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Conceptual Art in Light of Kant’s Antinomy of Taste

Conceptual Art in Light of Kant’s Antinomy of Taste

Chapter:
(p.141) 8 Conceptual Art in Light of Kant’s Antinomy of Taste
Source:
Aesthetics at Large
Author(s):
Thierry de Duve
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226546872.003.0009

The gist of the “Kant after Duchamp” approach to aesthetics is (1) the realization of the quasi-interchangeability of artist and beholder in front of a readymade and (2) the substitution of “this is art” for “this is beautiful” in Kant’s Analytic and Dialectic of the Beautiful. A readymade condenses all the artist’s decisions into one choice, which the beholder is asked to endorse by calling the object “art.” This leads to the hypothesis of a faculty of making/judging art that conflates genius and taste. Accordingly, the antinomy of taste becomes the antinomy of art: thesis, art is not a concept; antithesis, art is a concept. One might think that the movement known as conceptual art, several proponents of which claim the readymade’s legacy, has embraced the antithesis and dismissed the thesis. Although this is true of Joseph Kosuth’s manifesto, “Art after Philosophy,” in practice all conceptual artists produced what Kant called aesthetic ideas, and they did so in the name of their personal version of the idea of reason which this book calls art itself.

Keywords:   aesthetic idea, antinomy of taste, conceptual art, genius, idea of reason, Immanuel Kant, taste

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