Chapter 28. "Art is Representational" by Arthur C. Danto

Table of Contents
Ideas of Interest from "Philosophy of Art"
The Reading Selection from "Philosophy of Art"
Related Ideas
Topics Worth Investigating

Arthur C. Danto Columbia University

About the author …

Arthur C. Danto (1924- ) is Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Columbia University and an influential analytic philosopher and art scholar. Early in life Danto studied at the Academie Julian in Paris; later his woodcuts were acquired in museums across the U.S. With the rise of pop art, Danto became concerned that "art was at an end" since anyone could use make almost anything and term it "art."

About the work …

In his "Art, Philosophy, and the Philosophy of Art,"[1] Arthur C. Danto characterizes twentieth-century art as a challenge to the possibility of defining of art. Since Andy Warhol's recreation of Brillo boxes appear to be quite similar to the industrial Brillo boxes at supermarkets, Danto asks how can works such as these be art? Danto concludes that art has a representational aspect, but the full question of the nature of art intrinsically involves active and practical philosophical questions.

Ideas of Interest from "Philosophy of Art"

  1. How does Danto characterize twentieth-century philosophy? How does Šsthetics fit in to contemporary philosophy?

  2. According to Danto, when do philosophical questions arise? Why, then, does pop art raise philosophical questions?

  3. What is the Problem of Indiscernible Counterparts, and why, according to Danto, does it follow from the representational nature of art?

  4. What reasons does Danto offer as to why can't we regard paintings simply as very complex perceptual objects?

  5. Danto concludes that art is representational, although not all representational activities are artistic. In what sense is Andy Warhol's Brillo Boxes, a work constructed with commercial inks on industrial boxes, representational of the grocery-store Brillo boxes constructed in similar fashion? Would this kind of art fit Danto's characterization of art?



Arthur C. Danto. "Art, Philosophy, and the Philosophy of Art." In Humanities. Vol. 4, No. 1, 1-2.