the divide between aesthetic theory and the immediate experience of artworks. The intent is clearly to reject a model of criticism based on the restaurant reviews common to magazines named after the cities they advertise. The restaurant critic, Danto observes in the prologue, visits the newest locales, samples the wares, comments on arrangement and appearance, recommends and cautions , assigns "stars." This brand of criticism he associates with TL· New Yorker in the 1950s. It implied "that artists were bent on achievements not remarkably, if at all, different from those of chefs: to give pleasure to a clientele sufficiendy 200Philosophy and Literature advanced in taste and discrimination to be responsive to subdeties, artisanship and an occasional audacity" (p. 2). For Danto, art criticism requires something different. Art, particularly the art of the twentietii century, he sees as increasingly raiding the boundary between art and life. More important, art has appropriated the philosophical terrain which reflects upon the nature of this boundary. Hence, art—and by implication art's criticism—have become philosophical. What Danto's approach to criticism means in practice is that artworks— Rauschenberg's Bed, Warhol's Campbell Soup cans, the black or white canvases of Minimalist painting—must be understood as altering the landscape of thought. Dantotakes as his modelthecriticismofHarold Rosenberg. Rosenberg, he writes, exposed "the philosophical thoughts that flickered, like a flame in a jewel, at the metaphysical heart of the works he admired" (p. 4). One finds the same talent manifest in The Nation reviews. Danto, more than any other contemporary critic, has awakened the artworld to the philosophical significance of its recent developments. At the same time, he has brought the philosophy of art closer to developments in the art world. While TL· State of tL· Art continues a line of thinking familiar to those who know Danto's earlier works, TL· Nation essays also contain much that is new: reflections on public art and public space, a discussion of "moral optics," and speculations on the difference between a great artist and merely a determined one. Danto's wide-ranging interests and capacity for enjoyment lead him from the drawings ofAlbertina at the Pierpont Morgan Library to the splashy subway tapestries of CRASH and DAZE. Included are reviews...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 199-200
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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