So this is going to be my attempt at summary and explanation of Danto. I seriously doubt that I’ll grab everything (Or even much more than a solid hand(head?)ful), but hopefully we can talk more directly about some of the points that are made. Overall I found it to be a fascinating, and yet easy read – probably as Jeff points out to my detriment as I likely missed some of the deeper implications he’s trying to make.
Let’s start at the very end though, because I think it pretty well sums up his argument, and gives a bit of a map as to where the pieces of the argument are:
He turned the world we share into art, and turned himself into part of that world, and because we are the images we hold in common with everyone else, he became part of us. So he might have said: if you want to know who Andy Warhol is, look within. Or, for that matter, look without. You, I, the world we share are all of a piece.
It’s kind of hard to see exactly what he means here without the context of the rest of the piece, but basically I see Danto as arguing that Warhol directly challenged and changed the way we think of art, and brought it to a much wider and more every-day context, much the same way Dewey (as Angelica points out! Great insight!) for experience.
In fact, Danto’s main argument almost has a similar structure to Folkmann’s (This is tenuous… perhaps I should have left it out?):
He turned the world we share into art
This is the Sensual – phenomenological part, where Danto explains that Warhol’s exploration of art of everyday objects simultaneously brings with it a re-valuing of the everday of art. This is seen directly through Danto’s exploration of what Warhol is doing with form, shape, and medium (sensual characteristics), such as in Brillo Box, or Empire. And on this level, I believe is Danto’s point (Or Warhol’s. Are they different?) – If an everday object can be art, isn’t art an everday thing?
and turned himself into part of that world
This would be Folkmann’s Conceptual- Hermeneutical -This I think deals with the more meta-art aspects of Warhol’s work, him versus the ideas of art, or him versus abstract expressionism’s “self-proclaimed heroism.” Ideas like:
“Nothing could be deeper or more meaningful than the objects that surround us, which are “more numerous, more sound, and more subtle” than all the portentous symbols dredged up in sessions of Jungian analysis, about which ordinary people know nothing and regarding which artists may be deluding themselves in supposing they know more.”
Finally, we have the last aspect:
and because we are the images we hold in common with everyone else, he became part of us.
And finally this is the Contextual – Discursive. This is where Danto talks about Warhol’s work of symbols and character. Icons. Marilyn Monroe or Warhol himself (Was his life character art?).This is the contextual, social, political ideas wrapped up in everything we do:
Warhol’s art gave objectivity to the common cultural mind. To participate in that mind is to know, immediately, the meaning and identity of certain images: to know, without having to ask, who are Marilyn and Elvis, Liz and Jackie, Campbell’s soup and Brillo, or today, after Warhol’s death, Madonna and Bart Simpson. To have to ask who these images belong to is to declare one’s distance from the culture.
And of course the three levels of Folkmann’s Aesthetics apply and are connected throughout, but taken as a whole these basic ideas that Warhol played with introduce much more than, I think, simply ‘all things can be seen as art’
He did not tell us what art was. But he opened the way for those whose business it is to provide positive philosophical theories to at last address the subject.
Philosophical understanding begins when it is appreciated that no observable properties need distinguish reality from art at all. And this was something Warhol at last demonstrated.
It’s not only just ‘all objects can be seen as art’. But everything – ideas, people, lives, values, and importantly the cultural and social connections we make between all these things. The object is art, but so is the viewer, and the dialogue between them. As far as I can tell, Danto’s reading of Warhol is some sort of awesome *real world example* of the Deweyan or Folkmann understandings of aesthetics and experience which we’ve been arguing about for some time.
Many of us have said “yeah that’s interesting, but how is that applicable?” – myself included. Warhol was someone who really applied it.