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Danto and His Critics: After the End of Art and Art History Author(s): David Carrier Source: History and Theory, Vol. 37, No. 4, Theme Issue 37: Danto and His Critics: Art History, Historiography and After the End of Art (Dec., 1998), pp. 1-16 Published by: Blackwell Publishing for Wesleyan University Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2505392 Accessed: 10/06/2009 15:33
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1997). and aboutthe plausibilityof Hegel's claim thatthe history of art has ended. Analytical Philosophy of History (1965). and an Hegelian historiography. .." Contemporary Liyuan and Gene Blocker (New York.In this process. certainly critical but at bottom oddly sympathetic. this text might be described as a reply. and we now live in a posthistorical era. offering a theory explaining why this figurativetraditionhas a history.Dantopresentedhis view of the nature of art in The Transfiguration the Commonplace(1981)..ed. art . 1997). he opened up discussion of some serious but as yet unanswered questionsabouthis originalthesis.. bringing together the concerns of aestheticians.... 1997 an author conference was devoted to ArthurC. According to his dialectic .. Since in his well-known book on historiography. he suggests why this tradition ChineseAesthetics. Danto claims.. Gombrich published in 1961 as Art and Illusion. Gombrichtraces the history of naturalisticart. not pessimistic. his attitude towardsfuture art was optimistic.his adaptationof this Hegelian frameworkis surprising. Danto's 1995 Mellon Lectures After the End of Art: Contemporary Art and the Pale of History (Princeton. Recognizing that his philosophical analysis provided a good way of explaining the developmentof art in the modem period.. "Hegel and the 'Disintegrationof Art'.. Germany in April.. In its original context. The history of art has ended. and in the conclusion. did not declarethat modernarthad ended or would disintegrate. and historiographers. to turningaway from representation expression. Danto is unsympatheticto Hegel's speculative ways of thinking about history. 303-305. Art Danto's 1995 Mellon LecturesAfter the End of Art: Contemporary and the Pale of to History (Princeton. I Arthur C. Hegel . Danto radicallychanged the context of his argument. offer a very rich perspective on recent American painting and sculpture. has no end but will evolve foreverwith time. to the 1956 Mellon lectures of Ernst H. He then of addedin the Mellon lecturesa sociological perspectiveon the currentsituationof the visual arts. Zhu Liyuan. This essay providesan introduction seven essays given at that conferenceandexpandedfor this Theme Issue of Historyand Theory. 1995). art critics..DANTO AND HIS CRITICS: AFTER THE END OF ARTAND ART HISTORY DAVIDCARRIER ABSTRACT In Bielefeld. Danto's strategyin After the End of Art is best understoodby graspingthe way in which he transformedthe purely philosophical account of The Transfiguration into a historical account. Zhu 1. and their history.

"RobertKudielka's"Accordingto What:Art and the Philosophy of the 'End of Art'."MartinSeel's "Artas Appearance:Two Commentson Arthur C. Gombrich'sessential idea that the history of art is markedby progress in naturalism. which continuedlong into the evenings. not only those published here. Danto's After the End ofArt is an exercise in historiography.2 DAVID CARRIER probablyhas come to an end. Horowitz. by contrast." Brigitte Hilmer's "Being Hegelian after Danto. Like Gombrich'sArt and Illusion.mentioned in a dismissive way by Gombrich.artas it must be at any time in any culture. 1997).and Indiscernibles.J. And yet. so immense arethe differencesbetweenArt and Illusion andAfterthe End of Art that these books seem to come from different intellectual worlds. Danto's work on the historiographyof art history has been much written about-see also The End of Art and Beyond:Essays after Danto. on Constable.BernhardLyp. Modern Painters-though he would have preferredthat such a history be focused on Turner." FrankAnkersmit's "Danto on Representation. After the End of Art offers a theory of the natureof art.is concerned not just with modernism. . Scholz.Thatthe argument Afterthe End of Art could of be presenteda mere thirty-nineyears afterArt and Illusion shows how quickly and how far our visual culturehas moved.N.3My sense of how to deal with these issues has been very much influenced by all the papers I heard.JerroldLevinson. but with Andy Warhol and his successors. and Wolfgang Welsch. there discussion focused close attentionon diverse readingsof Danto's work. Hans Julius Schneider. Identity. where Gombrichdescribesthe but origin and seeming conclusion of a particularly Europeantradition. and draws upon contemporarypsychology of perception. and so would readily have grasped. with replies by him and full discussion by the I participants. Apart from the authorswhose writing is presentedhere. which is of It special interesthere.. and by the discussions in Bielefeld.his basic intellectualframeworkis highly traditional."and JakobSteinbrenner's "TheUnimaginable. thoughtit desirableto memorializethis very agreeableoccasion in for The print. the participantsincluded Thierryde Duve. In Bielefeld. the figures in what Danto calls our posthistoricalera.and links Danto's aesthetictheorizing to his earlierwork in historiography. ChristianSteiner.discusses some of the more important recent artisticmovements. This introductionborrows ideas from an as yet unpublishedmanuscriptby JonathanGilmore. is this last concern. not as Gombrich chooses. Germanyin April. Boris Groys."Michael Kelly's "Essentialism and Historicism in Danto's Philosophy of Art. Arto Haapala. KarlheinzLfideking. Danto'sAfterthe End of Art. Although Gombrichmentions some modernistartists. Danto. GuntherSeubold. 3. and so solicited papersfrom all participants History and Theory. We have here Noel Carroll's"TheEnd of Art?. and Vasari shared. ed. Gregg M. 1997 an authorconference was devoted to After the End of Art. Oliver R.2 seven essays publishedhere are only a selection of the work presentedat the conference-but a rich selection. and Veikko Rantala (AtlanticHighlands.of course. John Ruskin would have understoodArt and Illusion's discussion of landscape painting-it builds upon his treatise.Danto aims to offer a universalaccount-he describesthe essential natureof art." 2. Gombrich has very little to say about twentieth-centuryart.

