Unnatural Wonders: Essays from the Gap Between Art and Life

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9780374281182: Unnatural Wonders: Essays from the Gap Between Art and Life
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An Incisive Account of the Bizarre, Often Bewildering Art World of Today

Arthur Danto's new collection finds him, and the art world, at a point when the art world has become pluralistic, even chaotic-with one medium as good as the next-when the moment for "next things" has passed.
Since 1984, when Danto-already an eminent philosopher--became The Nation's art critic, he has been one of the foremost theorists of contemporary art's history and evolution, and at the same time the most incisive and illuminating critic of new work. In his view, the historical development of art reached a kind of zenith in the pop period, most famously with Warhol's Brillo Boxes. Danto's five volumes of review essays (all published by FSG) form a kind of chronicle of the art world since the Brillo moment, and a running appraisal of the great variety of significant work made since then. In this new book, he shows how work that bridges the gap between art and life is now the definitive work of our time: Damien Hirst's arrays of skeletons and anatomical models, Barbara Kruger's tchotchke-ready slogans, Renee Cox's nude portrait of herself at the Last Supper. To the obvious question--is this stuff really art?--Danto replies with an enthusiastic yes, explaining, with a philosopher's clarity and an art lover's sense of delight, how these "unnatural wonders" show us who we are.

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About the Author:

Arthur C. Danto is the Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Columbia University, art critic for The Nation, and the author of many books about art and philosophy. He lives in Manhattan with his wife, the artist Barbara Westman.

Review:

Borrowing his concept from Hegel, respected critic Arthur C. Danto observes that unlike the centuries of art made for spiritual needs, the art of our time has generally lost the power to communicate on its own and must be explained, because we have only an external relationship with it. Danto sympathetically assesses Damien Hirst (sliced-up sharks suspended in formaldehyde) and eloquently explains why some initially impenetrable art might have compelling statements to make, but he doesn't spare artists he feels are not pulling their weight... among the most sensible, intelligent, logical, and accessible art criticism of the last five years. (Kirkus)

Danto uses his revered position to illuminate his subjects' cultural and art-historical contexts in order to give the public helpful tools for thinking about the art they are experiencing.... This enlightened collection of essays is an essential documentation of recent art history, brimming with valuable reminders of how art has gotten where it is today. (RES magazine)

His musings on art in the wake of 9/11 are incisive and moving. (Booklist)

A welcome respite for insiders and a friendly introduction to aesthetics. (Publishers Weekly)

One of our pre-eminent art critics... [Unnatural Wonders] serves as a good introduction to his work, as well as a good introduction to contemporary art. (Kenny Tanemure Asian Week)

To look at a work with Danto is to see it within the context of contemporary art. (Barry Gewen New York Times Book Review)

[A] brilliant, provocative collection of essays. (Jackie Wullschlager Financial Times Magazine)

A valuable collection of art criticism. (The Art Book)

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780231141154: Unnatural Wonders: Essays from the Gap Between Art and Life

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ISBN 10:  0231141157 ISBN 13:  9780231141154
Publisher: Columbia University Press, 2007
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