Thursday, July 24, 2008

Conceptual Art and Philosophy

In the late 1960s, conceptual artists produced some artworks inspired by analytic philosophy---typically pieces of text in various media:

Art & Language, Abstract Art No. 7, which is a blown-up review of Quine's Elementary Logic (scroll to the right to view); Bruce Nauman, A Rose Has No Teeth, a statement taken from Part II, § xi of Wittgenstein's Investigations, cast in bronze and nailed to a tree; Joseph Kosuth, Art as Idea as Idea: A blown-up, lithographed definition of the word "meaning".

There is a similar, though more inspired, use of text from John Dewey and Jane Addams currently installed all over the University of Chicago. The work is Instance the Determination by Helen Mirra. Here is some text in the stairway outside the philosophy department, and here is a map showing the locations of all the other pieces of metaphysical graffiti (Jay, via the Dead Milkmen, gets the credit for the pun).

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