Nelson and R. in relationto his broaderphilosophicalarguments. Danto is dealing with quite diverse subjects.But althoughArthurC.admirablein their clarity and wide-rangingargumentation.is an artworkbecause it exemplifies a theory of what art is. most especially. consequences Arguing against the traditionalaccounts defining art as representationor as a form of expression. Shiff (Chicago.an account of the argument of his The Transfiguration the Commonplace(1981) would not need to appeal of to the much-discussedclaims of his Analytical Philosophy of History (1965).13-27. A discussion of Danto's system appearsin my "Dantoas SystematicPhilosopher." ArthurDanto and His Critics. have arthistorianspublishingelsewhere taken much interestin historiography. then it may appearsurprisingthat art historiansinterestedin methodology have not devoted serious attentionto historiography. and Nietzsche. Nor. ed. If we think of the academic discipline of "arthistory"as a special branchof history.they offer a rich arrayof perspectives. ed. to the best of my knowledge. Rollins (Oxford.5 The Transfiguration centrally concerned with defining art and showing the is of Danto's definition for the practice of interpretation. 129-141. Danto's own well-developed interestsin historiographyand aesthetics seem quite distinct concerns. M. 1996). epistemology. 5. My aim in this introon duction is to place Danto's work in a largerframework-in the context of recent discussions of Americanartcritics. there is no particular reason to connect his claims about the natureof art with his view of historical explanation."Contemporary Critical Termsin Art History.AFTERTHEEND OF ARTAND ART HISTORY 3 Building upon their oral presentationsin Bielefeld. Analytical Philosophy of History. now writing independently from one another. Danto has always identifiedhimself as an analyticalphilosopher. R. arguingagainst Carl G. in relationshipto debates within historiography.con4. it might have seemed obvious for them to look across to learn what writers in History and Theoryhave to say about historical explanation. Hempel's claim that historical explanations implicitly appeal to general laws.but he also has played a distinguishedrole in championingNietzsche and Jean-PaulSartre. although these volumes share an intellectual style with his books on the theory of action.4 When in the recent past art historians have taken a new interest in questions about theory.that division of history concernedwith a particular kind of materialartifact. comme on lit Danto en franqais. in . Priorto the Mellon lectures. Danto's concerns. This is unfortunate. The approachof these books is surprisinglyhard to place in relation to the broad divisions in this country between analytical and continental philosophy. On the relation of history to art history see my "ArtHistory. In these two books. a sculpture indiscernible from its equivalentin the grocery. Danto claims that Warhol's Brillo Box (1964). 1993). few contributions devoted specifically to art-historical issues have appearedin History and Theory. and. Danto and Ernst Gombrich have long been on the Editorial Board. one lesson After the End for ofArt teaches is thatthe concernsof Historyand Theoryare at presenthighly relevant to art history.or. shows that historicalchange is best understoodby identifying the role of narratives in historians' writings.

and I shall not attempt to that he did not pursuethis analogy.but with properknowledge of its history-and that includes for him reference to the artist's intentions-interpretation is entirely unambiguous.To understand thing. philosophers always have argued. observing that there is some limited analogy between Danto's account of narrative and "the alleged dialectical pattern which Hegel famously contended is exhibited everywhere throughouthistory. we cannot determineits identity as artwork. although Giorgione's unfinishedhistory painting The Drowning of the Egyptians in the Red Sea and a 6."6 Noting this "certainresemblance" between Hegel's thesis/antithesis/synthesis his narrative and structure which also involves three stages-beginning/middle/end-Danto says that "it is difficult . Frenchor American. to take one of his best-known thought experiments. influentially derived by analyticalphilosophersof artfrom Ludwig Wittgenstein'slaterwork. . 237.Afterthe End ofArt describesthe natureof art.Danto has no sympathywith the narratologists. narratologists. One of its targets is the denial. rather.amplifiedby the additionto the 1985 edition of Analytical Philosophy of History-the book was republishedas Narration and Knowledge. we need to know its defining qualities.Danto suggests thatso-called speculativephilosophyof history exemplifiedby The Phenomenologyof Spirit is cognitively illegitimate. Analytical philosopherstend to think that language can transparently describe the structuresof the world. Danto allows. Analytical Philosophy of History mentionsHegel only a few times in passing. thatartcan be defined.Eng. Indeed. 1965). from propositions to larger narrativeunits. with the addition of several newer essays in 1985-might seem to link his concerns with those of Hayden White and the many French scholars interested in narratology. So.for elaborateupon it here. He has consistentlyrejectedthe suggestion thatthe end of arthistoryas he identifies it is merely the end of one narrative.or with the deconstructionistswho frequentlyare their allies. that any hard and fast distinctionbetween the features of the world in itself and the texts used to representthatworld is problematic. Danto aims to identify the essence of art.4 DAVID CARRIER tinentalfigureshe frequentlyidentifiesas his key intellectualinfluences. AnalyticalPhilosophy of History (Cambridge."It is unsurprising it would be hard to find much point of contact between his analyticalconcerns and Hegel's dialectic.But unlike White and most narratologists. to give necessary and sufa ficient conditionsfor somethingto be an artwork. Merely by looking at an object like Brillo Box. . the end of this actualsequence of events not in the world's history.is that analyticalphilosophersshould extend their basic ways of thinking.Danto was never temptedby any form of relativism. discussion of Hegel's historiography ly irrelevant. Insofar as Danto's goal was to propose an alternativeto would have been entireHempel's analysis. to know how far this analogy could be pressed. Danto's rejectionof positivism and his focus on the role of narratives.. The style of argumentof The Transfiguration also falls within the world of analytical philosophy. .notjust one way of telling art's history.his view.using their well establishedmethodologies.

