The Abuses of Theory

By Guilherme Foscolo de Moura Gomes and Lilian Buonicontro.

Published by The International Journal of Arts Theory and History

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

“Without a theory to go with it, it’s impossible to see an artwork” – this paper intends to discuss the provocation posed by Tom Wolfe. His thesis simply put: art itself had become little more than a crutch for art theorists. Art’s purpose had become to illustrate theories. It is my intent to argue that his statement is but a symptom of a displacement that took place way back in the Early German Romanticism: there, still in the 19th century, Theory conquers philosophically its own autonomy. Ever since, those who have occupied themselves of its practice (be they ‘philosophers of art’, ‘theoreticians’ or ‘critics’) seem to have strived for a sole purpose: to extend the privileges thus far granted to Theory. The excesses of the Age of Theory would culminate, as we now know, in widespread theses stating ‘the end of art’. At last, Theory reveals its most ambitious project in the writings of contemporary analytical philosopher Arthur Danto: his philosophical work, a philosophical discourse about art, offers itself as an artwork in its own right.

Keywords: Philosophy, Art, Criticism

The International Journal of Arts Theory and History, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp.1-10. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 632.442KB).

Guilherme Foscolo de Moura Gomes

PhD Student, Department of Philosophy, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

I am a brazilian PhD student at UERJ (Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro), and will be doing research as a Visiting Researcher at Stanford from August 2013 till May 2014. The problem of art had become, in some way, a problem of my own. My research as it presently stands: an attempt to reconstruct the problem of definition of art as a concept, departing from the analytical North American philosophical tradition backwards, consisting, thus, in a meta-theoretical study of art-theories and their developments.

Lilian Buonicontro

Graduate Student, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Engenharia Civil (PPGEC), Centro Federal de Educação Tecnológica de Minas Gerais (CEFET-MG), Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Lilian Buonicontro is a Civil Engineering Graduate Student at CEFET-MG. She has a bachelor's degree in Architecture and Civil Engineering, and has developed/coordinated projects in the industry. Currently, she develops research in the areas of Steel Frame, Sustainability and Energetic Resources.