How Can There Be Works Of Art?

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Interested in art, we tend to be interested in works of art. We seem to encounter works of art all the time, and—setting aside certain relatively abstruse problems in ontology—we seem to have little difficulty in recognizing them for what they are. That there are works of art seems obvious and unproblematic. Quite so, I think. But reflection on what has to be the case if there are to be works of art shows that some quite demanding conditions have to be met. Some will find those conditions too demanding: if I am right, that means that they should not admit that there are any works of art, and they will have to give some other account of what might be involved when we think we are dealing with a work of art. For myself, I think the conditions are not too demanding: their interest comes in what they show us about the nature of artistic ‘media’, and about what is involved in being a great artist.
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Archival date: 2019-08-02
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