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The Philosophy of Art

What is art? What is the significance of art? How is art meant to be understood? Philosophers, artists, and art historians have struggled to answer these questions for centuries. In this course, we will explore the various attempts by classic thinkers, sociologists, art historians, and art critics to unravel the complexities of these ideas, and we will make our own attempt at answering these perennial questions. Along with traditional philosophical theories of art, we will examine more recent approaches. Readings will include work by the art historian E. H. Gombrich, selections from Danto’s The Philosophical Disenfranchisement of Art, Heidegger’s The Origin of the Work of Art, and essays by the feminist critics Arlene Raven and Joanna Frueh. Theoretical discussions will go hand in hand with concrete analysis of paintings from artists including Giotto, Leonardo, Bernini, El Greco, van Gogh, Matisse, Kirchner, de Kooning, and Isa Genzken. The course also will include an examination of women artists who worked in the shadow of famous painters but are now recognized as important on their own, including M. Robusti (daughter of Tintoretto), J. Leyster (thought to have worked under Frans Hals), and C. M. Charpentier (worked under Jacques-Louis David).

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You'll Walk Away with

  • Familiarity with various philosophers’ view of art
  • An understanding of the varied purposes of art throughout history

Ideal for

  • The culturally engaged
  • Professionals who use critical thinking
NO open sections available for this course at the moment. Please check back next semester.