is not and cannot be universal. In the theory of action. and traditionalwith..AFTERTHEEND OF ARTAND ART HISTORY 5 minimalistpaintingcalled red square would appearvisually indistinguishableboth of them are solid fields of red-they will be seen to be quite distinctobjects once theirhistoriesare understood. Thus. as Iris Young writes: Impartialitynames a point of view of reason that stands apart from any interests and desires.only an epistemology permitsus to make that distinction. 10.Danto argues.each perspectivecannot see itself.that the history of such an object determinesits context unambiguously. and indeed in every branchof philosophy. 1981). Metaphilosophy16 (1985). analyticalphilosophy.Mass.universaliand ty requiresimpartiality.andAnalytical Philosophy of History a view of how to explain historicalevents. ... a red square. The deconstructionists' argumentsin favor of openness of interpretation tend to appealto the idea that this context can be establishedin an indefinitenumberof ways. What broadly links Danto's concerns in these books is his general view of what philosophy is. The impartialmoral reasoner thus standsoutside of and above the situationabout which he or she reasons. Descartes'sMeditationsarguesthatthere are no internalcriteriapermittingus to distinguishbetween dreamingandbeing awake. Seyla Benhabib and Drucilla Cornell (Minneapolis. that of a seventeenthcentury Latin-speaking Frenchman. ArthurC. This basic way of thinkingis totally ahistoricaland apolitical-as is typical of. Overture. 1987). ethics.9By itself." as 9. because of its partiality. This argumentdraws heavily on Nietzsche's perspectivism. 60. Problemsin all domains of philosophy. The Transfiguration the Commonplace:A Philosophy of Art (Cambridge. for an older Marxisttraditionand a more recent style of feminist writing criticize him for projectingonto the structure of things as they are a merely parochialworldview. Descartes's style of argument. the painting red square is visually indistinguishablefrom The Drowning of the Egyptians in the Red Sea. Descartes is a useful referencepoint here. Danto argues. "Impartiality and the Civic Public. some Marxists and feminists have claimed. 1987).7 This examplepermitsus to understand some of Danto's reasonsfor rejectingthe deconstructionists' view thatinterpretation is an open-endedprocess.ed.we find-so Danto thinks-something like this distinction. are defined by the identification of what he calls indiscernibles-two perceptually indistinguishable things which can be told apart only with the aid of some theory. 1-2.8The self-same object. Not to be partialmeans being able to see the whole.. and it thus has to seem interesting that although Danto's early book on Nietzsche has played a seminal role in opening up American philosophers'discussions of that writer. how all the particularperspectives and interests in a given moral situation relate to one another in a way that.has an identitywhich depends upon how it is put into context. See my Artwriting(Amherst. Danto. I argue for this claim in my "Derrida Philosopher. 10 But. as Younggoes on to argue.. 8.221-234.rather. of Mass. The Transfiguration offers a theory of the identity of artworks.all points of view are necessarilyperspectivaland are thus inherently connected to some viewpoint and its constitutive interests."Feminismas Critique. 7.

44.6 DAVID CARRIER Danto himself has never taken seriously the claim that impartialityis an impossibility.(The phrase. whose views are taken up in After the End. when my book was writtenin the late stages of high positivism. Unlike Hegel. 43. ment will be understood.The same argumentabout the natureof art appearsquite different when set in a new context. like Danto's various imaginary examples-a forged tie by Picasso. and Borges's celebrated example (a perfect copy of a portion of Don Quixote) presented in his shortstory. that theory-like the Cartesian account of epistemology or any of the other examples cited by Danto as illustratingthe general natureof philosophical thinking-is timelessly true.What seems to have happened-this reconstructionof Danto's change of mind at least is consistentwith both the obvious historicalevidence and the account he presentsin After the End of Art-was that he realized 11. and accordingto the index. After the End.what then is so surprising about After the End of Art is the appearancein it of an essentially Hegelian view of art's history. The Transfiguration After the End of Art thus are books and which illustrate Danto's view of indiscernibles.. 13. certainartworkssimply could not be insertedas artworksinto certainperiods of art history.though it is possible that objects identical to artworkscould have been made at thatperiod.) Set side by side. Set in the context of Danto's philosophicaldevelopment. . between The Transfiguration After the End ofArt so and that in the later book Hegel and Warholbecome centralfigures?Observingthat "I am likely today to take a more charitableview of substantialphilosophies of history than I would have done in 1965. does this remarkseem so important. 44.and so it was not unexpected that Andy Warhol and Hegel each make but one cameo appearancein that book. 12. In moving his argumentfrom a frameworkgiven by analytical philosophy to the perspective Danto inevitablychanges how thatarguprovidedby an Hegelian historiography.1' Brillo Box. "Hegel"appearson p. Danto's theoryof artcould have been generatedat any time by anyonecapable of creating these thought experiments. 86-but that is a minor error. in The Transfiguration Warhol'sBrillo Box is mentionedas an example on p. More exactly. analyticalphilosophersdo not think in historicistterms. .then. The Transfiguration. Danto's claim in The Transfiguration was that purely logical analysis could reveal the natureof art."Danto rejects his earlierclaim that such philosophies of history as Hegel's are in principleillegitimate."PierreMenard.'2Now he takes very seriously indeed some remarks which when presented in 1981 in The Transfiguration seemed of but marginalsignificance: "Not everything is possible at every time .Symbolist Poet"-merely illustratethat generaltheory. "not everythingis possible at every time" alludes to the historicist account of HeinrichW6lfflin.in light of the sustainedattention given to Hegel and Warholin After the End of Art. Whathappened. the red monochromaticpainting mentioned earlier."'3 Only in retrospect.for his name is not mentionedon that page.

