The origin of the work of art essay

Leo Tolstoy on What is Art? He goes on to say that many people hold the subjective view that art is beauty, and we call beauty that which gives us a particular kind of pleasure. In the objective sense, we call beauty something absolutely perfect, and we acknowledge it to be so only because we receive, from this perfection, a certain kind of pleasure; so the objective definition is the same as the subjective.

The origin of the work of art essay

Because the aesthetic approach continues to eclipse our access to the role artworks can quietly play in forming and informing our historical worlds, Heidegger thinks that only such a post-aesthetic thinking about art can allow us to recognize and restore art's true significance, helping us recognize the inconspicuous way in which art works to shape our basic sense of what is and what matters.

Fortunately, our starting point is not really so misconceived. Once we understand why exactly Heidegger criticizes what we could call the aestheticization of art, we will thereby have put ourselves on the right track to understanding his own post-aesthetic thinking about the work of art.

So, what exactly is supposed to be wrong with the aestheticization of art? Heidegger's own understanding of the work of art is resolutely populist but with revolutionary aspirations.

It is the temple-work that first joins together and simultaneously gathers around itself the unity of those paths and relations in which birth and death, disaster and blessing, victory and disgrace, endurance and decline obtain the form of destiny for human being. As this suggests, Heidegger subscribes to a doctrine of ontological historicity refining a view first developed by Hegel.

Put simply, Heidegger thinks that humanity's fundamental experience of reality changes over time sometimes dramaticallyand he suggests that the work of art helps explain the basic mechanism of this historical transformation of intelligibility.

Put simply, great artworks help establish the implicit ontology and ethics through which an historical community understands itself and its world. In sum, great art works by selectively focusing an historical community's tacit sense of what is and what matters and reflecting it back to that community, which thereby comes implicitly to understand itself in the light of this artwork.

Whenever [great] art happens—that is, when there is a beginning—a push enters history, and history either starts up or starts again. For, in his view, the stakes of our understanding of and approach to art could not be higher.

Heidegger's Philosophical Critique of Aesthetics: In order to get to the heart of the problem, then, we need to take a step back and ask: How exactly does Heidegger understand aesthetics?

It was coined by Alexander Baumgarten in the s and then critically appropriated by Kant in his Critique of Judgment published in That is, just as logic conceived as the science of thought seeks to understand our relation to the true, so aesthetics conceived as the science of sensation or feeling seeks to understand our relation to the beautiful.

Heidegger's point, rather, is that aesthetics is that kind of meditation on art in which humanity's state of feeling in relation to the beautiful represented in art is the point of departure and the goal that sets the standard for all its definitions and explanations.

Heidegger is not denying that there are numerous disagreements within the modern aesthetic tradition between Kant and Baumgarten, just to begin with. Instead, his thesis is that even the disagreements in the modern aesthetic tradition take place within the framework of a common approach.

So, what specifically does Heidegger object to about the way the aesthetic approach to art presupposes a viewing subject, standing before some art object, enjoying or not enjoying his or her sensory experience of this artwork? What is supposed to be the problem with this aesthetic picture of art?

We can see this if we unpack his typically dense language: But in the case of the art object, Heidegger is pointing out, the adventure beyond subjectivity and back again is a particularly intense, meaningful, or enlivening one: Heidegger does not ever develop any argument for this point; the thought simply seems to be that once aesthetics understands artworks as objects of which we can have meaningful experiences, it is only logical to conceive of these art objects themselves in an isomorphic way, as meaningful expressions of the lives of the artists who created them.

Even in this tradition, however, the artists' appropriations are never truly random but invariably require some selection, presentation, and the like, and thus inevitably reopen interpretive questions about the significance these art objects have for the artistic subject who chose them.

Why this particular object? Why present it in just this way? So, even the found art tradition of the readymade and its heirs reinforces Heidegger's point that, in the basic aesthetic approach to art, art objects are implicitly understood as meaningful expressions of artists' lives that are capable of eliciting particularly intense or meaningful experiences in viewing subjects.

In this aesthetic approach, to put it simply, art objects express and intensify human subjects' experiences of life. What Heidegger thus characterizes as the aesthetic approach to art will probably seem so obvious to most people that it can be hard to see what he could possibly find objectionable about it.

The origin of the work of art essay

Art objects express and intensify human subjects' experiences of life; to many people, it might not even be clear what it could mean to understand art in any other way. How should we understand and approach art, if not in terms of the meaningful experiences that a subject might have of some art object, an art object which is itself a meaningful expression of the life of the artist or artists who created it?

Why exactly does Heidegger object to our contemporary tendency to understand and approach art in this aesthetic way? This is a surprising and deliberately provocative claim, one apparently meant to provoke us into noticing and thinking through something we ordinarily overlook.

By failing to recognize and do justice to the integral entwinement of self and world that is basic to our experiential navigation of our lived environments, modern philosophy effectively splits the subject off from objects and from other subjects.

Heidegger suggests that this problem is not merely theoretical, because the subjectivism of the modern worldview functions historically like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Its progressive historical realization generates not only the political freedoms and scientific advances we cherish, but also unwanted downstream consequences such as our escalating environmental crisis and less predictable side-effects like the aestheticization of art. This is easier to see than Heidegger's converse claim—that the aestheticization of art feeds back into and reinforces subjectivism—so we will address it first.

The origin of the work of art essay

Just think, for example, of the way you ordinarily encounter a hammer when you are hammering with it, or a pen while you are writing with it, a bike while riding it, a car while driving it, or even, say, a freeway interchange as you drive over it for the umpteenth time. This all changes, however, when our practical engagement with the world of our concerns breaks down.

Second, it is not immediately clear where let alone how we should look to discover art in a non-aesthetic way. Indeed, it now seems natural for us to think that what makes our experience of art objects significant is that such experiences allow us human subjects temporarily to transcend the sphere of our own subjectivity by getting in touch with art objects outside ourselves, because these transcendent experiences can profoundly enrich our subjective experience.In The Origin of the Work of Art, Heidegger attempts to the answer the question of what art is, as well as try to find the origin of art itself.


In his attempt Heidegger distinguishes between his ideas of “Work” and “Equipment”. While, central to his argument within The Origin of the Work of. Aug 14,  · In this video lecture, we begin examining Martin Heidegger's seminal essay The Origin of the Work of Art. We follow his starting discussion of art, artists, and workwork, and then move into.

- The History of Art Art was the first written language and to study the history of art is to study the history of civilizations and humankind. The Paleolithic cave paintings in France, when viewed in the modern western perspective can only be speculated at as to the intent and/or purpose of the original artisans.

usual view, the work arises out of and through the activity of the artist. But through and from what is the artist thatc which he is? Through the work; for the German proverb "the work praises the master" means that the work first lets the artist emerge as a master of art.

The artist is the origin of the work. The work is the origin of the artist. In ‘The Origin of the Work of Art’ by German philosopher Martin Heidegger, the essence of the work of art and then the question of the meaning of a “thing,” are described according to the philosopher’s perspective.

The Origin of the Work of Art (German: Der Ursprung des Kunstwerkes) is an essay by the German philosopher Martin Heidegger.

Heidegger drafted the text between and , reworking it for publication in and again in Author: Martin Heidegger.

The Origin of the Work of Art, by Martin Heidegger | Roger Berkowitz -