In today's art world many strange, even shocking, things qualify as art. In this book, Cynthia Freeland explains why innovation and controversy are valued in the arts, weaving together philosophy and art theory with many fascinating examples. She discusses blood, beauty, culture, money, museums, sex, and politics, clarifying contemporary and historical accounts of the nature, function, and interpretation of the arts. Freeland also propels us into the future by surveying cutting-edge web sites, along with the latest research on the brain's role in perceiving art. This clear, provocative book engages with the big debates surrounding our responses to art and is an invaluable introduction to anyone interested in thinking about art.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Coming from a science background, I wondered how theory could be applied to art. It seems that, in the case of art theory, the major and most relevant questions are: “What is art?” and “Why is art valued?” The author provides an historical framework of how philosophers and critics have approached these questions. Looking at the business and politics of art, good examples and references are provided throughout. She also shows how 'cultural biases' can be intervening variables in both the framing of the initial questions and the answers. It is not surprising that the conclusion is the investigation of art theory, like scientific exploration, often leads to more questions than are answered. The author characterizes art theory as an explanation of the diversity of the subject, deals well with why art is special, provides a good overview of the topic and a stepping stone for further reading on the subject.
For a busy but occassional aesthete, this is a wonderful book. Mindful of the busy people and thus goes straight to other things we still have to know about art and peppering the pages with juicy 'in' things in art work. Besides from the good writing, I like the compactness of the book and the typeset. It makes the topic less threatening and even friendly. Congratulations to the writer Freeland. More, please.