saying little in thatbook specifically aboutWarhol.Conn. for no one else claimed that Warhol's art advanced any philosophical thesis. 15. A useful survey of the literatureappearsin The Critical Response to Andy Warhol. is that the history of art has Warhol'sachievementin this way." essay whose concerns were not immediatelytaken up by him. he published"TheArtworld. and.and many people who loved aesthetically pleasing art. afterthe 1980s-when he became an artcritic-Danto repositionedhis philosophical analysis.to transformthe ahistoricalanalyticalanalyinto sis of The Transfiguration the quasi-Hegelianaccountof After the End of Art was thatDanto's writingin the 1980s as an artcritic led him to recognize thathis abstractphilosophicalaccountprovideda good explanationof what a greatmany people were then saying. an In 1964. One reason that Warholhas become the most influential artist in the last half of the twentieth century is that so many challenging perspectives on his achievement are possible. .ed. the analysis of metaphor. which now permitshim to link his analysis of aestheticissues to concerns in historiography. Alan R. Journalof Philosophy 61 (1964).. 14. What was originally into a hispresentedby Danto as a timelessly true analysis became transformed torical analysis of the 1980s.no one else has identifiedhim as a philosopher-painter. Danto argues. and the evaluation of particularart movements-not yet much discussed by aestheticians.a startlingexperiencefor he an aesthetician. 1997). inspiredby an exhibitionof Brillo Box. Warholwas not a bookish sort of person. some admirersof the AbstractExpressionists.I surmise. his aim then was to explainhow such a banalobject could be an artwork. the experiencein 1964 of Warhol'sart. One Marxist ended.the later volume treatsa varietyof concernsof the workingartcritic-issues aboutthe nature of the museum. but now the implications of that account are understoodin a new way. Whatreally happened. used thatexample to generatea generalaesthetictheory. More exactly.The differand ence in tone between The Transfiguration After the End of Art is immense. its relation to philosophy. 571-584.his role as a gay man has begun to be explored. in this way it became clear that this theory had implications which in 1981 neither Danto nor anyone else grasped. Pratt(Westport.AFTERTHEEND OFARTAND ART HISTORY 7 and Hegel's historicismwas consistent with both his own view of historiography his generalinclinationsas an analyticalphilosopherunderone special condition: the end of art'shistory had alreadyoccurred. the status of Clement Greenberg'sart criticism. hated him. What Warhol'sBrillo Box shows. The former book deals with recognizably traditionalaesthetic questions-the natureof art. As Danto himself notes. more recently.14 When seventeen years laterhe finished The Transfiguration. now refocusing attentionon his startingpoint.Finally. No one else interpreted traditionpraised Warhol for criticizing commodificationin bourgeois culture. Nothing in Danto's basic theory has changed. that the history of art had ended."5In this large literature Danto's account stands alone.the developmentof Danto's aestheticswas a three-stageprocess.

