By Arthur C. Danto
After the top of paintings offers Danto's first full-scale reformulation of his unique perception, exhibiting how, with the eclipse of summary expressionism, paintings has deviated irrevocably from the narrative path that Vasari helped outline for it within the Renaissance.
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All typical sixties artists had that vivid sense of boundaries, each drawn by some tacit philosophical definition of art, and their erasure has left us the situation we find ourselves in today. Such a world is not, by the way; the easiest kind of world to live in, which explains why the political reality of the present seems to consist in drawing and defining boundaries wherever possible. Nevertheless, it was only in the 1960s that a serious philosophy of art became a possibility, one which did not base itself on purely local facts-for example, that art was essentially painting and sculpture.
Art produced from the late 1960s on. 4 But I am getting very far ahead of my story. I want to link these questions with another event of 1984, fateful certainly for me but scarcely so for the history of the world. In October of that year, my life took a sharp turn away from the orthogonal of professional philosophy: I began to write art criticism for The Nation, a turn so at right angles to any path I might have predicted for myself that it could not even have been the result of an intention to become an art critic.
A great deal of art has been made since the end of art, if it were indeed the end of art, just as, in Hans Belting's historical vision, a great deal of art had been made before the era of art. So the question of an empirical disconfirmation of my thesis cannot rest on the LlCt of art continuing to be produced, but at best on what kind of 26 ••• C HAP T E R TWO art it is, and then on what one might, to borrow a term from the philosopher I have taken as my sometime master in this inquiry, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, speak of as the spirit in which the art was made.