Head Hunting Art: The Artist-Philosopher and the Value of Incorporating Philosophy within the Education of Practicing Artists

By Hester Reeve.

Published by The Arts Collection

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

Whilst historically art and philosophy have both viewed themselves as distinctly different disciplines, philosophers none the less have taken to defining and discussing art’s value with little recognized contribution made by artists to philosophy. This assumed divide is perhaps now on the wane in that contemporary philosophical texts are often necessarily poetic in nature and there is, post-conceptualism, a broad recognition of art’s ability to define its own philosophical foundations. However, whilst most (British) art schools incorporate art theory into their curriculum, rarely do they offer encounters with philosophical enquiry per se as an implicit aspect of a fine art practice. My recent experience teaching philosophy (Heidegger and his forbears) to BA Fine Art students reveals that young artists become impassioned when offered the chance to philosophise. Rather than ‘instruct,’ philosophical readings empower a readiness for ontological questioning that impacts art practice.
I teach philosophy as a practicing artist myself; underlying this subject is my concern to highlight the artist as special type of thinker-philosopher (a thinking that embraces experience and always seeks manifestation through praxis). Whereas art theory tends to facilitate an understanding of already established opinions surrounding art and its social-historical context, philosophy tends to allow students to start formulating their own stakes as creators in a ‘world in the making.’ This, I argue, is of political as well as artistic import.

Keywords: Academy, Art, Art school, Artist-Philosopher, Heidegger, Philosophy

The International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 2, Issue 6, pp.1-8. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 697.927KB).

Hester Reeve

Senior lecturer & Co-Course Leader BA Contemporary Art, Fine Art, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK

Hester Reeve is an artist who creates through the conceptual persona ‘HRH.the.’ Her practice combines live art, drawing, writing and philosophical thought. She has a BA in Fine Art and an MA in the Philosophy of Nature. Reeve’s live art has been shown internationally including former Randolph Street Gallery (Chicago) and LIVE Biennale (Vancouver). For many years the artist was based in Prague where she co-authored the publication Libkovice: Zdar Buh (DIVUS 97), the result of a three year long oral history project examining the political and environmental upheavals of post revolutionary Czech Republic. Her three month long performance “Being & Time,” for Manchester’s Text Festival (Bury Art Gallery 05) won critical acclaim and involved writing out by hand philosopher Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time in its entirety.


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