Digital Commons@RISD Home > Division of Liberal Arts > Contemporary Aesthetics (Journal Archive) > Vol. 6 (2008)
In this article I examine the relationship between Arthur Danto's philosophy of art and his practice of art criticism. Danto has said that he included many actual examples of discussions of art in The Transfiguration of the Commonplace because of the feeling that, previously, philosophers had theorized about art in a vacuum. And since the time of publishing that book, he has written on a wide variety of both historical and contemporary artists and art practices. Danto's philosophy of art commits him to an account of the practice of art criticism as interpretation. However, I question whether the Danto-esque interpretive essay can serve as an adequate model for art criticism. My primary claim is that art criticism must include a more strongly evaluative element than Danto's theory leaves room for, since on his view, the critic primarily explains meaning by examining how it is embodied in a work. This leaves open the question of which meanings count as valuable or important. In his more recent work Danto has explored a "Hegelian" view that art is primarily about art, but this view too does not allow for art to be evaluated or "criticized" on the basis of whether or how well it tackles the more profound questions of meaning.