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From Beaux-Arts to Art-in-General

From Beaux-Arts to Art-in-General

A Bit of History

(p.27) 2 From Beaux-Arts to Art-in-General
Aesthetics at Large
Thierry de Duve
University of Chicago Press

The sentence “this is art” would not have become an aesthetic judgment if we hadn’t left the Beaux-Arts system, in which, in order to qualify as a potential work of art, a given object had to be a painting, a poem, a piece of music, etc., for the present Art-in-General system, where art can be made from anything whatsoever. This generalizing passage whereby art history went from the specific to the generic could in principle have occurred from within any of the individual arts—the Romantics anticipated it happening from within poetry—but the historical truth of modernism is that it occurred from within painting. We went from “this painting is good” to “this thing is art.” And the said passage happened as early as the 1880s, not as late as the 1960s, as is often believed.

Keywords:   art history, Art-in-General, Beaux-Arts, modernism

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