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A lively exploration of the complex relations between art and life

Boundaries of Art

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David Novitz

In this provocative book, David Novitz reconsiders the complex relations between art and life. He rejects the view that artwork should be judged in isolation from its historical and cultural contexts, pointing to the many ways in which the cultural milieu affects choices made by the artist. He challenges the commonplace notion of art as something removed from daily life by invisible, yet rigid boundaries. Rather, Novitz argues, much art is unrecognized as such because it addresses issues and preoccupations of everyday life and is therefore viewed as "low brow" or merely popular. In fact, the author contends, not only does art invariably reflect our lives, but it often consciously attempts to influence our lives.

Popular genres like cinema, advertising, pop music, erotica, conversation, gardening, cooking, and carpentry are all seen as arts, and Novitz traces the differentiation of these from the so-called fine arts to the Renaissance, when monied classes patronized artists as a form of social self-promotion. By providing a sustained and lively challenge to the traditional boundaries of art, Novitz demonstrates the detail and explains the extent of the integration of art into everyday life. He does not, however, endorse the postmodernist claim that ere are no boundaries between art and life. Instead, he argues that the relations between art, life and philosophy need to be rethought in a way that reflects more adequately the role that both art and philosophy play in our lives.

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About the Author(s)

David Novitz is Reader in Philosophy and the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and the author of Knowledge, Fiction, and Imagination (Temple).

Subject Categories

Philosophy and Ethics

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