SRL: Aesthetics Group

The Working Group on Aesthetics and the Concept of Art consists of a small group of students who explore together and with me the concept of the artwork in relation to their own studio work and to that of established artists. We meet, approximately every two weeks, on and in a variety of occasions and contexts: seminars on the theory of art; studio visits; field trips to artists? studios and worksites; archives; and other venues depending on how our interests develop. Although we read and discuss some important texts on the theory of art, the emphasis of the Working Group is on establishing and developing a set of working hypotheses, concepts, ideas, and vocabulary that will be useful to us in getting a handle on the phenomenon we call "art." Initial discussions focused on what sort of concept is appropriate to art - with whether, for example, art can be defined, and, if it cannot, with what sorts of general things may be said about it and how they may best be said. From this point of departure, the Working Group has explored and evaluated a range of proposals for how to think about the nature of art. In Fall 2012, for example, we focused on religious and spiritual phenomena, their apparent withering away in the contemporary art world, and the prospects for their recovery. This semester?s topics, like those before, will depend on the interests and inclinations of the participants. Our sourcebook is: Cahn, et al (eds.), Aesthetics: A Comprehensive Anthology (Blackwell, 2007).