Monday, June 13, 2011

Understanding the end of art.

After Bramann's presentation of his paper "Understanding the End of Art" during the Philosophical Forum debate on October 28, 1998, Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities Dr. Philip Allen responded with the following remarks: 

(1) There is something disturbing about the suggestion that just as marginalized groups have begun to be recognized as producers of art, we now declare the end of art. 

(2) Even if a case could be made for the end of art by reference to the history of two-dimensional painting, it is far from clear that a parallel case could be made by reference to the other arts. 

(3) Great art is still being produced today, but it is outside the structure of the artworld and its social context. (4) The underlying purpose of art is to "make the hidden visible." It is not plausible to believe that art in this sense has (or could) come to an end. 

Dr. Randall Rhodes presented his reply in the following paper::
It may be too pessimistic to contend that the cutting edge of the human spirit has far outpaced the developmental trajectory of art. That, rather than finding new modes of creation and enlightenment, art has sunken into a protracted state of disorientation and exhaustion. That, no longer purposive, art has become caught up in its own production and effete aestheticism. 

Yet, considering the whole context of its historical progress, art has been only incidentally purposive. Drafted into the service of political or social agendas, art has been periodically reduced to mass illustration and the aping of nature. However, ever since Plato and the advent of critical theory, art has been characterized as neither cognitive nor moral. 

Perceived as, at best, a shadow image of an imperfectly ordered planet, art has but one objective - to eschew the empirical and function as a phenomenal embodiment of dimly perceived metaphysical truths, an eternal representation of the innermost unfolding of the Idea. 
Hegel's reading of art's developmental progress up the anagogical ladder, from the symbolic to the classical, and ultimately, to the romantic, locates the situs where the Idea is freed from the concrete image and the moment when it surpasses our understanding and wins our wonder. 

But Hegel's theoretical fallability in regard to art's history obscures the fact that art has been romantic since its inception. Mimesists have always been consigned to the lowest hierarchical ranks, or even to Hell, and Platonists, to the highest academic ranks and immortal fame. As practitioners of le beau ideal, Platonists find that truth lay not within the worldly referential, but in the liberation from it.
For example, Donald Judd's Untitled sculpture from 1967, celebrates minimalist abstraction. In its geometrical and textural purism, it rises upward, step by step, leading our vision to its sequential conclusion. It is an aesthetic transport to the world of divine exaltation, a phenomenal leap of faith above and beyond the limits of created and physical matter. 

Playing Riegl against Hegel, a certain aspect of art's historical progress operates according to its own internal demands and structural concerns. This developmental chain is animated by the Kunstwollen, a larger will that moves throughout a culture with an inner inherent necessity to generate transition and movement. Yet while this stream of art suffers through slopes and movements, genetic and geological mutations, its organic living power of apprehension endlessly flows onward and upward. For example, a Persian rug, in its balance of florettes and vignettes, embodies this historical quest for compositional harmony and virtu

by Jorn K. Bramann