Cover image for The art question
The art question
Warburton, Nigel, 1962-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London ; New York : Routledge, 2003.
Physical Description:
x, 147 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 20 cm
Subject Term:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
N70 .W37 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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If an artist sends a live peacock to an exhibition, is it art?
'What is art?' is a question many of us want answered but are too afraid to ask. It is the very question that Nigel Warburton demystifies in this brilliant and accessible little book. With the help of varied illustrations and photographs, from C¿nne and Francis Bacon to Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst, best-selling author Warburton brings a philosopher's eye to art in a refreshing jargon-free style.
With customary clarity, he explains art theories, that are much discussed but little understood, by thinkers such as Clive Bell, R.G Collingwood and Wittgenstein. He illuminates other perplexing problems in art, such as the artist's intention, representation and emotion. Drawing on photographs of Cindy Sherman and Tiananmen Square, Warburton shows that, if we are ever to answer the art question, we must consider each work of art on its own terms.
A stimulating and handy guide through the art maze, The Art Question is essential reading for anyone interested in art, philosophy or those who simply like looking at and thinking about pictures.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Noted philosopher and teacher Warburton (Open Univ.; Thinking from A to Z) examines analyses of art offered by various eminent philosophers and concludes that all are unsound. In an unpretentious style, he provides a careful examination of Clive Bell's formalism, R.G. Colingwood's expressionism, Ludwig Wittgenstein's denials of the possibility of definition, George Dickie's institutional theory, and Jerrold Levinson's intentional-historical definitions. Helpful illustrations, ranging from traditional paintings to contemporary pieces (e.g., Damien Hirst's The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living), augment his assessment and conclusion, which is that art "is indefinable not just at the exhibited level, but at the relational non-exhibited level." Warburton's contribution to this inquiry is that he steps outside the philosophizing on a general definition of art and provides some valid reasons for questioning specific works, especially in contemporary art. Further, he considers how defining art can affect our lives. Highly recommended for all academic libraries.-David A. Beron, Univ. of New Hampshire Lib., Durham (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Art and Philosophy
1 Significant Form
2 Expression of Emotion
3 Family Resemblances
4 Institutional Contexts
5 So What? A Hypothesis
Further Reading