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Episteme

Abstract

The paper investigates Hegel’s claim: “art is dead”. What does this phrase mean? What must we know about Hegel’s systematic thought before we can understand this question? Has Hegel claimed rightly? The author answers all of these questions in this study of Hegel, the qualities of Greek and Medieval art, and the meaning and purpose of modern art. The purpose of art, as with religion and philosophy, is to reveal the Absolute, the content of which is freedom. Hegel believes that because the modern human now asks the philosophical “Why?” art no longer can serve the highest function in culture. But isn’t modern contemporary art essentially all about freedom? If it is, Hegel’s verdict does not hold up. The author analyzes work from Duchamp and painters Kandinsky, Pereira, Koppe, Guston, and Mondrian. Such artists do not have merely negative freedom: they will their free will, too. Thus, Hegel’s “art is dead” amounts to a mere prediction, sublated by the philosophy of the post-modern age, capable of judging the modern world and the purpose modern art played in it.

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