RE: [-empyre-] Re: Method Manifesto

> > Concerning Kosuth and the conceptual artists, it wasn't 'art for art's sake' but,
> in the case of
> > Kosuth, 'art as idea as idea', ie, his idea was 'art as idea'; reading his Art
> After Philosophy
> > and After (collected writings) one is struck by his somewhat Marxist points of view, and his
> > vision of the place of art in philosophy and in society more broadly, as an active thing in
> > society, rather than the more insulated vision involved in 'art for art's sake'
> which was a much
> > earlier slogan.
> The art that Kosuth advocates in his essay "Art After Philosophy" is an
> impotent, castrated art.

I am not familiar with that particular essay singled out from the other work in Art After
Philosophy and After. Though I did not get a 'castrated impotent' vibe from what I have read of
his work, earlier or later. What I read was, first of all, very well written, from beginning to
end, though sometimes he flags, later on, with rage and a certain desperate intellectual
arrogance seemingly blurred by the increasing use of Marxist rhetoric, like an alcoholic
slurring of words, at times. But he is at times brilliantly lucid throughout. I think I saw
movement from dazzling cleverness to concern with the human significance of art, movement from
"art as idea as idea" to the particulars of the ideas, and the ideas became more concerned with
the place and consequence of art in the world. Art not just as idea (as his idea) but concern
with why it might matter not just to artists and academics but in a world of wider consequence,
full world context, as it were. The book traces his growth from a young man not too long out of
art school to maturity. I recommend it highly.

> This is not the art that he makes or ever made. His
> later writings may function as something of a corrective to his earlier
> position, but the one put forward in that essay advocates an extreme (pure)
> form of self-referentiality; an art that stands aloof from all actual
> conditions of social and cultural production.

Well, my copy of the book (Art After Philosophy and After is a book of collected writings) is
several thousand miles away at the moment and a search on the Net has yielded nothing to speak
of but the very early .

As I've said, there is growth and maturity in his book.

> > I recall reading him say that if somebody calls something art, then it must be art.
> He termed
> > the contrary position "reactionary".
> That also comes from "Art after Philosophy", but he was quoting Donald Judd
> (or maybe Carl Andre). I don't recall where he uses the word "reactionary",
> but it is probably from a later text.

Could be.

> > My feeling on the matter is that saying 'X is art' is a bit like saying 'This
> proposition is not
> > provable' since one arrives at a contradiction should one say it is false; no contradiction
> > seems to arise if one says it is true, yet neither then is it provably true. Nor is
> it an axiom
> > completely independent of the rest of the language system, for if it were, its
> negation would be
> > an acceptable alternative to the proposition itself, but it is not. It is an unprovable
> > statement that nonetheless must be accepted as true. Each new piece of art is thus
> more like an
> > axiom than a theorem.
> >
> > ja
> It seems to me that the status of an object as a work
> of art in any meaningful sense is dependent on more than the will of an
> individual. After all, Duchamp's readymades were not immediately accepted as
> art just because he said they were art. It took some time for his ideas to
> become institutionalised. The idea that an individual can determine what is art
> seems reactionary to me, since it constitutes an extravagant claim for dominion
> over both social and subjective conditions of reception, reflecting a somewhat
> authoritarian view that disingenuously obscures the power structures that
> support it.
> jsa

Hmm, one could proceed in several directions from here. Let me think about that and get back to
you later on, jsa.

In the meantime, I should add that the above paragraph of mine relates to Godel's ideas about
"undecidable propositions". An undecidable proposition (like "This proposition is not provable")
is one that cannot be deemed false yet is not provably true. It is not independently axiomatic,
either. The parallel postulate is an independent axiom of geometry: one can assume it or its
negation (but not both) and arrive at different geometries accordingly. Not so with undecidable
propositions; one is forced to deem them true, though they are not provably true like a theorem
is. There is perhaps some larger independent axiom that is missing from the system which, when
added to the system, would turn the undecidable proposition into a theorem? Or not?

And if there were such an independent axiom, then its negation would be an acceptable
alternative, and in that case, the undecidable proposition would have to be true (but perhaps
provable in one case and not in the other or...?).

But my initial reaction to your point, jsa, is that nobody really knows what art is. And that
isn't a matter of rectifiable ignorance, but something else in the nature of art.


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