De toekomst van kunst

Algemeen Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte 105 (3):135-147 (2013)
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A philosophical analysis of the future of art must explicate art’s nature, as well as discuss the historical nature of art practice. Only so can one explain those contemporary developments in art which have led many people to doubt whether art even has a future. Arguably, art practice as we know it started with the installing of the modern system of the fine arts. I explain the pragmatics of art so understood, and suggest that we can define art, internally. We need not resort to a nominalist approach that claims that something is a work of art if some representative of the art world says it is. Instead of such empty proceduralism, I explain how all art’s focal objects, persons and activities are mutually adjusted and can only be understood in light of the whole. Within that whole of art practice, the contemporary samples of art’s alleged failure can be assessed. Now the modern system treats the arts as aesthetic, and prescribes that to judge a work one has to experience it for oneself. Why this should be so, I explain in terms of the perceivability of the artist in the work. Next, art develops as a whole rather than in a piecemeal manner. Particular contemporary works may alienate the audience from art practice, yet once they are recognisably in a procedure which has clear artistic potency they can be incorporated fruitfully in the modern system as explained. In all, the future of art is the future of the modern system, unless the system as a whole goes. We see this happen with the Taliban, but do not ourselves seem to be vulnerable to such onslaught. Yet, our culture may be in the process of eliminating the human mind from the objective reality, and if nothing stops us, art too will come to an end. Luckily, by then we will not be such as to lament that demise.

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Rob Van Gerwen
Utrecht University


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