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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 look at the history of art from a sociocultural perspective, and we will discuss how political and economic interests have shaped art and how new technologies have impacted the practice and purpose of art. Theoretical discussions will go hand in hand with concrete analysis of paintings from Holbein and Velázquez to Manet, Cézanne, Picasso, and Warhol, among others. The course will end with an examination of recent trends in artistic practice, from installations and performances to more conceptual forms of artistic expression, such as “post-Internet art.” Readings may include work by Susan Sontag, John Berger, T. J. Clark, Robert Pippin, and Michael Fried.

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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.