Why Is That Art?: Aesthetics and Criticism of Contemporary Art / Edition 1

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Why is that art? Why is it in an art museum? Who says it's art? Why is it good? Author Terry Barrett addresses these questions about contemporary art using four key sources: a broad, diverse, and engaging sampling of works, the artists who created the works, philosophers of art, and art critics. Why Is That Art? introduces students to established theories of art through the presentation of contemporary works that include abstract and representational painting, monumental sculpture, performance art, video installations, films, and photographs.

Ideal for courses in aesthetics, art theory, art criticism, and the philosophy of art, this unique book provides students with a newfound appreciation for contemporary art, scholarship, and reasoned argumentation.

* Explores a variety of established theories of art, including Realism, Expressionism, Cognitivism, Formalism, and Postmodernist Pluralism
* Applies each theory to contemporary works of art, discussing strengths and limitations of each mode of interpretation
* Brings abstract ideas together in an accessible way through extended examples, giving students the understanding and vocabulary to confidently enter critical dialogue about art
* Includes Questions for Further Reflection at the end of each chapter
* Includes seventy illustrations, twenty-five of which are in full color

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A great book! Terry Barrett tackles complex ideas vital to understanding contemporary art, yet writes in a style that is accessible to students."—Patrick Luber, University of North Dakota

"A comprehensive, well-structured, and brilliantly articulated introduction to the theoretical ideas that inform our understanding of contemporary art and its discourses. The artists discussed are varied and diverse, which truly sets this book apart from so many others."—Derek Murray, University of California, Santa Cruz

"This book is fairly perfect. It is the best book for the level of my undergraduate students."—Irene Nero, Southeastern Louisiana University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195167429
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 2/16/2007
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Terry Barrett is is Professor of Art Education at the University of North Texas and Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University.

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Table of Contents

* Each Chapter opens with an Introduction and ends with Questions for Further Reflection and Notes.
Honorific Definitions of "Art"
Classificatory Definitions
The Open Definition
Art Criticism
Interpretation and Judgment
Critics on Criticizing
Criticizing Criticism
Criticism and Aesthetics
Skepticism about Art, Aesthetics, and Criticism
Aesthetics, Art Criticism, and Visual Culture
Aestheticians, Artists, Critics, and Readers
A Brief Overview of Realism
Obscenity and Censorship
Photography, Reality, and Truth
What Does It Mean to Say That a Work Is "Realistic"?
Works of Art by Jeff Koons
Critical Commentary on Koons's Work
Koons's Thoughts about His Own Work
Paintings by Alexis Rockman
Critical Commentary on Rockman's Paintings
Rockman's Thoughts about His Own Work
Photographs by Andres Serrano
Critical Commentary on Serrano's Photographs
Serrano's Thoughts about His Own Work
Realism and Artists
Realism and Artworks
Realism and Audiences
Expressionism and Cognitivism
Expressionist and Cognitivist Theories of Art
Leo Tolstoy
Benedetto Croce
R. G. Collingwood
Suzanne Langer
John Dewey
Nelson Goodman
Arthur Danto
Psychoanalytic Theory
Marxist Aesthetics
Joan Mitchell, Painter
Critical Commentary on Mitchell's Paintings
Mitchell's Thoughts about Her Own Work
Mitchell and Expressionism
Louise Bourgeois, Sculptor
Critical Commentary on Bourgeois's Sculptures
Bourgeois's Thoughts about Her Own Work
Bourgeois and Expressionism
Kiki Smith, Printmaker and Sculptor
Critical Commentary on Smith's Work
Smith's Thoughts about Her Own Art
Smith and Cognitivism
The Problem of Artistic Intent
Limitations of Expressionism and Cognitivism
Expressionism, Cognitivism, and Artists
Expressionism, Cognitivism, and Artworks
Expressionism, Cognitivism, and Audiences
Precursors to Formalism
Is Beauty Objective or Subjective?
Early Formalism
Aesthetic Attitude and Aesthetic Experience
The Sublime
Immanuel Kant
G. W. F. Hegel
Twentieth-Century Formalism
Early Modern Abstractionists Kandinsky, Mondrian, and Malevich
Clive Bell
Clement Greenberg
Ferdinand de Saussure
Roland Barthes
Structuralism and Formalism
Agnes Martin: Paintings and Drawings
Critical Commentary on Martin's Work
Martin's Thoughts about Her Own Work
Joel Shapiro: Sculptures
Critical Commentary on Shapiro's Work
Shapiro's Thoughts about His Own Work
Andy Goldsworthy: Environmental Sculptures
Critical Commentary on Goldsworthy's Work
Goldsworthy's Thoughts about His Own Work
Strengths and Limitations of Formalism
Formalism and Artists
Formalism and Artworks
Formalism and Audiences
Precursors to Poststructuralism and Postmodernism
Friedrich Nietzsche
Critical Theory
Jacques Lacan
Michel Foucault
Julia Kristeva
Jacques Derrida
Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari
Richard Rorty
Jean-François Lyotard
Jean Baudrillard
Frederic Jameson
Edward Said
Cindy Sherman: Photographs
Critical Commentary on Sherman's Photographs
Sherman's Thoughts about Her Own Work
Cindy Sherman and Postmodern Pluralism
Lorna Simpson: Photographs with Words
Critical Commentary on Simpson's Work
Simpson's Thoughts about Her Own Work
Lorna Simpson and Postmodern Pluralism
Paul McCarthy: Performances, Videos, and Sculptures
Critical Commentary on McCarthy's Work
McCarthy's Thoughts about His Own Work
McCarthy and Postmodern Pluralism
Strengths and Limitations of Postmodernist Pluralism
Approaches to Postmodern Artmaking
Escaping the Confines of Museums
Collapsing Boundaries Between "High" and "Low"
Postmodern Pluralism and Artists
Postmodern Pluralism and Artworks
Postmodern Pluralism and Audiences
Rejecting "Originality"
Working Collaboratively
Mixing Media
Mixing Codes
Confronting the Gaze
Facing the Abject
Constructing Identities
Using Narratives
Creating Metaphors
Using Irony, Parody, and Dissonance
Postmodern Pluralism and Artists
Postmodern Pluralism and Artworks
Postmodern Pluralism and Audiences
Why Is Stacked Art?
Art by Definition
Is Stacked a Good Work of Art?
Realist Considerations
Expressionist Considerations
Formalist Considerations
Postmodernist Considerations
Purposes of Art
Selecting Criteria
A Single Criterion or Multiple Criteria for All Works of Art

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