Figuring Out Figurative Art: Contemporary Philosophers on Contemporary Paintings

Author(s): Damien Freeman


In 1797 Friedrich Schlegel wrote "philosophy of art usually lacks one of two things: either the philosophy, or the art." This collection of essays contains both the philosophy and the art. It brings together an international team of leading philosophers to address diverse philosophical issues raised by recent works of art. Each essay engages with a specific artwork and explores the connection between the image and the philosophical content and how philosophy can aid interpretation of the artwork. The discussion ranges over political, ethical and religious concepts, such as apathy and irony, to standard problems in the philosophy of art, such as expression, style and depiction, as well as major movements in art history, such as Dadaism. Many of the contributors are distinguished in areas of philosophy other than aesthetics and are writing about art for the first time. All show how productive the engagement can be between philosophy, more generally, and art. Contributors include Simon Blackburn, Noel Carroll, Tim Crane, Raymond Guess, Lydia Goehr, Jerold Levinson, Hallvard Lillehammer, Jesse Prinz and Barry Smith.


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Damien Freeman lectures on ethics and aesthetics at Pembroke College, Cambridge and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. His books include 'Art's Emotions: Ethics, Expression and Aesthetic Experience' (Acumen, 2012). Derek Matravers is Professor of Philosophy at The Open University and his books include 'Introducing Philosophy of Art' (Acumen, 2012).

Introduction: figurative art and figurative philosophy, Damien Freeman; 1. John Currin and pornography, Jesse Prinz [John Currin, The Dane]; 2. A moment of capture, Barry C. Smith [Dexter Dalwood, A View From A Window]; 3. Uncanny absence and imaginative presence in Dalwood's paintings, Edward Winters [Dexter Dalwood, Room 100 Chelsea Hotel and Hendrix's Last Basement]; 4. At the still point of the turning world: Two Quartets by Tom de Freston, Lydia Goehr [Tom de Freston, Quartet - Stage One and Quartet - Stage Two]; 5. Being ironic with style, Sam Rose [Tom de Freston, Quartet - Stage Four]; 6. The radioactive wolf, pieing and the Goddess "Fashion", Raymond Geuss [Adrian Ghenie, Dada is Dead and Nickelodeon] [Chantal Joffe, The Black Camisole]; 7. Confinement, apathy, indifference, Hallvard Lillehammer [Paul Noble, Heaven]; 8. Thinking outside the frame: Plato, Quinn and Artaud on representation and thought, M. M. McCabe [Ged Quinn, The Fall] 9. Nature, life and spirit: a Hegelian reading of Quinn's vanitas art, Alexis Papazoglou [Ged Quinn, Hegel's Happy End]; 10. Of war and madness, Noel Carroll [Paula Rego, War]; 11. Showing us how it is, Simon Blackburn [George Shaw, This Sporting Life]; 12. Paintings, photographs, titles, Jerrold Levinson [George Shaw, No Returns]; 13. The laughter behind the painted smile, Sondra Bacharach [Yue Minjun, Untitled]

General Fields

  • : 9781844658039
  • : Acumen Publishing Ltd
  • : Acumen Publishing Ltd
  • : May 2014
  • : 234mm X 156mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : May 2014
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 701.17
  • : 240
  • : Damien Freeman
  • : Paperback