After the End of Art

Art and Craft of Writing

“...the master narrative of the history of art - in the West but by the end not in the West alone - is that there is an era of imitation, followed by an era of ideology, followed by our post-historical era in which, with qualification, anything goes.”

Arthur Danto, After the End of Art

There’s no general agreement on what art is and what is not. As Danto argues in his book “After the End of Art” nowadays you can no longer tell whether something is art by simply looking at it. Rather anything can be art, and anyone can be an artist. Even the most influential and recognized minds of the last century cannot agree on what is and what is not a piece of art.

Hegel, for example, describes art as based on three main characteristics. He states that: “There are 3 factors determining a work of art:

1. A work of art is not produced by Nature; it is brought into being by the agency of man.

2. It is created essentially for man, and it is addressed to his senses

3. It contains an end bound up with it.”

Jacques Maritain, in contrast, gives three completely different conventions that make one work a work of art. According to him, “There are three rules on art. First - the very idea of rules in the arts changes and becomes transfigured through the impact of beauty on the activity of art. So the rules must be continually reborn, and the artist is forever exploring the unknown. Second - the work to be made is unique, and an end in itself. Each time, and for every single work, there is for the artist a new and unique way to strive after the making of his art. Third - because the work is an end in itself, and a unique participation in beauty, reason alone is not enough for the artist. Because in art as in contemplation, intellectuality at its peak goes beyond concepts and reason, and is achieved through union with the subject, which love alone can bring about.”

Once again, Leo Tolstoy disagrees with the other definitions of art and gives his own. He claims that: “Real art must be infectious-the receiver of a true artistic impression is so united to the artist that he feels as though the work were his own-as if what it expresses was what he had been longing to express. A real work of art destroys the separation between himself and the artist, and even between himself and all those others who also appreciate this art. In this freeing of our personality from its isolation, and uniting it with others, lies the great attractive force of art. Not only is infection a sure sign of art, but the degree of infectiousness is the sole measure of excellence in art. This depends on 3 things;

1. The individuality of the feeling transmitted.

2. Its clarity.

3. The sincerity of the artist - i.e. the degree of force with which the artist feels the emotion he transmits.”

Art is not just what you can see in museums, art galleries, or what someone qualified as a masterpiece. There are countless forms and types of art. There are numerous genres. And every person has his own taste for art. There is no such thing as school subject called “Art Appreciation” that you can be thought. Art is what you, as an individual, can recognize as such.

Creating art and experiencing art are both very personal. Every artist, when involved in a process of creating a new work, is trying to embody some specific meaning in his creation. In the same way, everyone who’s in touch with a work of art should be able to extract some meaning from this contact. The purpose of the artist is to create a feeling or a mood, usually an emotion that the artist feels and hopefully the viewer will feel. But it is not necessary to be the same meaning that the author was trying to introduce. It is not possible to be the same meaning. For we are human beings. And everything we interact with, we see in the light of our own consciousness, of our own individual