Philosophical Aesthetics and Contemporary Visual Arts

My research in aesthetics is based on my familiarity with both the continental and the analytic tradition and on my interest in art history and criticism. My attention to contemporary visual arts is often what guides my work and the standpoint from which I question traditional paradigms in philosophical aesthetics as well as the accuracy of recent naturalist approaches to the arts such as in the case of neuroaesthetics and adaptationist accounts. I am particularly interested in the relation between accounts of philosophical aesthetics and the production and reception of contemporary or “post-historical” works.

 

Aesthetics and Ethics: On the Power of Aesthetic Features

The relation between ethical and aesthetic values is one of the most prominent debates within analytic aesthetics. Yet, the debate has so far focused mainly on the extent to which the ethical properties expressed by a given work can affect its aesthetic value, reception, and ensuing appraisal. In this paper, I am interested in the reverse question. My goal is to examine how aesthetic features and stylistic choices, broadly construed, can affect the reception, understanding, and even further investigation and assessment of the ethical content of a work. Informed by phenomenological research, my analysis will touch upon narrative and non-narrative works, while also reflecting on the contribution that can be derived from studies in everyday aesthetics. The way we see and perceive ethics is of crucial importance and it is likely to affect our understanding of ethics and our willingness to engage in the ethical, social, and political climate that characterizes our current global community.

2017, May. ESA European Society of Aesthetics Meeting in Berlin. Paper: “The Aesthetic of Moral Values.”

 

Art Today

The demise of grand narratives of art and the emergence of “post-historical art” have produced a chasm between the tradition of philosophical aesthetics and the production and reception of contemporary art, a divide that has deprived philosophy of the fundamental role it had played, arguably, until the end of the modern period. The goal of this essay, which focuses primarily on art after 2000, is to investigate possible venues and directions in the current production and reception of art that might lead to a reconciliation between these two poles and to the advancement of new philosophical strategies for the analysis of art. Specifically, I concentrate on three aspects of the experience of art today: first, the emphasis, in the production and reception of artworks, on enactive accounts of artistic experience, secondly, the importance given to the ethical content of artworks and to their ability to trigger ethical, social, and political reflection, and, lastly, the growing role of the art market and its structures in the overall appreciation of the arts.

2016, “Art Today and Philosophical Aesthetics: A Missing Dialogue,” Culture and Dialogue, Issue 4.2: 246-262.

 

Philosophical Aesthetics: A Naturalist Perspective

Can a naturalist definition of art replace the historical and institutional positions argued for by philosophical aesthetics? This article considers Denis Dutton’s work in evolutionary psychology and his cluster naturalist definition of art. I begin with an analysis of the validity of what Dutton takes to be the most important criterion: imaginative experience. I propose a criticism of Dutton’s set of criteria coupled with a re-evaluation of what may be implied when referring to a naturalist basis for the arts. Specifically, I argue that philosophical aesthetics, which has been criticized by Dutton as a form of cultural relativism, is instead able to address features of our interaction with the arts that have adaptive and evolutionary value.

2014, “Philosophical Aesthetics: A Naturalist Perspective,” in The Journal of Aesthetics and Phenomenology, Vol. 1, No. 2, November: 191-207.

 

Hegel’s Symbolic Stage: An Old Perspective on Contemporary Art

In this paper, I propose an evaluation of selected contemporary visual artworks (with specific attention to Minimalism and Land Art) in light of some of the concepts embedded in Hegel’s analysis of the symbolic stage. Although art reaches its apex in classical art and its end in romantic art, an analysis of symbolic art can help us gain a deeper understanding of the patterns of art today. Specifically, I believe that the symbolic stage can become the standpoint for a re-evaluation of Arthur Danto’s elaboration of Hegel’s “end of art” verdict. Art explored, in Hegel, the sensuous appearance of consciousness; several examples of contemporary visual arts respond to this exploration with an analysis of perception and of the perceptual consciousness of the beholders.

2013, “Hegel’s Symbolic Stage. An Old Perspective on Contemporary Art,” Contemporary Aesthetics, Volume 11.

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