they give no reason to support (or deny) Danto's claims. since Danto's analysis is an ontological thesis. 1992)."'9 this Hegelian idea. 320. constructeda neo-Hegelianaccount. Encounters & Reflections:Art in the Historical Present (New York. Danto. but to very different effect. Danto declined to speculateone way or anotheraboutthe political implications of his view of art history.. "will mean the end . 19.in lecturesthat attractedthe attentionof watchfulFBI agents seeking political subversives.had a Kantianaesthetic theory."Leonardo30 (1997). 241-245. obviously he had a differentconceptionfrom Danto.For a historicist like Hegel.identifying with Manet'smodernisma momentin historywhich Danto links to Warhol. Still Dantodoes in Afterthe End ofArt and elsewhereappeal to the Hegelian idea of art coming to self-consciousness in order to explain the importanceof Warhol-"to my mind the nearestthing to a philosophicalgenius That may seem to the art critic an odd use of the history of art has produced. in ways which are connected.in Hegel. and hence the descent of artistic activity into the empty formalism of the traditionalJapanese arts.How odd that Clement Greenberg. it is hardto see how this view of art could have any equivalentin political theory.Whateverthe merit of Fukuyama's arguments. ClementGreenberg. ArthurC. an anti-Marxist. 18 Fukuyama'sgeneral view has real plausibility. Nothing said in Danto's published work (or our extensive discussions andpersonalcorrespondence) requiresthathe take any particular view of this thesis about the end of history as such. this shows how tricky are connections between the history of philosophy and the history of art-historical historiography. indeed. Fukuyamawrites. though history in general continues. 17. see my "ArtCriticismand the Death of Marxism. of all artthatcould be consideredsocially useful. 1990). Danto:Narratologyand Its Politics"takingup that claim. 287. as Danto himself notes in the full discussion of Clement Greenbergin After the End of Art.Whathas blocked serious considerationof this issue is the tendencyof American academics to cling."6 Both Greenbergand Danto use ideas grounded. still.8 DAVID CARRIER In After the End of Art Danto (following in his independentway some earlier readersof Hegel) argues that art's history has ended. The special role he gives to Brillo Box is consistent with any numberof views of political history. he discussed Marxism at Columbia University. to an obviously obsolete Marxistworldview. Greenbergappealedto this Hegelian conception of self-consciousness to explain the origin of modernism. The end of history.18 Danto has repeatedlyexpressedhis debt to Hegel's aesthetics.while Danto..a Marxist. Recently Francis Fukuyamahas made fashionable the idea that political history has essentially come to an end.""7 Fukuyama'send of historythus also marksthe end of art'shistory.ultimately.who were soon bored with his critical philosophicalanalysis. even though many details of his account are oddly unconvincing. Danto once told me that in the 1950s. The End of History and the Last Man (New York. . ArthurC.But since Hegel himself appearsto have thought both that art's history and history as such had come to an end. but when at Bielefeld I presented a paper "ErnstGombrich.but the converse need not be the case. who blurs the distinctionbetween how the world is and how 16.

This essentially intuitive way of thinking both differs from Danto's analysis and yet could. and once their successors from the 1960s.they were responses to the Zeitgeist of a prosperousera when a small group of young artistswhose merits appearedhighly controversialwere heavily promoted.it seemed to them. and so novel artwas but a recombination of what had come before. since Descartesdiscoveredat one historicalmomentthat dreams were indiscernible from waking life.The pop artists.there was little developed marketin American art.the Impressionists.the minimalists.such historicalconcernscharacteristically less important. why should we give any privileged role to what Warholtaught us about art in 1964? In any event. then it was naturalboth to enjoy the good fortune of the American art world and to wonder how long this situationcould continue. art journals. Sometimes this thesis was presentedin a stronger form: nothing especially new could happen because everythinginterestinghad been done. be seen as giving it support. This was what inevitably was happening when many people expected the traditionof ambitiousAmericanart to continue.AFTERTHEEND OF ARTAND ART HISTORY 9 it appearsto be. that highly significant artists continue to appear. The 1980s' accounts of the end of art's history so often discussed in the New Yorkart world relied on no high-poweredtheorizing.But here a briefly sketchedhistoricalperspectiveis necessaryto understand context of After the the End of Art. museums of contemporaryart. since Danto is a very lucid writer. Ingres and Delacroix. work which museums everywhere competed to collect. Before the era of AbstractExpressionism.in turn. A glance at the historyof modernFrenchartis suggestive here. and collectors-devoted to such new art demanded.Many people then felt that nothing especially new was happening.I recall at the opening of a younger artist'sexhibition in the late 1980s being shown an art history survey text discussing contemporary a art.and then by Picasso and Giacometti (Frenchmenby adop- . book in which appearedcolor reproductionsof paintingsfrom this man's previous exhibition.for analyticalphilosophers. Once Pollock and the other AbstractExpressionistshad become canonical figures. After all. attemptingto explicate Danto by appeal to Hegel seems an obviously wrongheadedway of proceeding. I believe.and Hegel famously obscure. identifying such a moment of self-consciousness is very imporseem tant. seemingly opposed figures. in turn. Once the triumph of Jackson Pollock and his contemporaries showed that major art. Everything that could be painted or sculptedhad appeared.then inevitably there was great pressureto find equally interestingartistsof the next generation. the feminists. was being made in this country.they. critics.and the post-Impressionists. in turnwere followed by Manet.had this role in the museums and the history books. Jacques-Louis David was succeeded by two very different. the conceptualfiguresof the 1960s continuedto make internationally significantartin New York. and other philosophers at other moments identified the indiscerniblesmarkingout the structuresof action and ethics.The developmentof a sophisticatedsupportsystem-galleries.

