The Transfiguration of the Commonplace: A Philosophy of Art

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Overview

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 of artistic representation. A wealth of examples, drawn especially from recent and contemporary art, illuminate the argument.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism

One of the most philosophically interesting books to date in the philosophy of art. Concerned with defining 'work of art'...Danto demonstrates an enviable breadth of knowledge in both philosophy and art history. The result is a volume that is certain to be at the center of discussion in this area in the coming years.
— Marcia M. Eaton

Commonweal
This book is a long meditation on Brillo boxes putting themselves forward as-works-of art, or, 'gerrymandered' (Danto raids everywhere for his brilliant figurations) by interpretation into expressiveness, into metaphoricality. Malraux proposes seeing art as a metamorphosis performed by museums and juxtaposition and time (history). Danto proposes art as a metaphor of the commonplace. Art makes obvious things odd; it paradoxicalizes the ordinary. It defamiliarizes. Danto is fun...Buy it and read.
Choice
By focusing on the question 'How do banal objects become transfigured into works of art?,' the author exposes the definitive qualities of a work of art...The book contains an excellent discussion of 'style' in art. Danto both builds on and challenges some of the basic tenets of Nelson Goodman...This book will be heard of for some time to come.
Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism - Marcia M. Eaton
One of the most philosophically interesting books to date in the philosophy of art. Concerned with defining 'work of art'...Danto demonstrates an enviable breadth of knowledge in both philosophy and art history. The result is a volume that is certain to be at the center of discussion in this area in the coming years.
Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism
One of the most philosophically interesting books to date in the philosophy of art. Concerned with defining 'work of art'...Danto demonstrates an enviable breadth of knowledge in both philosophy and art history. The result is a volume that is certain to be at the center of discussion in this area in the coming years.
— Marcia M. Eaton
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674903463
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1983
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,282,713
  • Product dimensions: 5.55 (w) x 8.24 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Arthur C. Danto is Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University.
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Table of Contents

  • 1. Works of Art and Mere Real Things
  • 2. Content and Causation
  • 3. Philosophy and Art
  • 4. Aesthetics and the Work of Art
  • 5. Interpretation and Identification
  • 6. Works of Art and Mere Representations
  • 7. Metaphor, Expression, and Style
  • Index

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