It is The End of the History of Art? Essay

In practice the “white cube” (the white-walled gallery display prevalent in galleries of modern art) renders viewer unaware of the influence that it inflicts upon his/hers perception of what consist a modern art. Under no circumstances one would look twice upon the same bed like My Bed by Emin, standing next to the garbage bin on one of the British streets or thought of Sherman’s work Untitled No.151 from Witches and Wicked Bodies exhibition as nothing more but an interesting photograph taken probably before the Halloween party. Looking at these works through the perspective of Hegelian theory, it is noticeable that to transform these objects into art one needs to apply external factors outside of the work of art itself. Anyone who has no pre-existent knowledge about these practices will not be able to understand the ideas that the artists tries to convey. These artworks are unable to function alone.

The problem of modern art theory is outlined in Hans Belting’s essay The End of the History of Art? from 1984, where he writes that the models of art and its histories present art as an autonomous system, that is assessed by the internal criteria formed by that system. The human functions within this arrangement as either an artist or a patron. He writes that present times require different techniques to write and assess art in hope that an art historian, who will also take on the role of an art critic, will breach the old divide between the art and the life, the gap that alienates modern art from its potential viewer. A question that springs to mind is does art need an audience made up of Average Joes? Does art need any audience at all? Why should art even care that the ordinary people do not appreciate performance and consider …

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…, Colin and Emma Baker, “Introduction” in Academies, Museums and Canons of Art edited by Gill Perry and Collin Cunningham, 19 – 23. New Haven, London: Yale University Press, 1999.Belting, Hans, “The End of the History of Art?” in Art History and Its Methods: a Critical Reader edited by Eric Fernie, 293 – 295. London: Phaidon, 1995.Greenberg, Clement, Clement Greenberg: the Collected Essays and Criticism. Volume 2: Arrogant Purpose, 1945 – 1949 edited by John O’Brian. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1986.Duncan, Carol, Civilizing rituals: Inside public Art Museum. London: Routledge, 1995.Grunenberg, Christoph, “The Modern Art Museum” in Contemporary Cultures of Display edited by Emma Barker, 26 – 49. New Haven, London: Yale University Press, 1999.


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