Crimplinks this artmarketwith the conservativenationalpolitics of the 1980s. painting's terminalcondition finally seemed impossible to ignore. When.to believe 20. "Duringthe 1960s. 1994) includes some judgments I now question. and others who already had received a great deal of attention-then it was not absurdto worry that perhaps the traditionof American art had been exhausted. With photographsby Louise Lawler (Cambridge.he argues. with much grossly overratedart being made.Once a serious traditiongets going. Just as people enjoying the benefitsof a rising stock marketare uneasily awarethatsuch economic trendsare cyclical..10 DAVID CARRIER tion).Pa.. Ultimately a traditiondepends upon a surprisinglyfew individuals-a group of industrioussecond-rateartists do not constitutea tradition. . 1993). 105. he thinks. people tend to expect it to continue. as they embraced film. Braque and Matisse.Such is the cunning of history.Some critics welcomed this expansion of the art market. The dimension that had always resisted even painting'smost dazzling feats of illusionism-time-now became the dimension in which artists staged their activities. it becomes hard to point to any French successors to these masters. 92-93. politically reactionary. But when we get to the 1950s. Robert Ryman. Dorothea Rockburne. 22. and performance."2 That Writingas an art critic..some of whomCindy Sherman. recently published as On the Museum's Ruins.but the basic view of this period remainsconvincing. A selection of my criticismpublishedas TheAesthete in the City: ThePhilosophyand Practice of AmericanAbstractPainting in the 1980s (UniversityPark. critical of the obvious ties between attentiongiven to such artistsand commodification of artworks. but this does not always happen.Mass. When the politically critical art he admires is truly understood. so anyone in the artworld with an even modestly self-conscious historical perspectivewould worry about whetherimportantyoung artistswould continue to appear.whatever theirintentions. therefore. As Crimpand the othercritics then associatedwith Octobermust surely recognize today. Krauss and her leftist colleagues at Octoberaboutone thing:the 1980s were bad aesthetictimes. Once artists could easily study in excellent reproductionsthe history of art everywhere..the effect of theircriticismwas to promoteartiststhey admired.22 much bad art was being displayed and sold gave no reason. it was not obvious who were the successors Robert to then-distinguishedfamous mid-careerfigures-Helen Frankenthaler. The symptoms were everywhere."20 A large part of Crimp's concern is political-to continue to make paintings when photographyhas changed the very nature of art is.RichardSerra-benefited greatlyfrom the expandingartmarket. I never acceptedthese dour views of the 1980s. I thought.once there were so very many artistsworking in New York.. 21.in the early 1980s.others. Conservativeslike Hilton Kramerand his fellow critics at The New Criterion agreed with Rosalind E. video. This situationproduced odd bedfellows. "theend of paintingwill have been finally acknowledged. Mangold.once contemporaryart of all cultures was displayed in fully illustratedjournals. A very striking critical perspective on this situation appears in Douglas Crimp's influential essays.then it was not absurd to think that everything significant might have been done.were critical of this whole process.

After the End. my book ekes out two conditions. Only when-in his art criticism and in his writings directednot just to philosophersbut also to an art world audience-Danto turnedthe abstractanalysis of The Transfiguration the account of art's preinto sent situationin After the End did art critics have reason to look seriously at his work.23 Insofar as all of the rest of Danto's analysis depends upon the adequacyof this definition. and the evaluationof recent art. Warholthus demonstrated.. the definition of art.. As a numberof commentators have noted.Danto's abstractclaim that artworkscan be indiscernibles. contraryto the view of variousfollowers of Wittgenstein. The goal of The Transfiguration was to show how..but mostly ignorant about the art world. Whatdefines an artwork. and so ended the book.About this task."art"could be defined and to demonstratethe consequencesof this definitionand the way in which this theoryof artfittedwithin Danto's broaderphilosophy.respectful of Danto's status as a philosopher. . What for the purposesof History and Theorymattersabout this change in the presentationof Danto's ideas was the way that the concerns of historiography enteredhis writingson aesthetictheory. it has to seem odd thatAfterthe End says so much about art criticism.In the proper 23. Danto.To be a work of artis to be (i) about somethingand (ii) to embody its meaning.. becomes transformed into a historicaltheory about what had happenedsince 1964 when Warholmade one such artwork. its effortto lay down a definition. and so little aboutwhat would seem to be the centralphilosophicalissue.. it graduallybecame clear. This sculptureidentifiedexplicitly the problemof indiscernibles because it is perceptually indistinguishable from the ordinary Brillo box in the grocerystore.visually identical with physical objects.Brillo Box. uninterestedin this philosophical issue. which is not an artwork. worry about the details of this definition. the museum.hence chart of in the essence of art.is not a thing's mere visual properties.After the End says: The Transfiguration the Commonplace. The Transfiguration would not have attractedany attentionoutside of the small world of academic aesthetics since art critics and artistshave only a very little interest in the argumentation academic aesthetof ics. and I was (and am) insufficientlyconvinced that they were jointly sufficient. did little better than come up with conditions (i) and (ii) as necessary for somethinghaving the statusof art. and why he was able to transformthe strictly philosophical argumentsof The Transfiguration into the very different formulationof After the End.AFTERTHEEND OF ARTAND ART HISTORY 1I1 that the end of art's history was at hand. 195..people in the art world. This seeming omission may explain the oddly divided reception of After the End: philosophers. it may seem surprisingthat he has not returnedto this point. But widespreadinterest in this plausible-seeming pessimistic view helps explain why people in the artworld were prepared to give attentionto Danto's claims. was makingclaims aboutthe presentsituation of art that deserved attentionby everyone in the art world. focus on the sociological implications of Danto's analysis. But I did not know where to go next.

