Cover Image: Art and Posthistory

Art and Posthistory

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Member Reviews

the work presents social commentary, and art critique by two influential persons, and reading the book felt like an eavesdropping conversation between two friends, which in fact enreached your philosophical view.
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I would like to thank NetGalley and Columbia University Press for lending me this title, it was really a treat to read and respond!

This is a collection of diologues recording conversations between art philosopher Arthur Danto and art critic Demetrio Paparoni, as well as other featured guests. They discuss a series of ideas centered around what they call "the end of art" and a new era of "post-history," in which art moves away from narratives and develops a new kind of self-awareness.  I was particularly intrigued and captivated by the first half of the book, and the first three essays especially. Admittedly, I don't have quite the knowledge inventory on art and philosophy as these two fellows do, and I was lost at some parts in the later half. Luckily I still enjoyed reading through those parts and I hope to revisit this text in the future to see what I can glean.

I enjoyed the Socratic nature of this book's format, and I also had fun by also looking up images of the art they talk about as it came up. The first essay gives a good snapshot about Danto's book What Art Is (2014) to someone who isn't familiar. I was neutral to to Paparoni's thinking, but found myself not often aligning to what Danto stated about art. I enjoyed having my thinking challenged. 

I was lended an ebook format of this book (thanks again NetGalley!) but will definitely be picking up a hardcopy soon!
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I found this book to be a useful addition to my knowledge about Danto's work and aesthetic philosophy more generally speaking. The interviews cover a variety of topics, from the role of cinema to the impact of feminist art and the future of Chinese art, and each one was intelligently and carefully discussed. Danto is always a joy to read, one of the more clear art critics, and Paparoni was excellent at guiding discussions. 

I have a few gripes about the overall structure of the book: I found it frustrating that the author of the preface essay Judy's Room was not mentioned on the title page and I had to go looking on the Netgalley site to find out who had authored it. There are also two interviews that involve a third party, Mario Perniola and Mimmo Paladino respectively, but neither are introduced or given a brief biography to help the reader understand their perspective or inclusion. It seems a silly oversight that makes the book less accessible than it could be.
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This is a fascinating yet approachable guide to modern artwork and it’s philosophical roots. It can be a bit dense in places but not in a way that make me want to skip anything.
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Art and Posthistory: Conversations on the End of Aesthetics is an engaging and wide-ranging foray into art and especially Arthur Danto's ideas on contemporary art.

I'll start with what comes first in the book, the Introduction. These things always make me wary, some are little more than self-congratulatory while others offer little more than a chronology of whomever or whatever the book is about. This one, however, is both helpful and quite informative. It offers a nice intro to Danto's thought but also a good look at art over the past fifty years or so. In depth enough to, I think, satisfy those more versed in art history and aesthetic theory while also accessible to those with a very basic background. I fall somewhere between those extremes but far closer to the basic background end and the introduction helped me to get my mind in sync with the conversations that follow.

Both the intro and the conversations/interviews serve to present the ideas as alive and vibrant rather than stale and somehow settled. Even someone like myself, with only a few art history courses and my aesthetic theory falling far more into the philosophy department side than the art department side, felt welcome to have opinions that might be different from any presented. These really did make the debates and questions seem alive.

I also feel much better equipped to approach more different types of art with an eye toward understanding and appreciating on their own terms rather than trying, usually without success, to make them fit preconceived notions. If there is any single big takeaway, that is it. The knowledge in general is nice but the feeling that I can interact with more artwork in a meaningful way is a major benefit.

Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in art history and/or aesthetic theory, as well as anyone who might just want to be able to better appreciate the art they may see.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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