Why Is That Art?: Aesthetics and Criticism of Contemporary Art

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9780195167429: Why Is That Art?: Aesthetics and Criticism of Contemporary Art

Why Is That Art? addresses common questions that viewers raise about contemporary art: Why is that art? Why is it in an art museum? Who says it's art? If I did this, would it be art? Why is it good? Covering a broad, diverse, and engaging sampling of works--abstract and representational painting, monumental sculpture, performance art, video installations, films, and photographs--author Terry Barrett responds to these questions using three sources: the artists who created the works, philosophers of art, and art critics. Introducing students to a variety of established theories of art, he presents the traditional sets of criteria of Realism, Expressionism, and Formalism, which are in turn updated by recent sources of Poststructuralism. Barrett applies each of these theories to challenging works of contemporary art, pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of each mode of interpretation. He encourages students to consider many criteria when evaluating an artwork, to critically examine judgments made by others, and to make informed judgments of their own.
Ideal for courses in aesthetics, art theory, art criticism, and the philosophy of art, Why Is That Art? is organized chronologically according to the history of aesthetics. It features sixty-seven illustrations (twenty-six in a full-color insert), discusses a wide range of American and European artists, and includes an exceptional overview of postmodern pluralism. This unique book will provide students with a newfound appreciation for contemporary art, scholarship, and reasoned argumentation, giving them the confidence to join the fascinating discourse on contemporary art.

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About the Author:

Terry Barrett is a Professor of Art Education, Ohio State University.

Review:

"Barrett is one of a very small number of non-philosophers who understands philosophical material in aesthetics sufficiently to explain it appropriately and accurately in his writing."--Julie Van Camp, Professor of Philosophy, California State University, Long Beach

"This book offers art students a lucid, comprehensive description of the various philosophical approaches to Western art and their relevance to contemporary art. . . . It uses interesting and relevant examples of artists' work, combined each time with a variety of critical responses to that work. This is the book's major strength and why it is particularly useful to students in studio art courses."--Timothy Van Laar, Professor of Art, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and coauthor of Art with a Difference: Looking at Difficult and Unfamiliar Art and Active Sights: Art as Social Interaction

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Barrett, Terry
Published by Oxford University Press (2007)
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