Some Thoughts on Artists’ Statements
Philosophers of art have had so far little to say about the phenomenon of artists’ statements. Artists’ statements can perform two different functions and often perform both. First, an artist’s statement allows the artist to provide information to viewers that is not necessarily discernible from the work. Second, an artist’s statement can contextualize a work. It can direct the viewer to see, interpret, or appreciate a work in specific ways. Though an artist’s statement cannot compel viewers to have a particular experience of an artwork, it can suggest or guide viewers in a certain direction. This chapter is intended to open up the discussion by pointing out a few areas where our approach to artists’ statements will have a bearing on deeper philosophical questions.
I am grateful to Ian Jarvie, Raphael Sassower, and the audience at the Canadian Philosophical Association 2012 annual meeting held at Wilfrid Laurier University for comments and discussion.
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