After the End of Art: The Conceptual in Arts and Beyond

After the End of Art: The Conceptual in Arts and Beyond

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3835-7.ch002

Abstract

The philosophical concept of end of art opens up the ends of other fields (i.e., the end of science, politics, and economy that are in the present modified into not-just science, not-just-politics, and not-just economy). Contemporary art (considered as the not-just-art, art after the end of art, and would-be-art) enters intense relations with modified science, politics, and economics through processes of interaction, adoption of methodological devices, hybridization, and amalgamation. It is important to acknowledge that art is not a passive and second-grade link in these interactions, but rather contributes artistic innovations to other fields that then become art-like. There are a number of common denominators among the crucial fields of contemporary knowledge society.
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Introduction

This chapter relates to those features of everyday life which are affected by contemporary, first and foremost the new media (digital) art and hence are changing, becoming in a certain perspective artistic. Instead of aestheticization of politics (Benjamin, 1969) and everyday life (Welsch, 1996; Haug, 1971), the artification of the principal areas of today's social reality is addressed. This chapter examines the recombination, appropriation, reusing, repurposing, and transfer of artistic procedures/tools from one context or field to another. Contemporary, first and foremost new media and smart technologies based art is a drive of many changes that modern sciences, economy, media, and political theory should pay attention to. Indeed, other than a (delayed) derivative of, art is more of an initiator of today's significant economic and conceptual changes, paradigm shifts, and innovations.

Contemporary art is the art after the end of art. This statement relates to German philosopher Hegel’s notion on the end of art from his book on aesthetics (1828). The end of art addressed and conceptualized both in Hegel's Lectures on Aesthetics as well as in series of other texts published in 20th century (by Adorno, Benjamin, and Baudrillard) rests on the original Hegel's notion – i.e., the end of a particular narrative on art (Danto, 1995) and its interpretation which in a particular historical moment enabled the identification of a special cultural practice as the art.

This is about the end of recognition and understanding art in the sense of an exclusive form of representation (mimesis) in a sensory medium, in Hegel's words “Art no longer affords that satisfaction of spiritual needs which earlier ages and nations sought in it, and found in it. Consequently, the conditions of our present time are not favorable to art. In all these respects art, considered in its highest vocation, is and remains for us a thing of the past.” (Hegel, 1975, pp. 10,11) This notion doesn't deny the possibility of further art development, but rather questions its position in the field of absolute spirit as the supreme domain in Hegel’s philosophy. In fact, rather than being founded in empirical analysis of art development and dissemination in Hegel’s time, the notion of end of art is an outcome of internal philosophical evolution in his philosophical system. However, the development of modern, postmodern, and contemporary art in 20th century has re-actualized this notion also with regard to the current movements in arts and literature.

The Hegel’s notion on the end of art does not imply the end of art production (numerous new movements and works arise over the decades), but means that the art as an essential way of revealing the truth is over and is replaced with the art, which is intended to novel functions and purposes. Such an art is an uncertain field in which the question What is art functions as a drive of art institution itself. What is art is a philosophical question, it implies conceptual answers, and a big portion of contemporary art is conceptual. It is art after the end of art, which opens up a very beginning of new art forms and movements. Today, a very similar paradigm shift takes place also in other fields of present social reality.

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