we speak of an ending when no truly significant new figuresemerge. for such an ending of art'shistory is compatiblewith the appearance of excellent new artists. in his criticism. According to these theorists. he is making a metaphysicalclaim.but neither is he denying that. simply. he holds that what defines art is not such conventions. it now should be observed. Operascontinue to be composed in Italy. what defined art dependedupon the decisions madeby authoritieswithin the artworld. But Danto's essential thesis is not of this sort.a critic'sjudgmentsdeal with individualcases. Danto has observed. anyone who readsAfter the End of Art expecting that it will be making substantial claims aboutsuch a parochialconcern as the situationof artin the 1980s is simply confused.provides no clues about the particular judgments he makes as an artcritic. changing nothing in the world it interprets. that since artcan no longer develop. He is not assertingor suggesting that the marketin contemporaryart is over-extended. it is compatible with all kinds of art. Nor does he advance any general view about the quality of conart. This means thatthe modernistprojectis over.and so we live in what Danto. but the metaphysical considerations developed in The Transfiguration. now all things are possible.thatphilosophy merely shows us how the world is. Danto has respondedpositively to many such figures.indeed."has attracted many misunderstandings. here borrowingfrom Hegel's aesthetics.As Danto has been at pains to specify. In After the End of Art Danto observes how ironical it was thathis early essay "TheArtworld"(1964) spawned a whole school of analysis. for thereis nothingleft that artists can do to advance this project. Often Danto suggests that the end of art's history may be a good thingfor artists. his aesthetictheory is naturallyassociatedwith his general view. devoted to what became known as the InstitutionalTheory of Art.This claim has nothing to do with Danto's views. temporary His very general analysis does not.His general aesthetic theory. offer any view on these parochialconcerns. seems as if he is offeringa sociological thesis. developed by the philosopherGeorge Dickie and his followers. and cannot. a claim aboutthe meritsof contemporary but art. not a judgment about the qualityof recent art. Analogously. Since an aesthetic theory must be general. thoughtof as a posthistorical era. Hence the history of art has ended because no longer is it possible to make new sorts of artworks. The slogan to which Danto's fine-tunedargumentation be reduced. And so.given suitabletheorizing. Donizetti and Verdiended with Puccini. Danto's own view-this point he has explainedmany times-is that the end of art's history means.in somethinglike the way thatthe end of the cold- . a way of thinkingvery familiar within analyticalphilosophy. what was ironical about the art world's fascinationwith Danto's argumentsis that they have little to do with the strictly philosophical merits of his work. Sometimes in the arts. "the can It historyof arthas ended.perhapsany kind of object whatsoevercould be an artwork. Appeal to Hegel's vision of history thus permittedDanto to engage the concernsof art historiansas well as artistsand art critics.12 DAVID CARRIER setting. reallyhe is not.but the traditionof Rossini.

not of history in general. of course. By contrast. "Petrarch opening the Renaissance. in the way that Descartes in his Meditationstaughtus what kinds of things dreamsare. Here Danto's general way of thinkingseems quite un-Hegelian. (The same could be said. and knowledge always had their identities.. But why does he say that when in fact After the End adopts a very limited Hegelianism? What in Analytical Philosophy of History worried Danto about speculative histories was their claim to be able to write of complete narratives the past. In the Phenomenology. speaking of self-consciousness in conjunctionwith Brillo Box is to say that Warhol taught us what kind of things artworksare. claims thatnow he is much more sympatheticto speculative histories like Hegel's than he was when he published Analytical Philosophy of History. Unlike Hegel. The end of such a political entity is unmistakable-disagreements arise. actions. Well. . If we did. if thatbe the end of art'shistory."for thatjudgment could "Whatwe don't know .AFTERTHEEND OF ARTAND ART HISTORY 13 war struggles between communism and capitalism was a good thing because it dramaticallylessened the danger of nuclear war. and perhapsabout whether such a state could again come to exist.. 61.24 the futureare going to say aboutus.the end of art's history is a bit harderto pick out. For Danto. many lives did change. a claim Danto thoughtinconsistentwith the basic natureof narrativeitself and the sentences characteristicof it. no one witnessing Petrarch'sascent of Mount Ventoux is could have said.thenAfter the End would add nothing to The Transfiguration. Danto. which seemingly was a historical prophecy compatible with ongoing interest in art. Analytical Philosophy of History. or like the end of history as we have known it in the arrivalof communism.The end of Venice was a clearly defined historical moment.for if this were the whole story.which is for Marx the genuine beginning of authenticlabor. to use one of his striking examples. but that place now was incorporated into Italy. is what the historiansof only be made at a laterdate.then thatevent does not have very much effect on everyday life in the art world. as we have seen. and this presumablymeans that art can achieve self-consciousness withoutthe largerculturealso reachingthatendpoint. this rationalreconstruction the situationdoes not of explain everything. we could falsify theiraccounts. Art.. and made it easier to solve regionalconflicts. presumably. the site depicted by Canaletto and Guardi continued to charm tourists. or other philosophers taught us the nature of action and knowledge.) The end of the Venetian Republic meant that Venice ceased to be an independentstate.Hegel seems to be writingjust such a complete historyof 24. And yet. in arguments about whetherthat ending was a good thing. One obvious critical question is that Danto's approachto historiographyin After the End ofArt is only in partHegelian.. about Hegel's view of the end of art history. as when recently some NorthernItalians have proposedthat their region secede from the rest of Italy.. 108.In this process. So. Danto speaks only of art's history. the discovery of which occurredat some particularhistoricalmoment.

