Monday, December 7, 2009

Ranchel Chan on Danto

Chan: According to Danto, art is defined by theory or historical theory. However, who creates these theories? If expertise is required, who is classified as an expert to produce such theories? Do these experts have to be well-known to the general public? Or can the theory just be one according to an individual reagardless of expertise or popularity? Conceptual art is a very controversial form of art, and yet its whole foundation revolves around theory. I am unclear about Danto’s definition of art when it comes to this art movement. In short, to what or whom Danto is referring when it comes to the source of a theory.

Leddy: Danto doesn’t make it clear who the theory makers are. Sometimes it is artist (through giving the work a title), sometimes philosophers, sometime art critics or historians. Although Danto was influenced by conceptual art, he thought that his theory of art applied to all art.

Chan: Danto’s main idea concerning art is that theory is so powerful it detaches objects from the real world and makes them part of a different world, an artworld, a world of interpreted things. Therefore, nothing is an artwork without an interpretation that constitutes it as such. This means that Danto’s theory is different from Dickie’s because Dickie does not demand that something be interpreted as art. However, Dickie’s definition is a theory. Now, since Dickie has come up with his own theory of what art is, doesn’t this mean that Danto must accept Dickie’s theory as art also? Or does this not apply since he himself is not an artist? However, he is an expert in the artworld.

Leddy: Oddly in one of his essays Danto claims his own theory is a work of art! Still, I don't think Danto seriously holds it is sufficient for something to be art that it be a theory of art. Maybe he should hold that a work of art requires a material counterpart, although that would cause a problem with some conceptual art.

Chan: Since historical theory is developed and evolves over time, does Danto consider cultural differences?

Leddy: No he doesn’t, but perhaps he should!

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