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John Dewey’s Philosophical Naturalism and a Pragmatist Approach to Conceptual Art by Raine Ruoppa
The emergence of conceptual art is one of the most profound changes that has ever taken place within the cultural sphere of artistic practices. Naturally, the deviation of conceptual art from traditional art forms has been intensely debated. However, pragmatist art theory and aesthetics has placed relatively scarce emphasis upon this significant divergence. Hence, the aim of this paper is to introduce a coherent pragmatist approach to conceptual art; one that explains the emotionalized expression of meaning through conceptual art objects which, on the face of it, appear to lack the potential for conducting such experiential functions. The main discussion concerns the relation between the constitutive parts and the whole of a work of art. In particular, I highlight the peculiar role of contextual information in the process of interpreting and experiencing conceptual art objects. The ideas put forward are based on John Dewey’s philosophical naturalism, which also comprises the broad theoretical framework for this study.