Book: Encounters & Reflections

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Encounters & Reflections: Art in the Historical Present

Author: Arthur C. Danto
Publisher: University of California Press

Since 1984, when he became art critic for The Nation, Arthur C. Danto, one of America’s most inventive and influential philosophers, has also emerged as one of our most important critics of art. As an essayist, Danto’s style is at once rigorous, incisive, and playful. Encounters and Reflections brings together many of his recent critical writingson artists such as Andy Warhol, David Hockney, and Robert Mapplethorpe; and on the significance of issues like the masterpiece and the museum. The result is a spirited brief from the front lines of current aesthetic and philosophical debate.


Danto’s absorbing essays probe the meaning and inspiration behind the work of some of the 20th century’s most influential artists, including Georges Braque, Gustav Klimt, Robert Mapplethorpe, Pablo Picasso, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol. Broader themes emerge within each essay. In his discussion of Warhol, for example, Danto declares, “[T]he significant art of this extraordinary period…has to be assessed as much on grounds of speculative theory as on those of aesthetic discrimination.” He goes on to characterize the art of the 20th century as “a collective investigation by artists into the philosophical nature of art.” Encounters & Reflections won a National Book Critics Circle Award in 1990.

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