) And so. Warholhas gone beyond the modernistproject-he has answered. obviously there is something that I (and some other critics) fail. now become confused with the sociological claims presentedin After the End. since Danto himself has not found my present critical argumentat all persuasive. for all of his immense admiration for MarkRothko. Formulating Danto's claim in these termsraises real questions about the plausibility of his view thatart'shistoryhas ended. they drew back from the utter abstractness for which Analytical Cubism seemed headed. Suppose thatwe take as given. Having demonstratedthat there is nothing more that artists can furtherdo.whose first show opens in 2018: "Liz's 2018 mannerreally took up Pop Art from the point at which Warholleft it in 1964. and hence thatthereis no futurepoint in time in which artwill develop further. for the purposes of argument. and Culture:Critical Essays (Boston. presented in The Transfiguration. defines once and for all the natureof (modern)art. Clement Greenberg. . "Pollock's 1946-1950 mannerreally took up Analytical Cubism from the point at which Picasso and Braquehad left it when . Sean Scully. in ways we cannot today predict. The attemptsto representthe world or express the artist's feelings were superseded by the modernistquest for self-definition. (This point is made by Michael Kelly in his essay in this volume. Perhaps in the future art will identify other such goals.in relation to Analytical Cubism. for example. it does not follow that in the future art cannot undertakeyet now unknowablequests. over. When Braque and Picasso were painting their cubist pictures. to understand about his aesthetic theory. to the quest to determinewhat art is? Even if Brillo Box definitely demonstratesthe falsity of the modernistanalysis. in this sense. says Danto. the question about what art is. and MarkTansey.artis. 1961). At any rate. Perhapsthis difficulty arises because has Danto's original ontological thesis. We cannot imagine."No critic can possibly make any such claim.Why confine art to the task of self-definition. Analogously. makes paintingsthat appearquite different.once and for all. Art . no one could have known that in the 1950s Clement Greenberg would write. a critic writing of Elizabeth Margaret. for Greenberg.Why then should we acceptthis as showing also thatart'shistoryhas ended?When Danto writes about such artists he admires as Robert Mangold. He can do that because he believes that history has ended.Scully. now that the history of art has ended. for thereis no way thatwhatWarholdid can be takenfurther. let us agree. it would seem thataccepting Danto's ontological thesis is compatible with allowing that after Warhol artistscontinue to do new sorts of things.14 DAVID CARRIER the present. Cindy Sherman.Danto's ontological thesis-Warhol's Brillo Box. Warholcan have no successors whose artwill standin relationto Brillo Box the way thatPollock stands. for example. 25. as yet.. 218.he certainlydemonstrateshow they make artwhich looks different from anythingmade earlier."25 Danto thinks that no But such limitationobtains regardingWarhol'sBrillo Box. Danto thinks that we can write a complete history of art-for he knows how the story has ended.

who wrote about philosophical aesthetics. "The (1964) a text publishedin TheJournal of Philosophy:they are distinct Artworld" sorts of entities. There always has been a ratherdramaticdifferencebetween philosophy as practiced by philosophers and "philosophy"as it is understoodby writers in the American art world. When I attemptedto interest the then-editorof Artforumin my writings. Bruce Boice. The great promise of After the End is that now a sophisticated philosophical account is accessible to the art world. it is too soon as yet to definitely evaluatehis argument.presented verbalmaterials. and not just his pupils. refusing to make objects deserving visual attention. Danto's greaterhumanand philosophical achievementis to inspire genuine dialogue.as was everyone I talked to. a branchof philosophy. Brillo Box (1964) was an artifactdisplayed in a gallery. but no one had an equally pregnantalternativehistoriography art his- . and by the willingness of Danto and all the participantsto consider a variety of points of view. My present introductionis thus just that-an introductionto importantissues which demandmuch furtherdiscussion. such inevitably scholastic writing has little lasting value. has been implicitly philosophical. since at least the 1880s. No doubtthere is a philosophicaldimension to Warhol'swork. Could Danto's essay become an artwork. But somethingneeds to be said in closing aboutDanto's own personality. as it is describedby Danto. turningthem into art. art. by the good-natureddiscussion. Few of us were willing to accept all of his of claims. or is tending to become. I was struck. Many of us were highly critical of Danto's claims. but it is hardto see why acknowledgingthis fact collapses the distinctionbetween art and philosophy.sometimes includingphilosophicaltexts. I was told that Boice was thatjourBut none of these cases gives any reason to nal's ideal of an artist-philosopher.for his personalstyle has influenced(and will about his ideas. to teach his readersto think throughissues in ways that disagree with his. think that art now is. it seems.Some of the problemsI have discussed seem to arise because it is a little difficultto see how that more recent sociological analysis is consistent with Danto's earlier thesis. in this way.AFTERTHEEND OF ARTAND ART HISTORY 15 Danto also got from Hegel the idea that the end of art history means that the distinctionbetween art and philosophy has collapsed.or Warhol'sartworkan essay in philosophy?There have been conceptualartistswho displayed philosophy books. continue to influence) the style of the argumentation Most famous philosophers produce mere followers. which employs Hegel's historiography. the sociological use of that analysis in After the End. He has affected many people. Earlier I distinguished between the strictly philosophical thesis about the and essence of art developed in The Transfiguration. pupils who offer commentaryin the style of their master. in ways highlighted by the 1960s conceptualartistswho. My own sense is that because Danto's philosophicalanalysis is intimatelyboundup with the everyday concerns of the present-dayAmericanart world. and there was in the 1970s one artist. When I was in Bielefeld.elucidating points that he has not had the opportunityto discuss. and he enjoyed very much debatingwith us.

for attemptingto explain perspectivism to me. we lived in something like that happy posthistoricalera identified by Danto as characteristicof the present day artworld.No one.26 Carnegie Mellon University 26. I think. and for facilitatinga public discussion with Danto at PrincetonUniversity.believed Danto's entireaccount. For that all too brief period.1998.16 DAVID CARRIER tory to propose. I thankAlexanderNehamasfor the loan of some ideas.but everyoneof this I am sure-thought that his argumentdeserved passionate engaged discussion.when I was a visof iting lecturerin the department philosophy in February. .

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