In the twentieth century, avant-garde movements have pushed the concept of art far beyond its traditional boundaries. In this dynamical process of constant renewal the prestige of thinking about art as a legitimizing practice has come to the fore. So it is hardly surprising that the past decades have been characterized by a revival or even breakthrough of philosophy of art as a discipline. However, the majority of books on aesthetics fail to combine a systematical philosophical discourse with a real exploration of art practice.
Thinking Art attempts to deal with this traditional shortcoming. It is indeed not only an easily accessible and systematic account of the classical, modern and postmodern theories of art, but also concludes each chapter with an artist’s studio in which the practical relevance of the discussed theory is amply demonstrated by concrete examples. Moreover, each chapter ends with a section on further reading, in which all relevant literature is discussed in detail.
Thinking Art provides its readers with a theoretical framework that can be used to think about art from a variety of perspectives. More particularly it shows how a fruitful cross-fertilization between theory and practice can be created. This book can be used as a handbook within departments of philosophy, history of art, media and cultural studies, cultural history and, of course, within art academies. Though the book explores theories of art from Plato to Derrida it does not presuppose any acquaintance with philosophy from its readers. It can thus be read also by artists, art critics, museum directors and anyone interested in the meaning of art.
Antoon van den Braembussche has written a well-founded and deserving book, which is also of startling complexity and literary quality.
Prof. Michael Lingner, University of the Visual Arts, Hamburg, Germany
I am very impressed by the book. In a relatively limited space of 300 pages it unfolds a broad spectrum of philosophy of art, including methodological issues. The included suggestions for further reading will certainly stimulate students towards further independent research in the field.
Prof. Brigitte Scheer, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
His account of art philosophy from Plato to Postmodernism is in a true sense pedagogical, at the same time factual and easily accessible and a stimulating reading not at least by the way he crosses from philosophical knowledge to artistic practice and thinking, making theory alive.
‘Denken über Kunst’ is written exactly with the kind of questions in mind that people put when confronted with art, questions that are constitutive to the cultural dialogue within art functions.
Art philosophy has entered the field of art production and consumption as an active agent. It means that Thinking Art is more needed than ever. I am truly excited that it will now be available to a wider Anglophone readership.
Kristian Romare, Swedish art critic
The original Dutch version has been a great success in the research on art theory and above all in the teaching of philosophy of art. A German translation has been welcomed by the German public and by the experts. I want to advise that an English translation is made and published in order to make the book accessible to an English speaking public and to an extended critical debate.
Heinz Kimmerle, Institute for Intercultural Art and Philosophy
I believe we have to do here with one of the most serious attempts that I know, to establish in one single, handsome volume a complete synthesis of the state of affairs
in esthetics and theory of art to-day. It is a risky exercise, which is normally in danger of two pitfalls: the prejudices of the epoch and the risk of oversimplification. Mr. Van den Braembussche marvelously avoids these two pitfalls.
Given its clear structure as well as its writing without jargon, given the choice of questions and authors upon which Mr. Van den Braembussche has decided to concentrate himself, his resolutely pedagogic commitment, Thinking Art is a book that every students who is interested in esthetics should read.
As already the success of the Dutch edition proves, I believe that it will easily find its public through the university professors who teach these subjects. I am one of them and I know by experience how rare works of this kind are one can recommend to students without reserve or without being tempted to write one oneself. If ever I would be tempted, Mr. Van den Braembussche certainly has freed myself from it.
In English version, I would bet willingly -readily, gladly, with pleasure-, I who has taught a lot in the United States, that it quickly would become the indispensable textbook not only in the departments of philosophy, but also of comparative literature and art history, as the latter are finally opening themselves more and more to esthetical theory.
Thinking Art is a book that has one foot in the history of philosophy and one foot in the world of art of to-day, exactly that what we need.
Thierry de Duve
Professor Van den Braembussche’s book systematically traces the history of European philosophies of art and its various disputes in a clear and concisely written manner that would enable the student to identify philosophies of art and its various disputes in a clear and concisely written manner that would enable the student to identify and navigate the entire territory.
Given the fact that, in the new globalised and media dominated world, past positions that held art to be ‘autonomous’ are no longer tenable, the book’s discussions of the relation between art, media and the social sphere are an invaluable addition to scholarship.
I would suggest that, as a comprehensive book on the philosophies of art, as well as a paradigm of practical philosophy in the art field, Thinking About Art is long overdue and has immense value in the critical and pedagogical context. Hence it would be well received by scholars and students alike in the art and cultural studies spheres of Anglophonic education, and would be an important addition to university curricula and museum libraries.
Jean Fisher, Middlesex University and Royal College of Art, London
This seems like the kind of book that would be extremely useful. I do not know of any books that give such comprehensive access to the philosophy of art. Students tend usually to focus on some specific position or thinker... Adorno, Derrida, or Heidegger and not have much sense of where this thinking comes from and how it relates back and forwards in time to the history of philosophy and philosophy of art.
This book will enable students to gain a deeper understanding of more specific and complex contemporary positions because they will get a sense of the history and substance of the debates from which they have emerged.
Shelley Sacks, Arts Department, Oxford Brookes University.
Thinking Art offers a comprehensible survey of the most relevant aspects of contemporary art philosophical debates. Van den Braembussche’s penetrating, but extremely readable analyses makes the book an indispensable beacon for contemporary theorizing about modern art.
Marc De Kesel, Jan van Eyck Academy
As a student and later a lecturer in theories of arts and culture, I have had both the pleasure and the pain of reading textbooks and introductions to and overviews of philosophy of art. For however much I enjoy thinking about art and reading about thinking about art, I have rarely enthused over any one textbook. An exception is Antoon van den Braembussche’s well-written, insightful, and thoroughly engaging Thinking Art. I highly recommend this book.
Timotheus Vermeulen assistant professor in cultural studies and theory at the university of Nijmegen